Defending champion Julia Goerges reaches the semifinal at the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai - UBITENNIS
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Defending champion Julia Goerges reaches the semifinal at the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai

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Defending champion Julia Goerges from Germany beat this year’s Australian Open champion Elise Mertens 6-2 7-6 (7-5) in the final round robin match of the Rose Group of the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai to book her spot in the semifinals after being two points from being knocked out from the tournament.

The German needed a straight-set win after her defeat against Anett Kontaveit in three sets yesterday.

Goerges saved two break points to hold her serve in the first game of the opening set. The German player earned two consecutive breaks in the sixth and eighth games to close out the first set 6-2. Mertens got an early break at deuce and held her serve at love to open up a 2-0 lead.

Mertens, who needed to win a set to reach the semifinal, led 30-15 in the 10th game as she serving for the second set, but Goerges broke back on her second break point to draw level to 5-5. Mertens fended off three match points from 0-40 down, when she was serving at 5-6. Goerges rallied from 3-4 down in the tie-break by reeling off four of the next five points to clinch a straight-set win.

“This win is the best present for my birthday. I will turn 30 tomorrow”, said Goerges in the post-match interview.

Number 9 seed and Australian number 1 player Ashleigh Barty beat this year’s Tianjin champion Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-4 with an early break in each set to improve to 1-1 in the Orchid Group Ranking keeping her hopes of reaching the semifinals alive.

Barty fired five aces and never faced a break point in the match. In The 22-year-old Australian player earned her first break in the fourth game of the first set and never looked in her next service games. She broke for the second time in the third game of the second set.

Number 2 seed and this year’s Beijing finalist Anastasija Sevastova overcame Chinese wildcard Zhang Shuai 6-0 7-6 (12-10) in two totally different sets to score her first win in the Camelia round robin Group at this tournament after 1 hour and 28 minutes. The first spot in this group will be decided by the head-to-head match between Sevastova and Garbine Muguruza, who will meet for the fourth time in their careers.

Sevastova earned the first break in a very long opening game to take a 1-0 lead. The Belarusian converted her third break point in a long third game. She broke again in the fifth game to take a bagel win in the first set.

Zhang won her first service game at 15 breaking a losing streak of six consecutive games. After three consecutive breaks of serve from the third game Sevastova took a 3-2 lead. The Latvian player earned three break points at 4-3, but Zhang saved them to hold her serve. Sevastova came two points away from the win, when she was serving for the match at 5-4, but Zhang broke back. Both players set up a tie-break, where Zhang raced out to a 5-1 lead. Sevastova fended off six set points before converting her second match point to score her 43rd match win of the season.

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Agnieszka Radwanska: The Pioneer Of The Golden Generation In Poland

Agnieszka Radwanska’s legacy is more than what it seems as she announced her retirement from Tennis.

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Agnieszka Radwanska (zimbio.com)

13 years ago, Agnieszka Radwanska started her career and evolved into a pioneer of a golden generation in Polish Tennis and now she exits the game having left a memorable legacy. 

Today is quite a sad day for many Polish tennis fans including myself who have watched Agnieszka Radwanska’s brilliant career evolve over the last 13 years. A talented player with many trick shots, a tonne of personality and some incredible achievements.

The Krakow-born star reached a grand slam final in 2012, where she forced the greatest player of all time to three sets at Wimbledon, a place that Serena Williams has made her second home. The 29 year old also won 20 WTA titles including a landmark title in Beijing as well as winning the biggest title of her career in Singapore at the WTA Finals in 2015.

A career high of world number two in 2012 consolidated what most fans knew, which was that she was a unique once in a lifetime player that fulfilled her potential. Even though injuries prevented her reaching further in the women’s game there was no doubting her achievements on the court.

The Polish Generation. 

Despite all these achievements, nothing will top what Radwanska has done in becoming a pioneer for Polish tennis and the success that may follow in the years to come.

