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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Canada Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday Features Ruud/Hurkacz and Pegula/Halep

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Simona Halep on Friday in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

The singles and doubles semifinals will be played on Saturday in Canada.  In Montreal, a new men’s singles champion will be crowned, and Hubi Hurkacz is the only semifinalist to have previously won a Masters 1000 event (Miami, 2021).  Hurkacz is also in the doubles semifinals, so it will be a busy day for Hubi.  In singles, he faces a finalist from this year in Miami, Casper Ruud.

 

In Toronto, Simona Halep is the only former champion remaining, and is two wins away from her third title at this event.  On Saturday, she plays Jessica Pegula, who is into the semifinals in Canada for the second straight year.  Like Hurkacz, Pegula is also in the doubles semifinals.  She’s teaming with Coco Gauff, who will become the new doubles No.1 if they win the title.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Montreal and 1:00pm in Toronto.


Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Hurkacz ended the winning streak of Nick Kyrgios on Friday, taking him out in three sets for the second time this season.  But Ruud was even more impressive on Friday, bouncing back from a marathon victory on Thursday over Roberto Bautista Agut to overwhelm Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, dropping only three games.  Predominantly known as a clay court player, Casper is also establishing himself as a considerable threat on hard courts.  That’s especially true in North America, where Ruud has claimed 16 of his last 19 matches.  But Hubi’s success on this surface remains superior, as does his serving prowess.  While Ruud prevailed in their only previous encounter, just a few months ago at Roland Garros, Hurkacz is the favorite on a hard court.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Toronto

Halep has been dominant through four rounds this week, advancing without the loss of a set.  Simona has quietly put together a strong record of 36-10 this season, though she’s yet to achieve a big result, with only one title at the 250 level at the start of the year.  Pegula only dropped one set this week, to defending champion Camila Giorgi.  And similar to Halep, she’s accumulated a solid record this year (29-14) without winning a title.  This will be the first career meeting between these two players.  Considering Halep is now 25-6 lifetime at this event, and the way in which she has easily prevailed all week, her superior movement and defense should be enough to reach her fourth final in Canada.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Dan Evans – Carreno Busta has played superbly this week, eliminating the likes of Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini without losing a set to this stage.  Dan Evans has survived two grueling three-setters in as many days.  This is their first career meeting.

Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Karolina Pliskova (14) – Haddad Maia has earned three big wins across the last three days over Iga Swiatek, Belinda Bencic, and Leylah Fernandez.  Pliskova is looking to reach the Canada final for the second straight year.  They have split two previous encounters, both on hard courts.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Another Defeat For Iga Swiatek – Should Her Fans Start To Worry?

Iga Swiatek unexpectedly lost to Beatrice Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open in Toronto. This was the third defeat of the WTA world No.1 in a month and a half. Is there anything to worry about?

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Iga Swiatek - Roland Garros 2022 (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Article written by Dominik Senkowski (@dsenkowski07)

 

It was an extremely close match played in difficult conditions. Swiatek lost to Beatrice Hadad Maia 4:6, 6:3, 5:7 in Toronto.

The Polish woman admitted that she could not deal with the strong wind, saying during her press conference “I think without the wind I would manage. But it was pretty crazy out there.”

Haddad Miai, who is the first Brazilian to reach the last eight of a WTA 1000 event, revealed that she also had problems with the weather.

”We have no influence on the weather, we have to deal with it somehow. I think mentally I managed to overcome it,” she said.

Three failures

This was the third defeat for Swiatek in a month and a half. She had been undefeated since February, winning six tournaments in a row, including a Roland Garros. After that, however, she did not reach the semi-finals even once. In Wimbledon she was eliminated in the third round by Alize Cornet and then in Warsaw in the quarter-finals by Caroline Garcia. Now she did not make it past Beatrice Hadad Maia in Toronto. Do fans of the Polish woman have anything to worry about?

Of course, Swiatek as the top seed should have played better against the Brazilian. However, it must be remembered that she is still only 21 years old and has the right to fluctuate in form. Even the best tennis players of recent years – Roger Federer, Serena Serena, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic – did not win all the games in their best time. Swiatek still has a phenomenal balance of 49 wins to 5 defeats this year. She is the undisputed leader of the WTA rankings and will probably end the year as number one in the world.

