The 2019 WTA Season Review: A Memorable Year For Barty, Andreescu And Others - UBITENNIS
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The 2019 WTA Season Review: A Memorable Year For Barty, Andreescu And Others

What a year it has been in the world of women’s tennis.

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Ubitennis.net reviews a great 2019 WTA season highlighted by the first Grand Slam title won by Ashleigh Barty at Roland Garros, the emergence of Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu, the triumph of Simona Halep at Wimbledon and the second consecutive Grand Slam win by Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open.

 

WTA Best player of the year: Ashleigh Barty

Ashleigh Barty moved up to the top of the WTA Ranking for the first time in her career last June after her maiden Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros and ended the season as the year-end world number 1. The 23-year-old from Ipswich became the first Australian player to win a singles Grand Slam title since Sam Stosur at the 2011 US Open and the first player from her country to win the Roland Garros singles title since Margaret Court in 1973.

Barty scored a tour-leading 56 victories and lifted the 2019 WTA Finals Trophy in Shenzhen on her debut after beating defending champion Elina Svitolina in the title match. Barty also won her first WTA Premier Mandatory title in Miami on hard court and the Birmingham Open title on grass. She reached another semifinal in Wuhan and finished runner-up at the China Open in Beijing.

The Aussie player also enjoyed a remarkable season in doubles by reaching the semifinals at the Miami Open with her teammate Victoria Azarenka. They lifted their first title as a team in Rome (a Premier 5 tournament). Barty and Azarenka reached another Premier 5 semifinal at the Canadian Open. They beat Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic in the quarter finals of the US Open en route to reaching the final, before losing to Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.

WTA Surprise of the Year: Bianca Andreescu

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Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu enjoyed a very successful season, in which she claimed her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open and her first Premier Mandatory title at Indian Wells. The Canadian player of Romanian origin improved her ranking from world number 152 at the start of the year to number 107 after reaching the final in Auckland. The player from Mississauga (Ontario) continued her breakthrough season with a semifinal in Acapulco. She became the first wild-card to win the Indian Wells title and the first 18-year-old player to win this tournament since Serena Williams in 1999.

At the US Open Andreescu beat Serena Williams in straight sets to become the first Canadian player to win a Grand Slam title and the first teenager to win a Grand Slam singles title since Maria Sharapova won the 2006 US title.

Grand Slam queens: Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka

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The 2019 season will be remembered by tennis fans for the achievements of Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep, who won their second Grand Slam titles respectively at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon.

Osaka lifted her second consecutive Grand Slam trophy after winning the Australian Open final against Petra Kvitova. The triumph at Melbourne Park followed up her win over Serena Williams in the US Open final in September 2018. Last January Osaka became the first Asian player to be ranked number 1 in the world in singles. Osaka also won two more titles at the Pan Pacific Open in her hometown of Osaka and at the China Open in Beijing.

Simona Halep won her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon after beating Serena Williams in the final. The Romanian star had already won a Major trophy at the 2018 French Open. Halep reached the Wimbledon final as the seventh seeded player, but dropped only one set in the second round against her compatriot Michaela Buzarnescu. She beat Elina Svitolina to reach her fifth Grand Slam final. Halep had previously won just once in her ten head-to-head matches against Serena Williams, but the Romanian player won the Wimbledon final in under an hour dropping just two games in each set. Becoming the first Romanian player to win a Wimbledon singles title. During the 2019 WTA season Halep lost the Madrid Mutua Open final to Kiki Bertens and reached two semifinals in Doha and Miami.

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Elina Svitolina Not Giving Up On Grand Slam Dreams

The 25-year-old tennis star speaks out about her chances of winning a major title in the future.

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Elina Svitolina (@usopen on Twitter)

Ukraine’s top player Elina Svitolina is hoping that she can one day emulate the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep by using her experience on the WTA Tour to guide her to Grand Slam success.

 

The world No.5 says the openness of the women’s tour makes her believe that she can still win a major title. Since 2018 seven different women have won Grand Slam titles with Halep and Naomi Osaka being the one players to have won multiple trophies within that period. As for 25-year-old Svitolina, she is yet to contest a major final. Although she did reach the semifinals of Wimbledon and the US Open last year.

