By Mark Winters
If was fitting that on the final Sunday of the tournament, a celebration was held to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Roland Garros, the famed World War I French aviator for whom the facility and the tournament is named. He lost his life a day prior to turning 30, when his plane was shot down, near Ardennes, a month before the war ended in 1918.
Eugène Adrien Roland Georges Garros was a debonair record setter, flying to 18,410 feet in 1912 and a year later making the first non-stop flight across the Mediterranean leaving from the south of France (Fréjus) and landing in Bizerte (Tunisia).
Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya, who are both 24-years-old, were looking to accomplish similar feats in the Women’s Doubles final on Sunday, June 10th. They sought to become the first pair of Japanese performers to win a Grand Slam tournament title, and by doing so, win their first event while playing together. Up until today, they had reached three International Tennis Federation (ITF) semifinals between 2013 and 2018. Their best WTA Tour showing was a quarterfinal at Acapulco in 2015.
Unfortunately, Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková were not, in the least, accommodating. The Czech Republic, 22-year-old tandem, playing their fifth Grand Slam championship together, set a record of their own. In 2016, at Roland Garros they were semifinalists, but today they realized their best result at a major by downing Hozumi and Ninomiya, 6-3, 6-3 to claim the title.
In a word, the 2018 Roland Garros Women’s Doubles event was “astounding”. Hozumi and Ninomiya had the tournament of their lives. They scurried about the court, aggressively cutting off groundstrokes and turning them into decisive volley winners and hitting cleverly disguised lobs that were almost always irretrievable.
Unseeded and basically, unknown, they stunned the Hungarian/French combination and No. 1 seeds, Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, in the quarterfinals, 7-6, 6-3 after shocking Gabriel Dabrowski of Canada and Yifana Xu of China, 6-1, 6-2, the No. 5 seeds, the round before. In the semifinals, they waylaid the No. 8 seeds Hao-ching Chan of Taiwan and Zhaoxuan Yang of China, 6-2, 6-2.
Krejčíková and Siniaková, the No. 6 seeds, were tested, but always found a way to survive. In the first three round, they played three, three set matches. The contest against Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands and Johanna Larsson of Sweden, in the Round of 16, was a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) thriller. In the quarterfinals, they really found their form dispatching Andreja Klepač of Slovenia and María José Martínez Sánchez of Spain, the No. 3 seeds, 6-3, 6-3. In the semifinals, they were even better downing Czech countrywomen and No. 2 seeds, Andrea Sestini Hlaváčková and Barbora Strýcová, 6-3, 6-2.
In the final, the taller team, Krejčíková and Siniaková, who stand 5’10” and 5’9”, respectively, towered over Hozumi, who is 5’6” and the 5’2” Ninomiya collecting 60 points of the 100 points played in the one-hour, five-minute contest.
Japanese legend Ai Sugiyama earned three Grand Slam titles in her career. The first was at the 2000 US Open with Julie Halard-Decugis of France. The last two were Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2003 with Kim Clijsters of Belgium. Following the match, Krejčíková and Siniaková praised Hozumi and Ninomiya for their outstanding play during the fortnight. They also took the time to remember their countrywoman Jana Novotna, who lost her battle with cancer in November 2017.
Roland Garros was justifiably saluted on the last day of the championships. Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya have been discovered while opening eyes with their wonderful personalities and competitiveness. A Grand Slam win could be within their reach, in their future. Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková were the 2018 Roland Garros Women’s Doubles story. They won the event and, along with it, earned the rarified status of being Grand Slam tournament champions and best of all, it was a great send off for Stade Roland Garros which will undergo a transformation for next year.
Svetlana Kuznetsova Wins First Title Since Return From Surgery In Washington
The two-time grand slam champion has returned back to the winners circle following her six-month absence due to injury.
Former world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova saved four match points to defeat Donna Vekic 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, in the final of the Citi Open in Washington.
Kuznetsova, 33, fought back against the aggressive play of her opponent. Saving seven out of the 10 break points she faced in the match. Eventually, it was the experience of the Russian that guided her to the finish line as she hit 34 winners to 36 unforced errors to win her first title on the tour since the 2016 Moscow Open.
“It was a difficult week,” Kuznetsova reflected afterwards. “Tennis is always mental, if you lose or if you win, you always gotta stay focused.”
With both players contesting their first final of the season, it was Vekic who battled through what was a roller-coaster and tense opening set. At first, the seventh seed appeared on course to clinch the opener with ease after breaking Kuznetsova in the fourth game as she raced out to a 4-1 lead. Only to be pegged by the 2014 champion. Serving for the set at 5-3, a forehand error rewarded Kuznetsova the chance to break back. Prior to the following point, the Russian complained about the movement of the crowd just as Vekic was about to serve. Then the Croat hit a double fault with the two players exchanging words at the changeover.
