Simona Halep Sheds Light On Potential New Coach To Replace Darren Cahill - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Sheds Light On Potential New Coach To Replace Darren Cahill

The world No.1 has been spotted with a Belgian mentor at the Australian Open, who recently halted his partnership with another player on the ATP Tour.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Simona Halep has confirmed that she is ‘talking’ with a Thierry Van Cleemput about the possibility of him joining her team in the future.

The two were spotted together at Melbourne Park on Monday whilst Halep was warming up for her match against Serena Williams, which she lost in three sets. Cleemput was also present at her fourth round match and sat a row behind her player’s box. Halep is currently without a coach after she split with Darren Cahill during the off-season. Cahill announced a 12-month break from coaching in order to spend more time with his family.

“We are talking, but he is not my coach officially, so we will see.” Halep said during her press conference.

Van Cleemput has worked as a coach since 1993 and has guided some of the best male players in his home country. Spending stints with Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis. He was also the assistant team captain of the Belgian Davis Cup team between 2002-2005. Up until last week Cleemput had been working with David Goffin, but they have separated on ‘mutual grounds.’ A decision Halep has stated that she had no impact on.

“I have nothing to do with their split. I like him as a coach. I like him as a person.” She said.
“We haven’t decided anything yet. We just have to know each other better. We are just talking.”

Halep confirmed that she spoke with Cleemput after he had split with Goffin.  Although she remained coy when asked if she was the one who approached him first.

Reflecting back on her Australian Open campaign, the world No.1 says she is contempt with her performance. Prior to her loss to Williams, she scored wins over Kaia Kanepi, Sofia Kenin and Venus Williams. Prior to Melbourne, she hadn’t won a match since August after ending her 2018 season early due to a back injury.

“I haven’t been prepared for the highest level in tennis, but I did not play bad, so I’m happy about the way that it’s been going this tournament, and I take only the positives.” She said. “I had great matches. I had the toughest draw, but it was nice.”

As a result of her loss, Halep faces the possibility of losing her No.1 ranking next week. She has held the top spot since February 2018.

“I will not stress myself about this. I just go home, I will rest, and I will watch tennis. I am also curious who is going to win (the Australian Open).” She concluded about the situation.

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Rivals Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep Speak Out About Naomi Osaka’s Rapid Rise

The two grand slam champions have given their insight about the world No.1 following her recent loss.

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Naomi Osaka (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova believes Naomi Osaka needs to overcome her introverted personality in order to help her deal with being in the media spotlight.

Kvitova, who lost to the Japanese player in the final of the Australian Open, said she had a similar mindset growing up. Earlier this week Osaka admitted that she was finding it ‘tough’ dealing with her surge in popularity and media attention. Within the past 12 months, she has broken into the world’s top 40, won the Indian Wells Open and claimed two grand slam titles. The world No.1 crashed out in her opening match at the Dubai Tennis Championships this week.

“I don’t think I necessarily understand what position I’m in, in a way, because last year I wasn’t even anywhere close to this ranking. People didn’t pay attention to me. That’s something that I’m comfortable with,” Osaka told reporters earlier this week.
“I don’t know why I’m crying. Yeah. I don’t know why this is happening.”
“I don’t really like attention. It’s been a little tough.” She added.

Speaking about the 21-year-old, Kvitova believes she needs some more time to develop further on the tour. The Czech admits that she was once in a similar situation. Kvitova won her maiden Wimbledon title in 2011, but didn’t win her second until three years later.

“I think that she is kind of shy person, probably like me at the time. It was really difficult for me, that time, for sure. I totally understand Naomi.” She said.
“It’s not really easy to handle the pressure and attention and the media, press, whatever is happening in her life.
“Everything she’s been through, she really trying. That really count. That’s nice. I think she just needs little bit more time to get used to all of the things which happening in her life.”

On the other hand, Simona Halep’s journey to the top of the rankings was somewhat different. Growing up with the expectations of a nation on her shoulders, Halep’s steady rise to the top was a blessing in disguise. Becoming a regular fixture in the top 10 for a few years before rising to world No.1 in October 2017. As for Osaka, she rose from 72nd to 1st in the world in exactly a year.

“I didn’t feel very weird when I went to No. 1 seed. I didn’t have this pressure. Also I’ve been there for four years before, so No. 2, No. 3.” Said Halep.
“She’s (Osaka) different because she came last year from around 70 (in the rankings).
“I was okay. I didn’t have pressure of being No. 1.”

Osaka is far away from being in a crisis, despite recently separating from her coach. She lost three consecutive matches before going on to win the US Open and also endured a roller coaster journey on route to her triumph at the Australian Open.

“She just needs the time. I don’t think there’s any advice (to give her). I think that she just need to live it and find experiences from it. She will be fine.” Said Kvitova.

