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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Simona Halep Ends Six-Year Collaboration With Coach Cahill

One of the longest coaching partnerships on the WTA Tour has come to an end.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep is on the lookout for a new coach after unexpectedly announcing her split from Darren Cahill on Wednesday.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has been working with the Australian mentor for most of the time since 2015. There was a brief period where Cahill stepped away from his duties to spend more time with his family before later returning. Under his guidance, the Romanian reached the top of the world rankings and featured in the final of three major tournaments, winning two of those.

“After six wonderful years working together, Darren Cahill and I have decided that it’s time to end our working relationship,” Halep wrote on social media. “Thank you D for everything, for making me a better tennis player and a better person.”

55-year-old Cahill is a former player himself who has also worked with a series of top players prior to Halep. In the past, he has coached both Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi to world No.1 at different stages of their careers. Doubles specialist Horia Tecău reportedly told Romanian TV that it was rumoured Cahill received an annual salary in the region of one million euros during his time with Halep. Although this has not been verified.

The announcement comes a week after Halep married Macedonian businessman Toni Iuruc. One of those who attended the event was Illie Nastase who was one of the world’s best tennis players during the 1970s, winning both the French Open and US Open.

I didn’t know anything about Simona’s intention to break up with Darren Cahill. It took me a little by surprise. But Simona Halep has proven she knows what she’s doing. As I did not know, I do not see what I could comment. But there is no question of collaborating (with her),” Nastase told playsport.ro.
I didn’t talk to her about this or to anyone else in her entourage… I think only Simona knows who her future coach will be. I trust her choices.”

So far in 2021 Halep has achieved a win-loss record of 15-7 during what has been a rollercoaster season. An Achilles injury forced her to miss both the French Open and Wimbledon, as well as the Tokyo Olympics. Since returning to the Tour from her injury she has won back-to-back matches in one out of three tournaments played. Reaching the fourth round of the US Open.

There has been no official word on who may replace Cahill as Halep’s coach.

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Venus Williams Explains Met Gala Photo With Maria Sharapova

The former world No.1 says she and her sister Serena have ‘respect and love’ for Sharapova.

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Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at the 20201 Met Gala (image via Instagram)

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams says there are no hard feelings between her, her sister Serena and Maria Sharapova after the trio took a photo together at the Met Gala.

 

The former world No.1s was seen smiling and laughing together at the New York fundraising event with both of the Williams sisters uploading a photo of them all on their Instagram story. Prompting surprise from some fans considering the at times icy rivalry between Serena and Sharapova that dates back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Serena’s name more than 100 times. She says the American hated her for beating her at Wimbledon that year and that the two were ‘not friends.’

“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” Sharapova wrote.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment.
“But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”

Responding to the claims, Serena hit back at the book in 2018 by describing it as ‘hearsay’ and said she never had any ‘negative feelings’ towards Sharapova. The two clashed on the Tour no fewer than 22 times with Serena winning 20 of those meetings.

“So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book,” Williams commented back in 2018. “So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.”

Three years later and it now seems that all parties have put their disagreements behind them. At the Met Gala they were seen getting on pretty well. Besides posing for a photo together, they were also seen together in the bathroom at the event. A photo taken by pop star Anitta and rapper Saweetie which showed them in the background.

Speaking about the event for the first time, 41-year-old Williams said she wishes Sharapova was still playing before adding that they still ‘respect and love’ each other.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” the 41-year-old explained on Instagram.
“We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’
“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on tour.’
“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.
“So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard of the court for years, we still respect and love each other, and love Maria
.”

Williams, Serena and Sharapova have won a total of 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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Emma Raducanu Launches Own Weibo Account With Viral Video

In her first video, the teenage sensation promised to play in China next year.

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Emma Raducanu reacts after winning a Women's Singles semifinal match at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Sep. 9, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu is gaining a rapidly growing fan base in China with her first video on the social media account Weibo surpassing one million views in less than two days.

 

The 18-year-old has become one of the most talked about athletes in the world of tennis following her unprecedented run to the US Open title. At the Grand Slam she didn’t drop a single set in 10 matches played to become the first qualifier in history to ever win a major title. Even more remarkable was the fact Raducanu was playing in a Grand Slam main draw for only the second time in her career.

In her native UK bookmakers are already tipping the youngster as a strong contender to win this year’s prestigious BBC Sports personality of the Year award. Although it isn’t just Britain where she is proving to be a hit. Raducanu was actually born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mother who both work in the finance section. The family moved to the UK when Raducanu was two-years-old.

“My mum comes from a Chinese background. They have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily about telling everyone how good you are, but it’s about believing it within yourself. I really respect that about the culture,” she said.
“She’s always instilled a lot of discipline and respect for other people into me, so I think that having parents like I do, they always push me, they have high expectations so I’ve always tried to live up to that. And I just hope I did them proud this week and I’m going to keep trying to go, keep going.”

Shortly after her US Open win, the world No.23 delivered a message in mandarin which was posted on the tournament’s Weibo account. SportsPro Media reports that the video generated more than 11 million impressions.

Now Raducanu has launched her own Weibo account with a video message to her fans. Shine.cn, which is a website powered by Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, said that the British player has promised to play in the country next year. This season’s Asian swing has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Shine also said she spoke with a slight ‘accent from northeast China’ where her mother is from.

According to the latest view count, the video has been watched more than 1.22 million times since it was published. The view count may look impressive but it is by no means a one off. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that two hashtags related to Raducanu on Weibo have been viewed at least 200M times each as a result of her US Open win. These hashtags were ‘18-year-old ethnic Chinese young player wins US open championship‘ and ‘Raducanu.’

Despite her relative inexperience on the Tour, many are tipping Raducanu to become one of the most marketable athletes in the world. Her ability to interact with the Chinese market will play a significant role in those considering the country has invested millions into the sport and hosts a series of prestigious women’s events. However, in the immediate future the teenager says her focus is on the tennis.

“I have a few days’ rest and recovery – I think needed after the last seven weeks,” she told CNBC’s Closing Bell earlier this week.
“But then I am straight back to training and hungry to get better and come back out and play some more tournaments.”

Besides Weibo, Raducanu also has over 583,000 followers on Twitter, 1.9M Instagram followers and 63,000 followers on her official Facebook page.

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