‘I’ve Earned The Right’ - Ash Barty Unsurprised By Surge In Form At Australian Open Despite Hiatus - UBITENNIS
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‘I’ve Earned The Right’ – Ash Barty Unsurprised By Surge In Form At Australian Open Despite Hiatus

The former Grand Slam winner has won five matches in a row since returning to the Tour following a 11-month break.

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Ash Barty says her recent winning streak hasn’t entirely caught her off guard after she made a dream start to the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The world No.1 was in clinical form as she thrashed Danka Kovinic 6-0, 6-0, on the Rod Laver Arena in what was her first Grand Slam match for 12 months. Barty missed both the US Open and French Open last year due to travel concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Against Kovinic she was in top form as she started the match with a 16-point winning streak. Impressively, she only dropped three points behind her serve and produced five unforced errors during the match.

“A night session at Rod Laver Arena is really, really special. It was pretty nice to be out there. Beautiful weather for it, and actually it made the night session, nice sky, just a really enjoyable one,” Barty commented on playing in front of fans again.
I think the processes and the things we go through before a match and trying to execute that, that’s always a challenge. I felt like I had that spot on, which was really pleasing, to be able to roll with the momentum throughout the whole match was really good.” She added.

Barty has now won five matches in a row after winning the Yarra Valley Classic last week. An impressive run for a player who spent 11 months away from the sport due to the pandemic. Although during that time she has maintained her No.1 ranking thanks to a change in the WTA points system. A decision that has been criticised by some.

As for the 24-year-old, she insists that her recent results are not exceeding her expectations as she seeks to become the first home player to win the Australian Open in over 40 years. Barty reached the semi-finals last year.

“I know deep down my team and I have done the work. We’ve earned the right to play at this level,” she explains. “There’s always a little bit of the unknown at the start of a season, particularly after such a long break, of what that level might be, knowing there’s every chance it’s not going to be exactly where we want it straight away.’
“But that’s the challenge, is coming out here every day and trying to bring my best stuff on that given day and I think knowing that we’ve done the work during preseason, done the work over the years, I feel comfortable in my own skin to go out there and find away, whether the tennis is great or it’s not, I know I’ve got other weapons that I can go to, not just hitting a tennis ball.”

Regardless of her previous successes on the court, which includes nine WTA title, Barty believes there is room for her to improve further in the coming years.

“I want to challenge myself to be the complete player. I want to challenge myself to grow and develop every single day, both as a human and as a tennis player,” she concluded.

Barty will play either compatriot Daria Gavrilova or Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second round.

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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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