Veronika Kudermetova builds up to the Australian Open with confidence after her breakthrough tournament in Abu Dhabi - UBITENNIS
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Veronika Kudermetova builds up to the Australian Open with confidence after her breakthrough tournament in Abu Dhabi

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Veronika Kudermetova recently made a major breakthrough when she reached the final in Abu Dhabi WTA 500 tournament finishing runner-up to Aryna Sabalenka. 

 

In the first WTA tournament of the 2021 season Kudemertova knocked out Anett Kontaveit, Bianca Turati, Paula Badosa, world number 5 Elina Svitolina and Ukrainian 18-year-old rising star Marta Kostyuk en route to reaching her first WTA singles final after four previous semifinal defeats. Kudemertova scored her fifth career Top 5 win over Svitolina, with whom she has a 100% record, as she had already beaten her Ukrainian rival in Moscow in 2019. After Abu Dhabi the 23-year-old Russian player improved her best ranking to world number 38. 

Kudemertova has risen close to 200 ranking spots in the last two years. Many experts predict that Veronika could be a candidate for a top 10 spot in the WTA Ranking in the near future. 

“I did not any specific goals with my team for the 2021 season, but I have to admit I am a very ambitious person, so I have very high expectations from my tennis career. The final in Abu Dhabi will give me more confidence and more motivation to keep working hard and reach my potential”, said Kurdemetova.

Kudermetova is building up to the Australian Open with high hopes. 

“I am coming in with confidence and feeling good physically and mentally. If I keep up the hard work and improve my level during the next 14 days of quarantine and practice, I believe I can play good”. 

Kudermetova beat Sabalenka in the doubles final in Wuhan 2019. 

“Aryna is really good. She has won the last three tournaments she has played, so she obviously has a lot of confidence and is probably the hottest player on tour right now” 

Sabalenka and Kurdemetova are among a group of favourites for the upcoming Australian Open. 

“It’s difficult to say who are the favourites considering the difficulties of the times we are living in. A lot of different things can happen in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Many young playesr are coming up and are showing their big potential. I think we are a very nice group of players and will push each other to the top”. 

Kudermetova was born to Eduard Damirovich Kudemertova, a former Russian national ice hockey champion. She started playing tennis at the age of seven. Her younger sister Polina, who was born in 2003, is world junior number 4 player and reached the US Open Junior semifinal in 2020. 

“I started playing tennis by chance. Before I was seven, I had lived in Kazan. I was spending summer in our country house, and a friend of mine invited me to play tennis, because she got bored playing alone. Not only I had never had a tennis racket in my hand, but I had absolutely no idea of what it was about. However, the idea of playing sounded more attractive than working in my grandmother’s garden. I had lots of energy, and surprisingly, I even managed to hit the ball. I enjoyed the feeling of the game very much”, said Kudemertova. 

She was a solid player at junior level and won her first $ 50k tournament at the Kazan Summer Open in the doubles partnering Evgeniya Rodina. They beat Alexandra Artamonova and Martina Borecka in the final. She reached the quarter final at the President’s Cup in her first $100k tournament before losing to Vitalia Diatchenko. Kudermetova and Daria Kasatkina won the Fed Cup Junior title in 2013. 

However, she faced a strong competition of Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina, who were also born in 1997. Bencic beat Kudermetova in Florence and at the Bonfiglio tournament in Milan in 2013. Kasatkina defeated Kudermetova at the Yeltsin Cup. 

Kudermetova reached a best junior ranking of world number 22 in 2013 at the age of 16. That year was dominated at junior level by Ana Konjuh (winner of two junior Grand Slam titles on hard court at the Australian Open and at the US Open) and Belinda Bencic (Roland Garros and Wimbledon Junior champion). Kudemertova is part of a golden generation of players born in 1997 also includes Daria Kasatkina (winner at the Roland Garros Junior tournament in 2014) and Jelena Ostapenko (Wimbledon Junior champion in 2014). 

Kudermetova looked back to the early years on the tennis court and the challenges she had to face at the start of her career. 

“My father was a professional hockey player. He played for Metallurg hockey club. My father signed a contract with TSKA Moscow and was invited to the capital. As part of his contract he asked for some benefits for me. I was enlisted to train in Tennis Center. At that time I was hardly a good player. I had no ranking, because I had not participated in any contest. It was difficult to get there without any support. Maybe I could have tried to enroll to the tennis myself, without my father asking for his daughter, but it would have taken much more effort and time. Initially i didn’t travel a lot, maybe two or three times withing six months. All the tournaments I took part in were in Russia. That’s why we had no problems with covering the travel costs. Financial problems began when I started to travel every month. Sometimes these tournaments were held abroad. My father was looking for sponsors to cover the travel costs”. 

