Sweet Revenge For Naomi Osaka In Indian Wells As She Continues To Adjust To Star Status - UBITENNIS
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Sweet Revenge For Naomi Osaka In Indian Wells As She Continues To Adjust To Star Status

The Australian Open champion reflects on her surge in popularity following her latest win.

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Naomi Osaka (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Naomi Osaka has kicked-off her title defence at the BNP Paribas Open with a straight sets win over France’s Kristina Mladenovic.

 

World No.1 Osaka, who lost to Mladenovic in Dubai last month, made sure that history wouldn’t repeat itself once more. Securing a 82-minute 6-3, 6-4, victory with a mixed performance that saw her hit 24 winners alongside 24 unforced errors. Furthermore, she saved three out of the four break points faced and claimed 67% of points behind her first serve. Making it the 61st match in a row that Osaka has won after claiming the opening set.

“I just learned to be really positive and not give her anything.” Osaka reflected about her latest win. “Of course there are some points that I made a few really bad choices, but other than that, I just tried to do a higher percentage shot.”

A lot has changed since the 21-year-old claimed her maiden WTA title in Indian Wells 12 months ago. Since then, she has won two consecutive grand slams and topped the WTA rankings. Becoming the first Asian player in history to do so. Along with her breakthrough run, has been a sudden rise of fame for the Japanese player with a surge in endorsements and media attention. Something that hasn’t been easy for the introverted Osaka at times.

“I wasn’t nervous walking onto the court. I would say more during my practice, because I was practising on Court 3. And then when I got there, there were so many people and it felt so different from last time I was here.” She said.
“I don’t know. I just wanted to do well for all the people that were watching. Yeah, but when I walked onto the court, I was fine. It felt like normal.”

Even away from the tennis courts, Osaka is still star struck by her popularity. According to official ratings, her Australian Open final clash with Petra Kvitova was the most watched program in Japan during the Australian Open. The last 75 minutes of the match on NHK-1 averaged 32.30 rating points. Equivalent to an impressive 45% market share.

“I don’t want to call them random people, but random people stop me and want to take pictures. It usually shocks me, because it’s sometimes not when I’m anticipating it.” She explained.
“Like, if I’m at the tournament site, then I’m cool with it, because I know it’s a tennis tournament. But, if I’m just walking around in, like, a mall or something, then it just catches me off-guard.”

Osaka will play home favourite Danielle Collins in the third round on Monday. 25th seeded Collins reached the fourth round of the tournament last year and is an Australian Open semi-finalist. The American dropped only five games during her opening match against Kirsten Flipkens, winning 6-4, 6-1.

“I know she played well in Australia, and I was remembering watching her semis against Kvitova. I think I’m just going to have to watch a lot of videos.” The world No.1 said about her upcoming match.

Osaka thrashed Collins 6-1, 6-0, in their first meeting on the tour at the China Open last October.

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Andy Murray ‘Kind Of On Track’ For Recovery And Potential Return To Tennis

The brother of the former world No.1 has spoken out about Murray’s chances of returning back to the tour.

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Andy Murray (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray is focused on his rehab with no indication yet of when will return back to the tour, according to his brother Jamie.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a match since his first round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open in January. Murray has been blighted by hip problems over the past two years and admitted he could be forced to retire from the sport. Earlier this year, he underwent hip resurfacing surgery in his latest attempt to prolong his career. A procedure which involves inserting a metal rod into the joint.

Murray has kept out of the limelight in recent weeks, but has been spotted hitting balls on the court once again. Giving an update on his brother’s recovery, Jamie said he is hopeful Murray will return to the tour. Jamie spoke with reporters on Sunday during an exhibition event to test the new roof on Court One at Wimbledon, which will be used for the first time this year.

“I hope so. I’m pretty sure he wants to be able to do that again at some point.” World No.7 doubles player Jamie told reporters.
“He’s doing his rehab, I think he’s kind of on track with his recovery for where he is in terms of the timing of it right now, and I think his goal is just rehab, get his hip as strong as possible so that when he does get the chance to get back out on court and train properly, he’s best positioned to really find out what is going to be possible for him.”

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Elaborating further, Jamie said the two-time Wimbledon winner is ‘pain-free’ and happier. Although he is yet to properly test his hip on the court in terms of movement. Since the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, Murray has only been able to play in eight tournaments.

“He’s hitting a few tennis balls. He’s not like tanking it around the court or anything like that movement-wise, but that is what he is building up to and I don’t know exactly when that will happen.” He said.
“He’s doing fine, pain-free and a lot happier. So we’ll have to just wait and see. It’s just difficult to know what is going to be possible.”

Murray does currently have a wild card to play in the Fever-Tree Championships, which will start on June 16th. However, he will notify the tournament closer to the time if he will be ready in time to participate. The 32-year-old has a contract to play at The Queen’s Club for the rest of his career, unless injured or ill.

It has been speculated that Murray could return at Wimbledon to play in the doubles alongside his brother for the first time. However, Jamie has now played down the chances of that happening.

“For me, these are the peak years in my career and if I go to play Wimbledon with someone who hasn’t hit a tennis ball in eight months, I’m kind of giving up one of those years, so that’s a big decision for me to take.” He explained.
“Circumstances might dictate otherwise, but I want to give myself the best chance of winning the tournament. Normally I would have a good chance with Andy, but probably right now he’s not in his peak moment.”

So far in his career, Murray has won 45 ATP titles and has spent 41 consecutive weeks as world No.1.

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VIDEO: Rafael Nadal, Karolina Pliskova Conqueror Rome

Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta looks back on the final day of action at this year’s Italian Open.

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After a week full of mayhem both on and off the court, the winners of the 2019 Italian Open have been decided.

 

Under the guidance of four-time winner Conchita Martinez, Kasrolina Pliskova claimed the women’s title. Making her the first Czech woman to triumph in Rome since 1978. Pliskova now has 13 WTA titles to her name, of which three were won on the clay.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal claimed his ninth trophy at the Foro Italico. The Spaniard disposed of Novak Djokovic in three sets to claim his first title of 2019.

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VIDEO: Novak Djokovic To Lock Horns With Nadal In Rome

Ubitennis looks ahead to the men’s final at this year’s Italian Open.

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Rafa Nadal - Roma 2019 (foto via Twitter, @InteBNLdItalia)

Sunday will see the 54th instalment of one of the greatest rivalries of the Open Era at the Italian Masters in Rome.

 

Novak Djokovic will take on Rafael Nadal in the men’s final. Second seed Nadal is yet to drop a set in the tournament this week and brushed aside Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4, in his semi-final match. Meanwhile, Djokovic has endured a much tougher route. The world No.1 is currently on a eight-match winning streak. In his semi-final match, he ousted Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3.

Whoever prevails at the Foro Italico will become the most decorated Masters 1000 champion in the Open Era. At present both Nadal and Djokovic have 33 Masters titles each.

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