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Serena Williams’ Decision To Play Parma Might Have Been A Mistake, Admits Coach

Patrick Mouratoglou explains why he isn’t worrying about Williams’ current form.

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Serena Williams (image via Emilia-Romagna Open)

The coach of 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams believes there is no need for concern over her form ahead of the French Open.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou has told Sky Sports that he is ‘not worried’ if the American will be ready in time for the tournament which will start on May 30th. Williams has played in two tournaments on the clay so far this year and only managed to record one match win. At the Italian Open she lost her opening match to Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska who reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros in 2020. Then at this week’s Parma Open she defeated teenager Lisa Pigato before falling in straight sets to Katerina Siniakova.

Despite the disappointments, Mouratoglou is keeping an optimistic outlook heading into Roland Garros. An event Williams hasn’t won since 2015. The American hasn’t won a major title for four years but has come close on numerous occasions. Settling for runner-up at four Grand Slams between 2018-2019. Her most recent disappointment was at the Australian Open where she lost to Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals.

“I think she lost because she was not ready,” Mouratoglou told Sky Sports. “I don’t know, but maybe it was not a good idea to go and play in Parma after losing in Rome because her match in Rome showed a lot of things that still needed to be worked on to be able to compete at the highest level.
“I think it’s always interesting to play matches because it gives you a clear vision of where you are, so that was good in that way because we know what she still needs to accomplish in order to be ready for Roland Garros.
“I’m not worried in general because if she does the job she will be ready. It’s just about doing the job.”

Despite her impressive resume, silverware on the Tour has been a rare occurrence for Williams since giving birth to her daughter back in 2017. The only trophy she has won since then was at the ASB Classic in Auckland at the start of last year.

With less than two weeks before the start of the French Open, Mouratoglou is confident that the former world No.1 will be able to get back to winning ways as he made reference to her work during the Australian Open a couple months ago.

“We have to go on the court, work, and day after day I will see. To be completely honest with you when I saw her before the Australian Open for preparation, I thought ‘wow’ – a lot of work to get ready. But in a short period of time she was able to really hit great form. She played really well, but unfortunately not through the whole tournament – until the semi-finals,” he commented.
“She played great tennis, moving well, and it didn’t take her too much time to get ready.”

The upcoming French Open will be Williams’ 78th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw.

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Ons Jabeur On Carrying The Expectations Of A Nation At Wimbledon

The world No.2 is yet to drop a set in the tournament as she eyes a major breakthrough this year at Wimbledon.

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Ons Jabeur (TUN) - Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

Ons Jabeur has got accustomed to knowing that how she performs in the sport will be closely monitored by her home country and its neighbors.

The 27-year-old is a trailblazer for Tunisian tennis after achieving a series of milestones. She is the first Arab woman to win a Tour title, crack the top 10 and reach the quarter-final of a major. Back home she is known by the nickname ‘Minister of Happiness’ which was created by her fellow Tunisians. There is plenty of love for Jabeur but there is also just as much expectation for her to do well.

“Everybody is following me, expecting me to do better and better. I hope I continue being that person that gives them what they’re expecting,” she said.
“I’m just trying my best to break records, to really open the path for the next generation.”

 

At a ranking high of No.2 in the world, Jabeur is trying to rewrite Wimbledon history for the second year in a row. In 2021 she became the first Arab woman to reach the last eight. This year she looks to be in solid form after playing three matches without dropping a set. Her latest win was on Friday when she disposed of Diane Parry 6-2, 6-3. She is yet to lose any more than eight games in a match so far.

“I love playing here (at Wimbledon). I want to keep it (matches) as short as I can. For now, I’m just enjoying really playing on grass,” she said.
“I want to play my best tennis. Obviously, if you’re too comfortable, it’s not that good as well. I’m trying to keep focused.”

Jabeur has already won 33 matches this year, which is the second-highest tally on the Tour after Iga Swiatek. She has featured in four finals, winning titles on the clay in Madrid and Grass in Berlin.

Although like every other tennis player it is a Grand Slam that she desires the most. This year’s Wimbledon is her 21st appearance in the main draw of a major.

It would mean a lot for me, for my family and for my country,” she said of possibly winning Wimbledon. “I just want to keep proving that nothing is impossible and if you put something in your mind, you can achieve it.


At SW19 Jabeur’s next test will be against Belgium’s Elise Mertens. A player who she lost to in straight sets at the US Open last September. Mertens defeated 15th seed and former champion Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-5, in her third round match.

“I am playing the tennis that I love to see. Obviously, there are a few things to improve. I want to be challenged for the next round, for sure, and see how I handle that pressure.” Jabeur concluded.

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12th time Lucky: 30-Year-Old Heather Watson Breaks New Ground At Wimbledon

The British veteran has brought delight to home fans at The All England Club.