The obvious example to her legacy is what Jerzy Janowicz was able to achieve at Wimbledon in 2013. The tall Pole was able to reach the semi-finals at SW19 in a historic event that saw Poland’s first men’s singles success since Wojciech Fibak. Although even he couldn’t reach a grand slam singles semi-final.

In the quarter-finals that year he competed in an all-Polish last eight match with Lukasz Kubot in a match that will never be forgotten.

Now the Radwanska link is that her success coinciding with Janowicz’s was a remarkable feat for Polish tennis that had the whole country invested in the sport.

Poland is a small nation in the tennis world and to see two singles successes in grand slams was pretty remarkable and set a standard in what was to come.

Although Radwanska couldn’t achieve grand slam success, a Polish grand slam winner would eventually evolve in Lukasz Kubot. The 36 year old has won two grand slams with two different partners and became the first Polish grand slam champion since Fibak. Not bad for a country of 35 million people.

There are also solid successes of Marcin Matkowski, Magda Linette, Alicja Rosolska as well as Michal Przysiezny, who is a former top 50 player and a big influence in Caroline Wozniacki’s recent Australian Open success.

Hopman Cup Success

Another achievement in Radwanska’s successful career was the Hopman Cup triumph in Perth with Jerzy Janowicz in what was a fun week.

Surprisingly it was Radwanska who took charge in that relationship and won a very emotional title in Perth, a week which signified how lucky Polish tennis was with this ongoing golden generation.

A title which will arguably be in the hearts of many Polish fans and is much more significant than people may assume.

The Legacy Continued: Fed Cup and Davis Cup. 

Although Radwanska had lead a golden generation in Polish tennis, there were still doubts whether this could be replicated in Fed Cup and Davis Cup.

Well those doubts were silenced when the Fed Cup team reached the World Group for the first time in their history. A magnificent achievement and a historic won even if they were eliminated by a Maria Sharapova-led Russia.

The Davis Cup team somehow equalled Radwanska’s Fed Cup team as they reached the World Group for the first time in their history. Caroline Wozniacki’s hitting partner, Michal Przysiezny sealed the winning rubber against Slovakia which had clearly shown how deep the talent was amongst the Polish players.

Away From The Legacy: The Turmoil Balanced With Personal Joy

Despite the legacy she had lead, the struggle was real on the tour for Radwanska as she started to develop injuries which prevented further progress.

This mental and physical turmoil unfortunately prevented her success in winning a grand slam and will probably go down as one of the best players never to win a grand slam.

After reaching the Wimbledon final in 2012 she only managed to reach a grand slam quarter-final seven times. Although the Pole was still capable of stunning upsets such as the one she pulled on Simona Halep in Miami this year.

This was of course managed by personal joy after getting married last year to Poland’s current Fed Cup captain, David Celt.

A tribute to a wonderful career

To put Aga’s career in perspective and how loved she was in her long and successful career, here is a tribute to her career by Radwanska herself.

Here is also reaction from other players just to show how loved Radwanska really is:

https://twitter.com/DonnaVekic/status/1062737073256456192

https://twitter.com/juliagoerges/status/1062758622453788672

The Future: Hotel Ventures and Polish Talent. 

Its not all bad news for Radwanska fans as she is continuing her legacy through her own hotel in Krakow, where she was born. For each room in the hotel she has a memory from each of her big trophy wins including Singapore and Beijing.

As for the legacy that Radwanska started it will continue into another generation of Polish tennis as Hubert Hurkacz and Kamil Majchrzak lead Male hopes in Poland. In-fact Hurkacz is now in the top 100 in the world and recently competed at the Next Gen Finals, a season that he will remember for a long time. 

The women also have a bright future with Iga Swiatek winning the Wimbledon juniors title this year as she keeps tearing it up on the futures tour. While Maja Chwalinska is slowly looking to join Swiatek as the future of Polish tennis.

