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Venus Williams gets revenge on Konta

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Venus Williams avenged her 2017 semi-final loss to Johanna Konta by beating the Brit 5-7 6-1 6-2 in the fourth round of the 2018 Miami Open.

The American’s win earns her a 13th quarter-final appearance in Miami and means she has now beaten Konta three times in a row since her 6-4 7-5 defeat last year at Crandon Park.

Williams had to achieve victory from a set down – the first time either player has done so in this head-to-head – after the Brit won a tight opener courtesy of a decisive break in the 11th game.

The American, 37, raised her game superbly at the start of the second set and broke Konta immediately to lead 2-0. From that point on, she never looked back as she won 12 of the last 15 games in the match to claim the second and third sets with ease.

Defending champion Konta made the perfect start to the match as she broke Williams in the opening game. She almost earned a double break in game three but wasted four opportunities to clinch it.

Saving those break points enabled the American to find some much-needed rhythm and, shortly afterwards, she levelled the score at 3-3 by breaking back.

Williams even had a chance to take the opener when Konta was serving at 4-5. However, she failed to take advantage of her solitary set point and ended up losing the set 7-5.

After sealing the early break in set two with a thunderous forehand winner, the veteran American pressed on with a comfortable hold and then put pressure on the Brit’s serve by winning the first two points of the game.

However, Konta held firm and nearly broke Williams in game five. From 40-0 up, the American committed two unforced errors and a double fault to let the Brit back into the game.

Then, a couple of points later, Konta crunched a forehand winner to earn break point. Williams saved it with a big serve that was too hot for the Brit to handle and went on to hold for 4-1.

The rest of the set went by in a flash as two errors and a double fault from Konta handed the American another break and Williams held easily to clinch it 6-1.

Before the decider, Konta received treatment on her back. But it did not seem to help as she made a few errors and was broken in the opening game.

The Brit fought hard to try and get back into the match and, after Williams saved a break point in game two, Konta managed to level the score by breaking in game four.

However, that was the last game the Brit won as Williams immediately broke her again and raced through the remaining three games she needed to secure the win.

In her post-match, the American said she feels “very focused” this year in Miami. She also explained why it has not surprised her that she has had to win three tough matches to get to the last eight.

“Pretty much everyone I play plays me tough, so that’s the norm for me,” said Williams. “There are no easy matches.”

She continued, “(To win) you have to realize that the player across the net wants to win, too. So you have to fight for every point, and if you come up short, then you just start over again. Everyone is so good now that you can’t expect to have an easy match.”

Svitolina and Azarenka reach last eight

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Williams now has a great chance to go on and claim her first Miami title, but she will probably have to win some more difficult matches to do it due to the calibre of player remaining.

The American will be expected to win her next match against the winner of the match between Monica Puig and Danielle Collins.

However, if she makes it to the last four, she might face Elina Svitolina. The Ukrainian kept alive her hopes of Miami glory by producing an inspired comeback to beat Ashleigh Barty 7-5 6-4.

Svitolina made a poor start to the match and found herself 5-2 down in the opening set. But, after a chat with her coach Andrew Bettles, she upped her intensity and won five games in a row to take the first set.

And the Ukrainian withstood everything Barty threw at her in the second set to win it 6-4 and book her place in the quarter-finals.

In the other half of the draw, Victoria Azarenka had a far easier time of things as she cruised past Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-2 to set up a fascinating quarter-final clash with Karolina Pliskova.

Despite her impressive win over World No.1 Simona Halep in the previous round, the Pole was unable to cope with Azarenka’s returning ability as the Belarussian broke her seven times in the match.

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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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