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”.
Another Defeat For Iga Swiatek – Should Her Fans Start To Worry?
Iga Swiatek unexpectedly lost to Beatrice Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open in Toronto. This was the third defeat of the WTA world No.1 in a month and a half. Is there anything to worry about?
Article written by Dominik Senkowski (@dsenkowski07)
It was an extremely close match played in difficult conditions. Swiatek lost to Beatrice Hadad Maia 4:6, 6:3, 5:7 in Toronto.
The Polish woman admitted that she could not deal with the strong wind, saying during her press conference “I think without the wind I would manage. But it was pretty crazy out there.”
Haddad Miai, who is the first Brazilian to reach the last eight of a WTA 1000 event, revealed that she also had problems with the weather.
”We have no influence on the weather, we have to deal with it somehow. I think mentally I managed to overcome it,” she said.
This was the third defeat for Swiatek in a month and a half. She had been undefeated since February, winning six tournaments in a row, including a Roland Garros. After that, however, she did not reach the semi-finals even once. In Wimbledon she was eliminated in the third round by Alize Cornet and then in Warsaw in the quarter-finals by Caroline Garcia. Now she did not make it past Beatrice Hadad Maia in Toronto. Do fans of the Polish woman have anything to worry about?
Of course, Swiatek as the top seed should have played better against the Brazilian. However, it must be remembered that she is still only 21 years old and has the right to fluctuate in form. Even the best tennis players of recent years – Roger Federer, Serena Serena, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic – did not win all the games in their best time. Swiatek still has a phenomenal balance of 49 wins to 5 defeats this year. She is the undisputed leader of the WTA rankings and will probably end the year as number one in the world.
There is no doubt that the rivals are more motivated to clash with Iga. In addition, they increasingly believe that they are able to defeat her since Cornet, Garcia and Hadad Maia did it. But still, it all depends on Iga. If she improves her serve, she can be unstoppable again. Recently with Garcia and Hadad Maia, she had problems with the second serve. She must pay more attention to it.
Time for Iga
Time should play in favour of Swiatek. Before Toronto, she played exceptionally on clay courts in Warsaw in a tournament organized by her father Tomasz. Frequent changes of the surface from grass to clay and hard courts in 1.5 months are not easy at such a young age. In Poland Iga said that she had no experience with it, she was just learning. She continues to learn valuable lessons and still can be better. We should remember it.
It seems that in the coming days she will be training on hard courts. She could feel more confident and come stronger as in spring. In Warsaw Iga said that she treats the first tournament before the US Open swing less seriously. She was aware that she needed more playing time to get better results. Her increasing self-esteem makes her behave calmer, even after defeats. That is why she can return to the right path soon.
Rafael Nadal Returns To Cincinnati With Shot At No.1 Ranking
This is what the king of clay has to do to reclaim the top position.
It has been over a month since Rafael Nadal last played a match on the Tour but in the coming days, he will have a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been absent from action ever since pulling out of his semi-final match at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear. He was set to play at this week’s National Bank Open in Montreal but withdrew after feeling a ‘slight bother’ in his abdominal region following training. Nadal decided not to play after consulting with his doctor.
Instead, the Spaniard will return next week at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. He confirmed his return in an Instagram post, where he wrote: “Very happy to play again in Cincy. Flying there tomorrow (Thursday).”
Whilst the Spaniard will be finding his feet in the coming days, in Cincinnati he has a chance to dethrone Daniil Medvedev from the world No.1 position. Medvedev lost his opening match in Montreal to Nick Kyrgios. To do this he would need to win the Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career and hope that Medvedev doesn’t make the quarter-finals. Nadal won Cincinnati back in 2013 after defeating John Isner in the final.
So far in his career, Nadal has spent 209 weeks as world No.1 with his longest streak being 56 weeks in a row (2010-2011). In total, he has been at the top of the rankings for eight separate periods and last held the position in February 2020.
Nadal’s No.1 stints
-Aug 18 2008 – Jul 5th 2009 (46 weeks)
-Jun 7 2010 – Jul 3rd 2011 (56 weeks)
-Oct 7th 2013 – Jul 6th 2014 (39 weeks)
-Aug 21 2017 – Feb 18 2018 (26 weeks)
-Apr 2nd 2018 – May 13th 2018 (6 weeks)
-May 21st 2018 – Jun 17th 2018 (4 weeks)
-Jun 25th 2018 – Nov 4th 2018 (19 weeks)
-Nov 4th 2019 – Feb 2nd 2020 (13 weeks)
At present nine out of the world’s top 10 players will participate in the Western and Southern Open. The only exception is Novak Djokovic who is currently banned from entering America because he isn’t vaccinated against Covid-19.
Jack Draper Considered Skipping Montreal Masters Before Getting Biggest Win Of Career
The rising star completes a trio of British players who have booked their places in the third round of the Masters 1000 event.
British qualifier Jack Draper says his decision to play in Montreal this week has paid off after he scored his first-ever win over a top 10 player on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old stunned world No.5 and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4), in what is only his fourth appearance in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Draper, who is currently ranked 82nd in the world, won 74% of his first service points and blasted 21 winners past his Greek rival. Recovering from a 1-3 deficit in the second set en route to a straight sets victory.
Leading up to this week, Draper and his team considered not playing in Montreal following his 6-4, 6-2, loss to Andrey Rublev in Washington. However, their decision to do so was the right one. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, he beat France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round before knocking out Tsitsipas.
“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”
“I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.” He added.
Draper’s win comes during what has been a solid season for the Brit who has won four Challenger titles. A former top 10 junior player, he won his first main draw Grand Slam match in June at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International.
Awaiting the youngster in the third round will be French veteran Gael Monfils who is playing in his first tournament since May. Monfils defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(8).
Draper is one of three British players to have reached the last 16 in Montreal. Ninth seed Cameron Norrie will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dan Evans faces Taylor Fritz.
According to the Pepperstone live ATP rankings, Draper will break into the world’s top 70 for the first time next week.
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Daria Kasatkina Opens Up About Her Sexuality As Native Russia Eye Tightening Anti-LGBT Laws
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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Elena Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win Was Good But The Level Wasn’t Great
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