Speaking to tennis website BTU, Svitolina says the diverse range of major winners is a confidence boost for her. Saying the key aspect for her to potentially succeed is maintaining a high level of physical and mental health throughout a two-week period at a Grand Slam.

“In recent years, we see that tennis players had different paths to victory. Someone won right away as soon as they announced themselves on the tour. Others patiently gained experience to finally win the major, for example, Simone Halep and Caroline Wozniacki. Different paths are also due to different styles of play,” she explained.
“It gives me hope and energy to work hard so that one day I can take this chance. The key point for me is to keep my best level for two weeks. This requires a lot of effort, both psychological and physical. Everything should work at the same time. And you need to add a little luck.”

Svitolina is yet to fully commit to playing at the next major event, which will be the US Open in August. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament will be taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and strict measures are in place with players being kept in what is described as a ‘bubble.’ Although some have reservations about playing in New York amid a rising number of Coronavirus cases in the country. On Friday health officials reported 66,528 new cases.

Prior to the US Open, the women’s Tour will officially restart on August 3rd at the Palermo Open in Italy. Although Svitolina says there are many ‘unanswered questions’ about returning to competitive tennis and the potential travel restrictions she may encounter.

“They (the WTA) organize video conferences every week, sometimes they invite ITF or USTA representatives, since the US Open is now in the centre of discussions,” she said.
“So, they inform us. But, I think, it all depends on local authorities. As we can see, the rules vary from country to country, changes occur every week. There are still many unanswered questions.”

Svitolina started 2020 by winning 11 out of 17 matches played before the sport was suspended due to the pandemic. At her most recent tournament in Monterrey, she won her 14th title by dropping only one set in five matches played.

Svitolina’s Grand Slams record

Year Australian Open Roland Garros Wimbledon US Open
2020 R32
2019 QF R32 SF SF
2018 QF R32 R128 R16
2017 R32 QF R16 R16
2016 R64 R16 R64 R32
2015 R32 QF R64 R32
2014 R32 R64 R128 R128
2013 R128 R64 R128 R64
2012 R128

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Dayana Yastremska Labels Controversial Twitter Photo A ‘Misunderstanding’

The world No.25 has been forced to delete photos from her social media accounts after a gesture to support anti-racism backfired.

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Ukrainian Tennis star Dayana Yastremska has been forced to remove a photo from social media and issue a statement after she was accused of being racially insensitive.

 

The 20-year-old tennis star attracted criticism on Thursday after uploading a photo of herself in different poses with the phrase ‘equality’ assigned to it. However, the images were controversial as they show Yastremska as half white and half back. Black facing, which is where a non-black person darker their skins to represent the race, has recently been under the spotlight in the wake of the Black Live Matter movement. Some episodes from TV shows such as The Mighty Boosh, Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen have been removed from online platforms due to the black facing of characters.

Screen shot of Yastremska’s now deleted Twitter photo

In the aftermath of posting the photo, two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka commented on Instagram ‘Girl I know you didn’t just do blackface,’ with a skull emoji. Osaka, who has a Japanese mother and Haitian father, has spoken publicly about her support for the Black Live Matter movement. Yastremska responded to the comment with a prayer emoji.

Yastremska removed her photos from Twitter and Instagram soon after she received backlash online, however, she insists that she never meant to cause any offence. Posting a statement on Twitter, the world No.25 apologize to those who she offended. Although she insists that her photo has been ‘misunderstood’ and she doesn’t consider it to be a ‘black face.’

“Earlier today I posted pictures that I thought would spread a message of equality. It clearly did not and has been misunderstood,” she wrote on Twitter yesterday.
“I have been warned about the negative impact but I did not — and still don’t — consider it a ‘black face’.
“I did not intend to caricature but to share my feelings about the current situation: we should all be treated as equal.
“I am so disappointed my message has been corrupted. I sincerely apologise to all the people I have offended.”

