Once Again Serena Williams Is On The Brink Of History At The US Open - UBITENNIS
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Once Again Serena Williams Is On The Brink Of History At The US Open

The former world No.1 speaks out about her ‘crazy’ journey to yet another major final.

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Serena Williams (picture from Twitter @USOpen)

It is just a single win that separates Serena Williams from matching Margaret Court’s all-time grand slam record.

 

The 37-year-old illustrated why she is still a formidable force on the women’s tour after brushing aside Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1, in the semifinals of the US Open. Whilst she admits that it wasn’t her best performance, the American still managed to drop only four points behind her first serve as she hit 34 winners to 20 unforced errors. More crucial was her ability to save all of the six break points she faced against Svitolina.

“To be in yet another final, it seems honestly crazy. But I don’t really expect too much less.” Said Williams.
“I think today was solid. It definitely wasn’t my best tennis. It’s interesting that she (Svitolina) knows that.’
“She’s a super professional to know that. She probably could have played better, as well. I definitely know I could have played better.”

21 years have passed since Williams made her debut at Flushing Meadows back in 1998. She finds herself in a somewhat different scenario compared to then. Now married with a child, her on-court battles have been well documented. Since returning to the tour after giving birth back in September 2017, she has failed to win a single title. Settling for runner-up at three major tournaments.

Yet this time round, the feeling is different for Williams. After experiencing a season marred my numerous injury issues, she feels that the stars are starting to align for her. Something she puts down to her training prior to New York.

“I felt more prepared this tournament. Wimbledon, I probably had a week to prepare, so that was amazing. Australia, I was super prepared. I did great, then rolled my ankle. I shouldn’t have even played the French Open. That was just a bonus just to compete in another Grand Slam.” She reflected.
“I just feel like I actually had time to train. I trained more for — I joked I trained more for Canada than I did for any other tournament this year, which was kind of funny.’
“I just had a really tough year with injuries, mostly bad luck. I just needed to get injury-free.”

Should Williams prevail in the final it would rewrite the tennis history books. She would overtake Chris Evert to become the most successful woman in US Open history with 102 match wins. Furthermore, she would finally draw level with Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slam singles titles. It is Court’s milestone that has been the constant measuring stick used by the media for Williams.

“I definitely would still be playing if I had already passed it. I’ve had so many chances to pass it and to have a lot more, but it’s cool because I’m playing in an era with so many — five eras with so many amazing players (smiling).” She commented about the prospect of major title No.24.
“If you look at the span of the career, the players I’ve played, it’s amazing that I was able to get this many.”

Standing in the way of Williams’ first trophy of any sort since the 2017 Australian Open will be rising star Bianca Andreecu. Who defeated Belinda Bencic in straight sets in her semi-final match. The Canadian has been a revelation this year after triumphing in Indian Wells and at the Rogers Cup. Against top 10 opposition she has won all seven meetings.

“She’s a great player. She mixes things up. You never know what is going to come from her. She does everything else. She serves well, moves well, has a ton of power. She’s very exciting to watch. It’s good. I think it’s great for women’s tennis.” Williams said of the 19-year-old.

The two previously clashed before, but that encounter came to an abrupt halt. Facing each other in the final of the Rogers Cup, Williams had to retire after 19 minutes of play due to injury.

The upcoming final will be Williams’ 33rd at a grand slam. This year marks the 20th anniversary of her first back in 1999.

 

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French Open Finalist Marketa Vondrousova Undergoes Surgery

It is a premature end to what has been a breakthrough season for the Czech.

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Czech rising star Marketa Vondrousova will miss the rest of the season after undergoing an operation on her left wrist.

 

The 20-year-old made the announcement on her Instagram account where she uploaded a picture of herself after undergoing the procedure. Vondrousova hasn’t played a match on the tour since Wimbledon, where she first sustained the injury. According to Czech media, she received treatment at the same facility which Petra Kvitova attended following a knife attack that severely injured her playing hand.

“For two months I tried to treat my wrist conservatively and tried everything possible. Unfortunately, nothing led to a significant improvement. That is why I decided on this solution, which should relieve me of my pain for good,” Vondrousova said is a statement issued by her team.
“Unfortunately for me, 2019 ended earlier than I wanted. I can’t wait to play back on the courts without pain anymore, she added.

The premature end draws the curtain on what has been a breakthrough season for Vondrousova. At the French Open she defeated Petra Martic and Johanna Konta en route to the final. Becoming the youngest player to do so at the tournament since Ana Ivanovic back in 2007. She was denied the title by Ash Barty, who prevailed in straight sets.

Yet to win a title, Vondrousova has managed to remain consistent on the tour by reaching the quarter-finals or better at six consecutive tournaments between February and June. Including the final of the Budapest Open. During that time, she managed to score two wins over Simona Halep. The highest ranked player she has defeated so far in her career.

