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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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Karolina Pliskova Finding Her Footing With The Help Of New Coach Krajan

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Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Karolina Pliskova’s resurgence on the Tour comes at a time when she has formed a new partnership with a well-known coach. 

After her first round loss at the Australian Open to Elena Rybakina, the Czech won nine consecutive matches on the Tour. In Romania, she claimed her 17th WTA title at the Winners Open before reaching the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 event in Doha. However, she was unable to play her semi-final clash against Iga Swiatek due to a lower back injury. During this period she has improved her ranking from 77th to 36th. 

Pliskova began the season without a coach at her side but is now working with Croatia’s Zeljko Krajan. A partnership she believes is showing promising signs already. 

“Personality-wise, I think he’s kind of similar to me,” Pliskova told WTA Insider. “Not really high or low. Relaxed and very like calm. 
“We didn’t really plan yet anything because now the schedule was difficult. I might be in qualifying in Indian Wells. Maybe I enter San Diego. So I don’t really know what’s gonna be. I’m just living day by day at the moment.” 

Krajan has worked with a series of players on both the WTA and ATP Tour’s. He guided Dinara Safina to three Grand Slam finals between 2008 and 2010. He has also worked with Borna Coric, Laura Robson, Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika cibulkova.

Pliskova, who is a former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, has endured a roller-coaster journey on the Tour in recent months with mixed results. Last season she failed to win back-to-back matches at 11 consecutive tournaments. 

So how has she managed to regain her form on the Tour?

“Motivation was never really a problem for me,” Pliskova said. “If I go on the court no matter how bad or good I feel, I always want to win. I always want to compete. 
“But my game is based on confidence and I need to feel that. Even if I’m not playing well or winning many matches, I just need to find that confidence in that moment or in that game because it’s just so risky. My shots are so flat, so I go for mostly lines. If something is not going well or you start to doubt, then of course you miss a little bit. Everything is about this.”

Unseeded at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Pliskova beat China’s Zhang Shuai in the first round. She will next play Ashlyn Krueger in the second round on Tuesday.

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Elena Rybakina Eases Past Kasatkina To Win Abu Dhabi Open

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Elena Rybakina has captured her second title of the season after beating an erratic Daria Kasatkina in straight sets at the Abu Dhabi Open. 

The world No.5 stormed to a 6-1, 6-4, win over the Russian in just over an hour. It is the third time in Rybakina’s career that she has beaten Kasatkina on the Tour and she now leads their head-to-head 3-2. The triumph comes a month after she won the Brisbane International, which is also a WTA 500 event. 

Rybakina’s latest match saw her capitalise on her opponent’s costly mistakes. Kasatkina struggled with her serve throughout the majority of the final and only managed to hold twice in eight attempts. Opening the door for the former Wimbledon champion who hit 17 winners against 12 unforced errors en route to victory. 

“I want to thank the fans who came this week,” said the new champion. “It has been an amazing atmosphere, especially to see flags from Kazakhstan. It means a lot, thank you so much.”

A one-sided 25-minute opening set saw Rybakina claim four straight games to clinch an early lead. During to the opener, Kasatkina only managed to win 26% of her service points. It was the fourth time in the tournament that the Kazakh had won a set by conceding two or fewer games. 

Fortunately for world No.14 Kasatkina and the crowd, there was more of a battle in the second frame. Twice in a row Rybakina worked her way to a break advantage before losing it in the following game. Then at 4-4, she dealt the decisive blow by hitting a clean forehand winner to break yet against and this time had a chance to serve for the title. With the rain starting to fall, she converted her first championship point with the help of another error from across the net. 

The defeat for Kasatkina comes a day after she came through a marathon three-hour semi-final match before criticising the WTA over their tournament scheduling. She is currently set to play in the Qatar Open with her opening match taking place tomorrow. It is the sixth time in a row she has been beaten by a top-five player on the Tour. 

“Congratulations to Elena, you’ve had a great week,” she said.
“Thanks to my team who has always been next to me. I am really proud of the job we’ve done and how we are doing. Thanks for always believing in me.”

Rybakina also referred to the demanding calendar during the trophy presentation. 

“Tough week (for Kasatkina), especially the last matches. Tomorrow there is already a match in Doha but hopefully, we will both recover and do well there. Maybe also play (against each other) in the final there,” she said. 

Unlike Kasatkina, Rybakina has a first round bye in Doha. She has now won seven WTA trophies so far in her career. 

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