US Open: Serena And Azarenka Put On A Show For The Ages - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Serena And Azarenka Put On A Show For The Ages

Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier columnist James Beck looks back at Naomi Osaka’s and Victoria Azarenka’s semi-final performances at the US Open.

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September 9, 2020 - Victoria Azarenka in action against Elise Mertens during a women's singles match at the 2020 US Open. (Photo by Darren Carroll/USTA)

Only a small number of people observed the match in person.

 

But the televised version of the epic slugfest between two extremely athletic women was pretty good. Make that great.

Their battle Thursday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium had to be the greatest matchup of mothers in tennis history. Or you might make the case that this was one of the best women’s tennis matches ever.

WORTH A TICKET PRICE

Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka was worth the price of a ticket. Of course, there were no ticketed fans, just officials, players, team members, family members, etc. — such as the ESPN broadcast crew. 

 But the show Williams and Azarenka put on was spectacular. Both repeatedly made unbelievable shots. Their rallies will be shown on future TV broadcasts for many years to come.

Both players charged from corner to corner to unleash bombs that most players wouldn’t even be able to get a racket on. Their movement was somewhat acrobatic, often leaving their feet to make remarkable shot. They twisted. They turned. And they still delivered amazing shots.

Yes, power, perfection, exceptional court coverage and willpower all were on display.

SERENA MET HER MATCH

Fans have grown accustomed to seeing Serena work such miracles over her long career. But this time Serena was facing a player who was just as athletic, maybe powerful and talented. And just as determined and ferocious.

Serena blew Azarenka away the first set, but then Azarenka literally caught fire the last two sets as she demonstrated an edge in energy in her 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 U.S. Open semifinal victory over Williams.

Not even a tiebreaker? One wasn’t needed to make this match one for the ages. You had to see it in person or on television or video to believe the quality of the match and the way both players played the game to a supreme level.

AZARENKA’S CONDITIONING MADE THE DIFFERENCE

In the end, it was Azarenka’s superior physical conditioning that probably decided the issue. While Serena struggled physically for the last set and a half, Azarenka always appeared to have more spark left in her game. Azarenka always seemed to move at a brisk  pace, even when the ball wasn’t in play, always ready to play the next point.

Of course, age probably played its role in the final verdict on a humid night indoors as rain thundered down on the stadium roof. 

As Serena nears her 39th birthday, she is almost unmatchable in short rallies, but in longer rallies she often runs out of energy when facing a player of Azarenka’s aggressiveness and physicality. Luckily for Serena, that isn’t often.

Azarenka put on a spectacular show for a 31-year-old or for any age.

Thus, Serena’s chase of Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles continues.

James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his Post and Courier columns at 

http://www.postandcourier.com/search/?l=25&sd=desc&s=start_time&f=html&t=article%2Cvideo%2Cyoutube%2Ccollection&app=editorial&q=james+beck&nsa=eedition

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French Legend Leconte Speaks Out On Upcoming Return Of Roger Federer

The Grand Slam finalist gives his view on Federer’s chances for 2021.

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A former star of French tennis says he is hopeful but wary that Roger Federer will be able to return to the pinnacle of sport next year.

 

Henri Leconte, who is a former French Open finalist that achieved a ranking high of No.5, admits that the Swiss Maestro may find it tough on the Tour given the rise of what he describes as the ‘younger generation.’ This season Dominic Thiem won his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open at the age of 27. More recently Daniil Medvedev defeated both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to the ATP Finals title.

We want to believe it. We all want to believe it! It’s been a long and difficult year. Will the motivation still be there? Will this break, the fact of having been able to enjoy his family, have changed something or will he still have that renewed motivation that has always fascinated us?” Leconte told TennisActu.

Federer hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss at the Australian Open in January. Since then, he has been sidelined from action due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. The second took place after the first failed to produce the desired results.

Despite the setbacks, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer is eyeing a return to the Tour in 2021. He is currently the oldest player in the world’s top 100 and one of two to be aged 39. The other is Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

No one can say it. We all wish him, we would like him to stop on a Grand Slam title but the train (momentum) is gone with this younger generation which has put in an extra speed,” said Leconte.
“I would like to believe it. Roger has done so many things, that’s why he makes us dream, we would like to see him at the top. It will be very, very hard. ..”

It is not the first time Federer has taken a lengthy break due to injury. He missed six months of the 2017 season due to another knee issue before returning to action the following year when he won the Australian Open.

Earlier this week it was confirmed that Federer will head into the new season being able to use his iconic ‘RF’ logo. He hasn’t been able to use the logo for the past two years after switching from Nike, which held the rights, to UNIQLO. However, he has managed to regain control of ownership which means he will be allowed to use it on his apparel once again.

