Victoria Azarenka conquers Konta to reach Western & Southern Open final - UBITENNIS
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Victoria Azarenka conquers Konta to reach Western & Southern Open final

Victoria Azarenka advanced to her first WTA Premier final since April 2016 thanks to a hard-fought 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over Johanna Konta.



Victoria Azarenka advanced to her first WTA Premier final since April 2016 thanks to a hard-fought 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over Johanna Konta.

The Belarussian, 31, claimed back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and Miami four years ago. Then she spent time away from the WTA tour to give birth to her son Leo. So it feels like a long time since we saw her in such a significant final.

“I think I started to finally enjoy myself on the court,” Azarenka said in her press conference. “It took a lot of work. It wasn’t a one-day miracle that I read something, or I got on a super gluten-free diet or whatever.”

She continued, “It was just constant work that I kept putting in on a daily basis and perspective and your mentality. That’s it. There is no magic thing. I know sometimes when you have results, people are looking for some magic trick that you’re doing, but there is no magic. There’s just work, consistent work.”

Azarenka neutralises Konta’s serve with brilliant returning

During the first set, it looked as if Konta’s great week at the Western & Southern Open was set to continue. She served well and got the one break she needed to win it.

However, Azarenka gradually built up a strong returning rhythm in the match. She took up ever more aggressive positions inside the baseline to receive Konta’s serve. And this enabled her to break the Brit five times over the course of sets two and three as she stormed back to win the match in three sets.

“I think it was a really good, high quality match overall,” Azarenka said. “I think Johanna played really, really well. Especially in the first set, she was really taking a lot of chances, and some of the opportunities that I had I didn’t maybe go enough for them. But she was really, really strong.”

“So I felt that in the second set I was able to manage those opportunities better, step up a little bit. And then in the third set I felt like I was more in my pace and doing what I wanted to do, so I felt more comfortable.”

“But she served really well and put a lot of pressure on my serve, so I was constantly trying to find opportunities to be aggressive. It worked out well in the end.”

2013 champion relishing her time on court

Azarenka will now take on Naomi Osaka in the final after the Japanese player beat Elise Mertens 6-2 7-6(5). And she is clearly looking forward to returning to the final after she won this event in 2013.

“I’m enjoying myself on the court,” the Belarussian said. “I think I’m producing good tennis. So that’s as simple as that. There is no magic here. It’s just simple. It’s the work that you’re putting in on a daily basis is paying off. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

“I think the key point for me is when some things don’t work out, it doesn’t maybe affect you as much. You’re still a happy person to be doing what you’re doing, and that’s what I keep saying is that I’m enjoying myself and doing what I love to do. I haven’t felt this way in so, so long, and probably ever to be honest.”

“So that’s just what I’m enjoying. I think people look at the results as a magical week. I look more at how I feel and what I do on a daily basis. I’m joyful.”

While Azarenka was happy to talk about tennis, she had no interest in talking about the social issues that have overshadowed the action in the last 48 hours.

“I want to talk about tennis, and I want to focus on my tennis tomorrow,” the Belarussian said. “And then maybe when I’m ready to speak about what’s on my mind that has nothing to do with tennis, I will.”

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing



Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities



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A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.



(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.


Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.


The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.


No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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