Madison Keys Topples Wozniacki To Capture First Clay-Court Title In Charleston - UBITENNIS
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Madison Keys Topples Wozniacki To Capture First Clay-Court Title In Charleston

The 24-year-old has scored her first WTA silverware of any kind since 2017.

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Madison Keys (@VolvoCarOpen on Twitter)

Madison Keys has become the ninth American player in history to win the Volvo Car Open in Charleston after overcoming Caroline Wozniacki 7-6(5), 6-3, in a heavy-hitting encounter.

 

The 24-year-old, who was runner-up in the tournament back in 2015, managed to go one step further this year with the help of her powerful shot-making. Illustrated by Keys’ six aces and 45 winners produced throughout the match. A stark contrast to Wozniacki’s tally of two and seven.

“Every time I come here (to Charleston) I feel like I’m at home and the support I have from everyone in the stands means the absolute world to me.” Keys said during the trophy presentation.

Heading into the showdown in Charleston, Wozniacki boasted a 2-0 head-to-head record against her American rival. Winning both of those matches in straight sets. However, this time round Keys found a formula to keep pressure on Wozniacki throughout a dramatic opening set. The all or nothing play from Keys saw her hit a series of breathtaking shots alongside some erratic errors. 25 winners to 24 unforced errors to be precise. Trading breaks during the early stages of the match, it was a tiebreaker that separated the two.

Keys’ fierce forehand put off her opponent, who hit a double fault to hand her a mini break for 5-3. A point later Keys secured a triple set point opportunity after a costly mistake from Wozniacki saw her leave the ball, which landed in. Prompting gasps of surprise from the crowd. Still, closing the set out wasn’t easy for the world No.18, who saw two chances come and go. Nevertheless, Keys prevailed on her third opportunity with the help of a winning backhand shot to clinch the opener after 75-minutes of tense play.

Continuing to stand firm behind her serve, Keys battled towards the finish title. During the second set it was a stroke of luck that helped her secure a breakthrough. A Wozniacki backhand into the net rewarded Keys a break point opportunity to extend her lead to a set and 4-2. An opportunity she seized with the help of a shot that tapped the top of the net before landing onto her opponent’s side of the court. Leaving the former Australian Open champion bemused about the situation.

Tasked with serving for her maiden clay-court title, Keys roared to two championship points against her frustrated rival. Victory was then secured with the help of a straightforward volley. Resulting in a fist clench and a roar of joy from the new Charleston champion.

The triumph extends Wozniacki’s drought on the clay. The Dane hasn’t won a title on the surface since the Brussel Open back in 2011. In total Wozniacki has won four titles on the clay, which is the eighth highest amount among active players on the WTA Tour.

“Congratulations on an incredible week and well played today. You were just too good for me.” She said in tribute to Keys.
“I want to thank my family in my box. You guys have always been there for me when I win or when I lose. Also, thank you Francesca (Schiavone). I feel like although my love for clay hasn’t always been there, this week has been very enjoyable.”

Keys’ triumph marks the first week of her reunion with coach Juan Todero, who worked with her during 2013 and 2014. Todero has previously mentored WTA players such as Monica Puig, Lauren Davis and Alison Riske.

“It was a really good first week for my coach and I. Hopefully we can keep this up at a kind of high bar.” Keys evaluated.

As a result of her title, Keys will rise to 14th in the WTA rankings when they are updated on Monday. Meanwhile, Wozniacki will be in 12th position.

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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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