Victoria Azarenka advances after Keys retires - UBITENNIS
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Victoria Azarenka advances after Keys retires

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Victoria Azarenka advanced to the third round of the Miami Open after Madison Keys retired with a thigh injury when the Belarussian was leading 7-6 2-0.

 

“You never wish an injury on anyone,” said Azarenka in her on-court interview. “I hope Madison recovers as quickly as possible. She’s a great player, a talented individual and a very nice person so I wish her well.”

It is a pity the match ended early as the first set was highly entertaining with both players hitting plenty of eye-catching winners and numerous entertaining rallies that could have gone either way.

Azarenka made the early running, breaking Keys in a closely-fought third game, and she held the advantage until Keys broke back by hitting three huge groundstrokes in game six.

The American hit a precise cross-court backhand winner, then a deep forehand which Azarenka could not return and finally a big forehand that the Belarussian could only volley wide of the court.

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Keys ran with that momentum and broke Azarenka again in game eight to lead 5-3, but she was unable to press home her advantage as the Belarussian made her play some extra shots and she obliged with unforced errors to surrender her serve.

The American had more chances to close out the set in the 12th game, but she was unable to take them and the two-time Grand Slam champion held on to force a tie-break.

Azarenka made the most of her reprieve as she stormed into a 5-0 lead in the tie-break thanks to her relentless ball-striking, and although Keys hit back with some superb groundstrokes of her own to make it 5-3, the Belarussian held her nerve to take it 7-5.

During the break between sets, Keys had her left thigh strapped by the physio and, when she returned to the court to play two more games, she was clearly hampered by her injury and lost them both before pulling out.

Tough day for the seeds

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Elsewhere on day four, seeds tumbled in Miami. 7th seed Caroline Garcia was thrashed 6-3 6-1 by Alison Riske, 17th seed Magdalena Rybarikova lost 6-3 6-3 to Monica Niculescu and 18th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was comfortably beaten 6-1 6-3 by Zarina Diyas.

German No.2 Julia Goerges, whose impressive form in recent months has propelled her to World No.13, suffered a surprise 7-6(2) 4-6 6-4 loss to ever-improving German No.3 Carina Witthoeft.

25th seed Barbora Strycova fell 6-1 6-4 to Christina McHale, 27th seed Carla Suarez-Navarro lost 7-5 6-3 to Yafan Wang and 32nd seed Sorana Cirstea was beaten 7-5 6-2 by Su-Wei Hsieh.

But it was not all bad news for the seeded players. Angelique Kerber easily beat Johanna Larsson 6-2 6-2, Sloane Stephens powered past Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-3, Anastasija Sevastova overcame Alize Cornet 7-5 6-4 and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova edged out Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-2.

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Dayana Yastremska Heads To Australia Despite Doping Violation

Did the 20-year-old break the rules with her trip?

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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.

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Madison Keys latest player to test positive for Coronavirus

Madison Keys ruled out of the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Madison Keys (@SporArena - Twitter)

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.

Madison

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.

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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.

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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.

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