Serena Williams To Play At Mubadala World Tennis Championship - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams To Play At Mubadala World Tennis Championship

The 23-time grand slam champion will play at the exhibition event in the lead up to her 2019 season.

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Former world No.1 Serena Williams will go to Abu Dhabi later this month to play at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship for the second consecutive year.

The 23-time grand slam champion took part in the first ever women’s match to be held in the history event last year. Williams took on Jelena Ostapenko in what was her first competitive match since giving birth to her daughter, losing in three sets. The Exhibition is held at the Zayed Sports City’s International Tennis Centre and has hosted a men’s tournament annually since 2009.

This year, Williams will take on sister Venus. On the WTA Tour the two have played against each other 30 times since the 1998 Australian Open. Including two times this year, where the wins were split between them. Overall, Serena leads their head-to-head 18-12.

“I loved playing in Abu Dhabi last year. I am excited to return to such a beautiful city and to see my fans. This time, I’ll be playing against my sister, so the match will be even more special,”  Williams said in a statement.

Williams hasn’t played a match since her loss to Naomi Osaka in the final of the US Open. Since starting her comeback to the WTA Tour in March, the 37-year-old has played in seven tournaments this season. Winning 18 out of 24 matches played. Against top 10 opposition, she produced a win-loss record of 6-4. Williams has been named WTA Comeback Player of the Year.

“We are absolutely thrilled Serena is returning again and her match against her sister – Venus will certainly be one you won’t want to miss.” Said John Lickrish, CEO of FLASH Entertainment.
“We are avid supporters of women in sport and are delighted to welcome both ladies to what is set to be an enthralling and closely fought, championship. The quality of the players this year reiterates MWTC’s importance in the global tennis calendar and its strong heritage of being a fantastic season-opener.”

In the men’s draw, a total of six players will take part. The field is set to feature grand slam champions Novak and Rafael Nadal. Kevin Anderson, who is the defending champion, and Dominic Thiem will also take part.

The 11th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship will take place between December 27-29. The Williams sisters will play their match on the first day of the event.

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Sloane Stephens out to defend her title at the Miami Open

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Reigning US Open and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep, fresh Indian Wells winner Bianca Andreescu, 23-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams and 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber are in the spotlight at the Miami Open Main Draw.  

Naomi Osaka leads the top half of the draw, which also features three Grand Slam champions; Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki. Osaka won the first title of her career at Indian Wells in 2018 and beat Serena Williams in her opening match of last year’s edition of the Miami Open before losing to Elina Svitolina.

In this year’s edition of the Miami Open Osaka will open her campaign against a qualifier and could take on Hsieh-Su-Wei in the third round in a possible re-match of this year’s Australian Open third round match. In Melbourne the Japanese player came back from a set down to beat Hsieh-Su-Wei 5-7 6-4 6-1. Last week Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic in straight sets in Indian Wells.

Osaka could face either Caroline Wozniacki or Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round and is on collision course for a possible quarter final clash against either Angelique Kerber or Aryna Sabalenka.

Defending champion Sloane Stephens lead the bottom half of the draw. The 2017 US Open champion has had a season of ups and downs with a record of 5 wins and 5 losses and lost in her opening round of Indian Wells against Stefanie Voegele, but the US player should not be underestimated. Last year she entered the Miami tournament with a negative 3-4 win-loss record and won her maiden Miami title. She continued her successful 2018 season with three finals at Roland Garros, Montreal and at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Stephens will start her defence against either Budapest champion Alyson Van Uytvanck or Ons Jabeur and could meet Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the third round and is on collision course for a possible quarter final against either Karolina Pliskova or Jelena Ostapenko (in a possible re-match of last year’s final). Pliskova could meet 2019 Dubai champion and Indian Wells semifinalist Belinda Bencic in the third round in a potential re-match of this year’s Indian Wells match.

Simona Halep leads the bottom half of the draw. The Romanian player will open her Miami campaign against Johanna Larsson an dcould meet either Daria Kasatkina in the third round or Lesla Tsurenko before a potential quarter final against either Serena Williams or last year’s WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina.

This year’s Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova has been drawn in the top half of the draw and will play against either Maria Sakkari or last year’s Moscow champion Olga Danilovic in her opening match before a possible third-round clash against Donna Vekic.

Fresh Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu will make her Miami Open debut against Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu. The winner of this match could clash against 20-year-old US player Sofia Kenin, who beat Andreescu in the recent Acapulco semifinal. Andreescu could face Kerber in the third round in a potential re-match of last Sunday’s Indian Wells final.

In one of the most interesting first round matches former Miami champion Victoria Azarenka will face 2016 WTA Finals champion Dominica Cibulkova, who reached the semifinal in Miami in 2014.

Mari Osaka, the elder sister of Naomi Osaka, was awarded a wild card for the 2019 Miami Open and will make her first appearance in a main draw and will play against Whitney Osuigwe.

There is no clear favourites in Miami after a very unpredictable start to the season in the first three months with 13 different champions in the first 13 WTA tournaments of the year. Three players aged 21 or younger Naomi Osaka, Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu won the biggest titles this season lifting the trophies respectively at the Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells.

The Miami Open will be held for the first time in the Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the American Football team Miami Dolphins.

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Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka beat Barbora Krejikova and Katerina Siniakova to clinch their maiden title in Indian Wells

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Unseeded doubles team formed by Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka cruised past top seeds and 2018 Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions Barbora Krejikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-2 to lift their maiden title at the BNP Paribas WTA Premier Mandatory at Indian Wells.

