Simona Halep Downs Kenin In Australian Open Epic To Reach Third Round - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Downs Kenin In Australian Open Epic To Reach Third Round

The Top seed was pushed to her limits as she battled from a back down in the decider during a roller coaster encounter in Melbourne Park.

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World No.1 Simona Halep has survived a massive scare at the Australian Open after outlasting Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, in the second round.

 

Seeking her second grand slam title in Melbourne, it was expected that Halep could experience a stern test against the American. Kenin defeated two top 10 players in 2018 and won her first WTA title last week at the Hobart International. That prediction came true as a frustrated Halep battled back from the brink whilst picking up a minor leg injury during the second set of the match. Although the issue wasn’t severe enough for her to request a medical time out.

“I have no idea how I won this match tonight.” Halep said during her on court interview. “It is so tough to explain what happened on court. It was very tough work, she is an amazing player. It was really difficult to stay there for every ball. To run so much.”

In what was a perfect start for the top seed, Halep capitalized on a nervous service game from her 20-year-old opponent to break right away. Rallying through the 34-minute opening set, Halep was rarely troubled by Kenin as she dropped just six points behind her own serve. Boasting a 5-3 stronghold, Halep broke once more when a Kenin backhand slammed into the net that rewarded her the set.

It appeared as if the reigning French Open champion would cruise into the third round as she extended her lead to 6-3, 3-1, until she encountered a blip. A resilient Kenin refused to go down without a fight. Unexpectedly taking three straight games against a faltering Halep in what was the start of a fierce comeback.

Facing continuous pressure from Kenin, Halep continued to battle on the Rod Laver Arena. Matching her game-by-game. Unfortunately for the top seed, Kenin refused to buckle. Hitting shots that drew praise from the Melbourne crowd. Exchanging breaks midway through the tiebreaker, Kenin  eventually got the breakthrough she wanted. A stunning backhand winner down the line awarded her the chance to take the match into a decider. She was able to seize upon the opportunity after a 13-shot rally finished with a Halep error.

Continuing to engage in some gut-busting rallies, it appeared as if it would be the underdog who would grab the shock win. Kenin’s sublime defensive play frustrated Halep as she broke for a 4-2. If that wasn’t bad enough for the Romanian, she began to keep touching the back of her left leg with an expression of pain on her face. Sending alarm bells ringing in her camp.

“I got a little bit injured in the second set. I just fought because I wanted to win and come back to play.” She explained afterwards.

Despite the scare, Halep managed to prevail. A nerve-stricken service game from Kenin allowed her to break back as she claimed four games in a row to secure the marathon win. Doing so with the help of a speedy serve down the centre of the court on match point.

In the next round Halep will take on Venus Williams. A player who she has defeated the past two times they have met on the tour.

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WTA unveils rebrand including new logo, marketing campaign and alignment of tournament tiers

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The WTA has unveiled a comprensive rebrand including a new logo, marketing campaign and alignment of tournament tiers. 

 

The Women’s Tennis Association WTA has introduced a new corporate identity redifining the organization’s strength as a collective utit of inspiring players and tournaments. 

The rebranding includes the WTA’s first logo redesign in 10 years and coincides with the announcement of a simplified numerical naming system for women’s tournaments. 

The new brand identity and marketing campaign has been developed for the WTA by design agency Landor Australia and will be fully integrated across the WTA, including television graphics, print materials, tournament branding, advertising, promotion, digital and social media. 

The WTA’s new brand image incorporates a dynamic reworking of the familiar letters W, T and A, with a tennis ball functioning as the crossbar of the A, and marks the return of a silhouette of a female tennis player. The serve is the only shot in tennis where the player has the absolute control and where the point begins. 

The logo brings a return of a kinetic energy and makes reference to the sport’s global nature, framing the player within a circle that evokes the universal spirit of the WTA platform. 

“The WTA is built on the grit, passion and determination of generations of athletes and tournament promoters. Our new logo embraces the visual language of tennis and celebrates heroic women who come together for “The Game”. We will wear it as a badge of pride and a reminder of the power of unity among strong individuals, by joining forces, we build something bigger than ourselves”, said Micky Lawler, President of the WTA and head of marketing initiatives.   

The WTA For the Game campaign will be highlighted by 30 and 60 second commercial spots as well as influencer stories that will be broadcast, published and posted across WTA player, tournament and affiliate channels. Fans are provided new insights into the individual narratives of players as they describe the defining moments that have shaped their tennis journey and what gives their game purpose. 

