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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Agnieszka Radwanska: The Pioneer Of The Golden Generation In Poland

Agnieszka Radwanska’s legacy is more than what it seems as she announced her retirement from Tennis.

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Agnieszka Radwanska (zimbio.com)

13 years ago, Agnieszka Radwanska started her career and evolved into a pioneer of a golden generation in Polish Tennis and now she exits the game having left a memorable legacy. 

Today is quite a sad day for many Polish tennis fans including myself who have watched Agnieszka Radwanska’s brilliant career evolve over the last 13 years. A talented player with many trick shots, a tonne of personality and some incredible achievements.

The Krakow-born star reached a grand slam final in 2012, where she forced the greatest player of all time to three sets at Wimbledon, a place that Serena Williams has made her second home. The 29 year old also won 20 WTA titles including a landmark title in Beijing as well as winning the biggest title of her career in Singapore at the WTA Finals in 2015.

A career high of world number two in 2012 consolidated what most fans knew, which was that she was a unique once in a lifetime player that fulfilled her potential. Even though injuries prevented her reaching further in the women’s game there was no doubting her achievements on the court.

The Polish Generation. 

Despite all these achievements, nothing will top what Radwanska has done in becoming a pioneer for Polish tennis and the success that may follow in the years to come.

The obvious example to her legacy is what Jerzy Janowicz was able to achieve at Wimbledon in 2013. The tall Pole was able to reach the semi-finals at SW19 in a historic event that saw Poland’s first men’s singles success since Wojciech Fibak. Although even he couldn’t reach a grand slam singles semi-final.

In the quarter-finals that year he competed in an all-Polish last eight match with Lukasz Kubot in a match that will never be forgotten.

Now the Radwanska link is that her success coinciding with Janowicz’s was a remarkable feat for Polish tennis that had the whole country invested in the sport.

Poland is a small nation in the tennis world and to see two singles successes in grand slams was pretty remarkable and set a standard in what was to come.

Although Radwanska couldn’t achieve grand slam success, a Polish grand slam winner would eventually evolve in Lukasz Kubot. The 36 year old has won two grand slams with two different partners and became the first Polish grand slam champion since Fibak. Not bad for a country of 35 million people.

There are also solid successes of Marcin Matkowski, Magda Linette, Alicja Rosolska as well as Michal Przysiezny, who is a former top 50 player and a big influence in Caroline Wozniacki’s recent Australian Open success.

Hopman Cup Success

Another achievement in Radwanska’s successful career was the Hopman Cup triumph in Perth with Jerzy Janowicz in what was a fun week.

Surprisingly it was Radwanska who took charge in that relationship and won a very emotional title in Perth, a week which signified how lucky Polish tennis was with this ongoing golden generation.

A title which will arguably be in the hearts of many Polish fans and is much more significant than people may assume.

The Legacy Continued: Fed Cup and Davis Cup. 

Although Radwanska had lead a golden generation in Polish tennis, there were still doubts whether this could be replicated in Fed Cup and Davis Cup.

Well those doubts were silenced when the Fed Cup team reached the World Group for the first time in their history. A magnificent achievement and a historic won even if they were eliminated by a Maria Sharapova-led Russia.

The Davis Cup team somehow equalled Radwanska’s Fed Cup team as they reached the World Group for the first time in their history. Caroline Wozniacki’s hitting partner, Michal Przysiezny sealed the winning rubber against Slovakia which had clearly shown how deep the talent was amongst the Polish players.

Away From The Legacy: The Turmoil Balanced With Personal Joy

Despite the legacy she had lead, the struggle was real on the tour for Radwanska as she started to develop injuries which prevented further progress.

This mental and physical turmoil unfortunately prevented her success in winning a grand slam and will probably go down as one of the best players never to win a grand slam.

After reaching the Wimbledon final in 2012 she only managed to reach a grand slam quarter-final seven times. Although the Pole was still capable of stunning upsets such as the one she pulled on Simona Halep in Miami this year.

This was of course managed by personal joy after getting married last year to Poland’s current Fed Cup captain, David Celt.

A tribute to a wonderful career

To put Aga’s career in perspective and how loved she was in her long and successful career, here is a tribute to her career by Radwanska herself.

Here is also reaction from other players just to show how loved Radwanska really is:

https://twitter.com/DonnaVekic/status/1062737073256456192

https://twitter.com/juliagoerges/status/1062758622453788672

The Future: Hotel Ventures and Polish Talent. 

Its not all bad news for Radwanska fans as she is continuing her legacy through her own hotel in Krakow, where she was born. For each room in the hotel she has a memory from each of her big trophy wins including Singapore and Beijing.