Former Wimbledon junior finalist Yastremska has won three WTA titles so far in her career and has earned more than $1.8 million in prize money. In January she reached a ranking high of 21st.

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WTA’s Restart Efforts Overshadowed By Likely Cancellation Of All Chinese Tournaments

Big blow dealt to the WTA calendar as Chinese Authorities cancel all international events in China for 2020, including the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

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Group selfie at the WTA Championships in Shenzhen 2019 (photo Twitter @WTAFinals)

After many weeks of relative silence, the WTA had a very eventful day on Thursday releasing its revised mechanism for the calculation of the WTA Ranking and confirming some changes to its calendar. However, the organization managing the women’s pro tour had to face some terrible news coming from Asia, where the General Administration of Sport of China in an unexpected move decided to wipe away all international sports events in China, casting an ominous shadow over some of the most lucrative tournaments in the WTA calendar.

 

After the ATP announced on Monday a new ranking system based on results obtained in the last 22 months (from March 2019 to December 2020), the WTA unveiled a substantially similar system that allows players to maintain the points obtained in 2019 if they are unable or unwilling to participate to the corresponding tournament in 2020 or if they achieve a worse result in this year’s event. The only significant difference with the ATP’s new ranking system consists of allowing players to count only the best 16 results achieved in the considered 22-month window, while the men’s tour allows to count up to 18 results.

“In order to balance fairness and flexibility for all players, the WTA Rankings will generally follow the ‘Better of 2019 and 2020’ point model, in alignment with the ATP Tour,” the WTA said in a statement. “In reaching this decision, various elements were considered including the provisional 2020 revised calendar, various travel restrictions, varying levels of player comfort of traveling to compete, as well as the elimination of player commitment requirements for the remainder of 2020.”

Furthermore, the WTA announced two addition to its provisional 2020 calendar that sees professional tournaments resume on 3rd August with the Palermo Ladies Open in Palermo, Italy. In fact, on the week of 10th August there will be one new event on clay in Europe and one on hard courts in the USA: they will be the Prague Open in Prague, Czech Republic and the Bluegrass Orthopaedics in Lexington, Kentucky.

The former event was originally planned to take place in the spring and was tentatively included in an earlier draft of the new calendar, but then almost immediately dropped. The latter tournament replaces the WTA International Citi Open, due to take place in Washington, D.C. at the same time as the ATP 500 event.

“After an exhaustive effort collaborating with all of our stakeholders over many months, we committed to hosting the WTA tournament as part of our event in August so that we could provide playing opportunities for WTA players and continue to showdown women’s tennis to our community – said the Citi Open in a statement posted on their social media accounts – However, given the unique circumstances and requirements this year, we understand and support Octagon [that owns the rights to the event] and the WTA’s decision to hold the tournament as a completely separate event in 2020. We wish them and the local organizers in Lexington, Kentucky all the best for a safe and successful tournament. We still plan to present women’s tennis during this year’s Citi Open and look forward to hosting the women’s tournament in Washington, D. C. next year and long into the future”.

But the mood at the WTA Offices in St. Petersburg, Florida changed quickly when a press release coming from the Chinese press agency Xinhua announced a decision by the General Administration of Sport of China to cancel all international events due to be held in China in 2020, with the only exception of test events for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games. This seems to include all tennis tournaments planned for the months of September and October, in particular the WTA Premier 5 in Wuhan, the WTA Premier Mandatory in Beijing and above all the WTA Championships in Shenzhen, as well as the ATP Masters 1000 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

The WTA relies on the year-end WTA Championships for more than 60 percent of its annual turnover, and overall is extremely dependent on the revenues generated by its Chinese swing during the Fall. The lack of official comments from the WTA Headquarters seems to suggest the announcement came out of the blue and no contingency plan is presently in place to limit the effect of a complete cancellation of the Chinese tournaments.

At this late stage, it appears problematic to replace those big events with other tournaments in other locations around the world, not only for the difficulty to source a sufficient number of high-paying sponsors, but also due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has led many countries to place heavy restrictions to international travel.

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