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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Retirement Still On For Carla Suarez Navarro, But Will She End Her Career This Year?

The former top 10 player speaks out about her plans in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Last December Carla Suarez Navarro stated that she will hang up her racket later this year for good. Then came along something that nobody saw coming.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world of tennis to a standstill with all tournaments suspended until June. Completely wiping out the entire European clay-court swing and triggering the French Open being played in September. For Suarez Navarro, it has also ruined her plans of saying goodbye at her home tournament in Madrid where she would have made her 10th and final appearance.

Like many around the world, Suarez Navarro is housebound in Las Palmas, where she is staying with her parents. In her home country of Spain there have been more than 2000 deaths due to the Coronavirus. It is a far from ideal scenario for the Spaniard, who is currently staying in a flat with little training. However, she is still hoping to say her goodbye to the sport in 2020.

“As of today I am not considering it, I said that 2020 would be my last year and it will be almost 100% that way.” Suarez Navarro told Mundo Deportivo.
“We will see if we can play more tennis or not this year, my favourite tournaments have been cancelled and I will not be able to say goodbye for the last time in a few Olympics because they will surely be cancelled.’
“If it (the WTA Tour) were not played more in 2020, I would see a possibility of being able to say goodbye in Madrid 2021.” She added.

Peaking at a high of sixth in the world, the 31-year-old has won two WTA titles during her career out of 11 final appearances. One of which was a Premier 5 event at the 2016 Qatar Open. She has also reached the quarter-final of seven grand slams, including both the Australian Open and US Open in 2018.

“At the moment I have not been able to say goodbye to some tournaments that for me were very special, we will see what happens from now on with tennis tournaments.” She said.

Due to the uncertainty of current events, it is unclear as to when Suarez Navarro and her rivals will return to action. At present both the ATP and WTA are looking into restructuring their calendar following the changing of the French Open dates. A decision that has been criticised by the world No.68.

“I was stunned when I read it, but it was normal for something like this to happen with what was happening around the world.” She commented about the decision taken by the French Tennis Federation.
“I think the most appropriate thing was to say that it was postponed but not to directly put dates that do not fit very well in our calendar. As I said, what happens in a few months, we do not know today.”

Suarez Navarro has recorded 28 wins over top 10 players throughout her career.

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French Open Champion Ash Barty Reacts To Tournament Date Change

The 23-year-old Australian says she is unfazed about when the tournament will be taking place.

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World No.1 Ash Barty has vowed to defend her title at the French Open whenever it takes place amid the recent fallout concerning the grand slam.

 

Earlier this week the French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed the tournament will be delayed until the last week of September due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will now take place a week after the US Open and is currently set to clash with the Laver Cup. Players and even some tennis officials have criticised the FTT for a lack of communication regarding their plans.

Speaking out about the situation, reigning champion Barty said that she is yet to speak with tournament director Guy Forget. It had been previously reported that the men’s champion, Rafael Nadal, was personally contacted about the date change. Nevertheless, the Australian said she hopes that she will have the chance to defend her title later this year.

“I haven’t spoken to Guy Forget but I’m happy to play the tournament whenever it is scheduled,” Barty told the Australian Associated Press.
“I hope I get the chance to defend my title in September – any opportunity to compete is something I’ll grab with both hands.
“There are more important things going on in the world right now, though, and I will do whatever helps keep us all safe and healthy.”

It was at Roland Garros, where the 23-year-old won her first and so far only grand slam title. Last year she dropped only two sets in eight matches en route to the title. Becoming the first player from her country to win the tournament since Margaret Court back in 1973.

Barty will remain at the top of the WTA rankings for the next three months after they have been frozen by the governing body. In a joint-decision, the WTA and ATP have suspended all tournaments until June 7th due to the pandemic. Urging the world of tennis to unite in what was an indirect swipe at the FFT and their decision about the French Open.

“Now is not a time to act unilaterally, but in unison. All decisions related to the impact of the coronavirus require appropriate consultation and review with the stakeholders in the game, a view that is shared by ATP, WTA, ITF, AELTC, Tennis Australia, and USTA.” The statement said.

So far this year, Barty has won 11 out of 14 matches played on the tour. Winning the Adelaide International back in January. Five out of her 11 wins were over top 20 players.

Should there be no further delay to the tour calendar, then next women’s events set to take place are in Nottingham and ‘s-Hertogenbosch on grass.

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Five Things To Know About Teenage Tennis Star Coco Gauff

The American has just celebrated her 16th birthday, but she already achieved a series of impressive accolades in the sport.

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Few people in the world have been able to make more than $800,000 in prize money from playing competitive sport before their 16th birthday. However, Coco Gauff is one of the few who have been able to do so.

 

The American teenager has been a revelation on the tour over the past year. Triggering a sharp rise in both fans and endorsements. Currently ranked 52nd in the world, she is the only player under the age of 17 in the top 100. As a junior, she proclaimed that she wanted to be ‘the best in the world’ in tennis and is currently on the right trajectory to rise to the top in only a matter of time.

