MADRID: On Tuesday Simona Halep said she has ‘no expectations’ this week. Less than 24 hours later, she achieved one of the most comprehensive wins of her career at the Madrid Open.
Opening up proceedings on the Manolo Santana stadium, the Romanian thrashed Viktoria Kuzmova 6-0, 6-0, in just 44 minutes. A 20-year-old Slovakian currently ranked 46th in the world. It was a near-perfect performance for Halep, who dropped only 12 points throughout the match. Claiming 84% of points behind her first serve and firing 14 winners past her error-stricken opponent. The dominating performance was only the fourth time in Halep’s career she has won a match without dropping a game.
“I felt peaceful on the court. And sometimes during the matches, you feel insecure about your game but today was not the case.” She said afterward. “Today, I felt every single shot and I knew that I could win every point against her. So I think the confidence was really very high.”
Halep’s one-sided victory comes after what has been far from ideal preparation for the Romanian. A hip injury forced her to miss her first clay-court event in Stuttgart. More recently, it has been a case of the cold that has hit her. The reason why she is putting no pressure on her title chances in Madrid.
Now playing without the expectation, it could ironically be the explanation behind her resurgence on the tour.
“It’s tough to expect something more from this match because I’m not healthy 100 percent and my energy is not 100 percent. But after this match, of course, my confidence goes higher.” Halep reflected.
“Expectations are not very high this week. I just want to go there and give everything I have. It is a tough week, but it is also a good week.” She added.
Despite the laid back approach, it doesn’t change the fact of how critical the clay-court swing is for the French Open champion this year. During that period, Halep is defending 2900 points, which is 50% of her total amount. A massive contrast to world No.1 Naomi Osaka, who has only 255 points to defend.
“I still feel the pressure because I had so many points to defend. But with them, I have learned that it’s not about defending points, it’s about building the points week-by-week.” Halep stated.
“Without expectations, you are more relaxed, you don’t feel stressed that you have to win that match, but still, when I step on the court, I want to win every match I play, so it’s in the middle.”
There was no celebration for Halep in the doubles at the Caja Magica. Partnered with compatriot Irina Camelia Begu, the duo crashed out in the second round. Falling 6-3, 6-3, to top seeds Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková. The former world No.1 dabbles in doubles tournaments throughout the season, also playing in Miami. However, her experience at grand slam level was at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships. An absence she has no intention of changing.
“I just want to focus on singles and I play doubles for some matches.” She explained.
“I love playing with Irina, we are friends, and it is nicer to play. But I play only a few times a year. My mind is not on being a professional doubles player, so I will stay with singles for the moment.”
In the quarter-finals at Madrid, Halep will take on Australia’s Ash Barty. She leads their head-to-head 2-1 but lost their most recent meeting at the Sydney International earlier this year.
Halep has now won 22 matches at the Madrid Open, which is the third highest in history. Only Maria Sharapova (23) and Petra Kvitova (28) have won more. Kvitova will play her third round match later on Wednesday.
Serena Williams Named Most Stylish Athlete Of 2019 As She Brushes Off Critics
The 37-year-old says she ‘doesn’t care’ about what people think about what she wears.
23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams has been awarded with another accolade in her record-breaking career.
The 37-year-old has come top in this year’s Most Fashionable list by Sports Illustrated in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers In America. The honour recognizes athletes who have stood out from the crowd with what they wear. Those who make the shortlist are selected by a panel of stylists, fashion editors and executives and other influencers across the sports and fashion industries.
“My whole career has been really about tennis and fashion. I always try to make a statement when I walk out on the court—to be bold and to be unique and to kind of transcend. I always try to send the message of just being confident and being fierce.” Williams told Sports Illustrated.
Williams has made headlines on the court for the outfits she wears. After wearing a catsuit at last year’s French Open, she opted for a more straightforward design in this year’s tournament. Wearing a zebra-striped outfit decorated with the words ‘mother, champion, queen, goddess’ in French. It was designed by Virgil Abloh, who was named in Time’s 100 most influential people in the world back in 2018. At Wimbledon, the Nike tick on her all-white clothing was made up of 34 Swarovski ® crystals to mark the last time she won the title at the age of 34.
The fashion sense of the American wasn’t a hit with everybody. Her catsuit triggered criticism from the head of the French Tennis Federation. Bernard Giudicelli told France’s Tennis Magazine in 2017 ‘I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place.’ Williams later played down those comments.
“People always have things to say when you’re wearing fashion. It could be good things. It could be bad things. I don’t care what people say. I’m like just so past it—you could say whatever you want to say.” She said.
“Honestly, you’re allowed to have your opinion. My life is far too complicated to worry about people that want to say mean things. I have a daughter, I have a family, I have a career. I have too much to worry about.”
Williams recently finished runner-up at Wimbledon after losing to Simona Halep in the final. She is set to play at both the Rogers Cup in Canada and Cincinnati Open before the next grand slam tournament.
Note: video embedded from si.com.
US Open Set To Bypass Age Eligibility Policy To Hand Cori Gauff Wildcard
The New York Grand Slam has confirmed that they will likely bend the rules in order for the teenage star to play in the main draw.
