Wimbledon Day 14 Preview: The Ladies’ Championship Final - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Day 14 Preview: The Ladies’ Championship Final

Serena Williams goes for Major singles title #24, but a familiar and challenging foe stands in her way.

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Serena Williams (zimbio.com)

But before the women take to the court, we’ll see the resumption of the second gentlemen’s semifinal.  Djokovic leads Nadal two-sets-to-one, in a match that was suspended on Friday due to Wimbledon’s 11:00pm curfew.  The men will resume play at 1:00pm local time, and the women will follow not before 2:00pm. With the gentlemen’s and ladies’ doubles finals also to be played, it’s going to be one of the more eventful Day 12’s in the history of The Championships.

 

Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber

Just last September, Serena Williams was fighting for her life due to serious medical issues that arose from giving birth to her first child.  Now for the tenth time in her over two-decade career, she’ll walk onto Centre Court to play for the Venus Rosewater Dish. Serena is 7-2 in the ladies’ final at Wimbledon, and 23-6 overall in singles final at Majors.  Serena is on a 20-match winning streak at SW19, having not lost since 2014 when Alize Cornet upset her in the third round. A win today would tie her with Margaret Court for the most Major singles titles, though of course over half of Court’s tally came prior to the open era.  Coming into this tournament, Serena was admittedly less than 100%, as the pec injury she suffered in Paris prevented her from serving at full speed in practice. But Serena has exhibited no ill effects of that injury through six round, as her serve has been extremely effective.  She’s been broken only once in each of her last three matches.

Angelique Kerber is into her second Wimbledon final, and fourth Major final.  She is one of only five women to defeat Serena in a Major singles final, which she did at the 2016 Australian Open.  That was part of a career-year for Kerber, who won her only two Major titles that year. 2016 also saw Kerber win a silver medal at the Rio Olympics, and she was the runner-up at that year’s WTA Finals.  She would finish the year as world number one, though her 2017 season was much different. Last year she went just 29-24, with no titles. But 2018 has featured a resurgent Kerber, who already has 38 wins on the year, and has made the quarterfinals or better at all three Majors.

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Both players have dropped only one set heading into this Championship match, and have improved in form as the tournament has progressed.  As Courtney Nguyen highlighted on Twitter, Serena’s unforced error count has consistently improved round-by-round. Most notably, she made just nine errors in her quarterfinal, and seven in her semifinal.  Meanwhile Kerber has averaged just 11 unforced errors over her last four matches. And while her serve does not get near the speed of Serena’s, its placement has been superb, as was her 77% first serve percentage in her semifinal against Jelena Ostapenko.

This of course is a rematch from the Wimbledon final of two years, in which Serena avenged her loss to Kerber in Melbourne from earlier that year.  Serena leads their head-to-head 6-2, and has won five of their last six meetings. The angles generated by Kerber will move Serena around the court in different ways than her previous opponents, though Williams should be fully prepared for that considering how many times they’ve played.  And while Serena isn’t quite at her competitive best in just the fourth tournament of her comeback, she’ll need to be much less than her best for Kerber to have a decent shot. But if Williams is ever ripe for an upset in a Major final, it’s now. Will Serena be at all overwhelmed by the weight of the occasion, as she goes for 24th Major?  Playing for such a milestone has gotten to her in the past, when she was upset by Roberta Vinci in the 2015 US Open semifinals while going for the calendar year Grand Slam.  Also keep in mind how kind the draw has been to Serena. Kerber is by far the most accomplished opponent she’s met during this fortnight, and she has beaten Serena before in a Major final.  Kerber definitely has a fighting chance, but if the past two decades of tennis have taught us anything, it’s this: bet against Serena Williams at your own peril.

 

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Marton Fucsovics Reflects On ‘Tough’ Transition To Main Tour

Marton Fucsovics speaks about the difficulties of travelling to the ATP World Tour from the Juniors.

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Marton Fucsovics (@atptour - Twitter)

World number 70 Marton Fucsovics has revealed the pressures that came after success at Juniors level. 

 

The Hungarian has reached a career high ranking of 31 in the world with his big-hitting game but many expected Fucsovics to do better on the ATP Tour.

After winning the 2010 Wimbledon Juniors title, many had predicted big things for Fucsovics but the transition wasn’t a smooth one.

Now in a recent interview, the 27 year-old reveals that he felt the pressure that came with being a good Juniors player, “I felt a lot of pressure,” Fucsovics told TennisHead. 

