Simona Halep Tames Bencic To Keep No.1 Dream Alive In Madrid - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Tames Bencic To Keep No.1 Dream Alive In Madrid

The Romanian is closing in on another title at her ‘special tournament.’

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Simona Halep (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: Simona Halep is a win away from reclaiming her No.1 spot after downing an erratic Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-0, in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

 

Halep, who is seeking a third title at the Caja Magica, was forced to dig deep during what was a roller coaster encounter that consisted of numerous momentum changes. Despite dropping serve three times, she managed to come out on top with the help of 29 winners and capitalized on 33 unforced errors committed by Bencic.

“I feel a little bit tired but it’s normal because she was playing very fast,” Halep said afterward during her on-court interview. “I had to concentrate on every ball, it was tough that I lost the second set.’
“I was rushing myself and I had to calm down and open the court a bit more. I was too far back and couldn’t dominate the match from there.”

Just 15 places separate the two players in the WTA rankings, but it is completely different when it comes to the clay. Friday marked Halep’s 21st appearance in the semi-final of a WTA event on the dirt. A stark contrast to former French Open girls champion Bencic, who was playing in only her second and first since Charleston 2014. On the other hand, Bencic boasted a perfect 5-0 record against top-five opposition this year before today.

It was a perfect start for the Romanian as she broke immediately against her lackluster opponent. However, it wasn’t long before the roller coaster got going. Bencic, who never won a match in Madrid prior to this week, responded well by breaking to draw level at 2-2. Nevertheless, it was Halep who came out on top in the opener with the help of a four-game winning streak to close in on the final.

The turmoil continued into the second set with four out of five games being decided by a break. Both Halep and Bencic were far from thrilled with their performances. Smashing both the balls and their rackets onto the ground out of sheer frustration.

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With little to distinguish between the two, Bencic continued to fight. The Swiss world No.18 was in clinical fashion throughout the tiebreaker as she raced to a 4-0 lead with the help of some errors made from across the court. Halep tried to recover, but a backhand drifting wide placed her at a 2-5 deficit. Allowing Bencic to force the match into a decider with the help of a serve out wide that draw another error from Halep.

Dropping a set for the first time this week, the world No.3 responded emphatically by racing out to a 3-0 lead in the decider. Leaving her opponent in tears as she spoke to her father during one of the changeovers. With the Swiss player rattled both physically and mentally, the two-time champion surged towards the finish line. Closing the match out with a bagel. Her fourth of the tournament.

“I try to do everything I can when I step onto the court.” Said Halep, who is currently coping with a cold. “I am always motivated when I come to Madrid. It’s my special tournament.’
“I’m close to 100 percent (healthy), but I’m not quite there. It’s getting better day-by-day.”

Friday’s win is Halep’s 25th in Madrid. The second highest of all-time in the women’s tournament after Petra Kvitova (29). In the final, she will play either Sloane Stephens or Kiki Bertens. Two players who she has a winning head-to-head record against.

“A final is a final. I just want to be focused on myself as I have been throughout the week.” She summarised.

Halep must win the Madrid title is she wishes to dethrone Naomi Osaka from the top of the rankings. She has already held that position for 64 weeks in what is the 10th longest stretch in the Open Era on the WTA Tour.

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WTA unveils rebrand including new logo, marketing campaign and alignment of tournament tiers

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The WTA has unveiled a comprensive rebrand including a new logo, marketing campaign and alignment of tournament tiers. 

 

The Women’s Tennis Association WTA has introduced a new corporate identity redifining the organization’s strength as a collective utit of inspiring players and tournaments. 

The rebranding includes the WTA’s first logo redesign in 10 years and coincides with the announcement of a simplified numerical naming system for women’s tournaments. 

The new brand identity and marketing campaign has been developed for the WTA by design agency Landor Australia and will be fully integrated across the WTA, including television graphics, print materials, tournament branding, advertising, promotion, digital and social media. 

The WTA’s new brand image incorporates a dynamic reworking of the familiar letters W, T and A, with a tennis ball functioning as the crossbar of the A, and marks the return of a silhouette of a female tennis player. The serve is the only shot in tennis where the player has the absolute control and where the point begins. 

The logo brings a return of a kinetic energy and makes reference to the sport’s global nature, framing the player within a circle that evokes the universal spirit of the WTA platform. 

“The WTA is built on the grit, passion and determination of generations of athletes and tournament promoters. Our new logo embraces the visual language of tennis and celebrates heroic women who come together for “The Game”. We will wear it as a badge of pride and a reminder of the power of unity among strong individuals, by joining forces, we build something bigger than ourselves”, said Micky Lawler, President of the WTA and head of marketing initiatives.   

