Indian Wells Day 14 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Finals - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Day 14 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Finals

We may not have gotten Federer/Nadal yesterday, but today we get two fresh and intriguing matchups in the singles finals.

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Roger Federer (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)
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Just two weeks removed from winning his historic 100th career title, Roger Federer goes for No.101 on Sunday, as well as his record-breaking sixth title in Indian Wells. Dominic Thiem stands in his way, and is vying for the biggest title of his career. On the women’s side, Angelique Kerber has three Majors to her name, but is yet to win a Premier Mandatory event such as this. Her opponent is one of the biggest surprise finalists in recent memory, an 18-year-old wild card who started the year ranked 178th in the world.

 

Angelique Kerber (8) vs. Bianca Andreescu (WC)

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In just her eighth career WTA-level event, Andreescu has reached a Premier Mandatory final. It’s an astonishing run from a player with so little experience playing against the game’s elite. The first few months of 2019 have changed her life. She started the year having to qualify just to get into the Auckland main draw, yet reached the final of that event. After also qualifying for the Australian Open, she won a challenger title in Newport Beach, and reached the semis in Acapulco. Now she’s won six matches in Indian Wells, including three straight wins over top 20 opposition. Her run here is reminiscent of Naomi Osaka’s from a year ago. Osaka came into the 2018 Indian Wells event ranked 44th in the world, and having never won a WTA title. A year later, she’s the world No.1, and has triumphed at the last two Majors. Is Bianca ready to win an event of this magnitude? It’ll be tough in her first-ever meeting against a player of Kerber’s magnitude.

“Kerber is an incredible fighter. She redirects her shots. Like, she can hit any shot at any time in any specific place whenever she wants. She has a pretty decent serve. She’s a good mover, great fighter.” The Canadian told reporters on Friday.

Andreescu is coming off a physically and emotionally draining semifinal against Elina Svitolina, where Bianca fought off the onset of cramps at multiple times during the third set. She let out a lot of emotions after that dramatic win, and coming back less than 48 hours later for the biggest match of her career is a big ask. Kerber should be the fresher of the two, as her semifinal with Belinda Bencic was about half as long. Angelique will take over the No.2 ranking with a win today, which seems like the most probable outcome. As great as Andreescu’s shot-making has been, Kerber will diffuse a lot of that. And experience should be a key factor for the 31-year-old German.

“I think It will be a good match on the high level, and I know I have to also play my best tennis, especially in the important moments” – Kerber

Quick facts

  • Andreescu  is the youngest Indian Wells finalist since Kim Clijsters back in 2001
  • Kerber will rise to world No.2 is she wins the title. Andreescu, who ended 2018 at 178th, will rise to a best of 33rd
  • Andreescu will earn a minimum of $686,000 for reaching the final. Entering the tournament, her career prize money stood at $350,909
  • Kerber is the first left-handed woman to contest a final in Indian Wells since Monica Seles back in 1992
  • Andreescu is only the fifth unseeded player to reach the final in the history of the tournament
  • Kerber hasn’t lost to a player ranked outside the top 50 since Alison Riske at the 2018 Mallorca Open
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Serena Williams Confident In Bid For Grand Slam History Claims Patrick Mouratoglou

Patrick Mouratoglou says that Serena Williams is confident of another grand slam victory despite recent setbacks.

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Serena Williams and Patrick Mouratoglou (@BBCSport - Twitter)

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has claimed that the American is confident in her bid for more grand slam history. 

 

Despite the American not winning a set in her last four grand slam finals, Serena’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou has claimed that she is still confident in winning another grand slam again.

Serena’s last grand slam win was at the Australian Open in 2017 before taking a break from the sport to become a mother.

Although it has been a struggle, Mouratoglou believes time is on the 37 year old’s side, “I think time is working for her,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports.

“I think she was much better at the US Open than she was at Wimbledon and Wimbledon better than Roland Garros. 

“She is getting back in shape and the more in shape she will be the more dangerous she will be. I think she has started to play really good tennis.”

Losses to Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu have exposed Serena’s lack of confidence and how nervous she is in the grand slam finals.

However Mouratoglou believes that Serena’s historic moment will come sooner rather than later, “It is one match for history and the pressure is quite high,” he said.

“I am not in her mind but I can figure she is playing one match for history. This is the highest pressure anyone can have in life and on the other side of the court she plays girls who have zero pressure because it is their first final.

“They are going to play many [Grand Slams], they are young, they are excited, enthusiastic so they play without pressure and that makes a big difference. But at some point she will figure out how to deal with that.”

