Naomi Osaka Sees Silver Lining In Defeat To Gauff At Silicon Valley Classic - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Sees Silver Lining In Defeat To Gauff At Silicon Valley Classic

The former world No.1 says she was particularly happy about one aspect of her game despite losing.

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It may not have been the result that she wanted but Naomi Osaka wasn’t entirely disappointed with her exit from the Silicon Valley Classic on Thursday.

The four-time Grand Slam champion fell 6-4, 6-4, to America’s Coco Gauff in what was a tightly contested 89-minute encounter. Osaka was broken three times in the match but fought until the very end. Trailing by a set and 2-5, the Japanese player valiantly saved six match points to close the deficit to 5-4. However, Gauff maintained her cool to seal victory on her seventh attempt.

This week was the first time Osaka has played on the Tour since May after missing the grass swing due to a leg injury. Reflecting on her latest performance, the 24-year-old is confident that she is heading in the right direction despite losing.

When I was playing the match just now I realized that I’ve been letting people call me mentally weak for so long that I forgot who I was,” wtatennis.com quoted Osaka as saying afterwards. “I realized that that’s something that I do. I lost the match today but I feel really confident in who I am. I feel like the pressure doesn’t beat me. I am the pressure. I’m really happy with that.”

Gauff has now levelled their head-to-head at 2-2 and it is her first win over Osaka since the 2019 Australian Open. She is currently at a ranking-high of No.11 in the world and has won 27 matches so far this season. At the French Open earlier this year she reached her first Grand Slam final before losing in straight sets to Iga Swiatek.

“I think I improved in all aspects and today showed it,” Gauff said. “I knew playing Naomi was going to be tough. I think she has one of the best baseline games in the game. When I play her I know that if she does win the match that’s where she’s going to get me, in those baseline rallies. I think today I really held my ground and winning a lot more of those rallies than she was. That just shows how much I’m improving. The last three weeks, so many hours on the court and I’m glad it’s coming together.”

The sixth seed will be hoping to continue her momentum into the next round when she plays Spain’s Paula Badosa who is bidding to reach her first Tour semi-final since April. The two are currently tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head with Gauff winning their most recent clash at the Doha Open earlier this year.

Sakkari stunned

Elsewhere in San Jose, top seed Maria Sakkari suffered a shock straight sets defeat to Shelby Rogers. The world No.3 only managed to win just four games during her 6-1, 6-3, loss. Rogers was unbroken throughout the match compared to Sakkari who dropped her serve four times.

“Maybe it’s her level of competitiveness or her fight that comes on the court, but she just makes me want to fight even harder,” Rogers said. “So I think we just bring the best out of each other and it’s always a fun match when we play.”

The American is yet to lose to Sakkari after beating her three times on the Tour since 2021. Her other wins were at the 2021 Wimbledon Championships and the 2022 Adelaide International.

“I think there’s definitely some matchups that just favour one player a little bit more than the other,” she said. “I thought I was able to use my forehand cross pretty well today, I served really well and put a lot of returns and play, which kept the pressure on her to do more.”

Also through to the quarter-finals is Aryna Sabalenka who battled her way past Caroline Dolehide 5-7, 6-1, 7-5. She will play Daria Kasatkina in the next round.

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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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