Maria Sharapova has knocked reigning champion Caroline Wozniacki out of the Australian Open following a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, victory in the third round.
Sharapova, who last won the Melbourne title back in 2008, produced a fierce and erratic display against her opponent. Highlighted by the 37 winners and 46 unforced errors from the five-time grand slam champion. Blighted by a shoulder injury in recent months, the win is Sharapova’s first against a top 10 player since Jelena Ostapenko at the US Open.
“I though the level was quite high. I knew I was going to get a tough match. She (Wozniacki) is the defending champion of this event. It is no secret that she loves this arena.” Sharapova said during her on-court interview.
“I haven’t played many matches in the last year, especially against top players. These are the types of matches I train for. It’s really rewarding to win that last point.”
Heading into the third round, neither player had lost their serve in the tournament. As both players engaged in some brutal rallies on the Rod Laver Arena, the trend of no breaks ended three games into the match. Back-to-back Sharapova forehand errors gifted Wozniacki the early break for a 3-1 lead. Despite the setback, Sharapova came roaring back to level 4-4. Illustrating the level of tennis that had previously taken her all the way to world No.1.
Continuing to gain momentum, Sharapova went on to break the Dane for a second time to have an opportunity to serve for the opening set. Doing so with the help of a mistimed Wozniacki backhand smashing into the net. Fighting for the 6-4 lead, Sharapova achieved her objective on her third set point after smashing a clean forehand winner down the line.
A erratic patch of play from Sharapova that featured an array of errors rewarded Wozniacki three consecutive games at the start of set number two. However, she was unable to capitalize on her advantage as Sharapova rallied back to 3-3 with the help of some deep and heavy hitting. Unlike the first set, Wozniacki continued to press and benefit from the mounting mistakes from her opponent as she forced the match into a decider. Much to the frustration of her opponent.
Despite the setback, Sharapova refused to be denied the chance of reaching the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time since 2016. Seven games into the decisive set, she got the breakthrough she has been long after. Slamming another forehand winner to break for 4-3. Prompting an animated Sharapova to scream ‘come on’ out of excitement. From that moment on, a disappointed Wozniacki looked defeated on the court. Enabling Sharapova to battle towards the finish line.
“The experience is priceless, but you still have to work for it. The girl on the other side is just as much as experienced.” Said Sharapova, who now leads Wozniacki 7-4 in their head-to-head.
Awaiting Sharapova in the fourth round will be home favourite Ashleigh Barty. The 15th seed has progressed to the last 16 of the tournament for the first time in her career after downing Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-1.
“It’s another opportunity for me to go out and test myself against the world’s best.” Barty said ahead of the next round.
“It’s just an opportunity for me to go and test myself against the best.”
Barty has already won seven out of the eight matches she has played this year. Finishing runner-up to Karolina Pliskova in Sydney last week. It will be the second time they have played each other on the tour.
“I think her story is phenomenal. She loves playing here.” Sharapova said of her next opponent. “She did extremely well in Sydney, but just overall has been so consistent.”
Anisimova overpowers Sabalenka
Elsewhere in the draw, 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka has crashed out after being outplayed by an inspired Amanda Anisimova. The 17-year-old American fired 21 winners and won 80% of her first service to stroll to a 6-3, 6-2, win in just over an hour. Prior to this tournament, the teenager had never won a main draw grand slam match in her career.
“This is an unreal feeling. I can’t believe this is happening right now. I was expecting a really tough match, she is a great player. I really can’t believe I got through this round.” She said afterwards.
“I’m feeling out here that I’m playing some good tennis.”
Anisimova is currently at a ranking high of 87th in the world. As a junior, she won the 2017 US Open girls’ title before making a successful transition to the professional tour a year later. Last September she reached her first WTA final at the Japan Open.
Reflecting on her run, the American is hoping to emulate her idol Sharapova by winning a grand slam at a young age. Former world No.1 Sharapova was the last teenager to win a major title at the 2006 US Open.
