Fifteen year-old US rising star Coco Gauff claimed the maiden WTA title of her career beating former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 1-6 6-2 in the final of the Upper Austria Ladies in Linz (Austria).
Gauff crowned a remarkable week, in which she came back from losing the final qualifying round to win the first title of her carerer as a lucky loser. Earlier this week the US teenager claimed her first-ever top 10 win over Dutch star Kiki Bertens in her first WTA quarter final.
Gauff saved two break points in her opening service game, before breaking serve in the third game. She consolidated the break with an ace to open up a 3-0 lead. Ostapenko won her first game with a backhand down the line. Gauff did not face any more break points in the next games and earned a set point at 5-3 with an ace and hit a backhand slice to close out the opening set.
Ostapenko saved a break point in the first game of the second set with a forehand down the line before breaking serve for the first time at love. Gauff broke straight back in the next game, but Ostapenko hit a volley to get another break for 3-1. The Latvian player built up a 5-1 lead with a double break and sealed the second set with an ace on her first set point to force the match to the third set.
Gauff claimed an early break at the start of the third set to take a 2-0 lead after a backhand forced an error from Ostapenko on break point. Gauff went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead and earned two match points at 5-0. Ostapenko got one break back at love in the seventh game to claw her way back to 2-5. Gauff earned a third match point after Ostapenko netted a backhand and sealed the win, as Ostapenko fired a forehand long.
Gauff is projected to reach the top 75 of the WTA Ranking on Monday after starting her season ranked world number 600. She has become the youngest singles champion since Nicole Vaidisova lifted titles at Vancouver and Tashkent at the age of 15 in 2004.
Gauff is the second player in the last two seasons to win a maiden WTA singles season as a lucky loser equalling teenager Olga Danilovic, who won the Moscow Open last year.
Dayana Yastremska Appoints Former Naomi Osaka Mentor As Coach
The youngster is hoping to build on her 2019 breakthrough next year with a new coach by her side.
Rising star Dayana Yastremska will head into the 2020 season under new guidance of the 2018 WTA Coach of the Year winner Sasha Bajin.
The 19-year-old confirmed her new coach in a Facebook post published on Thursday morning. Bajin is best known for his work with former world No.1 Naomi Osaka, who won two grand slam titles whilst working with him, as well as her first Premier title in Indian Wells. The two ended their collaboration shortly after the Australian Open earlier this year. Since then, Bajin briefly worked with Kristina Mladenovic before deciding to depart.
“I am very happy to share the news that I am starting the 2020 season with a new coach!” Yastremska wrote.
“I am extremely happy, and I am very excited to start our collaboration as it is going to be very interesting and impressive work. I am confident that he (Bajin) can help me in achieving my ambitions.’
“I’m Super excited for the beginning of our pre-season preparation and I am confident that everything works out!”
In recent weeks there has been speculation about the two joining forces on the tour. During the WTA Elite finals in China, the world No.22 was asked about the rumours concerning her team speaking with Bajin. However, at the time she dodged the question by replying ‘I would like to build a great team, but for now I won’t say anything about it.’
Yastremska has enjoyed her best season on the tour yet in his career and broke into the world’s top 30 back in September. She is currently at a career ranking high of 22nd. On the tour in 2019, the Ukrainian has clinched two WTA titles in Hua Hin and Strasburg. In the grand slams, she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time.
As of this week, Yastremska is one of only four players under the age of 20 who are in the world’s top 30.
Elsewhere on the WTA Tour there has been another development on the coaching front. Former world No.1 Angelique Kerber has confirmed that she will be working with Didi Kindlmann. A former hitting partner with Maria Sharapova, who have previously worked with Elise Mertens and Ajla Tomljanović. Kerber is currently ranked 20th in the world compared to 12 months ago when she was in second spot.
As much as I’ve enjoyed my time off, I’m excited to get back into training. Happy to announce that Didi Kindlmann will be joining my team as the new coach! Work starts here, and I‘m thankful for the people in my team that share the same vision moving forward! #TeamAngie pic.twitter.com/Y6p1YSppyq
— Angelique Kerber (@AngeliqueKerber) November 21, 2019
Dominika Cibulkova announces her retirement from tennis
Dominika Cibulkova has announced her retirement from professional tennis at an event in her home town of Bratislava. The 30-year-old Slovakian player won eight titles on hard-court, grass, and indoor surfaces and achieved her career-high of world number 4 on 20th March 2017.
