Following a week of gut-busting matches at the WTA Finals, former US Open champion Sloane Stephens will take on Elina Svitolina for the trophy on Sunday. At stake is the world No.4 position as well as an extra $1.75 million in prize money for the winner.
Coming off her 2017 US Open title, Stephens subsequently went on an eight-match losing streak, which bled into her 2018 season. But once Stephens got a few wins under her belt, she quickly rose back to prominence, winning the Premier Mandatory at Miami in March. She would go on to make the final at Roland Garros, where she was up a set and a break before Simona Halep mounted a comeback to win her first Major title. Back in North America this summer, Sloane was a finalist in Montreal, again falling to Halep in the final. At the US Open as the defending champion, she was playing well before succumbing to Anastasija Sevastova in the quarterfinals on an extremely hot and humid day. Now she’s into the third biggest final of her career at the WTA Finals.
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After a 2017 season where she won five titles and entered the top 10 for the first time, Svitolina failed to build upon that success in 2018. While she remained in the top 10 and qualified for Singapore for the second straight year, she won only three titles this season, and hasn’t won a tournament since May. Svitolina also continued to underperform at the Majors, reaching only one quarterfinal. She went just 2-3 on the Asian swing of the tour leading into this tournament, so she arrived in Singapore with very little momentum. But Elina stepped up to the occasion this week, going 4-0 and winning three matches in a deciding third set. Now she’ll play for the biggest title of her life, as she looks to take her career to the next level.
Sloane Stephens vs. Elina Svitolina
Both of these players are strong performers in tournament finals. Stephens is 6-2 in her career at this stage. However, she’s lost her last two tournament finals, though both of those were against world No.1 Simona Halep. Svitolina is 12-2 at this stage, and has won her last eight tournament finals. While she’s never won a title of this magnitude, six of her last eight titles came at Premier or Premier 5 events, which are significant tournaments to be sure.
These two split matches played in 2014, with their only other meeting coming early this year on Montreal, when Stephens defeated Svitolina in a straight-set semifinal. Sloane got off to a terrible start against Karolina Pliskova yesterday, losing the first eight games of the match. But she’ll take confidence from the way she fought back to win, and will likely play more freely on Sunday knowing she escaped near-elimination. Svitolina is obviously fully comfortable in finals, but she’ll surely feel the pressure of this occasion on Sunday. And she was thoroughly pushed by Kiki Bertens yesterday, in a longer and much more competitive semifinal. Stephens does just about everything a little better than Svitolina when playing her best, and has won both of their previous hard court matches in straight sets. With all this in mind, I’m picking Sloane to raise the Billie Jean King trophy on Sunday.
Head-to-head record – Svitolina leads 2-1
|Year||Name||Round||Surface||Winning Player||Losing Player||Score|
|2018||Canadian Masters||SF||Hard||Sloane Stephens||Elina Svitolina||6-3 6-3|
|2014||Charleston||R32||Clay||Elina Svitolina||Sloane Stephens||6-4 6-4|
|2014||Australian Open||R32||Hard||Sloane Stephens||Elina Svitolina||7-5 6-4|
Roger Federer Targets Djokovic And Alcaraz For Laver Cup 2024 After Team World Thrashes Europe
Roger Federer says he would love to see the two highest-ranked players on the men’s Tour play in the next Laver Cup after this year’s tie ended in a crushing defeat for Europe.
Team World, which is captained by John McEnroe, dominated the clash in Vancouver after surging to a 10-2 lead heading into the final day of competition. On Sunday they were required to win only one match to claim the overall title which they did in the opening doubles match. Ben Shelton and Frances Tiafoe ousted the European duo of Andrey Rublev and Hubert hurkacz 7-6(4), 7-6(5).
“I am proud of these guys. We brought together a great group of some youth and experience, guys that have been here before. Everybody played well,” McEnroe said of his team’s 13-2 victory.
“It was an awesome week. We kicked some ass.”
“Winning is a whole lot better than losing. We struggled the first couple of years, and now we have tasted winning and it feels good.”
In contrast, Europe didn’t have much joy at the event with their only victory being from Casper Ruud who defeated Tommy Paul on the second day of the tie. Since the start of the competition in 2017, Europe won four consecutive titles but 2023 is the second year in a row that they have been defeated.
Hoping that this losing streak will come to an end next year when the event is held in Berlin, Federer says he wishes Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will play. Djokovic has played in the Laver Cup twice before but Alcaraz is yet to make his debut.
“They destroyed Team Europe. Team World played fantastic, they really brought the energy. Everybody brought a point, they were stronger in the doubles. In the singles too, they were moving fast, they were ready to go. They thoroughly deserved victory,” said Federer.
“I would like to see Novak again, Alcaraz and Novak on the same team. Sascha Zverev would be great for the German market. Someone like [Holger] Rune, that really hurt Team Europe. Rune and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas pulling out. [Daniil] Medvedev would be great. I like watching [Andrey] Rublev, and maybe someone will come through,” he added.
Federer is a co-founder of the Laver Cup with his management company Team 8 partnering up with Tennis Australia and Jorge Paulo Lemann to create the event. In 2019 the team competition was awarded ATP Tour status with a spot on the official calendar and access to marketing facilities under an agreement. However, ranking points are not awarded to players.
Due to the nature of the format, only one match was played on Sunday with fans not getting the chance of watching any singles. Something two-time French Open champion Ruud admits is a problem.
“Two of the times that I have played was maybe in a way a little bit unfortunate with only one deciding doubles (match) on Sunday,” Ruud commented.
“The crowd didn’t get to see a singles (match) after or whatever. That’s not in my hands to decide what the format looks like.’
“But last year in London was great in many ways because you had so many great players and it came down to almost the last match. When I watched on TV the first series, it was so exciting because Roger played a couple of times, the final match of the Sunday and clutched it for Team Europe. It’s been a couple of years without playing that last singles match. But it’s a great initiative. Me, as a golf fan, watching the Ryder Cup all my life in my childhood, it’s great for tennis to have this event.”
The 2024 Laver Cup will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin between September 20-22.
India’s Sumit Nagal Receives Sponsorship Boost After Revelling Financial Struggles
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.
(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
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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