Over Three Months Bianca Andreescu Has Proven She Is The Next Big Thing In Women’s tennis - UBITENNIS
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Over Three Months Bianca Andreescu Has Proven She Is The Next Big Thing In Women’s tennis

The rising star ended 2018 ranked 178th in the world. Now she has won one of the most prestigious tournaments on the WTA Tour.

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Bianca Andreescu (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

If somebody said a year ago that Canada’s Bianca Andreescu would win the Indian Wells title at the age of 18, they would have most likely been called mad.

 

At the time she was ranked outside of the top 200 and battling for points at ITF events across Japan. Even though many knew she was a big talent following a successful junior career, few expected her to rise up the ranks so rapidly. Making her breakout on the pro our in 2019 even more spectacular.

It all started at the ASB Classic in New Zealand at the start of the year. Fighting her way through qualifying, Andreescu stunned the draw with wins over top 10 players Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams. She would go on to reach the final of the tournament before losing to Julia Goerges. Suddenly the WTA Tour was starting to pay attention to the threat posed by the two-time junior grand slam champion in doubles.

Gaining in momentum, Andreescu’s meteoric rise peaked on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open. Accepting a wild card into the tournament, the teenager stunned former world No.1 Angelique Kerber in three sets to win her maiden WTA title. Becoming the first wild card in history to do so and the youngest player since Serena Williams back in 1999.

“I’d like to thank BNP Paribas for giving me this opportunity. Without them I wouldn’t be in this situation right now. I’m beyond grateful for that.” She said during her press conference.
“It’s incredible to have my name beside so many incredible champions. It’s a dream come true.”

The most appealing thing about Andreescu’s game is her ability to mix up her shot selection. Against Kerber, she frustrated her with a combination of delicate drop shots and deep hitting backhands towards the baseline. Preventing Kerber from maintaining her rhythm in the match.

“She played the whole tournament good. I know that I had to play my best tennis. At the end I was not able to take my chances, but she did it.” Kerber said of the Canadian.

The comparisons

Rightfully describing her journey to the biggest title of her career as a ‘fairytale,’ Andreescu will now have to live up to the expectation and comparisons coming her way. In 2018 at the same tournament it was Naomi Osaka in the limelight. At the same event she won her maiden title on the women’s tour. Osaka would then go on to win back-to-back major titles and become Asia’s first ever No.1 player.

“It’s definitely inspiring seeing her claim the trophy last year and winning two Grand Slams right after that has been amazing to see.” She said of the current No.1.
“I don’t really want to focus on the future right now. I just want to enjoy this moment, because I don’t want to take anything for granted. You never know what next week brings. I just want to savour this.”

One of the most striking things about Andreescu’s play is how mature she appears to be on the court and how well she reads the game. Admittedly against Kerber, there were moments of her having a teenage tantrum. However, she was mainly composed and professional throughout. Contributing to an expanding fan base and praise from top figures in the sport.

One of those admirers is Martina Navratilova. Somebody who is deemed as one of the greatest female tennis players of all time. Speaking on BT Sport about the rising star, she drew parallels between her and Andy Murray.

“‘She still has a way to go to play like him but she is definitely on that trajectory.” Said Navratilova.
“She’s got all the goods – she just believes in herself. What she can improve the most is the forehand, it gets a little off when she gets nervous, physical fitness – that will just happen, she’ll become more match tough. ‘She’s got really great hands, knows when to use what shots. Her tennis IQ, shot selection is really outstanding.”

Murray was 21 before he won his first Masters 1000 title. The male equivalent to the Premier Mandatory events on the WTA Tour.

A product of Canada’s rise in the sport

In recent times it has been Andreescu’s compatriot, Milos Raonic, who has been flying the flag for his country in the world on tennis. However, with a rapid rise in teenage stars emerging from the North American country, Andreescu belongs to a group of stars in the making. Alongside Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Growing up the Canadian trained at Tennis Canada’s Regional Training Centre in Toronto and then the National Training Centre in Montreal. In 2017 the federation named her player of the year. Sylvain Bruneau, who is the current head of women’s tennis for Tennis Canada, serves as Andreescu’s coach.

“It’s easy to get distracted,” Bruneau told The New York Times earlier in the week. “But it’s going to be part of my work to make sure she stays in the moment.”

