Heather Watson To Crack Top 50 For First Time Since 2016 Following Mexican Glory - UBITENNIS
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Heather Watson To Crack Top 50 For First Time Since 2016 Following Mexican Glory

It has been a week to remember for the 27-year-old.

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British No.1 Heather Watson has returned back to the winner’s circle on the WTA Tour for the first time since 2016 after claiming the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC singles title.

 

Watson, who was seeded seventh in the tournament, required almost three hours to see off 17-year-old Canadian rising star Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-1. Fernandez is the reigning French Open girls champion. The roller-coaster encounter saw the British player get sternly tested both physically and mentally. Watson had five match points during the second set tiebreaker, but was unable to convert all of them. Nevertheless, she regained momentum by winning six out of the last seven games played.

“I’m so happy to get my fourth title. It’s been a few years, so I’m just really, really happy I came through that match.” wattennis.com quoted Watson as telling reporters.
“It was so up and down. I had those [match] points in the second set, and I wasn’t able to win that, but I was really pleased with how I stayed in the moment, and won that third set.” She added.

Throughout the marathon final, the 27-year-old hit 37 winners to 36 unforced errors and converted five out of her nine break point opportunities to become the first British player to win the tournament. Watson has now won 12 matches so far this season against three losses. In January she also reached the semi-finals of the Hobart International.

“I’ve played Leylah two times before this and I knew what to expect,” she commented on her teenage rival.
“She’s a great player, and I knew it would be really tough, but the thing I notice about her the most is the head on her shoulders.
“She’s very, very mature for her age and I think it’s her mental toughness that really stands out.”

Runner-up Fernandez, who is currently ranked 190th in the world, also exits the tournament with her head held high. The qualifier had previously never reached the quarter-final of a WTA event prior to this week. She is set to rise up the rankings to inside the world’s top 130 for the first time in her career.

As for Watson, who has now won four WTA titles in her career, she will return back into the world’s top 50 for the first time since June 2016. She has been ranked as high as 38th in the world.

Both Watson and Hernandez are set to play at the Monterrey Open, which will get underway on Monday. Neither of them will be seeded in the tournament.

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Ivan Ljubicic impressed by Roger Federer’s motivation to get back in his best shape

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Roger Federer is training hard to get ready for the start of the 2021 season at next February’s Australian Open in Melbourne. 

 

Federer entered only one tournament in 2020 at the Australian Open last January. The Swiss legend reached his 15th Australian Open semifinal and his 46th Grand Slam semifinal. He beat John Millman in the tie-break of the fifth set in the third round to score his 100th win at the Australian Open. In the quarter final Federer saved seven match points to beat Tennys Sandgren but he struggled with injury problems and lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinal, his last official match of the year. 

After playing in the record-breaking charity match against Rafael Nadal in Cape Town in front of more than 50000 spectators, Federer was sidelined by a right knee injury and underwent surgery last February. 

The season was suspended from March to August due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Federer was not able to play again, when the season resumed, and underwent the second surgery. 

Federer decided to take a rest and focus on the 2021 season to reach his best shape for next February’s Australian Open. 

Federer’s coach Ivan Ljubicic is confident about Federer’s come-back. The former Croatian player travelled to Switzerland to visit Roger and was impressed by his motivation to return to his best shape. 

“Roger is working very hard and is motivated to fight for the big titles next season. We are getting new information about the Australian Open. The Australian Government wants the event to unfold under strict rules. Both Roger and I tried to do our best in the past eight months. I have been to Switzerland, and we have trained on the court. Roger is very motivated He is incredible. Many people wonder why he still plays, finding it hard to understand that he still enjoys the game and wants to chase notable wins. He wants to be competitive and get back to the level he had before the injury”, said Ivan Ljubicic. 

In January 2017 Federer made an impressive come-back after undergoing knee surgery in February 2016. The 20-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined for six months after losing to Milos Raonic in five sets in the Wimbledon semifinal in 2016. He returned to action in January 2017 with an epic five set win over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final. Federer claimed seven titles, including his 19th Grand Slam triumph at Wimbledon.

