Donna Vekic starts 2019 in impressive style - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Featured

Donna Vekic starts 2019 in impressive style

Donna Vekic continued her superb start to the year with a 6-2 6-0 demolition of Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Published

on

Donna Vekic could have a fantastic 2019. She has made steady progress up the rankings in the last two seasons and looks well-placed – physically and mentally – to go all the way up to the top ten this year.

 

She could not have wished for a better start to the year. First she trounced 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-2. Next she won a tight three-setter against World No.9 Kiki Bertens.

And then she backed up those results with a near-flawless performance to demolish Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the player who knocked out Elina Svitolina, 6-2 6-0.

“Today was probably one of the most perfect matches I’ve ever played,” Vekic said in her press conference. “I was trying to be aggressive, and not give her time to be aggressive, because if she’s on, she’s on. I was watching her match with Svitolina, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s going to be tough’.”

Although the Croatian expected a difficult match against Sasnovich, she made defeating her look easy. She served superbly, hit her groundstrokes hard and deep and never let the Belarussian settle.

Consequently, Vekic racked up a string of impressive stats: 70% of first serve points won, five out of five break points converted, 16 winners and just five unforced errors.

Vekic to take on Pliskova in Brisbane semi-final

It truly was a high-class performance, and it sets up the Croatian perfectly for her next challenge: a semi-final clash with Karolina Pliskova.

Vekic’s match against the World No.8 will be only her second appearance in a Premier semi-final and, even if she loses, the Croatian will move up to a career-high ranking of 29. However, this is the kind of match she needs to win if she is going to reach the top ten.

When she was interviewed at the Birmingham Classic in June 2018, Vekic said, “I have had quite a few close matches against the top players and I feel like I’m there. There’s just a little bit missing (that I need) to make the next step to be able to beat them.”

Since then, the Croatian has made encouraging steps in the right direction. She beat Sloane Stephens twice, reached her first Premier semi-final in Tokyo and almost won a significant title in Washington.

If she can get the better of Pliskova in Brisbane, it will definitely feel like another significant leap towards the top – which is exactly where Vekic wants to be.

Editorial

A new documentary, and the rekindling of Serena Williams’ tryst with 2018 US Open destiny

Published

on

Serena Williams, 2019 US Open, Patrick Mouratoglou
Photo Credit: US Open/USTA

It’s almost a year since Serena Williams got embroiled in a war of words with chair umpire Carlos Ramos in the 2018 US Open final. The subject is yet to ebb entirely from memory though. The first episode of ESPN’s new documentary series Backstory – featured on the incident involving the 23-time Grand Slam champion – does its bit to ensure that on the eve of the 2019 US Open, attention is centred on what occurred a year ago.

 

Titled Serena vs the Umpire, the episode is an extrapolation of the match’s progression and what transpired within it. It presents facts through the pros and cons of Williams and Ramos’, and also of Patrick Mouratoglou’s actions that charted the match. Yet, in spite of this, the program makes Williams out as the wronged one.

First, by her coach, Mouratoglou, who displayed his commitment as a mentor by using hand signals to try and guide her. Then, by Ramos who penalised her for the Frenchman’s infraction. Without heeding her vehemence that she was not a party to her coach’s decision-making. The narrative of the program puts it out that regardless of Williams’ behaviour that saw her scream and rant at the umpire and call him a liar and thief, she did not deserve to be termed as the pariah of the match.

The program’s one-sided leaning does not change the problematic aspects of Williams’ and Mouratoglou’s behaviours. Williams, in protesting her innocence about receiving (and accepting) coaching, did cross the line with her aggressiveness. There was – and is – no denying her disrespect towards the authority on the chair officiating the match. And, rationales like the momentousness of the occasion getting to her do not justify her stance at all. Rather, they hinted at her being ill-equipped to handle the scenario in what turned out be the proverbial repeating of history, at the same tournament.

Mouratoglou’s near-immediate (after the end of the match) admission that he tried to help her – and his maintaining to do so, even now – also debilitates Williams’ position. The 49-year-old’s statements about what he thought was Ramos’ inability in letting the match spiral out of bands, is a bemusing segue as well.

“Ramos’ job is also to keep the match under control. He totally lost control of the match, completely, because he reacted with emotions. And he’s not supposed to — he’s a chair umpire, he’s not a player,” Mouratoglou said. Ironically, had Ramos lashed out emotionally instead of abiding the rules, the repercussions would have been far serious for Williams for name-calling him and for continuously challenging his authority.

Mouratoglou’s comments are revealing of how the program does not consider the ramifications of that fracas for Ramos.

Since the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) rules do not permit Ramos from speaking to the media – including to ESPN for this program – the 48-year-old has been short-changed as he cannot present his point-of-view countering the acclaimed coach. Also, in the year that has almost gone by, the veteran official’s on-court calls have been scrutinised and compared with his umpiring of that match. Moreover, Ramos will not be umpiring any of Williams’ matches at Flushing Meadows in 2019. All of these are indicative of how Ramos’ professionalism has been denigrated.

