Former Champion Garbine Muguruza Admits French Open Fight Will Not Be Easy - UBITENNIS
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Former Champion Garbine Muguruza Admits French Open Fight Will Not Be Easy

The former world No.1 reflects on her opening win in Paris.

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Garbine Muguruza (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

19th seed Garbine Muguruza knows she has her work cut out as she embarks upon her seventh consecutive appearance at the French Open.

 

The 2016 champion kicked-off her Roland Garros campaign with a roller-coaster victory over Taylor Townsend. Prior to the grand slam, she has only managed to win two matches on the clay and has recently been hindered by injury. Meanwhile, her American opponent has the style of game which could cause her difficulty. Townsend won both singles and doubles titles at an ITF $100,000 in Charleston on the dirt earlier this month.

Despite the threat, an at times frustrated Muguruza overcame some inconsistency in her shot-making to prevail 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. Hitting 37 winners to 29 unforced errors and winning 72% of her first service points. The latest win is Muguruza’s 25th in the tournament. She has won more matches in Paris than at any other grand slam.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge no matter who my opponent was. We always know that the first rounds are difficult. It’s the first match of a Grand Slam, it’s a little adventure.” Muguruza said during her press conference.

During what was the first match to take place on the newly built Simona Mathieu Court, Muguruza failed to find her consistency throughout the opening set. Allowing Townsend to expose her vulnerabilities on the court. After trading breaks midway, the American managed to breakthrough whilst leading 6-5. As Muguruza serve to stay in contention, the 23-year-old pounce by racing to a 40-0 advantage. She then secured the 7-5 lead with the help of a near-perfect forehand winner down the line.

Since making her debut at Roland Garros back in 2013, Muguruza has never lost in the first round of the tournament. Determined to uphold that record, she battled back with a clinical two-set performance. Securing a double break in both frames, the 25-year-old increased the aggressiveness of her shot-making for force her opponent to make errors. In what was a dramatic change of momentum, Muguruza closed out the match by winning 12 out of 16 games played. Booking her place in the second round with the help of a delicate forehand drop shot winner.

“Playing Taylor, she had a different style of game, a very lefty player. Super talented. So it took me a while to feel better in the court, to get the rhythm, to to have a game plan.” Muguruza explained.
“It was a tough match. I’m happy to go through.”

Muguruza enters this year’s tournament in a somewhat different mindset to 12 months ago where she was the third seed. At 19th in the world, she is battling to stay within the world’s top 20. A position she has held continuously since June 2015. The only silver lining is that few are pinning their title hopes of her, which gives the Spaniard less expectation to live up to.

“I felt more at ease than last year, because I’m not really fighting for my title.” She said.
“But it’s not always easy to start a tournament. I try to go as far as possible. We always have a lot of pressure. But I don’t ask myself the question all the time. Sometimes in the past, I was focusing too much on these aspects that were putting pressure on me.”

With women’s tennis known for its unpredictability, it may be a bit unfair to dismiss Muguruza’s title chances completely. After all, she is a two-time grand slam champion and former world No.1.

“I think to win a Grand Slam you don’t only have to play beautiful and have great shots. It’s a combination of having the X factor, because everybody plays well, but only a few can win Grand Slams.” She explained.
“I think a very complete player, having the courage, having the consistency of winning many matches, dealing with the pressure of being in a Grand Slam and advancing. It’s a puzzle that you’ve got to put together, and it’s not easy.”

Muguruza reached the semi-finals of the French Open last year. She will play Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in the second round.

WTA

Carla Suarez Navarro Set For One Last Season As A Player

The former top 10 player has outlined her retirement plans for 2020 as she embarks upon a farewell tour.

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Next year will be the final time tennis fans will see Carla Suarez Navarro on the tour after the Spaniard announced her retirement on Tuesday.

 

The former world No.6 confirmed her future plans during a press conference in Barcelona. She will play one full season in 2020 before walking away from the sport after playing for more than 10 years on the WTA Tour. Suarez Navarro is currently the second highest ranked female tennis player from Spain after Garbine Muguruza and is currently 55th in the world.

“The 2020 season will be my last year in the professional tennis circuit,” wtatennis.com quoted the 31-year-old as saying. “The sport has been a fundamental part of my life – it has given me immense joy and I cannot be more grateful for all the experiences that it has allowed me to live. At this time, I notice that the time has come to complete a beautiful chapter and begin to enjoy other areas of life. Tennis will always be in me.”

Known for her one-handed backhand shot, which is a rare occurrence in the women’s game, Suarez Navarro has enjoyed a successful career since her breakthrough in 2008. The year when she reached the quarter-finals of the French Open as a qualifier. During her career, she claimed two WTA titles with the biggest being at the 2016 Qatar Open. She also finished runner-up at nine other tournaments.

