Maria Sharapova Starts Comeback With Win Over Bacsinszky In Shenzhen - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Starts Comeback With Win Over Bacsinszky In Shenzhen

The former world No.1 is bidding to claim her first WTA title since October 2017.

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Five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova has ended her three-and-a-half month absence from the tour with a 6-2, 7-6(3), win over Timea Bacsinszky in the first round of the Shenzhen Open.

 

Sharapova, who is seeded fifth in the tournament, ended her 2018 season early due to a shoulder injury. Nevertheless, the Russian looks to be back on track after producing a solid display against former French Open semi-finalist Bacsinszky. In total she hit 23 winners (18 more than her opponent) alongside 30 unforced errors.

“It was a difficult opponent, tough conditions for both of us.” Sharapova said afterwards. “It’s been a few months since I’ve been out playing competitively. So considering the opponent and everything I had to go through today, I thought it was a great practice for me.”

Bidding to win her first title in over a year, Sharapova encountered some stern resistance from her Swiss rival. After charging through the first set with the help of a four-game winning streak, the Russian found herself coming from behind in the second. Battling back from 0-2 and then 3-5 before taking the match into a tiebreaker. Much to the frustration of Bacsinszky.

Closing in on the win, it was the intensity of the Russian that helped her to cross the finish line. Hitting a series of deep shots towards the baseline to draw the errors from her rival, Sharapova opened up a 5-3 lead in the tiebreaker. A forehand winner then granted her match point, which she converted thanks for a Bacsinszky error.

“I think these are the type of matches you want to play ahead of the Australian Open. This (Shenzhen) is my only warm-up tournament and I will try my best to make the most of it.” She said.

Sharapova will next play Chinese wildcard Wang Xinyu, who is yet to break into their top 300.

Garcia, Wang stunned

In the bottom half of the draw, there are only one seed left in the section following a duo of shock wins at the tournament.

Second seed Caroline Garcia produced an error-stricken performance as she crashed out 6-4, 6-2, to Serbian qualifier Ivana Jorović. The world No.19 was far from her best as she dropped serve six times as hit 30 unforced errors to only 14 winners.

“I can’t believe what happened on the court today, I’m really happy.” Jorovic said afterwards.
“Caroline is an amazing player, but today I gave my best and I hope I can continue to play like this.”

The 21-year-old will next play tour veteran Vera Zvonareva, who dismissed Luksika Kumkhum in straight sets.

Another seed to go out was Wang Qiang, who was ranked third in the draw. The home favourite bowed out 6-3, 6-3, to two-time Shenzhen finalist Alison Riske.

Heading into the second round, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the only seed remaining in the bottom half.

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Matteo Berrettini: “I am fit and I trained with Frances Tiafoe”

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Matteo Berrettini is still staying in Boca Raton (Florida), where he spent the lockdown period with his girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic.

 

The 2019 US Open semifinalist talked to the Italian Sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport about his injury problem, the lockdown and his plans for the next weeks.

“Italy suffered a lot from the coronavirus crisis. I have always been in touch with my family and I know how hard this situation was. We cannot give up. We have to move on and stay united. This is the key to restart”, said Berrettini.

The world number 8 has not decided yet when he will return to Italy.

“I have not planned the date, when I will be back to Italy. We have some options, but we are still waiting before taking a definitive decision”, said Berrettini.

Berrettini said that the ankle injury, that affected the first part of the 2020 season, are now healed. The Italian player, who turned 24 last April, has not decided whether he will take part at the Italian tennis Championships in Todi on 21 June.

“My priority is to keep fit and continue training. During my stay in Florida I trained with Frances Tiafoe. I have been helped by Paolo Volpicelli, who is a good friend of my coach Vincenzo Santopadre”.

 Berrettini has been plagued by injury problems since the start of his career.

“As I was younger, I was frequently injured. Once a shoulder injury was healed, I picked other problems on my wrist, on my ankle and on my back. I am living with my injuries”.

 Berrettini also talked about the recent news that Fabio Fognini underwent ankle surgery.

 “I knew that Fabio was suffering from an ankle problem. He has more kilometres on his legs than me. He was still undecided, but he chose the right moment to undergo surgery. I wish him all the best for a quick recovery. He has not had many injuries and we are looking forward to seeing him back on court”.