Players have the right to request to not have certain umpires officiate their matches and many have done so for reasons of their own. The avoidance of the tension between such a player and umpire is undeniably a positive to come out of the move. Yet, what does it leave the umpire with, since, irrespective of how a player behaves with the official, the latter does not have the same means to put forth his officiating preference.

Speaking of preferences, proffering his concluding thoughts on the match, Mouratoglou opined, “It was horrible for us. It was horrible for Serena. It’s fantastic for tennis. It was unbelievable, that was the best moment in tennis of the past 10 years. Tennis was everywhere. You don’t have any drama in tennis. We have drama in all the other sports, but not tennis. People should be allowed to be herself and show emotion. You want passion, that’s why people watch sport. They want things to happen. They want to feel emotion, they want to root for someone, they want to be shocked, they want to be happy, they want to be sad. That’s what they want and everybody felt something that day.”

Indeed, the match prompted reactions from everybody who watched it. Nonetheless, its proceedings overshadowed the game of tennis so much so that the bigger picture was not that of the sport but that of egoism.

Continue Reading

ATP

Federer And Nadal: Their History In 40 Photos

Published

on

Prev1 of 14
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Forty matches, forty pictures. The match Federer and Nadal are playing today could be their last one on grass.

 

Let’s see what’s happened before, in pictures.

 

2004

1 – Miami, 3T: Nadal b. Federer 6–3 6–3

Prev1 of 14
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Editorial

2019 French Open: Where The ‘Fedal’ Twain Shall Meet Again

The re-igniting of the Fedal rivalry at the French Open has renewed implications, going beyond the event itself

Published

on

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, French Open 2005
Photo Credit: Live Tennis

For a while now, make that years’ worth, we have been waiting for a Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal clash at the US Open. The draws have been made, either they have been grouped in the same half – and one has fallen short – or they have happened to be in different halves entirely, and have never met.

 

One reason for the higher-than-usual (in the last couple of years) pangs to see Fedal square-off in New York is because of how each of their meetings in the three other Majors has been. We have seen Nadal end Federer’s reign as the favourite at Wimbledon, and the Australian Open. The first result coming about after multiple attempts while achieving the second, in a far easier manner.

But it is what we have had the opportunity to see in Roland Garros that has kept this rivalry distinct and blazing, impervious to time passing by. Twelve of their previous 38 matches have come at the three Majors. Five of these 12 meetings have come by in Paris, four in finals and once in that fated semi-final in 2005, which in the truest of terms was the origin of this rivalrous duopoly. And, it had to happen the way it did for audiences to understand the significance of what this rivalry was and would continue to be.

Though, for a moment, let us imagine an alternate reality. A reality in which the Swiss, instead of the Spaniard, won their first meeting and the ones to follow thereafter. Let us think of an alt-verse where results at the 2008 French Open and Wimbledon did not turn out the way they did. And it was the Mallorcan in place of the Basel-born who needed a coincidental intervention to halt the latter in his tracks in Paris, the following year.

If all of these had transpired, would we have felt the same way about the two being the nemesis of each other? What hold would each player have had in our lives? Would we be thinking of them as a duology, where each player is one half of a pair that has added to men’s tennis’ qualitative appeal?

Indeed, they would have been rivals still but we would not have seen them as equals – as the greatest of the game – despite the clear unevenness in their head-to-head, albeit in Federer’s favour. Most of all, if they had been slated to play in the semi-final of the French Open nearly a decade-and-a-half removed since their first meeting there under such envisioned reality, perhaps, we would not have been this excited about the prospective match-up.

The reality as we know it is so much better. In its moments of exultation and in times of despair – for the players, their fans and even for the supposedly unbiased viewers – reality has presented the players as humans. Each match between Federer and Nadal has seen both players put forth this quality – humanness – at the forefront while vying for wins. Regardless of how easy or hard the results have come by for either player.

When Federer and Nadal step onto the court for their 39th meeting, they will try to do the same all over again, impassive to time’s turning. As Federer said, “Like against any player, there is always a chance. Otherwise, nobody will be in the stadium to watch because everybody already knows the result in advance…For me to get to Rafa is not simple. It took five matches here for me to win to get there. That’s why I’m very happy to play Rafa, because if you want to do or achieve something on the clay, inevitably, at some stage, you will go through Rafa, because he’s that strong and he will be there.

In a way, this match is also about getting closure, specifically in the French capital.

Where Wimbledon and the Australian Open have given us relative cessation, the French Open has remained in limbo in its one-sidedness. This contest, coming at a time when both have different highs at their backs, promises to be an interesting pivot for them to revisit their rivalry and their legacy at the Majors.

Even as it rekindles exigency for more of their matches at the Majors. Not only in Flushing Meadows later in the year, but perhaps in the soon-to-follow Wimbledon championships, too, in a unique kind of second wind.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending