Predicting The WTA Lockdown Winners And Losers - UBITENNIS
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Predicting The WTA Lockdown Winners And Losers

Ubitennis takes a look at some of the lockdown winners and losers on the WTA side ahead of Tennis’ restart.

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Bianca Andreescu (@TennisCanada - Twitter)

In the first part of assessing tennis’ restart from a five month hiatus, UBI Tennis looks at the potential lockdown winners and losers on the WTA Tour. 

After a five month hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the WTA Tour is due to return on the 3rd of August in Palermo, with events in Prague and Lexington following before the second grand slam of the season in New York. Although there is still doubt whether the US Open will happen, tennis’ top stars will be making their return at some point this season, so with that in mind it’s time to take a look at some of the players that may have benefited from the Lockdown and the players that may have their momentum halted. Firstly let’s take a look at the potential lockdown winners.

Lockdown Winners 

Bianca Andreescu 

Although the Canadian may not have played this year before the lockdown, the extra time off would have benefited the defending US Open champion. After suffering a serious knee injury at the WTA Finals in October, Andreescu has been spending time rehabilitating and recovering in time for her return. Although it is unclear whether the world number six will return this year, the 22 month ranking rule means that she won’t lose too many points in her absence from tennis and can take her time coming back to tennis as she looks to build on what was a sensational 2019 season. Bianca is definitely a lockdown winner.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_A0p6jja-3/

Johanna Konta 

Another potential lockdown winner is Johanna Konta, having started the year in terrible form having won three matches from her opening four tournaments. All three victories came at her last competitive tournament in Monterrey, where the highest ranked opponent she managed to defeat was at 84 in the world. This time off would have cleared her mind and also ensured that her niggling knee injury has fully recovered ahead of the semi-final points that she has to defend at Roland Garros. The time off has also allowed her to focus on other projects such as her self-titled podcast. Therefore Jo is a lockdown winner.

Naomi Osaka 

After a phenomenal end to the 2019 season, Naomi Osaka’s frailties were there to see before the lockdown as nerves got the best of her at the Australian Open in a present v future match against Coco Gauff. This third round loss in Melbourne was followed by her disastrous display in Spain at Fed Cup against Sara Sorribes Tormo on the 7th of February. Now Osaka has had six months to mentally and physically get in shape as well as earn praise for using her voice in a positive way as she continues to call out systematic racism. Is this the motivation she needs to raise her level on her return to tennis? This break could benefit Naomi massively, therefore she is a lockdown winner.

Notable Mentions:

Sloane Stephens: The American only managed to win one match in 2020 before lockdown, serving as a reminder that much work is to be done in order to get back to the form that won her the US Open in 2018. This break could help her mentally get back on track and return to winning form

Donna Vekic: The Croatian has only managed to win back-to-back matches at two tournaments since her US Open quarter-final and as a result split with her coach Torben Beltz just before resuming training. This lockdown would have been beneficial for the 24 year-old to get back to her roots and look to rediscover the form she produced in the American summer last year.

https://twitter.com/DonnaVekic/status/1280886772180844553

Lockdown Losers

Simona Halep

Just before lockdown, the Romanian managed to win her first title of 2020 at the Premier event in Dubai in a hard-fought final against Elena Rybakina. In-fact Halep had only lost two matches in 2020, winning the other 10. Therefore the lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time especially given the fact that coach Darren Cahill is still in Australia. Only time will tell whether Tennis’ long hiatus has managed to disrupt her momentum but it certainly can’t have been beneficial to the Wimbledon champion, therefore Simona is a lockdown loser.

Garbine Muguruza

Before lockdown, Muguruza was undergoing a rebirth of her grand slam winning form under Conchita Martinez, having reached the Australian Open final. Wins over Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Simona Halep saw the Spaniard rekindle that hard-hitting, confident form that has seen her win two grand slams. A Doha Quarter-Final loss to Ash Barty before the lockdown gave Muguruza something to think about but there is no denying that this lockdown has halted Muguruza’s momentum.

Aryna Sabalenka 

The big-hitting Belarusian entered lockdown having won another premier 5 tournament this time in Doha having beaten Petra Kvitová in the final. The world number 11 was in free-flowing form after her first round Australian Open defeat. Ultimately this is one of the reasons why she is one of the losers of tennis’ hiatus as she now has to rediscover her momentum in tough circumstances but as we all know when Sabalenka is playing her best tennis she is hard to stop.

Notable Mentions

Ash Barty: The world number one won Adelaide, reached the Australian Open and Doha Semi-Finals before lockdown and had her momentum halted. Furthermore travel restrictions from Australia means that it could be difficult for her to defend her Roland Garros title in October.

