With End Of Season Goal Achieved, Karolina Pliskova Targets Stress-Free Asian Swing - UBITENNIS
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With End Of Season Goal Achieved, Karolina Pliskova Targets Stress-Free Asian Swing

The world No.2 finds herself in a different situation compared to that of 12 months ago.

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The last quarter of the tennis season is usually a time where the world’s top players are fighting it out to secure a place at the extravagant WTA Finals. However, Karolina Pliskova is one of the lucky ones who has already sealed a spot in the event.

 

The 27-year-old enters the Asian swing of the tour with a win-loss record of 49-13 (including the Fed Cup) this year. During that period, she has won titles in Brisbane, Rome, Eastbourne and Zhengzhou. Making it her best-ever season on the WTA Tour in terms of trophies won. In the majors her best run was to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Technically, Pliskova could not win another match for the rest of the year and still play at the WTA Finals, which has moved to the Chinese city of Shenzhen for the first time. However, she has no intention of doing that. She is seeded second in this week’s Wuhan Open. A tournament where she has reached the quarter-finals in two out of the past four years.

“I think the pressure kind of helped me to stay close and play just good tennis because I won the title in Tokyo because I kind of had to, because otherwise I would not qualify.” wtatennis.com quoted the world No.2 as saying.
“So let’s see without the pressure if I can do also good or maybe better than last year. Last year actually these two tournaments were quite tough for me. I didn’t play well. Of course, I feel totally relaxed now. There is nothing I would be stressed about. Shenzhen was my goal, and I’m there.”

Leading up to Wuhan, Pliskova stopped off in Korea. Playing in the doubles tournament alongside her twin sister Kristyna. A former world No.4 junior player who is yet to crack the top 50 on the professional tour. It was at the event where Pliskova also acted as a coach for Kristyna in the singles competition where she lost in the second round.

“It was quite fun. Korea was nice. I won there, I think five or six years ago.” She said. “I hadn’t gone back since I won. It was nice just to be there a couple of days. My father was there with Kristyna. I did this coaching, so at least I did something different. It didn’t help much.”

Pliskova will not have an easy start to her Wuhan campaign on Tuesday. Awaiting her will be Amanda Anisimova, who reached the semi-finals of the French Open in June. Anisimova edged out Sam Stosur in the first round in what was her first competitive match since the death of her father.

“I’m really happy to be back… I’m just focusing on having fun this tournament. I really don’t have any expectations for myself,” the 18-year-old told reporters on Monday.

Only once this year has Pliskova lost her opening match at a tournament. That was back in April at the Stuttgart Open in Germany.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova Becomes Latest Grand Slam Winner To Skip US Open Over Virus Fears

Nine top 40 players on the WTA Tour have now pulled out of the Grand Slam.

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This year’s US Open has taken another blow with their 2004 women’s champion pulling out of the event due to what she describes as an ‘unfavourable situation.’

 

Svetlana Kuznetsova has become the latest figure in the sport to pull out of the New York major amid concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic in America. The country has recently seen a spike in cases but in New York itself the levels haven’t been as high. Although officials at the tournament are taking no chances with fans being banned for attending for the first time in history and players are being kept in what is being described as a ‘bubble.’

Despite assurances from the United States Tennis Association, who runs the US Open, Kuznetsova still has her concerns. In a statement published on her Instagram account, the Russian said the pandemic has made it too complex for her to travel to the region. Citing the restrictions placed on players with how many members of their team they are allowed to bring with them.

Due to an unfavourable situation caused by coronavirus, and therefore the inability get together all my team I made a difficult decision to refuse to participate in Cincinnati and the US Open,” the world No.32 wrote.
“I feel very sad, because I have been waited for these tournaments so much, but the pandemic changes all plans.’
“I hope the situation will be more positive by the next tournaments.”

It will be only the second time Kuznetsova has missed the US Open since making her main draw debut back in 2002. She also missed the 2012 event due to a knee injury. Overall, she won 35 out of 51 matches played in Flushing Meadows.

Another player skipping the event is Barbora Strycova, who is currently playing in the Prague Open. The Czech is a two-time doubles semi-finalist at the US Open with her best run in the singles being to the third round.

Following the latest developments, nine players out of the current top 40 on the women’s Tour have officially pulled out of the US Open. Including top 10 players Ash Barty (No.1), Elina Svitoliva (No.5) and Kiki Bertens (No.7). Meanwhile, Simona Halep is yet to make a final decision about her plans.

There are also notable absences in the men’s field with reigning champion Rafael Nadal and former winner Stan Wawrinka both opting to miss the event due to concerns related to COVID-19. Novak Djokovic is also yet to confirm is he will play or not.

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

List of women’s singles player withdrawals (as of 10/8/20)

1 Ash Barty AUS
5 Elina Svitolina UKR
7 Kiki Bertens NED
29 Qiang Wang CHN
30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS
31 Barbora Strycova CZE
32 Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS
34 Saisai Zheng CHN
38 Julia Goerges GER
74 Lin Zhu CHN
85 Anastasia Potapova RUS
92 Ana Bogdan ROM
97 Sam Stosur AUS
103 Shuai Peng CHN
108 Xiyu Wang CHN
118 Barbora Krejcikova CZE

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Eugenie Bouchard wins her first clay match since 2018 in Prague

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Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard won her first clay match since Gstaad 2018 by beating number 8 seed Veronika Kudemertova 6-0 6-3 in the first round at the Prague Open. 

 

Bouchard broke three times in a row to take a bagel win in the first set in half an hour, although four of the six games went to deuce. 

Bouchard saved a break point in the first game to hold her serve at deuce and earned her only break to win the second set 6-3. 

“I feel like that the first set was tough in almost every game. It’s not like it was a walk in the park. I am proud of myself for battling in every single game. It ended up going my way most of the time. I stayed on every point and did not make too many loose errors. I played solid and aggressive, which is what I try to aim for. My rhythm was off on my serve in the first set, so I need to look at that. I felt better with it in the second set, so I am happy I could find a solution. It’s hard to know what to expect. I have not played a real match since January. I have played a couple of exhibitions, which helped a lot, but it’s still different. It’s not a real tournament. I did not set any expectations”, said Bouchard. 

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Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans

The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.

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World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.

 

The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.

Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”

It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.

“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.

Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.

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