There is no doubt that the rivals are more motivated to clash with Iga. In addition, they increasingly believe that they are able to defeat her since Cornet, Garcia and Hadad Maia did it. But still, it all depends on Iga. If she improves her serve, she can be unstoppable again. Recently with Garcia and Hadad Maia, she had problems with the second serve. She must pay more attention to it.

Time for Iga

Time should play in favour of Swiatek. Before Toronto, she played exceptionally on clay courts in Warsaw in a tournament organized by her father Tomasz. Frequent changes of the surface from grass to clay and hard courts in 1.5 months are not easy at such a young age. In Poland Iga said that she had no experience with it, she was just learning. She continues to learn valuable lessons and still can be better. We should remember it.

It seems that in the coming days she will be training on hard courts. She could feel more confident and come stronger as in spring. In Warsaw Iga said that she treats the first tournament before the US Open swing less seriously. She was aware that she needed more playing time to get better results. Her increasing self-esteem makes her behave calmer, even after defeats. That is why she can return to the right path soon.

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Canada Daily Preview: Quarterfinal Friday in Montreal and Toronto

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Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

Canadian No.1 Felix Auger-Aliassime has thrilled crowds in his home country on back-to-back days in Montreal.  On Friday, he faces Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud, who outlasted Roberto Bautista Agut on Thursday in a marathon match that went well over three hours.  Other ATP action in Montreal includes Washington champion Nick Kyrgios taking on Halle champ Hubi Hurkacz in a rematch from the Halle semifinals.

 

Coco Gauff has survived two extremely dramatic affairs in as many days, ousting both Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka in third-set tiebreaks.  In the quarterfinals, she plays a two-time champion of this event, Simona Halep.  Toronto’s matches on Friday also feature Jessica Pegula and Karolina Pliskova, both of whom reached the semifinals or better of this tournament a year ago.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Montreal and 1:00pm in Toronto.


Coco Gauff (10) vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Toronto

Between Wednesday and Thursday, Gauff spent exactly six hours on court during the heat of the early afternoon, in two physically and emotionally taxing matches.  By contrast, Halep spent less than half that time on court across those two days, and is yet to drop a set this week.  And their three previous encounters have all been straight-set victories for Simona.  She prevailed on grass three years ago at Wimbledon, on a hard court this year at Indian Wells, and on clay this year in Madrid.  And considering Halep will be the far fresher player on Friday, there’s not much evidence to suggest a different result in her fourth meeting with Coco.


Casper Ruud (4) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) – Not Before 2:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

What will Ruud have left after a three-set match that lasted nearly three-and-a-half hours?  Auger-Aliassime had a much easier time on Thursday, avenging a loss from less than a week ago in the Los Cabos semifinals over Cam Norrie.  Casper and Felix have split four previous meetings at all levels: two at Challenger events, and two at Masters 1000 events such as this.  Three years ago in Miami on a hard court, Auger-Aliassime won in three sets.  Last year in Madrid on clay, Ruud prevailed in straights.  Accordingly, a hard court would seem to favor Felix, especially considering his superior serving abilities.  Most of Casper’s big results have come on clay, though he did reach the final of Miami earlier this year.  I expected the Canadian to play nervously at this event, as Auger-Aliassime was only 3-3 lifetime here ahead of this week, and had lost four of his last six matches since June.  But Felix has embraced the spotlight of playing in front of a packed Canadian stadium, and should be favored over a depleted Ruud on Friday.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Nick Kyrgios vs. Hubert Hurkacz (8) – Between singles and doubles, Kyrgios is 13-0 over the last 10 days.  Hurkacz saved a match point on Thursday, eventually defeating Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a third-set tiebreak.  Earlier this year in Halle when he played Nick, Hubi also prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.

Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Qinwen Zheng – Both players were victorious after tough three-setters on Thursday: Pliskova over Maria Sakkari and Qinwen over Bianca Andreescu.  This is their first career meeting.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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