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Naomi Osaka Explains Reason Behind Split With Coach

Japan’s top player is set to return to action for the first time in over two months.

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka says her decision to part ways with her coach was because she wanted a ‘different energy.’ 

 

The former world No.1 announced earlier this month that she has split with Wim Fissette after working with him since 2019. Under his guidance, Osaka won the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open. However, in recent months she has endured a roller-coaster journey on the Tour and has taken time away from the sport due to mental health issues. 

Speaking to reporters on Monday at the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Osaka paid tribute to her former mentor. Fissette has worked with a series of top players on the WTA Tour, including Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Simon Halep and Angelique Kerber. 

He’s an amazing coach and we didn’t part on bad terms,” said Osaka. “I felt like I needed a different energy. He’s an ambitious guy and I’m sure he would have wanted to go to Wimbledon, so it was kind of like two different mind-sets.”

For the foreseeable future, Osaka has turned to a familiar face to help her – her father Leonard Francois who is acting as her main coach. Leonard was Osaka’s principal coach early on in her career until 2018.

He makes me think outside the box. Whenever I think something is really bad, he makes me realize things are much more positive than they seem,” she said of her father. “When I’m stressed out, he starts dancing to make me feel better. So, it’s nice to have him around and to remember the times when I was a kid.”

This week will be the first time Osaka has played on the Tour since suffering a first round defeat at the French Open on May 23rd. She opted to miss this year’s Wimbledon, which didn’t offer any ranking points, due to a leg injury. 

It was in San Jose where Osaka played and won her first Tour match. In 2014 she came through qualifying before upsetting Sam Stosur in the first round. That triumph occurred when the tournament was held at Stanford University.

Eight years on from that milestone, the 24-year-old says the most important thing for her now is to enjoy the sport. 

“I just would like to have fun and I know I say that very often, basically every tournament for the last year now, but to genuinely have fun,” wtatennis.com quoted Osaka as saying. “I was telling my dad literally this morning when we were practising in the rain, years ago we would have to fight to practice on public courts. It was just me and my sister and my dad alone. 
“Now I’ve gotten to the point where people pay to watch me play, and for that I am very grateful. I would have never imagined that as a child. Just having fun and being grateful in the moment and trying to engage with everyone to the best of my abilities.”

Osaka will play China’s Zheng Qinwen in the first round. 

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Rafael Nadal Returns To Cincinnati With Shot At No.1 Ranking

This is what the king of clay has to do to reclaim the top position.

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ATP RAFAEL NADAL OF SPAIN - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

It has been over a month since Rafael Nadal last played a match on the Tour but in the coming days, he will have a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings.

 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been absent from action ever since pulling out of his semi-final match at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear. He was set to play at this week’s National Bank Open in Montreal but withdrew after feeling a ‘slight bother’ in his abdominal region following training. Nadal decided not to play after consulting with his doctor.

Instead, the Spaniard will return next week at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. He confirmed his return in an Instagram post, where he wrote: “Very happy to play again in Cincy. Flying there tomorrow (Thursday).”

Whilst the Spaniard will be finding his feet in the coming days, in Cincinnati he has a chance to dethrone Daniil Medvedev from the world No.1 position. Medvedev lost his opening match in Montreal to Nick Kyrgios. To do this he would need to win the Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career and hope that Medvedev doesn’t make the quarter-finals. Nadal won Cincinnati back in 2013 after defeating John Isner in the final.

So far in his career, Nadal has spent 209 weeks as world No.1 with his longest streak being 56 weeks in a row (2010-2011). In total, he has been at the top of the rankings for eight separate periods and last held the position in February 2020.

Nadal’s No.1 stints
-Aug 18 2008 – Jul 5th 2009 (46 weeks)
-Jun 7 2010 – Jul 3rd 2011 (56 weeks)
-Oct 7th 2013 – Jul 6th 2014 (39 weeks)
-Aug 21 2017 – Feb 18 2018 (26 weeks)
-Apr 2nd 2018 – May 13th 2018 (6 weeks)
-May 21st 2018 – Jun 17th 2018 (4 weeks)
-Jun 25th 2018 – Nov 4th 2018 (19 weeks)
-Nov 4th 2019 – Feb 2nd 2020 (13 weeks)

At present nine out of the world’s top 10 players will participate in the Western and Southern Open. The only exception is Novak Djokovic who is currently banned from entering America because he isn’t vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Jack Draper Considered Skipping Montreal Masters Before Getting Biggest Win Of Career

The rising star completes a trio of British players who have booked their places in the third round of the Masters 1000 event.

