Ash Barty Topples Svitolina To End Australia’s 43-Year Wait For A WTA Finals Champion - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Topples Svitolina To End Australia’s 43-Year Wait For A WTA Finals Champion

The 23-year-old has won more than $4 million prize money after prevailing at the end-of-season extravaganza.

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World No.1 Ash Barty has won the biggest prize money pay cheque in the history of tennis after defeating defending champion Elina Svitolina to win the WTA Finals title on her debut.

 

Barty, who won her maiden grand slam title in June at the French Open, withstood some fierce play from across the court to prevail 6-4,6-3, in Shenzhen. In what turned into a roller coaster encounter with a series of high quality tennis from both players, the Australian hit 30 winners, compared to just eight from Svitolina. Barty also claimed 65% of her service points and broke four times in the match.

“On this slow court I had to take a few chances.” Barty told BT Sport after. “I had to come in a little bit more and try to shift court position. So I was in control a little more often than not. Even if it did mean a few errors, but I’m certainly happy with the way it planned out tonight.”

Heading into the final WTA match of the 2019 season, Svitolina boasted a dominant head-to-head record against Barty. Winning all five of their previous meetings, including one that took place earlier this year in Indian Wells. However, since then Barty has blossomed on the tour through her triumph at Roland Garros and subsequent rise to world No.1.

Their latest clash in Shenzhen was a near perfect advertisement for women’s tennis with both player’s illustrating some of their best tennis. Moving effortlessly around the court as they carefully constructed their rallies. It wasn’t until 32 minutes into the match where the first break point opportunity occurred. Svitolina had the chance to break for a 5-4 lead, but failed to do so after hitting a forehand wide. The Ukranian’s failure proved decisive to the outcome of the opener. In the following game, it was Barty’s turn to pounce. Two set points came and went for the Australian. However, it was third time lucky for Barty after she punished a 123mph Svitolina serve with a clear return winner to snatch the 6-4 lead.

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Despite her breakthrough, the match was by no means over. The second set turned into a cat and mouse chase with constant changes of momentum. First Barty dropped her serve to trail 1-2, before hitting back with interest by breaking Svitolina two times in a row.  Continuing to nudge ahead, she moved to a game away from a famous victory. Tasked with serving for the title, Barty closed out proceedings in style. Doing so with a love service game that concluded with a forehand from her opponent crashing into the net.

“It’s been a remarkable year. Tonight (in Shenzhen) it was about coming out here and fighting right until the end.” Said the year-end No.1
“I couldn’t be more pleased with my team and myself. I’m just so pleased with all of us. We’ve had an incredible season.”

Barty is the third Australian player to win the singles title at the event and the first since Evonne Goolagong Cawley back in 1976. She has also won a record $4,420,000 in prize money. The biggest single payout from a tournament in the history of the sport. As of 21st October, only four women on the WTA Tour has earned that much this year.

The new champion closes out 2019 with four singles titles to her name after also previously triumphing in Miami and Birmingham. She is only the fifth player in history to win the WTA Finals on their debut. Following in the footsteps of Serena Williams (2001), Maria Sharapova (2004), Petra Kvitova (2011) and Dominic Cibulkova (2016).

There will be no time to rest for Barty, who will be returning back home to get ready for the upcoming Fed Cup finals. Australia is seeking to win the event for the first time since 1974 and will take on France.

“It is the most beautiful way to cap off a beautiful year. It’s nothing like playing for your country.” She said about the team event.
“When I do get to Perth in a couple days time I look forward to sitting down with the girls.”

Barty won four out of her five matches played at the WTA Finals this year. Her only loss was to Kiki Bertens.

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Sofia Kenin sets up clash with Cori Gauff in Melbourne

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Number 14 seed Sofia Kenin battled past China’s Zhang Shuai 7-5 7-6 (9-7) in a late-night hard-fought match to book her spot in the Australian Open fourth round against Cori Gauff.

 

Kenin reached the third round for the first time at this tournament without dropping a set. The US 21-year-old player fought back from a set point down twice in the opening set. She went down a break early in the second set before taking the tie-break.

Zhang went up a 3-0 lead in the opening set and saved five break points in a hard-fought fifth game.  Kenin broke back with two forehands to draw level, as Zhang was serving for the set. The US player completed the come-back by winning five consecutive games from 2-5 down to win the opening set 7-5.

Both players traded breaks twice in the second set en route to the tie-break. Kenin earned a mini-break on the ninth point before winning the tie-break on the third match point to set up a fourth round match against Cori Gauff, who beat defending champion Naomi Osaka.

“It’s late, but I am happy to have gone through and I am really excited. I was just fighting. There were a lot of close shots, so I needed to step up my game and I am so proud of myself. I was not aware that I was playing Gauff. She is playing really well. She had a great 2019 season. I am going to enjoy the moment right now”, said Kenin.

 

 

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‘Best Match’ Of 2020 Changes Nothing For Ash Barty At Australian Open

The reigning French Open champion explains why she doesn’t consider herself the frontrunner in Melbourne.

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World No.1 Ash Barty has vowed not to get ahead of herself despite producing a dominant display in her latest match at the Australian Open.

