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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Jannik Sinner reaches the third round at the Australian Open for the first time in his career

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Eleventh-seed Jannik Sinner cruised past Steve Johnson 6-2 6-4 6-3 on Margaret Arena after 1 hour and 43 minutes to advance to the third round at the Australian Open for the first time in his third appearance of his career at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Sinner fired 29 winners and broke five times. 

 

“It’s a real pleasure to play here. I played on this pitch against Shapovalov in the first round last year. I love playing in Australia, so having a night game is very special”, said Sinner. 

Sinner raced out to a 4-0 lead with a double break and closed it out on his first set point after 26 minutes. The 20-year-old Italian star earned a decisive break in the ninth game to seal the 41-minute second set 6-4. 

Sinner broke serve in the first game of the third set to take a 2-1 lead. The world number 11 faced a break point in the fourth game to hold serve after three deuces. The Italian star held serve at love in the eighth game, when Johnson hit a backhand return into the net. The Italian star closed out the third set with his second break, when Sousa hit his forehand into net. 

“I started the match very well, which gave me a lot of confidence. When I had to break in every set, I was quite relaxed. I tried to stay focused on my service games which I think I have done. I am very happy to be through in three sets. It was not easy to play against him. We had already played twice, and I tried to return his serves because his first serve is very precise This was my first goal, and obviously trying to mix up a little bit the game, try to move him. I think I was solid. I had a couple of break chances which I used, so I am very happy”, said Sinner. 

Sinner set up a third round match against Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel, who beat Andy Murray 6-4 6-4 6-4. Daniel has already beat four Italian players this year, but Sinner has not dropped a set in his five matches this year. 

“Taro Daniel has reached the third round because he is playing very well. I did not know that he had already beaten four Italian players this year. It is not easy to beat them. Matches are always tough at any level. Daniel beat Murray and it is not easy to win against the Scotsman. I lost against Murray last year in Stockolm”, said Sinner. 

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Danka Kovinic becomes the first player from Montenegro to reach the third round at a Grand Slam tournament

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Danka Kovinic has become the first player from Montenegro to reach the third round at a Grand Slam tournament after a 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over last year’s US Open champion and number 17 seed Emma Raducanu after 2 hours and 38 minutes on Margaret Court Arena in the second round at the Australian Open. 

 

Kovinic had lost in the second round in her six previuos appearances at a Grand Slam tournament. The World number 98 recorded her fourth career top 20 win and her first on hard-court. 

Raducanu broke serve in the opening game and cruised into a 3-0 lead with a double break. Kovinic bounced back by winning the next two games to claw her way back to 2-3, before Raducanu took was hampered by a blister on her raquet hand and took a medical time-out for treatment on her hand. Raducanu double faulted, as Kovinic broke again to draw level to 3-3. Kovinic completed the turnaround by winning five consecutive games to take a 5-3 lead. Raducanu broke for the third time for 4-5, but Kovinic closed out the first set 6-4. 

Raducanu opened up a 3-1 lead in the second set with an early break in the first game but Kovinic broke back in the eighth  game to draw level to 4-4 . Raducanu broke for the second time in the ninth game with two consecutive forehand winners to take a 5-4 lead. The British teenager fended off two break points in the 10th game to clinch the second set 6-4. 

Raducanu missed four break points in the first and third games of the third set. Kovinic converted her break point in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. Raducanu broke straight back at love in the fifth game. Kovinic broke for the second time in the sixth game with a lob to take a 4-2 lead and sealed the win on her second match point with a backhand winner down the line. 

Kovinic was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo due to calf and back injuries. 

“Basically only one good result was in Charleston last year. Everything else was really struggling and trying to recover my body for next events, which I wasn’t really successful. I was rushing a little bit, so I never really healed my back injury, but I took some time during the pre-season to really take care of that, so hopefully that’s in the past”, said Danka Kovinic. 

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Andrey Rublev, Alex De Minaur and Taylor Fritz reach the third round at the Australian Open

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Andrey Rublev eased past Ricardas Berankis 6-4 6-2 6-0 in 1 hour and 24 minutes to advance to the third round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. 

 

Rublev earned breaks in the opening game of each set and did not face any break points.

Rublev set up a third round match against Marin Cilic, who beat Slovakian qualifier Norbert Gombos 6-2 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6). If Rublev beats Cilic, he could be on a collision course for a possible quarter final clash against his compatriot Danil Medvedev.

Rublev, who reached the quarter finals at Grand Slam level four times in his career, is aiming to reach his first semifinal in a Major tournament. 

Taylor Fritz beat Francis Tiafoe 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in an all-American clash to set up a third round clash against Roberto Bautista Agut, who cruised through Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-1 6-0 6-3. Fritz hit a backhand winner down the line to convert his match point. 

“Frances is one of my really good friends, and he is such a good guy. I said before the tournament too. He is probably one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw. I just keep playing my game, keep playing aggressive, like that last point. I have a really tough match next round, but it would be awesome to have a deep run here”, said Fritz. 

Alex De Minaur beat Kamil Majchrzak 6-4 6-4 6-2. The Australian player has now won six consecutive sets at the Australian Open this year after dropping the first set against Lorenzo Musetti in the opening round. De Minaur will take on Spain’s Pablo Andujar, who beat Slovakian wild card Alex Molcan 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 0-6 6-1. 

“For me to be able to play on Rod Laver Arena and at this stage on my merits, it’s not because I am playing one of the top guys, that’s a pretty cool feeling. It was a very solid win. I did everything I neeeded to do. I got the job done. I am very happy with my effort”, said De Minaur. 

Daniel Evans received a walkover into the third round when Arthur Rinderknech withdrew before the match with a wrist injury. 

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