Sloane Stephens: "I am happy that I was the last person to win at Key Biscayne" - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens: “I am happy that I was the last person to win at Key Biscayne”

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Sloane Stephens fulfilled her dream to win her favourite tournament in the tennis venue, where everything bagan.

 

Sloane Stephens crowned a perfect Miami tournament with her first Premier Mandatory title in Miami after beating Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 in the final. For the 24-year-old the Miami triumph in front of her family and friends was the perfect farewell to Crandon Park.

The Miami Open will be relocated from Crandon Park to the Hard Rock Stadium (the venue of the Miami Dolphins NFL team) next year and for Stephens her triumph was the perfect way to say goodbye to tennis courts, where her career began.

Stephens has become the fifth US player to win the Miami tournament following in the footsteps of legends Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and sisters Venus and Serena Williams.

“I grew up playing tennis here. Obviously this place is pretty special to me. When the USTA was here, we played Orange Bowl and all sorts of tournaments here. I am definitely happy that I could be the last person to win here. I have had some amazing experiences here, and I will definitely miss it, but I will definitely miss it. I just feel fortunate that I was able to do that here in South Florida with all my friends and family watching. It’s pretty awesome. Obviously I did not start the year off great, so to have a good result here is really important”, said Stephens to WTA Insider.

Sloane Stephens came into the Miami Open with a record of just three wins in four tournament but she found her rhythm in the home tournament beating four consecutive Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Viktoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko en route to her first WTA Premier Mandatory title. With the second biggest title of her career after the 2017 US Open Stephens has maintained her perfect record winning her sixth WTA title in as many title matches.

“Everyone is complaining that I play the easiest players when I win a tournament and I don’t play anyone in the top 10. I beat four Grand Slam champions. That’s pretty incredible and I am really pleased with that”.

Stephens felt that beating Monica Niculescu in the first round was more difficult than playing against Grand Slam champions on Centre Court.

“I think that a lot of the work is done when there is no crowd and there is no one there and you are playing a player who is extremely difficult to play. Someone that chop you up at any point. It’s not easy. You work so hard during those matches to be able to play on Center Court against top three players in those great matches. I think the easy part is when you are playing on the Centre Court ! When you are playing someone like Monica, that’s when you really get pushed to your limits. Those types of things are the learning lessons that I need to be able to improve and get better and play my best tennis on the Centre Court”.

Stephens admitted that the injury at the start of 2017 has helped her change her perspective in tennis and life in general.

“When I was told that I had to undergo surgery, I thought that this was the end for me, as tennis was the only thing I was able to do. Injury gave me a new perspective on tennis and on life. I don’t think there is anything else I would rather be doing. I worked for Tennis Channel and I finished my studies at the University. I felt that I was able to do something else in my life apart from tennis. I felt that I had other goals and this has helped me see things in a different way”.

Sloane Stephens is looking forward to the next tournaments starting from the clay season.

“I have not played in Rome for the past two years. I am looking forward to this tournament. Clay is my favourite surface. I hope I will be able to continue playing well on clay”.

 

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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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Bianca Andreescu pulls out of Tokyo Olympics

The world number five has officially pulled out of the Olympics in Tokyo stating reasons due to the ongoing pandemic situation.

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Bianca Andreescu will not be making the trip to Tokyo to play in the Olympics after withdrawing due to the current pandemic situation.

 

The former US Open champion issued a statement concerning what she describes as a ‘difficult decision.’ Andreescu is the latest top name to pull out of the Olympics. Last week Nick Kyrgios also said he wouldn’t be playing for similar reasons. Due to a a surge of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, the city has gone into a state of emergency which prompted organisers to ban spectators from attending Olympic events in the city. Athletes will be subjected to tough restrictions during their time at the event, as well as regular testing.

” I would like to inform you that I have made the very difficult decision to not play in the Tokyo Olympics later this month,” Andreescu wrote on Instagram. “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris! “

The Canadian hasn’t played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Alize Cornet of France and most recently split with her coach Sylvain Brunneau after a four-year partnership.

Her 2021 season has been up and down starting in Australia where she lost in the second round before making the semifinals at the Phillips Island Trophy event. She then made the final at the Miami Open before taking a fall in the final against Ash Barty and was forced to retire due to injury.

Then the clay-court season came and Andreescu tested positive for Covid. She was forced to miss events in Madrid and Rome, so she headed to Strasbourg for some preparation before the French Open. The world No.5 won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out due to an ab injury. She then lost in the first round of the French Open.

The Canadian moved on to the grass-court season heading to Berlin but again would get upset in the first round by Alize Cornet before winning one round in Eastbourne and losing to Anett Kontaveit.

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