The WTA For the Game campaign will be highlighted by 30 and 60 second commercial spots as well as influencer stories that will be broadcast, published and posted across WTA player, tournament and affiliate channels. Fans are provided new insights into the individual narratives of players as they describe the defining moments that have shaped their tennis journey and what gives their game purpose. 

The “For the Game” campaign features a series of videos with in-their-own words storytelling from Naomi Osaka, Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza, Ashleigh Barty, Petra Kvitova, Barbora Krejcikova, Su-Wei Hsieh, Bethanie Mattek Sands and more players from the tour’s singles and doubles ranks. 

The WTA also worked with the ATP to create consistency and alignment across professional tennis. Both Tours will share the same tournament tier and nomenclature system to create simplicity for fans and consumers starting from 2021. WTA tournaments will now be categorized as WTA 1000 (incorporating the former Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 tournaments), WTA 500 (formerly Premier 700), WTA 250 (International) and WTA 125 (125k Series). The revised nomenclature is not tied to specific ranking points (which stay the same) or prize money, it is a categorical system to help define WTA tournament categories. “Fans really respond to the unified approach which tennis is uniquely able to provide. We see it with ticket sales at combined women’s and men’s tournaments, viewership on shared broadcast platforms and the popularity of the “Tennis United” digital content series co-created by the WTA and ATP amidst the challenges of the 2020 season. Adopting this streamlined tournament naming system is 100% about making it easier for WTA fans, corporate partners and the media to engage and follow the sport”, said Lawler. 

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Father Of Dayana Yastremska Reveals The Reasons Behind Her Lacklustre Season

Alexander Yastremsky says his daughter was ‘mentally broken’ in recent weeks due to a personal issue.

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Rising star Dayana Yastremska struggled on the Tour during the second half of 2020 due to a family-related issue, according to her father.

 

The world No.29 closed out her season with three consecutive first round losses at the French Open, Ostrava and Linz to players who were ranked lower than her. Yastremska looked to be on course for a strong year after reaching the final of the Adelaide International in January. However, since then she has only managed to reach the quarter-final stage in one out of 10 tournaments played.

Reflecting on his daughter’s difficult season during an interview with Ukrainian Tennis, Alexander Yastremsky says she had been ‘mentally broken’ in recent weeks due to her mother having a series of surgeries on her eye.

“People were complaining like why Dayana had such poor results at Roland Garros and afterwards but they didn’t know it was a hard time for her mother,” he said.
“Before the first round she had a retinal detachment. She went through three surgeries in Paris and two more at home. Everything is fine now but at that time Dayana was broken mentally.”

Besides her mother’s health scare, Yastremska had to find a new structure in her team after the departure of Sasha Bajin following the US Open. Bajin, who is the former coach of Naomi Osaka, worked with her for less than a year. Last week it was confirmed that he will be working with Karolina Pliskova in the new year.

“Sascha Bajin is a good coach, very helpful but it turned out he wasn’t ours,” said Alexander. “I don’t look at this partnership as a mistake for Dayana, it was another experience for her but I don’t see any advantages either.”
“Everyone looks only at how good you play and what result you get.”

Prior to Bajin, Yastremska worked with Belgium’s Olivier Jeunehomme who guided her to three WTA titles between 2018-2019. Since his departure, she is yet to add to her title tally but did rise to a ranking high of 21st earlier this year.

“It’s not easy to work with Dayana she has a tough personality,” her father admits. “Relationships on and off the court are very important for her.
“Right now we have a new team, very positive and committed . That’s the key for us. There’s no need to brag about their achievements. Results will come and time will tell. Our focus is on the off-season and hard work.”

Yastremska has started her off-season in Dubai. She ends the year with a win-loss record of 15-12 and has made just over $486,000 in prize money.

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Karolina Pliskova hires Sascha Bajin as new coach

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Former world number 1 player Karolina Pliskova has hired German coach Sasha Bajin for the upcoming 2021 season. The Czech player has split up with Daniel Vallverdu. 

 

Under the guidance of Vallverdu Pliskova has not won a single title in 2020 but she reached her second final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, the tournament she won in 2019 beating Johanna Konta. This year she was forced to withdraw from the Rome final against Simona Halep due to an injury problem. 

Pliskova successfully defended her 2019 title in Brisbane and lost to Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the Australian Open and was defeated by Elena Rybakina in the quarter finals in Dubai. She lost to Ons Jabeur in Doha. In her first tournament after the suspension due to the pandemic Pliskova was beaten by Veronika Kudemertova in the second round at the Western and Southern Open in New York. At the US Open Karolina was knocked out by Caroline Garcia in the second round. 

The Czech star lost in the first round in Ostrava after winning the first set. 

Bajin parted his ways with Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska in 2020. The Ukrainian player was not happy after Bajin praised Naomi Osaka, who beat Yastremska at the US Open. 

Pliskova introduced her new coaching team to her fans on Twitter. 

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