Naomi Osaka Warns She Is Mentally Tougher And Fitter Than Before Ahead Of US Open Title Showdown - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Warns She Is Mentally Tougher And Fitter Than Before Ahead Of US Open Title Showdown

The fourth seed has sent out a warning to Victoria Azarenka ahead of their Saturday night clash.

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Naomi Osaka (@usopen on Twitter)

Japan’s Naomi Osaka believes she is in better shape both mentally and physically compared to when she lifted her maiden Grand Slam title at the 2018 US Open.

 

The world No.9 is through to the final of the tournament for the second time in her career after ousting Jennifer Brady 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-3, in just over two hours on Friday. Since returning to the Tour in August following the five-month break due to COVID-19, she has won 10 out of 11 matches. The only exception was in the final of the Western and Southern Open final which she withdrew from due to a leg injury. Giving the title to Victoria Azarenka who is also the player she will face in the US Open final.

It was at Flushing Meadows where the 22-year-old won her maiden major trophy with a straight sets win over Serena Williams. A couple months after that she added to her collection by triumphing at the Australian Open. Now aiming to clinch a third Grand Slam, a confident-speaking Osaka believes she is in a better place than before.

“I would say I feel like my mindset is much different this time around. I feel like I’ve learned so much through the ups and downs, not even counting the finals, but just regular tour tournaments.” She explained about her development as a player.
“I would say mentally I feel stronger. I feel fitter now.”

This year’s tournament for Osaka is very much about keeping ‘mentally strong’ during matches. Best illustrated by her tussle with the inform Brady, who was playing in a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time in her career.

“I feel like the older you get, the more mentally strong you are. I think that’s something that you learn from being on the tour for such a long time, playing so many matches,” she said.
“My goal during these two tournaments was to be more mentally strong and to fight for every point. So that’s what I’m going to go into the final with. Nothing is going to change that.”

Despite being the favourite on paper, Osaka faces a tough task in lifting the trophy when she plays a resurgent Azarenka. The Belarussian rallied back from a set down to end Serena Williams’ hunt for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam trophy. Azarenka is also a former finalist in New York back in 2012 and 2013.

“I think it’s going to be an amazing final. I hope it will be. I’ll have fun,” Azarenka told reporters during her press conference.
“She’s a very, very powerful player. She’s a great champion. She’s won two already.”

Osaka leads Azarenka 2-1 in their head-to-head (excluding walkovers) with both of her wins occurring on the clay. Azarenka’s sole victory took place on a hardcourt but back in 2016 at the Australian Open.

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Paul Annacone On Why Nadal’s French Open Record Should Be Considered As ‘Greatest In History’

The former mentor of Pete Sampras explains why he believes no player will become the GOAT in tennis.

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One of America’s most prominent tennis coaches believes that Rafael Nadal’s run at the French Open is unlikely to be repeated again as he weighs in on the Great All All Time Debate.

 

Paul Annacone, who is a former top 20 player that went on to coach the likes of Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, has hailed the world No.2 during an interview with Tennis Magazine Italia. Earlier this month Nadal became the first player – male or female – to win the same Grand Slam tournament for a 13th time following his triumph at the French Open. Overall, he has won 100 out of 102 matches with his two losses being to Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling.

Nadal’s latest triumph has added fire to the continuous debate over which player should be considered as the GOAT out of the Big Three. A group that also includes Federer who also has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, as well as world No.1 Novak Djokovic. Some have argued that Nadal’s dominance at the same event could be a negative because the player who receives the honour should have it based on a variety of events. Although Annacone has dismissed this view.

“I understand the concept, but just considering that having won a Grand Slam 13 times could be a flaw in some way is madness,” he said.
“Indeed, I believe it can be considered the greatest achievement in the history of the sport.
“it is a goal that I cannot even think can be beaten.”

The 57-year-old is a critic of the subjective GOAT debate and believes that a player’s place in history should be based on the records they set alone. He revealed that Sampras once said to him that he considered finishing six separate seasons as world No.1 a greater achievement than the Grand Slam titles he has won. Sampras’ year-end tally is currently a record on the ATP Tour but it is likely that Djokovic will equal it at the end of 2020.

