Ukraine’s highest ranked player has said she is currently planning to start her return to professional tennis on the European clay and may skip the North American swing.
Elina Svitoliva has said her current intention is to return to action at the Madrid Open, which will get underway on September 12th. Although this could change in the coming weeks. The announcement comes amid concerns from players over travelling to the US Open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CNN has reported that the country has broken its record for the number of daily cases nine times within a month. Although New York, which is where the US Open is held, has seen a dip in cases.
Besides the cases, there are also questions over if quarantine rules between Europe and America will be applied to players or not. Due to professional tennis being halted by the pandemic for four months, the WTA and ATP calendars have been revised with more big tournaments taking place within a short time of each other. Just three weeks separates the US Open from the French Open, which has been moved from its usual slot in June.
“Considering how things are today, I think I will start in Madrid and will not play at the US Open,” Ukrainian Tennis portal btu.org.ua quoted Svitolina as saying. “So this is what I think at the moment, but so it is not a 100% final decision.”
In Svitolina’s case she has a saving grace thanks to changes to the WTA ranking points system. As a result of the Tour break, the governing body has decided to implement a “Better of 2019 and 2020” point model. Under the new changes, a player’s ranking will be determined by her best 16 results between March 2019 and December 2020 instead of the usual 52-week period.
Under the changes, world No.5 Svitolina will not lose her points from the 2019 US Open where she reached the semi-finals if she doesn’t play this year. She can only gain points if she progresses to the final of the tournament. Something she herself admits is unlikely.
“My motivation to go to the USA would be to protect my points. If the WTA said that the points will be removed, then I would like to go and perform so as not to lose my position in the rankings,” she said.
“We are in a difficult situation (due to the pause), so you would not want to worsen your position in the rankings. There is another factor – this is health, which, of course, is also important.”
“A year ago I reached the semifinals (of the US Open) and it is rather difficult to repeat such a result or surpass it.”
Svitolina is currently in Berlin playing in the Bett1 Aces exhibition. Earlier in the week she won the first leg of the tournament by fighting back from a set down to defeat Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-1, 10-5. However, in her latest match, she was crushed 6-1, 6-1, by Anastasija Sevastova.
“We still do not know what will happen next, every week the situation changes. We see what is happening in China with sports competitions . Although the WTA says that there is still no final decision (regarding the cancellation of tennis tournaments), this also needs to be taken into account. I think the associations are doing everything in their power.” She concluded.
Lorenzo Sonego claims the title in Metz
Lorenzo Sonego beat seventh seed Alexander Bublik 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 after 87 minutes in the final of the Moselle Open in Metz to win the third title of his career and the first in 2022 without dropping a set in the whole week after beating Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinal. Sonego won his first tournament on hard-court.
Sonego, who was playing the fifth final of his career, saved three break points at 2-2 to hold serve in the fifth game of a hard-fought first set. Bublik saved a set point on return at 4-5 down with a backhand passing shot.
Sonego won four consecutive points from 3-3 in the tie-break with two mini-breaks to claim the opening set 7-3 after 57 minutes.
Sonego broke serve in the third game at 15 to take a 2-1 lead, as Bublik made a volley error on the break point. The former Vienna finalist earned a double break at 30 in the fourth game to take a 4-1 lead with a passing shot. Sonego closed out the win with a hold at 15 on his first match point.
Sonego has extended his lead in the head-to-head matches against Bublik to 4-0.
“I improved my tennis every day, and I am really happy for this match and this tournament. I like the atmosphere here. It was unbelievable today, yesterday and this week. It’s really tough to play against Alexander, because he is an unbelievable player with an amazing serve, good talent, and it is always tough to play him”, said Sonego.
Sonego has reached his first ATP Tour final since Eastbourne in June 2021. With this title he has moved up to world number 44 in the ATP Ranking.
Bublik had won his first ATP title on French indoor courts in Montpellier last February. “Big congratulations to Lorenzo. It’s always a pleasure to lose against you, as I told you at the net. Thanks to my team, thanks to everyone for supporting me and I was happy to be back in the finals in France”, said Bublik.
In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title
Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.
Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012.
“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw.
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”
Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week.
“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.
There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open.
Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20.
Team Europe leads 8-4 over Team World 8-4 heading into the final day at the Laver Cup
Novak Djokovic cruised past Frances Tiafoe 6-1 6-3 after 72 minutes to earn Team Europe a 6-4 lead over Team World at the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London.
Djokovic also won the doubles match with Matteo Berrettini to put Europe into a 8-4 lead before the final day on Sunday.
Djokovic was playing his first match since his 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last July, when he beat Nick Kyrgios. The Serbian player holds a 1-1 at the Laver Cup, after losing his only previous match at this tournament against Kevin Anderson in 2018.
Djokovic did not drop a point on serve in the first set against Tiafoe and faced just one break point in the entire match. He held serve at love in the opening game.
Tiafoe held in the second game with a service winner. Djokovic won his second service game to take a 2-1 lead before breaking serve in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead.
Djokovic hit another service winner in the fifth game to hold his third consecutive service game. Djokovic rallied from 0-30 down to earn his second break with a crosscourt forehand winner building up a 5-1 lead.
Djokovic closed out the first set at love 6-1 in the seventh game with a backhand down the line after 22 minutes.
Djokovic converted a break point in the opening game of the second set with a backhand winner. Tiafoe earned a break point with a backhand down the line winner in the second game. Djokovic saved it to build up a 6-1 2-0 lead. Tiafoe held serve in the third game with a winner at the net. Djokovic held serve with an ace down the T line at love In the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead.
Tiafoe fended off a break point in the fifth game with a backhand crosscourt winner and held another chance with a lucky net cord winner. Djokovic hit an ace to hold serve for 4-3. Tiafoe netted a backhand to face two match points, as he was serving to stay in the match in the ninth game. Djokovic converted his first match point to earn his 24th win this season.
“I have not played for two months and I am really glad to have continued the run, It was a pretty decent match from my side”, said Djokovic.
Earlier today Matteo Berrettini edged Felix Auger Aliassime 7-6 (13-11) 4-6 10-7 in a hard-fought match to put Team Europe ahead 4-2. Berrettini sealed a very long tie-break on his sixth set point in the first set 13-11 in the first set after more than 20 minutes. Auger Aliassime needed just one break in the thirdto win the second set 6-4. Berrettini earned a 7-2 lead with two mini-breaks in the Super tie-break. Auger Aliassime pulled one mini-break back for 5-8, but Berrettini sealed the win 10-7 on his first match point after 2 hours and 15 minutes. Berrettini has extended his lead in his head-to-head matches against Auger Aliassime to 4-1. He beat his 22-year-old Canadian rival in last year’s edition of the Laver Cup.
“It’s always a great fight against Felix. We played for 2 hours and 15 minutes. He is a hell of a player. I had to play my best tennis in the Match tie-break to win. I am really happy because I didn’t win just for me but for the team. Having the chance to live what we lived yesterday is something that’s going that’s going to be stuck in my heart and my brain forever. I am not lying when I say that I am here because of Federer. He was the one that I was looking up to. He was the one that I was supporting, cheering for him”, said Berrettini.
Taylor Fritz then edged past Cameron Norrie 6-1 4-6 10-8 to draw the tie level to 4-4 before Djokovic cruised past Tiafoe to give Europe a 6-4 lead. The 21-time Grand Slam champion teamed up with Berrettini to beat Jack Sock and Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 22 minutes.
Team Europe leads 8-4 heading into the final day. Europe will win a fifth cnnsecutive title with two more victories.
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