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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Angelique Kerber: “I am heavy-hearted about the cancellation of the grass season”

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Former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber has posted her thought on the Wimbledon cancellation.

 

“The thought of playing at Wimbledon has always been the biggest source of my motivation. It goes without saying that I I am heavy hearted that the cancellation of the grass court season also means that I won’t be able to play in front of my home crowd in sport unites, in good and bad times. Once this has passed, it may even help us appreciate our everydayday routines and the beauty of our sport even more than before. Thanks to everyone who is working 24/7 to get us through this uncertain time”.

The German player of Polish origin won three Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and at the US Open in 2016 and at Wimbledon in 2018. She won the Olympic singles silver medal in Rio de Janeiro 2016 losing in the final to Monica Puig.

Kerber lost to Samantha Stosur in the first round in Brisbane. Kerber beat Wang Qiang in straight sets in the first round before retiring from her second round match against Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska due to a left harmstring injury, after the German player was down a set and a break.

At the Australian Open Kerber beat Elisabetta Cocciaretto, Priscilla Hon, Camila Giorgi before losing to Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova. She is currently ranked world number 21 in the WTA Ranking.

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Tour Suspension Will Benefit Novak Djokovic More Than Nadal And Federer, Claims Woodbridge

The former world No.1 doubles player explains why he thinks Djokovic will benefit more than his rivals.

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Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge believes the current suspension of tennis could have a silver lining for Novak Djokovic and his bid to claim the greatest of all time honour.

 

On Wednesday it was confirmed that all professional tennis tournaments have been suspended until at least July due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision came shortly after Wimbledon was forced to axe their event for the first time since 1945. Prior to the suspension, Djokovic started 2020 unbeaten by winning 18 matches in a row. During that period he guided Serbia to the ATP Cup title, won a record eighth Australian Open title and triumphed at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Now with the tour being brought to a halt, some are speculating as to what the implications could be on the prestigious Big Three. A trio featuring Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Between them they have won 52 out of the last 60 grand slam tournaments.

Woodbridge believes Djokovic is in the best situation because of his age. At the age of 32 he is younger than both Nadal (33) and Federer (38). Although neither of those players are planning to retire from the sport just yet.

“Because of the uncertainty, it makes it hard to see how the three can dominate when they come back because of the age of Roger and Rafa,” Woodbridge told Yahoo Sport Australia.
“It also puts more pressure on Rafa and it changes all of those storylines that were on the table for 2020.
“For Novak, it may come at a good time in his career to actually rejuvenate him again, give him another big burst.
“So if anything, this period helps him the most.”

The biggest question mark surrounds Federer, who recently underwent knee surgery and will turn 39 in August. However, the Swiss Maestro has recently confirmed that he intends to play the 2021 season after pledging to return to the court in Halle. One of the grass-court tournaments that has been cancelled this year.

“We experience difficult times, however, we will arise from it strengthened. Already today I am glad and excited about my return to Halle next year.” He said.

Although Woodbridge believes the suspension will hinder Federer’s dream of extending his record-breaking grand slam tally of 20 titles. He last won a major at the 2018 Australian Open. However, since then Federer has only reached a grand slam final in one out of seven attempts.

“The less match play that you get in this period at that age, it’s so much harder to come back and recover once you start again.” Woodbridge explained.
“So I really think that post-2020 will be a new era of people trying to create records because it’ll have really have broken up a great period in tennis.
“It has stopped the potential, I think, of Federer winning one or two more.
“It becomes very highly unlikely for him.”

Djokovic heads the world rankings with a 370-point lead over second place Nadal. Federer is currently in fourth position behind Dominic Thiem.

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Dominic Thiem Denies Allegation He ‘Misled’ Former Coach

A war of words has broken out between the world No.3 and his former long-time mentor Gunther Bresnik.

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Dominic Thiem - Australian Open 2020 (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen)

Dominic Thiem has stated that he has no intention to publicly disclose the reason as to why he stopped working with his former coach despite recently coming under fire from him.

 

The three-time grand slam finalist has been criticised by Gunther Bresnik, who claims he was ‘misled’ by the world No.3. Bresnik was a key figure in Thiem’s team until last year. Coaching the Austrian throughout his junior and professional career for a 15-year period. He was replaced last April by former Olympic champion Nicolas Massu.

It is unclear as to what was the decisive factor behind the split of a partnership that at one staged looked solid. Thiem met Bresnik at the age of eight when his father applied to work at his academy in Vienna. Under his guidance, he won 11 out of his 15 ATP titles so far in his career.

“Becomes clearer to me with time how things went. It doesn’t make it more aesthetic. There are things I totally don’t understand: honesty, loyalty, values…there was not much left.” Journalist Jannik Schneider quoted Bresnik as saying.
“I have no big problem with it besides the fact that I was misled. You can’t do that to someone that you owe everything. His dad would be a club coach and Dominic a futures player without me.”

The comment has triggered a response from Thiem, who has blasted Bresnik’s suggestion that he wouldn’t have been able to reach the top of the sport without his help. In a statement issued to the Austrian Press Agency (APA), the 26-year-old questioned if his former coach has developed ‘delusions of grandeur.’ A term loosely used to describe a person who believes they are greater than they actually are.

“When he complains about a lack of respect, and says that I owe it all to him, and seriously suggests that I would have been a futures player without him, I have to ask whether he has developed delusions of grandeur.” Said Thiem.

As to the root of the fallout between the two, Thiem is refusing to speak publicly about what happened. Although he denied that Bresnik has been misled in any way.

“I did not part ways with him without a reason,” he stated. “Bresnik knows the reasons and at this time I won’t make them public.”

Since pairing up with Massu, Thiem has enjoyed further success of the tour. During the early stages of their collaboration he won his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells last year. Since then, he has gone on to claim another four ATP titles and was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January.

Thiem is the first player from his country to break into the world’s top three since Thomas Muster back in 1997.

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