Ashleigh Barty And Belinda Bencic Clinch Semi-Final Spots In Shenzhen - UBITENNIS
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Ashleigh Barty And Belinda Bencic Clinch Semi-Final Spots In Shenzhen

Barty advanced to the semi-finals of the WTA Finals with a straight-sets win over Kvitova, while Bencic progressed when Bertens retired.

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Ashleigh Barty (@thenewspick2 on Twitter)

Ashleigh Barty and Belinda Bencic progressed to the semi-finals at the WTA Finals in straightforward fashion on a day that could have been chaotic.

 

The Australian advanced first with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 win over Petra Kvitova. Then the Swiss won a tight first set 7-5 against Kiki Bertens before the Dutchwoman was forced to retire with a viral illness early in the second set.

It was a significant performance from Barty. The BT Sport commentators reported that she had seemed visibly unhappy during a practice session the day after her disappointing loss to Bertens, so she needed to bounce back in her final group match.

Pleasingly for the Australian and her team, that is exactly what she did. She executed her wide variety of skills to excellent effect and proved way too good for the obviously exhausted Kvitova on the day.

“(Because it was) my first time playing Petra indoors, I had to adjust and take some time to get used to her ball off the court and everything like that,” Barty said in her press conference.

“But I was particularly happy with the way I was able to return tonight. I think Petra changed her serving spots and I think she was trying to take a little bit more of a risk. That kind of worked in my favour a bit tonight, and I was really happy to nudge in front early in both sets and keep the foot down.”

Barty reflects on her brilliant 2o19

With the end of the season now just a few days away, the Australian reflected on her highly successful year.

“I think it’s incredible to have progressed from Zhuhai the last two years to be here playing singles in Shenzhen,” Barty said. “It’s very exciting. I’ve had a very consistent year across all surfaces, all throughout the year, which has been the most pleasing thing.”

She continued, “A goal of mine at the start of the year was to do well in the Grand Slams. I think I’ve done that much better this year. I made second week of every Grand Slam. That was a big bonus and a big push towards getting here in Shenzhen.”

WTA Finals appearance caps a superb year for Bencic

Belinda Bencic (@somostenisbr on Twitter)

Bencic has also enjoyed a fantastic year. She won Premier titles in Dubai and Moscow, reached her first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open and has reached one other final, three semi-finals and a quarter-final.

When she qualified for Shenzhen, the Swiss was ecstatic. She said that she was already delighted with how her year had gone and the chance to go to Shenzhen made it even sweeter. Now that she is through to the semi-final stage, it must feel like one bonus after another for her at the moment.

“It feels pretty amazing,” Bencic said. “I mean, especially after I made it at the last minute, now semi-final, through the group after I lost the first match. It feels very nice, I have to say. I’m super proud of the work my team and I did all year. So thanks to them, as well.”

She continued, “It was very nice to finally get this match, Bencic-Bertens, after such a fight (for the last qualifying spot) at the end of the season. Maybe her gas just really ran out.”

“It was a bit unfortunate. Obviously not the way I wanted to win, but I’m super proud of how I fought in that set. I was thinking if she wins the first set, maybe different story.”

Bencic added, “After I lost the first match here, I just wanted to kind of keep fighting, and you never know. There are people that made it to the semi-final when they won just one match. I was always thinking of those positives.”

“You always have to fight till the end. I think everyone is, like, exhausted and injured, all of that. I think now it’s all about the mental strength to go through all of this.”

Bencic relaxed ahead of Svitolina clash

While Barty has to wait until tomorrow to find out who she will play in the last four, Bencic already knows she will face Elina Svitolina, who will finish top of the Purple Group after she won both of her matches so far in straight sets.

“She’s one of the players that this court suits a lot, more the defensive ones,” the Swiss said. “Also she can turn around the rally and turn it into offense. I’m aware of that.”

“I think I’ll focus on my game. I’ve reached semi-finals. I’m so relaxed already really. I will just play and fight like always.”

As Bencic is already so happy with what she has achieved in 2019, there is definitely a sense that the pressure is off. However, if there was pressure, she could probably handle it.

“I feel really confident under pressure now somehow,” the World No.7 said. “It makes me really proud. Obviously everyone misses their chances sometimes, loses tough battles. For now I’m really happy it works out for me. I’m trying to be fearless on the court, not being afraid to lose but playing for a victory.”

She added, “I’m really proud already how I handled my nerves in Moscow because that was insane crazy. I was never so nervous in my life. Now, here, it just feels less. I feel like everything is going to feel less nerve-wrecking than Moscow.”

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Marcos Baghdatis Lands First Coaching Role With Top 10 Player

The recently retired tennis player has become the new mentor to one of the stars of women’s tennis.

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Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis is set to return to the tour five months after stepping away from the sport as a coach to the world No.6 player on the WTA Tour.

 

The Cypriot has been appointed to the team of Elina Svitolina with immediate effect. In his new role Baghdatis will be working alongside Svitolina’s current coach Andrew Bettles in what will be his first ever role as a mentor on the professional tour.

“I am so glad to announce the next chapter of my life and look forward to coaching a great athlete and super tennis player, No.6 ranked WTA player Elina Svitolina, working alongside Andre Bettles! I want to thank Elina for putting her trust in me. Let’s do this! Bring it on 2020,” he said on Twitter.

During his career, Baghdatis won four ATP titles and peaked at a high of eighth in the world rankings. Finishing each year inside the world’s top 100 between 2005-2016. He officially retired from tennis during Wimbledon at the age of 34.

