The WTA Q2 Report Card Of 2018 - UBITENNIS
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The WTA Q2 Report Card Of 2018

How did your favourite player on the women’s Tour fair during the second quarter of 2018?

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Ubitennis examines the performances of the most notable players from the second quarter of the season, as well as their prospects heading into Q3.

Simona Halep

Much like Caroline Wozniacki in Q1, Halep finally silenced the doubters and naysayers by winning her first Major in Q2. Will her Roland Garros title satisfy Halep, or will it release the pressure and allow her to play more freely in search of a second Major title? I’m banking on the latter, though the grass courts are Halep’s weakest surface. Although, Simona has reached the quarterfinals or better at The All England Club in three of the last four years, so her Wimbledon chances should not be discounted. Last year in the quarterfinals, she was just one match away from going atop the rankings for the first time, but lost to Britain’s Johanna Konta. The summer hard courts will be a good opportunity for the women’s number one to extend her ranking lead. Halep currently leads by over 1,200 points in the 52-week rankings, and has more than a 1,700 point edge in the year-to-date rankings. Simona should easily gain points at the US Open, following her first round loss last year to Maria Sharapova. With bitter defeats in her mind from last year’s Wimbledon and US Open, Q3 may see Halep conquer some more demons from her past.

Petra Kvitova

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Sitting right behind Halep in the year-to-date rankings is Kvitova, who leads the tour with five titles in 2018, three of which came in Q2. Petra won back-to-back titles for the second time this year by taking the trophies in Prague and Madrid. Her French Open performance was a bit disappointing, going down in the third round to Anett Kontaveit. But Kvitova bounced right back on the grass, as she usually does, by winning her fifth title of the year in Birmingham. This past week, she withdrew from Eastbourne due to a hamstring injury. Getting some rest heading into Wimbledon is a smart move by Petra, and I consider her the favorite to win her third Wimbledon title as long as she’s healthy. While the North American hard court swing has never been her strongest time of the season, she’s now made the quarters at the US Open in two of the last three years. Kvitova has never been higher than two in the world, but she has a shot at catching Halep if she can sustain her Q1 and Q2 success through the rest of the year.

Sloane Stephens

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Stephens was just 4-4 during the WTA clay court season heading into Roland Garros, yet she solidified herself as a top contender at the Majors by making her second Major final in Paris. She was up a set and break, but ran out of steam and was unable to close out Halep in the final. That was actually the first tournament final Stephens has lost on tour. Stephens did not play a grass court warm-up event, so I’m curious to see if she can carry her momentum into Wimbledon. She did make the quarters there in 2013. Looking ahead, the summer hard court season will bring with it a lot of pressure for Sloane. She’ll have 2,700 points to defend from her semifinal appearances in Toronto and Cincinnati, and of course her US Open title. It will be extremely challenging for Stephens to back up those results, and her ranking will likely fall from her current career-high spot at number four in the world.

Caroline Wozniacki

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Caroline had a predictable letdown following her maiden Major title in Melbourne, and didn’t make another tournament final until just this weekend, when she won her second title on the grass of Eastbourne. That confidence boost was much needed, especially considering Wimbledon is the only Major where Wozniacki has not been farther than the fourth round. The US Open will likely be the next Major where she has a legitimate shot at the title: Caroline is a two-time finalist in New York. The current world number two is 2,000 points behind Halep in the year-to-date rankings, so she’ll need a big Q3 if she wants to make a run at regaining the top ranking, which she held for a few weeks in Q1.

Garbine Muguruza

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After a slow Q1, Muguruza won the title in Monterrey during the first week of Q2. That victory did not translate into further success on the European clay until the French Open. Muguruza had her swagger back in Paris, and appeared prone to take her second Roland Garros title, until she was thwarted by eventual champion Simona Halep in the semifinals. Garbine is the defending Wimbledon champion, but did not get off to a good start on the grass. She was defeated in her second match at Birmingham by Barbora Strycova. While no player goes from cold to hot (and back) as often as Muguruza, she’s yet to successfully defend a title in her career, and has never won two titles at the same event. Garbine’s also never looked fully comfortable playing in New York: her fourth round appearance there last year was her best-to-date, and she’s only 5-5 lifetime at the US Open. With almost 4,000 points to defend in Q3, the current world number three will likely see her ranking slide considerably in the coming months.

