Former World No.1s Mats Wilander, Kim Clijsters Praise Naomi Osaka At French Open - UBITENNIS
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Former World No.1s Mats Wilander, Kim Clijsters Praise Naomi Osaka At French Open

The two former players share their opinions about the two-time grand slam champion.

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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.

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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