Withdrawal Of Petra Kvitova Leaves Birmingham Draw Wide Open - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

WTA

Withdrawal Of Petra Kvitova Leaves Birmingham Draw Wide Open

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty and World No.3 Karolina Pliskova are the favourites for the title after Kvitova was forced to withdraw.

Avatar

Published

on

Petra Kvitova (@AustralianOpen on Twitter)

Petra Kvitova dominated proceedings at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham in 2017 and 2018. She won the title both years and only lost one set on each occasion.

 

Some of the Czech’s tennis was breathtaking to watch. Those who saw it understood exactly why she is a two-time Wimbledon champion.

Unfortunately for Kvitova, she will not get the chance to win the event for a third consecutive year. She has been forced to pull out due to the left forearm injury she suffered while training for the French Open.

The World’s Best go to Birmingham

Karolina Pliskova (@rolandgarros on Twitter)

The absence of Kvitova provides a fantastic opportunity for one of the three highest-ranked players in the world, Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova, to win in Birmingham for the first time.

Based on recent form, 2017 finalist Pliskova and 2015 finalist Barty are the favourites for the title.

The Australian played the best tennis of her life so far to claim her first Grand Slam crown at the French Open, so she will be feeling on top of the world when she takes to the court in Birmingham.

However, Barty has a very tricky first round match to contend with. She faces Donna Vekic, the ever-improving Croatian who will play in the Nottingham final tomorrow.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter. Both players love grass and have games that are well-suited to the surface and both are enjoying excellent years.

The danger for the newly-installed World No.2 is that she is yet to play on grass, while Vekic has played a one-and-a-half during a rain-ravaged week at the Nature Valley Open.

Pliskova has a much easier task. She will take on Mihaela Buzarnescu, whose form in 2019 has been terrible. The Romanian has won just eight matches and lost 19.

While Osaka is also a possible winner, she has endured a patchy spell of results since her Australian Open triumph. She recently admitted that she is feeling the pressure as she tries to hold onto her No.1 ranking.

To make matters worse for the Japanese player, she has a challenging first round opponent in the shape of Maria Sakkari, so she will need to perform well from the start. If she gets past the Greek, her next major hurdle is likely to be 8th seed Julia Goerges in the quarter-final.

Konta leads the way among other contenders

Johanna Konta (@rolandgarros on Twitter)

There are also several other players who have a good chance of taking home the trophy. Johanna Konta is superb on grass and high on confidence after her brilliant clay swing. Elina Svitolina is the World No.7 and can never be discounted – despite her poor record on grass. Aryna Sabalenka got to the Eastbourne final last year and can trouble almost anyone if she plays well. And Vekic will be a major threat if she knocks out Barty.

Keys and Muguruza miss out due to injury

Unfortunately for the tournament, Kvitova is not the only Birmingham regular who has withdrawn. 2016 champion Madison Keys is struggling with an injury and has chosen not to travel, while 2017 semi-finalist Garbine Muguruza has also pulled out due to a leg injury.

Despite these setbacks, it is a very strong field at the Nature Valley Classic, and it has been supplemented by Venus Williams’ decision to take part for the first time.

[Also published on womenssporthub.com]

Latest news

Dayana Yastremska Heads To Australia Despite Doping Violation

Did the 20-year-old break the rules with her trip?

Avatar

Published

on

Tennis Australia says they are ‘investigating’ after it emerged that Dayana Yastremska boarded a plane funded by the governing body despite failing a drugs test.

 

Last week the International Tennis Federation issued a statement confirming that the Ukrainian tennis star has been issued with a provisional suspension after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone metabolite. An anabolic agent prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency which can be used for the treatment of people with low testosterone. Yastremska was pictured boarding a plane to Australia on Thursday in a post uploaded by two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova which has since been deleted.

Yastremska has denied any wrongdoing and says she has ‘scientific evidence’ that her positive test was a result of contamination. Although she didn’t elaborate any further as to what that evidence is. The world No.29 has the right to appeal her provisional suspension but according to the latest ITF statement she hasn’t done so. One way her ban can be lifted is if the appeals board accepts her contamination argument which would allow her to play right away.

“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine,” Yastremska wrote in a statement. “Given that low concentration and my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.”

Despite Yastremska’s plea, it is unclear as to if she or Tennis Australia has broken any rules. As of January 15h the ITF still lists her as a player who is provisionally suspended from the sport. Richard Ings, who is the former chair of the Australian anti-doping agency, points out that suspended players are not allowed to participate in any activity organised by a tournament. Raising questions as to if a Tennis Australia funded plane journey counts as one of these ‘activities.’

