Ashleigh Barty wins the WTA Player of the Year Award - UBITENNIS
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Ashleigh Barty wins the WTA Player of the Year Award

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The WTA announced the winners of the 2021 WTA Player Awards. International media representatives recognizes the best players in five categories: Player of the Year, Doubles Team of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year. 

WTA Player of the Year: Ashleigh Barty

World Number 1 player Ashleigh Barty won the WTA Player of the Year Award for the second time in her career after achieving this feat in 2019. Barty claimed her second Grand Slam Trophy at Wimbledon and defended her Miami Open. She also won three more tournaments at the Yarra Valley Classic, at the Porsche Open in Stuttgart and at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. She secured the World Number 1 Ranking for the third consecutive year. 

Barty beat Pliskova 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 in the Wimbledon final becoming the first Australian player to win the Championships title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 and the first top seed to win this tournament since Serena Williams in 2016. 

Barty finished the year at world number 1 becoming the fifth player to finish the year as the number 1 player for three consecutive years after Stefi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Chris Evert.

WTA Doubles of the Team of the Year: Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova claimed the WTA Doubles Team of the Year Award for the second time in their career. The Czech team had already been recognized with this award in 2018. The Czech team have claimed their third career Grand Slam trophy as a team at Roland Garros. 

This year they won three more titles at the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne, the Madrid Mutua Open and the WTA Finals in Guadalajara. 

Krejcikova went on to become the only player to qualify for both the singles and doubles tournaments at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara. Krejcikova and Siniakova won the WTA Finals doubles title, beating Hsieh-Su-Wei and Elise Mertens 6-3 6-4.  

While both players held the number 1 doubles ranking, Siniakova ended the year as the WTA doubles year-end number 1 player. 

WTA Most Improved Player of the Year

Barbora Krejcikova won the first three singles titles of her career in Strasbourg, at Roland Garros and Prague and reached the final in Dubai. 

Krejickova started the 2021 season as a world number 65 in the WTA singles Ranking and climbed to a career-high world number 3. 

Krejcikova has become the first Czech player to win the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.

At Roland Garros the Czech player beat Russia’s Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 1-6 6-4 in the final. Krejicikova is the third unseeded champion in the French capital in the past five years after Jelena Ostapenko in 2017 and Iga Swiatek in 2019. 

Krejcikova has become the first Czech player to win the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.

WTA Newcomer of the year: Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu was voted as the World Newcomer of the Year after a breakthrough 2021 season highlighted by her first Grand Slam triumph over Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in the final of the US Open, where she became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title. The British teenager did not drop a set throughout all ten matches. 

In the championships match Raducanu beat 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez from Canada in all-teenage US Open final to win her first Grand Slam Trophy and her first tour-level title overall. It was the first women’s singles final between two under 20 players since the 1999 US Open match between Serena Williams and Martina Hingis. 

Raducanu, who was ranked world number 150 when she won the US Open, is the lowest-ranked player to win the US Open title since an unranked Kim Cljisters won the first Major title of her come-back at the 2009 US Open.

She reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in her Grand Slam main-draw debut to become the youngest British woman to achieve this feat at the Championships. She reached the final at the WTA 125 in Chicago and the quarter final at the Transylvania Open in Cluj Napoca. She started the season ranked world number 343 and finished at a career-high world number 19.   

WTA Comeback of the year: Carla Suarez Navarro

Carla Suarez Navarro was planning to end her career in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic halted her farewell season. The Spaniard was diagnosed with Hodgkin limphoma in September 2020. She decided to end her career after winning her battle against cancer. Suarez Navarro pushed Sloane Stephens to three sets in the opening round at Roland Garros in her farewell appearance. She played another three-set battle against eventual champion Ashleigh Barty at Wimbledon and represented Spain at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Prague.  

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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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