Svitolina will be hoping that her new appointment sends her in the right direction following what has been a mixed year. The Ukranian won 39 out of 61 matches played in 2019 and reached the semi-finals of two grand slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the US Open). However, she has failed to win any WTA titles. Making it the first season she has done so since 2012.

“I’m very excited to announce this news and I’m confident his strong experience will add value to my game.” Svitolina wrote on Instagram.
“With such a great coaching team, I have set high objectives for 2020.”

Svitolina will kick-off her 2020 campaign in Australia at the Brisbane International. As well as bidding to win her first grand slam title, the 25-year-old will be hoping to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Caroline Wozniacki To Face Serena Williams In Farewell Match

Details have been released about a special event that will take place in honour of the former world No.1.

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After announcing her retirement from tennis at the start of next year, Caroline Wozniacki has confirmed that she will play one final match in her home country before hanging up her racket for good.

 

Danish media have reported that the 2018 Australian Open champion will play at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen next May. A multi-purpose arena that can hold a capacity of up to 12,500 people for sporting events. Described by the promoters as Wozniacki’s ‘final match’ on Danish soil, she will play against rival and friend Serena Williams.

“The time has come when I stop my career and I am very much looking forward to playing my very last home game in front of such a large audience. It will be something very special and a day I really look forward to.” Wozniacki told tv2.dk.
“The end point of my career cannot be better than at home and against tennis’ greatest female player ever. It’s going to be a magnificent night I’ll never forget, I’m sure.” She added.

Wozniacki has played Williams 11 times on the WTA Tour, but has only won one of their meetings. Which was at the 2012 Miami Open. It is not the first time the two have played an exhibition match against each other. In 2016 Williams won their encounter in Madison Square Garden, New York. Meanwhile, last year Wozniacki also played Williams’ sister Venus in Denmark to mark her triumph at the Australian Open.

The 29-year-old will be hoping that the upcoming showdown will be the perfect send off as she exits the sport. During her career, Wozniacki has won 30 WTA titles and spent 71 weeks as world No.1. She has also won 432 hard court matches, which is more than any other non-American player on the women’s tour.

“I want to thank everyone for the incredible support they have shown me throughout my career and I hope that as many people as possible want to come and give me perfect send off. I would be very grateful for that.” She said.

The farewell match will take place on May 18th, which is exactly a week before the start of the French Open for Williams.

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Bianca Andreescu Rewrites History As She Is Named Canadian Athlete of The Year

The world No.5 has achieved another milestone in her blossoming career.

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Tennis sensation Bianca Andreescu has capped off her breakthrough season by winning the most prestigious sporting prize of her country.

 

The 19-year-old has become the first tennis player is history to win the Lou Marsh Trophy. An honour that has been awarded to Canada’s top athlete each year since 1936. Andreescu was unanimously selected to receive the trophy by a panel of 24 top sports media members. Fending off competition from Brooke Henderson (golf), Jordan Binnington (ice hockey), Andre De Grasse (athletics) and Mike Soroka (baseball).

“Wow, I’m so thankful for this award. I was not expecting it and to be the first tennis player to win is even more surreal,” Andreescu said.
“None of my success this year would have been possible without the support from all of Canada. Canadian sports crushed it this year so there are definitely many other athletes who deserve a piece of this award as well — we all motivate each other to be better.’
“I can’t wait for what 2020 will bring and am always proud to represent Canada at the highest level.”

Andresscu’s latest milestone is one that surprised few. In September moguls skier Mikael Kingsbury, who won the trophy in 2018, said to Andreescu on Twitter ‘anytime you want to come take the #LouMarsh I have it in Montreal… it’s all yours now.’

This season Andreescu has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the world of tennis. Highlighted by a win-loss record of 48-7. Starting 2019 outside the top 100 with less than $200,000 in career earnings, she has rocketed up the rankings. She won her maiden WTA title in Indian Wells, followed by the Rogers Cup a few months later. However, her biggest achievement took place at the US Open when she defeated Serena Williams to win the US Open. Becoming the first Canadian in history to win a grand slam singles title.

As a result of her breakout, Andreescu has made $6,504,150 in prize money this season. The 10th highest by a player (man or woman) in 2019. An impressive achievement for the Canadian, who at one stage could only play one match during a four-month period due to injury.

Andreescu will start her 2020 campaign in New Zealand at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Andreescu’s season review

January
– Reaches the final of the ASB Classic as a qualifier. Defeating Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams en route.
– At the Australian Open Andreescu eases through qualifying without dropping a set. After winning her first main draw match, she lost in round 2 to Anastasija Sevastova.
– Caps off the month by winning a WTA 125 title in Newport Beach, California.

February
– Wins both her matches in Canada’s Fed Cup clash with the Netherlands
– Towards the end of the month she reached the semi-finals of the Acapulco Open before losing to Sofia Kenin.

March
– Stuns the tour by winning the BNP Paribas Open as a wild card to claim her first WTA title.
– Follows up Indian Wells by reaching the fourth round in Miami.

April – played no events due to injury

May
– Could only play one match at the French Open, which she won, before withdrawing from the tournament injured.

June & July – missed due to injury

August
– On a comeback from injury she became the first Canadian player in 50 years to win the Rogers Cup. The biggest tennis tournament in her country.

September
– Claims her first grand slam title at the US Open by defeating Serena Williams in straight sets.

October
– Reaches the quarter-finals of the China Open before losing in a three-set thriller to Naomi Osaka.
– Made her debut at the WTA Finals. Lost her opening match to Simona Halep and then retired during her her second against Karolina Pliskova due to injury.

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