In 2014 Kudermetova made her Fed Cup debut in the debut against Australia losing to Samantha Stosur. 

After a difficult start to the 2016 season Kudemertova reached her first final of the year in Andijan. She won two consecutive $25k titles in Imola and Astana. She enjoyed a 34-18 win-loss record in 2016 and improved her year-end ranking by a total of 190 spots, ending the year at the 210th spot in the WTA Ranking. 

“I finished playing tennis at a junior early and moved on to senior level. I did not want to waste time and my parents’ money. If I had continued playing as a junior for at least six months, I could have ranked in the top 20”.

Veronika made her Grand Slam debut at the 2017 Australian Open, where she lost in the first qualifying round. She won her first qualifying round at the French Open, but she lost her next match. 

“Besides rankings, international tournaments are a good chance to practice your skills. At the Australian Open and Wimbledon junior and senior tournaments were held together. It was really cool to play together with tennis celebrities, you are playing, improving your skills and watch them play”. 

Kudermetova scored her first top 30 win, when she beat Carla Suarez Navarro at the 2018 Porsche Grand Prix Premier Tournament in Stuttgart. She reached the final qualifying round for the first time in her career at the French Open. She then beat Anett Kontaveit in Rosmalen on grass before scoring an upset win over Belinda Bencic in the next round reaching her first WTA quarter final. She went on to reach another WTA quarter final in Gstaad, where she beat Viktoria Kuzmova before losing to Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets. 

Kudermetova started the 2019 season with a quarter final in Shenzhen after beating her compatriot Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova. She qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time in her career and lost to Sofia Kenin in the opening round. 

In May 2019 Kudermetova scored her first wins in a Grand Slam main draw at the French Open beating Caroline Wozniacki in the first round and Zarina Diyas in the second round. Kudermetova reached the second round at Wimbledon and two semifinals at the Japan Open and at the Tianjin Open. She upset Elina Svitolina in the second round of the Kremlin Cup before losing to Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter final. Kudermetova won the doubles title at the Wuhan Open with Duan Yingyng. 

“When I moved up to seniors, I faced other challenges. I lost the support from the Russian Tennis Federation. Thanks to their support I managed to move up from 400 to to 170, and in doubles I ranked among the top 100”. 

Kudermetova looked up to Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova at the start of her career. 

“Serena and Roger are the GOAT (Greatest of all all time), but I also liked Justine Henin. Federer is my favourite player among the Big 3. I tried to model on Maria Sharapova when I was growing up and I looked up to her”. 

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beats Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarter final in Montpellier

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina came back from 1-3 in the opening set and converted four of the ten break points to claim a 7-5 6-2 win over Hubert Hurkacz in 1 hour and 34 minutes at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. 

 

Hurkacz went up a break in the fourth game at deuce to take a 3-1 lead. Davidovich Fokina broke back in the fifth game at 15 and held serve to draw level to 3-3. Hurkacz saved a break point in the seventh game to hold serve after two deuces. Davidovich Fokina converted his second break point in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5. 

Hurkacz saved three break points in the third game of the second set, but Davidovich Fokina broke twice in the fifth and seventh games at deuce to win the final four games from 2-2 securing his spot in the quarter final. 

The 21-year-old Spanish player set up a quarter final against Egor Gerasimov, who knocked out Aljaz Bedene 6-4 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 51 minutes. Bedene converted his second break point at deuce in the first game. Gerasimov broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Gerasimov closed out the first set 6-4 with a break on his opportunity in the 10th game.

Bedene went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Gerasimov broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Gerasimov earned five match points at 6-1 in the tie-break. Bedene saved the first three chances, but Gerasimov closed out the tie-break 7-4 on his fourth opportunity. 

Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Gregoire Barrère 6-0 6-3. The Spanish player built up a 6-0 2-0 lead with four consecutive breaks. Barrère came back by winning three consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead with a break in the fourth game. Bautista Agut reeled off four consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to win the second set 6-3 

Dennis Novak came back from 3-5 down by winning the final four games in the second set to beat Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 1 hour and 35 minutes. Novak set up a quarter final clash against German Peter Gojowczyk, who came back from one set down to beat Juri Vesely 6-7 (3-7) 7-4 (7-4) 6-3 after 2 hours and 28 minutes. Gojowczyk hit 17 aces and won 86 % of his first service points. Gojowczyk saved four break points in the ninth game. Vesely earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-brek 7-3. The second set went on serve en route to the the tie-break. Gojowczyk earned one mini-break to win the tie-break 7-4. The German player converted his only break point in the second game to seal the third set 6-3.

