Aryna Sabalenka Eyes Maiden Grand Slam Title In 2022 - UBITENNIS
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Aryna Sabalenka Eyes Maiden Grand Slam Title In 2022

The Belarussian says she is working on her consistency in order to claim the biggest trophies in the sport.

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Aryna Sabalenka (Darren Carroll/USTA)

Aryna Sabalenka believes she is closing in on her first-ever Grand Slam title and is making adjustments to her game in order to make her dream become a reality.

 

The world No.2 made progress in the majors last year by reaching the semi-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open for the first time. However, she was denied a place in the title match after losing a tight three-set encounter on both occasions. At Wimbledon she was a set up against Karolina Pliskova before losing 4-6, 7-5, 7-5. A couple months later in New York she was ousted by Canadian rising star Leylah Fernandez.

Despite those defeats, Sabalenka is confident she is heading in the right direction and now knows what is required to win a major. Last year she won two Tour titles in Abu Dhabi and Madrid, as well as reaching the final of the Stuttgart Open.

“I think those two matches which I lost in the semi-finals was that little step to make this dream come true,” AFP quoted Sabalenka as telling reporters in Adelaide.
“I think right now I understand I can do it — okay, semi-final, I don’t have to overthink or over-rush, panic.
“Right now I think I’ll not be nervous in the semi-finals again in a Grand Slam.”

Coached by her former hitting partner Anton Dubrov, Sabalenka says she is working on trying to be more consistent during matches. In 2020 under Dubrov’s guidance, she finished the season in the world’s top 10 for the first time and ended the year by winning back-to-back titles.

“I made a winner or I made unforced errors,” she said.
“I just have to focus and try to make less unforced errors than winners. That’s it.
“Usually I win the first set and then I can start missing a lot, trying to overhit the ball, like make more winners.
“Then I start losing in the third set and when my opponent gets this feeling that they can beat me, it’s tough.
“I just have to not try to overhit the ball and just be there from the beginning till the end, don’t give these big opportunities for my opponent.”

Sabalenka will kick off her season at the Adelaide International where she is the second seed after Ash Barty. The two could meet in the final later this week should the draw go according to the seedings. They are currently tied at 4-4 in their head-to-head but Barty won two out of their three meetings last year.

“She’s a great player, she can do everything on court and that’s why she’s No.1,” Sabalenka said.
“I always like to play matches against her, always great battles, huge fights.
“I would like to play against her like every week in the finals.”

Handed a bye in the first rebound in Adelaide, Sabalenka will start her campaign against Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan.

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Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Jack Draper are nominated in three categories for the 2022 ATP Awards

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The ATP has announced the Awards Nominees for the 2022 season for five categories: Comeback Player of the Year, the Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanships Award and Coach of the Year. 

 

Carlos Alcaraz and his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero have received a total of three nominations. Alcaraz has been nominated for the Most Improved Player of the Year alongside Maxime Cressy, Jack Draper and Holger Rune. This award will be given to the player who reached a significantly higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and who showed an improved level of performance through the year. 

Alcaraz is the youngest and first teenage player in ATP Rankings history since 1973, rising to top spot at the age of 19 after his US Open title after ending the 2021 season at world number 32. He beat Casper Ruud in the 2022 US Open final, becoming the youngest Grand Slam men’s champion since Rafael Nadal won the 2005 French Open, and the youngest US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990. 

Former world number 1 junior player Holger Rune broke into top 100 in January 2022 and ended the season in the top 10 after winning his first Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy. 

French-born American born Maxime Cressy broke into Top 100 in January 2022 and achieved a career-high of world number 31 in August 2022. 

Jack Draper and Holger Rune have been nominated in both the Most Improved Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year categories.

Draper started the 2022 season outside the top 200 and broke into the top 50 reaching world number 45 last October. During the 2022 season Draper reached his first ATP Tour semifinal in Eastbourne as wild card. He earned the biggest win of his career over world number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to reaching the quarter final at the Montreal Masters 1000 as qualifier and beat Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the US Open third round. 

