‘Blessed’ Serena Williams Ready For Rogers Cup Return - UBITENNIS
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‘Blessed’ Serena Williams Ready For Rogers Cup Return

The former world No.1 on why she continues to play tennis and her earliest memory of the WTA Tour.

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Serena Williams at the 2019 Australian Open (photo @Sport Vision - Chryslène Caillaud)

A lot has changed for Serena Williams since she last played a competitive tennis match on Canadian soil.

 

Taking on Belinda Bencic in the quarter-finals of the 2015 Rogers Cup, she was edged out in three sets. Four years on, the former world No.1 is now married with a child and boasts a rapidly expanding business portfolio. All whilst continuing to play on the tour at the age of 37. Something many of her rivals is inspired by.

“I love my job, I love what I do and I say this all the time. I feel really blessed and fortunate to have my career.” The 23-time grand slam champion told reporters in Toronto on Sunday.
“It’s fun to be part of an elite group of people that can go out and play in front of an amazing crowd.’
“It’s not much incredibly longer that I am going to be able to do that. It’s just that there are not many people who can do that and I am proud to be part of it.”

Ironically, it was Canada, not America, where Williams kick-started her illustrious career. In 1995 she was granted a wild card into the qualifying draw for the Tournoi de Québec (known as the Bell Challenge back then). Her first taste of life on the WTA Tour at the age of 14 was a bitter one. Getting hammered 6-1, 6-1, by Anne Miller. It was a year-and-a-half before she played another event on the tour.

“All I remember was that I was incredibly nervous and I couldn’t believe that I was playing. I just couldn’t deal with the nerves, it was a lot for me.” She recounted. “I lost in like 30 minutes or something and I just needed to go home and get a lot better. Then when I came back I was more ready to play on the professional circuit.”

Over the past two decades, Williams has managed to develop into one of the most successful female tennis players of all time. Winning 72 WTA titles and spending 319 weeks as world No.1. Nevertheless, she is hungry to achieve more. At the Rogers Cup she is a three-time champion with her last triumph occuring back in 2013. Coincidentally, all of those three wins took place when the tournament was held in Toronto.

“I think whenever I come here I have so much fun. I love the city and know it really well.” Williams explained. “I’m always here a lot, even without the tournaments. I just love being here after so many years.”

Whilst there are many achievements in Williams career, since becoming a mother she has lacked silverware. Since returning in Match 2018, she is yet to win any tournament. Agonizingly settling for runner-up in three out of the past five grand slam tournaments. Including the recent Wimbledon Championships, where she was dismantled with ease by a sublime Simona Halep in the final.

Injury has partly paid a role in recent months. Issues concerning the knees and ankle have hindered her preparation on the court. However, Williams is confident that those problems are now a thing of the past.

“I’m feeling good my knee is much better since before Wimbledon. Now that that’s better I feel like I can start doing a lot better.” She concluded.

Williams is the eighth seed in this year’s Rogers Cup. Granted a first round bye, she will play her first match against either Elise Mertens or Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Williams’ press conference in full

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WTA Bronx: Camila Giorgi Set For Title Showdown With Magda Linette

Camila Giorgi has twice survived a third set tiebreak this week, and saved four match points just yesterday, but can she claim the title?

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In Friday’s semifinals, Giorgi faced the top seed and world No.18 Qiang Wang.  This match would see a ton of service breaks, with each set consisting of five or more.  They would split the first two sets by identical scores of 6-4. In the third, the 27-year-old from China served for the match at 5-4, and would hold a match point, but Giorgi would save it and break for 5-5.  Camila’s firepower allows her to dictate play more often than not, and she’s continually lifted her game at the right moments this week.

 

Giorgi would then garner a match point of her own on Wang’s serve at 6-5, but also failed to convert.  In the deciding tiebreak, Qiang gained the early mini-break on the first point with a backhand winner down the line.  But Camila would punish an extremely soft second serve and get the breaker right back on serve. Wang then took advantage of a Giorgi forehand clipping the net, giving her extra time to rip a forehand and regain the mini-break.  They switched sides with Wang leading 4-2.

A few Giorgi errors gave Wang three more match points 6-3, with two of them on Qiang’s serve.  But Wang’s forehand misfired on both of the match points on her serve, and then Giorgi would put away a backhand volley to level things at 6-6.  Camila would again strike some deep and powerful groundies when she needed them, granting herself a match point at 7-6 on Wang’s serve. And Wang would sail a backhand beyond the baseline, sending the 27-year-old Italian into tomorrow’s final in dramatic fashion.

It’s the second final in four weeks for Giorgi, who was stunned in the Washington final by a first-time WTA champion, Jessica Pegula.  Camila saw her ranking fall outside the top 50 last month when her Wimbledon quarterfinalist points from 2018 dropped off her 52-week tally, but she’ll return to the top 50 with today’s win.  In her career, Giorgi is 2-5 in WTA tournament finals, with her most recent title coming last October at the Linz Open.

On Saturday in the first Bronx Open singles final, she’ll face another 27-year-old in Magda Linette of Poland.  This is only Linette’s second WTA-level final in her career, with the last coming four years ago in Tokyo. She lost in that final to Yanina Wickmayer, so a win today would give Magda her first career singles title.  Linette had to qualify to get into this draw, meaning this will be her seventh match in nine days. On Friday, she ousted Katerina Siniakova in straight sets, a day after surviving a third set tiebreak of her own in the quarterfinals against Karolina Muchova.