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Adrian Mannarino sets up quarter final match against Radu Albot at the Singapore Open

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Top seed Adrian Mannarino beat Roberto Marcora 6-3 7-5 to advance to the quarter finals at the Singapore Tennis Open. 

 

Mannarino converted his second break point at deuce in the fifth game of the opening set after six deuces to take a 3-2 lead, as Marcora hit his forehand into the net. The Frenchman earned three set points in the ninth game. Marcora saved the first two chances, but Mannarino sealed the first set on his third chance after 50 minutes. 

Marcora went down 0-40 in the second game of the second set, but he saved all three break points to hold serve at deuce. Mannarino held his serve in the next games and earned two match points on return in the 12th game. He sealed the win, as Marcora sent his backhand into the net. 

“At this stage there is no easy match. I never played against Marcora before, but I knew he had a couple of good games before. In the second set, he got used to the pace and was winning points in the big moments and it looked like it could go either way. I am pretty happy that I managed to keep my focus and win the second set”, said Mannarino. 

Mannarino set up a quarter final against Moldova’s Radu Albot, who fended off three match points to beat Yannick Hanfmann after 2 hours and 42 minutes. Albot fended off match points at 4-5 15-40 and in the second set and at 6-7 in the tie-break. 

Australia’s Matthew Ebden cruised past his compatriot John Millman 6-4 6-1 in 72 minutes. Soonwoo Kwon won 31 of his 38 first service points to beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3 6-4 setting up a quarter final against Marin Cilic. Soonwoo Kwon claimed his third ATP Challenger Tour title in Biella beating Italian Next Gen star Lorenzo Musetti.

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The tennis world celebrates the 87th birthday of Rino Tommasi

The legendary Italian tennis writer was greeted by heavyweights of the game such as ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi and Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink

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Rino Tommasi

Journalist Rino Tommasi turned 87 on Tuesday, and so Ubitennis decided to ask the members of the ITWA (International Tennis Writers Association) to send their birthday wishes to a professional who spear-headed the use of statistics in the game.

 

A recipient of the ATP Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award in 1993, Tommasi was voted as the “Tennis writer of the year” twice by the players (in 1982 and 1991), and was rewarded by the IOC in 2012 for his extensive coverage of 11 editions of the Olympics – he is also a great boxing expert. Furthermore, for several years he wrote the official US Open match previews, and his broadcasting partnership with Hall-of-Famer Gianni Clerici was the subject of a Sports Illustrated feature article.

Here are some of the messages we received celebrating him (other contributors include Doris Henkel, Marco Keller, Simon Cambers, Mike Dickson, Guillermo Salatino, René Stauffer, Eduardo Puppo, Sandra Harwitt, Tom Tebbutt, Serge Fayat, Paolo Bertolucci, Andrea Scanzi, Marco Gilardelli, Bill Scott, Federico Ferrero, Sebastian Fest, and Craig Gabriel):

Andrea Gaudenzi

Dear Rino,

Wishing you many happy returns on your 87th birthday! As an iconic figure in Italian tennis journalism, you were always at the forefront of statistics and data in our sport, and that is something that I personally always admired and respected throughout my playing career. While your presence on the Tour is missed, your contributions to our sport are certainly not forgotten. Happy birthday and wishing you all the best,

Andrea


Steve Flink

Rino,

Ubaldo tells me that today you are 87, which is hard to believe. The years pass so quickly. In my mind I see you when you are 45 or 50, but 87? That’s impossible.

I have so many memories of our interaction through the years. Let me share just a few. We were all in Palm Springs in 1978. One morning before the matches we played some tennis in the hard courts. You gave me a 30-0 lead in every game. I soon realized why you did that because you were so much better than me.

The rallies were long but you beat me 6-1, 6-2. I was a bit embarrassed but you said, “Steve, you played much better than I thought you would!”. We both laughed and you said something you repeated to me many times over the years. You said, “I am not going to be modest because I have no reason to be modest.” Then you broke into that laugh that belonged only to you. No one could laugh like you. No one.

