Serena's Feminist Rant Overshadows Osaka's Triumph - UBITENNIS
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Serena’s Feminist Rant Overshadows Osaka’s Triumph

Serena claimed she felt the game penalty was a sexist act by the referee.

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Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

What a final! And what an end to the final!

The mayhem caused by Serena Williams being given a point penalty and a game penalty during the final and her discussing repeatedly with the Tournament Referee Brian Earley about how all that was “unfair” obviously took over the wonderful story of a 20-year-old winning her maiden Major title.

Serena Williams came into the press room a mere 10-15 minutes after walking off the court for the award ceremony, when she asked the crowd to “stop booing and try to get through this the best way we can”. The 23,000 of the Arthur Ashe Stadium were overwhelmingly cheering for the 37-year-old American chasing her 24th Grand Slam title, and where all outraged at the score apparently not following the normal progression of points.

I don’t know how I’m feeling yet – she said at the beginning of her press conference – I haven’t had time to really process everything. But I’m just trying, like I said out there, to stay positive and to look at all the bright things and all the good things and just keep going forward with that”.

She kept denying receiving any advice from Mouratoglou, despite him admitting to ESPN that he did try to communicate something to Serena, despite the fact that she was on the opposite side of the court and that there is no signal system between the two: “don’t know. I literally just heard that, too, when they prepped me to come in. I just texted Patrick, like, what is he talking about? Because we don’t have signals. We have never discussed signals. I don’t even call for on-court coaching. I’m trying to figure out why he would say that. I don’t understand — I mean, maybe he said [that], you can do it. I was on the far other end, so I’m not sure. I want to clarify myself what he’s talking about”.

Patrick Mouratoglou tried to justify his action by saying that everybody does it, and then took to Twitter to say that the umpire became the most important element of the final, instead of the players: “The star of the show has been once again the chair umpire. Second time in this US Open and third time for Serena in a US Open Final. Should they be allowed have an influence on the result of a match? When do we decide that this should never happen again?

Serena maintained that she was not being coached and that after the warning she didn’t even look at her box any longer, which is a lie because the whole world saw her express her frustration to her camp after dropping her serve at 3-1 in the second set, just before smashing her racket and getting a point penalty.

Then it all turned philosophical and emotional, and then the two things together. “[If Olympia asks me about what happened today] I’ll tell her, first of all, if she sees it, that I stood up for what I believed in. I stood up for what was right. Sometimes things in life don’t happen the way we want them, but to always stay gracious and stay humble. I think that’s the lesson we can all learn from this, just like I did”.

Of course, we will never know how the match would have evolved without the disciplinary penalties against Serena, but the American champion felt that, as she had been able so many times in the past to raise her level, the result of the match was still uncertain: “I don’t know. I feel like she was playing really well, but I feel like I really needed to do a lot to change in that match to try to come out front, to try to come out on top. It’s hard to say because I always fight till the end and I always try to come back, no matter what. But she was also playing really, really well. It’s hard to say that I wouldn’t have got a new level, because I’ve done it so many times in my career. So it’s a tough question”.

The “grand finale” of ‘Serena the Diva’ is a paragraph worth of a whole separate essay:

I can’t sit here and say I wouldn’t say he’s a thief, because I thought he took a game from me. But I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’. For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal — like Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine. This is outrageous. I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions, and that want to express themselves, and want to be a strong woman. They’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person”.

At the end of this remark mixing together sexual discrimination and the Grand Slam Playbook, Serena’s agent Jill Smoller started an applause that prompted a tearful Serena Williams, together with her equally tearful sister Isha, to leave the room never to come back. Evidently the 23-time Grand Slam champion went through a mental process that made her see whatever happened to her on court as another page in the book of abuses: “I think it’s just instantly, just like, Oh, gosh, I don’t want to go back to 2004. Forget 2009, you know. It started way back then”. She is obviously referring to her quarterfinal against Jennifer Capriati, when there were so many wrong calls against her to prompt the USTA to issue an apology statement and to initiate researches for what has become the Hawk-Eye electronic calling system.

Completely different and remarkably composed was Naomi Osaka’s encounter with a full room of journalists who greeted her with the customary applause that is usually dedicated to Grand Slam champions. “I think my serve was important in the whole match. She’s such a good returner, and I really felt like I had to hit the spots today. It doesn’t really feel that real right now. I think maybe in a few days I’ll realize what I’ve done. Right now it just feels, like, I don’t know. Aside from the fact there’s a lot of press in this room, it feels just like another tournament”.

