Underdog Iga Swiatek Clinches Historic French Open Title - UBITENNIS
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Underdog Iga Swiatek Clinches Historic French Open Title

The 19-year-old tennis sensation will break into the world’s top 20 for the first time in her career.

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Iga Swiatek (@rolandgarros on Twitter)

Iga Swiatek has become the first Polish player in history to win a Grand Slam title after defeating Sofia Kenin in a roller-coaster match at the French Open.

 

The rising star, who had never won a WTA title of any kind until now, saw off Kenin 6-4, 6-1, in a showdown that saw her rival struggle with injury during the closing stages. Swiatek’s 84-minute triumph saw her hit more than two times as many winners than Kenin (25-10) as she broke her six times in total. She has become the first female player to win the tournament without dropping a set throughout since Justine Henin in 2007.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” a stunned Swiatek commented on her Grand Slam triumph.
“I am so happy and so glad that my family was here to watch me play.
“It’s crazy. Two years ago I won a junior Grand Slam (at Wimbledon) and right now I’m here. It feels like such a short time and I am just so overwhelmed.”

In what was a rematch of their clash in the junior competition of the tournament four years ago, 19-year-old Swiatek battled through a nerve-stricken opening set which had various twists and turns resembling San Francisco’s infamous Lombard street. Prior to Paris her only experience of a tournament final on the WTA Tour was at a International event in Lugano, Switzerland. A stark contrast to reigning Australian Open champion Kenin who was playing in her seventh.

The underdog started the match guns blazing with a three-game winning streak that saw her open up an early lead. However, Swiatek’s stronghold didn’t last for long with Kenin hitting back with revenge as she took advantage of a tentative service game by her opponent to claw back and level. The cat and mouse chase continued with the world No.53 withstanding some powerful hitting from across the court as she produced a series of impressive drop shots. Swiatek had a chance to close the set out whilst leading 5-3 but failed to convert. Enabling Kenin to break back once again with the help of a winning return. Despite the blip, she prevailed in the following game after a backhand from the frustrated American sailed wide.

Four games away from the biggest title of her career, Swiatek’s momentum in the match came to a halt after Kenin walked off the court for a medical timeout three games into the second set. The issue was related to her upper left leg which she has had some taping on. Kenin returned to the court with extra taping around her entire thigh.

Resuming play, the dynamic of the final had changed. Kenin was still fighting hard but it was visible that she was struggling with her movement on the court and close to tears. Meanwhile, Swiatek stuck to her game plan as she continued to show impressive mental resistance on the court. Something she attributes to her time spent with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz.

Surging towards the French Open crown Swiatek showed little signs of nerves as she raced to a set and 5-1 lead. Serving for the title, a serve down the centre of the court was returned out by Kenin to hand the Pole her first championship point. Victory was then sealed with the help of a forehand winner aimed at the corner of the court.

“I think I was mentally consistent and I just wanted to play aggressive as I have done in previous rounds,” said the newly crowned champion.
“I felt like today was really stressful for me. It was kinda hard but I don’t actually know what made the difference (between her and Kenin). I won the match point and that made the difference.”

Swiatek is the seventh unseeded woman to contest the final of a major tournament since 2010 and the third to win. Following in the footsteps of Jelena Ostapenko at the 2017 French Open and Sloane Stephens at 2017 US Open. Furthermore, she is the second-lowest ranked player to contest a French Open final since the WTA ranking system was created in 1975.

“For another underdog to win a Grand Slam in women’s tennis, it’s crazy,” she commented.

Besides the victory, the Pole also paid tribute to her father. Tomasz Swiatek is a former professional rower who represented his country at the 1988 Summer Olympics.

“He taught me how to be a professional (athlete). It’s hard to describe but he raised me in this way that I feel pretty confident on the court. He gave us everything,” she said in tribute.

Swiatek will rise to 17th in the world rankings on Monday. She exits Roland Garros with $1,900,000 in prize money which is more than what she had earned in her entire career prior to the tournament.

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Venus Williams Explains Met Gala Photo With Maria Sharapova

The former world No.1 says she and her sister Serena have ‘respect and love’ for Sharapova.

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Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at the 20201 Met Gala (image via Instagram)

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams says there are no hard feelings between her, her sister Serena and Maria Sharapova after the trio took a photo together at the Met Gala.

 

The former world No.1s was seen smiling and laughing together at the New York fundraising event with both of the Williams sisters uploading a photo of them all on their Instagram story. Prompting surprise from some fans considering the at times icy rivalry between Serena and Sharapova that dates back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Serena’s name more than 100 times. She says the American hated her for beating her at Wimbledon that year and that the two were ‘not friends.’

“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” Sharapova wrote.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment.
“But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”

Responding to the claims, Serena hit back at the book in 2018 by describing it as ‘hearsay’ and said she never had any ‘negative feelings’ towards Sharapova. The two clashed on the Tour no fewer than 22 times with Serena winning 20 of those meetings.

“So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book,” Williams commented back in 2018. “So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.”

Three years later and it now seems that all parties have put their disagreements behind them. At the Met Gala they were seen getting on pretty well. Besides posing for a photo together, they were also seen together in the bathroom at the event. A photo taken by pop star Anitta and rapper Saweetie which showed them in the background.

Speaking about the event for the first time, 41-year-old Williams said she wishes Sharapova was still playing before adding that they still ‘respect and love’ each other.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” the 41-year-old explained on Instagram.
“We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’
“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on tour.’
“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.
“So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard of the court for years, we still respect and love each other, and love Maria
.”