“Maria is someone I looked up to so much. I still look up to her to this day. She’s an amazing athlete and a great person too. I’d definitely want to be the second to win a Slam as a teenager, for sure.” She said in tribute to the Russia.
Anisimova is the youngest player to reach the fourth round of a grand slam since Tamira Paszek in 2007. She is also the youngest American to reach the milestone since Serena Williams at the 1998 French Open.
Dominika Cibulkova announces her retirement from tennis
Dominika Cibulkova has announced her retirement from professional tennis at an event in her home town of Bratislava. The 30-year-old Slovakian player won eight titles on hard-court, grass, and indoor surfaces and achieved her career-high of world number 4 on 20th March 2017.
Cibulkova reached the semifinal at the 2009 Roland Garros, three quarter-finals at Wimbledon (i2011, 2016 and 2018) and the quarter-final at the US Open in 2010. She became the first Slovakian player to reach a Grand Slam final when she finished runner-up to Li Na at the 2014 Australian Open. She achieved the best result of her career in October 2016, when she beat former world number 1 Angelique Kerber at the WTA Finals in Singapore to clinch the Billie Jean King Trophy. That year Dominika won three more titles at Katowice, Eastbourne, and Linz. She also finished runner-up in Acapulco, Madrid, and Wuhan.
“It wasn’t just winning the WTA Finals, but also the road to qualifying, which was really hard. I had to win in Linz just to make it there. While winning Singapore was the biggest moment of my career and life, winning Linz and the way I had to fight to get there, the fact that I was able to do it and belong among the best players in the world”, said Cibulkova in an interview to the WTA Website.
Cibulkova also won four more titles in Moscow 2011, Carlsbad 2012, Stanford 2013 and Acapulco 2014.
She represented the Slovak Republic at two editions of the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and has scored a record of 22 wins and 11 defeats in her Fed Cup appearances.
Cibulkova decided Roland Garros would be the final tournament of her career.
“It wasn’t a decision where I woke up and thought: “I don’t want to play anymore”. It was a long process. I was already convinced by the time I played Azarenka in Miami, that this could be my last match. It was strange because I knew, and no one around me except my team knew it would be my last tournament. At that point, I was 100 percent sure. I was not doubting or thinking: maybe yes or no. I knew I wanted to do it like this, for this to be my last tournament. I went home and I was happy with my decision. It’s really hard to make it, but once you do, you more free. I feel like this life has been fulfilled for me, and I want to start a new one. I was already feeling like the tennis life is really tough, with all the traveling and training, giving 100 % every day. I started to get tired of it. In the end, I gave enough and achieved things I never dreamed of reaching in my career ”, said Cibulkova.
Karolina Pliskova Splits From Coach With A Possible Replacement Already In The Pipeline
The Czech made the surprise announcement on social media as she enters negotiations with an unnamed individual.
World No.2 Karolina Pliskova has ended her collaboration with Conchita Martinez after working together for more than a year.
Pliskova, who has won four WTA titles this season, had been working with the Spaniard since the 2018 US Open. She originally joined the team on a part-time basis before being upgraded to a full-time position in February this year. Martinez is a former player best known for winning the 1994 Wimbledon Championships.
“I decided I will no longer work with Conchita,” Pliskova posted on Instagram. “It was a tough decision, as the season was great. Thank you for all this year, and wish you only the best. Life is a change!”
The decision comes after what has been a solid year on the tour for the 27-year-old. Overall, she has won 51 out of 68 matches played. Recording five wins over top five opponents. In the grand slams she reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in what was her best ever performance at the tournament. However, she failed to repeat that success at the other three majors. Reaching the third round of the French Open followed by the last 16 in both Wimbledon and the US Open.
“Just a little note to inform you that Karolina and I have decided to take different paths next year.” Martinez wrote in a statement. “It has been an incredible year full of great moments and emotions. I wish Kaja and her team the best for the future.”