 Berrettini spent the past three months with his girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic.

 “It was nice to spend a lot of time with Ajla. We were not used to this situation, because we met only occasionally. It was not always easy, but it was very positive. We have trained together. We have a different mentality. I am more relaxed. She has a more serious approach. When I joked too much, Alja got angry. This experience has made us grow”.

 Berrettini was asked about the return of the ATP Tour.

 “A decision on the US Open will be taken in mid-June. This will probably determine the future on the other ATP tournaments. It would be nice to play at the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome. It’s the home tournament for me and I am very fond of this event”.

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French Tennis Star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Shares His Experiences With Racism

The grand slam finalist opens up about what it for like being the only ‘half-breed’ in his school as well as other problems he has experianced.

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Former top 10 player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has become the latest sporting figure to speak out about his personal struggles with racism in the wake of mass protests gripping America.

 

Dozens of cities in the north American country have been placed under overnight curfews following violent demonstrations that have resulted in various injuries and looting. The outcry started when an unarmed black man called George Floyd died whilst being arrested. Video footage showed that a police officer was leaning on his neck which resulted in him dying from asphyxia, according to a private post-mortem paid by his family.

The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the world with various top names speaking out against the use of disappropriate force against minority groups. Speaking about the situation, Tsonga said that racism is a problem everywhere before sharing some of his own personal experiences.

“This type of behaviour that we see frequently in the United States, but that’s on another scale, is repeated continuously throughout the world, is unbearable for me,” he told radio station France Info.
“Such an event removes the consciences of everything and shows how necessary a change is.’
“The non-acceptance of the difference and racism, as well as other issues, such as sexuality, religion or sexual orientation, continue to be used as an excuse to commit atrocities.”

Growing up the 35-year-old said he was singled out as a youngster for being a half cast. His mother is white and father is black. The problems he encountered took place both during and outside of school. Tsonga was born in the French town of Le Mans, which is famous for its annual 24-hour Motor sport race.

“Since I was a child I have had to regularly experience racial discrimination and inappropriate comments,” he said.
“I was the only half-breed in my elementary school, so you can imagine what was happening.’
“All of them were nicknames, insults, I had to bear that when I was a teenager I was continually stopped on the street asking for my papers, people who met me covered their bag as if they was afraid I was going to steal from them and they wouldn’t even let me pass in some places when I went with my friends.”

Whilst nowadays France has grown to be a much more tolerant country like many others, incidents such as the one involving Floyd proves that there is still much more needed to be done. As for Tsonga, he hopes his son Sugar, who was born in 2017, will not go through the same as him.

“There are still a lot of people who make offensive comments without realizing it because discrimination is so ingrained that for many it is not even so. But there are words that can hurt a lot. I have had a hard time finding my place and my identity; I just hope that my son doesn’t feel like a stranger wherever you go,” he concluded.

Tsonga is the last Frenchman to contest a grand slam final at the 2008 Australian Open. So far in his career he has won 18 ATP titles and peaked at a ranking high of fifth back in 2012.

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Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev sign up to play exhibition tournament in Khimki

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Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev have signed up to play an exhibition tournament in the Russian city of Khimki in the Moscow region in June.

 

Khachanov won his first Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy in 2018. He broke into top 10 of ATP Rankings in June 2019 and achieved his career-high of number 8 on 15th July. Last year he reached two semifinals at the Masters 1000 tournament in Montreal and at the China Open in Beijing (ATP 500 tournament). He defeated Juan Martin Del Potro to reach his first Roland Garros quarter final. The Russian player also advanced to the quarter finals in Indian Wells, Halle, Moscow and Vienna. In 2020 he won four of his five singles matches at the ATP Cup for the Russian team, who qualified for the semifinals before losing to Serbia. He advanced to the Australian Open third round for the second consecutive year and to the quarter final in Dubai in the last tournament played before the suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rublev started the 2020 season with back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide and reached the fourth round at the Australian Open and two quarter finals in Rotterdam and Dubai.

The best WTA players expected to take part in the Kimkhi tournament are Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudemertova, two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vitalia Diatchenko. Pavlyuchenkova came back from a set down to beat Angelique Kerber advancing to the quarter finals for the second consecutive year at the 2020 Australian Open.

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