WTA Stars React To Victories As Australian Open Preparations Heat Up - UBITENNIS
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WTA Stars React To Victories As Australian Open Preparations Heat Up

Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek reacted to their first matches of the season.



Ash Barty (@TennisAustralia - Twitter)

Some of the WTA’s top stars were among today’s winners in Melbourne as the preparations for the Australian Open intensify.

The world’s top WTA players were in action today as they looked to book their place in the last 16 of either the Gippsland Trophy or the Yarra Valley Classic.

Barty Party Returns In Australia

World number one Ash Barty was among those in action as she competed on the WTA Tour for the first time since last February. Due to the restrictions in Australia, Barty was unable to travel to the tour’s international events since the Pandemic. However that unaffected her today as she cruised past Romanian Ana Bogdan 6-3 6-3.

After the match, the world number one talked about winning more grand slams in 2021, “I’d be extremely fortunate to be in the position to be in another slam final,” Barty told Reem Abulleil.

“That’s what we work for, why we do all the work through the preseason, eat all our green beans, do all the right things to try and get to that point where we have an opportunity to win big titles.”

Ash Barty’s preparations for an Australian Open title bid will continue on Wednesday against 16th seed Marie Bouzkova at the Yarra Valley Classic.

Osaka Continues Hot Streak

Naomi Osaka extended her winning streak to 12 matches by defeating Alize Cornet 6-2 6-2 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Osaka will face Katie Boulter who stunned American teenager Coco Gauff.

After her match Osaka acknowledged that she needs to start doing better at smaller tournaments, “I go into each tournament just trying to do the best that I can,” Osaka said in her press conference.

“I know that I have a really weird career in the way that I don’t really do that great at small tournaments, so I’m hoping to like fix that. I want to do well at every tournament that I play.”

Swiatek Rises To New Expectations

Iga Swiatek will have to deal with new expectations in 2021 after winning her first grand slam at Roland Garros last year.

The 19 year-old started her season by winning 11 of the last 12 games against good friend Kaja Juvan after a slow start by winning 2-6 6-2 6-1.

After the match Swiatek admitted it took time to get used to a different kind of pressure, “I wouldn’t say I was nervous but I just felt stressed in a different way,” the pole told WTA Insider.

“I felt it in my body because I felt really slow and heavy at the beginning. I didn’t know I was stressed before the match, but it wasn’t the first match that I felt that way. I’m looking forward to my next round and I’m kind of more peaceful. I hope it’s going to stay that way tomorrow.”

Swiatek will play 9th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in her third round clash.

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing



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



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



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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