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Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/status/1542870640591527943/photo/2

Heather Watson says she has no words to explain her feelings after securing a place in the last 16 at Wimbledon for the first time in her career.

 

Reaching the third round was nothing new for the Brit after she had done so on three previous occasions at The All England Club. After winning just two games against Agnieszka Radwanska in 2012, she suffered narrow defeats to Serena Williams in 2015 and then Victoria Azarenka two years later. No matter what she tried, it appeared that reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon was too much for Watson.

However, this year was her golden opportunity with her section seeing seeds Belinda Bencic and Beatriz Haddad Maia losing in the first round. Watson’s third round opponent was Kaja Juvan. Coincidentally another player who hasn’t gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon in her career.

Cheered on by the Court One crowd, Watson prevailed 7-6(6), 6-2, after coming through some tricky moments. She was a break down in the first set and then in the second she stormed to a 5-0 lead before nerves started to play havoc. After dropping two games in a row, Watson battled through a 10-minute service game before prevailing on her first match point with a winning volley at the net.

“It wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a bit of drama at the end. Wow! What an atmosphere,” said Watson.
“There is nowhere I would rather play. You lot (the crowd) got me over the line. I thought she was playing her best tennis at the end.’
“I know I am not speechless as I am blabbing on but I don’t know what to say.”

This year’s Wimbledon is Watson’s 43rd Grand Slam appearance. Heading into the event she has had far from ideal preparation after stuffing an injury scare with her hamstring. Whilst some might have written off her chances of producing a deep run, she never gave up her own belief.

“I wouldn’t still be playing if I thought that ship had sailed,”
she stated in her press conference.
“I’ve been in the third round quite a few times here at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.  I was just sort of waiting for it to happen. I waited long enough,’
“I’m really happy to be into the second week of a Grand Slam for singles finally.”

To get to this position, it has been a bumpy ride for Watson this week with her earlier matches in the tournament being hampered by rain delays and night-time suspensions due to poor visibility.

“This is the first time I get to enjoy this win because in my first two matches I was just constantly in focus mode,”
she reflected.
“I feel like this win’s very different to the others, not just because I’ve reached one of my goals but because I have a bit of time for it to sink in.”

Awaiting Watson in the last 16 will be Germany’s Jule Niemeier who recorded her first win over a top 10 player earlier in the tournament by defeating Anett Kontaveit. Should she win she will follow in the footsteps of Johanna Konta who is the last British woman to reach a Wimbledon quarter-final back in 2019.

“She’s a really good player, a great talent. When I played her (in Monterrey) she was outside the top hundred. I remember saying to my team, `This girl will be top hundred in no time,” Watson said of her next opponent.
“It will be a tough match. She’s one for the future. I’m going to go home and do my homework.” 

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Katie Boulter dedicates her win over Karolina Pliskova to her late grandmother

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Katie Boulter came back from one set down to beat 2021 finalist Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the second round on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Boulter reaches a Grand Slam third round for the first time in her career.

 

Boulter beat Pliskova for the second time in as many weeks on home soil. Nine days ago the British player had beaten her Czech opponent 1-6 6-4 6-4 in the second round at Eastbourne. 

Boulter went up a 2-0 lead in the first set, but Pliskova wn six of the next seven games to seal the opening set 6-3. 

Boulter led by a break twice in the second set, but Pliskova came back both times to draw level on serve. Boulter won the first four points and three of the last four points to clinch the tie-break 7-4. 

Boulter converted her second break point to take a 5-4 lead in the decider. The home player hit a forehand winner at 30-30 and sealed the win with a volley at the net after 1 hour and 57 minutes. 

“I expect a player of that caliber to come back with better tennis. I think I started really well, and I gave away my advantage a little bit in one of the games. I was a little bit frustrated with that. From then on she picked up her game and her momentum. Pliskova is a very aggressive player. I have to stay really strong because I also know she is going to come in waves. She has been able to put it together many times, which is why she has made the final here before”, said Boulter. 

Boulter dedicated her win her win to her granmother Jill, who died earlier this week. 

“She is always someone who has been right into tennis from stage one. She lives just down the road from the tennis club. That’s the tennis club that I started playing tennis at. Leistershire is very close to my heart. I have spent a lot of time on the courts there with my grandparents and my family. Her favourite tournament was Wimbledon. That’s why is a special one for me. She would watch every single match, that was on TV”, said Boulter. 

Boulter set up a third round match against French player Armrt Tan, who beat Serena Williams 7-5 1-6 7-6 (7-5). 

“I actually watched her match against Serena. She makes it very difficult. There is a reason she has beaten some really good players this week. I expect nothing less than her to go out and enjoy herself when I play her. It’s going to be a tough battle, but ultimately I am just going to out and enjoy myself some good tennis hopefully”,said Boulter. 

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