Naomi did not take part to the controversy claiming she did not hear what was happening: “The crowd was really noisy, so I really didn’t hear. And when I turned around, uhm, it was 5-3, so I was a little bit confused then. But for me, I felt like I really had to focus during this match because she’s such a great champion, and I know that she can come back from any point. I was just trying to focus on myself at that time”.

Her emotions overwhelmed her when she was asked about her admiration for Serena: “I was just thinking, I don’t know, like to have a huge reaction isn’t really me in the first place. It just still didn’t really feel that real. So for me it just felt like a normal match just walking up to the net. But it’s Serena that’s on the other side. She hugged me, and it was really awesome. I don’t know what happened on the court. I’m always going to remember the Serena that I love. It doesn’t change anything for me. She was really nice to me, like, at the net and on the podium. I don’t really see what would change”.

 

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Belinda Bencic stuns Simona Halep to set up semifinal against Elina Svitolina in Dubai

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Unseeded player Belinda Bencic rallied from one set down to claim a 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over former world number 1 and 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep securing her spot in her ssecond semifinal of the season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where she will face Elina Svitolina, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3.

The Swiss player has reached her first Premier-level semifinal since her run to the St. Petersburg final in 2016 and has scored her first back-to-back wins against top 10 since Tokyo 2015 after saving six match points in her win over Aryna Sabalenka yesterday.

Halep hit eight aces to build up a 6-4 4-3 lead before dropping nine of the last games of the match.

Bencic got an early break  and held her serve in a four-deuce second game. In the following game Bencic earned her chances for a double break, but Halep held her serve before breaking back to draw level to 2-2. Halep broke serve in the eighth game to open up a 5-3 lead, but she dropped her serve with a double fault, when she was serving for the set. Halep broke back in the 10th game to close out the opening set 6-4 when Bencic netted a forehand.

Bencic went up an early break in the first game of the second set, but Halep broke straight back in the second game to draw level to 1-1. Halep earned a break point at 2-2 and another chance at 3-3, but Bencic won three consecutive games and got a crucial break in the eighth game at 4-4, when Halep sent a backhand long. Bencic hit a service winner, when she was serving for the set in the next game.

Bencic went up a double break to build up a 3-0 lead. Halep pulled one break back and held her serve to close the gap to 2-3. Bencic broke again in the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead, but had to save three break points before sealing the win on her third match point.

“It feels great. I am just really happy to be back. I knew it was still in me even after the injuries. You cannot just come back like this and play right away. Otherwise, it would not show how good tennis is. Players are playing two, three years at this level. They are playing semifinals, finals. You cannot just expect to be back after the injury and play like this. I had no problem with being in the shadow. Actually it felt really good, playing 25ks where there is no one there, just you. There is no stream. There is just a live ticker. You can play free. There is no expectation, no attention. It felt good. I did not even take the protected ranking. I started in the lower tournaments. I tried to build my confidence up”,said Bencic.

Bencic set up a semifinal against 2017 and 2018 Dubai champion Elina Svitolina, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3 after 78 minutes. The first set went on serve in the first five games, before Svitolina rallied from 30-40 down to break serve on her second opportunity at the fourth deuce for 4-2 in a seven-minute game. The Ukrainian player sealed the first set with a double break in the eighth game after just over half an hour.

Suarez Navarro converted her second break point chance in the first game and held her serve at deuce after saving a break point to take a 2-0 lead. Svitolina broke back on her second chance in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Suarez Navarro rallied from 15-40 down to break serve at the third deuce for 3-2, but Svitolina reeled off the final four games with two consecutive breaks in the sixth and eighth games and closed out the second set 6-3 on her fourth match point with a forehand winner.

“I am going to give everything to play my best tennis. This matters the most for me. I have been working on this for a long time. I want to just focus on what I have to do my next match. The semifinal is going to be another tough one. It’s important to take a match at a time, not to look so much ahead”, said Svitolina.

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Hsieh-Su-Wei fights back from 1-5 down to upset Karolina Pliskova in Dubai

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Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-Wei came back from 1-5 down in the third set by winning the final six games to upset 2015 Dubai finalist and number 4 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4 1-6 7-5 reaching the semifinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Only one break point was held by either player until 3-3. Pliskova held serve in the seventh game for 4-3, before she came back from 0-40 down to earn a break point after two double faults from Hsieh.

