Maria Sharapova, Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia lead a high-quality field at the Shenzhen Open - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova, Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia lead a high-quality field at the Shenzhen Open

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Next year’s Shenzhen Open will feature a high-quality field which includes former Grand Slam champions Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko and former top 10 player Caroline Garcia. The Chinese tournament will take place from 29th December 2018 to 5th January 2019 at the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Center.

 

Sharapova won five Grand Slam titles (Wimbledon 2004, US Open 2006, Australian Open 2008, Roland Garros 2012 and 2014). Last year she played in Shenzhen reaching the semifinals, before losing to Katerina Siniakova. At Grand Slam level the Russian legend reached the third round at the Australian Open before losing to Angelique Kerber, and the French Open, where she qualified for her first Grand Slam quarter final since the 2016 Australian Open. At the US Open she lost to Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round. She pulled out of the final tournaments of the year at the China Open, Tianjin Open and at the Moscow Kremlin Cup with a right shoulder injury. Sharapova ended the year ranked world number 29.

Jelena Ostapenko won the French Open title and at the Korea Open in Seoul in 2017 and made her debut in the top 10. The young Latvian player ended the 2017 season ranked world number 7. In 2018 she beat Petra Kvitova in the fourth round, Elina Svitolina in the quarter final and Danielle Collins in the quarter final to reach the final at the Miami Open before losing to Sloane Stephens.

She lost in the first round to Kateryna Kozlova in the first round at the French Open, where she defended the title won in 2017. She then beat Dominika Cibulkova to reach her first semifinal at Wimbledon before losing to eventual finalist Angelique Kerber.

Caroline Garcia made a major breakthrough in 2017 when she won back-to-back titles on Chinese soil in Wuhan and Beijing and reached the semifinals at the WTA Finals in Singapore, before losing to Venus Williams. In 2018 the French player won her only title in Tianjin, reached the quarter final in Dubai and Doha, the semifinals in Stuttgart and Madrid, the quarter finals in Rome, Montreal and Tokyo, and the fourth round at the Australian Open and at the French Open.

The line-up also features two Chinese rising stars Wang Xinyu and Wang Xiyu. They won the Wimbledon doubles junior title. Wang Xiyu claimed the 2018 US Open Junior title to become the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam Junior title.

“The entire line-up of players will be announced in due course, but this is an opportunity to let all fans of the Shenzhen Open know in advance that we in for an exciting week of tennis at Shenzhen Longgang Sports Center”, said Shenzhen Open Tournament director Luiz Carvalho.

The Shenzhen Open boasts an impressive list of past champions, which includes Chinese legend Li Na and Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska and Katerina Siniakova. Li Na won the first two editions of the Shenzhen Open in 2013 and 2014. Halep won twice in 2015 and 2018. The Romanian world number 1 beat Siniakova 6-1 0-6 6-2 in the 2018 edition and added two more titles this year winning the French Open and the Rogers Cup.

“Every year the Shenzhen Open grows and continues to be an exciting stop on the world tour as being a very important part of China’s tennis development. From the tournament’s first year when Li Na won the title, fans have greatly enjoyed seeing so many tremendous female players gracing our courts”,said Li Wenbin, the Deputy Chairman of the Chinese Tennis Association.

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Serena Williams Named Most Stylish Athlete Of 2019 As She Brushes Off Critics

The 37-year-old says she ‘doesn’t care’ about what people think about what she wears.

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23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams has been awarded with another accolade in her record-breaking career.

 

The 37-year-old has come top in this year’s Most Fashionable list by Sports Illustrated in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers In America. The honour recognizes athletes who have stood out from the crowd with what they wear. Those who make the shortlist are selected by a panel of stylists, fashion editors and executives and other influencers across the sports and fashion industries.

“My whole career has been really about tennis and fashion. I always try to make a statement when I walk out on the court—to be bold and to be unique and to kind of transcend. I always try to send the message of just being confident and being fierce.” Williams told Sports Illustrated.

Williams has made headlines on the court for the outfits she wears. After wearing a catsuit at last year’s French Open, she opted for a more straightforward design in this year’s tournament. Wearing a zebra-striped outfit decorated with the words ‘mother, champion, queen, goddess’ in French. It was designed by Virgil Abloh, who was named in Time’s 100 most influential people in the world back in 2018. At Wimbledon, the Nike tick on her all-white clothing was made up of 34 Swarovski ® crystals to mark the last time she won the title at the age of 34.

The fashion sense of the American wasn’t a hit with everybody. Her catsuit triggered criticism from the head of the French Tennis Federation. Bernard Giudicelli told France’s Tennis Magazine in 2017 ‘I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place.’ Williams later played down those comments.

“People always have things to say when you’re wearing fashion. It could be good things. It could be bad things. I don’t care what people say. I’m like just so past it—you could say whatever you want to say.” She said.
“Honestly, you’re allowed to have your opinion. My life is far too complicated to worry about people that want to say mean things. I have a daughter, I have a family, I have a career. I have too much to worry about.”

Williams recently finished runner-up at Wimbledon after losing to Simona Halep in the final. She is set to play at both the Rogers Cup in Canada and Cincinnati Open before the next grand slam tournament.

Note: video embedded from si.com.

 

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US Open Set To Bypass Age Eligibility Policy To Hand Cori Gauff Wildcard

The New York Grand Slam has confirmed that they will likely bend the rules in order for the teenage star to play in the main draw.

