Unseeded Aryna Sabalenka Reaches Eastbourne Final - UBITENNIS
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Unseeded Aryna Sabalenka Reaches Eastbourne Final

Aryna Sabalenka won a rollercoaster three-set clash with Agnieszka Radwanska to make it through to her first WTA Premier final.




Aryna Sabalenka continued her remarkable run at the 2018 Nature Valley International with an impressive 6-3 1-6 6-3 win over Agnieszka Radwanska.

The result takes her through to her first WTA Premier final and means she will move up to at least No.32 in the new set of world rankings on Monday.

Sabalenka’s match against Radwanska started in bizarre fashion with six consecutive breaks of serve as both players struggled to find their rhythm.

However, there was plenty of good tennis show in that time. Sabalenka cracked three huge winners in succession in game four and then Radwanska flicked a delightful cross-court forehand past her opponent in game five.

Game six was high-quality too, as the Pole hit an excellent backhand volley and the Belarussian unleashed a brutal forehand winner to seal her third break.

The set’s crucial moments came in game seven when Sabalenka became the first player to hold serve. She fought back superbly from 15-40 to do it.

Both players were sloppy in the next game, but the Belarussian managed to find a pair of winners when she needed them most to earn another break. She then held to love to seal the first set.

Radwanska fights back


In the opening game of the second set, Sabalenka hit an extraordinary return. Radwanska tossed a serve out wide, which most players would have struggled to get a racket to. However, the Belarussian not only reached it, she slammed it around the net onto the side-line for a winner.

Shortly after that, Sabalenka lobbed Radwanska to break her yet again. Things were looking very bad for the Pole at this stage, but it was all about to change.

Having played so well to get to 6-3 and 1-0 with a break, the Belarussian experienced a big dip in performance. It started with four unforced errors as she dropped serve.

Then she watched as Radwanska produced an excellent game to hold serve for the first time in the match. The Pole hit a lovely half-volley winner and a superb forehand pass before sealing it with an unreturnable serve.

Radwanska did not have to do much to win the next game. She hit a beautiful floaty drop shot to win the first point and then put the ball in play repeatedly and enticed Sabalenka to make a series of errors.

The rest of the second set continued in similar fashion. The Belarussian made plenty more errors as she dropped serve twice more, and the former World No.2 eventually sealed the set 6-1 with a classy forehand pass followed by another error from Sabalenka.

Sabalenka steps up


In stark contrast to the rest of the match, the decider began with four consecutive holds. Radwanska then played two brilliant points in game five, finishing one with a delicate lob and the other with backhand volley, as she broke to lead 3-2.

However, that was the last game the Pole won as Sabalenka dialled up her aggression. She hit three winners to fight back from 40-0 on Radwanska’s serve and break for 3-3.

Then she hit three winners to go 40-0 up, two double faults and an error to fall back to deuce, and then two more winners to secure a vital hold.

In game eight, the Belarussian was imperious. She slammed four brilliant backhands, three of them outright winners, to break the Pole to love.

The final game of the match was more typical of Sabalenka as she hit a few winners and made a few unforced errors before eventually sealing with a forehand that Radwanska could barely lay a racket on.

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing



Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Karolina Pliskova Finding Her Footing With The Help Of New Coach Krajan



Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 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/Simon Bruty

Karolina Pliskova’s resurgence on the Tour comes at a time when she has formed a new partnership with a well-known coach. 

After her first round loss at the Australian Open to Elena Rybakina, the Czech won nine consecutive matches on the Tour. In Romania, she claimed her 17th WTA title at the Winners Open before reaching the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 event in Doha. However, she was unable to play her semi-final clash against Iga Swiatek due to a lower back injury. During this period she has improved her ranking from 77th to 36th. 

Pliskova began the season without a coach at her side but is now working with Croatia’s Zeljko Krajan. A partnership she believes is showing promising signs already. 

“Personality-wise, I think he’s kind of similar to me,” Pliskova told WTA Insider. “Not really high or low. Relaxed and very like calm. 
“We didn’t really plan yet anything because now the schedule was difficult. I might be in qualifying in Indian Wells. Maybe I enter San Diego. So I don’t really know what’s gonna be. I’m just living day by day at the moment.” 

Krajan has worked with a series of players on both the WTA and ATP Tour’s. He guided Dinara Safina to three Grand Slam finals between 2008 and 2010. He has also worked with Borna Coric, Laura Robson, Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika cibulkova.

Pliskova, who is a former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, has endured a roller-coaster journey on the Tour in recent months with mixed results. Last season she failed to win back-to-back matches at 11 consecutive tournaments. 

So how has she managed to regain her form on the Tour?

“Motivation was never really a problem for me,” Pliskova said. “If I go on the court no matter how bad or good I feel, I always want to win. I always want to compete. 
“But my game is based on confidence and I need to feel that. Even if I’m not playing well or winning many matches, I just need to find that confidence in that moment or in that game because it’s just so risky. My shots are so flat, so I go for mostly lines. If something is not going well or you start to doubt, then of course you miss a little bit. Everything is about this.”

Unseeded at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Pliskova beat China’s Zhang Shuai in the first round. She will next play Ashlyn Krueger in the second round on Tuesday.

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Elena Rybakina Eases Past Kasatkina To Win Abu Dhabi Open



Elena Rybakina has captured her second title of the season after beating an erratic Daria Kasatkina in straight sets at the Abu Dhabi Open. 

The world No.5 stormed to a 6-1, 6-4, win over the Russian in just over an hour. It is the third time in Rybakina’s career that she has beaten Kasatkina on the Tour and she now leads their head-to-head 3-2. The triumph comes a month after she won the Brisbane International, which is also a WTA 500 event. 

Rybakina’s latest match saw her capitalise on her opponent’s costly mistakes. Kasatkina struggled with her serve throughout the majority of the final and only managed to hold twice in eight attempts. Opening the door for the former Wimbledon champion who hit 17 winners against 12 unforced errors en route to victory. 

“I want to thank the fans who came this week,” said the new champion. “It has been an amazing atmosphere, especially to see flags from Kazakhstan. It means a lot, thank you so much.”

A one-sided 25-minute opening set saw Rybakina claim four straight games to clinch an early lead. During to the opener, Kasatkina only managed to win 26% of her service points. It was the fourth time in the tournament that the Kazakh had won a set by conceding two or fewer games. 

Fortunately for world No.14 Kasatkina and the crowd, there was more of a battle in the second frame. Twice in a row Rybakina worked her way to a break advantage before losing it in the following game. Then at 4-4, she dealt the decisive blow by hitting a clean forehand winner to break yet against and this time had a chance to serve for the title. With the rain starting to fall, she converted her first championship point with the help of another error from across the net. 

The defeat for Kasatkina comes a day after she came through a marathon three-hour semi-final match before criticising the WTA over their tournament scheduling. She is currently set to play in the Qatar Open with her opening match taking place tomorrow. It is the sixth time in a row she has been beaten by a top-five player on the Tour. 

“Congratulations to Elena, you’ve had a great week,” she said.
“Thanks to my team who has always been next to me. I am really proud of the job we’ve done and how we are doing. Thanks for always believing in me.”

Rybakina also referred to the demanding calendar during the trophy presentation. 

“Tough week (for Kasatkina), especially the last matches. Tomorrow there is already a match in Doha but hopefully, we will both recover and do well there. Maybe also play (against each other) in the final there,” she said. 

Unlike Kasatkina, Rybakina has a first round bye in Doha. She has now won seven WTA trophies so far in her career. 

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