Fall In Ranking Proves To Be A Blessing In Disguise For Naomi Osaka - UBITENNIS
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Fall In Ranking Proves To Be A Blessing In Disguise For Naomi Osaka

The tennis star has found her footing at the Miami Open where she is a win away from reaching her first Tour final in 13 months.

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Naomi Osaka (image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider)

Naomi Osaka may be currently ranked outside the world’s top 70 but her run at the Miami Open serves as a reminder that she is one of the top players in the sport.

In recent months the former world No.1 has dropped down the rankings after taking a break from the sport due to personal reasons. Last year during the French Open she opened up for the first time after suffering from social anxiety and depression since 2018. During the last six months of 2021 she only played three tournaments, including the Olympic Games which doesn’t offer ranking points.

Coming into this season Osaka has achieved modest results for her standards with a run to the semi-finals of a WTA event in Melbourne followed by reaching the third round of the Australian Open. Then in Indian Wells she crashed out in the second round during a match where was crying after being heckled by a member of the crowd who shouted ‘Naomi, you suck!.’

It wasn’t until the Miami Open where the 24-year-old finally found her footing. Unseeded in the draw she managed to score wins over Angelique Kerber and Alison Riske in straight sets earlier in the tournament. On Tuesday she secured her place in the semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-1, win over Danielle Collins who was visibly struggling with a neck injury throughout.

“I hope she is okay,” Osaka said after the match. “I have actually never seen her do that before so I think it might be pretty serious.
“I am glad I was able to get through easily or, not easily, but just quickly. I focused on hitting a lot of good returns.”

Gaining confidence on the Tour once again, Osaka concedes that her low ranking might have ironically aided her rise once again. Speaking to reporters during her press conference, the world No.77 says her position has meant she has had to play more which has helped her get her form back.

“I went to Indian Wells with the intention to do really well and then I didn’t. But Wim (Fissette) told me ‘Listen, you’re playing really well.’ But it’s hard to listen to someone tell you you’re playing well without having the results to back it up,” Osaka explained.
“I’m glad that in a way I don’t have a good ranking because I’m able to play the matches that I need to play. I feel like I’m the type of person that plays better with more matches, so having back-to-back matches benefits me a lot.’
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised with the results (in Miami) but I feel like I’m becoming a better player, so I’m kind of intrigued on how I play different opponents.”

This year in the first time Osaka has reached the last four in Miami in what is her sixth main draw appearance in the WTA 1000 event. Awaiting her next is 22nd seed Belinda Bencic who defeated Daria Saville 6-1, 6-2, in her quarter-final match. She trails the Swiss player 1-3 in their head-to-head but the last time they locked horns on the Tour was at the 2019 US Open.

She’s a really good tennis player. She won the gold in Tokyo, which I really wanted to win. I mean, she’s clearly ranked where she is for a reason,” Osaka said of Bencic.

Osaka is bidding to reach her first final since winning the 2021 Australian Open 13 months ago.

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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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