Ash Barty Exceeding Expectations At Australian Open, Says Coach - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Exceeding Expectations At Australian Open, Says Coach

The mentor of the world No.1 has also shed some light on her plans for the year ahead.

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The return of Ash Barty to professional tennis couldn’t have gone much better than it has, according to her coach Craig Tyzzer.

The world No.1 took an 11-month break from the Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic before returning to action last month. Since then, Barty has already won a WTA title at the Yarra Valley Classic and is currently on a eight-match winning streak. At the Australian Open she has cruised to the quarter-finals without dropping a set. Recording wins over Danka Kovinic, Daria Gavrilova, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Shelby Rogers.

Barty’s winning comeback has been hailed by Tyzzer who was named WTA Coach of the Year back in 2019. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he believes the benefits of having ‘the longest pre-season ever’ is starting to pay off.

“She’s been playing well each match. There’s probably been a few dips and a few rises, so there’s a bit of that flow as well,” he said.
“I think it’s ideal that she’s still alive and still playing, still able to keep progressing in the Australian Open. It’s obviously great for us and for her.’
“She’s put it together really well, probably better than I expected.”

At the start of the Australian Open the 24-year-old had the added boost of being cheered on by fans in Melbourne Park but that has since changed. The city is currently in the middle of a five-day lockdown and therefore the event is taking place behind closed doors. Whilst the absence of a crowd is noticeable, Tyzzer believes that it will not affect how she plays over the coming days.

“I know from last year when she won, she loved the crowd in Adelaide last year when she won. It’s a nice venue, really close, really loud. I think she enjoys the Aussie crowd behind her,” he said.
“She’s also good at going, Okay, I have to focus on what’s going on on the court. It doesn’t distract her. I think she’s done that really well. We played with crowds the first week, a bit here during the Australian Open, and she’s been able to focus on what’s going on.”

This year Barty is seeking to become the first home player to win the Melbourne title since Chris O’Neal in 1978. She reached the semi-final stage last year before losing to eventual champion Sofia Kenin.

Looking ahead to what the rest of the season may have in store, Tyzzer confirmed that Barty plans to return to Europe, as well as the Middle East. She skipped the French Open last year where she was the defending champion due to concerns related to travelling during the pandemic.

“We’re hoping that we’ll set up some sort of base somewhere probably in Europe where we can at least switch off and relax and spend some time away from tennis, maybe a bit of golf for Ash,” Tyzzer outlined.
“We’re yet to finalise anything in that regard. But we’re planning on being away for a while.”

Another tournament on Barty’s mind is the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Only once in history has an Australian female tennis player won an individual Olympic medal. That was Alicia Molik at the 2004 Games.

She’s down to play. She’s pretty keen to play,” he commented on going to the Olympics.
“We’re hoping for her that goes ahead. She’s very excited.”

Barty will play Karolína Muchová is the quarter-finals at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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