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The Slow And Successful Rise Of Veronika Kudermetova

Let us look at the long path to success at high levels of the current Russian number two, who just finished as the runner-up in Abu Dhabi.

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Veronika Kudermetova - Roland Garros 2019 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)
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THE EARLY YEARS

Veronika Kudermetova was born on April 24, 1997 in Kazan, the capital of the Tatar Republic, and is the daughter of a hockey player, Eduard Kudermetov. Having a professional athlete as a parent put sports at the centre of family life, and led Veronika to move around Russia, following her father’s transfers from one club to another. 

 

As a child, Veronika started playing tennis by chance; here’s how she explained it in an interview: “I spent the summer in the countryside, and a friend of mine invited me to try tennis, because she was bored playing by herself. Not only had I never picked up a racquet in my hands, but I had absolutely no idea what it was. However, the idea seemed more attractive to me than working in my grandmother’s garden. I had a lot of energy and, surprisingly, I even managed to hit the ball. I really liked the feeling that the game gave me.” 

This happened when she was seven years old, but she probably would have met tennis soon anyway, because her dad plays recreationally, and with great passion. Eduard himself recalls endless matches played with teammates during pre-seasons held in Finland which lasted until one or two in the morning, since the sun never goes down during summers beyond the Arctic Circle.

After all, in addition to Veronika, the younger daughter Polina also plays tennis: according to her father, Polina could actually prove to be the Serena Williams of the family, being the younger but more gifted sister. At the moment, Polina (born in June 2003) is 4th in the junior rankings and has just reached the semi-finals at the 2020 French Open.

In her own junior years, however, Veronika encountered the typical difficulties faced by young Russian players of her generation. In fact, it is known that the many valuable players that emerged in the early 2000s were the result of a precise sports policy wanted by Boris Yeltsin himself. At the time, recruiting and training were endowed with considerable funds, which went to help the clubs and players – there were therefore good conditions to support the crucial developing phase, the one that requires teenagers to travel without any immediate economic return. After the end of the Yeltsin era (he died in 2007), things changed, and the players had to proceed with little financial aid. Kudermetova’s father tried in part to find a solution: when he moved to play in Moscow, he asked as part of the contract that his daughter could play at a quality tennis club, in order to be taken care of by competent coaches – economic difficulties persisted when it came to international travel, though.

Kudermetova’s junior career was good but did not reach the heights of some of her peers. She won some Grade 4 tournaments, but in the higher-level ones (Grade 1 and grade A) she was often downed by Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina: the Swiss beat her twice in the tournament of Santa Croce (once in the final) and also at the Trofeo Bonfiglio, while Daria defeated her at the Yeltsin Cup. On the other hand, she won the 2013 junior Fed Cup as the second-best player on the team behind Kasatkina. 

Her best junior ranking was the 22nd spot reached in 2013, aged 16. In that same year, two of her peers dominated the Slams: Ana Konjuh won the two titles on hardcourts, Belinda Bencic those in Europe. The class of 1997 would then win two more majors in 2014 (Kasatkina at Roland Garros, Ostapenko at Wimbledon) and one in 2015 (Paula Badosa, again at Roland Garros), leaving little to younger and/or older competition. 

With such rivals, it wasn’t easy for Kudermetova to stand out. However, she remained a player not to be underestimated, and with decent prospects. But with little help from the federation, she had to give up longer trips and select the tournaments she entered. 

This is why her father, who after retiring from hockey had become a member of her team, looked for alternative solutions: in 2012, he found support from the Austrian federation – the idea was to switch sides and play for Austria. This is why Veronika moved to Vienna for a couple of months, but reluctantly so – she didn’t like the idea of ​​changing her citizenship. Her father has said that at a certain point she explicitly told him that she would either play as a Russian or stop playing tennis altogether; the family then returned to Moscow. Perhaps these obstacles contributed to the decision of turning pro at age 16 to only play ITF tournaments. The start of her professional career, however, would turn out not to be easy.  

On page 3, her early pro years

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Bianca Andreescu delays season won’t travel to Australia

Bianca Andreescu will miss the start of the season in Australia after a tough 2021 season.

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Bianca Andreescu (@OduNews1 - Twitter)

The Canadian went on social media to break the news that she needs a little more time to rehab, prepare and focus on mental health.

 

Bianca Andreescu’s most recent tennis season wasn’t easy and amid a difficult year with highs and lows with twists and turns, she has decided to delay the beginning of her season.

The Toronto native took to Twitter to break the news to announce she was going through a difficult time including the fact she was worried about her grandmother who was in the ICU due to Covid.

Andreescu got off to a slow start last season losing in the second round of the Australian Open but bounced back in Miami in the first WTA 1000 tournament of the year making the final.

In that final, she faced the world number one Ash Barty but was actually forced to retire after a scary tumble for her first injury of the season. The clay-court season was even more hectic as she had tested positive for Covid herself and played one tune-up event prior to the French Open.