Williams, Serena and Sharapova have won a total of 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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Emma Raducanu Launches Own Weibo Account With Viral Video

In her first video, the teenage sensation promised to play in China next year.

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Emma Raducanu reacts after winning a Women's Singles semifinal match at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Sep. 9, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu is gaining a rapidly growing fan base in China with her first video on the social media account Weibo surpassing one million views in less than two days.

 

The 18-year-old has become one of the most talked about athletes in the world of tennis following her unprecedented run to the US Open title. At the Grand Slam she didn’t drop a single set in 10 matches played to become the first qualifier in history to ever win a major title. Even more remarkable was the fact Raducanu was playing in a Grand Slam main draw for only the second time in her career.

In her native UK bookmakers are already tipping the youngster as a strong contender to win this year’s prestigious BBC Sports personality of the Year award. Although it isn’t just Britain where she is proving to be a hit. Raducanu was actually born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mother who both work in the finance section. The family moved to the UK when Raducanu was two-years-old.

“My mum comes from a Chinese background. They have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily about telling everyone how good you are, but it’s about believing it within yourself. I really respect that about the culture,” she said.
“She’s always instilled a lot of discipline and respect for other people into me, so I think that having parents like I do, they always push me, they have high expectations so I’ve always tried to live up to that. And I just hope I did them proud this week and I’m going to keep trying to go, keep going.”

Shortly after her US Open win, the world No.23 delivered a message in mandarin which was posted on the tournament’s Weibo account. SportsPro Media reports that the video generated more than 11 million impressions.

Now Raducanu has launched her own Weibo account with a video message to her fans. Shine.cn, which is a website powered by Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, said that the British player has promised to play in the country next year. This season’s Asian swing has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Shine also said she spoke with a slight ‘accent from northeast China’ where her mother is from.

According to the latest view count, the video has been watched more than 1.22 million times since it was published. The view count may look impressive but it is by no means a one off. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that two hashtags related to Raducanu on Weibo have been viewed at least 200M times each as a result of her US Open win. These hashtags were ‘18-year-old ethnic Chinese young player wins US open championship‘ and ‘Raducanu.’

Despite her relative inexperience on the Tour, many are tipping Raducanu to become one of the most marketable athletes in the world. Her ability to interact with the Chinese market will play a significant role in those considering the country has invested millions into the sport and hosts a series of prestigious women’s events. However, in the immediate future the teenager says her focus is on the tennis.

“I have a few days’ rest and recovery – I think needed after the last seven weeks,” she told CNBC’s Closing Bell earlier this week.
“But then I am straight back to training and hungry to get better and come back out and play some more tournaments.”

Besides Weibo, Raducanu also has over 583,000 followers on Twitter, 1.9M Instagram followers and 63,000 followers on her official Facebook page.

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World No.1 Ash Barty May Skip WTA Finals Over ‘Ridiculous’ Conditions, Says Coach

The decision to move the event to Mexico could result is the loss of the wortld No.1.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) celebrates defeating Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) in the fourth round of the Ladies' Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Monday 05/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

The season-ending WTA Finals could take place without the world’s highest ranked player due to the change of venue and its conditions, according to her coach.

 

Ash Barty is the reigning champion of the event, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is usually held in the Chinese city of Shenzhen but this year’s edition has been relocated to South America. Earlier this week the WTA confirmed that it will be hosted in Guadalajara, Mexico during the early part of November.

Reacting to the latest development, the mentor of reigning Wimbledon champion Barty has hit out of the new location. Craig Tyzzer has voiced his concern over the decision to use pressure-less balls at the event which will be played at high altitude. Going as far as describing the situation as ‘ridiculous.’

“We only just found out it’s in Mexico at 1500 metres (above sea level) and they’re using pressure-less balls,” Tyzzer told the Australian Associated Press.
“Pressure-less balls absolutely fly. It’s a ball that, if you use it in normal conditions, it doesn’t bounce. It’s not the greatest advertisement for the best girls in the world to be playing something they’ve never done before.’
“In conditions they’ve never played, in a country they don’t play and at altitude, I just feel it’s ridiculous. As a spectacle, it’s just frightening.”

Guadalajara already hosts a WTA 250 event during the first quarter of the season. In this year’s tournament no top 20 players were present in the main draw which was won by Canada’s Leylah Fernandez.

Barty is currently taking a break from the Tour following her third round loss at the US Open. Tyzzer said the chances of the world No.1 playing in the WTA Finals is up in the air due to the current travel restrictions in place. When Barty returns to her native Australia she is required to spend two weeks in isolation. Therefore the later she leaves it to go home, the less time she will have to prepare during the off-season.

“Indian Wells (next month) is still on the radar but she just needs a rest. So I told her to just get away and have a holiday,” he said.
“It certainly isn’t easy for us to get there and to play that event in Mexico and then to come back and have to do two (more) weeks (in quarantine) and then your summer is sort of ruined as well. It’s a decision we’ll have to sit and mull over quite a bit.”

So far this season Barty has registered a win-loss record of 42-7 and has won a total of five Tour titles. Besides Wimbledon, she has also triumphed at two Premier Mandatory and two Premier 700 events.

The WTA Finals features the eight highest ranked players in the world with a multi-million dollar prize money pool. This year will be the first time in it’s 49-year history that the tournament will take place in South America before returning to the scheduled home of Shenzhen in 2022.

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