Carnage In Washington As Top Seeds Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys Crash Out - UBITENNIS
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Carnage In Washington As Top Seeds Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys Crash Out

It was a day to forget for two of America’s highest ranked women on Tuesday.

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Sloane Stephens - Madrid 2019 (foto via Twitter, @WTA)

Hopes of a home player winning the Citi Open on Tuesday took a huge blow after the top two American players suffered shock losses in their opening matches.

 

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens slumped to a 6-2, 7-5, loss to the Swedish world No.70 Rebecca Peterson. In total Stephens dropped her serve five times and failed to convert four out of her six break point opportunities. She has now lost her opening match in three out of the past five tournaments.

“I thought I could’ve played better,” Stephens said. “Obviously, it was hot. Tough conditions. But from here, only thing you can do is improve.”

Since winning the Citi Open back in 2015, Stephens has experienced a series of poor results at the tournament. She has now lost in the first round of Washington in three out of her past four appearances. The only exception was last year when she reached the second round. Despite those results, Stephens is keeping upbeat about her chances over the coming weeks heading into the US Open.

“I’ve tried to have a good attitude and let the chips fall where they may going forward,” the 26-year-old explained.
“We’re starting fresh. We’ve done pretty well. I need to have fun and enjoy what I’m doing.”

Peterson, who is yet to win a WTA title, has recorded her first ever win over a top 10 player on her ninth attempt. She will next play Italy’s Camila Giorgi for the chance to reach her second WTA quarter-final of the season after Rabat.

“I’m just really happy with the win and the way I just stick to every point, fought for every point that was out there,” Peterson told wtatennis.com.
“I was not thinking too far ahead or back – I was just staying in the moment and trying my best in every point.”

Another casualty on Tuesday was Madison Keys, who has now only won back-to-back matches in one out of her past five tournaments. The former grand slam finalist suffered a 7-6(4), 6-2, loss to Hailey Baptiste. A 17-year-old local wildcard who recorded her first ever main draw win on the tour. Keys called for a trainer twice during the second set due to a muscle spasm in her back.

“It felt really good,” world No.283 Baptiste said following her win. “Half of the match, I couldn’t really feel my legs. I don’t know, like, I really can’t describe what it felt like, but it was amazing. Having everybody in the crowd cheering for me, I knew every other person in the crowd, it felt really good.”
“I think my mind was really focused, and I didn’t let anything get to my head, and I just played my game and played within myself.”

Heading into the second round of the tournament there are four seeded players left in the draw this year. The highest of those being third seed Sofia Kenin, who is bidding to clench her third title of the season and first on American soil.

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Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova Hires Ex-Wimbledon Champion As Coach

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

Marie Bouzkova has enlisted the help of Gabine Muguruza’s former coach to help her crack the top 20 in the new year. 

 

The 25-year-old Czech has appointed Conchita Martinez as her new coach for the upcoming season. A former world No.2 player who won 33 WTA titles during her career, including the 1994 Wimbledon championships. After retirement, Martinez ventured into coaching with her most notable success being with Garbine Muguruza which earned her the honor of being named WTA Coach of The Year in 2021. She has also previously mentored Karoline Pliskova, captained her country’s Billie Jean King Cup team and most recently served as tournament director of the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

“Since February I have taken advantage of the time to rest, after some intense years of travelling. Now I have the energy to train again and enjoy my work. I am very happy to be able to contribute my experience again,” Martinez said during an interview with Eurosport Spain.
“Her (Bouzkova’s) agent contacted me to inquire about my availability and to ask if I wanted to train again. And now that we are at the end of the year and after evaluating everything, I have decided that it was a good time to return because I am excited about the project.”

Buzkova is a former US Open junior champion who is currently ranked 34th in the world. She has won one WTA title so far in her career which was at the 2022 Prague Open. She also reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2022 which is her best Grand Slam run to date. This season, Bouzkova was runner-up at a WTA 250 event in Nanchang, China and produced an overall win-loss record of 27-23.

