WTA Finals 2019 Day 5 Preview: Four Players In With A Shot, But Only Two Will Reach The Semis - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals 2019 Day 5 Preview: Four Players In With A Shot, But Only Two Will Reach The Semis

It is all to play for in Shenzhen for Ash Barty and her rivals on Thursday.

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Kiki Bertens - WTA Finals 2019 Shenzhen (foto via Twitter, @WTAInsider)

With Naomi Osaka out of the tournament, and alternate Kiki Bertens defeating world No.1 Ash Barty, all four active players in the Red Group still have a chance to qualify for the semifinals.

Thursday at the WTA Finals could be a nail-biter. There are a possible six scenarios in which each player could progress to the semi-finals of the tournament. Ranging from two straight forward wins to places being worked out by the highest percentage of games won this week. Here is a break down of the qualification scenarios :-

  • If Barty and Bencic both win, they both qualify.
  • If Barty and Bertens both win, they both qualify.
  • If Bencic and Kvitova both win, they both qualify.
  • If Kvitova wins (in two or three sets) and Bertens wins in straight sets, they both qualify.
  • If Kvitova wins in two sets and Bertens wins in three sets, they both qualify.
  • If Kvitova wins in three sets and Bertens wins in three sets, Bertens qualifies, and the other qualifier would be the player with the highest percentage of games won this week, as in this case Barty, Kvitova, and Bencic would all be 1-2 with the same number of sets won and lost.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Petra Kvitova (6)

This will be the fifth time these two play each other this year, and they’ve had some stellar battles.  Kvitova prevailed in a third set tiebreak in the Sydney final, and also eliminated Barty from the Australian Open.  But Ash took their last two meetings, in Miami in March as well as just a few weeks ago in Beijing. Three of those four matches, all played on hard courts, went the distance.  Kvitova won their other two matches from previous years, neither of which were decided on hard courts. For the second straight year, Kvitova has followed up a great first half of the season with an unimpressive second half.  Since July, she’s just 9-6, and is 0-2 this week in Shenzhen. Barty meanwhile has already secured the year-end No.1 ranking thanks to great play throughout the year, yet is coming off a defeat at the hands of Bertens two days ago.  But based on recent form, and the recent results between these two, the Australian should be favored to win and advance. And these slow-playing courts in Shenzhen do Kvitova no favors.

Belinda Bencic (7) vs. Kiki Bertens (Alt)

The alternate has a good shot at qualifying, and can guarantee her advancement with a win today.  Bertens is 3-0 against Bencic, with all three wins coming within the past three years. And she must be feeling confident coming off her upset of Barty on Tuesday.  Though Bencic also has some momentum after overcoming Kvitova in three sets two days ago. But Bertens has proven she likes facing Bencic, and Kiki should feel as if she has nothing to lose as the alternate.  With less pressure weighing on her, I like Bertens’ chance to win and advance to the semifinals at this event for the second straight year.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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