Serena’s next tournament is scheduled to be the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in late October, should she qualify although there is a good possibility that we won’t be seeing on a tennis court until next year.

Will 2020 be the year that Serena finally figures out how to deal with the pressure of creating more history for herself? Only time will tell.

 

 

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat Italian Next Gen star Jannick Sinner in St. Petersburg

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat 18-year-old Italian Next Gen rising star Jannick Sinner 6-3 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 40 minutes. Kukushkin fended off nine of the eleven break points he faced.

 

Sinner, who turned 18 last month and received a wild-card to take part at the next November’s ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan, did not convert three break points in the first game, but Kukushkin saved them to hold his first game.

Kukushkin, who won his only title in St.Petersburg in 2010, was the first to break serve in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Sinner earned three break points but Kukushkin fended them off. Sinner saved a break point in the eighth game but Kukushkin served out the opening set on his first set point.

Kukushkin went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead, Sinner converted his second break-back point to draw level to 2-2. Kukushkin got a break lead for the second time but Sinner rallied from the break down for the second time to draw level to 4-4. Sinner earned set point at 5-4 to force a decider, but Kukushkin saved it to draw level to 5-5. Kukushkin got a mini-break in the tie-break to win the tie-break 7-4.

Adrian Mannarino, who won his first ATP Tour title in s’Hertogenbosch, beat Stefano Travaglia 7-5 6-2 after 1 hour and 19 minutes. Travaglia held his first two service games at love and broke serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Mannarino converted his first break-back point for 3-4. Both players held their serve to draw level to 5-5. Travaglia saved a break point, but he made two double faults to drop his serve in the 11th game for 5-6. Mannarino served out the first set on his first point.

Travaglia saved a break point at the start of the second set, but Mannarino converted his second chance.

Travaglia earned two break-back points in the second game but did Mannarino saved them to open up a 2-0 lead. Mannarino went up a 3-0 lead. The Frenchman saved a break point in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead and sealed the win on his first match point.

 

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Despite New WTA Guidelines, Could Kim Clijsters’ Return Be Marred By Aberration?

Kim Clijsters will not have any restriction in the number of wildcards she receives. But she also deserves more in her upcoming third stint on the Tour

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Kim Clijsters, 2010 US Open, US Open
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By the time, Kim Clijsters makes her return to professional tennis in 2020, around eight years will have passed since her second retirement from the WTA Tour. In this near-about octet of years, there have been several changes on the Tour, especially for those women attempting a return post maternity. But where does the 36-year-old stand amid these alterations?

 

The Belgian was one of the earlier trendsetters – of this decade – to resume her professional activity after becoming a mother for the first time. In 2009, when she returned during the American hard-court summer, the subject never gained as much traction as it did when Williams returned to the game, in 2018 after her pregnancy hiatus in 2017.

Clijsters’ win at the US Open that year – the first for an unseeded player – stifled the mushrooming of any possible avenues of such ranking tweaks back then. Over the next couple of years, as Clijsters ascended in the rankings boosted by her performances, including re-attaining her career-high of no. 1, the topic became moot.

Now, after all these years, in spite of the WTA bringing in modifications to its rules – by way of provision of special ranking to women re-joining the Tour after motherhood, among other factors – Clijsters’ continues to remain an outlying scenario. The obvious reason for this is the lapsing of time of the four-time Major champion’s returning to pro tennis. According to the new rules, a player who is out of the Tour on account of pregnancy must make a comeback within three years after her child’s birth, at most.

Her previous successes and titles ensure Clijsters will never lack for wildcards from tournaments, as per the WTA regulations. However, the question stemming here is should an exception be made for the former world no. 1 vis-à-vis the special ranking while overlooking the passing of years?

When announcing her imminent return to the Pro Tour on the WTA Insider podcast, Clijsters mentioned about challenging herself. “I don’t feel like I want to prove something. I think for me it’s the challenge…,” she said.

“The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women’s sports in the world. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I’m saying, ‘OK, let’s try this’.”

Clijsters’ path to trying this while taking it on as a challenge need not come at a cost of her being immediately pushed off the deep end in terms of encountering a higher-seeded opponent. The present state of the WTA would make it for an interesting match-up – whenever it happens – but it would also be akin to defeating the purpose underlining her return, regardless of how confident the 2011 Australian Open champion is with her timing.

The norms, too, could be nudged into further relooking easing them towards a player’s preference in ascertaining her post-childbirth return instead of clubbing them, at large. After all, as significant as Williams’ laurels were to usher in changes, Clijsters’ stunner yet again proves the variety that exists in women’s decision-making.

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