Naomi Osaka Is A Star Of Women’s Tennis, But Don’t Burden Her With Expectation - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Is A Star Of Women’s Tennis, But Don’t Burden Her With Expectation

The sudden surge in interest surrounding the US Open champion is inevitable, but not necessarily good.



At the WTA Finals, coach Piotr Wozniacki said with a smile ‘Hello Japan’ en route to his press conference. The joke was in reference to the army of Japanese reporters at the venue covering their new superstar – Naomi Osaka.


Osaka’s popularity in the world of sport has soared since her shock win at the US Open. Where she stunned Serena Williams in straight sets to become the first ever Japanese grand slam champion in the Open Era. A surge in endorsements has now positioned Osaka as one of the most sort after female athletes in the world. Her contract with Adidas will expire at the end of the year and sources are reporting that a bidding war is ongoing among companies to sign her up.

“I’m playing tournament after tournament, so I don’t really have time to think about my life changing or anything.” Osaka told reporters earlier this week.
“I’m just more thinking about my next match and my next tournament. I feel like I need the year to end to maybe process more.”

Along with her rapid rise comes the inevitable compliments. The latest being from tennis legend Billie Jean King. Somebody who won 12 grand slam titles and was instrumental in the creation of the WTA Tour during the 1970s. Speaking about the world No.4 on Wednesday, King said Osaka has the ability to conquer women’s tennis in a fashion similar to other legends of the sport – Williams, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.

“First of all, she hits a heavy ball. She can hit anything. If she really wants it, the sky’s the limit. Beyond the sky. To the moon and back or the world,” King proclaimed.
“She’s an amazing player already. What is she, 20? She’s exceptional. I think Japan should be very proud of her. I know America is very proud of her. We are. She’s both. I think that’s great.”

It is not the first time a notable figure has predicted a bright future for Osaka. Roger Federer once described her as a ‘champion who doesn’t shy away from and big stage’ and former player Kimiko Date has tipped her to become a ‘future No.1.’ All of these comments are undoubtedly a confidence boost for the US Open winner, but is there also a negative side to them?

Osaka’s personality has contributed to her popularity in the sport. During press conferences, she is shy and reserved, but also at the same time herself. Highlighted by her speech during this year’s final in Indian Wells, where she defeated Daria Kasatkina.

Loss is a positive thing

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Amid the Osaka frenzy, there is also cause for concern. A rapid rise to fame can be overwhelming for players on the tour. Angelique Kerber claimed two grand slam titles during 2016, but dropped outside the world’s top 20 the following year. This is not to say Osaka will follow suit, but there are sometimes worrying signs.

“I’m a perfectionist. I expect a lot from myself. I feel like when other people expect a lot from me, then it sort of doubles.” Osaka said following her loss to Kerber at the WTA Finals on Wednesday. “I internalize a lot of things, and then it just explodes and then I start talking to myself on the court.
“Regarding stress, I don’t know. I feel like whenever I want to win badly, then it starts becoming emotional, and I can’t really control too much, like when it starts going a bit sideways.”

There has been many examples of players coming through at a young age before succumbing to pressure. At the start of the year everybody was talking about Marta Kostyuk, a Ukrainian teenager who reached the third round of the Australian Open at the age of 15. At the time Kostyuk admitted that she was confident of winning every time on the court, but soon learned that life on the tour isn’t plain sailing.

“In a few months I felt how easy it is to get from ecstatic to almost completely empty. She wrote on Instagram.

Unlike Kostyuk, Osaka is much more developed on the tour both mentally and physically. Although this doesn’t hide that face that she is could go through a similar experience. Especially when there are so many high profile figures are predicting her to be the next star of tennis.

Two matches into the WTA Finals, Osaka remains winless in the tournament. Losing to Sloane Stephens earlier in the week, as well as Kerber. Although it is still possible that she could qualify for the semi-finals depending on her upcoming clash against Kiki Bertens.

“I just think here (in Singapore) for some reason I can’t get the timing of the ball on the court, on the groundstrokes or the serves.” She explained.
“So it’s a bit strange feeling, like, playing against the top players and then not knowing what you’re going to do on the next ball. I’s been very interesting.”

It is without a doubt that Osaka is one of the most promising players in the sport with a very bright future. Yet sometimes when she plays, it looks like she wants it too much. It is almost as if she feels that she needs to perform at a extremely high level to justify her being a grand slam champion. This is why the focus on Osaka needs to be eased. She remains on course to rise to the top of the women’s game, but will not achieve her potential if she rushes into it. It is time to ease the hype surrounding Osaka and let her develop her career as a player in her own time.


India’s Sumit Nagal Receives Sponsorship Boost After Revelling Financial Struggles



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A leading food and drink company has pledged to support India’s highest-ranked men’s player who was unable to train at his usual facility in Germany earlier this year due to a lack of money. 


Earlier this week world No.159 Sumit Nagal made a public plea for financial support to help him continue his career as a tennis player. In recent years he has been based at the Nansel Tennis Academy in Germany but was unable to train there during the first three months of the 2023 season due to a lack of funds. During this period he relied on his friends, including former player Somdev Devvarman, to help maintain his fitness. 

“If I look at my bank balance, I have what I had at the beginning of the year. It is 900 euros. I did get a bit of help. Mr Prashant Sutar is helping me with MAHA Tennis Foundation and I also get monthly (salary) from IOCL but I don’t have any big sponsor,” Nagal told the Press Trust of India.
“I am investing whatever I am making. The yearly cost where I travel with one coach is costing me around Rs 8 million to Rs 10 million (90,000-113,000 euros) and that is just with one travelling coach (no physio). Whatever I have made I have already invested,” he added.

