Agnieszka Radwanska upsets Halep in Miami - UBITENNIS
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Agnieszka Radwanska upsets Halep in Miami

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Agnieszka Radwanska produced an inspired comeback to beat Simona Halep 3-6 6-3 6-2 in the third round of the Miami Open.

 

It was the Pole’s first win over a top ten player since October 2016 and only the second time she had beaten a world No.1.

Radwanska earned victory by finding her best tennis when she needed it most. After falling a set behind, she became more aggressive and began to construct points in the way she is known for.

The improvements the Pole made enabled her to out-play Halep from the back of the court in the second and third sets and she was understandably delighted with her big win.

“I’m so happy,” said Radwanska in her on-court interview. “She’s been playing great tennis in the last couple of months. A win like this always makes you so happy so I’m very glad I could win that third set.”

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Halep got the better of the early rallies in the match and, despite losing her own serve in game three, broke Radwanska twice to lead 3-1.

Both players upped their game after that. Halep drilled an excellent forehand winner down the line to seal a comfortable hold, before Radwanska replied with an easy hold and some aggressive rallying to break back and get the set back on serve.

It did not stay that way for long. Halep produced a superb backhand winner and outlasted Radwanska in a long rally to earn 15-30 on the Pole’s serve.

The 2012 Wimbledon finalist levelled the score with a deft volley winner, but lost out in a long rally and then gifted the Romanian the break with an unforced error. Halep made it count as she held serve with ease to seal the first set.

Losing the opener seemed to trigger something in Radwanska and she responded superbly. In game two of the second set, she played a near-perfect return game which included a stunning backhand volley that spun back towards the net after it bounced.

That set the tone for the rest of Radwanska’s performance. She sealed a double break with a delightful floated backhand winner that just eluded the Halep’s racket, and then withstood a brief comeback from the Romanian to finish off the set and level the match.

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In the decider, it was Halep’s turn to make a fast start. She broke Radwanska to love in the opening game with the help of an excellent forehand down the line and a spectacular angled backhand winner to finish one of the best rallies of the match.

Both players then registered comfortable holds before the momentum shifted again. The Pole out-rallied the Romanian to earn a 15-40 advantage and sealed the break back with a well-placed forehand pass.

After two intense games in which both Halep and Radwanska tried and failed to take control of the contest by breaking, Radwanska steeled herself and took her game to another level.

At 30-15 up during an easy hold, she played one of the best points of her career. First she drew Halep in with a drop shot, and then she lobbed her. The Romanian retrieved the lob and got it over the net, only to watch in horror as the Pole executed a perfect backhand drop volley.

Radwanska’s improvement seemed to deflate Halep as she made three errors to gift the Pole a break of serve and a 5-3 advantage.

To her credit, the Romanian did not give up as she fought her way to 30-all when Radwanska served for it. But the Pole held firm and forced Halep into a couple of errors to clinch an impressive victory.

Pliskova struggles past Hsieh

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Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova endured a tough test in round three against Su-Wei Hsieh before eventually triumphing 6-4 1-6 7-6(4).

“It was a very tough match for sure,” said Pliskova in her on-court interview. “She has a strange style and there are not many players like this with a lot of slices and a lot of drop shots. It was a very tricky game.”

The Czech continued, “I started very well to go 5-1 up. (But then I made) some mistakes, she was back in the match and the third set was very close.”

Pliskova was also asked what it was like to defend points at an event. She said, “I try to not think about ranking and points but sometimes it’s tough. I came to this tournament to defend semi-finals.”

“I’m just happy that I won two rounds and two very tough matches – Makarova and here. I’m still in the tournament and my journey continues.”

In the other third round match taking place early in the day, Zarina Diyas beat Carina Witthoeft 4-6 7-5 6-0.

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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Four-Time Grand Slam Winner Naomi Osaka Named In FTX Lawsuit 

The former world No.1 took an equity stake in the failed business earlier this year. 

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

Naomi Osaka is among a series of high-profile individuals who have been accused of using their celebrity status to promote FTX’s failed business model in a lawsuit filed against the cryptocurrency exchange. 

 

The BBC has reported that over one million people and businesses could be owed money following the collapse of FTX, according to bankruptcy filings. A week ago FTX collapsed into bankruptcy with its former boss Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO. A massive development in the financial for what was one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world that had the naming rights to a Formula One racing team as well as a sports arena in Miami.

According to the Associated Press, the company is being investigated by state and federal prosecutors over allegations it ‘invested depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.’ In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it argues that celebrity backers of FTX such as Osaka should be held just as accountable as Bankman-Fried as they brought ‘instant credibility’ to the company. 

“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the lawsuit said.

Osaka took an equity stake in FTX in March where she would be receiving compensation in Crypto. Signing what was described as a ‘long-term partnership’ to become a global ambassador, the tennis star aimed to draw attention to women joining the platform and she played a role in directing its content.

“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said earlier this year.

Osaka, who has won 14 out of 23 matches played this season, has not made any public statement regarding the lawsuit. NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and basketball team the Golden State Warriors are also defendants in the lawsuit.

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WTA Targets New Multi-Year Deal For Its Premier Event If Agreement With China Fails

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?

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WTA CEO Steve Simon

The WTA say they are not willing to compromise their principles concerning the possibility of hosting tournaments in China next year amid uncertainty over the future of their season-ending event. 

 

Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the women’s Tour, says he is hopeful that a resolution can be found with the country but has vowed now to back down on its stance. Last year the WTA suspended tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of former player Peng Shuai who accused a former government official of sexually assaulting her. 

Shuai disappeared shortly after posting her statement on social media before returning a few weeks later with photos and videos of her being posted online by journalists linked to the government-controlled media. There are concerns that the former doubles Grand Slam champion, who has not left her country since making those allegations, is being censored by the government. The WTA wants an investigation to be conducted into the matter. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times. “Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added. 

Simon said he is confident that Shuai is safe in Beijing but he has not been able to make any direct contact with her, despite trying to on multiple occasions. A letter reportedly written by Shuai to the WTA was posted online in 2021 saying that she wishes to be left alone. However, many have doubted the authenticity of that letter with some fearing that she wrote it under duress. 

One of the biggest impacts of the fallout has involved the prestigious WTA Finals, which is a round-robin tournament featuring the eight best-performing players over the past 12 months. In 2018 a lucrative deal was agreed that paved the way for the event to be held in Shenzhen for 10 years. However, the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the next two additions were moved elsewhere.

Whilst the WTA is optimistic about a return to Shenzhen in 2023, there are also backup plans in the works. Simon confirmed that it is no longer feasible for the WTA Finals to be held in a location for just one year. So it is likely that the tournament would be held in a city for two or more years in a row if it doesn’t return to China next season. 

“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”

The case involving Shuai isn’t the only barrier for the WTA. China’s zero-covid policy has made hosting international events in the region unfeasible and the ATP cancelled all of their events in the tournament this year due to the situation. 

This year’s WTA Finals has a prize money offering of $5M which is more than half of what was on offer at the 2019 tournament in Shenzhen ($14M). 

Simon didn’t provide any deadline for when an agreement must be reached with China must be reached before the WTA considers moving their event elsewhere once again. 

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