Do Widzenia Radwanska

So in summary, the pioneer of a golden generation of Polish tennis players has retired, in what will be an emotional day for Polish tennis fans. Her legacy will be felt for a long time to come as Polish tennis continues to evolve. With the loss of Radwanska and potentially Janowicz it feels like the early stage of Polish tennis has finished in its chapter.

Congratulations on an amazing career to Aga as she now looks to live a healthy life outside of a tennis court. A nation will always be grateful for Aga’s long-lasting legacy and achievements on the court.

So as emotional as it sound, thank you for all that you have given Polish tennis Agnieszka Radwanska and as we say in Poland: Powodzenia an Do Widzenia (Good Luck and Goodbye).

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Lucie Safarova Announces Retirement At Australian Open Due To Health Problems

Former doubles world number one, Lucie Safarova has announced that the Australian Open will be her last tournament of her career.

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Lucie Safarova (zimbio.com)

Former doubles world number one Lucie Safarova has announced that she will retire at the Australian Open next year. 

The 31 year old made her announcement in a pre-Fed Cup press conference, where she explained that she’s been suffering from health problems for a while.

The former world number five in singles stated that she can no longer continue and admitted it was a hard decision to make, “I decided to end my career in Melbourne,” Safarova told sport.idnes.cz.

“Health complication were a big part in my decision. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time with Rob (Steckley, her coach) we talked that this would be the last season. I’ve had a great career but it’s not a healthier job.”

In her career Safarova reached a Roland Garros final in 2015 in singles, where she lost to Serena. The Czech Republican also had fantastic doubles success with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, winning three of the four grand slams.

“I don’t want to end by playing qualifying tournaments. I’m not playing any tournaments ahead of Melbourne,” Safarova concluded.

The former doubles world number one will now end her career by playing singles and doubles at the Australian Open as she can look back on her career with fond memories and great success.

 

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Darren Cahill Announces Shock Split From Simona Halep Due To Family Reasons

Darren Cahill has announced that he will not coach Simona Halep next season after wanting to spend more time with family.

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Darren Cahill and Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

Darren Cahill has announced his shock split from world number one Simona Halep due to family reasons. 

The Australian has been with Halep for four years in which he has turned her into a dominant world number one. As well as that he coached her to a first grand slam victory in Paris in May and it looked they would extend their partnership.

However just days after releasing a video dedicated to Simona Halep, the Australian has announced that he will no longer be coaching the Romanian as he plans to spend more time with family.

In a statement he Cahill said the following:

“I would like to announce that Simona and I will not be continuing our partnership in 2019 purely for family reasons on my part. After much thought and discussion, and many years with 30 plus weeks on the road away from my family, I’ve decided to take a 12 month break from coaching to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives with the final year of high school, sports and college preparations all becoming more time consuming.
“I’d like to thank Simona for the last 4 amazing years. Her understanding, personality, work ethic, generosity and professionalism made it a pleasure to stand by her side as her coach. She’s a young woman of total class and someone I respect greatly which is something more important than any result achieved. Basically, I had the dream job and I want to thank her for making it that way, and the opportunity to work with someone so talented and dedicated. I wish Simo and her team nothing but continued success and I look forward to supporting her from the sidelines next year.”

The announcement means that their four year partnership ends despite a career-best season from the Romanian having been world number one for most of the year. The Australian confirmed he will still fulfil his TV commitments with ESPN.

“And finally, to the Romanian fans that show unwavering passion and support for their girl. You guys rock, seriously. Thanks for adopting this Aussie as one of your own for the last 4 years and making me feel welcome in your country. I will continue to work with the ESPN team at the AO, Wimbledon & US Open tournaments in 2019.”

The Romanian has since responded thanked the Australian for what has been an incredibly four year partnership.

https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep/status/1060977900013477893

Halep’s next steps remain unclear but it is clear that she will miss Cahill in her corner next season as he been the driving force behind her success. Although who knows if the Australian will return to her corner in 2020. 

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