Jelena Ostapenko Finds Form In Birmingham - UBITENNIS
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Jelena Ostapenko Finds Form In Birmingham

Jelena Ostapenko spoke about the challenge of dealing with emotions on court after she thrashed Iga Swiatek at the Nature Valley Classic.

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Jelena Ostapenko (@rolandgarros on Twitter)

Jelena Ostapenko swept aside Polish qualifier Iga Swiatek 6-0 6-2 in a dominant display in the first round of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmignham.

It is a result that goes completely against the form book because the Latvian lost 16 of the 23 matches she played in 2019 before today and had only won once since 3 April.

By contrast, her opponent, 18, won 26 of the 36 matches she played this year before this encounter. She also made a suprise run to the quarter-final of the French Open.

Ostapenko attributes her superb performance to her state of mind. “If you have too many thoughts in your mind, it is very tough to play your best because those thoughts always distract you,” she said. “When your mind is free, it is much easier to play. That’s how I was today.”

The Latvian, who has slipped from her career-high of 5 to her current ranking of 37, was also hampered by a left wrist injury for a long time. It ended up wiping out her pre-season training for 2019 completely, which was very disruptive.

Ostapenko explained, “I’m trying to get my game back because I was injured last season, so I couldn’t really do the proper pre-season, which didn’t help me, and in the beginning of the season I was struggling a lot because I didn’t have enough time for practice.”

Happily for the Latvian, she now feels fully fit, and she is hoping for plenty of matches on the grass to improve her form.

“I think I’m getting better,” Ostapenko said. “Today I felt really good on court and I feel that grass is a surface I really love to play on. I think I will get my form back on grass.”

Ostapenko feeling calm ahead of Konta clash

The 2017 French Open champion will need to be at her best in the next round when she takes on Johanna Konta. The Brit is in brilliant form and her confidence is currently as high as it has ever been.

Ostapenko seems relaxed about facing her though. “I’ve played Konta a couple of times, including last year in Eastbourne on grass,” she said. “We have always had three-set matches. She’s a great player, she plays very well on grass and she is in good form, but grass is one of my favourite surfaces too and I am going to try to enjoy it.”

The Latvian almost had to deal with a nightmare scenario over the weekend after her luggage did not arrive in Birmingham at the same time she did.

“I just arrived on Friday and, unfortunately, my bags didn’t arrive, so I couldn’t even hit on Saturday,” Ostapenko said. “So I basically had one day to hit before this tournament because I was playing doubles on Monday.”

She continued, “But I think for me the less time I have the better it is because I’m more focussed.” It is funny how things work out sometimes.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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