REPORT: Maria Sharapova ‘Expecting’ 20-Year Deal With Nike To End - UBITENNIS
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REPORT: Maria Sharapova ‘Expecting’ 20-Year Deal With Nike To End

After a turbulent season that was ended by injury, the Russian is reportedly on the verge of losing one of her biggest sponsors.

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Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova has admitted that her long-term deal with Nike is set to end later this year, according to a report by The Sun Newspaper.

 

It has been claimed by the British tabloid that Sharapova has told close friends that she believes the sporting brand will not renew her contract when it expires. Sharapova has been signed with the company since the age of 11 and the deal is estimated to be worth $10 million a year.

Nike has been loyal supporters of Sharapova throughout her entire career. During her 15-month doping suspension after testing positive for meldonium, the company chose to stand by the Russian. Sharapova has insisted that she never deliberately took the substance to enhance her performance. Meldonium was added to the list of prohibited substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency at the start of 2016. During her suspension, she was also able to maintain ties with Porsche, Evian, HEAD and NetJets.

The most recent deal Sharapova struck with Nike was back in 2010. An eight-year contract reportedly worth $70 million with the 31-year-old also receiving a cut from the sales of her own branded clothes.

According to findings by American financial news website The Street, Sharapova’s business net worth has been valued as high as $195 million. Although this figure is disputed by some sources. In 2016 Forbes magazine ranked her 88th in the list of the highest paid athletes in the world. Since then, she has fallen outside the top 100.

Once dubbed as the most marketable female athlete in the world, Sharapova’s has been yet to regain her best form since returning for her doping ban. Winning just one title at the 2017 Tianjin Open in China. Within that time period she has defeated three top 10 players (Jelena Ostapenko twice, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova), but is yet to break back into the world’s top 20.

Sharapova has ended her 2018 season early due to a shoulder injury. Winning 20 out of 31 matches played.

There has been no comment from Sharapova’s team in regards to the speculation over the future of her Nike deal.

UPDATE: 20:00 GMT

Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud has now dismissed the claims made by The Sun newspaper, according to website tennis.life. In a statement he has claimed that Sharapova has a ‘lifetime’ deal with Nike.

“It’s just incredible how a publication can make up lies and not be held accountable. Even worse is how other publications run with the story as if it is fact. It’s a huge issue,” Eisenbud said.

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Magda Linette Wins Her Maiden WTA Title at the Maiden Bronx Open

The Polish player has struck gold in New York at the age of 27.

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NEW YORK: 27-year-old Magda Linette of Poland needed to qualify to get into the inaugural Bronx Open, and won eight matches in nine days to be the last woman standing. 27-year-old Camila Giorgi of Italy had survived two third set tiebreaks this week, and saved four match points in yesterday’s semifinals, but couldn’t close out Linette despite leading for most of today’s final. For the Italian, it’s her second loss in a final within the past four weeks, with both defeats as the expense of first-time WTA champions.

 

In the first set, a deep backhand return earned Giorgi a break point in the first game, and a Linette groundstroke that soared beyond the baseline gave the Italian the early advantage.  But Giorgi would make four consecutive errors in the next game to give the break right back, a sign of how back-and-forth this final would be. After Linette held at love, Giorgi would double fault three times in a row from 30-0 up, and a Linette drop shot winner clinched the break and a 3-1 for Magda. But with the lead, Linette double faulted twice herself, then committed two backhand errors to hand the break right back at love. Both women were obviously quite tight to start on this big occasion.

At 3-3, Linette faced two more break points, yet held with some strong serving and some great defense. They would both hold easily in the next few games until 5-5. In the first point of the eleventh game, a Giorgi ball would clip the net cord and creep over the net for a winner. And Linette would not win another point in the set thereafter, as Giorgi would break at love and then hold at love to win the set.

The net cord would also prove crucial to start the second set, but this bounce would go Linette’s way, giving her the early 2-0 lead. She’d maintain the lead until 4-2, when Giorgi struck three huge forehand winners to break at love. Linette allowed a break point to slip by in the next game with some unforced errors, and Giorgi held to even the set at 4-4. And the ninth game of the set would be an extended affair. Two Magda double faults granted Camila another break point, which Linette saved. As the game went on for many deuces, Magda saved a second one with an ace, and a third with an unreturned serve. On a fourth break point, Giorgi pinned Linette in the corner with a great return, but didn’t put away her shot at the net, enabling Magda to hit a cross court pass. Linette finally took the next two points and held for 5-4. Magda earned two set points in the next game, but misfired when it mattered, making it 5-5. After a Linette hold, a Giorgi double fault gifted Magda two more set points. And Linette would only need one, leveling the match with a cross court forehand winner.

In the first game of the decider, a Linette double fault on break point gave Giorgi the immediate advantage. Serving at 1-3, Magda survived another long, grueling service game, saving multiple break points to keep herself within striking distance. When Giorgi served at 4-3, Linette earned three break points, and she’d convert on the third when a Camila forehand just barely missed the baseline. Magda then held at love to claim her first lead of the set at 5-4. In the next game, Linette earned a match point with a forehand winner down the line. And with a Giorgi error into the net, Linette captured her first WTA title.


Following the match, Magda spoke to me regarding the long, pivotal service games that she pulled out in both the second and third sets. She explained how she focused on getting her first serve in as to not allow Giorgi to pounce on her second serve. And when speaking to me about how she persevered in those pressure moments, Magda credited her extensive match play over the last nine days. “The seven matches before gave me the confidence,” Magda stated. She’d go on to tell me, “I was not nervous, I guess that was the plus of all the matches that I played before, that’s when it showed up.”

