Naomi Osaka Overcomes Fast-Starting Azarenka To Win US Open - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Overcomes Fast-Starting Azarenka To Win US Open

After dropping eight out of the first nine games of the final, Osaka battled back to clinch her third major title at the age of 22.

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Naomi Osaka has become the most decorated Asian singles player in Grand Slam history after fighting back from a set and a break down to defeat Victoria Azarenka en route to winning the US Open.  

 


The fourth seed was hammered with a first-set thrashing before fighting her way back to prevail 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, and record her third consecutive Tour win over the Belarusian. The roller-coaster encounter was very much a tale of two halves with Azarenka being the dominant force early on before Osaka found a way to halt and then topple her opponent in a thriller. Doing so with the help of 30 winners to 22 unforced errors and breaking Azarenka five times in total.

I want to congratulate Vika. I actually don’t want to play you in anymore finals. I didn’t really enjoy that,” Osaka said afterwards.
“It’s so inspiring because I used to watch you play here when I was younger. I learned a lot.”
“I want to thank my team for sticking with me. I know the beginning of the year was not great.”

The Saturday night showdown was a repeat of the Western and Southern Open final that never happened two weeks ago after Osaka was forced to withdraw due to a hamstring injury. This time round both players were fit with Azarenka staging an almost flawless start to the match. It was evident that her game plan was to move Osaka around the court as much as possible to minimise the intensity of her shot-making. Dictating play from the onset, Azarenka raced to a 5-1 lead in just over 20 minutes thanks to some blistering shot-making to fluster Osaka. Breaking her rival three times in total, the former world No.1 clinched the opener with the help of a winning backhand to complete her dream start to the final. During the first set Azarenka dropped just four points behind her serve and produced just three unforced errors.

Osaka, who had only dropped two sets in the entire tournament until today, showed little emotion on the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Facing the prospect of a beat down after getting broken once again at the start of the second set, the fourth seed finally managed to get some momentum in the match. Benefiting from some loose hits from across the court, the Japanese No.1 retrieved the break in a game that revived her title hopes.

“I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose in under an hour.”
She said.

The tides continued to turn in favour of Osaka following another error-stricken Azarenka service game that elevated her to a 4-3 lead and put her ahead in the set for the first time. She completed the turnaround with the help of back-to-back forehand winners to draw level in the match and force proceedings into a decider.

source – wtatennis.com

With the trophy and a payment of $3 million at stake for the winner, Osaka continued to have a firm hold on the match. She was playing a different Azarenka compared to the start as she continued to make mistakes on shots she wasn’t missing at one point. Enabling a fired up Osaka to nudge ahead 3-1 and close in on victory. Continuing to come up with answers to all the questions that were asked of her. It would be a misfired Azarenka forehand that would reward her two championship points. After failing in her first attempt, she clinched the title with the help of a shot from her rival crashing into the net.

“I always see everyone collapse after match point. But I always think you may injure yourself so I wanted to do it safely,”
Osaka said after lying on the court following the match.

Meanwhile, Azarenka exits New York thinking about what might have happened if she didn’t drop serve in the third game of the second set. This week was the first time she had played a Grand Slam final since 2013. Despite the loss, she will re-enter the worlds top 15 next week for the first time since January 2017.

I thought third time was the charm but I guess I’ll have to try again. Congratulations to Naomi and her team.” said Azarenka.
“I want to thank my team for sticking with me and believing in me. We’re going to have more fun the next few weeks. It was a long journey to get here, but this was fun. Thank you so much.”

The victory rewards Osaka her third major singles trophy which makes her the first Asian player – male or female – to have ever achieved that. She has also become only the fourth female player to have won a US Open title after coming back from a set down in the Open Era and first since 2001.

Grand Slam

Government Minister Sheds Light On Australian Open Schedule

A member of the Victorian Government has given a new update concerning the first Grand Slam of 2021.

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It is likely that the Australian Open will not be getting underway on its planned date of January 18th following recent comments by a government minister.

 

Negotiations between Tennis Australia and local officials are ongoing amid uncertainty over when the Grand Slam event will start. Last week plans for next year suffered a heavy blow after it was confirmed that players will not be allowed to enter the country in December as previously hoped. Instead they can enter from January 1st but will then have to go through a 14-day quarantine where they will not be allowed to play any competitive tennis.

In the wake of the ruling, speculation is mounting that the Australian Open will be delayed. If not, players will only have a four-day period between finishing their quarantine and playing their first tournament of the new year.

Martin Pakula, who is the sports minister for the Victorian Government, said on Wednesday that it was likely there would be a slight delay to the start of the competition due to what he describes as ‘very complex negotiations.’

“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter rather than longer delay. I don’t want to unduly repeat myself but these are very complex negotiations,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Pakula as saying.
“I’m still confident we’ll have an Australian Open, and we’ll have one in the early part of the year.”

It is also still unclear as to what will be happening to other tournaments that were set to be held in the country such as the ATP Cup, Brisbane International and others. Tennis Australia had previously said they intend to relocate some of their events to Melbourne in order to minimise travel. However, due to the delay in players arriving those plans are in doubt. If they were held after the Australian Open, it would have a significant impact on both the ATP and WTA Tour calendars.