Federer extended his Grand Slam record by winning his 20th Major title at the 2018 Australian Open against Marin Cilic in five sets. He clinched three more titles that season in Rotterdam, Stuttgart and Basel and became the oldest world number 1 in 45-year history of the ATP Ranking at the age of 36 in February 2018 after winning the quarter final in Rotterdam. He enjoyed another successful season in 2019 winning his 8th title in Dubai, his fourth title Miami, his 10th title in Halle and 10th title in Basel. He has claimed a total of 103 ATP titles, trailing only Jimmy Connors’ 109 titles. As a 38-year-old player he won the home tournament in Basel becoming the oldest tour-level champion since Ken Rosewall. 

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André Agassi is glad that he did not have to play against the Big 3

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André Agassi talked about the Big 3 rivarly between Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer during his interview during a session at the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. 

 

Agassi played against Pete Sampras during the golden era of US tennis. Sampras held a record for most Grand Slams in men’s tennis with 14 titles. This record has been surpassed by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in the following era. 

Nadal recently won the 13th Roland Garros and 20th Grand Slam of his career, tying Federer’s record. Djokovic is currently third with his 17 Major titles after his eighth triumph at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Agassi won eight career Grand Slam titles (four at the Australian Open in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003, one at Roland Garros in 1999, one at Wimbledon in 1992 and two at the US Open in 1994 and 1999). 

Agassi admitted that he was glad that he did not have to compete against the Big 3. 

“I wake up every day very grateful that the peak of my career wasn’t during this generation. Because if that was the case, I would be on here talking about how I almost won this and almost that. We have three guys that are arguably the greatest of all time. They are all playing at the same time, which is remarkable. They have really done what the sport hasn’t seen and they will continue for a little bit longer”, said Agassi. 

Agassi played against Nadal and Federer in his finals on Tour. Nadal beat Agassi at the Canadian Open in 2005 and Wimbledon 2006 and won five out of his six sets againt the US player. Federer met Agassi 11 times and led their head-to-head series 8-3. Agassi beat Federer at the 2001 US Open and in the final of the 2002 Miami Open. Federer beat Agassi in their past eight clashes including the final of the Masters Cup in Houston in 2003 and the US Open final in 2005.  

Agassi was asked to make a choice between the greatest. The former US legend said there were points of each of them. “You can make an argument for Djokovic, too, who can play on any surface and be the favourite to win, which is a remarkable thing to say during this generation, but overall tennis is the winner. It is great for me to watch it and appreciate it and when it ends, we are all going to miss it”, said Djokovic. 

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Kei Nishikori Issues Fitness Update Ahead Of New Season

After a difficult season where he could only win two matches, the world No.41 is hoping to get back on track next year.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori says he is eager to start competing against the best in the world again after what has been a troublesome season.

 

The 30-year-old has only been able to play four tournaments this year due to a combination of injury, the pandemic and illness. Nishikori underwent surgery on his shoulder in October 2019 which subsequently resulted in him missing the start of this season. Then he was forced to pull out of his planned return at the US Open after testing positive for COVID-19. Eventually he returned to action in Kitzbuhel during September but had to close his season early a few weeks later after injuring his shoulder at the French Open.

“We had a few tournaments (due to the pandemic) and my season came to an end when I was beginning to get my feel back,” Kyodo news quoted Nishikori as saying on Friday. “I really can’t wait for next year.”

Overall, Nishikori won just two out of six matches played on the Tour in 2020. Scoring wins over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Rome and Britain’s Dan Evans at Roland Garros. The highest ranked player he faced was No.22 Christian Garin, who he lost 6-0, 6-3, to in Hamburg.

Despite his setbacks, the Japanese player insists that he is now back on track and his shoulder is at ‘a decent level.

“(My shoulder) has recovered to a decent level. It’ll be definitely okay for next year,” Nishikori said. “I’ll prepare (for the Olympics) assuming that they will take place.”
“I couldn’t face top-10 ranked players this season. I want to compete at that level again as soon as I can.”

One of Nishikori’s goals for next year will be the Olympic Games which are taking place in Tokyo for the first time since 1964. The Games have to be postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nishikori is the only player from his country to have won an Olympic medal during the Open Era after winning bronze in 2016.

I think it’s hard for athletes and the public to think about the Olympics right now. I just want to prepare well,he said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nishikori has been ranked as high fourth in the world but is currently in 41st position. So far in his career he has won 12 ATP titles and earned more than $24 million in prize money.

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