WTA Finals 2019 Day 8 Preview – Championship Sunday - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals 2019 Day 8 Preview – Championship Sunday

It’s the world No.1 against the defending champion for the biggest non-Major title of the year.

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Elina Svitolina - WTA Finals Shenzhen 2019 (foto via Twitter, @WTAFinals)

A year ago, Ash Barty had just debuted in the top 15 for the first time with a win at the WTA Elite Trophy event, a tournament for the highest-ranked players who did not qualify for the WTA Finals.  This was only her third career singles title, and she had yet to advance beyond the fourth round at a Major. But that quickly changed, as she started 2019 by reaching the quarterfinals in Australia.  A few months later, she won the biggest title of her career at the Premier Mandatory event in Miami. She had come into 2019 with almost as many losses as wins in her career on clay, yet shocked the tennis world by winning her first Major at Roland Garros.  Ahead of today’s final, she’s the co-leader (with Kiki Bertens) in WTA match wins with 55, and will end the year as world No.1 with over 1,500 more points than her competition.

 

A year ago, Elina Svitolina won the biggest title of her career at this event.  It was her 13th career title, but her career had followed a pattern of great success outside the Majors while being unable to advance further than the quarterfinals at the Slams.  This season, she’s surprisingly gone title-less to this point, though she finally reached two Major semifinals. She’s now won her last 10 matches at this event dating back to 2017.  She’s into her first final of the season, and owns a 13-2 record in finals throughout her career, having won the last nine. And notably, she’s 3-0 in finals when trying to defend a title she won the previous year.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Elina Svitolina (8)

It’s rare to see a player own a 5-0 record against the world No.1, but that’s the case here.  Svitolina has never lost to Barty, and has won 10 of their 12 sets played. Four of their five previous matches were played on hard courts.  Their most recent match was at Indian Wells earlier this year, where Svitolina prevailed 6-4 in the third, in a dramatic match that lasted over three hours.  Another extended battle here would not be surprising, and Barty is an even more confident player today than she was eight months ago when they last met. However, Svitolina’s 5-0 record against Barty, her 13-2 record in finals, and her 3-0 record when defending titles all speak for themselves.  And while Ash has played well this week, Elina has been better, and only dropped one set to this point. Svitolina is a clear favorite to be the first champion to repeat at this event since Serena Williams five years ago.

Year Tournament Round Surface Winner
2019
Indian Wells
USA, CA
R16 Hard
Svitolina, Elina
7-6(8) 5-7 6-4
2018
Miami
USA, FL
R16 Hard
Svitolina, Elina
7-5 6-4
2017
Beijing
BEIJING, CHINA
R32 Hard
Svitolina, Elina
6-4 6-2
2017
Wimbledon
GREAT BRITAIN
R128 Grass
Svitolina, Elina
7-5 7-6(8)
2017
Fed Cup Week 1
UKRAINE
R1 Hard
Svitolina, Elina
4-6 6-1 6-2

Also on Sunday, the doubles championship match will be a rematch of the Wimbledon final with Wimbledon champions Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova (2) vs. Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic (3), who are the defending champions at this event.  Regardless of the result, Strycova will end the year as the doubles No.1.

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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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Grand Slam

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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