Naomi Osaka Rewrites History After Toppling Kvitova To Win Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Rewrites History After Toppling Kvitova To Win Australian Open

After failing to convert three consecutive match points in the second set. the 21-year-old has become the first Japanese player to win the Melbourne title.

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Naomi Osaka will become the first Asian player in history to reach world No.1 on Monday after battling past Petra Kvitova 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-4, to win the Australian Open.

 

The 21-year-old, who was ranked 72nd in the world 12 months ago, produced an admirable display against her more experienced rival in what was a roller coaster clash. Seeing a trio of Championship points come and go in the second set before coming through the decider. Kvitova is a two-time Wimbledon champion, who was playing in her first major final since 2014. Ultimately, it was youth that prevailed over experience as Osaka battled her way to the title. Hitting 33 winners, nine aces and winning 76% of her first service points. Osaka, who also won the US Open in September, is the first player to win a second grand slam straight after winning her first since Jennifer Capriati back in 2001.

“I don’t think I would have made it through this week without you guys. Behind a tennis player is a team and I’m really grateful.” Osaka said in tribute to her own team afterwards.

In what was the first ever tour meeting between the two players, there was little to distinguish between the two throughout the opening set. Osaka’s fierce serve was matched by an array of deep-hitting shots from Kvitova. Both players had their chances to grab a breakthrough, but neither was able to prevail. At 3-3, Osaka was on the verge of getting broken after falling behind 0-40, before winning five consecutive points to nudge ahead 4-3. Her mini comeback in the match was aided by some tentative play from across the court. Meanwhile, Kvitova also illustrated her fighting spirit by saving a duo of set points whilst trailing 5-6.

It wouldn’t be until the tiebreak where Osaka would be able to dismantle her opponent. Two points into the tiebreaker, a blistering backhand return down the line elevated the Japanese player to a 2-0 lead as she rapidly gained momentum. A few points later, a somewhat ordinary shot from Kvitova was punished by Osaka, who slammed a winning forehand past the Czech to extend her lead to 5-2. The first set was then secured with the help of back-to-back Kvitova errors.

Despite her young age, Osaka has already established herself as a strong frontrunner on the women’s tour. Prior to the Melbourne final, she has won 59 consecutive matches after winning the opening set. However, Kvitova refused to take no for an answer as she increased her level to storm to a 2-0 lead at the start of the second. Prompting the first sign of frustration from Osaka.

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Facing some stern pressure, a relentless Osaka hit back with interest by breaking an erratic Kvitova two consecutive times. Edging to a game away from the historic win, Osaka’s momentum was halted and then destroyed by a fiery Kvitova. The Czech saved three consecutive match points to revive her title dreams. Prompting even more frustration from Osaka, who was close to tears on the court. Suddenly Kvitova was the one in control as she broke an error-stricken Osaka service game to love to force a decider.

Locked in a mental battle, as well as a physical one, a once smiling Osaka regrouped to break three games into the decider with the help of a backhand cross-court winner. Prompting a sense of relief among her entourage in the crowd. Continuing to weather the storm, the 21-year-old nudged closer to the finish line of what was a dramatic encounter. To add to the drama, speckles of rain started to fall on the Rod Laver Arena as Osaka served for the match for a second time. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop her. A perfectly placed serve down the centre of the court forced the error from Kivotva to reward her the title. Prompting a somewhat subdued celebration from the soon to be world No.1.

“I’ve always wanted to play you, you have been through so much and honestly, I would have not wanted this to be out first match-up.” The new Australian Open champion said in a tribute to Kvitova.
“You’re really amazing and I’m honoured to have played you in a grand slam.”

kvitova’s tears of joy

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Whilst missing out on the trophy, it was evident how much the occasion meant for Kvitova. Two years ago, she was left facing the prospect of never playing tennis again after a knife attack by an intruder resulted in extensive damage to her left playing hand. She had to undergo four hours of surgery and missed five months of the tour. Even now, Kvitova still hasn’t got the full feeling in one of her fingers.

“It’s a great day, I can’t believe I played in the final of a grand slam again. It was a great final.” An emotional Kvitova reflected during the trophy presentation. “You played well Naomi and congratulations on becoming world No.1, as well.”
“It’s been a great tournament for me. It’s a huge honour to hold this (runner-up) trophy. It’s been a while since I was in a final.”

Like Osaka, she also paid tribute to her team that supported her through her absence.

“Thank you for sticking with me, even if we didn’t know if I would be able to hold a racket again. You were there every single day supporting me and staying positive, which I really needed.” She said.

As the new No.1 player, Osaka is the youngest person to have held that position since Caroline Wozniacki back in 2010. She will also surpass the $10 million mark in prize money earning as a result of her latest win.

 

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Dayana Yastremska Heads To Australia Despite Doping Violation

Did the 20-year-old break the rules with her trip?

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Tennis Australia says they are ‘investigating’ after it emerged that Dayana Yastremska boarded a plane funded by the governing body despite failing a drugs test.

 

Last week the International Tennis Federation issued a statement confirming that the Ukrainian tennis star has been issued with a provisional suspension after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone metabolite. An anabolic agent prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency which can be used for the treatment of people with low testosterone. Yastremska was pictured boarding a plane to Australia on Thursday in a post uploaded by two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova which has since been deleted.