 

Barty, who is seeking to become the first home player to win a singles title in Melbourne Park since 1978, dropped just five games during her 6-3, 6-2, win over Elena Rybakina. Who won the Hobart International last week. Despite being tested at times by the 29th seed, Barty prevailed with the help of 28 winners as she broke five times during the 79-minute match.

“I think today was probably my sharpest match that I played. I felt really comfortable moving around the court. I felt like I found the middle of the racquet a lot sooner than my other matches.” Barty commented during her press conference.
“Particularly there were tough, long service games. I was able to get out of them and continue the momentum. I think all in all it was a pretty well-rounded performance.”

The win follows her victories over Lesia Tsurenko and Polona Hercog earlier in the tournament. Barty is now on a seven-match winning streak after winning the Adelaide International last week. Her first ever WTA title on Australian soil.

As the top seed in the women’s draw, the 23-year-old is carrying the burden of expectation on her shoulders. Although the WTA Tour is renowned for its unpredictability with the last 12 major tournaments being won by 10 different players. During that time, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep is the only players to have won multiple trophies. At the Australian Open specifically, the last time the tournament was won by the number one seed was in 2015 by Serena Williams.

It is perhaps for this reason why Barty is remaining coy about her chances over the coming days. After branding her latest victory as the best of 2020 so far, she once again played down the idea of being the favourite to win.

“I’ve said from the very start, for us it’s about coming out here and enjoying it. I’m loving every minute. Trying to do the best I can. That’s all I can ask of myself.” She said.
“There’s a ‘No. 1’ next to my name and that’s about it. I think my family is the same. I’m the same.”

Danger lurks for the Australian in the next round with a rematch against Alison Riske looming. Riske was the player who knocked Barty out of Wimbledon last year. The American 18th seed edged out Julia Goerges in three sets in her third round match.

Barty doesn’t appear to be too traumatised by the loss at the The All England Club. Blaming it on a combination of factors such as tiredness and the quick turnaround from winning her first grand slam title at the French Open. She states that she lost no sleep over the defeat.

Meanwhile, Riske herself admits that she faces a tough task of repeating her Wimbledon heroics.

“It’s going to be a different experience. I’m playing on her home turf. I expect the fans against me, as they should be. It’s going to be a battle. So I’m looking forward to it.” She said.

Should Barty prevail in the next round, she will progress to the last eight of the Australian Open for only the second time in her career.

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Caroline Wozniacki Bids Emotional Farewell To Tennis After Defeat to Jabeur

Caroline Wozniacki gave her last on-court interview and said goodbye to the fans after she lost the last match of her career.

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Caroline Wozniacki (@Reuters on Twitter)

Caroline Wozniacki brought the curtain down on her exceptional tennis career with a tearful farewell on Margaret Court Arena.

 

Appropriately, the Dane’s last professional match was the kind of pulsating three-set battle she is famous for. Ultimately, she lost it 7-5 3-6 7-5 to Ons Jabeur, but the occasion was about so much more than that.

It was a time for Wozniacki to look back at what she achieved and celebrate her triumphs. And, although she was clearly emotional that it was all over, there was no regret in her voice.

“I think it’s only fitting that my last match would be a three-setter, a grinder, and that I would finish my career with a forehand error,” the Dane said in her on-court interview.

“Those are the things that I’ve been working on my whole career, and I guess this was just meant to be.”

Wozniacki continued, “There’s so many things I will remember. Obviously the achievements I had on the court were amazing. The feelings that the fans give us players when we’re out here are really amazing.”

“I will remember the support I’ve had from my family – especially my dad who has coached me all these years.”

“Those are the special memories that I will always cherish. The journey we’ve been on together has been really amazing. It’s been a great ride. I really am happy, but I’m ready for the next chapter (in my life) and I’m excited for what’s to come. You may see me around – off the court.”

Players pay tribute to Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki and her team (@wwnrradio)

During a special tribute, some of the players Wozniacki competed against gave their thoughts on the Dane. Several mentioned that she was a great fighter, while others praised her positive attitude.

Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens summed up many an opponent’s feelings when facing Wozniacki. “Most annoyingly, she just got every ball back – literally every ball,” the American said. “And she had that backhand which was just not fun (to face).”

“I have a lot of really nice memories of her of just being a really genuinely nice person,” added Naomi Osaka.

The last words were left for one of the Dane’s best friends: Serena Williams. “It’s going to be really hard for me to not have Caroline on the tour,” she said. “I’m really happy for her and I know that she’s doing what she wants to do and that’s what it’s all about.”

Wozniacki was then asked how she fought so hard on court but made so many friends on tour.

“When you’re on the court, you’re there to compete and there to win,” the Dane responded. “But when we’re off the court, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all travelling to the same tournaments and I think it makes it a lot more fun if you have friends on tour.”

After her final on-court interview, all that remained was for Wozniacki to say goodbye. Tournament director Craig Tiley gave her a hug and presented her with a koala. Then her dad Piotr lifted her up and carried her across the court.

Finally, the Dane walked around the stadium thanking the fans for their love and support with happy tears in her eyes. She will be remembered very fondly by the tennis community.

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