Yastremska is currently on the Australian Open entry list and is set to be allowed to train during her 14-day quarantine like other players unless anything changes. Tennis Australia has not made a public statement but news agency AAP has confirmed that an investigation has been launched. Should it turn out that the 20-year-old is ineligible to play, it is unclear if she would be required to pay back the cost of her plane trip.

The Australian Open starts on February 8th.

Continue Reading

Latest news

Madison Keys latest player to test positive for Coronavirus

Madison Keys ruled out of the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

Avatar

Published

on

Madison Keys (@SporArena - Twitter)

The American tested positive for the first time and will miss the first grand slam of the year.

Madison Keys has officially tested positive for the coronavirus. She announced the news on social media and says she will, unfortunately, miss the Australian Open.

 

Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I, unfortunately, tested positive for Covid-19 before I was suppose to fly to Australia. I’m very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen.

I am self isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to be back on tour next month.

“Thank you for all your support.

Stay Healthy and safe.

Madison

Keys is the latest player to have tested positive after Andy Murray revealed he had a positive test while Tennys Sandgren had tested positive but was given the green light to travel.

Two players in men’s qualifying in Doha tested positive and were immediatly removed from the draw. Apparently if you test positive for the first time you are not allowed to travel but if you already tested positive and show no symptoms there is a chance you will continue to test positive before the effects go away.

Players are traveling this week to Australia and will be mandated to follow the 14 day quarantine with the exception of training five hours a day. The Australian Open begins on February 8th.

While most players will be quarantining in Melbourne both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have confirmed they will do their quarantine in Adelaide.

Continue Reading

Focus

Unstoppable Aryna Sabalenka Storms To Abu Dhabi Title

Another clinical performance has secured the Belarusian her third consecutive title and a new career-high ranking position.

Avatar

Published

on

Aryna Sabalenka’s winning run shows no signs of stopping anytime soon after she powered her way to the Abu Dhabi title on Wednesday.

 

The fourth seed needed just over an hour to defeat Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2, in what was a largely one-sided encounter in the Middle East. Sabalenka utilized her power to her advantage as she fired five aces and 18 winners past her opponent who was playing in her first WTA final at the age of 23. Overall she won almost twice as many points (63-37) than Kudermetova.

With both players holding their ground early on, Sabalenka started to dominate midway through the opening set with the help of a four-game winning streak. Leading 3-2 on serve, she broke her Russian rival twice in a row to clinch the 6-2 lead. Throughout the opener the world No.10 dropped just five points behind her serve.

It was a familiar pattern in the second frame with Sabalenka continuing to dismantle Kudermetova’s fragile serve. Overall, she broke six consecutive times in the final with four of those occurring in the second set alone. Easing to a game away from victory, she did experience a blunder after losing one of her breaks. However, there would be no chance of a Kudermetova comeback as Sabalenka closed out the match in the following game with her rival hitting a forehand error on match point.

“I’m really proud of the fact that I was fighting no matter what this week,” the new champion reflected on her performance. “Some matches I didn’t feel my serve and some matches I didn’t feel my backhand or forehand, but I just kept fighting and finding my shots, and this is what I’m really proud of. I’m really happy with this title.”

The win extends Sabalenka’s unbeaten run on the Tour to 15 wins. She has now won three titles in a row after ending 2020 triumphing in both Ostrava and Linz. As a result of her latest triumph, Sabalenka will rise to a ranking high of seventh in the world on Monday.

There is also a silver lining for underdog Kudermetova who defeated Elina Svitolina and Marta Kostyuk earlier in the tournament. Her run to the final will move her up the rankings to a career high of 36th. She has already scored five wins over top 10 opponents so far in her career.

“Aryna’s playing good. She played unbelievable today,” Kudermetova said. “She didn’t give me a lot of chances. She tried to keep every ball on the court, she tried to attack, and when she had her chances she went full power on the court. She also fights until the end—that’s why she’s a top player.”

Sabalenka’s surge on the Tour has sparked high expectations for her going into the Australian Open where she is hoping to break new ground in a Grand Slam.

“I was doing everything I could in each match from the beginning (in Abu Dhabi) and I’m happy to start the season with a title,” Sabalenka said. “I’m going to Australia, I’m confident with one thing, that I will do everything I can to win matches.”

Despite her success on the WTA Tour, she has only reached the fourth round of a major once at the 2018 US Open.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending