The 2021 WTA Review of the Year - UBITENNIS
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The 2021 WTA Review of the Year reviews the highlights of the 2021 WTA Tour season.




Ashleigh Barty (AUS) on the Member's Balcony with the Venus Rosewater Dish after winning the Ladies’ Singles final against Karolina Pliskova (CZE) on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 12 Saturday 10/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Bob Martin
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2021 was a very exciting year with four different Grand Slam champions (Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open, Barbora Krejcikova at Roland Garros, Ashleigh Barty at Wimbledon and Emma Raducanu at the US Open) and six different champions in this season’s WTA 1000 tournaments (Garbine Muguruza in Dubai, Ashleigh Barty in Miami and Cincinnati, Aryna Sabalenka in Madrid, Iga Swiatek in Rome, Camila Giorgi in Toronto, Paula Badosa in Indian Wells).


WTA best player of the year

Ashleigh Barty

Ashleigh Barty won the second Grand Slam title of her career at Wimbledon. The Australian player beat Barbora Krejcikova in the quarter final and then 2018 champion Angelique Kerber to set up a final against Karolina Pliskova. Barty beat Pliskova 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 in the final to become the first Australian player to win the Wimbledon title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 and the first top seed to win this tournament since Serena Williams in 2016.

Ashleigh Barty: “It was the most incredible feeling I have ever experienced on a tennis court. There was certainly disbelief. I have worked so hard my whole career with my team and with people that mean the most to me to try and achieve my goals and my dreams”.

Barty also clinched two WTA 1000 titles in Miami and Cincinnati, a WTA 500 tournament in Stuttgart and the Yarra Valley Classic tournament in Melbourne. The player from Ipswich recorded her first top 10 wins of the year against Aryna Sabalenka and Elina Svitolina to reach her second consecutive Miami Open final and successfully defended her title after Bianca Andreescu retired from the championship match during the second set.

Barty won her third title of the season at the Stuttgart Open on red clay after scoring three consecutive wins coming back from one set down against Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.

Barty won the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati without dropping a set in the tournament, beating Jil Teichmann in the final. She also finished runner-up to Aryna Sabalenka at the Madrid Mutua Open.

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.

The Breakthrough of the year

Emma Raducanu

2021 US Open Women’s Singles Champion Emma Raducanu (Darren Carroll/USTA)

Emma Raducanu made history at the US Open by becoming the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virgina Wade at Wimbledon 1977, and the first qualifier to win a Major singles title at the age of 18. The British teenager did not drop a set in all ten matches she played in New York just three months after her WTA Tour level main draw debut in Nottingham. She beat Sara Sorribes Tormo in the third round, Shelby Rogers in the fourth round, Belinda Bencic in the quarter final and Maria Sakkari in the semifinal en route to the final.

In the championship 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 comeback at the 2009 US Open. After the Flashing Meadows triumph Raducanu rose to world number 23 in the WTA Ranking.

She is the first woman to win the US Open without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2014 and the youngest Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won at Wimbledon at the age of 17.

Emma Raducanu: “It’s an absolute dream. You just have visions of yourself going up to the box, hugging everyone, celebrating. That’s something that you always think of, you always work for”.

The young British star 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 also was runner-up at a WTA 125 tournament in Chicago and reached the quarter final at the Transylvania Open in Cluj Napoca.

Raducanu was born in Toronto on 13 November 2002. Her father Ian Raducanu comes from Romania and her mother is from Shenyang in China. She moved to Great Britain with her family when she was two years old and started playing tennis at the age of five.

Leylah Fernandez

Leylah Fernandez (Darren Carroll/USTA)

The 19-year-old Canadian player won her first WTA Tour title at the 2021 Monterrey Open by beating Viktorija Golubic in the final and finished runner-up in the US Open championship match after beating three top 5 players. The North American teenager, who was ranked world number 73 in the WTA Rankings during the US Open, scored three-set wins against defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round, three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round and Elina Svitolina in the quarter final before beating second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4 in the semifinal to reach her first Grand Slam final. Fernandez became the second Canadian teenager in the last three years to reach the US Open final after Bianca Andreescu, who won this tournament at the age of 19 in 2019.

Leylah Fernandez: “I am just having fun. I am trying to produce something for the crowd to enjoy. I am glad that whatever I am doing on court, the fans are loving it and I am loving it, too. We will see it’s magical. I am extremely proud of the way I fought for every point. My mental toughness, that’s been a huge plus for me. I am happy with what I achieved during the US Open. Off court I am enjoying every minute of it”.

Fernandez was born in Montreal. Her father Jorge is a former football player from Ecuador and her mother Irene is a Filipino Canadian. Leylah came to the fore in 2019, when she finished runner-up to Danish player Clara Tauson in the Australian Open Junior singles final.

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Grand Slam

REPORT: French Open Qualifying Match Under Investigation Over Irregular Betting Patterns

An unusual number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries.




A first round match at this week’s French Open qualifying tournament is being looked into after an abnormally high number of bets was placed, according to a leading French newspaper.


