WTA Finals Daily Preview: Sakkari and Badosa Vie for the Lead in Group Chichen Itza - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals Daily Preview: Sakkari and Badosa Vie for the Lead in Group Chichen Itza

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Maria Sakkari on Thursday in Guadalajara (twitter.com/WTA)

Maria Sakkari and Paula Badosa both prevailed in straight sets on Thursday, and either could secure a spot in the semifinals with a straight-set win on Saturday.  This will be their first-career meeting, just as it will be for Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek in Day 4’s other singles matchup.  And doubles action will also see a first-time meeting, between what are arguably the two best teams of 2021.

 

Round robin play will continue in singles and doubles for the first six days of the tournament, with the semifinals to begin on Tuesday, November 16th, and the championship matches on Wednesday, November 17th.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing matchup, while highlighting the other matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 2:00pm local time

Maria Sakkari (4) vs. Paula Badosa (7) – 2:00pm

Sakkari only has one WTA title in her career, and that was nearly three years ago at a small event in Morocco.   And she’s only reached three finals, one of which was this year in Ostrava.  So it’s quite remarkable she’s on the verge of a top five debut, a credit to her consistency through the season.  But currently, the hottest player on the WTA tour not named Anett Kontaveit is Paula Badosa.  The Indian Wells champion is on a seven-match win streak, which includes five top 20 victories.  And she’s been so clutch during the past month.  In the Indian Wells final, she won both tiebreaks contested against another clutch player, Victoria Azarenka.  And on Thursday, she saved six of seven break points against another Belarusian in Sabalenka.  Badosa will celebrate her 24th birthday on Monday, and based on her recent form, she may also be celebrating a berth in the semifinals.  After four days of play, it may be the two lowest-ranked players who remain undefeated.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Aryna Sabalenka (1) vs. Iga Swiatek (5) – To be blunt, neither of these players performed well in the altitude of Guadalajara on Thursday.  Sabalenka struck 31 unforced errors, and lost the last 10 games of the match, while Swiatek looked completely out of sorts for much of her match.  Another loss on Saturday could eliminate either competitor from semifinal contention.

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) vs. Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (3) – Both teams won their opening contests in straight sets, setting up what could be the best and most important round robin match in doubles.  At the Australian Open this past February, Mertens and then-partner Sabalenka defeated Krejcikova and Siniakova in the championship match.

Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk (6) vs. Sharon Fichman and Giuliana Olmos (8) – Both of these partnerships have now lost four of their last five matches.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Bianca Andreescu delays season won’t travel to Australia

Bianca Andreescu will miss the start of the season in Australia after a tough 2021 season.

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Bianca Andreescu (@OduNews1 - Twitter)

The Canadian went on social media to break the news that she needs a little more time to rehab, prepare and focus on mental health.

 

Bianca Andreescu’s most recent tennis season wasn’t easy and amid a difficult year with highs and lows with twists and turns, she has decided to delay the beginning of her season.

The Toronto native took to Twitter to break the news to announce she was going through a difficult time including the fact she was worried about her grandmother who was in the ICU due to Covid.

Andreescu got off to a slow start last season losing in the second round of the Australian Open but bounced back in Miami in the first WTA 1000 tournament of the year making the final.

In that final, she faced the world number one Ash Barty but was actually forced to retire after a scary tumble for her first injury of the season. The clay-court season was even more hectic as she had tested positive for Covid herself and played one tune-up event prior to the French Open.

She won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out of precaution due to an ab tear and ended up being upset in the first round of Roland Garros to the Slovenian Tamara Zidansek.

She then turned to the grass-court season where she won one match in Eastbourne, one where she struggled to get past the American qualifier Christina Mchale but managed to pull it off in three sets.

She lost her next match to the Estonian Anett Kontaveitt in straight sets and went on to her next grass-court event in the German capital of Berlin. She was upset once again by Alize Cornet of France.

She faced Cornet once again in round one of Wimbledon but again failed to get the win. She then played her home event the National Bank Open in Montreal where she lost in the round of 16 to the Tunisian Ons Jabeur.

In Cincinnati, she suffered another first-round exit at the hands of the Czech Karolina Muchova but managed to have a great US Open run in New York where again she made the round of 16.

