Sloane Stephens will make her debut in the world’s top ten next Monday after reaching the semi-final of the Miami Open with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Angelique Kerber.
“I’m so tired of them being, like, career-high ranking, No. 11,” the American said in her post-match press conference. “Finally I can move in there. That’s really exciting.”
Stephens continued, “Obviously (it is) something I have wanted to do for a while, and it’s not easy. It’s really not easy. Getting to 11 was hard, and so getting into the top 10 is pretty special. I’m super excited about that. It’s something I have worked hard for for a long time. I couldn’t really be any happier.”
Hard Work Pays Off
The American explained that the most difficult matches are often the unglamorous ones and not clashes with the likes of Kerber or Garbine Muguruza.
She said, “I think where the work is done is when you’re on, like, Court 75 and you’re playing Niculescu, and she’s slicing and dicing you to Beijing, basically, and you’re having to really fight and struggle. I think those are where you fight your tail off to be able to get to Centre Court and play girls like that.”
Against Kerber, Stephens also had to deal with the wind, but she argues that is just part of the life of a professional tennis player.
She said, “Today it was obviously super windy. I don’t want to play in wind. She doesn’t want to play in wind. It’s uncomfortable for both of us, but there are always going to be things that you can’t control whatsoever and you’ve just got to go with it.”
“Sometimes it’s not a bad thing because you kind of push yourself to places that you really would not normally go if the conditions were perfect and we were both playing great,” she continued. “I have just learned to embrace it because it’s totally out of my control.”
Finding Form Again
While Stephens’ performances have definitely gone up a notch in Miami, she was happy with her form in Indian Wells too, and she expressed her relief at finding form again.
She said, “I wanted to get back to where I was. Obviously playing well in Toronto and Cincinnati and US Open, that was all great, but to do it over time and keep it going is the hardest part.”
“So I think that I’m in a little bit better shape, a little bit better place,” the American continued. “Last week (in Indian Wells) I didn’t play poorly, but obviously tough result. I lost to the person who made the final, which isn’t bad.”
Stephens also talked about the negative press and comments she has had to deal with during her poor run of form stretching from the US Open last September until Acapulco at the end of February.
She said, “Obviously if you don’t win, people are super upset and they’re, like, ‘You’re never going to be the same.’ All the things that you guys write about are rather insane to me.”
“But I think that patience will outdo anything, hard work will outdo anything, and sometimes life happens and things happen and you have to just go with it. Like I said, I didn’t plan to win the US Open. It wasn’t in my brain that I’m going to win the US Open and then everything is going to be great.”
The American continued, “Winning the US Open was an amazing experience, and everything that came after that. And I think now, after Australia, I knew what I had to do to get myself back in shape and back ready to play, and I just stayed patient with myself.”
Dayana Yastremska Heads To Australia Despite Doping Violation
Did the 20-year-old break the rules with her trip?
Tennis Australia says they are ‘investigating’ after it emerged that Dayana Yastremska boarded a plane funded by the governing body despite failing a drugs test.
Last week the International Tennis Federation issued a statement confirming that the Ukrainian tennis star has been issued with a provisional suspension after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone metabolite. An anabolic agent prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency which can be used for the treatment of people with low testosterone. Yastremska was pictured boarding a plane to Australia on Thursday in a post uploaded by two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova which has since been deleted.
Yastremska has denied any wrongdoing and says she has ‘scientific evidence’ that her positive test was a result of contamination. Although she didn’t elaborate any further as to what that evidence is. The world No.29 has the right to appeal her provisional suspension but according to the latest ITF statement she hasn’t done so. One way her ban can be lifted is if the appeals board accepts her contamination argument which would allow her to play right away.
“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine,” Yastremska wrote in a statement. “Given that low concentration and my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.”
Despite Yastremska’s plea, it is unclear as to if she or Tennis Australia has broken any rules. As of January 15h the ITF still lists her as a player who is provisionally suspended from the sport. Richard Ings, who is the former chair of the Australian anti-doping agency, points out that suspended players are not allowed to participate in any activity organised by a tournament. Raising questions as to if a Tennis Australia funded plane journey counts as one of these ‘activities.’
Yastremska is currently on the Australian Open entry list and is set to be allowed to train during her 14-day quarantine like other players unless anything changes. Tennis Australia has not made a public statement but news agency AAP has confirmed that an investigation has been launched. Should it turn out that the 20-year-old is ineligible to play, it is unclear if she would be required to pay back the cost of her plane trip.
The Australian Open starts on February 8th.
Madison Keys latest player to test positive for Coronavirus
Madison Keys ruled out of the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.
The American tested positive for the first time and will miss the first grand slam of the year.
Madison Keys has officially tested positive for the coronavirus. She announced the news on social media and says she will, unfortunately, miss the Australian Open.
“Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I, unfortunately, tested positive for Covid-19 before I was suppose to fly to Australia. I’m very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen.
“I am self isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to be back on tour next month.
“Thank you for all your support.
“Stay Healthy and safe.
Keys is the latest player to have tested positive after Andy Murray revealed he had a positive test while Tennys Sandgren had tested positive but was given the green light to travel.
Two players in men’s qualifying in Doha tested positive and were immediatly removed from the draw. Apparently if you test positive for the first time you are not allowed to travel but if you already tested positive and show no symptoms there is a chance you will continue to test positive before the effects go away.
