Former Top 50 Player Shelby Rogers Returns To Charleston After 12-Month Injury Break - UBITENNIS
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Former Top 50 Player Shelby Rogers Returns To Charleston After 12-Month Injury Break

Despite admitting that she is unsure if she is ready, the 26-year-old is hooping to stage a winning comeback this week.

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This year’s Volvo Car Open in Charleston marks the return of a familiar face to the WTA Tour.

 

Shelby Rogers last played a competitive match at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where she lost in the first round. Since then, the American player has been sidelined from the tour due to a troublesome left knee injury that required surgery. The first significant injury of her career to date.

“I just missed it so much,” the 26-year-old told The Post and Courier about her comeback. “I was going crazy sitting inside and laying around, so I had to get on the court just to remember what it was like.”

Rogers has been ranked as high as 48th in the world. She is best known for her surprise run to the quarter-finals of the French Open. In that tournament, she scored wins over Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Irina-Camelia Begu. Rogers has also reached the final of two WTA events on the clay in Austria and Brazil. At the time of her knee problems, the American was ranked 78th in the world.

“I talked to other players and people who have had been injured, but there’s nothing to prepare you for what you go through.”

During her injury break, Rogers embarked upon other activities such as working as an announcer for The Tennis Channel and doing an online course with the Indiana University East. Although it wasn’t easy dealing with the shortcoming in money during her hiatus from the sport. Rogers has made just over $2 million in prize money throughout her career. Putting her 222nd on the all-time list for the most prize money won by a female player (as of April 1st, 2019).

“That’s a part that I think could be improved with the Tour,” Rogers commented about financial support for injured players. “It’s something I never had to deal with before, and something I didn’t really understand until this happened. You take a year away from a job, and anybody would struggle with that.
“It was a big learning process and I tried to keep myself busy and try some new things to see different sides of the Tour and the game, and that was fun.”

This week will be the first test of Rogers’ current fitness in Charleston. Her first round opponent will be Russian world No.68 Evgeniya Rodina. Rodina has endured a sluggish start to 2019 after winning only two out of 11 matches played. It will be the first time the two have played each other since 2010, when the Russian won in three sets at an ITF $50,000 event in Dothan, America.

“I still don’t know if I’m ready,” Rogers admits. “But I was always ready for the comeback. That’s what kept me motivated, to come back and play the sport I love again. If you don’t have that purpose, it’d be very difficult to do that four hours a day of physical therapy and work through that pain.”

Rogers will play her first round match on Monday in what will be her ninth appearance at the tournament.

This year’s Volvo Caro Open will feature three top 10 players in the draw. Sloane Stephens is the top seed, followed by defending champion Kiki Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka. All eight seeded players has received a bye in the first round.

ATP

Basel 2019 Preview: Roger Federer Targets Record As Rivals Looks To Qualify For ATP Finals

Federer is on a quest for a 10th title in Basel and could play an all-Swiss quarter-final against countryman Stan Wawrinka later this week.

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This year in Basel the competition is at its top, with two spots yet to be reserved in the race to the ATP Nitto Finals.

 

Roger Federer, who could make a 13th final in Basel this year, will commence his campaign against qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the first quarter. In the second round the 20-time grand slam champion could play either Radu Albot or Dusan Lajovic, whom he has a clean head-to-head profile against.

Meanwhile European Open finalist, who just lost to comeback kid Andy Murray in Antwerp, Stan Wawrinka is facing the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in the first round. Should he take off with a win, he would face either Frances Tiafoe or Daniel Evans before he could set a clash with last year’s Basel champion in quarter-finals.

Generally it could be theoretically an easy contest for Federer, who has a H2H profile of 23 wins to three loses against Wawrinka with 17 of them on hard-courts. However Wawrinka is in good form after making his second final of the year last week after Rotterdam in February.

The second quarter sees one player who has guaranteed his debut at the ATP Nitto Finals. Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas regained some of his good tennis during the Asian Swing where he ousted the World No.1 Novak Djokovic in Shanghai to reserve a place at the ATP Nitto Finals. Tsitsipas is taking on Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round. Only one meeting has taken place between the two on the ATP Tour in Barcelona last year with the Greek winning it. Then he could play either qualifier Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis or Pablo Andujar in the second round.

However, there is another player in this quarter, who is still trying to make it to the ATP Nitto Finals. Fabio Fognini had a disappointment last week when he lost in his first match in Stockholm after making the quarter-finals in Shanghai before losing to Daniil Medvedev. The Italian is starting against  Alexei Popyrin then he could face either Laslo Djere or Filip Krajinovic, who made it the final in Stockholm before losing to Shapovalov. Fognini is in the 11th position in the race to London, going after countryman Matteo Berrettini, 8th position, with a gap of 290 points.

Should a quarter-final between Tsitsipas and Fognini occur, the Greek leads in their previous confrontations 2-0.

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut is in the third quarter. He has been in bad form these past couple months, but is only 40 points behind Berrettini in the race to London. Should the Spaniard want to make his debut at the O2 Arena this year, he has to be pretty much on form as he opens against Marius Copil. Who showed a very good form in Antwerp last week and possess a big serve that could be an obstacle to a lot of players. The winner of that match will face either the Frenchman Richard Gasquet or Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round.

Still in the third quarter, another player is in the run for a spot at the ATP Nitto Finals with 90 points behind the Italian Matteo Berrettini. It’s David Goffin, who is taking off in Basel against former US Open champion Marin Cilic in what could be a thrilling match, but the Croatian isn’t in good form recently. Goffin would face either the big serving Reilly Opelka or Chile’s Cristian Garin in the second round, should he get past Cilic.

