Navratilova Among Tennis Greats To Tip Ash Barty For Wimbledon Glory - UBITENNIS
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Navratilova Among Tennis Greats To Tip Ash Barty For Wimbledon Glory

THREE former grand slam champions believes the Australian has what it takes to triumph at The All England Club.

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Ash Barty (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Less than a week after winning her first grand slam title at the French Open, many pundits are already backing Australia’s Ash Barty to win the Wimbledon Championships next month.

 

At Roland Garros the 23-year-old prevailed during what was a lacklustre women’s draw. On route to victory, she scored wins over Madison Keys and Amanda Anisimova. Then in the final, she cruised to a 6-1, 6-3, win over Marketa Vondrousova. Becoming the first player from her country to win the French Open since Margaret Court back in 1973.

“It’s been an incredible couple of weeks, that’s for sure.” Barty said following her win in Paris. “I think any time I can play my brand of tennis, I know that I can match it against the best in the world.”
“For the last fortnight, the stars have aligned for me. I have been able to play really good tennis when I’ve needed it.”

The clay has never been Barty’s favourite surface. She hadn’t won a singles title on the dirt until Paris this year. 12 months ago, she told reporters, ‘a week on the clay is a week closer to the grass season.’ Now ranked two in the world, nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova believes the Australian has what it takes to conquer the All England Club.

“There’s no doubt that Barty can win Wimbledon – grass allows her to make use of all the shots and options that she has in her game. Whatever Barty did on clay, she can do even better on grass. She has all the shots.” Navratilova wrote in an article for wtatour.com.
“I would actually say Barty has more options than any other player in women’s tennis.” She added.

It was at Wimbledon, where she won her first and only grand slam title at junior level. In 2011 she defeated Irina Khromacheva to win the girls title at the age of 15. Becoming only the second player from her country to do so after Debbie Freeman back in 1980. However, on the professional tour Barty to yet to go beyond the third round.

“Barty’s slice is more effective on grass than it is on clay. Players on the WTA Tour have a hard time handling slice, because most of them don’t want to be inside the baseline. Also with the ball skidding through low, they’re hitting a defensive shot from inside the baseline which makes them vulnerable.” Navratilova explained.
“Barty’s also a great volleyer – she can even throw in a serve-and-volley play once in a while, and mix it up, maybe chip and charge on a second serve. All of this variety can really get into an opponent’s head and create confusion and some cheap mistakes on her opponent’s side.”

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Another backer is Pat Cash, who won the Wimbledon title back in 1987. Speaking about the 23-year-old during an interview with The Daily Mail, Cash believes Barty will be a ‘real threat’ in grand slam tournaments over the foreseeable future.

“She hasn’t been that successful yet in singles yet, but there’s no reason she shouldn’t be. She got the final of the (2013) doubles,’ he said.
‘Her serve has significantly improved in the past three to six months. The sliced backhand is very effective on the grass. She’s the best volleyer on tour. She has a grass-court game – clay is her worst surface so it looks pretty good for her!”

Former doubles specialist Renee Stubbs believes her compatriot will peak on the tour in two to four years time. Saying that there is more to come from her. Stubbs is currently the coach of Karolina Pliskova.

“Ash has a very good chance at Wimbledon. She can play on every surface and always says she is strongest on grass, although it was no surprise to me she won the French Open, as I always thought she could be great on clay.” Stubbs told Omnisport earlier this week.
“There is no question she can win another slam. She is only going to get better and better and I think she will peak at 25, 26, maybe 27.
“She has so many shots to choose from and I think when you are an all-court player like that, you get better as you get older.”

Barty is set to begin her grass-court season next week at the Nature Valley Championships in Birmingham.

Barty’s 2018 grass season

  • Nottingham – defeated Naomi Osaka and Joanna Konta on route to her first WTA title on the surface
  • Birmingham – R2 (lost to Julie Goerges)
  • Eastbourne – QF (lost to Caroline Wozniacki)
  • Wimbledon – R3 (lost to Daria Kasatkina)

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Why Peng Shuai’s Video Call With The IOC Has Failed To Ease The Concerns Of The WTA

The WTA said the video hasn’t changed their stance on the matter.

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The governing body of women’s tennis says they still have concerns about the welfare of former world No.1 doubles player Peng Shuai despite her appearing in a video call with the International Olympic Committee on Sunday.

 

Shuai attended a video call with IOC president Thomas Bach in what was her first public interaction with an international official since making allegations of sexual assault against China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli. On November 2nd Shuai published a post on her Weibo account detailing the alleged assault and revealed she had an on-and-off affair with the former influential political figure for a decade. The post was removed less than an hour after it went live and her Weibo account is still restricted.

In a statement issued by the IOC, Shuai was quoted as saying that she is ‘safe and well’ and would like some privacy. It is understood that the video call lasted roughly 30 minutes, which also included IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Emma Terho and IOC Member in China Li Lingwei. However, in the statement there was no mention of the sexual assault allegations which was made by Shuai.

This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern.” The WTA told Reuters in response to the video.

There are fears by the WTA that Shuai is under the control of the state and is restricted as to what she can and can’t say. Lingwei, who participated in the video call, is a former athlete who has since worked with the Chinese government and is a member of the people’s congress.

Recently China’s media, which is controlled by the Communist party, has posted a series of photos and videos of Shuai. However, the WTA confirmed at the weekend they will have been prevented from getting in contact with her despite making numerous efforts.

“It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” a WTA spokeswoman said.

China’s Global Television network, which is owned by state media, hasn’t posted a single article about Shuai in recent weeks following her allegations. However, for the first time on Monday they published a story about her meeting with the IOC but made no mention of the allegations.

