Naomi Osaka has a level of fighting spirit that places her among the great champions of the sport, according to former player Mats Wilander.
Osaka kicked-off her campaign at the French Open on Tuesday with a roller-coaster three-set win over Slovenia’s Anna Karolína Schmiedlová. Coming back from 0-6 down. The Japanese player is bidding to become the first woman to win a third consecutive grand slam since 2015, as well as maintain her No.1 position. However, she is yet to go beyond the third round at Roland Garros.
Speaking about the 21-year-old on Eurosport, three-time French Open champion Wilander drew similarities between her opening performance and that of Serena Williams. Williams also endured a slow start to her match against Vitalia Diatchenko before prevailing 2-6, 6-1, 6-0.
“Naomi Osaka’s fighting spirit is up there with the great champions and that’s what I think we’re going to see with her for the rest of her career.” Said Wilander.
“She goes for her shots and she is so similar to Serena Williams in so many ways. Her first set was horrendous, just like Serena. But somehow she turns it around, keeps going for her shots and then they start to go in.”
Whilst he praised Osaka’s first round performance, Wilander is concerned about how she will fair as the tournament progresses. The Japanese player has had a mixed run on the clay heading into Paris. In Stuttgart she was forced to withdraw from the semifinals due to an abdominal injury. Then in Rome, it was a hand injury that forced her out of the tournament.
“You have to hold something back on clay though, and that’s what worries me about Osaka as the tournament goes on.” He said.
“However, Naomi has won two Slams in a row, she’s number one in the world and she managed to get through this match on a windy, cold day on Philippe-Chatrier. I think there are more positives than negatives for her.”
On the other hand Kim Clijsters, who is a two-time finalist of the tournament, says she has been impressed by the level of Osaka’s maturity on the court. Over a 12-month period between 2018-2019, she broke into the top 40 before becoming the first Asian player to top the world rankings.
“When you look at what she showed us at the US Open last year against Serena and in Australia this year against Kvitova… It’s unbelievable that she’s able to turn it around mentally. To be able to do that regularly without having much experience is very impressive.” Clijsters told Eurosport Germany.
“I’ve seen her play amazing tennis in years past, when she couldn’t quite sustain her level. She’s been able to become consistent. She has changed her coach as well. She is mentally very mature.” She added.
Osaka will take on Victoria Azarenka in her second round match on Thursday. Their head-to-head is currently tied at 1-1.
Hong Kong Open Postponed Due To Political Unrest
There is bad news for fans of the Asian tournament.
The next instalment of the Hong Kong Open has been put on hold after authorities decided to postpone the tournament due to mass protests taking place in the region.
Hong Kong has been rocked by unrest in recent weeks with many protesting against a controversial extradition bill that was put forward. Where residents of Hong Kong could be tried for their crimes in mainland China. The area has been a Special Administrative Region of China since 1997 after sovereignty was transferred from Britain. The bill has since been scrapped, however, protests for greater democratic reform are ongoing.
“As the winner of the WTA International event of the year award in 2018, we strive to maintain a high standard of the event for all participants, players and the fans in particular. However, after extensive discussions with our key stakeholders, we conclude that a smooth running of the tournament can be better assured at a later time.” A statement reads.
“The event organisers and WTA are in active discussion on identifying an alternate week for the hosting of the event. Further announcements will be made in due course.”
The tournament is currently held in Victoria Park, which was named after Queen Victoria. The park has become one of the rallying points where anti-government protesters gather. Other sports events and concerns have also been affected by the unrest in recent times. Both the Hong Kong ASTC Sprint Triathlon Asian Cup and the Asian Aquathlon Championships were cancelled over safety concerns.
It is unclear as to when the Hong Kong Open will be moved to or if it will take place at all in 2019. Discussions are currently ongoing with the WTA. Originally it was set to get underway on October 7th. Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Dayana Yastremska are former champions of the event. It has been a regular fixture on the calendar since 2014.
Last year, more than 70,000 people attended the weeklong tournament, according to tournament figures.
Two WTA events will still take place during the week commencing October 7th. They will be in Linz, Austria and Tianjin, China.