Players are traveling this week to Australia and will be mandated to follow the 14 day quarantine with the exception of training five hours a day. The Australian Open begins on February 8th.
While most players will be quarantining in Melbourne both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have confirmed they will do their quarantine in Adelaide.
Unstoppable Aryna Sabalenka Storms To Abu Dhabi Title
Another clinical performance has secured the Belarusian her third consecutive title and a new career-high ranking position.
Aryna Sabalenka’s winning run shows no signs of stopping anytime soon after she powered her way to the Abu Dhabi title on Wednesday.
The fourth seed needed just over an hour to defeat Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2, in what was a largely one-sided encounter in the Middle East. Sabalenka utilized her power to her advantage as she fired five aces and 18 winners past her opponent who was playing in her first WTA final at the age of 23. Overall she won almost twice as many points (63-37) than Kudermetova.
With both players holding their ground early on, Sabalenka started to dominate midway through the opening set with the help of a four-game winning streak. Leading 3-2 on serve, she broke her Russian rival twice in a row to clinch the 6-2 lead. Throughout the opener the world No.10 dropped just five points behind her serve.
It was a familiar pattern in the second frame with Sabalenka continuing to dismantle Kudermetova’s fragile serve. Overall, she broke six consecutive times in the final with four of those occurring in the second set alone. Easing to a game away from victory, she did experience a blunder after losing one of her breaks. However, there would be no chance of a Kudermetova comeback as Sabalenka closed out the match in the following game with her rival hitting a forehand error on match point.
“I’m really proud of the fact that I was fighting no matter what this week,” the new champion reflected on her performance. “Some matches I didn’t feel my serve and some matches I didn’t feel my backhand or forehand, but I just kept fighting and finding my shots, and this is what I’m really proud of. I’m really happy with this title.”
The win extends Sabalenka’s unbeaten run on the Tour to 15 wins. She has now won three titles in a row after ending 2020 triumphing in both Ostrava and Linz. As a result of her latest triumph, Sabalenka will rise to a ranking high of seventh in the world on Monday.
There is also a silver lining for underdog Kudermetova who defeated Elina Svitolina and Marta Kostyuk earlier in the tournament. Her run to the final will move her up the rankings to a career high of 36th. She has already scored five wins over top 10 opponents so far in her career.
“Aryna’s playing good. She played unbelievable today,” Kudermetova said. “She didn’t give me a lot of chances. She tried to keep every ball on the court, she tried to attack, and when she had her chances she went full power on the court. She also fights until the end—that’s why she’s a top player.”
Sabalenka’s surge on the Tour has sparked high expectations for her going into the Australian Open where she is hoping to break new ground in a Grand Slam.
“I was doing everything I could in each match from the beginning (in Abu Dhabi) and I’m happy to start the season with a title,” Sabalenka said. “I’m going to Australia, I’m confident with one thing, that I will do everything I can to win matches.”
Despite her success on the WTA Tour, she has only reached the fourth round of a major once at the 2018 US Open.
ATP Cup Draw Ceremony to be held on Friday in Melbourne
Ashleigh Barty and Jannik Sinner join super field at “A Day at the Drive” exhibition event in Adelaide
Roger Federer should make his come-back in Doha, according to Richard Krajicek
Tennis Umpire Bernardes Suffers Heart Attack In Melbourne Quarantine
The ATP updates the 2021 calendar with two new tournaments in Singapore and Marbella
Ion Tiriac Launches Fresh Tirade Against Serena Williams
REPORT: Novak Djokovic Sends Letter To Australian Open Chief Over Quarantine Measures
Fitness Not The Reason Behind Roger Federer’s Australian Open Withdrawal, Says Official
Australian Open Champion Sofia Kenin Loses Management Contract
EXCLUSIVE: How Matt Roberts Became One Of The Voices Behind The Tennis Podcast
Steve Flink: “Medvedev Deserved To Win, But Is This Really The Onset Of A New Era?”
Steve Flink On The Decline Of American Men’s Tennis: “We Need To Start Attracting The Best Athletes Again”
French Open, Steve Flink: “Nadal is inhuman. He can play three or four more years and retire with Djokovic”
Scanagatta And Flink: “We Both Think Djokovic Will Win The French Open, So Nadal Will Definitely Pull It Off!”
Steve Flink: “Djokovic Will Be Happy About The French Open Draw”
Latest news1 day ago
Roberto Bautista Agut apologizes after comparing the Australian Open bubble to prison
Hot Topics2 days ago
Novak Djokovic Never Demanded Changes To Quarantine Rules, Says Tennis Australia
Hot Topics2 days ago
Victoria Azarenka Calls For Calm As Two Australian Open Players Test Positive For COVID-19
Hot Topics2 days ago
What Does The Future Hold For Ekaterina Alexandrova?
Hot Topics23 hours ago
EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Melbourne Bubble – ‘Players Can’t Act Like Spoilt People’
Focus23 hours ago
EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Melbourne Bubble – ‘Top Names Get Preferential Treatment But That’s Part Of The Tour’
Latest news2 days ago
Rafael Nadal joins star-studded Rotterdam field
Latest news2 days ago
Lorenzo Musetti reaches the second round at the ATP Challenger in Istanbul