The “For the Game” campaign features a series of videos with in-their-own words storytelling from Naomi Osaka, Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza, Ashleigh Barty, Petra Kvitova, Barbora Krejcikova, Su-Wei Hsieh, Bethanie Mattek Sands and more players from the tour’s singles and doubles ranks. 

The WTA also worked with the ATP to create consistency and alignment across professional tennis. Both Tours will share the same tournament tier and nomenclature system to create simplicity for fans and consumers starting from 2021. WTA tournaments will now be categorized as WTA 1000 (incorporating the former Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 tournaments), WTA 500 (formerly Premier 700), WTA 250 (International) and WTA 125 (125k Series). The revised nomenclature is not tied to specific ranking points (which stay the same) or prize money, it is a categorical system to help define WTA tournament categories. “Fans really respond to the unified approach which tennis is uniquely able to provide. We see it with ticket sales at combined women’s and men’s tournaments, viewership on shared broadcast platforms and the popularity of the “Tennis United” digital content series co-created by the WTA and ATP amidst the challenges of the 2020 season. Adopting this streamlined tournament naming system is 100% about making it easier for WTA fans, corporate partners and the media to engage and follow the sport”, said Lawler. 

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Father Of Dayana Yastremska Reveals The Reasons Behind Her Lacklustre Season

Alexander Yastremsky says his daughter was ‘mentally broken’ in recent weeks due to a personal issue.

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Rising star Dayana Yastremska struggled on the Tour during the second half of 2020 due to a family-related issue, according to her father.

 

The world No.29 closed out her season with three consecutive first round losses at the French Open, Ostrava and Linz to players who were ranked lower than her. Yastremska looked to be on course for a strong year after reaching the final of the Adelaide International in January. However, since then she has only managed to reach the quarter-final stage in one out of 10 tournaments played.

Reflecting on his daughter’s difficult season during an interview with Ukrainian Tennis, Alexander Yastremsky says she had been ‘mentally broken’ in recent weeks due to her mother having a series of surgeries on her eye.

“People were complaining like why Dayana had such poor results at Roland Garros and afterwards but they didn’t know it was a hard time for her mother,” he said.
“Before the first round she had a retinal detachment. She went through three surgeries in Paris and two more at home. Everything is fine now but at that time Dayana was broken mentally.”

Besides her mother’s health scare, Yastremska had to find a new structure in her team after the departure of Sasha Bajin following the US Open. Bajin, who is the former coach of Naomi Osaka, worked with her for less than a year. Last week it was confirmed that he will be working with Karolina Pliskova in the new year.

“Sascha Bajin is a good coach, very helpful but it turned out he wasn’t ours,” said Alexander. “I don’t look at this partnership as a mistake for Dayana, it was another experience for her but I don’t see any advantages either.”
“Everyone looks only at how good you play and what result you get.”

Prior to Bajin, Yastremska worked with Belgium’s Olivier Jeunehomme who guided her to three WTA titles between 2018-2019. Since his departure, she is yet to add to her title tally but did rise to a ranking high of 21st earlier this year.

“It’s not easy to work with Dayana she has a tough personality,” her father admits. “Relationships on and off the court are very important for her.
“Right now we have a new team, very positive and committed . That’s the key for us. There’s no need to brag about their achievements. Results will come and time will tell. Our focus is on the off-season and hard work.”

Yastremska has started her off-season in Dubai. She ends the year with a win-loss record of 15-12 and has made just over $486,000 in prize money.

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Karolina Pliskova hires Sascha Bajin as new coach

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Former world number 1 player Karolina Pliskova has hired German coach Sasha Bajin for the upcoming 2021 season. The Czech player has split up with Daniel Vallverdu. 

 

Under the guidance of Vallverdu Pliskova has not won a single title in 2020 but she reached her second final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, the tournament she won in 2019 beating Johanna Konta. This year she was forced to withdraw from the Rome final against Simona Halep due to an injury problem. 

Pliskova successfully defended her 2019 title in Brisbane and lost to Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the Australian Open and was defeated by Elena Rybakina in the quarter finals in Dubai. She lost to Ons Jabeur in Doha. In her first tournament after the suspension due to the pandemic Pliskova was beaten by Veronika Kudemertova in the second round at the Western and Southern Open in New York. At the US Open Karolina was knocked out by Caroline Garcia in the second round. 

The Czech star lost in the first round in Ostrava after winning the first set. 

Bajin parted his ways with Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska in 2020. The Ukrainian player was not happy after Bajin praised Naomi Osaka, who beat Yastremska at the US Open. 

Pliskova introduced her new coaching team to her fans on Twitter. 

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