Serena Williams Sends Out Warning To Rivals Ahead Of Tennis Return - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Sends Out Warning To Rivals Ahead Of Tennis Return

The 23-time grand slam champion has said she is ‘feeling better than ever’ and is relishing her return to the sport.

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Former world No.1 Serena Williams has said the ongoing suspension of the WTA Tour has enabled her to get back into top shape as she eagerly awaits returning to ‘real tennis.’

 

All professional tournaments have been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Williams hasn’t played on the Tour since her third round loss at the Australian Open back in January. She started 2020 in winning ways after claiming the Auckland Open title in what is her first piece of silverware since becoming a mother.

“I really look forward to getting back on the court,” Williams said during an Instagram Live workout session with her sister Venus on Tuesday.
“It’s what I do best. I absolutely love playing.”

It is still unclear as to when the Tour will start going again with the current resumption date of July 13th expected to be delayed again in the coming weeks. The United States Tennis Association is currently looking into how or if the US Open will take place later this year with a final decision expected next month. Over 20 tournaments have already been cancelled or suspended, including Wimbledon being axed for the first time since 1945.

Despite the sport coming to a halt, Williams believes it has helped revive her body. The American will turn 39 in September and is the second oldest player in the top 100 after Venus. She is chasing after a record-equalling 24th grand slam title in order to level with Margaret Court, but last won a major trophy at the 2017 Australian Open. Williams had been runner-up in four out of the last seven grand slam tournaments played.

“I felt like my body needed it, even though I didn’t want it,” she explains about the break.
“And now I’m feeling better than ever. I’m feeling more relaxed, more fit. Now I can go out and play real tennis.”

However, tennis great Martina Navratilova believes the current situation is ‘time lost’ for Williams and the other older players on the Tour. Navratilova, who claimed a total of 59 grand slam titles during her career, believes the break could have an impact on the former world No.1 and her legacy in the sport.

“For players like Roger Federer and Serena Williams, it’s time lost,” she told laureus.com. “Particularly Serena, Wimbledon being her best chance to break Margaret Court’s record. She’s stuck on 23 and tries to get to 24, maybe 25.
“It’s an opportunity lost when you’re not getting any younger. If I was sitting in that position I’d be going nuts that I can’t play.
“Everybody’s in the same boat, but for the old players like Roger and even Rafa (Rafael Nadal) and particularly Serena, it’s more difficult, no doubt about that.”

Williams has won a total of 73 WTA titles so far in her career and has earned more prize money than any other female tennis player in history.

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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova skips the US Open

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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova has decided to skip the US Open. The Russian player wrote a post on her Instagram account.

 

“I have been thinking a lot and decided not to play at the US Open. It was not easy because I hadn’t missed any Grand Slam in my entire career. Tennis is everything for me. The main reason is insecurity. The US Open does not guarantee any guarantees. I don’t feel comfortable to travel to the USA in such circumstances. I thank the USTA and the WTA that give a chance to play. From this moment, every player is on his own. My team and I have decided it would be for the best not to participate”, said Pavlyuchenkova. 

Pavlyuchenkova has joined the list of players, who have decided to miss the US Open. The list includes Nick Kygios, Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty. More players are expected to make a final decision on travelling to the USA for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open in the coming weeks. 

Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the quarter finals at last January’s Australian Open and reached her career-high of world number 13 in the WTA singles ranking in July 2011. She is currently ranked world number 30 and claimed twelve singles and five doubles titles on the WTA Tour, including her biggest title at the Open GDF Suez and the Moscow Kremlin Cup in 2014. She got through to a Grand Slam quarter final six times and reached the top eight at least once in all four Grand Slam tournaments in singles and doubles. 

Last weekend Pavlyuchenkova won the Ultimate Tennis Showdown near Nice in the tournament organized by Patrick Mouratoglou. 

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Donna Vekic suffers shock loss to Italian wildcard

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Donna Vekic sensationally crashed out of the Palermo Ladies Open after slipping to a surprise 6-2 6-4 defeat to World No.156 Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

 

The Croatian, 24, was one of the favourites to win the tournament before it started. And her chances of glory looked even better after she produced an excellent display in the first round and three of the eight seeds were knocked out.

However, Vekic struggled from the outset against the 19-year-old Italian. She had to save three break points just to get to 2-2 in the opening set. Then she squandered a break point with a wild return in game five.