“The RF cap is back,” Federer said in a video message to fans on Twitter.
“After a long wait and extensive fine-tuning, UNIQLO and I are extremely excited to announce the return of the RF hat in 8 fresh colours starting December 8th, 2020,” he also wrote.
“This hat has meant so much to me and to my fans over the years.
“It has given us a way to visibly connect, and I have appreciated the opportunity to thrive off this supportive energy.”

As it currently stands Federer’s first tournament is set to be the Australian Open. The tournament had been scheduled to start on January 18th but it is believed that the date has been delayed until February 8th due to travel and quarantine arrangements.

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Matteo Berrettini is confident for the future of Italian tennis ahead of the 2021 ATP Finals in Turin

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Last year’s US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini looked back to his 2020 season in an interview to the Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. 

 

Berrettini reached the Australian Open second round losing to Tennys Sandgren in five sets. The Rome native player lost to Andrey Rublev in the fourth round at the US Open. He was one the five Italian players to advance to Roland Garros third round, most to reach a Grand Slam third round in Open Era since 1968.

At Masters 1000 level Berrettini reached the third round in Cincinnati and the quarter final in Rome before losing to Norwegian player Casper Ruud. 

“I struggled during 2020. I did not start my season at best. I was often injured. It was a race against time to get back into shape. When I was ready, the season was suspended by the coronavirus pandemic”, said Berrettini. 

The Italian player ended the year in the top-10 but he had a season with ups and downs. 

“I struggled to settle on my ranking. What I achieved in 2019 was deserved, but it was unexpected. I need to play many matches to get the rhythm”. 

The defeat against Casper Ruud was the biggest disappointment of this year. 

“The match against Ruud was decided by just two points. If I had reached the semifinal, it could have been another season. This negative result was a learning experience. My team invited me to be relaxed and patient. I am confident for the future”. 

The 2020 season was highlighted by the great results achieved by Jannik Sinner, who reached the quarter final at Roland Garros and won his first title in Sofia. 

“Sinner is enjoying an impressive season. He is mature. At his age I did not think about winning a single match. He is playing with a clear plan for the future. Every point he plays is an investment. This is the secret to reach top level”. 

The countdown to the 2021 ATP Finals in Turin has begun. Yesterday marked marked the start of the ticket sale. 

“It’s a great period for Italian tennis. I really hope to qualify for the ATP Finals. It would be a good result, if an Italian player qualifies for the Turin ATP Finals. Besides me, Jannik Sinner and Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego i salso playing very well. There are many other players, who can achieve good results and give a great joy to Italian fans. There are many young players, who are hungry. Fans can be happy and confident for the future”, said Berrettini. 

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Father Of Dayana Yastremska Reveals The Reasons Behind Her Lacklustre Season

Alexander Yastremsky says his daughter was ‘mentally broken’ in recent weeks due to a personal issue.

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Rising star Dayana Yastremska struggled on the Tour during the second half of 2020 due to a family-related issue, according to her father.

 

The world No.29 closed out her season with three consecutive first round losses at the French Open, Ostrava and Linz to players who were ranked lower than her. Yastremska looked to be on course for a strong year after reaching the final of the Adelaide International in January. However, since then she has only managed to reach the quarter-final stage in one out of 10 tournaments played.

Reflecting on his daughter’s difficult season during an interview with Ukrainian Tennis, Alexander Yastremsky says she had been ‘mentally broken’ in recent weeks due to her mother having a series of surgeries on her eye.

“People were complaining like why Dayana had such poor results at Roland Garros and afterwards but they didn’t know it was a hard time for her mother,” he said.
“Before the first round she had a retinal detachment. She went through three surgeries in Paris and two more at home. Everything is fine now but at that time Dayana was broken mentally.”

Besides her mother’s health scare, Yastremska had to find a new structure in her team after the departure of Sasha Bajin following the US Open. Bajin, who is the former coach of Naomi Osaka, worked with her for less than a year. Last week it was confirmed that he will be working with Karolina Pliskova in the new year.

“Sascha Bajin is a good coach, very helpful but it turned out he wasn’t ours,” said Alexander. “I don’t look at this partnership as a mistake for Dayana, it was another experience for her but I don’t see any advantages either.”
“Everyone looks only at how good you play and what result you get.”

Prior to Bajin, Yastremska worked with Belgium’s Olivier Jeunehomme who guided her to three WTA titles between 2018-2019. Since his departure, she is yet to add to her title tally but did rise to a ranking high of 21st earlier this year.

“It’s not easy to work with Dayana she has a tough personality,” her father admits. “Relationships on and off the court are very important for her.
“Right now we have a new team, very positive and committed . That’s the key for us. There’s no need to brag about their achievements. Results will come and time will tell. Our focus is on the off-season and hard work.”

Yastremska has started her off-season in Dubai. She ends the year with a win-loss record of 15-12 and has made just over $486,000 in prize money.

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