As for the legacy that Radwanska started it will continue into another generation of Polish tennis as Hubert Hurkacz and Kamil Majchrzak lead Male hopes in Poland. In-fact Hurkacz is now in the top 100 in the world and recently competed at the Next Gen Finals, a season that he will remember for a long time. 

The women also have a bright future with Iga Swiatek winning the Wimbledon juniors title this year as she keeps tearing it up on the futures tour. While Maja Chwalinska is slowly looking to join Swiatek as the future of Polish tennis.

Do Widzenia Radwanska

So in summary, the pioneer of a golden generation of Polish tennis players has retired, in what will be an emotional day for Polish tennis fans. Her legacy will be felt for a long time to come as Polish tennis continues to evolve. With the loss of Radwanska and potentially Janowicz it feels like the early stage of Polish tennis has finished in its chapter.

Congratulations on an amazing career to Aga as she now looks to live a healthy life outside of a tennis court. A nation will always be grateful for Aga’s long-lasting legacy and achievements on the court.

So as emotional as it sound, thank you for all that you have given Polish tennis Agnieszka Radwanska and as we say in Poland: Powodzenia an Do Widzenia (Good Luck and Goodbye).

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Lucie Safarova Announces Retirement At Australian Open Due To Health Problems

Former doubles world number one, Lucie Safarova has announced that the Australian Open will be her last tournament of her career.

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Lucie Safarova (zimbio.com)

Former doubles world number one Lucie Safarova has announced that she will retire at the Australian Open next year. 

The 31 year old made her announcement in a pre-Fed Cup press conference, where she explained that she’s been suffering from health problems for a while.

The former world number five in singles stated that she can no longer continue and admitted it was a hard decision to make, “I decided to end my career in Melbourne,” Safarova told sport.idnes.cz.

“Health complication were a big part in my decision. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time with Rob (Steckley, her coach) we talked that this would be the last season. I’ve had a great career but it’s not a healthier job.”

In her career Safarova reached a Roland Garros final in 2015 in singles, where she lost to Serena. The Czech Republican also had fantastic doubles success with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, winning three of the four grand slams.

“I don’t want to end by playing qualifying tournaments. I’m not playing any tournaments ahead of Melbourne,” Safarova concluded.

The former doubles world number one will now end her career by playing singles and doubles at the Australian Open as she can look back on her career with fond memories and great success.

 

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Darren Cahill Announces Shock Split From Simona Halep Due To Family Reasons

Darren Cahill has announced that he will not coach Simona Halep next season after wanting to spend more time with family.

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Darren Cahill and Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

Darren Cahill has announced his shock split from world number one Simona Halep due to family reasons. 

The Australian has been with Halep for four years in which he has turned her into a dominant world number one. As well as that he coached her to a first grand slam victory in Paris in May and it looked they would extend their partnership.

However just days after releasing a video dedicated to Simona Halep, the Australian has announced that he will no longer be coaching the Romanian as he plans to spend more time with family.

In a statement he Cahill said the following:

“I would like to announce that Simona and I will not be continuing our partnership in 2019 purely for family reasons on my part. After much thought and discussion, and many years with 30 plus weeks on the road away from my family, I’ve decided to take a 12 month break from coaching to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives with the final year of high school, sports and college preparations all becoming more time consuming.
“I’d like to thank Simona for the last 4 amazing years. Her understanding, personality, work ethic, generosity and professionalism made it a pleasure to stand by her side as her coach. She’s a young woman of total class and someone I respect greatly which is something more important than any result achieved. Basically, I had the dream job and I want to thank her for making it that way, and the opportunity to work with someone so talented and dedicated. I wish Simo and her team nothing but continued success and I look forward to supporting her from the sidelines next year.”

The announcement means that their four year partnership ends despite a career-best season from the Romanian having been world number one for most of the year. The Australian confirmed he will still fulfil his TV commitments with ESPN.

“And finally, to the Romanian fans that show unwavering passion and support for their girl. You guys rock, seriously. Thanks for adopting this Aussie as one of your own for the last 4 years and making me feel welcome in your country. I will continue to work with the ESPN team at the AO, Wimbledon & US Open tournaments in 2019.”

The Romanian has since responded thanked the Australian for what has been an incredibly four year partnership.

https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep/status/1060977900013477893

Halep’s next steps remain unclear but it is clear that she will miss Cahill in her corner next season as he been the driving force behind her success. Although who knows if the Australian will return to her corner in 2020. 

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