Indian Wells voted as the best WTA Premier Mandatory tournament for the fifth consecutive year - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells voted as the best WTA Premier Mandatory tournament for the fifth consecutive year

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The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells has been voted as the best tournament in the WTA Premier Mandatory category for the fifth year in a row.

 

Naomi Osaka won her first WTA title at Indian Wells and went on to win her maiden Grand Slam at the US Open in New York last September. Serena Williams made her comeback at Indian Wells after a 14-month lay-off due to maternity leave.

“We are honoured and humbled that for the fifth straight year our event has been recognised by both men’s and women’s players as “Tournament of the Year”, said Indian Wells Tournament Director Tommy Haas.

The ATP and WTA Tournament of the Year Awards winners have received recognition from players due to the excellence of the staff and organization, passionate fans and wider dedication to the sport and its athletes.

In other classifications of WTA Tournaments the Rome Internazionali d’Italia has been voted the best tournament in the WTA Premier 5 category for the third consecutive year. This year Elina Svitolina won the Rome tournament for the second season in a row. The Ladies Trophy Tournament has been voted as the best tournament in the Premier category for the category. The Hong Kong picks up the award as the best tournament in the International Category for the first time.

The WTA also announced today the annual end-of year player awards. The Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award went to Petra Kvitova for the sixth consecutive year. Kvitova also enjoyed a successful 2018 season on the court winning five WTA titles in St. Petersburg, Doha, Prague, Madrid and  Birmingham This award is given to a player who observes the rules of fair play, shows respect for others and is gracious on and off the court.

“It’s a great honour to receive this award for my seventh time. This award means so much to me, especially as it’s voted upon my my colleagues, and every year it makes me proud”, said Kvitova.

Bethanie Mattek Sands receives the Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award for the first time in her career. This award recognizes the work the US player has done to support her fellow players and other initiatives on behalf of the general players population.

The WTA Coach of the Year Award went to Sascha Bajin, who guided Naomi Osaka to her her first Premier Mandatory at Indian Wells and to her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open.

 

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Last-minute Change Of Plan Key To Petra Kvitova’s Australian Open Surge

The former world No.1 and her mentor believes a decision made earlier this month was a blessing in disguise.

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Petra Kvitova’s winning run at this year’s Australian Open has been aided her the decision to miss one of the lead-up tournaments to the event, according to her coach Jiri Vanek.

 

The two-time Wimbledon champion is through to the quarter-finals in Melbourne after fighting back to defeat Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2, on Sunday. The rollercoaster encounter saw the Czech player drop her serve at the start of the first two sets before she found her footing on the court. Although it was far from perfect performance from Kvitova, who hit a total of 46 unforced errors compared to 33 winners. Furthermore, she was also fragile behind her second serve as she could only win 39% of the points.

“I think from the beginning, there were a lot of nerves out there. I didn’t feel the best. I was just too tight and everything was flying somewhere.” Kvitova reflected during her press conference.
“As the time went on I got used to (the match) and I started to play a little bit better, more free.”
“At the end of the day was about fighting spirit in a way. Even I didn’t play the best, Maria played really great tennis, and it was nice to share court with her.” She added.

Besides taking on Sakkari on the court, Kvitova also had to contend with an animated crowd. The Greek fans were out in full force with numerous cheers and chanting erupting. Although the seventh seed insisted that she was not intimidated by it.

“When I was shaking the hand with the umpire, I told him it was like a soccer match today.” She said.
“It’s nice on one side. On the other side, it’s tennis, and not a Fed Cup (tie).”

Kvitova, who was runner-up to Naomi Osaka in the tournament last year, is through to the quarter-finals in Melbourne for only the fourth time in her career. Prior to Sakkari, she also scored straight sets wins over Paula Badosa, Kateřina Siniaková and Ekaterina Alexandrova earlier in the week.

Assessing Kvitova’s performance so far, coach Vanek believes her recent withdrawal from the Adelaide International was a blessing in disguise.

“This year she has started pretty good the season. In Brisbane she made the semifinal. Lost a close match to Madison (Keys). We decided to take the rest a little bit and prepare her for the Melbourne. So I’m happy for her that it worked pretty well here.” He said.