Hu Xijin is the editor of the Global Times newspaper. He claims that the world wouldn’t believe what Shuai is saying unless they are in line with the Western media who he accuses of trying to damage the reputation of his country. Hu is an influential political figure in his country, whose publications have been used to send messages to the outside world. He has also been accused by some of being a political propagandist for the community party.

“As long as what Peng Shuai said doesn’t accord with the expectation of the Western media, they won’t believe it. They only believe the story about China that they imagine. I’m surprised that they didn’t say the lady who showed up these two days is a fake Peng Shuai, a double,” Hu wrote on Twitter.
“For those who truly care about the safety of Peng Shuai, her appearances of these days are enough to relieve them or eliminate most of their worries. But for those aiming to attack China’s system and boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, facts, no matter how many, don’t work for them.” He later added.

Like all of the Chinese state-run media and their journalists, Hu has made no mention of the allegations concerning Mr Gaoli.

The WTA have said they are willing to withdraw tournaments from China if their concerns of Shuai’s welfare are not properly addressed.

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REPORT: China Censors Naomi Osaka’s Weibo Account Over Peng Shuai Support

It has emerged that followers are being prevented from commenting on her posts as the WTA warns China they are prepared to stop doing business with them if they can’t guarantee Shuai’s safety.

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Restrictions have been placed on the official Weibo account of former world No.1 Naomi Osaka after she posted a statement expressing concern about the whereabouts of Peng Shuai, according to a leading financial newspaper.

 

Nikkei Asia confirmed on Thursday that they have found ‘censoring activity’ on Osaka’s account less than 24 hours after she spoke out about her fellow tennis player. It is understood that comments have been disabled on her latest post even though it is unrelated to Shuai. Weibo is the main social media service in China which is used by millions every day but it is regulated by the country’s strict laws. Other sites such as Twitter is officially banned in the country.

In her post, Osaka wrote on Twitter that ‘censorship is never OK at any cost’ and that she hopes Shuai is safe. It has since been retweeted more than 19,000 times.

On November 2nd a post was uploaded on Shuai’s Weibo account in which she said she was pressured into sex by the former vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli, and she had an on-and-off affair with him over a intermittent period of 10 years. The post was removed less than an hour after it was uploaded but observers took screenshots of it which was then reposted online. Since then, Shuai hasn’t been heard of or seen in public.

There are now mounting concerns over Shuai’s current whereabouts after the international branch China’s state-broadcaster published a letter which they claimed the tennis star wrote to the WTA. The letter says that the tennis star denies making the accusations and she is not missing. However, Steve Simon, who is the head of the WTA, has expressed serious concerns about the authenticity of the letter.

“The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts,” Simon said in a statement. “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believe what is being attributed to her.”

In recent years China has been a crucial location for the WTA Tour and has generated millions in revenue for the sport. No tournaments have taken place in the country this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but 10 are expected to resume next year, including the prestigious WTA Finals. Nevertheless, the WTA has stated that they are prepared to cut ties with China if they can’t guarantee Shuai’s safety.

“If at the end of the day we don’t see the appropriate results from this, we would be prepared to take that step and not operate our business in China, if that’s what it came to,” Simon told The New York Times.

In 2014 Shuai became the first Chinese player in history to top the world rankings in doubles. During her career, she has won two major titles with Hsieh Su-wei and has been ranked as high as 14th in singles.

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Garbine Muguruza Beats Kontaveit To Win Season-Ending WTA Finals

Muguruza caps off what she describes as her ‘best year’ on the Tour by becoming the first Spanish woman to win the season-ending title.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider/

Garbine Muguruza is the 2021 WTA Finals champion after beating the world’s number eight Anett Kontaveit  6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 38 minutes in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

The Spaniard hit 16 winners while the Estonian hit 38 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth during both sets before the Caracas native was able to secure the win.

” I want to congratulate Anett (Kontaveit) on her amazing year and managing to qualify for the finals in the last event of the year,” Muguruza said during the trophy ceremony. ”I want to thank everyone who made this possible to play in Latin America and it was a dream come true to play”.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza got off to an aggressive start by looking for the early break in the first game of the match but the world number eight held her ground and managed to hold serve.

At 1-1, the Spaniard had three more chances to take the lead and she was able to break serve at the third time of asking but failed to consolidate it as Kontaveit broke right back the following game.

Once again at 3-3, it was the world number five who got another break and this was able to hold serve the following game. She then broke serve for a second time to take the first set.

The 28-year-old was put under pressure early in the second set and faced two early breakpoints at 1-1 but dug deep and saved both. At 3-3, it was Kontaveit’s turn to apply pressure, and this time she was able to get the break. The 25-year-old had a chance to serve out the second and force a deciding third set but cracked under the pressure as Muguruza broke right back to even the set at 5-5.

At 6-5, Muguruza found herself with three match points on her opponent’s serve and broke one last time to seal the victory and the title.

“I’m just very happy I proved to myself once again I can be the best, I can be the ‘maestra,’ like how we say in Spanish,” Muguruza said in press. “That puts me in a very good position for next year, a good ranking.”

Muguruza ends her season with three WTA titles to her name after triumphing in Dubai and Chicago earlier this year. Making it the first time in her career she has won a trio of WTA events within the same year. Overall, she has won 42 out of 69 matches played during 2021.

“Overall I think it’s the best year for me. I might not have won a Grand Slam, but I deeply feel like I’ve been happier and more stable, less dramatic, and in general very happy about it.” She concludes. 

The former world No.1 takes home a whopping 1.6 million dollars for winning the tournament and her ranking will go up to number three when the new world rankings come out on Monday.

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