Despite her success, Martinez believes Bouzkova has plenty of room for improvement in her game. 

“I love her because she is a very feisty and competitive player. She has many to continue growing and improving as a tennis player. She is very professional and is focused on her work 100%,” she commented.
“Honestly, I think it has a lot of room for improvement in many aspects. It is true that she is quite complete, but I would like to focus on her gradually playing more aggressively without losing her essence as a great fighter. I definitely think she has the potential to be high in the rankings, but it takes time to work on.”

Bouzkova is also an accomplished doubles player who is currently ranked in the world’s top 30. She has won five WTA doubles trophies with two of those triumphs occuring during 2023. 

The new tennis season begins in less than a month. 

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Emma Raducanu To Begin Comeback In Auckland

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu will end her eight-month absence from tennis at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, at the start of next year. 

 

The 21-year-old has been sidelined from the Tour since April after undergoing surgery to treat issues with both of her wrists, as well as one ankle. Raducanu hasn’t played a Tour-level match since the Porsche Open in Germany where she was beaten 6-2, 6-1, by Jelena Ostapenko in the first round. This year she has only managed to play in four tournaments with her best performance occurring at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells where she reached the fourth round. 

It will be the second year in a row that the Brit has opted to start her season in New Zealand. At the start of 2023, she won her opening match at the event but rolled her ankle in the process which forced her to withdraw from the tournament. 

Raducanu’s decision to play in Auckland comes as she faces the prospect of having to go through qualifying at the Australian Open. She has a protected ranking of 103 which is significantly higher than her current position of 296. However, she has not made the cut-off to play in the main draw. The only way she can enter the main draw will be with the help of a series of withdrawals, receiving a wildcard or playing three rounds of qualifying. 

Should she have to play qualifying at Melbourne Park, the event will follow immediately after the ASB Classic. The last time she took part in a Grand Slam qualifying draw was at the 2021 US Open where she stunned the field by going on to win the title in what remains her only WTA trophy to date. 

Raducanu, who has been ranked as high as 13th in the world, is understood to have been training at the National Tennis Center in recent weeks leading up to her return. It is still not known who will be coaching her in 2024 with the tennis player yet to comment on the topic.

The ASB Classic will begin on January 1st. 

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Hamad Medjedovic wins the Next Gen Finals title in Jeddah

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Hamad Medjedovic came back from one set down to beat Arthur Fils 3-4 (6-8) 4-1 4-2 3-4 (9-11) 4-1 after 2 hours and 11 minutes at the Next Gen ATP Finals at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah. 

 

Medjedovic hit 38 winners to 21 unforced errors. 

The first set went on serve en route to the tie-break. Medjedovic earned a mini-break to take a 3-2 lead and held two set points at 6-4, but he was not able to convert them. Fils won four consecutive points to win the tie-break 8-6. 

Medjedovic earned a break in the second game to win the second set 4-1. 

Medjedovic becomes the sixth Next Gen ATP Finals champion, joining top 10 players Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. The 20-year-old Serbian player is the lowest-ranked champion in tournament history. 

Medjedovic started the third set with an early break in the first game. The Serbian player held on his serve to seal the set 4-2. 

Medjedovic recovered from squandering two match points at 6-4 in a thrilling tie-break of the fourth set at 5-6 and 7-8. Fils saved both chances on second serves and won four of the next five points to win the tie-break 11-9 forcing the match to a deciding set. 

to win the first five-set final in tournament history. The Serbian player won 88% and converted his third match point to clinch the biggest title of his career so far. 

Medjedovic earned a break in the second game of the fifth set. Fils earned himself a penalty point for a smash of his raquet and went down 0-3. Medjedovic held on his next service games and converted his third match point. 

“Two of us from Serbia. Djokovic won the big Masters, the real one, and I won the Next Gen. Obviously it’s a huge thing and I am happy to follow in his footsteps in some way. I can’t believe I have won this title. It’s going to give me a lot of confidence for 2024. Arthur is an amazing player. He is top 40 for a reason”, said Medjedovic. 

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