Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Focus

Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington

Avatar

Published

on

Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be the top seed at the inaugural edition of the Lexington Open from 10th August 2020 on the same week as the Prague Open. The Lexington Open will be the first US tournament of the US hard court season, which will continue with the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, which will be held in the same venue at Flushing Meadows in New York. 

 

Serena was very close to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but lost four times in a Major final after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. 

The US legend will play her first match since she hepled the US team beat Latvia in the Fed Cup last March in Everett. There Serena beat Jelena Ostapenko but she was defeated by Anastasija Sevastova. 

Williams will lead a star-studded line-up, which features this year’s Australian Open finalist and former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva, Ons Jabeur, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and US rising star Cori Gauff. 

Sabalenka won two consecutive editions of the Wuhan tournament in 2018 and 2019, in Shenzhen in 2019, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and the Doha final in 2020. 

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 and reached the final at 2018 Roland Garros. She finished runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. The US player lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Monterrey in her last WTA Tour match before the pandemic. 

Amanda Anisimova won her maiden WTA title in Bogotà in 2019 in her first professional tour tournament on clay. Last year the young US player beat Simona Halep en route to becoming the youngest semifinalist at the French Open since 2006. This year Amanda lost to Serena Williams in the semifinal in Auckland last January. 

Johanna Konta reached the French Open semifinal and the Rome Final in 2019. The British player enjoyed her best year in 2017, when she won the Miami title and reached the Wimbledon semifinal rising to her best ranking at world number 4. 

The Top seed Open will be the first WTA tournament to be played in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States. The Kentucky tournament will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-player doubles field. 

Focus

Petra Kvitova Powers Past Dodin At Roland Garros

Petra Kvitova sealed her place in the second round with a strong win over Oceane Dodin.

Avatar

Published

on

Petra Kvitova (@ITF_Tennis - Twitter)

Petra Kvitova sealed her place at the second round of Roland Garros by powering past Oceane Dodin 6-3 7-5.

 

The Czech Republican took advantage of the indoor conditions as she hit 29 winners in the match.

Despite Dodin’s impressive level in the second set, Kvitova raised her game to seal victory.

Round two will see Kvitova take on Aliona Bolsova or Jasmine Paolini.

The two-time grand slam champion approached Roland Garros, with limited expectations after admitting that clay isn’t her most comfortable surface.

An agonising fourth round defeat to Shelby Rogers at the US Open would also put into perspective how tough it is to win a grand slam.

However her first round match against Oceane Dodin couldn’t have started any better as in the first set, she was irresistible on serve.

Only losing two points on her serve and none on her first serve was the ideal start as the indoor conditions on Chatrier suited her game.

Hitting aces and winners for fun signalled positive signs for the Czech Republican as she looked to make a statement early in the tournament.

However her French opponent took the match to Kvitová in the opening stages on serve as she showed moments of power especially with the backhand.

Constructing the points well, Dodin found comfort on her serve but was unable to produce any of these qualities in her return game.

As Kvitová continued to target the Dodin forehand, more unforced errors were produced as the 7th seed eventually found the crucial break in the eighth game.

A comfortable service hold sealed an impressive set for Kvitová, 6-3 in 30 minutes.

The second set saw both players trade breaks to start the set as Dodin started to raise her level.

More power and more accuracy with her shots saw the Frenchwoman find rhythm with her play as she took more risks.

Although Kvitová was inconsistent, Dodin continued to trouble the big-serving Czech as an entertaining match was evolving.

In order to stop the momentum, Kvitová shortened the points by going to the net and varying up her tactics.

Eventually Kvitová managed to pile on the pressure when it mattered most as a crucial break in the eleventh game was greeted with a huge roar.

An entertaining match met its climax as a powerful Kvitová forehand volley sealed victory in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

A good opening round performance from Kvitová in what was a tricky second set against Dodin who raised her level.

In round two, Kvitová will meet Aliona Bolsova or Jasmine Paolini.

Continue Reading

Focus

Is Andy Murray’s French Open Crushing A Blip Or A Sign Of Things To Come?

Murray was nowhere near his best but how much should be read into his latest defeat?

Avatar

Published

on

When the draw for the French Open men’s tournament took place there was one first round match that caught everybody’s attention.

 

Andy Murray was pitched to play against Stan Wawrinka in what would be their 21st clash on the Tour and a repeat of the 2017 semi-finals. Some went as far as billing it as the match to see on the opening day of the 2020 Championships but in reality it turned out to be a let down. Leaving Murray facing some uncomfortable questions.

The showdown of the Grand Slam winners concluded with Wawrinka comprehensively winning 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, in exactly 100 minutes. Although amazingly almost a quarter (23 minutes) of that match took place over the first three games. Murray was nowhere to be seen, lacked his fiery passion and seemed to almost admit defeat before it had even happened. 

“I need to have a long, hard think. It’s not for me the sort of match I would just brush aside and not give any thought to,” Murray said after.
“There are obviously reasons behind a performance like that. I think that’s probably in terms of scoreline, I might be wrong, but I think that’s maybe the worst of my career in a Grand Slam.’
“I don’t feel like the conditions are an excuse for it. I don’t feel like that’s a valid reason, maybe to not enjoy the matches as much when it’s like that, but not in terms of it shouldn’t affect your performance in any way.”