From that point on, the errors started piling up from the Croatian. She hit a forehand just wide on break point to enable Cocciaretto to go 4-2 up. Then she served poorly to allow the Italian to break her again and clinch the set 6-2.

Vekic wastes her chances

Elisabetta Cocciaretto (@LadiesOpenPA on Twitter)

Had she been playing well, Vekic would probably have established a 3-0 lead in the second set. She wasted a break point chance in the first game, meekly dropped her own serve in the second and then actually managed to break in the third game.

Somewhat surprisingly, the match then settled into a predictable rhythm as both players held serve comfortably during the next six games.

At 5-4 down, the Croatian faltered again. She hit an awful drop shot into the net to fall 15-30 behind. Then she hit a short serve and a short forehand and could only watch in horror as Cocciaretto crunched successive winners past her to seal victory.

“I’m really excited and really happy for the win and I want to thank all the fans,” the Italian said in her on-court interview. “I watched Flavia Pennetta and Sara Errani playing here when I was six years old and I dreamed of following in their footsteps. It’s incredible to think that I’m doing it now.”

Cocciaretto played well throughout the match. She defended resolutely and picked the right times to attack. However, Vekic let her dictate points far too often, and she never did anything to tip the momentum back in her favour. This may be what disappoints her the most about her performance.

As for the Italian wildcard, she can bask in the glow of her first-ever win over a Top-30 player. On Friday, she will play in her first-ever WTA quarter-final. She will face either Annet Kontaveit or Laura Siegemund.

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Sara Errani reaches the quarter finals in Palermo for the eighth time

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Former Roland Garros champion Sara Errani came back from one set down to beat Krystina Pliskova 3-6 6-4 6-3 in a thrilling match at the Ladies Open in Palermo. Errani reaches the quarter finals for the eighth time in her career. 

 

Errani, who won two titles in Palermo in 2008 and 2012, has scored her tour-leading 180th career win on clay, more than any active player on tour. Pliskova went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead. Errani fended off five set points across three games and broke serve to claw her way back to 3-5. Pliskova sealed the opening set 6-3 with another break. 

Errani started the second set with an early break to take a 1-0 lead and did not face a break point to claim the second set 6-4. 

Both players traded breaks at the start of the third set. Errani got another break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and saved two break-back points to keep her lead.  

Errani will face French player Fiona Ferro, who upset number 8 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5 6-2 in their first head-to-head match on Centre Court after 1 hour and 49 minutes to reach her second consecutive quarter final at the 31st edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo. Ferro scored her second win over a top 30 player. 

Ferro reached the second round at the Australian Open and lost to Elena Rybakina in the Round of 16 in St. Petersburg earlier this year. Alexandrova won her first WTA title in Shenzhen and advanced to the third round in Melbourne. 

Alexandrova got an early break to take a 2-0 lead in the opening set. Ferro broke straight back in the third game and held serve in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Ferro won five consecutive games to build a 7-5 3-0 lead with three breaks in the 11th game of the first set and in the 1st and 3rd games of the second set. Alexandrova pulled one break back in the fourth game for 1-3, but Ferro broke for the third time to serve for the match at 5-2. 

Alexandrova earned two break points, but Ferro saved them. Alexandrova saved the first match point, but Ferro closed out the match, as her Russian rival made two forehand errors. 

Former world number 30 Aliaksandra Sasnovich cruised past Jasmine Paolini 6-0 6-2 to reach the quarter finals. Sasnovich last made the last eight a WTA Tour in January 2019 in Sydney, when she reached the semifinal as a qualifier. 

Paolini reached the top 100 for the first time last year and earned a career-high of world number 94 last March. 

Sasnovich fended off two break points and dropped just 14 points. She broke three times to score a 6-0 win in the opening set. Paolini won her first game, but Sasnovich got two breaks in the first and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. Paolini failed to convert six break points and Sasnovich won a very long service game with 10 deuces. The player from Belarus served out the second set 6-2 on her third match point with a drop-shot. 

Sasnovich set up a quarter final against either top seed Petra Martic or Liudmila Samsonova. 

“I played very well in the first set because I knew how to play against my opponent. I have seen a few matches of hers. She is a really great player. I think the Italian crowd really likes her, and I like her, because I like how she plays”, said Sasnovich. 

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