Hard-court Queens continue to dominate the Miami Open - UBITENNIS
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Hard-court Queens continue to dominate the Miami Open

Naomi Osaka leads the quarter-final line-up at the Miami Open.

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Naomi Osaka (@divinesabalenka - Twitter)

We’re now at the quarter-final stages of the women’s edition of the Miami Masters, and there are names there that have lit up the tour elsewhere at other hard-court events.

 

Analysis by James Spencer (Twitter – @jspencer28)

Let’s look at Naomi Osaka to start with.

This the obvious example as she has twice won each of the Australian Open and US Open.

She is therefore very well placed to win in Miami as the conditions are similar to that in New York in the final Grand Slam of the year, where she has enjoyed such success.

If the Japanese plays her best tennis, there is no doubt that she can be champion on the East Coast.

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Her tennis has translated well to these courts, but is her run to the quarter’s a surprise considering recent events and distractions?

The former world number one has slipped to 78 in the world and has cited her mental health as being majorly affected in recent months.

This has been reflected by poor performances on the court.

She exited in the second-round of last year’s French Open and didn’t fare much better at the US Open, as she went out in the third-round.

More recently, this year, Osaka went out in the third-round of the Australian Open and was in tears as she lost in the round of 64 at Indian Wells after heckling and abuse from the crowd.

However, she hasn’t dropped a set and is still looking good.

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Her next opponent is Danielle Collins another Queen of hard-courts.

The 28-year-old from Florida reached the Australian Open final in January, and has only played in Dubai since then.

There she lost in the round of 32, so has had no recent form going into the Miami Open, yet has played some superb tennis.

Her latest victory coming against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur; 6-2, 6-4, a player many on the WTA Tour are wary of.

She will have nothing to lose against Osaka and that could well be the pick of the quarter-finals.

Fifth seed Paula Badosa of Spain is another who can play very well on hard-courts.

The 24-year-old won the winter edition of Indian Wells last year, and reached the semi-finals of the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.

This year, she has won the Sydney International in January and came very close to defending her title at Indian Wells, just coming up short in the semi-finals against Maria Sakkari.

But her next match will not be easy as Jessica Pegula of the United States is also strong on hard-court.

The New Yorker got to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before falling to eventual champion Ash Barty.

Perhaps she hasn’t made it as a total queen in this category but she can certainly draw on her experience Down Under.

We also have Swiss star Belinda Bencic who won the Olympics in Tokyo on hard-court last summer.

She has now gone deep in Miami and is yet to drop a set.

And finally, how can we not mention the new world number one, Iga Świątek.

Having won the French Open in the autumn of 2020, many tennis fans could be forgiven for thinking she was merely a clay-court specialist.

However, her title win at Indian Wells last week has solidified her claims that she can mix it up on other surfaces.

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She also made it to the semis in Australia before losing to Collins.

Now she has the chance to win a historic Sunshine Double and after an impressive victory over young American star Coco Gauff, anything is possible.

Tonight’s quarter-finals should be lit!

Grand Slam

(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) The Wimbledon Clash Between Djokovic And Sinner Could Have Been Better

It was an epic five-set clash but imagine how better the match would have been if both were playing well at the same time…

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Hall of Famer Steve Flink and Ubitennis’ Ubaldo Scanagatta analyse the dramatic events that unfolded on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

 

Top seed Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to oust Jannik Sinner in a match of two halves. Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie brought delight to the British fans.

On the other side of the draw, how will Rafael Nadal fair against the in-form Taylor Fritz? The Spaniard recently sidestepped a question about a potential new injury. 

As for the women’s draw, Ons Jabeur made history by becoming the first Arab player to reach a major quarter-final. She will next play 34-year-old mum-of-two Tatjana Maria who had never been beyond the third round of a major until now. 

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 

 

The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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