“I first meet Cori when she was 10 at my academy,” coach Patrick Mouratoglou once told Ubitennis.
“She’s very special and has the two major qualities that you cannot teach. First of all, she is a great competitor. That is something very difficult to teach. Secondly, she’s a natural athlete. You can build (a player) physically, but natural athleticism is something you have or don’t have.’
“She’s a hard worker, which is something not everybody has and this is very important to reach the top of the game.” He added.

Gauff is undoubtedly fast becoming a household name and here are five things you need to know about the rising star.

1. Sport is in her blood

Born in Florida on March 13th 2004, Gauff’s parents were both keen athletes. Her father Corey played basketball at Golden State University. Meanwhile, her mother, Candi, excelled in Track and Field whilst at Florida State University. Gauff played both of those sports growing up, but it was talent and love for tennis that steered her away from them.

“I did basketball and track (athletics). Those were my favourite besides tennis. I was the only girl on the all-boys team for basketball. Which I actually kind of liked. On the track I did 800 meters and the 4x400M relay.” She told Ubitennis in 2019.
“Obviously tennis would be the best.”

2. She already has an extensive endorsement portfolio

In 2019 Forbes magazine estimated that the teenager will make $1 million in endorsements alone. She has already scored deals with shoe brand New Balance, racket manufacturer Head and prestigious Italian pasta company Barilla. Barilla are also known for their extensive work with 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer.

British newspaper The Telegraph has projected Gauff’s earnings to be in the range of £20 million before she reaches her twenties. This is according to Rob Mills, who is the chief executive of sport and entertainment measurement company Turnstile Sport.

“She is obviously young and you’ve got to see that consistency coming through, but if you look at say (Naomi) Osaka’s deals, we’re in the 8.5million US dollars territory. She’s going to be very quickly in that range very conceivably in the next 12 to 24 months. That’s only the sports brand category.” Mills predicts.

3. A member of Federer’s Team8

Managing the financial side of her career is Alessandro Barel Di Sant Albanoof from the agency Team8. A company co-founded by Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. The partnership has enabled the American to learn from and even mirror the Swiss maestro when it comes to the world of tennis. Both on the court and dealing with the financial side.

“Having insight on what Roger does definitely helps and while I don’t model him exactly on every point, I model some routines after him and how he handles himself,” Gauff told Forbes.com last month. “Being close to Serena (Williams) and close to Roger is really a plus for me and an advantage I have to take care of.”

The two have held numerous exchanges. One of their earliest dates back to the 2018 Australian Open where Gauff lost her opening match in the junior tournament. Following the defeat, she received some valuable advice from Federer.

“He told me not to focus too much on the pressure or the outside drama. He gave me some perspective,” Gauff recalled.
“Now, I try to enjoy the tennis and I barely think of that fist-round loss two years later.”

4. A big time player in grand slams

Despite her young age, Gauff has already exceeded expectations in the major tournaments. Her rise on the tour started last summer when she reached the fourth round of Wimbledon as a qualifier before losing to eventual champion Simona Halep. Becoming the youngest player to do so since Jennifer Capriati in 1991.

Wimbledon wasn’t just a one-off for the American. She also managed to reach the last 32 at both the US Open and Australian Open before her 16th birthday. Reaching the third round or better at her first three grand slam appearances. A milestone that both of the Williams sisters were unable to do.

It was at this year’s Australian Open where Gauff recorded her most high-profile win when she downed the then world No.4 and defending champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets. Becoming the youngest woman to score a win over a top-five player in a grand slam since Jennifer Capriati upset world No.3 Gabriela Sabatini in the quarter-finals of the 1991 US Open.

“I’m doing well right now at 15, [but] I still have so much I feel like I can get better at. I don’t even think this is close to a peak for me.” She told reporters in January.


So far in her career, Gauff has won eight grand slam main draw matches. Three at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open, as well as two at the US Open. She is just the third player in the past 30 years to have earned eight grand slam wins before turning 16.

5. Already a WTA Champion

In October 2019 Gauff won the most prestigious title in her blossoming career to date. Securing entry into the main draw of the Linz Open as a lucky loser, she stunned top seed Kiki Bertens and Andrea Petkovic en route to her maiden WTA final. Standing in her way was former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who she downed 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, to win her first WTA title.

“This was definitely not on the calendar at the beginning of the year, because I didn’t think I’d have a chance to get in, and now I’m the champion.“ She commented on her triumph.
“It’s just insane that I got in as a lucky loser and now I’m the champion. My dad told me when I got in, before the first main‑draw match, he said: ‘You can’t lose twice in the same tournament.’ I’m sure he never thought it would come this far, to being the champion, but I guess he was right.”

Gauff is the youngest WTA champion since Nicole Vaidisova back in 2004. Furthermore, she is the youngest American WTA champion since 1991. Both Serena and Venus were 17 when they won their first trophy on the tour.

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