Caroline Garcia Targets Fairytale Ending To Cincinnati Run - UBITENNIS
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Caroline Garcia Targets Fairytale Ending To Cincinnati Run

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Image via https://twitter.com/CincyTennis/

A lot has changed for Caroline Garcia since she last played in the final of a WTA 1000 event at the 2017 China Open.

 

At the time she was one of the Tour’s top-ranked players who was once famously backed by Andy Murray to reach world No.1. Garcia was a regular top 20 player up until 2019 before experiencing a lull in her career. Between 2020-2021 she didn’t play in any finals and only reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam once in seven attempts. At the start of this season, she was ranked 74th in the world and was then sidelined from action during the spring due to a foot injury.

Things started to turn around for Garcia in her home country where she clinched the French Open doubles title with Kristina Mladenovic. After that victory, she said ‘In tennis you have to take everything you can, a title in WTA, it’s something very big. In Slams, it’s even bigger. You never know when you are going to come back, and you really have to enjoy it and take all the positive you can.’

Since Roland Garros, the 28-year-old has once again established herself as a force to be reckoned with. On the WTA Tour, she has won more matches than any other player since June with titles won in Bad Homburg and Warsaw where she defeated world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Now at this week’s Western and Southern Open, she is a win away from clinching her biggest singles title in almost five years.

Garcia, who is currently ranked 35th in the world, defeated Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 in her semi-final match on Saturday. In doing so she has become the first qualifier to reach the title match of a WTA 1000 event.

“First, to be in the final of a 1000 event after so many years, and the scenario of today was just unbelievable,” Garcia said of her rain-interrupted match against Sabalenka. “We had to stop a few times. We never know when we will come back. It was a long wait, and in the wait you never know what you are supposed to do, so it was tough.
“I’m very happy with the last preparation for the comeback at 3-1. I was really ready for every point. It made the difference.”

Sabalenka is the third seeded player to fall to Garcia in Cincinnati. Earlier in the tournament, she also scored wins over Maria Sakkari and Jessica Pegula. The Frenchwoman is now on a seven-match winning streak.

“It’s a long way to come from quallies,” she said.
“It’s one match at a time. Try to take the best from every single match and really improve through the tournament. (It) feels like I have been here for a long time, I have to admit. I know the site pretty well now but I kind of enjoy it and it’s really nice to be in the final again.”

Awaiting Garcia in the final will be Petra Kvitova who herself knows what it is like to experience tough times during her career. The Czech missed a chunk of the Tour after an intruder broke into her apartment and ended up having her hand badly hurt by a knife whilst she was trying to defend herself. Kvitova underwent surgery soon after that incident which enabled her to return to tennis.

“It’s nothing comparable to what Petra has been through,” Garcia said of her battles. “She’s a champion on and off the court. She never complains about anything. She’s always very respectful to everyone, working for the tournament, on tour with other players.”

Kvitova secured her place in the final with a marathon 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-3, win over Madison Keys. It is the 12th time in her career she has reached the final of a WTA 1000 tournament and she is projected to rise up the rankings to at least 20th on Monday.

“I know when she’s on fire she’s really on fire,” Kvitova said of playing Garcia.
“I think she is kind of an aggressive player like me or Madison (Keys). She is really serving well and going for every shot.’
“It will be mentally tough, as well. I will be focusing on the serve and just try to wait for some chance if that comes.”

Garcia trails Kvitova 3-5 in their head-to-head.

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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Four-Time Grand Slam Winner Naomi Osaka Named In FTX Lawsuit 

The former world No.1 took an equity stake in the failed business earlier this year. 

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

Naomi Osaka is among a series of high-profile individuals who have been accused of using their celebrity status to promote FTX’s failed business model in a lawsuit filed against the cryptocurrency exchange. 

 

The BBC has reported that over one million people and businesses could be owed money following the collapse of FTX, according to bankruptcy filings. A week ago FTX collapsed into bankruptcy with its former boss Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO. A massive development in the financial for what was one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world that had the naming rights to a Formula One racing team as well as a sports arena in Miami.

According to the Associated Press, the company is being investigated by state and federal prosecutors over allegations it ‘invested depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.’ In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it argues that celebrity backers of FTX such as Osaka should be held just as accountable as Bankman-Fried as they brought ‘instant credibility’ to the company. 

“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the lawsuit said.

Osaka took an equity stake in FTX in March where she would be receiving compensation in Crypto. Signing what was described as a ‘long-term partnership’ to become a global ambassador, the tennis star aimed to draw attention to women joining the platform and she played a role in directing its content.

“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said earlier this year.

Osaka, who has won 14 out of 23 matches played this season, has not made any public statement regarding the lawsuit. NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and basketball team the Golden State Warriors are also defendants in the lawsuit.

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WTA Targets New Multi-Year Deal For Its Premier Event If Agreement With China Fails

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?

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WTA CEO Steve Simon

The WTA say they are not willing to compromise their principles concerning the possibility of hosting tournaments in China next year amid uncertainty over the future of their season-ending event. 

 

Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the women’s Tour, says he is hopeful that a resolution can be found with the country but has vowed now to back down on its stance. Last year the WTA suspended tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of former player Peng Shuai who accused a former government official of sexually assaulting her. 

Shuai disappeared shortly after posting her statement on social media before returning a few weeks later with photos and videos of her being posted online by journalists linked to the government-controlled media. There are concerns that the former doubles Grand Slam champion, who has not left her country since making those allegations, is being censored by the government. The WTA wants an investigation to be conducted into the matter. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times. “Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added. 

Simon said he is confident that Shuai is safe in Beijing but he has not been able to make any direct contact with her, despite trying to on multiple occasions. A letter reportedly written by Shuai to the WTA was posted online in 2021 saying that she wishes to be left alone. However, many have doubted the authenticity of that letter with some fearing that she wrote it under duress. 

One of the biggest impacts of the fallout has involved the prestigious WTA Finals, which is a round-robin tournament featuring the eight best-performing players over the past 12 months. In 2018 a lucrative deal was agreed that paved the way for the event to be held in Shenzhen for 10 years. However, the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the next two additions were moved elsewhere.

Whilst the WTA is optimistic about a return to Shenzhen in 2023, there are also backup plans in the works. Simon confirmed that it is no longer feasible for the WTA Finals to be held in a location for just one year. So it is likely that the tournament would be held in a city for two or more years in a row if it doesn’t return to China next season. 

“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”

The case involving Shuai isn’t the only barrier for the WTA. China’s zero-covid policy has made hosting international events in the region unfeasible and the ATP cancelled all of their events in the tournament this year due to the situation. 

This year’s WTA Finals has a prize money offering of $5M which is more than half of what was on offer at the 2019 tournament in Shenzhen ($14M). 

Simon didn’t provide any deadline for when an agreement must be reached with China must be reached before the WTA considers moving their event elsewhere once again. 

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