Kim Clijsters announces her come-back to the WTA Tour in 2020
Four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters is planning to come out of retirement and make her return to the WTA Tour in 2020.
The Belgian 36-year-old has announced in an interview on the WTA Website on Thursday that she wants a new challenge in her life after retiring from tennis after the 2012 US Open.
Cljisters won her maiden Grand Slam title at the 2005 US Open. The Belgian player, who started a professional career in 1997 and first reached the world number 1 spot in 2003, took her first break from tennis in 2007 to start a family. She gave birth to her first daughter Jada in February 2008 and came out of retirement to play her first tournaments at the Rogers Cup and at the Western and Southern Open in August 2009.
She made her first come-back on the Grand Slam stage as an unranked player after a 26-month-break to win the 2009 US Open, when she became the first mother to become a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolalong at Wimbledon in 1980.
The Belgian legend successfully defended her title at the US Open in 2010. She returned to the top of the ranking with her triumph at the 2011 Australian Open.
Cljsters won 41 WTA Tour titles during her career and four Grand Slam trophies and three WTA Finals titles in 2002, 2013 and 2010. She gave birth to two more children Jake and Blake and has continued her work at her tennis academy.
“The love for the sport is obviously still there, but the question still is, am I capable of bringing to it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to be at a high level of one of best women’s sports in the world. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, but I want o challenge myself and I want to be strong again. Let’s see if I can get my body in shape to play tennis at a level where I would like it to be at, that I have in mind of where I would like to get to, and see if it’s possible. To see if my body is capable of even doing that”,said Cljsters.
Cljsters will face a tough challenge against the new generation led by Bianca Andreescu, who won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open last week at the age of 19.
“There are times during the US Open when I see some of the tennis I think, No way, that’s not where I am going to be able to get to because it just looks like they are hitting the ball so much harder. I have always had that in me even when I was playing back in the day and I was ranked up five in the world. I always saw everybody, Oh my God, they move so well or they hit the ball so hard or they have so much variety in their game. I feel like that is getting better and I still have time to become tennis-fit again. We will see where it will end. It’s exciting and I am happy with being able to do this and that so far, it doesn’s influence my life as a mother”, said Cljsters in her interview to the WTA Website.
Andy Murray To Play Four Tournaments In A Row Following Shanghai Wild Card
It is going to be a busy few week’s for the British player as he continues his comeback to the tour.
The comeback of former world No.1 Andy Murray is gaining momentum after he received a wild card into the most high-profile men’s tournament in China.
The three-time Grand Slam champion has been given entry into the Shanghai Masters, which will get underway on October 5th. Murray is one of only three players to have won the title three or more times. His last triumph was back in 2016 when he defeated Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the final. That was also the last time the Brit played in the tournament after being hampered by a serious hip injury over the past two years.
“I’m really looking forward to going back to Shanghai, a tournament I have had success at in the past.” Murray said in a statement.
“Thanks to the tournament for a wild card, it’s great to be able to continue my comeback and play more tennis in China. Shanghai is a great city; I feel comfortable there and the fans are always supportive.”
Murray is continuing his return to the tour after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery earlier this season. The second operation he has had on his hip in as many years. So far in his singles comeback, the 32-year-old has lost his opening matches in Cincinnati (to Richard Gasquet) and Winston-Salem (to Tennys Sandgren). He is currently ranked 415th in the world.
“We are delighted to have Andy return to the tournament where he has been so successful,” Shanghai tournament director Michael Luevano said. “He is incredibly popular with our fans and we are all thrilled to see him back on the courts and heading to Shanghai.’
“He has been through a lot physically in recent times so to see him back doing what he loves is very rewarding for everyone in tennis.”
The addition of Shanghai to his schedule means Murray will play four tournaments in four weeks across two continents. He will also play at events in Zhuhai (ATP 250) and Beijing (ATP 500) prior to the Masters tournament. Then the week after, he will return to Europe to play at the European Open (ATP 250) in Antwerp, Belgium.
Murray is hoping to return back to his top form. So far in his career, he has won 45 titles on the ATP Tour and spent 41 consecutive weeks as world No.1.
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