Cibulkova reached the semifinal at the 2009 Roland Garros, three quarter-finals at Wimbledon (i2011, 2016 and 2018) and the quarter-final at the US Open in 2010. She became the first Slovakian player to reach a Grand Slam final when she finished runner-up to Li Na at the 2014 Australian Open. She achieved the best result of her career in October 2016, when she beat former world number 1 Angelique Kerber at the WTA Finals in Singapore to clinch the Billie Jean King Trophy. That year Dominika won three more titles at Katowice, Eastbourne, and Linz. She also finished runner-up in Acapulco, Madrid, and Wuhan.
“It wasn’t just winning the WTA Finals, but also the road to qualifying, which was really hard. I had to win in Linz just to make it there. While winning Singapore was the biggest moment of my career and life, winning Linz and the way I had to fight to get there, the fact that I was able to do it and belong among the best players in the world”, said Cibulkova in an interview to the WTA Website.
Cibulkova also won four more titles in Moscow 2011, Carlsbad 2012, Stanford 2013 and Acapulco 2014.
She represented the Slovak Republic at two editions of the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and has scored a record of 22 wins and 11 defeats in her Fed Cup appearances.
Cibulkova decided Roland Garros would be the final tournament of her career.
“It wasn’t a decision where I woke up and thought: “I don’t want to play anymore”. It was a long process. I was already convinced by the time I played Azarenka in Miami, that this could be my last match. It was strange because I knew, and no one around me except my team knew it would be my last tournament. At that point, I was 100 percent sure. I was not doubting or thinking: maybe yes or no. I knew I wanted to do it like this, for this to be my last tournament. I went home and I was happy with my decision. It’s really hard to make it, but once you do, you more free. I feel like this life has been fulfilled for me, and I want to start a new one. I was already feeling like the tennis life is really tough, with all the traveling and training, giving 100 % every day. I started to get tired of it. In the end, I gave enough and achieved things I never dreamed of reaching in my career ”, said Cibulkova.
Karolina Pliskova Splits From Coach With A Possible Replacement Already In The Pipeline
The Czech made the surprise announcement on social media as she enters negotiations with an unnamed individual.
World No.2 Karolina Pliskova has ended her collaboration with Conchita Martinez after working together for more than a year.
Pliskova, who has won four WTA titles this season, had been working with the Spaniard since the 2018 US Open. She originally joined the team on a part-time basis before being upgraded to a full-time position in February this year. Martinez is a former player best known for winning the 1994 Wimbledon Championships.
“I decided I will no longer work with Conchita,” Pliskova posted on Instagram. “It was a tough decision, as the season was great. Thank you for all this year, and wish you only the best. Life is a change!”
The decision comes after what has been a solid year on the tour for the 27-year-old. Overall, she has won 51 out of 68 matches played. Recording five wins over top five opponents. In the grand slams she reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in what was her best ever performance at the tournament. However, she failed to repeat that success at the other three majors. Reaching the third round of the French Open followed by the last 16 in both Wimbledon and the US Open.
“Just a little note to inform you that Karolina and I have decided to take different paths next year.” Martinez wrote in a statement. “It has been an incredible year full of great moments and emotions. I wish Kaja and her team the best for the future.”
It may not be long before the identity of who replaces Martinez is revealed. Michal Hrdlicka, who is Pliskova’s manager and husband, has confirmed to Czech News Agency CTK that discussions are underway with an unnamed individual.
“After the Champions Tournament (WTA Finals), we started negotiations on the engagement of a new coach. Negotiations are underway and we will inform the fans when they are over.” He said.
In her last tournament of 2019, Pliskova reached the semi-finals of the WTA Finals. She was knocked out of the event by top seed Barty who went on to win the title.
Pliskova has finished the year ranked No.2 on the WTA rankings. The highest year-end ranking she has ever achieved so far in her career.
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