Second seed Alexander Zverev takes on Taylor Fritz in the opening round in what could be a tricky match in the fourth quarter. Zverev, who has had a very tough season this year and recorded his first top-10 win just days ago in Shanghai against Federer, has gained in momentum  significantly after his participation in Laver Cup a few weeks ago. He is now in the 7th position in the race to the O2 Arena after reaching the final in Shanghai, which he lost to Medvedev in straight sets. He has either Alex De Minaur or Hugo Dellien in the second round with possibly Benoit Paire or Germany’s Struff in the quarter-final.

The Frenchman Benoit Paire is opening against the wild card holder Henri Laaksonen, should he cruise to the second round, he would face either Jan-Lennard Struff or Miomir Kecmanovic.

Full draw

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Kristina Mladenovic Dropped By Coach After Six Months

The 26-year-old reacts to the unexpected departure of her mentor.

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Former top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic has suffered an off-court blow following the departure of her coach Sascha Bajin.

 

The 26-year-old had been working with Bajin since April and has made steady progress on the tour by rising more than 20 places to back inside the world’s top 40. Last Month Mladenovic reached the semi-finals of the Zhengzhou Open, in what was one of her best runs on the WTA Tour this year. During 2019 she has also recorded four wins over top 10 players, including Naomi Osaka when she was No.1 in the world.

It is understood that the departure of Bajin was on his own terms and not of a mutual agreement. Bajin is the former hitting partner of Serena Williams (2008-2015) and help guide Osaka to her two grand slam titles prior to his departure in February. In 2018 he was awarded the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year Award.

“I’m very disappointed about Sasha’s decision not to continue our relationship next season, I enjoyed our work, we had some great wins and I truly felt my game was on the rise again.” Mladenovic wrote on Twitter.
“I think that there was a lot more to achieve together, but I can’t change his opinion and decision. On my side, I am proud of my year and progress and I will keep working hard and build strong to be even better in 2020.”

Last week at the Kremlin Cup Mladenovic reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Belinda Bencic. At the tournament she scored wins over seeded players Anastasija Sevastova and Kiki Bertens. Whilst her season has been mixed, the Frenchwoman believes she has the ability to beat the best players in the world.

“When I put together everything on court I can beat anyone.” She told reporters in Moscow.
“And no matter what the season, no matter what ranking, I always have some upsets here and there but now it is really about coming back in the rankings where I was at my highest. And already this year, I am still not satisfied with my ranking but I have a lot of wins against very good players.”

Mladenovic, who is also a top five doubles player that won the French Open title in June, is currently ranked 39th in the world. She is set set to end the season inside the top 50 for the fifth year in a row.

There has been no information released about who may potentially replace Bajin next year.

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ATP

Stefanos Tsitsipas On Why His US Open Early Exit Was ‘The Best Thing To Ever Happen’

The Greek No.1 sees a silver lining to one of his latest losses on the tour.

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Losing in the first round of a grand slam isn’t something players are normally happy to talk about. However, for Stefanos Tsitsipas he doesn’t think he would be where he is now if he didn’t suffer an early loss at this year’s US Open.

 

The Greek player was seeded ninth in the draw at Flushing Meadows. He fell at the first hurdle to Russia’s Anrey Rublev in four sets, who went on to reach the fourth round of the major. Tsitsipas has endured a mixture of results in the grand slams this season. In January he scored his first major breakthrough by defeating Roger Federer on route to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. However, his runs in the majors has got worse as the season progressed. Losing in the fourth round of the French Open, followed by the first round at Wimbledon. Ironically Tsitsipas believes believes it is his US Open misfortunes that has had the biggest impact on him.

”It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” Tsitsipas told atptour.com. “I stayed in New York for six or seven days after and it gave me time to discover new things. It was important for me to enjoy and realise what I needed in my life.
”It was my decision to live life how I wanted to, not how others wanted me to. There was a time last summer when I doubted myself, [thought] that I wasn’t interesting as a person. I wanted to be someone else, but now I understand that it’s awesome to be myself.”

During the Asian swing the 21-year-old won seven out of nine matches played (excluding retirements). Reaching the final of the China Open and the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters. It was the first time he has reached the last four at two consecutive tournaments since May (Madrid and Rome).

Tsitsipas is hoping to continue his surge in form this week at the Swiss Indoors in Basel. He will be seeded third in the draw behind nine-time champion Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev. The world No.7 is yet to win an ATP 500 tournament. Something he hopes to change over the coming days.

“I’m currently in the best state of my life,” he declared. “It doesn’t have to do with results or playing good tennis or bad tennis. I’ve been feeling very happy and very well. I’ve been enjoying life more in general and that reflects in my game. It makes me happy and makes me want to live better.”

Already qualified for the ATP Finals, Tsitsipas is hoping to end what has been a roller coaster season on a high. He has achieved a win-loss record of 49-22 so far this year (including Davis Cup), but has also lost his opening match at eight tournaments.

“I think it’s normal to have ups and downs and I learned a lot this year.” He told reporters on Sunday during a press conference. “I’m looking forward to playing in Basel, Paris and London and hope to go as far as possible.”

In Basel, Tsitsipas will open up his campaign on Tuesday against Spain’s Albert Ramos-Viñolas. A player he beat in straight sets during last year’s Barcelona Open.

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