L’Equipe have cited police sources saying that the clash between eighth seed Bernabé Zapata Miralles and Dudi Sela has flagged up irregular patterns. Miralles defeated his Israeli rival 6-3, 6-0, in less than an hour. It is understood that the focus of the investigation is on the second set which lasted less than 20 minutes. A total of 32 points was placed in that set with Sela only winning seven of those.

According to the source, an unusually high number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries – Cyprus, Ukraine and Armenia. Prompting judicial authorities to look into the possibility that the match could have been fixed but at present no formal investigation has been confirmed.

“There is no business,” the French Tennis Federation (FFT) was quoted by Le Parisien as saying on the matter.

37-year-old Sela is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400 but managed to get into the qualifying draw with the use of a protected ranking. He has only played in two singles tournaments so far this season with the other being at the Australian Open where he also lost in the first round of qualifying.

Sela confirmed in January that 2022 would be his last as a professional. A former top 30 player, he has reached the final of two ATP events in China (2008) and Atlanta (2014). He also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2009 and has beaten three top 10 players during his career.

Meanwhile, Miralles sealed his place in the French Open main draw on Thursday after coming from a set down to beat Luca Nardi 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that either player has been involved in match-fixing. According to statistics from L’Equipe, there has been a 177% increase in online bets concerning the French Open over a five-year period to 128M euros in 2021.

This year players who lose in the first round of qualifying at the French Open will earn €14,000, which is a 40% increase on 2021.

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“Healthy Mind In A Healthy Body”: Asics To Include Psychological Support In Sponsored Players’ Contracts

Matteo Berrettini and Iga Swiatek are among those who will benefit from the help of mental health experts





Iga Swiatek - Roma 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

by Andrea Mastronuzzi, translated by Massimo Volpati

The more the years pass, the more professional sport assumes the contours of a job like many others (certainly more profitable, but in some ways even more stressful), and the more officials realise how essential it is to be able to count on mental coaches or psychologists. Both to withstand external pressures and to achieve one’s goals and therefore endure another type of pressure, which comes from one’s inner self. 


Tennis players increasingly talk about their difficulties in terms of mental strength and underline the crucial role played by the psychologists who support them: From women’s world No.1 Iga Swiatek (she also spoke about it in the press conference after her victory over Andreescu in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open) to Denis Shapovalov, Alex de Minaur and Naomi Osaka. The new queen of women’s tennis, signed up by ASICS, will be able to take full benefit from psychological support provided by the Japanese company.

It is no coincidence that ASICS is the first sponsor to include this aid in the partnership agreements it has entered into with its tennis players. The company name is in fact the acronym of a variant of the famous Latin phrase “mens (which becomes anima) sana in corpore sano”, namely “healthy mind in healthy body.” The brand collaborated with some researchers from Kings College London on the realisation of a study (“State of Mind”) which allowed to identify a positive link between tennis and mental health. In the wake of these results, ASICS has set up a facility in Paris where fans are offered the opportunity to play tennis and deal with their psychological state at the same time.

In addition to its initiatives centred on mental health, ASICS has kicked off a mental health support project involving their sponsored professional tennis players. Among these there are Matteo Berrettini, David Goffin and de Minaur. Everyone will rely on a team of experts made available by the Japanese brand and led by Daria Abramovicz (who spoke with last year) who has been working with Swiatek for some time. The young psychologist said that “by offering confidential support, it is possible to help normalize what is normal and assist players along their journey towards a healthy mind in a healthy body”.

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Richard Gasquet upsets Danil Medvedev in Geneva




Richard Gasquet upset Danil Medvedev 6-2 7-6 (7-5) with three breaks of serve in 90 minutes to reach the second round at the Gonet Geneva Open. 


Gasquet scored his first win over an opponent ranked in the top 2 since he beat world number 1 Roger Federer at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2005. 

Medvedev had beaten Gasquet in their only previous head-to-head match at the 2021 US Open en route to his first Grand Slam title. 

Medvedev was playing his first match since Miami in March after undegoing hernia surgery.

Gasquet won six consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set and built up a 6-2 2-0 lead.  

Medveved dropped his serve after three double faults with three double faults. The Russian player broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love with an ace. 

Medvedev recovered from a mini-break down in the tie-break. Gasquet earned his third mini-break to win the tie-break 7-5. 

The Frenchman will face Kamil Majchrzak, who cruised past Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-3.

Thanasi Kokkinakis earned his first win on clay in seven years with a 6-4 6-3 win over Fabio Fognini in 1 hour and 28 minutes. 

Kokkinakis went up a break to take a 4-1 lead. Fognini broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4.  Kokkinakis broke serve at love in the tenth game to claim the first set 6-4. 

Fognini made two double faults and missed three game points before dropping serve in the second game of the second set. Kokkinakis did not face any break points in his remaining four service games. 

Christopher O’Connell edged past Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to set up a second round match against Reilly Opelka. 

Paulo Sousa cruised past 2021 semifinalist Pablo Andujar 6-1 6-4. Sousa will face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was leading 6-4 before Facundo Bagnis retired from the match.

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