She eventually lost to Maria Sakkari of Greece in a tough three-set match and played two more events in Chicago and Indian Wells. In the windy city, she lost her opening match to Shelby Rodgers and made the second round in California losing once again to Kontaveitt.

After all her 2019 points dropped off she is now ranked 46 in the world.

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Davis Cup: Great Britain Handed Wildcard For 2022 Finals, Qualifiers Draw Announced

The Davis Cup Qualifiers draw was announced with Great Britain and Serbia handed a wildcard to next year’s finals.

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Great Britain and Serbia have been handed a wildcard for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals as the qualifiers draw was announced.

 

As this year’s Davis Cup comes to a conclusion, plans for next year’s competition have been put in place.

Although it is still unclear if the Finals will be held in Abu Dhabi next year, we do know which four countries have qualified for the year ending competition next month.

Russia and Croatia will contest the 2021 final, therefore earning themselves an automatic spot in next year’s finals.

However joining them will be two wildcards and they have been given to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia who reached the semi-finals this year as well as Great Britain.

To the surprise of many there was no wildcard for Spain, who are hosting the final this year, further indicating that next year’s competition is unlikely to take place in the country.

Spain join a whole host of other top nations such as Germany, France, USA, Canada and Australia in March’s qualifiers.

Spain will host Romania for a place in next year’s finals while France and USA have been given home ties against Ecuador and Colombia respectively.

Here is the full draw for the qualifiers which will take place on the 4th and 5th of March:

France v Ecuador

Spain v Romania

Finland v Belgium

USA v Colombia

Netherlands v Canada

Brazil v Germany

Slovakia v Italy

Australia v Hungary

Norway v Kazakhstan

Sweden v Japan

Argentina v Czech Republic

South Korea v Austria

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Iga Swiatek Working With Agnieszka Radwanska’s Former Coach After Recent Coaching Split

Iga Swiatek has made some coaching changes ahead of the 2022 season.

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(@Tennis - Twitter)

Iga Swiatek will start working with Agnieszka Radwanska’s former coach Tomasz Wiktorowski on a temporary basis after splitting up with her long term coach.

 

The Pole announced the news on Instagram yesterday that she and Piotr Sierzputowski had split up after five years working with each other.

Swiatek had achieved ultimate success with Piotr having won Wimbledon Juniors, reaching her first WTA final in Lugano and the most important achievement of winning her first grand slam title at Roland Garros.

However the 20 year-old now feels its time to move on ahead of the 2022 season, “I’ve started my pre-season, but today I would like to tell you something significant,” Swiatek wrote on Instagram.

“After more than 5 years I’ve decided to finish my cooperation with my coach Piotr Sierzputowski. This change is really challenging for me and this decision wasn’t easy, either… As tennis players we meet on our path a lot of people who contribute great value into our work and, often, into our life too, because we spend almost the whole year on tour together.

“I found out that sometimes in our professional life we need changes to develop more, evolve and meet other people with whom we’re going to create a cooperation for the next stages of our development. 

“I would like to thank you Coach for everything that you did for me. We gave each other so much and I hope that we’ll continue to grow and develop with this experience we’ve gained together. I owe you a lot and truly appreciate the time we’ve spent together. All those years enabled us to be in the place that we are now. 

“I suppose you may have questions about what’s next. I have everything I need to be able to work and I would like to focus on my pre-season without any outside pressure. I hope you’ll understand it.”

https://twitter.com/Sierzputowsky/status/1467456169161678851

Although the news comes as a surprise given that Swiatek was the only woman to reach the last 16 of every grand slam 2021, it is always better for players to change coaches at the end of the season rather than mid-season.

Swiatek’s long-term replacement is yet to be discovered however the Pole has appointed former coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, Tomasz Wiktorowski as an interim replacement according to TenisKlub.Pl.

Wiktorowski was there for most of Radwanska’s successes and knows the polish tennis system well so will have a good working replacement with Swiatek.

The former Roland Garros champion is now starting preparations for the new season as she looks to win a second grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The first grand slam of the season in Melbourne will start on the 17th of January.

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