Elina Svitolina Ends Osaka’s Winning Run - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina Ends Osaka’s Winning Run

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Elina Svitolina produced a superb performance to beat Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-2 in the second round of the Miami Open.

It was the Japanese player’s first defeat in nine matches, but after a run to glory in the desert that included wins over Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep and a first-round win over Serena Williams in Miami, she can be very proud of what she has achieved.

For Svitolina, this convincing win was an ideal demonstration of the progress she has made in the last 18 months. In that time, the Ukrainian has won seven WTA titles (including five at premier level) and risen from 18 to 4 in the world rankings.

And Svitolina showed exactly why she holds that lofty position in the rankings with a dominant display on stadium court. She won a tight first set by breaking Osaka in game seven, and then raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set before finally winning it 6-2.

One of the ways the Ukrainian achieved victory was by consistently outmanoeuvring Osaka and creating opportunities to hit a raft of typically precise winners. She also kept unforced errors to a minimum to ensure she made life as difficult as possible for the Japanese.

Furthermore, Svitolina served well throughout. She hit five aces, had a first serve percentage of 74% and won 78% of points behind it, and saved five of six break points faced.

And to top off an excellent all-round showing, the Ukrainian underlined her status as one of the best returners in the women’s game by earning nine break points against Osaka’s serve and taking four of them.

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“I’ve always known that she can produce a great game,” said Svitolina in her press conference. “We’ve played quite a bit now. I knew that I would have to always be on my toes and be ready for her strong shots and strong serve.”

Svitolina continued, “She can take the game in her hands. I was just trying not to give her any opportunities. I think I was playing pretty solid, serving good. This was the key for today, as well as making it physical.”

The Ukrainian was asked what it was like facing such a tough opponent in her first match at a tournament. She said, “I was like, okay, this is going to be challenging. For a second round, normally you don’t get these kinds of matches.”

Svitolina continued, “It was actually quite exciting. I like to go into tournaments with a little bit of stress. Then you’re straight into the matches. Of course, this kind of player was a little bit too much because, after winning Indian Wells, she was pretty confident. I’m very happy with the way I handled this match today and the way I was playing.”

In her press conference, Osaka described the World No.4 as “one of the most consistent players”. When Svitolina was asked to explain what makes her so consistent, she said, “All my career, growing up, my parents were always telling me that I have to take one step at a time and not rush things. This is the key I think for me.”

She continued, “Even when I have tough times, I just try to break it down into small pieces, take one step, and then move forward. I don’t put so much pressure on myself. It’s life, and it’s the process of learning, as well. Every week you have a chance to play well.”

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Kvitova overcomes Sabalenka

Svitolina will be joined in round three by Petra Kvitova after the Czech withstood a strong challenge from Aryna Sabalenka to win 7-5 3-6 6-3.

The first set was frantic and could have gone either way. The Belarussian broke Kvitova’s serve three times but the two-time Grand Slam champion managed four breaks to edge it.

Sabalenka possesses massive groundstrokes on both wings and she was going for everything most of the time. In the second set her approach paid off as she broke the Czech twice and stormed to a 5-1 lead before eventually taking it 6-3.

Kvitova drew on all her experience to hold serve throughout the decider. She earned the one break she needed in the sixth game and held her nerve for the rest of the set to seal victory.

Elsewhere in Miami, Donna Vekic earned an impressive 6-3 6-7(4) 6-1 win over 24th seed Elena Vesnina, Ashleigh Barty eased to a 6-0 7-6(0) triumph over Claire Liu and Daria Gavrilova beat Andrea Petkovic 7-6(3) 6-4.

 

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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