The 2018 WTA Season Review - Page 2 of 4 - UBITENNIS
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The 2018 WTA Season Review

Ubitennis.net reviews a memorable 2018 WTA season highlighted by Simona Halep’s first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, Naomi Osaka’s breakthrough at the US Open, the return of Serena Williams, the Wimbledon triumph of Angelique Kerber and the emergence of Aryna Sabalenka.

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The Newcomer of the year: Aryna Sabalenka:

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20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus won her first WTA title at the Connecticut Open in New Haven and her maiden WTA Premier 5 title in Wuhan. The Minsk-native broke into the WTA Top 20, reaching a career-high singles ranking of 11th. At Grand Slam level, she reached the fourth round at the US Open, where she beat Petra Kvitova in the third round before losing to eventual champion Naomi Osaka. During her impressive hard-court season, Sabalenka reached the third round at the Rogers Cup, the semifinal in Cincinnati and the quarter final at the China Open in Beijing, where she beat defending champion Caroline Garcia to score her eighth top-10 win of the season.

The most improved player of the year: Kiki Bertens:

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The Dutchwoman ended the 2017 season ranked world number 31 and made a huge step forward, reaching a career-high of world number 9 in October. She was considered mainly a clay-court specialist before this season. She had won all her four titles on this surface and reached her best result at Grand Slam level in 2016, when she qualified for the semifinal at Roland Garros.

This year Bertens has enjoyed a great season on the other surfaces, becoming an all-round player. She won her maiden Premier title in Charleston and reached her first Premier Mandatory final in Madrid. After reaching the quarter final at Wimbledon on grass, Bertens won two more titles on hard-courts in Cincinnati and Seoul. Bertens scored eight wins against top-10 players and qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore for the first time in her career. She qualified for the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Elina Svitolina. Bertens was named WTA Most Improved Player of the Year.

The “Master” of the Year: Elina Svitolina

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The Ukrainian player started her season with a title at the Brisbane International against qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich. She successfully defended her two titles in Dubai and Rome. In the Italian capital she beat Simona Halep in straight sets. After a period of ups and downs in which she reached the quarter final in Birmingham, the semifinal in Montreal and the quarter final in Hong Kong, Svitolina reached top form again for the WTA Finals in Singapore. Dismissing Sloane Stephens in the final to win the biggest title of her career. She won all her round robin matches against Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and her semifinal against Kiki Bertens.

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Daria Kasatkina Continues To Struggle As Seeds Tumble In Miami

Daria Kasatkina lost her seventh match of the year to Venus Williams, while Mertens, Sevastova and Collins were also knocked out.

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When she arrived in Miami last year, Daria Kasatkina had already won 13 matches and had just played in the biggest final of her career at Indian Wells.

This time, it was a very different story, as she started her second round match in search of only her fourth win of the year.

Encouragingly, the Russian beat 15-year-old star-of-the-future Cori Gauff 6-3 6-2 to give herself something to build on.

But the optimism did not last long. Kasatkina failed to hold serve at any time during her humbling 6-3 6-1 loss to Venus Williams.

It was an extraordinary performance for all the wrong reasons, and it is easy to imagine just how depressed the Russian will be feeling about it.

Furthermore, the ease of the scoreline does not make sense when compared to the players’ three previous encounters.

All those matches, at Wimbledon, Indian Wells and Auckland respectively, were closely-fought contests that went the distance. In addition, Kasatkina won two of them, which makes the contrast even starker.

Given this evidence, it is clear something is not right with the Russian, and she will need to find a way of regaining her form soon to avoid a dramatic slide down the rankings.

Mertens, Sevastova and Collins Crash Out

In February, Elise Mertens produced the best tennis of her life to beat Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep and claim her first Premier title in Doha.

Since then, she has suffered one first-round loss and two second-round losses. The latest of those came today against Marketa Vondrousova.

It was a close encounter, and there was nothing to choose between the two players until the Czech teenager earned a break in the ninth game to move 5-4 ahead.

The second set was even tighter. Both players served better to take it all the way to a tie-break, which Vondrousova won.