Madison Keys

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Keys started off Q2 with a nice run to the semis in Charleston, but proceeded to lose in her opening round of both Stuttgart and Madrid. After winning her first two matches in Rome, she had to withdraw from her round of 16 match against Simona Halep due to a rib injury. So it was pretty surprising when she won ten straight sets to reach her first semifinal at Roland Garros, falling to fellow American Sloane Stephens in a rematch of last year’ US Open final. Madison then withdrew from Birmingham due to the same injury that forced her out of Rome. If Keys is healthy, she could be a legitimate threat at Wimbledon. Her game is perfectly suited for grass, and she reached the quarterfinals at SW19 three years ago. Unfortunately, her Q3 results will likely be dictated by her health, and it’s fair at this point to declare Keys as being injury-prone. Let’s hope she can get healthy in time to defend her run to the final last year in New York. I’d like to see how she’d perform there following last year’s career highlight which ended with a disappointing performance in the final.

Eilina Svitolina

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I could basically copy and paste what I wrote about Svitolina in Q1, and the quarter before that, and the quarter before that. She continues to keep herself in the top five with tournament victories outside the Majors, like her Q2 win in Rome. That was her third title of 2018, and the second year in a row she won the Italy’s Premier 5 event. Yet in Paris, she went out meekly in the third round to Mihaela Buzarnescu. She then lost again to Buzarnescu on the grass of Birmingham. I don’t like Svitolina’s chances at Wimbledon, where she’s just 5-5 in her career. She’ll look to defend another title at the Rogers Cup in August, but I’m much more interested to see when Elina can finally advance passed the quarterfinals at a Major. It seems only a matter of time, though it’s already taken longer than I expected.

Maria Sharapova

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Sharapova finally found some consistency and regained some momentum in Q2. In Madrid, Rome, and Paris, she picked up ten match wins. This run was highlighted her over three-hour quarterfinal battle against Jelena Ostapenko. After crushing Karolina Pliskova at Roland Garros 6-2, 6-1, she was subsequently crushed by Muguruza in the quarterfinals by the same scoreline. This will be Sharapova’s first appearance at Wimbledon in three years, when she reached the semifinals at The Championships. I’m sure she’ll be determined to prove she can still be a factor at the year’s most prestigious Major. But it may be the summer hard courts where Sharapova really shines. As her ranking continues to rise, she’ll of course receive more favorable draws. Q2 was the longest stretch in several years that Maria has looked healthy and confident, and she’ll be a force in Q3 if that continues. With less than 500 points to defend between July and September, look for Sharapova to make a big jump up the rankings.

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Iga Swiatek Demolishes Aryna Sabalenka To Seal Third Rome Title

Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title after a dominant victory over Aryna Sabalenka.

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Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title by dominating Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-3 to send a big message of intent ahead of Roland Garros.

The world number one completed the Madrid and Rome double with a sensational performance.

Now Swiatek is the titleholder for the three biggest clay court titles as she will aim to defend her Roland Garros title.

The contest was a rematch from the Madrid final but this was far from the three hour contest that was produced in Spain.

Swiatek raised her level of play while Sabalenka committed way too many unforced errors throughout the contest.

The Pole broke on two occasions to wrap up a comfortable 37 minute set as her forehand was doing a lot of damage.

There was a comeback in the second set from the Australian Open champion as she produced effortless and consistent power, making the second set very competitive.

The world number one was forced to save break points as she just managed to be more stable on big moments.

A more controlled second set from Swiatek was rewarded towards the end of the set as once again Sabalenka crumbled under pressure when it mattered.

Two late breaks of serve completed the Swiatek surge as the Pole enters the second Grand Slam of the season in dominant form.

As for Sabalenka it’s a disappointing performance that she will look to put right at Roland Garros.

Roland Garros starts on the 26th of May where Swiatek is defending champion.

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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev Plays Nicolas Jarry for the Men’s Singles Championship

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Nicolas Jarry on Friday night in Rome (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

Sunday features three championship matches: the finals in men’s singles, men’s doubles, and women’s doubles.

On Sunday in Rome, Sascha Zverev will play for his first Masters 1000 title in over two years, while Nicolas Jarry will play in his first-ever final above ATP 250 level.  Zverev leads their head-to-head 4-2, but they are tied at 2-2 on clay.  Which man will walk away with the title?


Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Nicolas Jarry (21) – Not Before 5:00pm on Center Court

Zverev is 27-9 this season, and lost only one set on his way to this championship match.  That came in the semifinals against another Chilean, Alejandro Tabilo.  This is Sascha’s first ATP final since September of last year, and he’s playing for his first Masters 1000 title since 2021 in Cincinnati.  Zverev will soon go on trial in his home country of Germany, as he faces charges of domestic abuse.