Hsieh saved the break point with a backhand winner. Pliskova brought up two more break points in the eighth game, but Hsieh saved both chances to hold serve for 4-4.

Hsieh broke serve at love with a a backhand winner in the ninth game and held her serve at love 6-4.

Pliskova broke early in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead and held a hard-fought service game at deuce for 4-1. The Chinese Taipei player got a double break in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead. The Czech player earned a set point with an ace and converted it with a backhand winner down the line to win the set 6-1 sending the match to the third set.

Pliskova went up in the third game of the third set with a drop-shot winner to build up a 3-0 lead. The Czech player held her service games to cruise through to a 5-1 lead. Hsieh pulled the break back with a forehand on the break point in the seventh game for 2-5.

Hsieh broke at love in the 10th game to get back on serve to 5-5 and held her serve at love to take a 6-5 lead. She earned her second match point with a backhand down the line and converted it to seal the win, when Pliskova sent her backhand wide. Hsieh scored two back-to-back wins over two top-10 players in two consecutive days.

“The second set was slowing down a bit, so it’s not a good sign. I still make some mistakes, but I am glad I keep trying. Finally it works, so I survive”, said Hsieh.

Hsieh set up a semifinal match against number 2 seed Petra Kvitova, who beat Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4 6-0.

Hsieh Su Wei will face 2013 finalist and number 2 seed Petra Kvitova, who cruised past Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4 6-0 following up her hard-fought wins over Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady.

Kvitova saved three of the four break points she faced. The double Wimbledon champion and 2019 Australian Open finalist earned an early break in the second game with a deep return and saved a break point in the next game to hold on her service game for 3-0. Kuzmova broke back in the fifth game, when Kvitova sent her backhand long, and backed it up with a hold of serve for 3-3. Kvitova broke serve at love in the ninth game, when Kuzmova was serving to stay in the set. Kvitova held a tough service game with an ace and a service game before breaking three times in a row to take a bagel win in the second set.

“I am pleased. I did not give Kuzmova any time to do her job, maybe turn the match on her way. Hsieh is definitely a tough and tricky opponent. I played her in Sydney in a really tough match. It will be probably some rallies tomorrow. I need to be ready for every shot what she is going to bring to the game”,said Kvitova.

 

 

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Alison Van Uytvanck and Anastasia Potapova reach the quarter final in Budapest

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Number 1 seed and defending champion Alison Van Uytvanck beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5 7-5 in just under two hours in a hard-fought first round match to reach the quarter final at the Hungarian Ladies Open in Budapest.

Zvonareva broke back in the eighth game of the first set to draw level to 4-4, but Van Uytvanck broke again to take a 6-5 lead, when Zvonareva sent a forehand wide. The Belgian player served out the first set in the 12th game.

Van Uytvanck got an immediate break in the second game of the second set and held a double break points for 3-0 and three more chances for 3-1 but Zvonareva held her serve and broke back with a backhand return to draw level to 2-2.

 Van Uytvanck went down 2-5 in the second set after losing five consecutive games. The Belgian player saved two set points at 3-5 and won the last five games to close out the match in straight sets with her fifth ace of the match setting up a match against 17-year-old qualifier Iga Swiatek.

Russian 17-year-old rising star Anastasia Potapova beat number 6 seed Andrea Petkovic 6-2 7-5. The teenager saved five of the eight break points she faced and broke six times.

Potapova broke three times in the opening set, but she wasted a match point at 5-4 in the second set to drop her serve, when Petkovic hit a forehand. The young Russian player broke again in the 11th game and served out at 30 on her second match point.

“When I was 10 years, I was watching Petkovic play the quarter finals in all the big tournaments. She was in idol of my grandmother”, said Potapova.

Pauline Parmentier beat Tereza Smitkova 6-1 7-5 in one hour and 24 minutes. Parmentier cruised through to winning the first set with three breaks. Smitkova saved three match points in the tenth game before Parmentier got the break in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead.

Sorana Cristea beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-3 6-3 after one hour and 23 minutes. The Romanian player fended off seven of the nine break points she faced.

Ekaterina Aleksandrova came back from one set down to beat 39-yera-old qualifier Greta Arn 4-6 6-1 6-4.

Twenty-year-old Marketa Vondrousova cruised through to a bagel win in the first set before battling through in the second set in her 6-0 7-6 (8-6) win over Georgina Garcia Perez.

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