Ash Barty Fires Back At Critics Of Her No.1 Status - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Fires Back At Critics Of Her No.1 Status

The 24-year-old says she ‘has nothing to prove’ after lifting the Miami Open title.

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Australia’s Ash Barty says she has earned the right to be at the top of the world rankings despite not playing a match for 11 months.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WTA made adjustments to how a player’s ranking is calculated to help support those who have been affected. Using a longer period and some results going back to 2019 to determine their position instead of the usual 52-week approach. Barty has held the No.1 spot continuously since September 9th 2019 but was absent from the Tour between March 2020 and January 2021.

Critics have argued that Barty’s weeks at No.1 should have an asterisk next to it given the circumstances. She has been at the top of the rankings for more weeks than Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters.

“I never have to prove anything to anyone,” said Barty. “I know all the work that I do with my team behind the scene. I know there has been a lot of talk about the ranking, but I didn’t play at all last year and I didn’t improve any of my points whatsoever.’
“There were girls who had the chance to improve theirs, so I felt like I thoroughly deserve my spot at the top of the rankings.”

Barty, who has won 10 WTA titles so far in her career, points out that her 2019 season justifies her rise to the top. During that year she claimed her first Grand Slam at the French Open in what was one out of four tournaments which she won. Barty also triumphed at the season-ending WTA Finals.

“The year we had in 2019 was incredible, incredible for us (my team) and to be able to build on that now since the restart for us has been great. In my eyes we come out here and do the best that we can regardless of what anyone is saying. So I never feel like I have to prove anything to anyone,” she said.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That’s absolutely fine. I can’t control what anyone else thinks or what anyone else says. I just keep trying to do what we do.”

Since returning to tennis in Melbourne earlier this year, Barty has won 14 out of 16 matches played. On Saturday she defended a WTA title for the first time at the Miami Open after defeating Bianca Andreescu who retired injured during the second set. The 24-year-old also scored wins over Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko in the tournament.

Barty joins an exclusive list of female players who have managed to win back-to-back titles in Miami. Others to do so include both of the Williams sisters, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

“I feel like I shouldn’t belong with that group,” she commented on the milestone. “I feel like I haven’t earned the right to be in a list of names with those champions. They are genuine champions of our sport, legends of our sport. I feel very privileged to be mentioned in that sentence.”
“I’ve got a long, long way to go yet before I can be in discussion with those names,” she added.

There will be little time for the Australian to relax with the clay swing swiftly approaching. She will return to action next week at the Volvo Open in Charleston.

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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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