I am thinking now of a very amusing moment in the Wimbledon press room in 2009. You were sitting in your usual desk one or two seats away from Ubaldo. I came by and said, “It’s so great to see the best Italian writer there has ever been”.

You smiled, Rino, assuming I was talking about you and getting ready to thank me. Then I turned to Ubaldo,  patted him on the back and said,”I am talking, of course, about the great Ubaldo Scanagatta!”

Ubaldo laughed heartily and so did I. You grimaced, Rino, But then you smiled and shook your head and looked at us as if we were a couple of helpless fools—which we probably were. You then put your arms around Ubaldo and me and said, “You both have so much to learn and so far to go, but I will get you there.”

Once again you had shown us your superiority. We did not know whether to say, “Game, set, match, Rino” or “Check Mate!”

I have so many other recollections  but I will leave you with this one. Sampras and Rafter were playing the Wimbledon final in 2000 and I was running back and forth between the media room and the Centre Court because I was reporting on the match for CBS Radio.

I was running  up those steps in the Centre Court press section with Rafter having won the first set in a tiebreaker and the second set on serve at 6-5. You saw me standing there looking serious and said, “Steve, don’t look so depressed.”

You knew that I was hoping for Sampras to win and get his 13th major to pass Roy Emerson, which of course he did in four sets. When you told me not to be depressed you did it with sensitivity and not sarcasm. I liked the fact that you knew when to be sarcastic and when to be understanding of your friend’s feelings. That is a great trait.

You also once gave me good advise in your typically candid manner about my writing. You said, “Steve, you should write more  the way you talk.” I took that to heart.

So, Rino, I raise a glass to you now to celebrate your birthday. I do have good reasons to be modest, so I will simply say none of us could ever measure up to your standards.

Happy Birthday my friend!

All the best,
Steve Flink


Kaoru Takeda

When I went to the Rolland [sic] Garros for the first time in 1985, he was there, I remember. I don’t remember you, sorry. Whenever the late Eiichi Kawatei talked me about the tennis of his days, the name of Rino always came up, with JP, Bud Collins, Richard Evans or Russ Adams. Eiichi also was a good friend of Ken Rosewall, and almost the same age as Rino(1933, Dec.).  “Never spoil a good story with the truth” is really a good saying of his. Story telling is the very joy of our job, and I believe that with good tennis telling in Italy, you have good young players now.Tell him and his family A Happy Birthday and I hope to see him somewhere in the near future. […]

Kaoru Takeda

PS: Do you know the Feb.23rd is the birthday of the present Emperor, the grandson of Hirohito. So it was a holiday here in Japan.


George Homsi

Amico Rino! 

I wish you a fantastic 87th birthday and many more to come. I cherish old memories from our meetings and discussions in press rooms and I miss your friendly expert opinions and your presence. Keep strong as i know you are, and I hope to be able to see you again sometime and share a plate of spaghetti! Aldentissimo of course.

Georges Homsi


Richard Evans

My earliest memories of covering the Foro Italico in the the 1960’s are of his kindness to me, coupled with the invitation to write articles for his excellent Tennis Club magazine. […] Rino was a huge presence on the tennis tour for the following decades and, statistically, he was supreme! He gave the early days of technology in tennis a human face – something we must remember not to lose. With very best wishes, 

Richard


Mark Winters and Cheryl Jones

Dear Rino:

When I learn it was your birthday, I began to remember some of our interactions over so many years.  The first thing that came to mind was talking with you late one afternoon after you had finished your tennis writing and were about leave the tournament site to catch a flight to Las Vegas to cover a fight…and how excited you were about making trip. I don’t remember who fought, but I can still recall seeing you sitting at your desk the next day, and how please you were about successfully completing a “tennis-boxing” double.

I look back on the countless times you greeted me, as I walked to my desk in a media room, with a “knowing” Rino smile that always made me think that you knew something about what I would encounter that day…and didn’t want to let me know what I was facing because you wanted me to be surprised.

More to the point, you were my tennis Google before the application had been invented. You always had the statical information I needed for a story. More important, I never had to check its validity because…Rino always provided the appropriate details.

Like Hoad and Rosewall, you and Gianni Clerici are unique. He has always had Lew’s flair, while you always provided Ken’s steadiness. This was certainly the case when Gianni did his nude US Open broadcast in the sweatbox broadcast booth at Armstrong Stadium and you patiently handled all the visitors who dropped by to see “what was taking place”.

You are one of a kind and I am fortunate to have you as a friend.

Have a memorable and Happy Birthday,

Mark (Winters) and Cheryl (Jones)

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