WTA Finals 2019 Day 1 Preview - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals 2019 Day 1 Preview

The top eight women in the world are all present for this event’s debut in Shenzhen, with significantly increased prize money.

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In the round robin portion of the tournament, the red group will start play today, with the purple group taking the court tomorrow.  The red group includes four players whose 2019 highlights all took place in the first half of the year: French Open champion Ash Barty, Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova, and Dubai champion Belinda Bencic.  Barty is a heavy favorite to end the year as the world No.1, as she leads No.2 Karolina Pliskova by over 1,000 points. With over $14M US dollars on the line over the next eight days, who will win the final WTA event of 2019?

Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Petra Kvitova (6)

The tournament begins with a rematch of the 2019 Australian Open final.  All the way back in January, Osaka claimed her second consecutive Major by overcoming Kvitova in a stellar match.  That important contest is their only previous meeting. Naomi is certainly the player who arrives in Shenzhen with more confidence.  She’s on a 10-match win streak in Asia, with titles in both Osaka and Beijing last month. In Beijing, she became the first player in over six months to defeat Bianca Andreescu in a completed match.  She also went on to take out Ash Barty in the final. While Kvitova was the champion of this event eight years ago, she hasn’t won a title or even reached a final of any tournament since April. It’s the second season in a row where she peaked early in the year, and struggled in the second half.  Based on current form, as well as their history, Osaka is the favorite to start this event with a win.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Belinda Bencic (7)

This is the WTA Finals debut for both of these competitors.  What a year it’s been for the Australian, with 52 match wins to date and three titles, including her first Major singles title.  She’s consistently performed well throughout the year, and on all surfaces. As mentioned before, she was a finalist last month in Beijing, her last tournament prior to this event.  Bencic meanwhile moved into qualifying position for this event just a week ago, thanks to her title run in Moscow. This will be their first career meeting, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering how much time these two young stars have spent off the tennis court in recent years.  Barty of course left the tennis world and played cricket back in Australia, while Bencic’s career was sidelined by injuries after her breakthrough several years ago. With no history between these two, and this being their first WTA Finals, it’s hard to forecast the outcome. Both arrive with plenty of momentum, but I’ll give the slight edge to the world No.1.  Her all-court game may prove challenging for Bencic, who is often in less control of her emotions than the steady Barty.

ORDER OF PLAY 

Not before 4:30 p.m local time

[3] Naomi OSAKA (JPN) vs. [6] Petra KVITOVA (CZE)

[1] Ashleigh BARTY (AUS) vs. [7] Belinda BENCIC (SUI)

[2] HSIEH Su-Wei (TPE) / Barbora STRYCOVA (CZE) vs. [7] Samantha STOSUR (AUS) / ZHANG Shuai (CHN)

[4] Gabriela DABROWSKI (CAN) / XU Yifan (CHN) vs. [6] Barbora KREJCIKOVA (CZE) / Katerina SINIAKOVA (CZE)

 

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Juan Carlos Ferrero Remaining Positive Despite Carlos Alcaraz’s Poor Form

Juan Carlos Ferrero remains confident of Carlos Alcaraz’s abilities despite his poor form.

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Juan Carlos Ferrero is looking on the positive side despite Carlos Alcaraz’s poor form.

After winning Wimbledon last year, many people thought that Carlos Alcaraz would dominate the ATP tour over the next year.

However since then, Alcaraz has lost his world number one ranking with the Spaniard not winning a trophy since capturing his second Grand Slam title at SW19.

There are concerns that Alcaraz’s form is dipping with Jannik Sinner potentially overtaking him in potential to challenge Novak Djokovic at the big events.

Despite the lack of titles to Alcaraz’s name, there is no reason to worry for coach Juan Carlos Ferrero as he is confident that the Spaniard’s lack of form is normal, “He has been achieving good results,” Ferrero claimed in an interview with Marca.

“The Cincinnati tournament was a shame because we were one point away. At the US Open, he made the semi-finals. When you play with such good people, it is difficult to win every tournament.

“For any player, not winning tournaments can affect your confidence level. For very good players, it is important to achieve the results that one sets in their path. Of course Carlos wants to win, but I see him well, I don’t see him with any type of desire, and that is very important.

“He doesn’t have the stress of I want to win, I want to win. He wants to do things well and wants to improve in every aspect that he can, and at 20 years of age there are many. The objectives are there. Every tournament that goes, the objective is to achieve a good result.

“And if he is physically well, a great result for him is to win. When you have that level and that potential, it is not bad to think that. Then, when you don’t get it, you have to know how to manage it and come out just as motivated.”

Ferrero brings a great level of experience and composure to the Alcaraz team having been in the Spaniard’s position many times when he was a player.

The Spaniard’s experience is evident as he claimed that failure isn’t a bad thing for Alcaraz to go through, “Not every year you can win six or seven tournaments and that doesn’t mean it will be a failure,” Ferrero was quoted by tennis 365 as saying.

“[Michael] Jordan and Tiger [Woods] didn’t win every Grand Slam and every ring every year. We cannot call that a failure. There are many positive things in a year even if you have earned less.

“You may have evolved in aspects that can be useful for the future. That’s where we are. The most important thing is that he is happy, that he trains well, that traveling makes him happy and from there he generates good tennis, which is what he loves. We all agree on that.”

Alcaraz will look to return to his best when he looks to defend his title in Indian Wells which starts on the sixth of March.

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Daria Kasatkina And Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Lead Calls For VAR In Tennis

There have been calls for VAR to be introduced into the sport.

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Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina have called for VAR to be implemented in tennis.

The calls have came after Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik in Dubai.

As Bublik lead 6-5 in the final set, Rublev shouted in the face of an umpire allegedly swearing in Russian which was picked up by one of the officials.

This saw Rublev be disqualified from the event with Bublik reaching the final in Dubai.

However as a result of the incident players have called for a VAR review system with the video showing inconclusive proof of whether Rublev did swear in Russian.

Leading the calls for such innovation are Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina as the duo called for VAR to be introduced on twitter, “So you can just disqualify a player, take away all his points and money, without even checking the video? What a joke, yet another confirmation that we need VAR in tennis and an electronic appeal system in all tournaments,” Kasatkina said on social media.

VAR has been implemented in football and also a similar system in rugby with mixed results.

It’s clear though that more technology would help umpires identify whether a grounds for disqualification would be necessary.

So far VAR has been trialled at the Next Gen Finals and the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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