There was a sizeable Polish contingent which showed up in the Bronx today to cheer on Linette, becoming more vocal as the match progressed. She would spend considerable time thanking them and celebrating with them after the match. When asked about how much their support meant to her, Magda said, “I’m really thankful to them that they came and supported me. And it’s great because we don’t have a tournament in Poland, we are not really used to having a home crowd. So it’s great that they always come for the big tournaments, and I’m so happy that they came to watch my final”

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Hubert Hurkacz Ends Poland’s 37-Year Wait For An ATP Champion

The 22-year-old has made history at the final ATP tournament before the start of the US Open.

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Hubert Hurkacz at Winston Salem 2019 (photo Twitter @WSOpen)

World No.41 Hubert Hurkacz has received a boost going into the US Open after winning his first ATP title at the rain-affected Winston-Salem Open.

 

The 22-year-old toppled top seed Benoit Paire 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, in the final on Saturday. Following up on his straight sets wins over second seed Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals. Against Paire, Hurkacz had to battle back from a break down in the final set to prevail. Winning 67% of his first service points, but only 41% of his second.

“It’s a huge win for me,” Hurkacz said. “Benoit is an amazing player, so it was a really great win for me, great match. I had to fight a lot. It was great to have, but it I’m so excited that to lift my first trophy here.”

The win continues what is a breakout year for the Polish tennis star. He has already scored wins over top 10 players Kei Nishikori, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem. However, Winston-Salem was his first ever final on the ATP Tour. As a junior Hurkacz was a runner-up in the boy’s doubles at the 2015 Australian Open.

Hurkacz’s triumph has also made history. It is the first time a player from Poland has won an ATP title since Wojtek Fibak in 1982. He is also the first Polish player to contest a tour final since Jerzy Janowicz.

“I’m so happy. Being here I haven’t realized I’ve won the title,” the former Next Gen star said. “On Monday I have another match to come (at the U.S. Open). Obviously today I’m going to be excited and tomorrow I’ll focus on the next job.”

There is also some consolation for Paire, who has now reached three tour finals within the same season. The first time he has ever done that at the age of 30. His win-loss record for 2019 currently stands 29-21.

“It was a tough match against Hubert,” Paire said. “It was very cold today, so it was not easy to play full. We stopped for 10 times during, so I think it’s never easy to play a match like this. But honestly it was a good match. Hubert played good, so he was confident from the beginning of the week.”

Both players will now head to New York to play in the final grand slam of the year at the US Open. Hurkacz will open up against Jeremy Chardy. Meanwhile, 29th seed Paire faces Canada’s Brayden Schnur.

Hurkacz is the 14th first-time winner on the ATP Tour this season.

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WTA Bronx: Camila Giorgi Set For Title Showdown With Magda Linette

Camila Giorgi has twice survived a third set tiebreak this week, and saved four match points just yesterday, but can she claim the title?

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In Friday’s semifinals, Giorgi faced the top seed and world No.18 Qiang Wang.  This match would see a ton of service breaks, with each set consisting of five or more.  They would split the first two sets by identical scores of 6-4. In the third, the 27-year-old from China served for the match at 5-4, and would hold a match point, but Giorgi would save it and break for 5-5.  Camila’s firepower allows her to dictate play more often than not, and she’s continually lifted her game at the right moments this week.

 

Giorgi would then garner a match point of her own on Wang’s serve at 6-5, but also failed to convert.  In the deciding tiebreak, Qiang gained the early mini-break on the first point with a backhand winner down the line.  But Camila would punish an extremely soft second serve and get the breaker right back on serve. Wang then took advantage of a Giorgi forehand clipping the net, giving her extra time to rip a forehand and regain the mini-break.  They switched sides with Wang leading 4-2.

A few Giorgi errors gave Wang three more match points 6-3, with two of them on Qiang’s serve.  But Wang’s forehand misfired on both of the match points on her serve, and then Giorgi would put away a backhand volley to level things at 6-6.  Camila would again strike some deep and powerful groundies when she needed them, granting herself a match point at 7-6 on Wang’s serve. And Wang would sail a backhand beyond the baseline, sending the 27-year-old Italian into tomorrow’s final in dramatic fashion.

It’s the second final in four weeks for Giorgi, who was stunned in the Washington final by a first-time WTA champion, Jessica Pegula.  Camila saw her ranking fall outside the top 50 last month when her Wimbledon quarterfinalist points from 2018 dropped off her 52-week tally, but she’ll return to the top 50 with today’s win.  In her career, Giorgi is 2-5 in WTA tournament finals, with her most recent title coming last October at the Linz Open.

On Saturday in the first Bronx Open singles final, she’ll face another 27-year-old in Magda Linette of Poland.  This is only Linette’s second WTA-level final in her career, with the last coming four years ago in Tokyo. She lost in that final to Yanina Wickmayer, so a win today would give Magda her first career singles title.  Linette had to qualify to get into this draw, meaning this will be her seventh match in nine days. On Friday, she ousted Katerina Siniakova in straight sets, a day after surviving a third set tiebreak of her own in the quarterfinals against Karolina Muchova.

As much tennis as Linette has played in the Bronx, she may be the fresher of the two finalists.  Giorgi’s semifinal was played later in the day on Friday, and lasted nearly three hours. In their only previous meeting, Giorgi prevailed in three sets, on a hard court in Linette’s home country four years ago.

The first Bronx Open doubles champions were crowned on Friday, with Darija Jurak and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez defeating Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu in a deciding 10-point tiebreak 10-7.  This is the first title for this team, which was formed just a few weeks ago in Canada.

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