Mouratoglou: Fitness Is An Issue For Serena Williams, Not Confidence - UBITENNIS
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Mouratoglou: Fitness Is An Issue For Serena Williams, Not Confidence

The coach of the world No.9 reflects on what has been a mixed 2019 season.

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The coach of Serena Williams has suggested that the prospect of breaking the all-time grand slam singles record is the key thing motivating her to continue her career.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou, who has worked with the former world No.1 since 2012, reflected on Williams’ 2019 season in a piece written for Tennis Head magazine. Last year the American came within a single win of a record-equalling 24th grand slam title twice. Settling for runner-up at both Wimbledon and the US Open. She is yet to win a major title since becoming a mother.

“Serena Williams has played in seven Grand Slam tournaments and reached the finals of four of them, losing on each occasion. In none of them did we see the Serena who had won 23 Grand Slam singles titles before she took a 14-month break to have her first child.” Mouratoglou admits.

All four of her most recent grand slam finals saw the 38-year-old falter as she lost comprehensively in straight sets. Numerous theories have circulated as to why she has been unable to claim another grand slam title. Earlier this year, Williams was one of the heavy favourites to win the Australian Open after triumphing at the ASB Classic in Auckland. Winning her first trophy of any kind since 2017. However, she lost in the third round at Melbourne to Qiang Wang.

Some have suggested that a lack of match play has hampered Williams over recent months. During 2019 she only played in three WTA tournaments outside of the Grand Slams, as well as one Fed Cup tie. Although her coach disagrees that this is an issue.

“People ask me whether Serena is playing enough tournaments away from the Grand Slam events. Of course, playing and winning matches can only give you confidence, but I don’t feel that a lack of confidence has been the problem for her.” He explained.
“You don’t win quarter-finals and semi-finals in the way that she has without feeling confident. Similarly, there has been no problem with her level of tennis going into these finals.”

Elaborating further, Mouratoglou believes fitness has been the main problem for Williams. Saying that he doesn’t think she has reached ‘100 percent yet.’ Something he links to her 14-month  maternity leave from the sport between 2017-2018.

“She’s getting closer and closer to 100 per cent fitness, but I don’t think she’s there yet.” He stated.
“It’s important to feel that your fitness is at a high enough level to enable you to get a lot of balls back if you run into trouble in the rallies.”

The next major for Williams will be the French Open, which will get underway at the end of May. Given her recent disappointments, her team have been left contemplating if a new approach is needed. Something that isn’t as simple as it seems.

“What we have to consider is that Serena is facing a new challenge at the moment, the last one of her career, and that we probably need to adapt and find a solution to it.” Williams’ coach argues.
“People ask me if Serena can equal Court’s record. My response is that she doesn’t play to equal records. She plays to beat them. She never plays for a silver medal. She goes for gold – every time.”

Williams has won 73 WTA titles so far in her career. She is set to return to action at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which will get underway on Monday.

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Ash Barty Insists No Queue Jumping Involved As She Gets Covid-19 Vaccine

The world No.1 says she is pleased to have a ‘small layer of protection.’

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Ash Barty has confirmed that she was one of the players to receive a COVID-19 vaccination during a Tour event in Charleston.

 

The tournament and Plantation Pharmacy, a local drugstore, formed an agreement which offered all players a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccination to players participating in two events. The Volvo Open and 2021 MUSC Health Women’s Open which took place at the same venue the week after.

Barty confirmed for the first time earlier this week that she and her coach Craig Tyzzer took up the offer. Speaking to reporters from the Stuttgart Open, the former French Open champion stated that she ‘didn’t jump any queues’ to get the vaccine. Joining the likes of Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka who have also had their doses earlier in the year.

“We were looking at different avenues to try and get vaccinated without jumping the queue in Australia to see what our options were, and we weren’t able to get much of an answer before we left in March,” said Barty.
“We were able to get the vaccine, as were a lot of other players, through the Tour and that they had organised through a certain pharmacy that had extras, and that was important to me knowing that those who were the most vulnerable were able to get it first.”

The 24-year-old missed most of the season last year due to travelling concerns related to the pandemic. In total she missed nearly 11 months of the Tour before returning to action in Melbourne in February. Since then, Barty has won the Yarra Valley Classic and Miami Open.

“It was nice to know that we have got that small layer of protection,” she added.
“We still do the right things and abide by all the rules and the guidelines set in place by the Tour but knowing that we had that little bit of extra protection puts us at ease a bit more.”

This week the Australian is seeking her first trophy on the clay since her triumph in Roland Garros back in 2019. The top seed in Stuttgart, she kicked-off her campaign on Wednesday with a 6-0, 7-5, win over former champion Laura Siegemund. She will play either Jelena Ostapenko or Karolina Pliskova in the next round.