“Everybody expected me to be in the top 100 in the next one or two years, but it didn’t happen for another eight years. It was a difficult time. I played Challenger tournaments every week. It was tough.”

Despite finding it hard to transition, Fucsovics’ hard work finally payed off in 2018 as he won his first ATP World Tour title in Geneva.

It’s an achievement that shows that his fighting spirits have paid off, “When I turned 18 or 19 I wasn’t very good. The transition was really hard for me. But I kept on fighting. It was my dream, and finally I made it.”

Although it wasn’t a career many had expected from the Hungarian, it’s one that he is proud of and that is what tennis all about, celebrating those who work hard for their dreams.

Another tough thing about Fucsovics’ career was the fact he came from a country that isn’t a big tennis nation and he also revealed how tough it was growing up, “As a country we’ve been getting better since me and Timea Babos broke into the top 100, Tennis is getting more popular in Hungary but we’re still not there yet,” Fucsovics admitted.

“Ninety-five per cent of the courts in Hungary are clay, There are very few indoor courts in Hungary. I don’t think there are any in the whole country outside of Budapest.

“In Hungary we didn’t have the facilities, the coaches, the courts. You have to pay to play but you don’t have to join a club to play, You can just pay the hourly rate.”

It’s an interesting insight and gives a perspective of just how hard Fucsovics has had to work to reach his goals having been only the second male player in history to be in the top 100.

The Hungarian will need to work even harder next season if he wants to climb up the ATP rankings as he sits number 70 in the world at the end of 2019.

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Coco Gauff joins strong line-up in Auckland

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US 15-year-old tennis sensation Coco Gauff will start her 2020 season at the ASB Classic in Auckland joining a strong line-up, which also features former Grand Slam champions Caroline Woniacki, Jelena Ostapenko, Serena and Venus Williams, Jelena Ostapenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova and double defending champion Julia Goerges, reigning US Open champion Bianca Andreescu and this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Amanda Anisimova.

 

The line-up of the 2020 edition of the Auckland tournament will be a mix of youth and experience. Williams, Kuznetsova, Wozniacki and Goerges have collected a total of 127 titles between them.

Serena Williams won 23 Grand Slam titles and clinched 72 WTA titles. This year the US legend reached two finals at Wimbledon and at the US Open.

In last year’s edition of the Auckland tournament Andreescu came through the qualifying round before beating world number one players Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki en route to reaching her first WTA Final. Andreescu went on to win three titles at Indian Wells, Toronto and the US Open. One year ago the Canadian player of Romanian origin was ranked world number 178 and is now sitting at world number 5 in the WTA Ranking.

Gauff became the youngest player to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon last summer and went on to reach the main draw before losing to Simona Halep. Gauff reached the third round at the US Open and won her first WTA title in Linz after beating World number 8 Kiki Bertens along the route.

Organisers of the Auckland tournament also confirmed that 18-year-old rising star Amanda Anisimova will take take part at this event from 6th to 12th January 2020.

The line-up is completed by Petra Martic and Cici Bellis. Martic has reached her career high ranking of 15 after winning her first WTA title in Istanbul. The Croatian player has reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and at the US Open and the final in Zhengzhou.

Bellis is coming back from an injury. The US player was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year at the age of 18. She reached the semifinal of the Oracle 125 tournament in Houston.

“This is clearly the best field we have ever had ever in Auckland. It will be the first time we have had two top 10 players, when you add in three further Grand Slam winners, double defending champion Julia Goerges, and two prospects on the WTA Tour Coco Gauff and Amanda Anisimova”, said tournament director Karl Budge.

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The ATP announces the nominees for the 2019 Awards

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The ATP has announced the nominees for the player-voted categories Awards: Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award.

 

Comeback of the year:

The candidates for the Comeback Player of the Year Award are Andy Murray, Andrey Rublev, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka.

Murray underwent second right hip surgery on 28th January and missed five months and made his come-back at Queen’s, where he won the doubles title together with his partner Feliciano Lopez. He made his singles return at Cincinnati as wildcard losing to Richard Gasquet in the first round. He earned his first singles comeback win at Zhuhai before losing to eventual champion Alex De Minaur in the second round. He reached his first quarter final after his comeback at the China Open in Beijing beating Matteo Berrettini in the first round before losing to eventual champion Dominic Thiem. The Scotsman completed his comeback by winning the Antwerp title against Stan Wawrinka.