She won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out of precaution due to an ab tear and ended up being upset in the first round of Roland Garros to the Slovenian Tamara Zidansek.

She then turned to the grass-court season where she won one match in Eastbourne, one where she struggled to get past the American qualifier Christina Mchale but managed to pull it off in three sets.

She lost her next match to the Estonian Anett Kontaveitt in straight sets and went on to her next grass-court event in the German capital of Berlin. She was upset once again by Alize Cornet of France.

She faced Cornet once again in round one of Wimbledon but again failed to get the win. She then played her home event the National Bank Open in Montreal where she lost in the round of 16 to the Tunisian Ons Jabeur.

In Cincinnati, she suffered another first-round exit at the hands of the Czech Karolina Muchova but managed to have a great US Open run in New York where again she made the round of 16.

She eventually lost to Maria Sakkari of Greece in a tough three-set match and played two more events in Chicago and Indian Wells. In the windy city, she lost her opening match to Shelby Rodgers and made the second round in California losing once again to Kontaveitt.

After all her 2019 points dropped off she is now ranked 46 in the world.

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Davis Cup: Great Britain Handed Wildcard For 2022 Finals, Qualifiers Draw Announced

The Davis Cup Qualifiers draw was announced with Great Britain and Serbia handed a wildcard to next year’s finals.

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Great Britain and Serbia have been handed a wildcard for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals as the qualifiers draw was announced.

 

As this year’s Davis Cup comes to a conclusion, plans for next year’s competition have been put in place.

Although it is still unclear if the Finals will be held in Abu Dhabi next year, we do know which four countries have qualified for the year ending competition next month.

Russia and Croatia will contest the 2021 final, therefore earning themselves an automatic spot in next year’s finals.

However joining them will be two wildcards and they have been given to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia who reached the semi-finals this year as well as Great Britain.

To the surprise of many there was no wildcard for Spain, who are hosting the final this year, further indicating that next year’s competition is unlikely to take place in the country.

Spain join a whole host of other top nations such as Germany, France, USA, Canada and Australia in March’s qualifiers.

Spain will host Romania for a place in next year’s finals while France and USA have been given home ties against Ecuador and Colombia respectively.

Here is the full draw for the qualifiers which will take place on the 4th and 5th of March:

France v Ecuador

Spain v Romania

Finland v Belgium

USA v Colombia

Netherlands v Canada

Brazil v Germany

Slovakia v Italy

Australia v Hungary

Norway v Kazakhstan

Sweden v Japan

Argentina v Czech Republic

South Korea v Austria

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Iga Swiatek Working With Agnieszka Radwanska’s Former Coach After Recent Coaching Split

Iga Swiatek has made some coaching changes ahead of the 2022 season.

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Iga Swiatek will start working with Agnieszka Radwanska’s former coach Tomasz Wiktorowski on a temporary basis after splitting up with her long term coach.

 

The Pole announced the news on Instagram yesterday that she and Piotr Sierzputowski had split up after five years working with each other.

Swiatek had achieved ultimate success with Piotr having won Wimbledon Juniors, reaching her first WTA final in Lugano and the most important achievement of winning her first grand slam title at Roland Garros.

However the 20 year-old now feels its time to move on ahead of the 2022 season, “I’ve started my pre-season, but today I would like to tell you something significant,” Swiatek wrote on Instagram.

“After more than 5 years I’ve decided to finish my cooperation with my coach Piotr Sierzputowski. This change is really challenging for me and this decision wasn’t easy, either… As tennis players we meet on our path a lot of people who contribute great value into our work and, often, into our life too, because we spend almost the whole year on tour together.

“I found out that sometimes in our professional life we need changes to develop more, evolve and meet other people with whom we’re going to create a cooperation for the next stages of our development. 

“I would like to thank you Coach for everything that you did for me. We gave each other so much and I hope that we’ll continue to grow and develop with this experience we’ve gained together. I owe you a lot and truly appreciate the time we’ve spent together. All those years enabled us to be in the place that we are now. 

“I suppose you may have questions about what’s next. I have everything I need to be able to work and I would like to focus on my pre-season without any outside pressure. I hope you’ll understand it.”

https://twitter.com/Sierzputowsky/status/1467456169161678851

Although the news comes as a surprise given that Swiatek was the only woman to reach the last 16 of every grand slam 2021, it is always better for players to change coaches at the end of the season rather than mid-season.

Swiatek’s long-term replacement is yet to be discovered however the Pole has appointed former coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, Tomasz Wiktorowski as an interim replacement according to TenisKlub.Pl.

Wiktorowski was there for most of Radwanska’s successes and knows the polish tennis system well so will have a good working replacement with Swiatek.

The former Roland Garros champion is now starting preparations for the new season as she looks to win a second grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The first grand slam of the season in Melbourne will start on the 17th of January.

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