Sloane Stephens Ready To ‘Start Her Season’ Alongside New Coach - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens Ready To ‘Start Her Season’ Alongside New Coach

The world No.8 is hoping to find a boost in her form with the help of her new coach.

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Sloane Stephens (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

MADRID: Technically the tennis calendar always begins in January, but Sloane Stephens has her own plan in motion.

The former US Open champion has endured mixed start to the season. Prior to this week, she had only won back-to-back matches in two out of seven tournaments played. Reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals in Charleston. A far from ideal situation for somebody who was ranked third in the world back in February, but has since dropped to eighth.

Trying to pinpoint the reasons behind those results, the 26-year-old admits the problems are more mental, than physical. A similar sentiment that has been echoed by Jelena Ostapenko. Another former grand slam champion trying to find her footing on the tour.

“I think definitely mentally. I’ve had a lot of changes in my life and career.” Said Stephens, who recently got engaged to MLS player Jozy Altidore.”I won’t say I’m an emotional person, but I definitely need to adjust to things and take it all in. I think that took me a bit longer at the start of the year.”

Hoping to get herself back on track, Stephens recently appointed Sven Groeneveld as her latest coach. A well-known figure on the WTA Tour, who has previously worked alongside Monica Seles, Mary Pierce, Caroline Wozniacki, and Maria Sharapova.

“I think he’s a great guy, he’s a great coach. We had some great practice before here (Madrid).” Stephens assessed. “I can’t speak about it too much, but I guess two wins is good and I think it’s good tennis.”

It has been so far, so good for the new partnership. In Madrid, Stephens overcame Victoria Azarenka in the second round on Monday. Claiming her fourth consecutive win over the Belarusian since the start of 2018. Whilst it is too early to tell how the collaboration is working out, Stephens believes she is heading in the right direction.

“Now that I’ve found a good coach and I’m happy with things. I’m looking forward to starting the season, I know it’s May, but it’s never too late.” She said.

During the clay swing, the American has 1527 points to defend. Most of which will be at the French Open where she lost to Simona Halep in the final last year. She is one of only two player’s defending more than 1500 points during this period. The other is Halep with 2900 points.

“I try not to think too much, get too stressed. It’s kind of trying to find the right balance in tennis, like in life.” Stephens commented on coping with the pressure.

The next task for the world No.8 will be either Alize Cornet or Saisai Zheng in Madrid on Wednesday.

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard claims his first ATP title in Lyon

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard battled past sixth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4 1-6 7-6 (9-7) in a thrilling final at the Open Parc tournament in Lyon. 

Mpetchi Perricard saved four break points in the first game of the opening set to hold serve at deuce. Etcheverry converted his third break point in the fifth game and held serve at love to take a 4-2 lead. Mpetchi Perricard won four consecutive games to clinch the first set 6-4. 

Etcheverry broke three times to win the second set 6-1. 

The third set went on serve until the 11th game when Mpetchi Perricard converted his third break point to take a 6-5 lead. Etcheverry broke straight back to draw level to 6-6. Mpetchi Perricard was a point away from defeat at 6-7 in the tie-break of the third set, but he reeled off the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7 on his second championship point. 

Mpetchi Perricard won three Challenger Tour titles this year in Nottingham, Cuernavaca and Acapulco. He beat Lorenzo Sonego, Yoshihito Nishioka, Hugo Gaston and Alexander Bublik en route to his first ATP Tour title in Lyon.

Mpetchi Perricard is the son of footballer player Ghislain Mpetchi, who is of Congolese origin. He sister Daphnée Perricard is also a tennis player. 

“It was crazy. It was a very good final. I was down in the second set, but I managed to do better. I am very happy to win this tournament and now I have a lot of confidence for Roland Garros”, said Mpetchi Perricard.

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Casper Ruud claims the third title of his career in Geneva

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Casper Ruud claimed the third title of his career at the Gonet Geneva Open after his previous triumphs at this tournament in 2021 and 2022. 

Ruud did double duty after rain postponed his semifinal match to Saturday. Ruud saved a match point to beat Flavio Cobolli 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinal. He returned less than three hours to defeat Tomas Machac 7-5 6-3 in the final. Ruud clinched the ATP Tour title of his career. 

Machac went up a break in the third game of the first set to take a 3-1 lead. Ruud won three consecutive games from 4-5 down with two breaks in the first set after Machac committed a double fault while he was holding a set point on serve at 5-4. 

Ruud broke serve in the second game of the second set. The Norwegian player held on his next service games and served out the win on his first match point in 1 hour and 47 minutes. 

Ruud improved to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Machac. “It was a challenging week. All the matches are tough, no matter who will play. It was tough to find a groove. The weather has been a bit challenging all week, but today was fantastic. I feel very happy to win again to win again here in Geneva. It’s been a very good season so far”, said Ruud. 

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Casper Ruud saves a match point to beat Flavio Cobolli in the semifinal in Geneva

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Second seed Casper Ruud came back from one set down to beat Flavio Cobolli 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in 1 hour and 51 minutes in the semifinal of the Gonet Geneva Open. Ruud set up a final against Tomas Machac, who upset Novak Djokovic 6-4 0-6 6-1 in yesterday’s semifinal.

Cobolli earned his first break in the second game with a forehand winner. The world number 56 broke for the second time to love in the sixth game to close out the first set 6-1. 

Ruud earned two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the second set 6-1. 

Cobolli saved two break points in the first game of the third set before converting his third break point to open up a 3-0 lead. Ruud broke back in the seventh game and held serve to 30 to draw level to 4-4. 

Ruud, who won two titles in Geneva in 2021 and 2022, saved a match point on serve at 4-5 30-40 in the third set. The Norwegian player went up a 4-0 lead with three mini-breaks in the tie-break before going on to seal the win. 

Cobolli hit eight aces and won 67% of his first serve points. The Italian player hit 38 winners to 21 unforced errors. Ruud hit 12 winners to 6 unforced errors. 

“It was very difficult. I was one point away from losing. I was able to hang in there and it was a very tough match. I am happy to have been able to come back in the third set and pull through. It was a good confidence win for me and I am looking forward to the final”, said Ruud. 

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