Petra Kvitová: The world number 12 won 12 matches in 2020 before the lockdown and was arguably the in-form player before lockdown and will need to get back into her rhythm when tennis returns

 

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Iga Swiatek beats Emma Raducanu to extend her winning streak to ten consecutive matches in Stuttgart

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Two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek held off 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 after 2 hours and 3 minutes to extend her winning streak to 10 consecutive matches at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. 

Swiatek set up a semifinal match against 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who came back from a break down in the third set to beat this year’s Dubai champion Jasmine Paolini.

Raducanu came back from 0-40 down to earn the first break of the opening set. Swiatek converted her third break point in the second game in a seven-deuce second game. Raducanu saved the only other break point at deuce in the sixth game. Swiatek won the first four points and five of the first six points to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Swiatek earned five break points in the second, sixth and in the 12thgame, but she converted only one opportunity. Raducanu converted her only break point in the first game. Swiatek won nine more points than Swiatek. 

Swiatek broke Raducanu in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. This break was decisive, as both players held on their next serve in their next games. 

Swiatek earned six break points in the third, fifth and ninth games, but she converted one chance. The Pole did not face a single break point and won eight more points than Raducanu.

“Raducanu started playing at the beginning pretty loose, like she had nothing to lose, and I totally get that. Sometimes it is like that. I knew I was questioning if she is going to be able to keep the same intensity throughout the whole match. It was not about service games or return games. I was just waiting for my chances to break back and I was sure that I am going to get them”, said Swiatek.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Sebastian Ofner in Barcelona to extend his winning streak

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Sebastian Ofner 6-4 7-5 at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to extend his winning streak to seven consecutive matches after claiming his third title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last week. 

Tsitsipas earned an immediate break in the first game. Ofner broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Tsitsipas earned his second break  in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and served out the first set 6-4 with a hold at 15. 

Tsitsipas broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner won three consecutive games with two breaks of serve to take a 5-3 lead. Tsitsipas came back by winning four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to seal the second set 7-5.

Tsitsipas has a record of 17 wins to 5 defeats in Barcelona. The Greek player reached three finals at this tournament in 2018, 2021 and 2023.  

“I feel pretty good, but it is still early in the tournament. The conditions here are very different to Monte-Carlo and I felt it today when I was playing. My job is to adapt and to ensure I can bring my A game again in Barcelona this week. Today was a great test to see where I stand. I am hoping to keep on improving and getting good wins like this under my belt”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitssipas set up a third round match against Roberto Carballes Baena, who beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

Musetti saved three break points in the first game of the opening set. The Italian player earned two break points with a backhand down the line. Musetti saved two break points in the seventh game. Both players went on serve un the 12th game when Carballes Baena saved a set point. Carballes Baena went up a 5-1 lead with two mini-breaks in the tie-break. Musetti won three consecutive points to reduce to 4-5. Carballes Baena won the final two points to take the tie-break 7-4. 

Carballes Baena converted his fourth break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Musetti broke back in the fifth game. Carballes Baena saved a break point in the sixth game. The Spanish player sealed the win with a break on his second match. 

Last week’s Monte-Carlo finalist Casper Ruud beat Alexandre Muller 6-3 6-4 to claim his 25th tour-level win of the season. Ruud has drawn level with Jannik Sinner for the most wins in 2024 on the ATP Tour. 

Ruud set up a third round match against Jordan Thompson, who beat Jaume Munar 6-4 2-4 6-4. Roberto Bautista Agut beat Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-4 6-1 to claim his milestone 400th match win on the ATP Tour. Bautista Agut set up a third round match against Cameron Norrie. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut wins his milestone 400th match on the ATP Tour

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Roberto Bautista Agut came back from one set down to beat Australian Open doubles finalist Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-3 6-1 after 2 hours and 1 minute at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. 

Vavassori earned an early break in the first game. The Italian player earned three break points in the seventh game, but Bautista Agut saved them. The Spanish player broke straight back in the eighth game. Vavassori broke again in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and saved two break points before closing out the first set 6-4 on his second set point. 

Both players went on serve in the first four games of the second set. Vavassori earned a break point in the fifth game, but he did not convert it. Bautista Agut broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and did not face any break points to win the second set 6-3. 

Bautista Agut broke three times to cruise through to a 6-1. 

Bautista Agut reached the 400th milestone win on the ATP Tour.  The Spanish player has become the 13th active player with at least 400 ATP Tour wins. He achieved 20 wins against members of the top 10, ten wins against top 5 players and four against world number 1s. Bautista Agut is one of the nine players, who have beaten Novak Djokovic as World number 1 more than twice. 

“For me it’s just a number. The important thing is that I have done great work over these years, that I have a very consistent career, a career that I can feel proud of “, said Bautista Agut. 

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