Anastasija Sevastova also experienced an unexpected loss. She was defeated 1-6 6-2 6-3 by Yulia Putintseva.

Although she played well in the first set and a half, she was unable to sustain that level throughout the match and her Kazakhstani opponent took full advantage.

Danielle Collins became the third seeded casualty of the day when she lost 7-5 6-1 to rising star Wang Yafan.

The Chinese player has enjoyed an extraordinary recent run of results. She beat Donna Vekic and Sofia Kenin en route to her first WTA title in Acapulco.

Wang then beat Kristina Mladenovic and Elina Svitolina, both in straight sets, to set up a meeting with Collins. In the last 16, she will face the highest-ranked player from her country: Wang Qiang.

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Angelique Kerber Exits Miami By Branding Andreescu A ‘Drama Queen’

It was a very frosty ending to the match between the two at the Hard Rock Stadium.

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Angelique Kerber (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Angelique Kerber’s run at the 2019 Miami Open won’t be remembered so much for tennis, but for the words she said following her final match.

The two-time grand slam champion bowed out 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, in the third round on Saturday night to Bianca Andreescu. Suffering her second loss to the Canadian in as many weeks following their clash in the final at Indian Wells. During what was a tense encounter between those two, the match was overshadowed by a frosty handshake at the end. During which Kerber called the 18-year-old “the biggest drama queen ever.

Questioned about the comment afterwards, world No.24 Andreescu said she didn’t hear what was said at the time. She is now on a 10-match winning streak and is undefeated against top 10 opposition this year. Andreescu ended 2018 ranked 178th in the world.

“She said something, but I’m not sure what,” New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg quoted her as saying. “I just didn’t say anything, whatever, I’m not trying to focus on that. I’ll just let my tennis talk.”

It is unclear as to what lead up to the jibe from Kerber. During their match in Indian Wells, Andressce requested a medical time out during the deciding set. Something that might have been interpreted as a tactical time out. However, the teenager did have a couple minor injury issues coming into that match. Nevertheless, Kerber praised her afterwards.

“She played good, especially in the third set. When she had the chances, she just goes for it. Yeah, she put the balls in the court. At the end, she deserved to win.” The German said.
“She played the whole tournament good. I know that I had to play my best tennis. But, yeah, at the end, I was not able to take my chances, but she did it.” Kerber added.

Following her latest loss, Journalist Jannik Schneider described Kerber as ‘downhearted’ as she addressed the media in the mixed zone at the Miami Open. Revealing that the 31-year-old currently has some sort of thigh issue, but it is unclear how severe it is. Could Kerber’s words be out of frustration and nothing other than that?


Next up for Andreescu will be Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit in the fourth round.

 

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Injured Serena Williams Quits Miami

It is bad news for the former world No.1.

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Serena Williams (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Miami Open on Saturday after battling through a roller-coaster second round clash on the previous day.

A statement confirmed that the former world No.1 has been forced out of the tournament due to a left knee injury. Williams made her debut at the tournament this year on Friday with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, win over Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson. She is an eight-time champion in Miami, which moved to the Hard Rock Stadium this year. However, her last triumph was back in 2015.

“I am disappointed to withdraw from the Miami Open due to a left knee injury,” Williams said in a press release. “It was an amazing experience to play at the Hard Rock Stadium this year and I would like to thank the Miami Open for putting on an amazing event. I hope to be back next year to play at this one-of-a-king tournament in front of the incredible fans here in Miami.”

It is the second consecutive tournament, which the American player has been forced to retire from. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Williams retired during her match against Garbine Muguruza due to a viral illness.

“It’s definitely not easy at all. But I’m through it. That’s that. I just got to get my game back to where I know it can be.” She said commented recovering from the illness on Friday.

No details have been released about the severity of the issue. The 37-year-old has been hampered by numerous issues with her knees throughout her career. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, once said her knee cartilage “was not gone, not all of it, but a big part.” It was a left knee problem that forced Williams out of the 2017 edition of Indian Wells.

As a consequence, China’s Wang Qiang has received a walkover into the fourth round in Miami. Wang will play either compatriot Wang Yafan or Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins.

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