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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Former No.1 Karolina Pliskova Hits Out At Men Worrying About Equal Pay In Tennis

The world No.4 explains why she personally doesn’t want equal pay on the tour, but criticises those who worry that women players might do so in the future.

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Czech tennis star Karolina Pliskova has labelled men who voice opposition against equal pay as ‘super weak’ as she becomes the latest player to throw her backing behind the possibility of a merger of the two premier tennis Tour’s.

 

Pliskova, who is a former US Open finalist, spoke out about the topic when questioned by the PA Press Agency. In recent weeks there has been growing calls for the ATP and WTA to be merged into one. Support for the idea gained momentum when Roger Federer tweeted his support for it. However the heads of the two governing bodies have already been in discussions about working closer together in some capacity since the start of this year.

Although the prospect of a merger remains low due to the complex process that it would involve, both the ATP and WTA have vowed greater collaboration to help enhance the future of the sport. One of the main talking points behind the calls is pay. There is equal prize money at all of the grand slams, however, it does differ behind the men and women on the Tour. Last year six men earned more than $7 million in prize money compared to one on the WTA Tour (Ash Barty).

Weighing in on the topic, Pliskova has interestingly said that she is not interested in campaigning for her to be paid similar to her male counterparts. Arguing that the two genders should not be compared. However, she has voiced her frustration at those who are against the concept of equal pay.

“I don’t think so and I am not the one who wants it. But I don’t like the men who are complaining that we would get the same money. I think it is super weak from them that they complain we have the same money as them,” she said.
“The only time it is true is at grand slams. I understand they play longer, but they are men. They are stronger than us. I don’t see the reason why we should compare each other. I don’t need to have the same prize money as men. But to have the same chance to play on centre court or to have the same chance to be on TV, that should be possible with these changes.”

As of March 20th Pliskova has made $19,997,689 in prize money throughout her career, which is the 19th highest tally in the history of women’s tennis.

Speaking more specifically about a possible merger, the 28-year-old believes it would help enhance the women’s tour. Although she is staying cautious about the prospect of such a thing happening in the future.

“I think for the women’s tour it can only help. I don’t know exactly what they are discussing but if there is any chance to say yes, then I would say yes,” Pliskova said.
“It needs to be positive also for the ATP so they need to find a balance so it is a forward step for both. It might take a couple of years to get going. It will be different, but I don’t think for the players it would change that much. It would be a good step.”

Pliskova is currently ranked third in the WTA rankings and has won 16 WTA titles. She is set to return to action next week at the LiveScore Cup in Prague.

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Injury Scare Fails To Derail Petra Kvitova From Winning ‘Bizarre’ All-Czech Tennis Event

The world No.12 speaks out about the unusual circumstances she was playing in earlier this week as she sheds light on a recent injury issue she has been dealing with.

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During what was meant to be the first week of the French Open Petra Kvitova is still winning matches albeit in very different circumstances.

 

With professional tennis still halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two-time Wimbledon champion was one of the headline acts at the CTS President’s Cup earlier this week. A Three-day event that features eight men and eight women taking part in a all-Czech tournament. Umpires and ball boys had to wear face masks and there was limited spacing for spectators to watch from the sidelines with organizers mindful of social distancing.

“The gloves, face masks, the fact nobody handed us the towels, no handshakes, that was definitely bizarre,” said Kvitova.
“And playing without people, the atmosphere was not exactly what we are used to.”

Despite the unusual circumstances, it failed to prevent Kvitova for winning the event on Thursday. During a rain-interrupted final she saw off Wimbledon quarter-finalist Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-3. Earlier in the event she also scored wins over former world No.1 doubles player Kateřina Siniaková (7-5, 6-4) and Barbora Krejčíková (7-6, 6-2).

The trio of victories came only days after there was concern if Kvitova would be able to play at all. Leading into the tournament the Czech started to feel pain in her forearm, but was later given the all clear by her doctor. Speaking to reporters, she said the pain she felt was similar to what occurred this time last year when she was forced to withdraw from the French Open.

“Two days before the start of the tournament, my forearm started to stiffen, similar to last year before the French Open,” the 30-year-old explained.
“That’s why I didn’t train on Monday. I was waiting for Mr. Kolář’s verdict, but he said that I would be able to do it (play) in some way.”

Now her first taste of competitive tennis in over three months has concluded, Kvitova has relished the experience. It is still unclear as to when the WTA Tour will resume. At present the suspension is until July 31st. In recent days both the US Open and French Open have said they are optimistic that their events will be able to go ahead later this year in some capacity.

“Given the circumstances and the pandemic, it was a wonderful tournament,” Kvitova stated.

Whilst officials ponder when to restart the sport, Kvitova plans to take some time resting her hand in order to prevent aggravating it further.

“I’ll definitely feel my hand for a few days now, but I’ll take time off, there’s no hurry,” she concluded.

In the men’s final world No.450 Michael Vrbensky, who shocked top seed Jiri Vesely in the first round, won the title.

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Ice Hockey Great Gretzky Heaps Praise On ‘Truly Remarkable’ Bianca Andreescu

The tennis star has been branded a ‘hero’ for children in Canada by one of her country’s sporting icons.

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Reigning US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has been praised for her work ethic by one of Canada’s greatest ice hockey players of all time.

 

Wayne Gretzky said he has been impressed with the world No.6 ever since watching her breakthrough run at the BNP Paribas Open last year. Where Andreescu defeated five seeded players en route to the title. At the time she was only able to enter the main draw of the event with the help of a wild card. Last year Andreescu scored eight wins over top 10 players and claimed three titles overall. Including her maiden grand slam at Flushing Meadows.

Speaking on Tennis United, Gretzy has hailed the 19-year-old for how she has been able to handle the pressure placed upon her at such a young age. Andreescu have already achieved a series of milestones for Canadian Tennis. Including being the first to win a grand slam title in singles and the highest ranked female player from Canada in WTA history.

“I remember watching her first match [at Indian Wells] and thinking that’s one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Gretzky.
“She went on to win the tournament and then, at the US Open, to play in front of all those fans and everyone cheering the American girl (Serena Williams) – and one of the greatest athletes of all time – was pretty special. My hat goes off to her for how she handled herself and how she handled the pressure.”

Gretzky is particularly impressed with how the tennis star has coped with life in the public eye and dealing with the media. Something he has plenty of experience in. Gretzky, who played in the NHL for 20 seasons, has been labelled as the “the greatest hockey player ever” by many pundits. The four-time Stanley Cup winner has scored 894 goals in the NHL which is 93 more than any other player in history.

“The thing that impressed me most about her – and I’ve said this to a lot of people – is not how good she is or how hard she works but how she handles herself with the media. She handled herself with such poise, she was so humble, so appreciative,” he said.
“I don’t think we could have a better hero in our country for young kids. She’s truly remarkable and deserves all the credit she’s getting.”

Andreescu hasn’t played a match since the WTA Finals last November due to a knee injury. She is set to return to action next month at a 16-player event set up in Charleston. The Credit One Bank Invitational, which is taking place during the Tour shutdown, will begin on June 23rd.

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