As much tennis as Linette has played in the Bronx, she may be the fresher of the two finalists.  Giorgi’s semifinal was played later in the day on Friday, and lasted nearly three hours. In their only previous meeting, Giorgi prevailed in three sets, on a hard court in Linette’s home country four years ago.

The first Bronx Open doubles champions were crowned on Friday, with Darija Jurak and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez defeating Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu in a deciding 10-point tiebreak 10-7.  This is the first title for this team, which was formed just a few weeks ago in Canada.

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Chris Evert On Why Coco Gauff Winning The US Open May Not Be A Good Thing

The former world No.1 speaks out about the teenage tennis prodigy.

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Cori Gauff - Wimbledon 2019 (photo via Twitter, @Wimbledon)

At next week’s US Open, one of the talking points of the women’s draw will be rising star Coco Gauff who will be making her main draw debut at Flushing Meadows.

 

The 15-year-old tennis prodigy grabbed the attention of many during the Wimbledon Championships. It was at the event where she became the youngest player in the Open Era to successfully qualify. Then she stunned former world No.1 Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog en route to the fourth round. Where she lost to eventual champion Simona Halep.

Gauff’s rapid rise in the sport has caught the attention of both her rivals and sponsors. She already has deals with Barilla and New Balance. Amounting to an estimated $1 million, according to Forbes Magazine. Those brands will be hoping for the teenager to make another deep run at the final grand slam of the season. However, one former champion has warned against any potential success.

18-time grand slam champion Chris Evert is concerned that too much is happening to Gauff at a young age. Going as far as saying that success at the major event could be counterproductive. Gauff is currently ranked 141st in the world and is the youngest player in the top 500.

“I don’t know if it’d be necessarily great for her to win the Open.” Evert said during an interview with The New York Post.
“If she continues to play the way she is, have some big wins, still develop her game and be a normal 15-year-old with some semblance of privacy, then that’d be the most successful picture of her.’
“There’s no doubt there is Grand Slam potential in her, after watching her at Wimbledon. But I am very cautious because she is so young and so many things can happen between 15 and 20 (years old), mentally, physically, emotionally.”

Evert was 19 when she won her first major title at the 1974 French Open. In total she contested 34 grand slam finals over a 15-year period.

Earlier this week Gauff made an appearance at the Winston-Salem Open. A men’s tournament that is categorised as an ATP 250 event. She took to the court to play an exhibition match against world No.2 Ash Barty. Gauff edged out the reigning French Open champion 6-4, 2-6, [10-8].

“It was super fun. It’s different to kinda play in an atmosphere like that and not be in a tournament. It was cool to play with Ash and hopefully we can do it again sometime,” Gauff told reporters on Wednesday.
“I’m kind of sad to leave [Winston-Salem] because New York is busy but it was good to get the calm before the storm.”

Gauff will take on Russian world No.76 Anastasia Potapova in the first round of the US Open. There is a chance that she could play defending champion Naomi Osaka in the tournament if they both reach the third round.

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Bronx Open Recap: Siniakova Saves Match Points to Oust the Last American Standing

All four quarterfinals were decided on a busy day in the Bronx.

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The first quarterfinal saw Katerina Siniakova, the No.4 doubles player in the world, face American wild Bernarda Pera. Siniakova advanced to the round of 16 in singles earlier this year at Roland Garros, taking out world No.1 Naomi Osaka in straight sets along the way. Pera upset Wimbledon semifinalist Barbora Strycova here on Tuesday.

 

Both players became frustrated early on with close line calls, as well as a lack of net calls on serves. These players are accustomed to Hawkeye challenges and electronic net calls, but those technologies are not being utilized at this tournament. This has been the root of aggravation for players all week long. In the first set, Siniakova would say to the chair umpire, “We play four games and there’s already five mistakes.” While she couldn’t know this for sure, the lack of technology leaves doubt in players’ minds. It also requires chair umpires to assert themselves more so than is customary nowadays.

Siniakova went up a break in the first and had a point for a double break, but a controversial line call would turn the set around. Pera struck an inside-out forehand extremely tight to the sideline, which was called in, to Siniakova’s dismay. Pera would go on to hold and then break in the next game, evening the set. And some big forehand returns at 5-4 would earn the American a second consecutive break and the set.

From there Pera’s punishing ground game continued to open up, gaining her the early break in the second. But with the set and a break lead, Bernarda’s winners started to turn to errors, allowing Katerina to break right back. Both held their serves for the remainder of the set, setting up a pivotal tiebreak. And these two would slug it out in the breaker, with some long, grueling rallies. A costly Siniakova double fault gave Pera two match points at 6-4, which Katerina saved by forcing the action just enough to goad Pera into making errors. At 6-6, a backhand down-the-line winner granted Siniakova a set point on her serve, which she converted by moving Pera all around the court.

In the third, Siniakova’s superior court coverage would earn her a break and a 3-1 advantage. Katerina would face multiple break points in the next game, but held for 4-1. And unlike Pera, Siniakova would not give back the lead, and took the third set 6-3.

The next quarterfinal was a serving battle, which was refreshing in a week where matches have contained so many breaks of serve. The tenth seed Karolina Muchova and qualifier Magda Linette would play 34 games and two tiebreaks in their three-setter, with only one break in the entire match. The 27-year-old Linette of Poland would not only claim that sole break to give her the second set, but also prevail in the third set tiebreak. She’ll face Siniakova in tomorrow’s semifinals.

In other action, Camila Giorgi just crushed Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-1. The Italian will face the top seed Qiang Wang, who dropped the first set today to Anna Blinkova 6-0, but came back to claim victory in three.

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