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Ashleigh Barty beats former champion Laura Siegemund at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart

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World number 1 Ashleigh Barty edged past 2017 Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund 6-0 7-5 after 84 minutes to reach the quarter finals at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. 

 

Barty, who had won her previous match against Siegemund in Doha 2020, won all 24 of the first serve points and hit 19 winners.

Barty never faced a break points and converted all her three break points to take a bagel win in the first set. 

Siegemund earned her first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead with a drop volley winner. Barty got the break straight back to draw level to 2-2 with a winning lob. 

Siegemund saved four break points in the sixth game to hold serve for 3-3. Barty saved a break point in the ninth game before sealing the second set 7-5 with a break in the 12th game. 

Barty set up a quarter final match against either Karolina Pliskova or Jelena Ostapenko, who will meet on Thursday. 

Pliskova battled past lucky loser and world number 137 Tamara Korpatch 7-5 3-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes Plskova came back from a break down to win the opening set 7-5. She went up a break in the second set, but lost the second set from a break up, but she claimed the decider on her second match point. 

Korpatch broke serve in the second game to open up a 5-2 lead. Pliskova won five consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to claim the opening set 7-5. 

Pliskova went up a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Korpatch reeled off four consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to win the second set 6-3. 

Pliskova raced out to a 5-1 lead in the second and sixth games, but Korpatch pulled one break back in the eighth game. Pliskova closed out the third set 6-3 on her second match point.  

Korpatch peaked at world number 107 in August 2019 after reaching the semifinals in Lausanne. She came into the tournament on a seven-match losing streak dating back to Prague last August. 

Pliskova will face off Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Stefanie Voegele 6-4 7-5. 

“First of all, I am very happy that I am through, but other than that, I didn’t see many really good things. Maybe there were a couple of good points, but it was not the best performance. I think she was also playing a bit tricky, all of these high balls, and also still getting used to the clay. I was struggling a bit in the rallies. I thought my serve was quite OK. Maybe two games were not so good, but a lot of things have to improve until tomorrow”, said Pliskova.

Defending champion Petra Kvitova battled past Maria Sakkari 6-3 3-6 6-3 after two hours and a half. Kvitova saved 13 of the 16 break points she faced and she saved nine of the thirteen break points she faced. 

Kvitova earned just a single break point at 2-1 and saved the three break points she faced to close out the first set 6-3. Sakkari got an early break in the second game of the second set to open up a 2-0 lead. Kvitova pulled back on serve at 4-3, but Sakkari converted her eighth break point with a dropshot winner in the eighth game. Sakkari held serve at 30 to claim the second set 6-3. 

Kvitova broke serve in the fourth game with a backhand crosscourt winner to take a 3-1 lead. Sakkari broke straight back in the fifth game. Kvitova converted her fourth break point for 5-3 after a double fault by Sakkari and served out the match at deuce in the ninth game. 

Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber won 78% of her first serves and hit 23 winners to nine unforced errors to beat Ekaterine Gorgodze 6-2 6-2. Gorgodze committed 24 unforced errors and converted only 2 of her 10 break points. 

World number 27 Anett Kontaveit has improved her win-loss record to 11-3 in Stuttgart after a 7-5 6-4 win over Sofia Kenin after 94 minutes.  The Estonian player has reached the quarter finals or better in all four of her main-draw tournament appearances in Stuttgart and finished runner-up to Petra Kvitova in 2019. 

Kontaveit scored the 12th win over a top 10 player in her career and the first in 2021. 

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Astra Sharma clinches her maiden WTA title at the MUSC Health Women’s Open in Charleston

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World number 165 Astra Sharma from Australia came back from one set down to beat number 1 seed and world number 27 Ons Jabeur 2-6 7-5 6-1 to clinch her maiden WTA title at the MUSC Health Women’s Open final in Charleston. 

 

Sharma lost to Amanda Anisimova in her only previous career final in Bogotà 2019. 

Jabeur held serve for 1-1 with her dropshots and got two breaks to open up a 5-1 lead. The 2020 Australian Open quarter finalist never faced a break point to close out the first set 6-2.

Sharma earned her first two break points in the fourth game and hit a winner off the netcord to break serve to open up a 3-1 lead. 

Jabeur earned a double break point with a passing shot winner in the fifth game and broke back for 2-3 after a wide error by Sharma. 

Both players held serve until the 12th game, when Jabeur earned a 40-15 lead at 6-5 to send the second set into a tie-break. Sharma won four consecutive points to earn her second break sending the match to the third set. 

After a trade of breaks Sharma won the final four games with two breaks and closed out the match with a love service hold. 

Hailey Baptiste and Caty McNally fought back from one set down to beat number 1 seeded team formed by Ellen Perez and Storm Sanders 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 10-6 after 95 minutes. 

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