Amid the concern it is important to put Murray’s latest match into some context. His clash with Wawrinka on clay was the first time he has played a competitive match on the surface since 2017 at the same event. Coincidentally it was also against Wawrinka but in the semi-final stage. Since then he has undergone one hip surgery, publicly admit that he may be forced to retire due to health issues and then undergo a second hip procedure which practically saved his career.

The Brit is known and respected for his fighting spirit on the Tour but in reality is the curtain starting to slowly come down on his illustrious career?

“There have been matches that I have played since I came back where I hit the ball well.  I know it wasn’t the best match at times, but (Alexander) Zverev was a couple of points away from winning the US Open, and I won against him the week beforehand,” an upbeat Murray reflected.
“It’s going to be difficult for me to play the same level as I did before. I mean, I’m 33 now and I was ranked No. 1 in the world, so it’s difficult with all the issues that I have had.”

Undoubtedly Murray still has the tools to threaten others on the ATP Tour but when it comes to best-of-five matches there is more uncertainty. Since 2018 he has only been able to play singles in four Grand Slam events due to injury setbacks and hasn’t won back-to-back matches at any of those. Leaving the question of where does he go from here?

Potentially he could try to change his game in some way or even consider playing just doubles at Grand Slams which he did at Wimbledon last year. Although Murray is stubborn and rarely gives in when he is facing adversity. For him, the plan is to make the most out of what he has and hope for the best.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for me to change at this stage in my career, even though it’s something I have considered and looked at,” he said.
“When I play my best tennis of being an offensive baseliner that’s what I need to make sure I am doing.
“I need to play better to allow me to play the right way.”

It remains to be seen what will happen to Murray in the coming months. Although he can seek solace in the continued support from his peers which Wawrinka emphasized during his press conference.

“Andy won everything that you can win in tennis. He was No.1. He had an amazing career. He’s been back now after having hip surgery. Nobody expected him to come back on the tour. He’s getting back, he’s an amazing champion and it’s always going to be special to play against him,” the Swiss player concluded.

Unfortunately the chances of Murray expanding his Grand Slam trophy collection are slim at present. He could prove critics wrong like he has done with his hip recovery but it could be argued that this would be an even greater achievement.

Murray is down, but not quite out just yet.

Continue Reading

Focus

‘Be Prepared For The Worst’ – Blustery French Open Draws Concern From Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sakkari

The women’s seeds kicked-off their Roland Garros bid with straight-sets wins but voiced their concerns about the conditions in Paris shortly afterwards.

Avatar

Published

on

Victoria Azarenka (image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Victoria Azarenka made a dream start to her French Open campaign on Sunday despite mounting concerns over the conditions at this year’s tournament.

 

The 10th seed eased to a 6-1, 6-2, win over Montenegro’s Danka Kovinić but the talking point of that match was mother nature. Three games in Azarenka and her rival walked off the court after expressing unhappiness about the rain. Tournament official, Claire Wood, asked the former world No.1 to remain on the court until a decision was made by the referee’s office but she proceeded to walk off anyway.

I think my opponent slipped a bit in the third game so she was also feeling a bit uncomfortable. I just asked are we still going to continue to play. Then Claire told me if I am willing to wait a little bit longer until the drizzle stops. I said absolutely not because I don’t see the point in sitting on the court when it’s eight degrees,” Azarenka told reporters after.
“I know, the conditions are the same for everybody.
“It’s very tricky at the moment with the conditions and I am not going to sit here and complain but sometimes I think there are smarter ways to handle the situation.“

Despite the mini break it did little to disrupt the momentum of the US Open semi-finalist who won nine out of 11 games played when she returned to action. Overall Azarenka won 79% of her first service points and didn’t face a single break point throughout.

This year’s French Open is taking place later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore the climate is much cooler. On top of that officials at the tournament have decided to change the ball to Wilson in a move that some players say is heavier to hit and slower.

“When you play at eight degrees it’s tough. There are adjustments you have to do. We can only predict if it is going to happen. Does it increase the risk of players getting injured? Absolutely,” Azarenka commented.
“Right now, I try to focus on what to do on the court and not what is not good.”

Azarenka is not alone in expressing her reservations. 20th seed Maria Sakkari said she hadn’t played in such conditions ‘for a long time’ following her 6-0, 7-5, win over Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović. The Greek number one overcame a patchy run of form during the second set by winning four games in a row from 3-5 down to move into the next round.

“It’s something that we are not used to. Personally, I haven’t played in these conditions for a long time. Not even practising. I think it is tough for everyone,” she said.
“It’s not nice to play in these conditions but we are professionals and are lucky to be playing here.
We have to just get used to them.”

The cold weather does elevate the risk of potential injuries occurring to players at Roland Garros which many are wary about. Although Sakarri is taking it all in her stride before admitting that she is prepared for the worst case scenario just in case.

“Warm up well and take good care of your body. It’s not the best conditions you can play but you just have to be mentally prepared for the worst,” she stated.

It was always inevitable that such situations were going to happen given the time of year the tournament is taking place. But some are wondering if Roland Garros should have go on at all this year?

“I wouldn’t particularly say so because I do believe that I want to play. We all want to compete and we want to play,” Azarenka weighed in on the debate.
“I think that there should have been better adjustments,maybe a little bit more consulting and heads up and conversation. I think that’s where we can improve, for sure.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending