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.

 

ATP

Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis

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Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.

 

He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.

Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.

“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.

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ATP

Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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ATP

Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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