Mertens and Sabalenka took a re-match against Krejikova and Siniakova, who won their previous head-to-head match in the third round at the 2019 Australian Open.

After both players traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games Mertens and Sabalenka got another break in the eighth game and held their service game at 15 to seal the first set 6-3 with three consecutive winning games.

Mertens and Sabalenka broke twice in the fifth and seventh games and saved all six break points they faced to close out the second set 6-2.

“I think that was on our mind, but not really the result. We were there as one team, as it came out great. In Australia we still had to figure out, first time together and already playing three sets against those top seeds. I felt there is really potential in a doubles team”,said Mertens.

“I think we were playing quick and don’t really give opponents time to do opponents”,said Sabalenka.

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Bianca Andreescu Continues Dream Run By Edging Out Svitolina

Teenager Bianca Andreescu beat Elina Svitolina in a three-set thriller to book her place in the final of Indian Wells.

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Bianca Andreescu (@BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Bianca Andreescu continued her fairytale run in Indian Wells with a remarkable 6-3 2-6 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina in a thrilling semi-final.

The Canadian, 18, beat Dominika Cibulkova, Wang Qiang and Garbine Muguruza on her way to the semi-final, and she never looked daunted by the challenge of facing the Ukrainian.

“This is so incredible,” Andreescu said in her on-court interview. “This past week has been a dream come true. (I have loved) playing in front of amazing crowds like you guys.”

She continued, “Today I just believed in myself. I’ve watched these top players so many times on TV so it’s really incredible to play against them – and win!”

In the first three games of the match, Andreescu simply hit the ball as hard as she could and Svitolina absorbed the power and re-directed the ball sensibly.

This led to numerous errors from the Canadian and enabled the Ukrainian to move into a 3-0 lead.

However, Andreescu gathered herself at the changeover and came out with a different plan. She continued to hit the ball powerfully but the direction of her shots was far more intelligent.

The teenager also mixed things up. She sliced the ball at times, hit cross-court when she had previously gone down the line and came into the net occasionally.

She also dictated the play, and Svitolina simply could not handle her dramatic improvement. Consequently, Andreescu reeled off seven consecutive games to take the first set 6-3 and go 1-0 up in the second set.

Svitolina takes her chances to hit back

Bianca Andreescu (@BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Perhaps inevitably, the Canadian could not sustain the same level forever. She made a string of errors to drop her serve to love and enable the Ukrainian to gain a foothold in the match.

Svitolina took advantage of this lull from Andreescu with a steady hold to move 2-1 ahead. That scoreline gave the World No.6 a platform to attack the Canadian in game four, and she did this to good effect to earn two break points.

Andreescu saved one and Svitolina wasted the other, but the game was not over yet. The Ukrainian got the better of a pulsating rally to earn another break point, and the Canadian netted a backhand to surrender her serve.

Svitolina made a couple of sloppy errors in the next game to gift Andreescu two break points. However, she re-focused, saved them both and went on to hold serve for a 4-1 lead.

Both players faced a few difficulties in their next service games, but both safely negotiated them to move the score on to 5-2 in the Ukrainian’s favour.

By this stage, it seemed like Svitolina knew how to deal with the type of shots Andreescu likes to play. She repeatedly read the Canadian’s intentions in game eight, and this enabled her to hit winners on the big points and break the teenager to clinch the set.

Andreescu starts the decider impressively but Svitolina fights back

Svitolina made a few poor decisions in the opening game of the decider. Andreescu pounced on these. She stepped inside the court and hit winners to break the Ukrainian. The Canadian then consolidated her advantage with a comfortable hold.

However, the World No.6 has experienced most situations in her eight years on the senior tour, and she did not panic. She played a series of smart points to hold serve, and then put pressure on the teenager by forcing a break point.

Andreescu saved it in trademark aggressive style. She then unleashed a string of big groundstrokes to secure an important hold and stay two games ahead at 3-1.

Svitolina responded superbly again. She played four commanding points to hold serve to love. She then put massive pressure on the Canadian’s serve by getting everything back and was rewarded with three break points.

The Ukrainian narrowly missed with a backhand down the line on the first. She then netted a backhand return on the second. But she took the third by drawing another error from Andreescu’s racket to level the score.

Andreescu pounces when Svitolina falters

Bianca Andreescu (@BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

At 30-30 in game seven, Svitolina made an unforced error. It cost her dearly, as the Canadian crunched a forehand winner to seize her second break of the set.

The World No.6 earned three break-back points by targeting Andreescu’s weaker forehand side. However, she missed a volley on the first one and the teenager saved the next two emphatically. She then won the next two points to move within one game of another big win in her young career.

In game nine, Svitolina eased to a 40-15 lead. However, the Ukrainian made two consecutive unforced errors to give the teenager a chance of a break.

Andreescu hit a powerful winner to earn match point, but just missed with another attempted put-away that would have ended proceedings. She kept going for her shots during the rest of the game, but Svitolina eventually held.

The Canadian made a couple of sloppy errors to fall 15-30 behind on her serve. She then advanced to the net on the next point and could only watch as the Ukrainian guided the ball past her.

Andreescu dug deep to save both break points. She then earned two more match points, which Svitolina saved with gutsy winners. However, the Ukrainian could not keep up these heroics, and on the Canadian’s fourth match point, the World No.6 netted a backhand. What a win for the teenager.

[Also published on womenssporthub.com]

 

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