Despite feeling hard done by, Vekic soon restored order in the match. As Kuznetsova served for a chance to level 5-5, she pounced one again as the former world No.2 faltered. Recovering from a 15-40 deficit to seal the opening set with the help of a Kuznetsova double fault on set point.
Vekic continued to fight with the help of her of some rapid shock-making. Fending off a break point to nudge ahead 4-3 in the second set. Although Kuznetsova refused to go away. Saving two match points, it was in the tiebreaker where the Russian managed to turn her fortunes around. Vekic missed out on another two chances to win the match, allowing Kuznetsova to nudge ahead 8-7. She was then able to force proceedings into a decider after a Vekic forehand slammed into the net.
Kuznetsova’s resilience eventually wore her opponent down, who was close to tears after the match. Vekic admitted afterwards that she was dealing with leg pain and took a medical time out just before the start of the final set.
A double break in Kuznetsova’s favor in the decider guided her to a 5-0 lead. Enough of a cushion to enable her to close out the match after two-and-a-half hours of play to win her second Washington title.
“I know I’ve been a little bit lucky today,” she said.
“There’s something going on with Washington. I never lose here. I played two times and I won both.”
The victory comes after what has been a testing first half of the year for Kuznetsova. Left wrist surgery forced her to miss six months of the tour. Meaning that she didn’t start the 2018 season until March. Prior to the Citi Open, she had only won four matches in 10 tournaments played. Making her latest triumph even more special.
“Those times I had after the surgery, I had difficulties everywhere — personal, working different things. I switched coaches. I had lots of issues,” Kuznetsova explained. “But still, I rise again, and it’s really good for me.”
As a result of her latest win, Kuznetsova has risen 41 places in 87th in the world. Meanwhile, Vekic has jumped seven places to 37th.
Davis Cup Reforms Face Late Opposition As Vote Looms
The proposed Davis Cup reforms have received strong criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe ahead of this month’s vote.
The upcoming Davis Cup reform vote has received some strong opposition and criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe.
The vote is set to take place on the 16th of August, where federations will vote to change the 118 year old format to a one week season finale at the end of the year. The proposed move by Kosmos, has received fierce criticism and will need a two-thirds majority in order for it to be approved.
However with the vote just two weeks away Tennis Australia has been among the federations to oppose these reforms and have pushed this even further as they have wrote a letter expressing their discontent at the idea. The letter has been signed by the likes of John Newcombe, current Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
The letter raises the following concerns, “We have written and spoken to the ITF President for several months now requesting clarity on the proposal from Kosmos, but this has not been forthcoming,” explained the letter, which is even signed by former ITF president Brian Tobin.
“Very large numbers are being referenced, but there is not enough detail to give us confidence this proposal will genuinely deliver enough additional value to players and the nations to offset the loss of home and away camaraderie and all the local marketing, facility investment and player development benefit that comes with those ties. In the absence of such important information, we have no choice other than to vote against the proposed amendments.”
However Tennis Australia isn’t the only federation to be against this move as Tennis Europe, who represent more than 50 member nations have also expressed their concern at the idea, “I am particularly concerned that there is hardly any information received from the ITF regarding bank guarantees for the proposed US$120 million per year which would be the $3 billion deal over 25 years, according to the original proposal,” President Vladimir Dimitriev explained in a separate letter.
“I have not yet seen a final and feasible explanation on how the business model or the governance structure will be either.”
The ITF do have the backing of Germany and France ahead of the move though with the AGM meeting set to take place in Orlando, Florida between the 13th and 16th of August.
Serena Williams Withdraws From Montreal Due To Personal Reasons
Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week due to personal reasons.
Former world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week as she deals with some personal issues.
The American suffered the worst defeat of her career last week when she lost 6-1 6-0 to Johanna Konta in San Jose. The 23 grand slam champion clearly wasn’t at her best and it now turns out that she had personal problems to deal with as this is the reason for her withdrawal in Montreal next week.
The recent Wimbledon finalist also felt that she could not play Montreal and Cincinnati in back to back weeks as she continues her comeback from pregnancy. The tournament director, Eugene Lapierre, admits that he is disappointed but still recognises the high quality field that is left, “Of course, we are disappointed that Serena will not be joining us, Fans were very much looking forward to seeing her in action,” explained Eugene.
“But beyond the disappointment, the tournament, as a whole, remains a high-level competition. The entire Top 10 is here, along with 22 of the Top 25. There are exciting matches in store from the outset.”
The American was set to play in Canada for the first time since 2015 before withdrawing today. The 23 time grand slam champion has played five events since returning from pregnancy and the results have been mixed as you can see below:
Indian Wells – Third Round
Miami – First Round
Roland Garros – Fourth Round
Wimbledon – Final
San Jose – First Round
Tatjana Maria will now replace Serena Williams in the main draw and the German faces Alize Cornet in the first round.
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