Yastremska has denied any wrongdoing and says she has ‘scientific evidence’ that her positive test was a result of contamination. Although she didn’t elaborate any further as to what that evidence is. The world No.29 has the right to appeal her provisional suspension but according to the latest ITF statement she hasn’t done so. One way her ban can be lifted is if the appeals board accepts her contamination argument which would allow her to play right away.

“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine,” Yastremska wrote in a statement. “Given that low concentration and my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.”

Despite Yastremska’s plea, it is unclear as to if she or Tennis Australia has broken any rules. As of January 15h the ITF still lists her as a player who is provisionally suspended from the sport. Richard Ings, who is the former chair of the Australian anti-doping agency, points out that suspended players are not allowed to participate in any activity organised by a tournament. Raising questions as to if a Tennis Australia funded plane journey counts as one of these ‘activities.’

Yastremska is currently on the Australian Open entry list and is set to be allowed to train during her 14-day quarantine like other players unless anything changes. Tennis Australia has not made a public statement but news agency AAP has confirmed that an investigation has been launched. Should it turn out that the 20-year-old is ineligible to play, it is unclear if she would be required to pay back the cost of her plane trip.

The Australian Open starts on February 8th.

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Madison Keys latest player to test positive for Coronavirus

Madison Keys ruled out of the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Madison Keys (@SporArena - Twitter)

The American tested positive for the first time and will miss the first grand slam of the year.

Madison Keys has officially tested positive for the coronavirus. She announced the news on social media and says she will, unfortunately, miss the Australian Open.

 

Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I, unfortunately, tested positive for Covid-19 before I was suppose to fly to Australia. I’m very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen.

I am self isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to be back on tour next month.

“Thank you for all your support.

Stay Healthy and safe.

Madison

Keys is the latest player to have tested positive after Andy Murray revealed he had a positive test while Tennys Sandgren had tested positive but was given the green light to travel.

Two players in men’s qualifying in Doha tested positive and were immediatly removed from the draw. Apparently if you test positive for the first time you are not allowed to travel but if you already tested positive and show no symptoms there is a chance you will continue to test positive before the effects go away.

Players are traveling this week to Australia and will be mandated to follow the 14 day quarantine with the exception of training five hours a day. The Australian Open begins on February 8th.

While most players will be quarantining in Melbourne both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have confirmed they will do their quarantine in Adelaide.

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Unstoppable Aryna Sabalenka Storms To Abu Dhabi Title

Another clinical performance has secured the Belarusian her third consecutive title and a new career-high ranking position.

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Aryna Sabalenka’s winning run shows no signs of stopping anytime soon after she powered her way to the Abu Dhabi title on Wednesday.

 

The fourth seed needed just over an hour to defeat Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2, in what was a largely one-sided encounter in the Middle East. Sabalenka utilized her power to her advantage as she fired five aces and 18 winners past her opponent who was playing in her first WTA final at the age of 23. Overall she won almost twice as many points (63-37) than Kudermetova.

With both players holding their ground early on, Sabalenka started to dominate midway through the opening set with the help of a four-game winning streak. Leading 3-2 on serve, she broke her Russian rival twice in a row to clinch the 6-2 lead. Throughout the opener the world No.10 dropped just five points behind her serve.

It was a familiar pattern in the second frame with Sabalenka continuing to dismantle Kudermetova’s fragile serve. Overall, she broke six consecutive times in the final with four of those occurring in the second set alone. Easing to a game away from victory, she did experience a blunder after losing one of her breaks. However, there would be no chance of a Kudermetova comeback as Sabalenka closed out the match in the following game with her rival hitting a forehand error on match point.

“I’m really proud of the fact that I was fighting no matter what this week,” the new champion reflected on her performance. “Some matches I didn’t feel my serve and some matches I didn’t feel my backhand or forehand, but I just kept fighting and finding my shots, and this is what I’m really proud of. I’m really happy with this title.”

The win extends Sabalenka’s unbeaten run on the Tour to 15 wins. She has now won three titles in a row after ending 2020 triumphing in both Ostrava and Linz. As a result of her latest triumph, Sabalenka will rise to a ranking high of seventh in the world on Monday.

There is also a silver lining for underdog Kudermetova who defeated Elina Svitolina and Marta Kostyuk earlier in the tournament. Her run to the final will move her up the rankings to a career high of 36th. She has already scored five wins over top 10 opponents so far in her career.

“Aryna’s playing good. She played unbelievable today,” Kudermetova said. “She didn’t give me a lot of chances. She tried to keep every ball on the court, she tried to attack, and when she had her chances she went full power on the court. She also fights until the end—that’s why she’s a top player.”

Sabalenka’s surge on the Tour has sparked high expectations for her going into the Australian Open where she is hoping to break new ground in a Grand Slam.

“I was doing everything I could in each match from the beginning (in Abu Dhabi) and I’m happy to start the season with a title,” Sabalenka said. “I’m going to Australia, I’m confident with one thing, that I will do everything I can to win matches.”

Despite her success on the WTA Tour, she has only reached the fourth round of a major once at the 2018 US Open.

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