“There’s a number of potential dates on the table. I’ve seen reports that suggest that it’s likely to be delayed by a week or two. I think that’s still most likely,” said Pakula. “But it’s not the only option. As you know, the French Open was delayed by many months and Wimbledon didn’t occur at all.
“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter [delay] rather than a longer one.”

Pakula has also confirmed that the conditions of the ‘biosecure bubble’ which players will be kept in are yet to be finalized. Although he says there will be a rigorous testing system in place.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said over the weekend that a date for the Australian Open should be confirmed within 14 days.

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Rafael Nadal Urges Calm Over Australian Open As Officials Search For Solution

The world No.2 has confirmed his intentions to play at the Grand Slam but there are fresh doubts over when it will be getting underway.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has urged his peers to remain patient amid growing uncertainty over what the start of the 2021 season in Australia will look like.

 

Earlier this week it was confirmed that the government of Victoria refused a plan for 550 players to travel to the region next month in a move that could force a delay to the start of the Australian Open. Instead players will not be allowed to arrive until January 1st and then they will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine process. As it stands during that time they are reportedly allowed to train but not play in tournaments.

The ATP has already acknowledged that ‘new challenges’ have arisen in an internal letter issued to their players. Should the Australian Open dates remain unchanged, there will only be a four-day break between quarantine ending and the Grand Slam starting.

Questioned about the situation following his exit from the ATP Finals on Saturday, Nadal said he and others just need to ‘accept the situation’ by respecting any decision taken by the government.

“I don’t know what’s the situation going to be yet,” he said. “We need to wait about what the (state) government there in Victoria says.
“We can’t do much from ATP position or just wait. We have nobody to say what they feel is better for his country.
“We just need to be patient and accept the situation that we are facing. That is difficult for everyone. We need to be flexible to understand the situation and to find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year.”

The head of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, has tried to allay concerns in a statement released on Sunday. Providing an update on the current situation, he says a plan taking into account the ‘needs of the players, fans, partners and staff’ is currently being drawn up alongside the Victorian Government. Although it is unclear as to when it will be finalised or what the final decision will be.

“We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon,” said Tiley.
“Tennis Australia is acutely aware of the need for certainty, but also conscious of reaching a solution with the State Government that ensures the safety of the entire community.”

The Australian Open isn’t the only issue, it is what will happen with other events such as the ATP Cup. Originally it was hoped that various tournaments which usually take place around the country would be moved to Melbourne in order to minimise travelling. Now due to the later than planned arrival dates and quarantine, it is possible some of these events could be axed. So far the only event confirmed to have the chop is the Australian Open junior tournament, which will take place later in the year.

Amid the uncertainty, Nadal says he is hopeful that the Tour would return to a degree of normality in the future.

“Hopefully with the vaccine, that ends soon and we can come back at least to close to normal in a couple of months, but now is a difficult situation,” Nadal concluded.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this week’s ATP Finals is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in its history.

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Bombshell Puts Australian Tennis Events In Doubt

It is looking increasingly likely that players will not be allowed to play any tournament leading up to the first Grand Slam of 2021.

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The start of the 2021 tennis season has been dealt a massive blow as it has emerged that players hoping to travel to Australia next month will not be allowed to.

 

It is being reported that initial plans by Tennis Australia to allow roughly 550 players to enter their ‘bubble’ within the coming weeks have been blocked by the government in a move which may force the cancellation of any tournament set to take place prior to the Australian Open. A plan had been set out for players to arrive in December so they can enter into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. However, it now appears that the proposal has been denied due to COVID-19 protocols.

Unless there is a change of heart, players will not be allowed into the country until January 1st and then they will have to go through quarantine. Then under the current schedule the Australian Open will start just four days after. Players are not allowed to play any tournaments whilst in quarantine. The ATP, which is the governing body of men’s tennis, has issued an internal statement acknowledging that there are ‘new challenges’ concerning arrival times.

“In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members,” the ATP told its members.
“We continue to work with Tennis Australia on confirming plans for January, and we will provide an update as soon as more information is available in the coming days.
“We understand there is uncertainty about the start of the 2021 season, and we are working as hard as possible to deliver the best possible calendar of events to players, maximising points, jobs and prize money opportunities.”

Less than a week before the bombshell, Tennis Australia confirmed their desire to relocate various tournaments to Melbourne due to travel restrictions. The idea was for events usually held in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart to be moved to the area. However, it is now unclear as to what if any will go ahead now.

There have been rumours of the Australian summer potentially being extended into February which will allow for more events outside of the Australian Open to take place in the region. However, this has not been confirmed and there is no indication yet that the date of the Grand Slam will be moved back.

“Whether (players) need to be here in December… I don’t know that that necessarily means there isn’t an Australian Open,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.
“Whether there are lead-in tournaments, that’s to be worked through.”
“It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly. We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working (with) all of their partners and we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open.” He later added.

There is yet to be any public comment from Tennis Australia regarding the latest development. Although the CEO of the organisation, Craig Tiley, has confirmed to The Tennis Channel that the tune-up events for the Australian Open are now in jeopardy.

The Australian Open is scheduled to start on January 18th.

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