Angelique Kerber Hopes To Conquer Clay In Chase For Career Grand Slam - UBITENNIS
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Angelique Kerber Hopes To Conquer Clay In Chase For Career Grand Slam

The former world No.1 is chasing after a milestone that has only been achieved by six women in the Open Era.




Angelique Kerber (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright : @Sport Vision)

This week will see Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber experience her first taste of how her game is on the clay this year when she participates in the prestigious Stuttgart Open.


The tournament is regarded as the first major event of the European clay court season for the women. Categorised as a Premier event, six top 10 players are set to take part. Including world No.1 Naomi Osaka. 31-year-old Kerber is already a two-time champion of the tournament and is one of seven players to have won it back-to-back.

Despite her success, Kerber admits that clay isn’t her strongest surface. It has been three years since she last reached a semi-final on the clay. However, the world No.5 is confident that she can still pose a threat over the coming months. Especially given the depth of the women’s tour. The first 18 tournaments of 2019 have all been won by different players.

“I think I understand a little bit now how to play on clay,” Kerber said during an interview with WTA Insider. “I think what is important for me is the mindset when I go on court, that I’m a little bit more positive with the clay and that I have a little bit more patience and everything. So, I think that I know already how to play, how is the best way to play, but of course, doing this on the court then is a different story. That’s why it’s good to have a lot of matches to get used to the game plan, what I want to play on clay.”

The pinnacle tournament of the clay season is the French Open, which takes place at Roland Garros. It is the only grand slam where Kerber is yet to reach a semi-final. Overall, she has a win-loss record of 17-11 at the event, which is her worst winning percentage out of all four majors.

Kerber’s grand slam record
– Australian Open 29 wins 11 losses (73% winning rate)
– French Open 17 wins 11 losses (61% winning rate)
– Wimbledon 30 wins 10 losses (75% winning rate)
– US Open 25 wins 10 losses (71% winning rate)

Over the coming weeks Kerber has pledged to take a step-by-step approach heading into the French Open. Should she triumph at Roland Garros, she would become only the seventh player in the Open Era to achieve a career grand slam. When a player wins ever major event at least once. In the Open Era Steffi Graf is the only German woman to have won the French Open.

“Of course, it is the greatest challenge,” Kerber commented about the career grand slam. “It’s a tough challenge, but I will not put too much pressure on my side because I know how it is with the pressure. I will right now focus on the tournaments ahead, and then when I’m in Paris I will think about the Paris situation.
“But you know, it’s always step-by-step, round by round like in every Grand Slam and I know of course how the feeling is to be in the Grand Slam, and Paris is the same. I will not think when I go to Paris, like too much ahead, just day by day.”

So far this season, Kerber has won 16 out 23 matches played on the tour. However, only two of those wins have been over top 20 players – Aryna Sabalenka and Annette Kontaveit. Her best run was in Indian Wells where she reached the final before losing to rising star Bianca Andreescu.

Kerber will kick-off her Stuttgart campaign on Wednesday. In the first round she will play Donna Vekic, whom she leads 2-0 in their head-to-head.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova Becomes Latest Grand Slam Winner To Skip US Open Over Virus Fears

Nine top 40 players on the WTA Tour have now pulled out of the Grand Slam.




This year’s US Open has taken another blow with their 2004 women’s champion pulling out of the event due to what she describes as an ‘unfavourable situation.’


Svetlana Kuznetsova has become the latest figure in the sport to pull out of the New York major amid concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic in America. The country has recently seen a spike in cases but in New York itself the levels haven’t been as high. Although officials at the tournament are taking no chances with fans being banned for attending for the first time in history and players are being kept in what is being described as a ‘bubble.’

Despite assurances from the United States Tennis Association, who runs the US Open, Kuznetsova still has her concerns. In a statement published on her Instagram account, the Russian said the pandemic has made it too complex for her to travel to the region. Citing the restrictions placed on players with how many members of their team they are allowed to bring with them.

Due to an unfavourable situation caused by coronavirus, and therefore the inability get together all my team I made a difficult decision to refuse to participate in Cincinnati and the US Open,” the world No.32 wrote.
“I feel very sad, because I have been waited for these tournaments so much, but the pandemic changes all plans.’
“I hope the situation will be more positive by the next tournaments.”

It will be only the second time Kuznetsova has missed the US Open since making her main draw debut back in 2002. She also missed the 2012 event due to a knee injury. Overall, she won 35 out of 51 matches played in Flushing Meadows.

Another player skipping the event is Barbora Strycova, who is currently playing in the Prague Open. The Czech is a two-time doubles semi-finalist at the US Open with her best run in the singles being to the third round.

Following the latest developments, nine players out of the current top 40 on the women’s Tour have officially pulled out of the US Open. Including top 10 players Ash Barty (No.1), Elina Svitoliva (No.5) and Kiki Bertens (No.7). Meanwhile, Simona Halep is yet to make a final decision about her plans.

There are also notable absences in the men’s field with reigning champion Rafael Nadal and former winner Stan Wawrinka both opting to miss the event due to concerns related to COVID-19. Novak Djokovic is also yet to confirm is he will play or not.

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

List of women’s singles player withdrawals (as of 10/8/20)

1 Ash Barty AUS
5 Elina Svitolina UKR
7 Kiki Bertens NED
29 Qiang Wang CHN
30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS
31 Barbora Strycova CZE
32 Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS
34 Saisai Zheng CHN
38 Julia Goerges GER
74 Lin Zhu CHN
85 Anastasia Potapova RUS
92 Ana Bogdan ROM
97 Sam Stosur AUS
103 Shuai Peng CHN
108 Xiyu Wang CHN
118 Barbora Krejcikova CZE

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Eugenie Bouchard wins her first clay match since 2018 in Prague




Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard won her first clay match since Gstaad 2018 by beating number 8 seed Veronika Kudemertova 6-0 6-3 in the first round at the Prague Open. 


Bouchard broke three times in a row to take a bagel win in the first set in half an hour, although four of the six games went to deuce. 

Bouchard saved a break point in the first game to hold her serve at deuce and earned her only break to win the second set 6-3. 

“I feel like that the first set was tough in almost every game. It’s not like it was a walk in the park. I am proud of myself for battling in every single game. It ended up going my way most of the time. I stayed on every point and did not make too many loose errors. I played solid and aggressive, which is what I try to aim for. My rhythm was off on my serve in the first set, so I need to look at that. I felt better with it in the second set, so I am happy I could find a solution. It’s hard to know what to expect. I have not played a real match since January. I have played a couple of exhibitions, which helped a lot, but it’s still different. It’s not a real tournament. I did not set any expectations”, said Bouchard. 

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Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans

The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.




World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.


The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.

Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”

It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.

“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.

Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.

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