US Open: Serena Adds Another Page to Her Legacy, Defeats no. 2 Seed Kontaveit - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Serena Adds Another Page to Her Legacy, Defeats no. 2 Seed Kontaveit

Serena Williams edges world no. 2 Anett Kontaveit in a night session classic on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Now her draw appears wide open

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Serena Williams - US Open 2022 (photo Twitter @usta)

And she did it again. Against the no. 2-ranked player in the world. Serena William is definitely “taking her time to evolve away from tennis”, as Mary Joe Fernandez pointed out during the on-court interview after her 2 hours, 27 minutes win against Anett Kontaveit in front of a delirious crowd on Arthur Ashe stadium.

The mood was quite different from what it was Monday night when everyone was ready for the goodbye party. This time it was all business. Serena came on court without the six-layer evening gown that Nike designed for her to wear in this farewell tournament, to symbolize the six US Open titles won during her career. “I took away two layers because it’s too heavy” had confessed Williams after her first-round win against Kovinic. And the match itself developed in a much different way, with the two players being much more aggressive and going for the winner as soon as possible.

It was Serena that had the edge during the first set, ruled by serves like a men’s match. Williams has three break points at 3-3 in a 20-point game, but Kontaveit was impeccable on all of them. The American champion drew first blood to go serve for the set at 5-4, but the Estonian left the 23,000-strong crowd speechless when she equalized at 5-5, helped by a final double fault by Serena.

The ensuing tie-break was as tight as it could be: an ill-advised backhand drop shot by Kontaveit was the mini-break that Williams needed to take the set with her fifth ace after a 64-minute battle.

Kontaveit reacted in the best possible way in the second set, sprinting to 3-0 with a double break, and after Williams won her first game of the set on her opponent’s serve, she restored the distance to lead 4-1 obtaining the third consecutive break, and this time after Williams was leading 40-0. The n. 2 seed seemed to have decided to play more to the open court forcing Williams to move sideways and making it more difficult for her to hit her winners.

The third set started with Serena displaying her best tennis of the match, but Kontaveit returned to her old habits of hitting hard down the middle, playing in the hands of her opponent. Williams went quickly up 2-0, lost another game from 40-0, but Kontaveit really was no match for the level produced by Serena, and at 4-1 the crowd already started to celebrate another victory for their favorite player.

Williams improved her record to 108-14 at the US Open and with this win she moves to an almost unreal 23-2 against the Top 2 ranked players in the world since 2007, with both defeats occurring against Azarenka in 2013.

Now the draw opens up nicely for her: the next opponent in the third round will be Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, with a possible Round of 16 match against Samsonova or Krunic. “There is no rush”, said Williams after the match talking about her ‘evolution’ away from tennis. “I have no pressure in this tournament, nothing to prove, no expectations. And this is the first time it happens to me since 1998. I’ve had an X on my back ever since.” And it’s only a matter of time until someone will start mentioning the number 24.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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