Tributes Start To Pour In For Caroline Wozniacki Ahead Of Australian Open Farewell - UBITENNIS
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Tributes Start To Pour In For Caroline Wozniacki Ahead Of Australian Open Farewell

The 29-year-old is making her final preparations ahead of her last grand slam appearance.

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The Australian Open has been a tournament of many happy memories for former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.

 

During her 2008 debut, she won back-to-back grand slam matches for the first time in her career en route to the fourth round at the age of 17. Three years later she reached the semi-finals before losing to Li Na. However, the most special moment in Wozniacki’s career didn’t take place until 2018 when she finally claimed her first ever grand slam title. A perfect way to hit back at the many who criticised her in the past for being a world No.1 without a major title of any sort.

It is for these reasons why Melbourne Park is the perfect venue for the Dane to say goodbye to the sport. The upcoming Australian Open will be her 51st appearance in a grand slam main draw and the last tournament she plays before officially retiring.

“There’s been a lot of thoughts. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, for a while. I just looked at my life, at my career, everything else, and I just had a look inside of myself, and it felt right. It felt like the right time for many reasons.” Wozniacki told reporters on Saturday.
“I’m out here, and I love the sport, I love everything that it’s given me, I love being out there and competing, but I’m ready to start a new chapter in my life.”

During her career, the Dane has won 30 WTA titles and spent 71 weeks as world No.1. She insists that her decision to walk away from the sport at the age of 29 is not connected to her health. In 2019 Wozniacki was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. An auto-immune condition that affects a person’s joints.

Life on the tour hasn’t always been plain-sailing for a player who has also endured her injury issues. However, Wozniacki is confident that she will have no ill feelings regarding her decision in the future.

“I’m leaving with no regrets at all because I’ve worked so hard my whole life, my whole career. I’ve given it literally everything that I have to reach where I got.” She stated.
“I can look back at my career and say I’m very proud of everything that I’ve achieved, very proud of the ups and the downs. But especially to be able to just continually push myself to be a better player, I feel like I’ve given a lot to the sport that I can be very proud of.”

The upcoming departure is one that will gap in the women’s game, according to some of her closest rivals. Two out of Karolina Pliskova’s three WTA titles won during the 2017 was due to wins over Wozniacki in the final. The Czech said she was ‘very sad’ to see her opponent stepping away from the tour.

“I’m sure she’s going to be missed. I think she’s a great person and a great player, too.” Said Pliskova.
“I think she played very good tennis and very good to watch, too. Also in the practice, she always tried hard. Always in the matches, I think it was always great quality against her.”

Simona Halep was the player who Wozniacki beat to win the 2018 Australian Open. The Romanian echoed similar sentiments to Pliskova when speaking out about her.

“She’s a very nice person. We (my team) actually got used to seeing her every day in the tournaments on tour, for sure.” Said Halep.
“She’s going to be missed. Also, I’m sure she has many good things ahead. She will be happy.”

Petra Kvitova played down the idea that Wozniacki’s retirement is premature. The two have locked horns 15 times on the tour at events including the WTA Finals, 2016 Olympic Games Wimbledon. However, they have never got to face off against each other in a final.

“She looks very happy, so I hope that she going to be happy when she stop playing tennis as well. I just wish her the best.” She said.

Wozniacki, who is unseeded in the draw, will start her Australian Open campaign on Monday. In the first round she plays America’s Kristie Ahn.

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12th time Lucky: 30-Year-Old Heather Watson Breaks New Ground At Wimbledon

The British veteran has brought delight to home fans at The All England Club.

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Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/status/1542870640591527943/photo/2

Heather Watson says she has no words to explain her feelings after securing a place in the last 16 at Wimbledon for the first time in her career.

 

Reaching the third round was nothing new for the Brit after she had done so on three previous occasions at The All England Club. After winning just two games against Agnieszka Radwanska in 2012, she suffered narrow defeats to Serena Williams in 2015 and then Victoria Azarenka two years later. No matter what she tried, it appeared that reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon was too much for Watson.

However, this year was her golden opportunity with her section seeing seeds Belinda Bencic and Beatriz Haddad Maia losing in the first round. Watson’s third round opponent was Kaja Juvan. Coincidentally another player who hasn’t gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon in her career.

Cheered on by the Court One crowd, Watson prevailed 7-6(6), 6-2, after coming through some tricky moments. She was a break down in the first set and then in the second she stormed to a 5-0 lead before nerves started to play havoc. After dropping two games in a row, Watson battled through a 10-minute service game before prevailing on her first match point with a winning volley at the net.

“It wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a bit of drama at the end. Wow! What an atmosphere,” said Watson.
“There is nowhere I would rather play. You lot (the crowd) got me over the line. I thought she was playing her best tennis at the end.’
“I know I am not speechless as I am blabbing on but I don’t know what to say.”

This year’s Wimbledon is Watson’s 43rd Grand Slam appearance. Heading into the event she has had far from ideal preparation after stuffing an injury scare with her hamstring. Whilst some might have written off her chances of producing a deep run, she never gave up her own belief.

“I wouldn’t still be playing if I thought that ship had sailed,”
she stated in her press conference.
“I’ve been in the third round quite a few times here at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.  I was just sort of waiting for it to happen. I waited long enough,’
“I’m really happy to be into the second week of a Grand Slam for singles finally.”