It may not be long before the identity of who replaces Martinez is revealed. Michal Hrdlicka, who is Pliskova’s manager and husband, has confirmed to Czech News Agency CTK that discussions are underway with an unnamed individual.
“After the Champions Tournament (WTA Finals), we started negotiations on the engagement of a new coach. Negotiations are underway and we will inform the fans when they are over.” He said.
In her last tournament of 2019, Pliskova reached the semi-finals of the WTA Finals. She was knocked out of the event by top seed Barty who went on to win the title.
Pliskova has finished the year ranked No.2 on the WTA rankings. The highest year-end ranking she has ever achieved so far in her career.
Top WTA Coach Accused Of False Advertising
Kamau Murray, who was shortlisted for WTA coach of the year in 2018, has been accused by a top 100 player of ‘taking credit for things he has not done.’
American tennis player Taylor Townsend has launched an attack on a tennis coach who guided Sloane Stephens to her first grand slam title at the 2017 US Open.
Kamau Murray has been accused of ‘misrepresenting himself’ in the sport by the former world No.1 junior player. The criticism has been sparked by the USPTA Illinois Mini Conference, which will take place on November 17th. In the advertisement it states that Murray is Townsend’s coach. Something she has denies in a lengthy Instagram post.
“Zina Garrison was my primary coach from September 2013-March 2,” she wrote.
“I did not to go public in the past because I had hoped to resolve this matter directly with Kamau Murray. I will no longer remain silent while he (Murray) continues his lies and false advertisement.’
“I did not give Kamau consent to use my name and likeness for his ongoing personal and business monetary gain.”
Townsend, who reached the fourth round of the US Open this year, also took a swipe at Murray over his previous work with Monica Puig. In August the Puerto Rican confirmed that her partnership with the coach has ended after he returned back to working alongside Stephens. Puig told reporters at the US Open that she was informed by ‘people close to her’ that Murray was working with another player in secret. Branding it as a ‘slap in the face.’ Stephens responded to Puig claims by stating that there were ‘two sides to every story.’
“I can no longer remain silent while he continues to deceive professional players, aspiring players, sponsors, and the tennis community by misrepresenting himself and taking credit for things he has not done.” Said Townsend. “Monica Puig is a recent victim of his deception.”
Murray is the founder of the XS Tennis and Education Foundation and has his own tennis facility in Chicago. According to the WTA, he helped guide Townsend to the third round of the 2014 French Open in what was her grand slam debut at the age of 18.
There has been no reply from Murray concerning Townsend’s allegation.
View this post on Instagram
If you know me, then you know that this is NOT something that I would normally do, but I feel that it’s time to set the record straight about Chicago’s Kamau Murray of XS Tennis Academy. I can no longer remain silent while he continues to deceive professional players, aspiring players, sponsors, and the tennis community by misrepresenting himself and taking credit for things he has not done. @monicaace93 is a recent victim of his deception. I started my tennis with Donald Young SR. and Illona Young, who taught me to play tennis from 4 years old and assisted in me being number 1 in junior in the world. From 2010- August 2013, I trained at the USTA under the instruction of Kathy Rinaldi and briefly Juan Todero. Zina Garrison was my primary coach from September 2013- March 2015. Zina brought Kamau on board as an assistant coach during that time. I did not to go public in the past because I had hoped to resolve this matter directly with Kamau Murray. I will no longer remain silent while he continues his lies and false advertisement. I did not give Kamau consent to use my name and likeness for his ongoing personal and business monetary gain. Kamau is currently stating that he is my coach in promotion of the upcoming USPTA Illinois Mini Conference on November 17, 2019 held at XS Athletic Club. His latest actions have prompted me to expose his past and ongoing pattern of deceit. If you are a fan of mine, please support me and have my back regarding this matter. In doing this, I am clearing my conscience and telling another piece of my story! Thank you so much! I love you guys! 💕
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