“I don’t believe in the concept of ‘greatest of all time’. I think we can debate, if anything, the “most successful”, who has achieved the most in their career. And to do this we can consider yes, the Slams won, the weeks spent at the top of the ranking, the number of Masters 1000 tournaments, the Davis Cups … .” Annacone explains.
“Most people tend to consider Grand Slam wins as the most important meter, and so do the players themselves. But I’m not sure: for example, once Pete Sampras told me that his biggest success was not the 14 Slams, or the 7 Wimbledon’s, but the 6 years in a row as number one in the world at the end of the year.’

Instead of GOAT Annacone has his own acronym that he feels is more fitting to the debate. In his view one of the Big Three will earn the right to be called the ‘MAOAT’ which stands for the Most Accomplished Of All Time.

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Ugo Humbert beats Alex De Minaur in Antwerp final to claim his second career title

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Frenchman Ugo Humbert beat Alex De Minaur 6-1 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 37 minutes to claim his second career title at the European Open in Antwerp.

 

Humbert broke serve in the second game and held his serve  at deuce to open up a 3-0 lead. The Frenchman got his double break in the sixth game on his fifth chance in the sixth game to close out the opening set 6-1 after 37 minutes.

Humbert was not able to convert the only break points of the second set at 4-4. Both players traded three mini-breaks in the tie-break. Humbert claimed his fourth mini-break to win the tie-break on his first match point with a forehand drop volley. 

Humbert has become the third French player to win the Antwerp title after Richard Gasquet in 2016 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2017. On Saturday the 22-year-old French player saved four match points in his 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 win over Daniel Evans in a 3-hour and 12 minute semifinal. He is the fourth player to save a match point en route to an ATP Tour title after Jiri Vesely in the quarter final and the semifinal in Pune, Reilly Opelka in the semifinal in Delray Beach and Novak Djokovic in the Dubai semifinal against Gael Monfils. 

Humbert and De Minaur were playing the fifth youngest final on the ATP Tour in 2020. 

“This was a very important week for me. I have managed to get back to the level I wanted to play at and play another final, which is great for me. I am very happy with where I am. This is a huge step in the right direction”, said Humbert. 

Humbert, who reached the Antwerp semifinal for the second consecutive year, explained the reason for his improvement this year. 

“It is a lot of improvement, a lot of work. I think I am a different player. I am more powerful. I am feeling good here on the court and in my career. I just enjoy to play tennis and to be in the tournament again. I try to improve my game. It was a lot of fun today, so I didn’t feel the pressure”, said Himbert.

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Aryna Sabalenka claims her seventh career title with a straight set win over Victoria Azarenka in Ostrava

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World number 12 Aryna Sabalenka beat two-time Australian Open Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-2 after 68 minutes in the all-Belarusian final at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open to claim her seventh WTA title.

 

Azarenka and Sabalenka met twice in the past. They were tied 1-1 in their previous two head-to-head matches. Sabalenka beat Azarenka in three sets at the 2019 US Open. Azarenka avenged this defeat beating her 22-year-old compatriot in straight sets at the 2020 US Open last September. 

Azarenka has made a successful come-back this year winning the Western and Southern Open in New York and finishing runner-up to Naomi Osaka at the US Open. 

Earlier this week Azarenka won six consecutive sets after losing the first set in the opening round against Barbora Krejikova. Sabalenka came back from 2-5 down in the decisive set against Coco Gauff and won the final 12 games against Sara Sorribes Tormo after losing the first ten. 

Sabalenka got her first break at love in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The 2020 Doha Qatar Open went up a double break after two deuces to win the opening set 6-2. 

Sabalenka reeled off seven of eight points to break serve at love in the third game to open up a 4-1 lead. Azarenka called a medical time-out to treat a problem on her neck, but she was able to pull one break back at 15 in the sixth game for 2-4. Sabalenka earned her third break to open up a 5-2 lead and served out the win on her third championships point. 

Sabalenka has claimed her seventh career title and her fifth in the autumn tournaments. She is just 35 points away from the top 10. Azarenka will end her successful 2020 season in the 14th spot of the WTA Ranking.  

Sabalenka will also team up with her teammate Elise Mertens in the doubles final against Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani. 

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