Nagal, who is 26 years old, has reached the semi-finals of better at five tournaments on the lower-level Challenger Tour so far this season. His only Grand Slam result was at the US Open where he lost in the first round of qualifying to Taro Daniel. It was at the US Open where he took a set off Roger Federer before losing in 2019. 

Despite being the only player from his country to be ranked in the top 400, Nagal is currently not part of the Target Olympics Podium Scheme. An initiative set up by the Indian government to provide support to their top athletes.

After learning about Nagal’s ongoing struggles on the Tour, a leading company has decided to support the tennis player by signing a three-year deal with him. Gatorade specializes in sports drinks and is manufactured by PepsiCo. Under the deal, Nagal will receive support with his recovery and nutrition from experts at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI).  

“I am deeply moved and grateful to join hands with Gatorade. This association comes to me at a pivotal time, and I am thankful my hard work and passion is getting recognized and appreciated. With Gatorade by my side, I am sure I will reach new heights and give it my all both on and off the court,” the Indo-Asian News Service quoted Nagal as saying on Thursday. 

Speaking about the new partnership, Ankit Agarwal from PepsiCo India has hailed the collaboration. Agarwal is the company’s Associate Director of Energy & Hydration. 

“Sumit is a role model for the new-gen athletes of India with his career being a true example of hard work and sweat that makes talent shine,” he said.
“As a brand that is dedicated to supporting athletes in removing barriers to sporting success, we are delighted to welcome Sumit to the Gatorade squad.”

Nagal has been ranked as high as No.122 in the world. So far in his career, he has won four Challenger titles with two of those occurring this year in Italy and Finland. 

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(VIDEO): Malaga Line-Up Set As Davis Cup Most Unpredictable Tournament In History

UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta explains why any of the eight teams in Malaga could win November’s Davis Cup Finals




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The Davis Cup quarter-final line-up is set after an incredible Group Stage over Bologna, Split, Manchester and Valencia.


Now eight teams remain including Novak Djokovic’s Serbia, Great Britain and Australia.

However surprise teams such as the Netherlands, Finland and the Czech Republic will also appear in the quarter-finals.

Ten-time champions Great Britain will face Serbia with the winners taking on the winner of the quarter-final between Italy and the Netherlands.

In the other half of the draw Canada will be heavy favourites against Finland while the Czech Republic face Australia.

The final eight tournament will take place in Malaga and will take place between the 21st and the 26th of November.

However this year’s Davis Cup could be the most unpredictable version in the tournament’s history with there being no Spain or USA.

It really could be anyone’ tournament with Tennis’ most prestigious team competition up for grabs in November.

In this video UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta explains why this year’s Davis Cup finals could be the most unpredictable edition of all-time and why any of the teams could win the title.

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Simona Halep Claims Doing Ban Is ‘Based On Scenarios’ Without Proof




Former world No.1 Simona Halep has questioned the fairness of her anti-doping hearing after being suspended from the sport for four years. 


The two-time Grand Slam champion is suspended from tour events until 2026 after an independent tribunal concluded that the Romanian broke rules set out in Tennis’ anti-doping program. In a 126-page report by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), investigators accepted that the collagen supplement taken by Halep – called Keto MCT – was contaminated with Roxadustat “on the balance of probability.” However, they stated that there must have been another source of Roxadustat based on the level detected in her sample taken during the 2022 US Open. 

Furthermore, three experts in the area said they have ‘a high degree of confidence‘ that there was not an ‘innocent explanation’ for the abnormalities detected in Halep’s Athlete’s Biological Passport (ABP). They reported that ‘likely doping’ occurred based on an analysis of 51 valid samples of Halep’s blood and rejected her explanation for the irregularity. The tennis star cited blood loss during surgery and spells when she was inactive as her defence. 

Despite the comprehensive ruling, Halep has insisted that she is innocent and never intentionally took any banned substances. During an interview with Front Office Sports on Monday, the 31-year-old claimed that the ITIA’s four-year ban handed to her was based on ‘scenarios’ instead of any proof. 

“I was confident after the hearing because there were so many things that made no sense and that are not fair,” she said.
“When I received the decision, I was in complete shock. I could not believe that they suspended me for four years when we found the contamination and my blood was totally normal. They didn’t find anything bad in my blood. It’s crazy that they made this decision with everything [her legal team presented]. They judged me on scenarios. There is no proof. It’s just insane.”

The ITIA originally requested a six-year ban for Halep due to what they described as ‘repetitive and sophisticated’ doping practices. She is accused of using blood doping to improve her performance during Wimbledon and the US Open last year. However, the report found it was not ‘completely satisfied’ that Halep has been doping since March 2022 despite there being ‘strong grounds for suspicion.’

As for the substance Roxadustat, Halep says she would have never deliberately taken the drug as it would ‘work against her.’ She says that the drug would have worsened a thyroid issue which she has been dealing with for several years. Front Office Sports referred to a European Medicines Agency study which finds a possible link between the drug and decreased thyroid function. 

“There was no point for me to take this,” Halep said. “It’d work against me. It wouldn’t help me.”

The study couldn’t establish how common this side effect is due to the amount of data available at the time. 

In the wake of Halep’s ban, some have publicly expressed their views on the matter. One of the most notable to do so was Serena Williams who wrote on social media ‘8 is a better number” in a jibe at her former opponent. The reference was to the 2019 Wimbledon final when seven-time champion Williams lost in straight sets to Halep. 

“I think everyone has the right to judge me because the tribunal decided that I have the fault here,” Halep commented. “Someone told me today that those players who are hating on me because I beat them.”

Halep is set to appeal against her ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). 

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