Aryna Sabalenka is aiming to continue her winning streak in Melbourne - UBITENNIS
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Aryna Sabalenka is aiming to continue her winning streak in Melbourne

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Aryna Sabalenka won the WTA title in Dubai last February and two back-to-back trophies in Linz and Ostrava last autumn in the season affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic. The world number 7 player picked up where she left off by winning the first tournament of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi. She rose three places from 10th to 7th in the WTA Ranking.

 

Sabalenka extended her impressive winning streak to 15 matches. Her ninth career title in Abu Dhabi is a confidence-booster ahead of the Australian Open, where she will chase her first Grand Slam title. She has not lost a match since the third round defeat to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur at Roland Garros last October. 

“I was doing everything I could in each match from the beginning in Abu Dhabi and I am happy to start the season with a title. I am going to Australia. I am confident that I will do everything I can to win matches”, said Sabalenka. 

In the Abu Dhabi final Sabalenka beat Veronika Kudemertova 6-2 6-2 after converting six of her thirteen break points. 

“I am proud that I was fighting no matter what. In some matches I didn’t feel my serve, some matches, I didn’t feel my forehand or backhand, but I would just keep fighting, finding my shots, and this is what I am really proud of”. 

Sabalenka is 9-4 in her career finals and won all her six finals in the past 16 months, but she does not rest on her laurels, as she is looking ahead at news goals. 

“Abu Dhabi was an amazing week for me. I have been fighting through everything. To start the season with a title with a title is something really unbelievable. This was a new beginning. I am not focusing on the past. What happened there, happened there. Now it’s a clean sheet and I have to start from the beginning. I am actually surprised by this title because I have been practicing indoors on a different surface and coming here, the outdoor courts are a really different bounce. It’s a little windy here. To handle these conditions and win the title is something I am really proud of. I am really happy”, said Sabalenka to the WTA website. 

Sabalenka showed impressive form in Abu Dhabi, where she dropped just one set during the tournament. 

“Before the tournament, I didn’t play well and it was tough to adjust. I was staying calm and kept working and kept trying to find it. I didn’t have any expectations. I was focusing on my game, on my movement. I think this was the key. In the matches, my focus was on my game and the movement. I wasn’t focusing on the conditions or anything. I was just playing with what I had. Some days I didn’t feel my forehand, some days I didn’t feel my backhand. Some days I didn’t have my serve, but I am proud that I kept going and kept fighting and trying to find my shots. This is what worked really well this week and what I am really with”. 

Sabalenka started playing more relaxed and this contributed to her winning streak of 15 consecutive matches. Sabalenka explained how her perspective has changed after the death of her father in 2019. 

“It started a little bit earlier when I lost my father. I think after that moment I just understood there are so many things in life to be worried about and tennis is just a small part of my life, in the big picture. Of course, I don’t like to lose and I am worried about tennis and doing everything I can, but we have to enjoy our life, we have to enjoy our time on the court, enjoy our time on the court, enjoy the opportunities. This happened one year ago, but to find this kind of mentality takes some time. I began to have a more settled mentality about my tennis in Ostrava last October. In the match against Sara Sorribes Tormo I was down 0-6 0-4. After that one I understood anything can happen. No matter what you have to keep fighting. You don’t have to get upset about anything. You just have to do your job and that’s it. After that match in Ostrava, everything just clicked”. 

Sabalenka is aiming to continue her winning streak at the Australian Open. 

“This will be tough. I know that I can lose. Everyone can lose. I will do everything I can to continue winning. If I lose then it’s fine. I just want to make sure I did everything I could. It’s really tough, but I think I can handle it”. 

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Felix Auger Aliassime leads the ATP Next Gen Race to Milan

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Felix Auger Aliassime rose to the top of the ATP Next Gen Race to Milan after strong performances at Wimbledon, Cincinnati and at the uS Open. 

 

After reaching the quarter final at Wimbledon the Canadian player advanced to the last eight at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was the second time he reached the quarter final in a Masters 1000 tournament. 

At the US Open the 21-year-old Canadian player edged Roberto Bautista Agut in a five-set match before beating Frances Tiafoe to reach the semifinals. Auger Aliassime became the first Canadian player to reach the semifinals at the US Open in the tournament history and the youngest player since Juan Martin Del Potro won the tournament in 2009. 

“I am happy with the level I have been playing at times, with the results I have had. It’s a positive week. Things are moving in the right direction”, said Auger Aliassime. Carlos Alcaraz has become the fourth player to secure a spot in the Next Gen ATP Finals after Auger Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Sebastian Korda. Alcaraz became the youngest US Open quarter finalist in the Open Era after scoring an upset third-set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. The player coached by Juan Carlos Ferrero also won the ATP 250 title in Umag and reached the semfinals in Marbella and Winston Salem.

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Liudmila Samsonova sets up semifinal against Jelena Ostapenko in Luxembourg

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Liudmila Samsonova upset this year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 6-1 6-4 with three breaks of serve to reach her third semifinal of the season at the Luxembourg Open. 

 

Samsonova broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. The Russian player claimed the second set 6-1 with a break in the third game and sealed the win on her first match point. 

Samsonova beat Bencic for the second time this season after beating the Swiss player in the final of the WTA grass tournament in Berlin. 

Bencic dropped serve three times in her first tournament since reaching the quarter finals at the US Open where she lost to eventual champion Emma Raducanu. 

Samsonova will face 2019 Luxemburg Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who edged past Alizé Cornet 7-6 (8-6) 6-2. Ostapenko improved her winning streak to 8-0. Ostapenko went down a break twice in the first set. Cornet earned a chance to serve for the set at 5-4, but Ostapenko did not face any set point. Ostapenko saved the first set point in the tie-break before earning the mini-break to win the tie-break 8-6. Ostapenko broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

Marketa Vondrousova completed the semifinal line-up with a 7-5 6-2 win over number 2 seed Elise Mertens after 1 hour and 37 minutes. Mertens broke serve in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Vondrousova won four consecutive games with two breaks to take a 7-5 lead. The Czech player broke twice in a row in the third and fifth games to win the second set 6-2. 

Clara Tauson broke twice in each set to beat Marie Bouzkova 6-3 6-2. 

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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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