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Heather Watson Suffers First Round Loss In Miami

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Heather Watson’s poor run of form continued at the Miami Open as she lost 7-6(3) 6-2 to Beatriz Haddad Maia in the first round at Crandon Park.

 

It was the Briton’s sixth consecutive WTA tour loss since she reached the semi-final of the Hobart International in the second week of January. It was also her second loss to Haddad Maia within a month after the Brazilian beat her in three sets in Acapulco.

Watson competed well to begin during a closely-fought opening set which saw both players hold in their first four service games. The Briton then broke in the ninth by hitting a lot of balls deep into the court and drawing errors from Haddad Maia’s racket.

However, she was unable to serve out the set as the Brazilian found her rhythm from the back of the court and unleashed several powerful strikes to break straight back.

The set remained tight until the tie-break, when Haddad Maia took control to win it 7-3. Watson seemed demoralised after that, and the Brazilian found it much easier in the second set as she served well and broke twice to win it 6-2.

Haddad Maia will now face Zhang Shuai in round two and, if she can reproduce the impressive form she showed on serve against Watson (she made 63% of her first serves and won 89% of points behind them), she will give herself a great chance of victory.

While it was a disappointing loss for Watson, she can take heart from a good showing in Hobart, two Fed Cup wins in February and her current world ranking of 69, which is 39 places higher than she was at the same stage last year.
However, the Briton has a lot of points to defend at Eastbourne and Wimbledon after producing superb tennis on grass last year and will need to rediscover her form before then.

Tomljanovic and Sasnovich progress

Elsewhere in the draw, Ajla Tomljanovic set up a second-round meeting with Sloane Stephens by triumphing 6-3 4-6 7-5 in a close encounter with Lesia Tsurenko.

Johanna Larsson overcame Katerina Siniakova 4-6 7-6(5) 7-5 in a gruelling match that lasted three hours and seven minutes and will now face Angelique Kerber in round two.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich continued her impressive start to 2018 by beating Krystyna Pliskova 1-6 7-6(5) 7-5, Christina McHale benefitted from Kaia Kanepi’s retirement to advance, and Amanda Anisimova, 16, recovered after twisting her ankle to back up her impressive run to the fourth round in Indian Wells with a 6-3 1-6 6-2 win over Wang Qiang.

Mixed fortunes for Brits in Qualifying

Katie Boulter, 21, is celebrating a place in the main draw and a career-high ranking of 189 after making it through qualifying. First, she beat American Taylor Townsend 7-6(1) 6-2 and then she came back from a set down to overcome Carol Zhao 3-6 7-6(1) 6-2.

But it was an unhappy process for Naomi Broady, who lost 4-6 7-5 6-3 to Oceane Dodin, who was then forced to withdraw from her second qualifying round match the following day.

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National Bank Open Suffers Tripple Blow As Top 10 Stars Pull Out

Canada’s most prestigious tennis event will be missing some top names in the women’s draw but organisers remain confident the tournament will still be a hit.

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The tournament director of the National Bank Open says he is ‘still counting on exceptional players’ after a series of high-profile names pulled out of the women’s draw in Montreal.

 

Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek have pulled out of the event after competing in the Olympic Games. Osaka, who lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony, lost to Marketa Vonmdrousova in the third round. Meanwhile, Swiatek fell in the second round to Spain’s Paula Badosa.

“I am sorry to be missing out on Montréal this year,” said Osaka who reached the quarter-finals in 2019. “Sending my best to all the fans there, the tournament and the staff. I hope to see you all in Canada next year.”

Former French Open champion Swiatek said her decision to not play in Canada is because she wants to have a break after an ‘intense’ first half of the season. So far this year the world No.8 has won 28 out of 35 matches played, winning two titles in Rome and Adelaide. She has played at the Canadian event only once in her career which was two years ago when she reached the third round as a qualifier before losing to Osaka.

“I am very sorry but this year I will not be able to play in Montréal,” said Swiatek. “The first part of the season was so intense that I need a couple of days off to rest and prepare for the next few months. I’m looking forward to playing in Canada in 2022.”

Sofia Kenin completes the trio of withdrawals from the WTA 1000 event. The American is still recovering from a foot injury that has sidelined her from the Tour since Wimbledon.

“I’m really disappointed to withdraw from the event in Montréal next week,” said Kenin. “While I’m making progress, my foot injury is not where I need it to be to play at the highest level. I feel another week of recovery and rehab is necessary. I want to thank Tennis Canada for all its efforts in holding the event during such challenging times. Best of luck to all the players.”

Commonly known as the Canadian Open, both a men’s and women’s event are held during the same week but in different locations. This year the women will be playing in Montreal and men in Toronto. Each year they alternate between the two cities. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tournament director Eugène Lapierre is confident this year’s women’s draw will still live up to expectations despite the absence of some top names.

“We are still counting on exceptional players in the draw, including the 2019 champion, our very own Bianca Andreescu, as well as World No.3 Aryna Sabalenka and two-time National Bank Open champion Simona Halep. Fans should expect a few surprises because the draw has so much depth. Anything is possible, and that means some exciting tennis is in store!” He said.

Sabalenka will be the top seed in the women’s draw. The main draw will start on Monday.

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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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Why Ash Barty Isn’t Staying At The Olympic Village In Tokyo

The two-time Grand Slam champion has opted to stay at an alternate venue heading into the Games.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Ash Barty will prepare for her debut at the Olympic Games by staying at a base located outside of the athletes village as part of her ‘performance plan.’

 

The world No.1 heads into Tokyo as one of the favourites for gold following her triumph at Wimbledon where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final. She is one of six top 10 players set to play in the women’s singles tournament which will start on Saturday.

Leading up to the Games, the head of the Australian Olympic delegation has told reporters that Barty’s decision not to stay in the village will enhance her gold medal chances. In previous Games athletes have stayed outside of the villages but this year it is more challenging to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fans are banned from attending the event amid fears of the virus spreading if they do so.

“Ash is staying elsewhere,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman told the Australian Associated Press.
“We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it’s just what works best for them.
“Something I’ve always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.
“In terms of her performance plan, it’s best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that.”

The exact location of Barty’s base has not been disclosed but it is near to the village where she was said to have visited and had a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.

She is staying in an Australian environment where she can still easily access the village,” Chesterman stated.

The 25-year-old is bidding to become only the second Australian in history to win a medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. The first was Alicia Molik who claimed a bronze medal back in 2004.

During a recent interview with The ITF, Barty said playing at the event is a dream come true for her as she describes representing her country as the ‘highest honour.’

“Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine as a kid, I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told the ITF.
“For an Aussie it’s the best thing you can do and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You’re playing to represent your nation. You’re playing to make people proud and that’s not just with results it’s with your attitude.”

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