To get to this position, it has been a bumpy ride for Watson this week with her earlier matches in the tournament being hampered by rain delays and night-time suspensions due to poor visibility.

“This is the first time I get to enjoy this win because in my first two matches I was just constantly in focus mode,”
she reflected.
“I feel like this win’s very different to the others, not just because I’ve reached one of my goals but because I have a bit of time for it to sink in.”

Awaiting Watson in the last 16 will be Germany’s Jule Niemeier who recorded her first win over a top 10 player earlier in the tournament by defeating Anett Kontaveit. Should she win she will follow in the footsteps of Johanna Konta who is the last British woman to reach a Wimbledon quarter-final back in 2019.

“She’s a really good player, a great talent. When I played her (in Monterrey) she was outside the top hundred. I remember saying to my team, `This girl will be top hundred in no time,” Watson said of her next opponent.
“It will be a tough match. She’s one for the future. I’m going to go home and do my homework.” 

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Katie Boulter dedicates her win over Karolina Pliskova to her late grandmother

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Katie Boulter came back from one set down to beat 2021 finalist Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the second round on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Boulter reaches a Grand Slam third round for the first time in her career.

 

Boulter beat Pliskova for the second time in as many weeks on home soil. Nine days ago the British player had beaten her Czech opponent 1-6 6-4 6-4 in the second round at Eastbourne. 

Boulter went up a 2-0 lead in the first set, but Pliskova wn six of the next seven games to seal the opening set 6-3. 

Boulter led by a break twice in the second set, but Pliskova came back both times to draw level on serve. Boulter won the first four points and three of the last four points to clinch the tie-break 7-4. 

Boulter converted her second break point to take a 5-4 lead in the decider. The home player hit a forehand winner at 30-30 and sealed the win with a volley at the net after 1 hour and 57 minutes. 

“I expect a player of that caliber to come back with better tennis. I think I started really well, and I gave away my advantage a little bit in one of the games. I was a little bit frustrated with that. From then on she picked up her game and her momentum. Pliskova is a very aggressive player. I have to stay really strong because I also know she is going to come in waves. She has been able to put it together many times, which is why she has made the final here before”, said Boulter. 

Boulter dedicated her win her win to her granmother Jill, who died earlier this week. 

“She is always someone who has been right into tennis from stage one. She lives just down the road from the tennis club. That’s the tennis club that I started playing tennis at. Leistershire is very close to my heart. I have spent a lot of time on the courts there with my grandparents and my family. Her favourite tournament was Wimbledon. That’s why is a special one for me. She would watch every single match, that was on TV”, said Boulter. 

Boulter set up a third round match against French player Armrt Tan, who beat Serena Williams 7-5 1-6 7-6 (7-5). 

“I actually watched her match against Serena. She makes it very difficult. There is a reason she has beaten some really good players this week. I expect nothing less than her to go out and enjoy herself when I play her. It’s going to be a tough battle, but ultimately I am just going to out and enjoy myself some good tennis hopefully”,said Boulter. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Names His Best Personality Trait Ahead of Wimbledon Showdown With Kyrgios

The Greek has named one ‘defining aspect’ of her personality but will it have any relevance for his next match?

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) - Credit: AELTC/Joe Toth

Stefanos Tsitsipas says he is ‘thrilled’ to book a Wimbledon third round meeting with Nick Kyrgios later this week after seeing off Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Thursday.

 

The world No.5 rallied his way to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5, over Thompson to record only his fifth main draw win at the tournament in his career. Despite his accolades on the Tour, Tsitsipas has endured disappointment at The All England Club. In his four previous appearances, he lost in the first round three times.

Nevertheless, the Greek appears to be heading in the right direction on the grass after winning the Mallorca Open less than a week ago. Although he will be truly tested on Saturday when he faces the dangerous Kyrgios who he lost to in Halle earlier this year after winning the first set. Kyrgios produced a clinical performance in his second round match which he said was a message sent to media criticism him.

“Nick has more matches on me in these courts. He claims to like grass. I think his game is good for the grass,” said Tsitsipas.
“I am definitely thrilled to be facing him. I respect him a lot, on the court, what he’s trying to do. Although he has been a little controversial in the past, I think he’s playing good tennis.’
“I’m going to try and concentrate on doing my thing and pay attention to my own game from start to finish. Hopefully I can stay there and do something great, have a great competitive match against him.”

Kyrgios’ talent has never been disputed but it is his mentality which has at times been his downfall. In his first round match, he was aggravated by the crowd, argued with a match official and spat in front of some people in the stands who were ‘disrespecting’ him.

As for Tsitsipas, the 23-year-old believes his mental strength is one of his best personality traits.

“My mentality is pretty strong. If I fall, I’ll always get up and work hard. I never really have these days where I’m saying, I don’t want to practice today,” he said
“I feel like other players would have that a bit more often than I do. If I fall, I always get up, one thing to get stronger.”

It remains to be seen if Tsitsipas will come back stronger against Kyrgios as he seeks revenge for his recent loss. Although he has lost to the Australian on two other occasions with his only victory in their rivalry being at the Laver Cup.

You just go out on the court hoping to have a good match, hoping to be able to get balls back, be precise with your shot selection. That comes with good preparation. The rest will hopefully follow if you’re able to approach that with the right mindset.” Tsitsipas explained.

Tsitsipas is the only seeded player remaining in his section of the draw after two rounds played.

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