Vondrousova is currently ranked 22nd in the world. She ends the season with a win-loss record of 29-9.

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‘Relaxed’ Su-Wei Hsieh Saves Match Point To Oust Muguruza In Osaka

Su-Wei Hsieh saved match point to eliminate Garbine Muguruza from the premier-level tournament in Osaka.

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Su-Wei Hsieh (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

Su-Wei Hsieh was in a relaxed mood as she saved match point to edge out Garbine Muguruza 3-6 7-6(1) 6-1 in Osaka. 

 

The Wimbledon doubles champion claimed her second straight win over the Spaniard having saved match point in the contest.

After winning a tight second set, Hsieh cruised through the deciding set to secure a spot in the second round against Elise Mertens.

Even though this final part of the season can prove quite tiring, Hsieh is approaching in a more relaxed manner, “I know that anything can happen because this is almost the end of the year,” Hsieh said to the press after the win.

“I just want to be more relaxed, going more to my game. Sometimes I lose a little bit of rhythm at the beginning, so I just need to play more games to get the rhythm.

“In the second set, I felt a little bit more rhythm, and more stable myself, my personal style. It helped me a lot to get into the match and to get more game.”

As for Muguruza, this loss would have hurt her confidence a lot having not won a WTA match since June and her ranking slowly falling by the week.

Next for Hsieh will be US Open doubles champion Elise Mertens, where they have split their opening two meetings which came last season.

In other results today there were comfortable wins for Madison Keys and US Open quarter-finalist Donna Vekic over Daria Kasatkina and Caroline Garcia respectively.

Here is the second round line-up, which matches will be played across Wednesday and Thursday:

Naomi Osaka (1) v Viktoriya Tomova – Wednesday

Varvara Flink v Yulia Putintseva – Thursday

Sloane Stephens (3) v Camila Giorgi – Thursday

Su-Wei Hsieh v Elise Mertens (9) – Wednesday

Madison Keys (5) v Zarina Diyas – Wednesday

Nicole Gibbs v Angelique Kerber (4) – Wednesday

Donna Vekic (7) v Misaki Doi – Thursday

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Kiki Bertens (2) – Thursday

 

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Despite New WTA Guidelines, Could Kim Clijsters’ Return Be Marred By Aberration?

Kim Clijsters will not have any restriction in the number of wildcards she receives. But she also deserves more in her upcoming third stint on the Tour

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Kim Clijsters, 2010 US Open, US Open
Photo Credit: WTA Tennis/Getty

By the time, Kim Clijsters makes her return to professional tennis in 2020, around eight years will have passed since her second retirement from the WTA Tour. In this near-about octet of years, there have been several changes on the Tour, especially for those women attempting a return post maternity. But where does the 36-year-old stand amid these alterations?

 

The Belgian was one of the earlier trendsetters – of this decade – to resume her professional activity after becoming a mother for the first time. In 2009, when she returned during the American hard-court summer, the subject never gained as much traction as it did when Williams returned to the game, in 2018 after her pregnancy hiatus in 2017.

Clijsters’ win at the US Open that year – the first for an unseeded player – stifled the mushrooming of any possible avenues of such ranking tweaks back then. Over the next couple of years, as Clijsters ascended in the rankings boosted by her performances, including re-attaining her career-high of no. 1, the topic became moot.

Now, after all these years, in spite of the WTA bringing in modifications to its rules – by way of provision of special ranking to women re-joining the Tour after motherhood, among other factors – Clijsters’ continues to remain an outlying scenario. The obvious reason for this is the lapsing of time of the four-time Major champion’s returning to pro tennis. According to the new rules, a player who is out of the Tour on account of pregnancy must make a comeback within three years after her child’s birth, at most.

Her previous successes and titles ensure Clijsters will never lack for wildcards from tournaments, as per the WTA regulations. However, the question stemming here is should an exception be made for the former world no. 1 vis-à-vis the special ranking while overlooking the passing of years?

When announcing her imminent return to the Pro Tour on the WTA Insider podcast, Clijsters mentioned about challenging herself. “I don’t feel like I want to prove something. I think for me it’s the challenge…,” she said.

“The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women’s sports in the world. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I’m saying, ‘OK, let’s try this’.”

Clijsters’ path to trying this while taking it on as a challenge need not come at a cost of her being immediately pushed off the deep end in terms of encountering a higher-seeded opponent. The present state of the WTA would make it for an interesting match-up – whenever it happens – but it would also be akin to defeating the purpose underlining her return, regardless of how confident the 2011 Australian Open champion is with her timing.

The norms, too, could be nudged into further relooking easing them towards a player’s preference in ascertaining her post-childbirth return instead of clubbing them, at large. After all, as significant as Williams’ laurels were to usher in changes, Clijsters’ stunner yet again proves the variety that exists in women’s decision-making.

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