Cori Gauff was the talk of Wimbledon and now the US Open have said they are willing to make an exception to their own policy in order for the teenager to play in the main draw of their tournament.
The 15-year-old American stunned the women’s tour with her run at the All England Club. Becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to successfully come through three rounds of qualifying. Then in the main draw Gauff knocked-out five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round. She also scored wins over Polona Hercog and Magdalena Rabrikova to reach the fourth round. Becoming the youngest player to reach the second week of a major since Jennifer Capriati at the 1991 Wimbledon championships. Gauff’s run was eventually ended by Simona Halep, who went on to win the title.
Now ranked 141st in the world, the rising star is currently limited to how many tournaments she can play in accordance with the WTA’s age-eligibility rule. A policy put in place to prevent early burnout for players. It is a rule that is also followed by the United States Tennis Association, who runs the US Open.
At present Gauff isn’t eligible for any more wild cards in 2019 after already using her three allotted ones. Doing so in the Miami Open, French Open qualifiers and Wimbledon qualifiers. Chris Widmaier, who is the director of communications for the USTA, has told The New York Post that he expects Gauff to receive a pass for the upcoming grand slam. Confirming that it is likely that she will be given a special exemption from the policy.
“We would expect to see Coco in the main draw of the US Open,’’ said Widmaier. “She certainly won the hearts of tennis fans in our country with her Wimbledon performance. It’s not every day an athlete of her age becomes water-cooler talk.‘’
The WTA has also said that they will not stand in the way of the USTA if they wish to bend the rules. Under the Rule Gauff is allowed to play a maximum of 10 tournaments between her 15th and 16th birthdays. Plus one of the two year-end tournaments if she qualifies and the Fed Cup.
“The US Open, as a Grand Slam, reserves the right to not align with the Age Eligibility Rule and offer a player a Wild Card in excess of her limit per the Age Eligibility Rule,’’ a WTA spokesperson told the NY Post.
A series of players have urged the WTA to make changes to their policy regarding young players in light of Gauff’s rapid rise. One of the most notable is Roger Federer, who is the co-founder of the Team8 management company that represents Gauff.
“I understand the rule completely that they want the young players not to play too much,” he said. “I’ve told the WTA they should loosen up the rules. I loved seeing [Martina] Hingis doing what she did at a young age.”
It is unclear if the WTA will be making any changes in the near future.
The US Open will get underway on August 26th.
The Women’s Stats Leaders Of Wimbledon 2019
Although Simona Halep won Wimbledon, it was Serena Williams who dominated most of the stats at this year’s tournament.
As the third grand slam of the year concludes, let’s reflect on who the stats leaders at Wimbledon in the Women’s tournament.
The Women’s tournament once again provided many shocks, unpredictable results, storylines and great champions rising to the top.
But in the end it was Simona Halep who won her second grand slam and first Wimbledon title as she demolished Serena Williams in the final.
As the tournament has now ended let’s break the tournament down and see how the Women’s tournament reflected overall in terms of Quality.
Serena Williams reached another Wimbledon final this year and her serve was the key to reaching the second Saturday as she dominated most of her opponents.
Although Simona Halep may have figured her service patterns, her previous six opponents didn’t as she topped the aces chart.
- Serena Williams – 47
- Karolina Pliskova – 36
- Karolina Muchova – 29
- Johanna Konta – 28
- Ashleigh Barty – 26
Although both Dayana Yastremska and Alison Riske made the second week of this year’s Wimbledon, both Women topped the double faults tally.
- Dayana Yastremska – 26
- Alison Riske – 25
- Kristina Mladenovic – 19
- Kaia Kanepi – 17
- Cori Gauff – 15
Fastest Serve (MPH)
Serena once again topped this particular statistic although 15 year-old rising sensation Cori Gauff came close en route to the fourth round.
- Serena Williams – 122
- Polona Hercog – 120
- Cori Gauff – 119
- Venus Williams, Petra Martic, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka – 118
Karolina Muchova’s surprise win over Karolina Pliskova was the longest match of the Women’s tournament and the closes to a 12-12 tiebreak.
- Karolina Muchova def Karolina Pliskova – 3 hours and 17 minutes
- Alison Risek def Ivana Jorovic – 2 hours and 50 minutes
- Elise Mertens def Qiang Wang – 2 hours and 49 minutes
- Cori Gauff def Polona Hercog – 2 hours and 47 minutes
- Monica Puig def Anna Karolina Schmiedlova – 2 hours and 35 minutes
The Most Serve and Volley In Their Game
One of the reasons why Barbora Strycova made the semi-finals of the singles and became the new doubles world number one, was her ability to serve and volley, which is why she tops this particular chart.
- Barbora Strycova – 19% (69/366)
- Kirsten Flipkens – 14% (16/118)
- Taylor Townsend – 11% (17/153)
- Andrea Petkovic – 10% (9/91)
- Laura Siegemund – 9% (13/169)
Most Return Winners
Dayana Yastremska and Serena Williams top this stat as they made their opponents pay for any average serves coming their way.
- Dayana Yastremska – 25
- Serena Williams – 17
- Petra Kvitova – 12
- Shuai Zhang – 12
- Amanda Anisimova, Karolina Pliskova, Karolina Muchova and Alison Riske – 10
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