At the Dubai Tennis Championships, Kvitova and Halep will play their quarter-final matches on Thursday. Meanwhile, Osaka is set to return to action next month at the BNP Paribas Open.

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Following Career-Best Win, Félix Auger-Aliassime Achieves Another Milestone In Rio

The former US Open boy’s champion is a win away from reaching the semi-finals of a ATP Tour event for the first time in his career.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime - Toronto 2018 (via Twitter, @rogerscup)

Félix Auger-Aliassime’s week at the Rio Open keeps getting better and better.

The 18-year-old Canadian began his campaign at the tournament on Tuesday with a shock straight sets win over second seed Fabio Fognini. The Italian veteran, who is currently ranked 16th in the world, is Auger-Aliassime’s biggest win in terms of ranking. Furthermore, that sole victory has ensured that the Canadian will break into the top 100 next week for the first time in his career.

Continuing his momentum at the tournament, Auger-Aliassime followed up on his first round triumph by defeating Chile’s Christian Garin 7-5, 6-4, in the second round. Hitting 27 winners to 31 unforced errors. Auger-Aliassime will now play in only his second quarter-final on the ATP Tour and his first in a 500 event.

“It’s been good, I didn’t know what to expect when I got here, hadn’t won many matches this year. I knew I was playing well from the practices. I thought I had the chance to have tournaments like these. I came in, believed in my game and it’s paying off now. I was able to stay strong physically and mentally at these conditions,” tournament website rioopen.com quoted the Next Gen star as saying.

Wildcard Auger-Aliassime has been tipped as a future star in the sport since his teenage years. At the age of 14 he qualified for the main draw of a Challenger event for the first time. He is a former US Open boys champion and is one of the youngest players of all time at win a Challenger title at the age of 16 years and 10 months. In total, the Canadian currently has four Challenger titles to his name.

Awaiting Auger-Aliassime in the next round will be another rising star on the men’s tour. Spain’s Jaume Munar prevailed in a marathon clash against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie. The Spaniard required almost three-and-a-half hours to defeat Norrie 7-6(6), 5-7, 7-6(4).

“It’s probably the toughest game I’ll have to play so far this week. Munar has been playing good, having good results. He already beat me two times on clay last year so I’m expecting a tough match. But I believe in myself and I know I have what it takes to beat a guy like him”, Auger-Aliassime said about his upcoming opponent.

In their head-to-head, Auger-Aliassime is yet to defeat Munar after losing to him twice last year.

Following a series of shocks, there are only one seeded player remaining in the Rio Open draw. That is fifth seed Joao Sousa, who will play his second round match on Thursday.

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After Latest Injury Setback, Juan Martin Del Potro Is Raring To Go In Delray Beach

The world No.4 speaks ahead of his return to the tour.

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Juan Martin del Potro at the 2018 US Open (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision

It was just typical luck in the career of Juan Martin del Potro that his stellar 2018 season ended the way it did.

Last year the Argentine claimed his first maiden Masters title in Indian Wells, reached his first grand slam final in nine years at the US Open and climbed to a ranking high of third. Qualifying for the ATP Finals for the first time since 2013, it was injury that ended his momentum. At the Shanghai Masters a fall resulted in him damaging his Patella Bone (kneecap) and has sidelined him from the tour for four months.

“[I was thinking] horrible things. I thought that was the final of my life. I got the fracture in the knee that I never expected to have,” Del Potro told reporters on Monday. “After bad days I started believing in my doctor’s again that I’ll play tennis soon and I think I’m in a good way again to be competitive. After four months, I’m going to be playing a tournament, which is good [recovery] time.”

Fortunately, coming back from injury has become somewhat of a specialty for Del Potro, who has undergone no fewer than four wrist surgeries. The venue of his return is this week’s Delray Beach Open. An ATP 250 event in Florida that Del Potro last won in 2011. Last year he was knocked out in the second round by Frances Tiafoe, who went on to win the title.

“I have the experience doing comebacks, but it’s not good for me and for other players. I know it takes time and then you have to be having enough confidence to move 100 per cent, to feel the body in good shape and then the tennis part comes,” Del Potro said. “First of all I have to be healthy, and then I will start to think about tennis. But Delray Beach is a good time to see how my knee works during a match and then we’ll decide where’s going to be next.”

Del Potro is the top seed in Delray Beach, but he isn’t getting too carried about about his chances in his first event since October. This year’s field features six players in the world’s top 40. In his draw, he will open up again Yoshioto Nishioka. Then a potential second round clash with New York Open champion Reilly Opelka awaits.

“It’s a tough tournament,” Palm Beach Sports quoted Del Potro as saying. “You have big players like Isner and Frances. Kyrgios, who never knows what could happen with him. He has the power to win all the titles. And, also, many other players who can be a surprise.”

The former US Open champion will play his first round match against Nishioka on Tuesday.

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