Alcaraz has also been nominated for the Stefan Sportsmanship Award for the first year alongside Felix Auger Aliassime, Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud and Frances Tiafoe. The player, who conducted himself at the highest level of professionalism and integrity, who competed with the utmost spirit of fairness and who promoted the game through his off-court activities.

The nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year are are Borna Coric, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka and Wu Yibing. The player who has overcome serious injury in re-establishing himself as one of the top players on the ATP Tour. 

Coric beat world number 3 Rafael Nadal as world number 152 en route to his title in Cincinnati, becoming the lowest-ranked champion in Masters 1000 series history. 

Thiem fell out of top 300 last June after losing to Hugo Dellien at Roland Garros, but he returned to good form last autumn when he reached the semifinals at the 2022 European Open after beating Hubert Hurkacz. The Austrian player beat Tommy Paul in a tight three-set match with two tie-breaks after saving two match points. 

Wawrinka returned to his best form last October, when he beat world number 3 Casper Ruud and Brandon Nakashima at the Swiss Open in Basel, climbing 15 positions up to the top 150 in the ATP Ranking. 

Wu Yibing did not play from March 2019 to January 2022 due to injuries, rising from 1869 in March 2022 to career-high number 173 in August 2022 after winning titles at Orange Park, Orlando Challenger, Rome, USA Challenger and Indianapolis Challenger. 

The candidates for the the Newcomer of the Year are Holger Rune, Jack Draper, Jiri Lehecka, Ben Shelton, Chun-Hsin Tseng. The Newcomer of the Year is the Next Gen player who broke into the top 100 for the first time in 2022. 

Lehecka broke into the top 100 in February 2022 before reaching his career-high of world number 59 in August 2022 and qualified for the Intesa San Paolo Next Gen Finals. The Czech player world number 12 Denis Shapovalov for his first ATP Tour Main Draw win en route to reaching the semifinal at the ATP 500 tournament in Rotterdam as a qualifier. 

Shelton achieved his career-high of world number 165 at the age of 19 last August, becoming the third highest-ranked teenager behind Alcaraz and Rune. He beat world number 5 Casper Ruud to reach the third round in Cincinnati in his Masters 1000 debut, becoming the youngest US player to beat a top 5 opponent since Andy Roddick at Montreal in 2001. 

Chun-Hsin Tseng broke into top 100 last June and reached a career-high of world number 83 last August. He qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. 

The nominees for the Coach of the Year Award are Juan Carlos Ferrero (Carlos Alcaraz), Frederic Fontang (Felix Auger Aliassime), Goran Ivanisevic (Novak Djokovic), Michael Russell (Taylor Fritz) and Christian Ruud (Casper Ruud). 

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Novak Djokovic starts the 2023 season in Adelaide

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Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 season in Adelaide. Djokovic ended the 2022 season with five titles at Rome Masters 1000, Wimbedon, Astana, Tel Aviv and at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. 

 

Djokovic will also play in the exhibition tournament “World Tennis League) in Dubai from 19 to 24 December, where the Serbian player will team up with Grigor Dimitrov, Aryna Sabalenka and Paula Badosa for the Falcons team. 

In the first week of January Djokovic will warm up for the Australian Open at the ATP 250 tournament in Adelaide from 2 to 8 January. The 21-time Grand Slam champion won nine Australian Open titles in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021 but he was not able to play in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season last January due to his Covid vaccination status. 

Djokovic joins a star-studded field that already features 2021 US Open champion Danil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner and two-time Olympic champion Andy Murray.

Murray will play for the first time in his career in Adelaide. 

“I will be starting the year in Australia, which I always really enjoy. Playing at the Adelaide International for the first time is something I am looking forward to”, said Murray. 

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Davis Cup

(VIDEO) Ubaldo Scanagatta On A Week To Remember For Canada At The Davis Cup

The CEO of Ubitennis also shares his view about the format of the tournament and how he thinks it can be improved.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado/ Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

Canada has become the 16th nation to win the Davis Cup after producing a clinical performance against Australia in the final on Sunday. Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime both eased through their matches in straight sets to claim an historic victory for their country.

 

Watching the matches unfold from the sidelines was Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta who gives his verdict on events that has taken place in Malaga over the past week.

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