Trying to get the 18-year-old to stay composed may be easier said than done. She exits Indian Wells with a pay cheque of $1.3 million. Rising to a ranking high of 24th after ending 2018 at 178th in the world.

“Everyone’s victory in Canada gives each one of us motivation and inspiration to also do well. If they can do it, we can.” She said.
“I think this win will definitely give many people confidence, young athletes, maybe aspiring athletes also. And I’m just 18, so if I can do it, they can.”

Andreescu is without a doubt a star in the making, but it remains to be seen how great she can become.

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French Open Finalist Marketa Vondrousova Undergoes Surgery

It is a premature end to what has been a breakthrough season for the Czech.

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Czech rising star Marketa Vondrousova will miss the rest of the season after undergoing an operation on her left wrist.

 

The 20-year-old made the announcement on her Instagram account where she uploaded a picture of herself after undergoing the procedure. Vondrousova hasn’t played a match on the tour since Wimbledon, where she first sustained the injury. According to Czech media, she received treatment at the same facility which Petra Kvitova attended following a knife attack that severely injured her playing hand.

“For two months I tried to treat my wrist conservatively and tried everything possible. Unfortunately, nothing led to a significant improvement. That is why I decided on this solution, which should relieve me of my pain for good,” Vondrousova said is a statement issued by her team.
“Unfortunately for me, 2019 ended earlier than I wanted. I can’t wait to play back on the courts without pain anymore, she added.

The premature end draws the curtain on what has been a breakthrough season for Vondrousova. At the French Open she defeated Petra Martic and Johanna Konta en route to the final. Becoming the youngest player to do so at the tournament since Ana Ivanovic back in 2007. She was denied the title by Ash Barty, who prevailed in straight sets.

Yet to win a title, Vondrousova has managed to remain consistent on the tour by reaching the quarter-finals or better at six consecutive tournaments between February and June. Including the final of the Budapest Open. During that time, she managed to score two wins over Simona Halep. The highest ranked player she has defeated so far in her career.

Vondrousova is currently ranked 22nd in the world. She ends the season with a win-loss record of 29-9.

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‘Relaxed’ Su-Wei Hsieh Saves Match Point To Oust Muguruza In Osaka

Su-Wei Hsieh saved match point to eliminate Garbine Muguruza from the premier-level tournament in Osaka.

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Su-Wei Hsieh (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

Su-Wei Hsieh was in a relaxed mood as she saved match point to edge out Garbine Muguruza 3-6 7-6(1) 6-1 in Osaka. 

 

The Wimbledon doubles champion claimed her second straight win over the Spaniard having saved match point in the contest.

After winning a tight second set, Hsieh cruised through the deciding set to secure a spot in the second round against Elise Mertens.

Even though this final part of the season can prove quite tiring, Hsieh is approaching in a more relaxed manner, “I know that anything can happen because this is almost the end of the year,” Hsieh said to the press after the win.

“I just want to be more relaxed, going more to my game. Sometimes I lose a little bit of rhythm at the beginning, so I just need to play more games to get the rhythm.

“In the second set, I felt a little bit more rhythm, and more stable myself, my personal style. It helped me a lot to get into the match and to get more game.”

As for Muguruza, this loss would have hurt her confidence a lot having not won a WTA match since June and her ranking slowly falling by the week.

Next for Hsieh will be US Open doubles champion Elise Mertens, where they have split their opening two meetings which came last season.

In other results today there were comfortable wins for Madison Keys and US Open quarter-finalist Donna Vekic over Daria Kasatkina and Caroline Garcia respectively.

Here is the second round line-up, which matches will be played across Wednesday and Thursday:

Naomi Osaka (1) v Viktoriya Tomova – Wednesday

Varvara Flink v Yulia Putintseva – Thursday

Sloane Stephens (3) v Camila Giorgi – Thursday

Su-Wei Hsieh v Elise Mertens (9) – Wednesday

Madison Keys (5) v Zarina Diyas – Wednesday

Nicole Gibbs v Angelique Kerber (4) – Wednesday

Donna Vekic (7) v Misaki Doi – Thursday

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Kiki Bertens (2) – Thursday

 

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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
Photo Credit: WTA Tennis/Getty

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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