“Tennis right now has a very high demand. To be high in the ranking you need absolute consistency, a world-class level of physical conditioning and a 24-hour daily psychological commitment. I have been in high competition for more than 15 years and have lived through these realities since the beginning of my adolescence. These are lessons that have formed me as a person and that will serve me for a lifetime,” Suárez Navarro explained.
“I want to enjoy one last season with the same professionalism as always. I am going to do a quality preparation, my whole team is going to travel with me from the month of January and I plan to compete until the end of the season. My desire is clear: to be proud of this last effort when I reach the end of the road.”

Suarez Navarro has also enjoyed success in the doubles where she peaked at a high of 11th back in 2015. Her trio of trophies was won alongside Muguruza between 2014-2015. The duo also reached the semi-finals of the 2014 French Open.

Representing her country, the three-time Olympian has also featured in 15 Fed Cup ties. Including Spain’s clash with Belgium earlier this year when she won all three of her matches (two singles and one doubles). Overall, she has a win-loss record of 16-11 in the competition.

Despite knowing that next year will be her last as a player, the Spaniard has big ambitions for 2020. Including a fourth consecutive appearance at the Olympic Games.

“My goals are going to be as high as ever,” she stated. “I want to try to finish the year in the Top 10 because I know what it takes to be there. I am very excited to participate in another Olympic Games and, as always, I will have the Grand Slams in mind. Although it is the last season of my career, my mentality will be exactly the same: work, humility and ambition.”

Suarez Navarro will start her final season at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Four facts about Suarez Navarro’s career

  1. Her career prize money currently stands at $11,580,886. The third highest of all time for a Spanish woman.
  2. Has won 509 matches so far in her career against 336 loses.
  3. Between 2013-2016 Suarez Navarro finished each season in the top 20 for both singles and doubles.
  4. She has played in 43 grand slam tournaments and hasn’t missed the main draw of a major event since losing in the second round of qualifying at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships.

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Ash Barty ‘Grateful’ After Winning Top Prize At Newcombe Awards

Ash Barty claimed her third Newcombe medal on a historic night for Australian tennis.

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Ash Barty (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

World number one Ash Barty feels ‘grateful’ and ‘humbled’ after winning the top prize at the Newcombe awards. 

 

The Australian’s year was capped off in sensational style on Tuesday evening local time as she won the 2019 Newcombe medal.

After becoming world number one this year as well as winning Roland Garros, the WTA Finals and leading Australia to the Fed Cup final, it’s only fitting the 23 year-old won Australian tennis’ top prize.

Speaking after receiving her award, Barty says she feels ‘humbled’ after an extraordinary year, “I’m incredibly grateful and very humbled to be here tonight,” she said after winning her third Newcombe medal triumph.

“This is not about individual athletes, it’s a night of celebration for everyone involved in tennis and everyone that’s a part of our tennis family. Congratulations to everyone else who’s in this room. It takes a village and we are a big tennis family. I’m very humbled to be here tonight.”

Next up for the Australian will be preparing for the new season, which will start in her hometown of Brisbane on the 6th of January.

Other winners saw Barty’s coach, Craig Tyzzer win the coaching excellence while Sam Stosur was awarded the spirit of tennis award after her contribution to Australian tennis that spans two decades.

Wheelchair start, Dylan Alcott also won most outstanding athlete with a disability as it was a night to remember for everyone involved with Australian tennis.

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Sania Mirza Announces Tennis Return After Two Year Absence

Sania Mirza has announced her return to tennis for January after a two year maternity break.

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Sania Mirza (@ddsportschannel - Twitter)

Six time grand slam doubles champion Sania Mirza has announced her return to tennis after a two year absence. 

 

The Indian tennis legend has missed the last two years due to taking time off to have a baby and after her son, Izhaan was born in October last year, Mirza has decided to return.

Speaking to local media, the six time grand slam champion will return in January to compete at the Hobart International Open and Australian Open, “I am playing in Hobart, then I am playing the Australian Open,” the Indian said.

“I’m planning to play a tournament in Mumbai, which is a $25k ITF event next month, but I am 50-50 about it. Let’s see how my wrist behaves. We’ll see, but Hobart and the Australian Open for sure.”

The 33 year-old will play with Ukrainian doubles player Nadiia Kichenok in Hobart before competing with Rajeev Ram in Mixed Doubles at the Australian Open.

Her last match was at the 2017 China Open when she and Shuai Peng lost to top seeds Latisha Chan and Martina Hingis in the semi-finals.

Speaking about her absence, Mirza has spoken about the changes that comes with being a parent, “Your routine and sleep patterns change,” Mirza said.

https://twitter.com/MirzaSania/status/1200306543155040256

“I feel fit, my body is where it used to be before I had the baby. It was only six or seven months ago that I though about returning as a realistic possibility. Of course, it will take me time to get to the level that I was playing at before, but it’s a good start for me to feel good physically.”

Mirza is a former doubles world number one and will look to return that form when she returns to the WTA Tour in 2020.

 

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