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Cori Gauff was the talk of Wimbledon and now the US Open have said they are willing to make an exception to their own policy in order for the teenager to play in the main draw of their tournament.

 

The 15-year-old American stunned the women’s tour with her run at the All England Club. Becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to successfully come through three rounds of qualifying. Then in the main draw Gauff knocked-out five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round. She also scored wins over Polona Hercog and Magdalena Rabrikova to reach the fourth round. Becoming the youngest player to reach the second week of a major since Jennifer Capriati at the 1991 Wimbledon championships. Gauff’s run was eventually ended by Simona Halep, who went on to win the title.

Now ranked 141st in the world, the rising star is currently limited to how many tournaments she can play in accordance with the WTA’s age-eligibility rule. A policy put in place to prevent early burnout for players. It is a rule that is also followed by the United States Tennis Association, who runs the US Open.

At present Gauff isn’t eligible for any more wild cards in 2019 after already using her three allotted ones. Doing so in the Miami Open, French Open qualifiers and Wimbledon qualifiers. Chris Widmaier, who is the director of communications for the USTA, has told The New York Post that he expects Gauff to receive a pass for the upcoming grand slam. Confirming that it is likely that she will be given a special exemption from the policy.

“We would expect to see Coco in the main draw of the US Open,’’ said Widmaier. “She certainly won the hearts of tennis fans in our country with her Wimbledon performance. It’s not every day an athlete of her age becomes water-cooler talk.‘’

The WTA has also said that they will not stand in the way of the USTA if they wish to bend the rules. Under the Rule Gauff is allowed to play a maximum of 10 tournaments between her 15th and 16th birthdays. Plus one of the two year-end tournaments if she qualifies and the Fed Cup.

“The US Open, as a Grand Slam, reserves the right to not align with the Age Eligibility Rule and offer a player a Wild Card in excess of her limit per the Age Eligibility Rule,’’ a WTA spokesperson told the NY Post.

A series of players have urged the WTA to make changes to their policy regarding young players in light of Gauff’s rapid rise. One of the most notable is Roger Federer, who is the co-founder of the Team8 management company that represents Gauff.

“I understand the rule completely that they want the young players not to play too much,” he said. “I’ve told the WTA they should loosen up the rules. I loved seeing [Martina] Hingis doing what she did at a young age.”

It is unclear if the WTA will be making any changes in the near future.

The US Open will get underway on August 26th.

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The Women’s Stats Leaders Of Wimbledon 2019

Although Simona Halep won Wimbledon, it was Serena Williams who dominated most of the stats at this year’s tournament.

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Simona Halep (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

As the third grand slam of the year concludes, let’s reflect on who the stats leaders at Wimbledon in the Women’s tournament. 

 

The Women’s tournament once again provided many shocks, unpredictable results, storylines and great champions rising to the top.

But in the end it was Simona Halep who won her second grand slam and first Wimbledon title as she demolished Serena Williams in the final.

As the tournament has now ended let’s break the tournament down and see how the Women’s tournament reflected overall in terms of Quality.

Most Aces

Serena Williams reached another Wimbledon final this year and her serve was the key to reaching the second Saturday as she dominated most of her opponents.

Although Simona Halep may have figured her service patterns, her previous six opponents didn’t as she topped the aces chart.

  1. Serena Williams – 47
  2. Karolina Pliskova – 36
  3. Karolina Muchova – 29
  4. Johanna Konta – 28
  5. Ashleigh Barty – 26

Double Faults

Although both Dayana Yastremska and Alison Riske made the second week of this year’s Wimbledon, both Women topped the double faults tally.

  1. Dayana Yastremska – 26
  2. Alison Riske – 25
  3. Kristina Mladenovic – 19
  4. Kaia Kanepi – 17
  5. Cori Gauff – 15

Fastest Serve (MPH)

Serena once again topped this particular statistic although 15 year-old rising sensation Cori Gauff came close en route to the fourth round.

  1. Serena Williams – 122
  2. Polona Hercog – 120
  3. Cori Gauff – 119
  4. Venus Williams, Petra Martic, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka – 118

Longest Match

Karolina Muchova’s surprise win over Karolina Pliskova was the longest match of the Women’s tournament and the closes to a 12-12 tiebreak.

  1. Karolina Muchova def Karolina Pliskova – 3 hours and 17 minutes
  2. Alison Risek def Ivana Jorovic – 2 hours and 50 minutes
  3. Elise Mertens def Qiang Wang – 2 hours and 49 minutes
  4. Cori Gauff def Polona Hercog – 2 hours and 47 minutes
  5. Monica Puig def Anna Karolina Schmiedlova – 2 hours and 35 minutes

The Most Serve and Volley In Their Game 

One of the reasons why Barbora Strycova made the semi-finals of the singles and became the new doubles world number one, was her ability to serve and volley, which is why she tops this particular chart.

  1. Barbora Strycova – 19% (69/366)
  2. Kirsten Flipkens – 14% (16/118)
  3. Taylor Townsend – 11% (17/153)
  4. Andrea Petkovic – 10% (9/91)
  5. Laura Siegemund – 9% (13/169)

Most Return Winners

Dayana Yastremska and Serena Williams top this stat as they made their opponents pay for any average serves coming their way.

  1. Dayana Yastremska – 25
  2. Serena Williams – 17
  3. Petra Kvitova – 12
  4. Shuai Zhang – 12
  5. Amanda Anisimova, Karolina Pliskova, Karolina Muchova and Alison Riske – 10

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