The next challenge for the Czech comes in the shape of either world No.1 Ash Barty or Alison Riske. Two players she has lost to on a hard court during the 2019 season (Barty three times and Riske once). However, her team insists that she is under no pressure to match her run to the final of the event last year.

“The pressure doesn’t change, I don’t think. But we are not talking about it. She’s taking it just match after match and we just looking who is the other opponent, and that’s it.” Vanek stated.

Kvitova is just one out of four top 10 players left in the women’s draw. She is bidding to become the first Czech player to win the Australian Open since Hana Mandlíková In 1987, who represented the former Czechoslovakia.

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Grand Slam

Karolina Pliskova And Belinda Bencic Join Mass Exodus Of Seeds At Australian Open

The list of upsets in the women’s draw at the Australian Open grew ever longer as Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic lost.

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Karolina Pliskova (@tribundergi on Twitter)

It was all going so well for the seeded players in the Women’s Singles at the 2020 Australian Open. 21 of them made it through to the last 32. And, for the first time since 2007, that contingent included all of the top ten.

 

Then the third round began on day five and all hell broke loose. First, 8th seed Serena Williams lost to Wang Qiang. Then 10th seed Madison Keys was defeated by Maria Sakkari. And, as if that was not already enough for one day, 3rd seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka was knocked out by Coco Gauff.

It is now day six, and 2nd seed Karolina Pliskova and 6th seed Belinda Bencic have joined the list of high-profile casualties in round three due to losses to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anett Kontaveit respectively.

The Czech, 27, competed very strongly with her Russian opponent throughout. She matched her in almost every department, and both sets of the match went to a tie-break.

However, Pavlyuchenkova outgunned Pliskova in both tie-breaks with some impressive ball-striking as she hit a series of winners to earn a 7-6(4) 7-6(3) victory over the 2nd seed.

Bencic has a day to forget

Bencic experienced something of a waking nightmare. She made ten unforced errors and won just ten points as she lost the first set 6-0 to Kontaveit in just 21 minutes.

The second set started in a similar fashion. The Swiss lost the first three games and faced the embarrassing prospect of joining the list of players who have suffered a 6-0 6-0 loss in a Grand Slam if she did not get her act together.

Then Bencic finally won a game to make it 3-1. After that, she competed much better with the Estonian for the remainder of the match. But of course, by then it was much too late. Kontaveit completed a dominant 6-0 6-1 win in 49 minutes.

Donna Vekic was due to meet the Swiss in the fourth round if both players made it that far. Ultimately, neither did, as the Croatian also sustained a surprising loss when she went down 7-5 6-3 to 18-year-old rising star Iga Swiatek.

The defeats of Pliskova and Bencic mean that five of the top ten have now departed from the draw at the last-32 stage. 5th seed Elina Svitolina and 9th seed Kiki Bertens play this evening. Will they survive or will they join the ever-growing list of top players that have suffered unexpected exits?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sofia Kenin sets up clash with Cori Gauff in Melbourne

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Number 14 seed Sofia Kenin battled past China’s Zhang Shuai 7-5 7-6 (9-7) in a late-night hard-fought match to book her spot in the Australian Open fourth round against Cori Gauff.

 

Kenin reached the third round for the first time at this tournament without dropping a set. The US 21-year-old player fought back from a set point down twice in the opening set. She went down a break early in the second set before taking the tie-break.

Zhang went up a 3-0 lead in the opening set and saved five break points in a hard-fought fifth game.  Kenin broke back with two forehands to draw level, as Zhang was serving for the set. The US player completed the come-back by winning five consecutive games from 2-5 down to win the opening set 7-5.

Both players traded breaks twice in the second set en route to the tie-break. Kenin earned a mini-break on the ninth point before winning the tie-break on the third match point to set up a fourth round match against Cori Gauff, who beat defending champion Naomi Osaka.

“It’s late, but I am happy to have gone through and I am really excited. I was just fighting. There were a lot of close shots, so I needed to step up my game and I am so proud of myself. I was not aware that I was playing Gauff. She is playing really well. She had a great 2019 season. I am going to enjoy the moment right now”, said Kenin.

 

 

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