Kovinic, Kudermetova Both Aim For First WTA Tour Title In Chartleston - UBITENNIS
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Kovinic, Kudermetova Both Aim For First WTA Tour Title In Chartleston

Tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper James Beck reflects on the women’s semi-final matches.



Veronika Kudermetova (image via https://twitter.com/VolvoCarOpen)

Who would have thought last weekend when the Volvo Car Open published its initial draw that two players with a combined world ranking of 129 would be playing for their first WTA Tour title in Sunday’s final of the WTA 500 event in Charleston, S.C.?

But that’s the case. Take your pick between 91st-ranked Danta Kovinic of Montenegro and 38th-ranked Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.

Both played well in Saturday’s semifinals while facing players who also have never won a WTA Tour tournament title.


All of that is pretty surprising, especially when you consider that nine of the world’s top 20 players were scheduled to play in the tournament just a week ago. Four of those top 20 players had either withdrawn or retired before the quarter-finals, while three other top 20 players lost in the second round and the other two had fallen before the quarter-finals ended.

Is it possible that some of these stars didn’t bring their hearts to Charleston? Or is it that some of the upstarts might have had more incentive to fight to the end?

The likes of Kovinic and Kudermetova wore their hearts on their rackets in Saturday’s semifinals. Both demonstrated tremendous aggressiveness, the same type of fight that Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur and Spain’s Paula Badosa had demonstrated a day earlier in the quarter-finals when Jabeur upended young Cori Gauff and Badosa upset world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.


 Jabeur and Badosa appeared to lose their fire on Saturday. That made Kovinic and Kudermetova even more dangerous as they played with even more motivation.

Jabeur was missing drop shots and beaten by Kovinic’s eagerness to rush forward  on other drop shots. Jabeur was only a shadow of the player she had been a day earlier as she lacked her usual consistency with her serve and ground strokes. Kovinic, who in her only other meeting with Jabeur had won only three games in an ITF tournament, sailed past the 28th-ranked Jabeur, 6-3, 6-2, this time.

That left Jabeur as the only world’s top 30 player without a WTA Tour title.


Kudermetova was full of fight against 2015 Junior French Open champion Badosa, who suddenly couldn’t find the court. Kudermetova aced Badosa to end the 6-3, 6-3 victory as Kudermetova will go into Sunday’s final without having dropped a set in the tournament.

Like against Badosa, Kudermetova is confident in that she defeated Kovinic in a qualifying tournament four years ago.

Both of Kudermetova’s two trips to a WTA Tour final have occurred this year, and both included victories over Badosa.

It should be an exciting final with everything on the line for the finalists.

James Beck has been the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his Post and Courier columns at postandcourier.com and search for James Beck.

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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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Emma Raducanu Among Trio of Grand Slam Winners Handed Miami Open Wild Cards



Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has avoided the possibility of having to go through qualifying at the Miami Open after being awarded a wild card for the event on Thursday. 

The 2021 US Open champion is among four players to have received passes into the main draw of the prestigious event, which is classed as a WTA 1000 for the women and as a Masters 1000 for the men. It will be the third straight year that Raducanu has played in Miami but she is yet to win a match there. In 2022 she lost her opening match to Katerina Siniakova before getting beaten by Bianca Andreescu 12 months later. 

Raducanu has won two out of five Tour-level matches played so far this year. Recently her agent, Max Eisenbud, hit back at those who have criticised the tennis star’s results since winning the US Open. Raducanu also missed a chunk of last season due to injury after undergoing wrist and ankle surgery. 

“The girl did everything backward. She skipped every step. She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn’t even know where the player lounge was, she didn’t know where the practice courts were,” Eisenbud told the Served With Andy Roddick podcast.
“I don’t think just being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious.”

Other players to have received wild cards into Miami include Venus Williams, who is a three-time champion at the event but hasn’t won the title since 2001. The 43-year-old hasn’t played on the Tour since August and is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400. 

Carolina Wozniacki completes the line-up of former Grand Slam winners being given wild cards. The Dane was a Miami finalist back in 2017 and has made 12 appearances at the tournament. Earlier this week, she suffered a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, loss to Anna Blinkova in the first round of the San Diego Open. 

As for the men’s tournament, the only confirmed wild card recipient is Kei Nishikori who will be making his first competitive start since July 2023. Recently the injury-stricken Japanese player added Thomas Johansson to his team. 

The Miami Open will get underway on March 17th.

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