Rublev sustained a back injury at the Monte-Carlo Masters in 2018 and made his comeback during the 2019 summer season when he reached the final in Hamburg losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili. Last August Rublev scored the biggest win of his career so far in Cincinnati where he beat Roger Federer in the third round in straight sets. He went on to lose to eventual champion Danil Medvedev in the quarter finals. At the US Open Rublev beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios before losing to Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round. Rublev advanced to his ATP Masters 1000 doubles final in Paris Bercy with his teammate Karen Khachanov losing to Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicholas Mahut.

Tsonga fell to world number 262 in ATP Rankings on 5th November 2019 (his lowest since number 284 on 25th September 2006). In 2019 he won two titles on French soil at Montpellier and Metz and reached the quarter final at Rotterdam, Lyon and Paris Bercy.

Wawrinka missed almost three months due to injury problems in 2018, but he started his comeback in 2019 when he reached his first tournament final in over 20 months, where he lost to Gael Monfils in three sets. He beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round at Roland Garros in an epic five-set match that lasted 5 hours and 9 minutes, and he went on to advance to his first Grand Slam quarter final in two years. He went on to lose to his compatriot Roger Federer in four close sets. At the US Open Wawrinka advanced to the quarter final after defending champion Novak Djokovic pulled out after losing the first two sets. It was the first match between Djokovic and Wawrinka in the 2016 US Open final. Wawrinka went on to lose the quarter final to Danil Medvedev. Wawrinka reached the final at Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Most improved player of the year:

 The candidates for the Most Improved Player of the Year are Danil Medvedev, Felix Auger Aliassime, Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev improved his best ranking from world number 16 on 15th January to world number 5 at the end of the year. The 23-year-old Russian player won four titles in Sofia, Cincinnati, St. Petersburg and Shanghai and reached five more finals in Brisbane, Barcelona, Washington, at the Rogers Cup in Montreal and at the US Open. He led the ATP Tour this season with 59 match wins to 21 defeats.

Tsitsipas was ranked world number 15 last January and ended the season ranked world number 6 with three titles at Marseille, Estoril and at the ATP Finals in London. He was the first Greek player to break into the top 5 and the first Greek to reach the Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open. He earned 54 wins this season. He became the youngest player to beat Nadal on clay. He scored the biggest win of his career over world number 1 Djokovic in Shanghai Masters 1000.

Berrettini improved his ranking moving up from world number 52 on 7th January 2019 to his career-high at number 8 at the  end of the year. The Italian player won two titles in Budapest and Stuttgart and reached the semifinal of the US Open. He became the first Italian player in history to win a match at the ATP Finals when he beat eventual finalist Dominic Thiem. He ended the season with a record of 43 wins to 25 defeats.

Auger Aliassime started the season as the world number 106 on 7th January 2019 to number 21 at the end of the season. The 19-year-old reached three finals in Rio de Janeiro, Lyon and Stuttgart and qualified for his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Miami.

Newcomer of the year:

The candidates for the Newcomer of the Year Award are Felix Auger Aliassime, Casper Ruud, Miomir Kecmanovic, Jannik Sinner, Mikael Ymer, Corentin Moutet, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Alexei Popyrin.

Jannik Sinner started the year ranked world number 553 and reached his career high as world number 78. The Italian 18-year-old player won three ATP Challenger titles in Bergamo, Lexington and Ortisei and qualified for his first ATP 250 semifinal in Antwerp. He lost to Stan Wawrinka in the first round in his debut Grand Slam tournament at the US Open.

Casper Ruud improved his ranking from world number 111 to world number 54 and reached the final in Houston.

Miomir Kecmanovic improved his best ranking from world 126 to number 59 at the end of the year and finished runner-up to Lorenzo Sonego in the Antalya final.

Mikael Ymer improved from world number 196 to world number 74 and won four Challenger titles at Noumea, Tampere, Orleans and Mouilleron le Captif.

Corentin Moutet ended the season ranked 83 at the end of the year. He reached the third round at Roland Garros and won two Challenger titles at Chennai and Lyon.

World number 87 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina reached the semifinal at Estoril and won two finals in Seville and Liuzhou. He was ranked world number 241 last January.

Alexei Popyrin finished the year ranked 97 after reaching the third round at the Australian Open and at the US Open.

 

The candidates for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award are Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Diego Schwartzman and Dominic Thiem. This award is given to the player, who conducted himself at the highest of professionalism and integrity, who competed with his fellow players with the utmost spirit of fairness and who promoted the game through his off -court activities.

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