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

British qualifier Jack Draper says his decision to play in Montreal this week has paid off after he scored his first-ever win over a top 10 player on Wednesday.

 

The 20-year-old stunned world No.5 and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4), in what is only his fourth appearance in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Draper, who is currently ranked 82nd in the world, won 74% of his first service points and blasted 21 winners past his Greek rival. Recovering from a 1-3 deficit in the second set en route to a straight sets victory.

Leading up to this week, Draper and his team considered not playing in Montreal following his 6-4, 6-2, loss to Andrey Rublev in Washington. However, their decision to do so was the right one. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, he beat France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round before knocking out Tsitsipas.

“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”
“I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.” He added.

Draper’s win comes during what has been a solid season for the Brit who has won four Challenger titles. A former top 10 junior player, he won his first main draw Grand Slam match in June at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International.

Awaiting the youngster in the third round will be French veteran Gael Monfils who is playing in his first tournament since May. Monfils defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(8).

Draper is one of three British players to have reached the last 16 in Montreal. Ninth seed Cameron Norrie will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dan Evans faces Taylor Fritz.

According to the Pepperstone live ATP rankings, Draper will break into the world’s top 70 for the first time next week.

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Bianca Andreescu Battles Past Alize Cornet In Toronto

The Canadian is into the round of 16 of her home event after beating the Frenchwomen in another three-set battle.

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Image via https://twitter.com/NBOtoronto

Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the round of 16 of the National Bank Open at Sobeys Stadium in Toronto after beating Alize Cornet in three tight sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 26 minutes.

 

The Toronto native hit 27 winners and won 60% of her first serve points in another marathon match on Center Court.

“It wasn’t easy at all coming off a tough match yesterday and another one today,” said Andreescu. “She played consistently and I had to go for every ball and I had to fight and I had to push through. I am happy with my mental strength”.

The match started with both players once again struggling with their serves and the first five games were breaks until Andreescu was able to hold serve to take a 4-2 lead. That break was enough for the world number 53 to serve out the first set.

The first three games of the second set went with serve before the Canadian once again to the delight of the home crowd earned three chances to break and broke Cornet’s serve to take a 3-1 lead. The Frenchwomen managed to get the break back the following game and at 4-3 broke the Toronto native one more time before serving out the second set.

In the decider the first three games went on serve and thanks to a poor service game from Cornet Andreescu got the break to take a 3-1 lead. That was enough to serve out the match.

Day 3 results

Another busy day at the National Bank Open in Toronto and there were a lot of surprising results.

Garbine Muguruza who has been flying under the radar lately beat the Estonian Kaia Kanepi in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, only needing one hour and 33 minutes.

Ons Jabeur the number five seed was forced to retire down 6-1, 2-1 to Qinwen Zheng of China while Paula Badosa of Spain also retired due to injury against Yulia Putintseva down 7-5, 1-0.

Jil Teichmann beat the number two seed Anett Kontaveitt also in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, and Aryna Sabalenka the number six seed beat the Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-3.

Leylah Fernandez was also upset as she lost to the Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in two sets 7-6, 6-1. Simona Halep got past Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-2.

Jessica Pegula beat the American qualifier Asia Muhammad 6-2, 7-5 in the all-American battle on court 4. Another American Alison Riske upset the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in three sets 7-6, 0-6, 7-5.

The world number one Iga Swiatek had no issues beating the Australian qualifier Alja Tomlijanovic 6-1, 6-2 in 64 minutes and Coco Gauff sent the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina packing in three sets. The number 10 seed needed three sets and two hours and 49 minutes to beat her 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.

Karolina Pliskova, the tournament’s 14th seed, steamrolled the American Amanda Anisimova. Finally, in the first-night session match, Belinda Bencic beat Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4 in her last match in Canada.

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