Just like eventual champion Andrey Rublev in Madrid, Jarry arrived in Rome on a four-match losing streak.  And he had never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at a Masters 1000 tournament, so this result is quite surprising.  But 28-year-old Jarry is a tall presence (6’7”) who thumps the ball.  As per Tennis Channel, he was averaging 89 mph on his forehand during his three-set semifinal victory over Tommy Paul.  Nico has claimed a trio of three-setters on the way to the biggest match of his career, most notably upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals.

Zverev certainly has a huge edge in experience at this level, and in finals.  This is his 33rd ATP final, where he holds a record of 21-11.  And it’s his 11th Masters 1000 final, where he is 5-5.  Jarry has only previously appeared in six finals, all at 250-level, where he is 3-3.  But clay is the Chliean’s specialty, as all seven of his career finals have come on this surface.

Yet sometimes experience has a negative impact, particularly when you have suffered some painful losses.  Zverev has lost four of his last six Masters 1000 finals, and he is infamously 1-6 in Major semifinals.  So he has a lot of recent scar tissue from high-profile matches.

In that way, Jarry may benefit from a lack of experience.  While he’ll certainly be nervous on this big occasion, Nico has displayed plenty of confidence and composure against more experienced players throughout this event.  And he owns two prior victories over Zverev.  But when these two met in another final, five years ago in Geneva, Sascha saved two championship points to prevail.  That’s a result that sticks with both players throughout their rivalry.

However, I’m picking Jarry to pull off the upset and win the biggest title of his career on Sunday.  Zverev has a history of getting tight and playing more defensively in crucial moments.  Jarry’s aggressive mindset can take full advantage of such passive play.  And with so many top ATP players currently battling injuries, Zverev will likely feel a lot of pressure to win this title ahead of Roland Garros, especially as the much higher seed on this day.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (1) vs. Marcelo Arevalo and Mate Pavic – The top seeds are playing for their sixth Masters 1000 title as a team, and own a record of 5-1 in finals at this level.  Arevalo and Pavic are vying for the first Masters 1000 title of their new partnership for 2024.  Both teams are yet to drop a set this fortnight. 

Coco Gauff and Erin Routliffe (3) vs. Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini – This is the first tournament for the team of Gauff and Routliffe, though both have won big doubles titles with other partners.  This is the biggest final to date for the Italian team of Errani and Paolini, though Errani won five WTA 1000 doubles titles alongside Roberta Vinci a decade ago, while Paolini won the WTA 1000 event in Dubai earlier this year in singles.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Emma Raducanu Criticises Gender Pay Gap And Responds To Critics Ahead Of Roland Garros

Emma Raducanu has criticised the gender pay gap in tennis as Rome’s prize money for the women’s tournament was significantly lower than the men’s tournament.

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Emma Raducanu has criticised the gender pay gap after the tournament in Rome significantly payed less to it’s female athletes than it’s main counterparts.

Although Roland Garros and the tournament in Madrid offered the same pay to the winners of both female and male competitions, the same cannot be said for Rome this week.

The winner between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka will get 250,000 Euros less than the winner of the men’s final between Alexander Zverev and Nicolas Jarry.

It’s a statistic that is damning on the sport and Emma Raducanu has criticised the figure as she states that the women’s game is technically better than the men’s game, “A lot of women’s players are technically better,” Raducanu told The Times.

“They rely on speed, agility and brain rather than brute strength. The prize money gap is huge on the ATP tour, which I don’t necessarily think is fair, but equally playing three sets in the slams is a lot better than the men’s five, which is brutal.”

Meanwhile as for Raducanu, the Brit is preparing for Roland Garros qualifying next week as she missed out on a wildcard into the main draw.

Despite Raducanu’s gradual improvement over the last few weeks the trolls on social media have failed to go away as the former US Open champion continues her commercial commitments.

Speaking out on the critics Raducanu stated that they don’t see the work of an athlete behind the scenes, “There are those who see me doing a shoot or posing for a commercial and they don’t see the seven hours before that at the training centre, doing physio, gym, hitting balls,” Raducanu explained.

“But if on a rare evening I go to a premiere and I get photographed, that’s my downtime.”

Next week’s appearance in Paris will only be Raducanu’s second Roland Garros having reached the second round two years ago.

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