WTA Finals Daily Preview: Caroline Garcia Plays Aryna Sabalenka in the Championship Match - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals Daily Preview: Caroline Garcia Plays Aryna Sabalenka in the Championship Match

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Caroline Garcia on media day in Fort Worth (twitter.com/wta)

The WTA’s biggest non-Major final of the year is on Monday night in Texas.

 

Caroline Garcia started 2022 ranked 74th in the world, and had a modest first five months of the year.  But her season changed dramatically this summer, as she won three titles across three different surfaces, and achieved her first Major semifinal in New York.  In her second appearance at the WTA Finals, she has reached the biggest final of her career. 

Aryna Sabalenka started 2022 ranked No.2 in the world, and despite some horrendous double fault woes, has managed to maintain a top 10 ranking throughout the season.  Across the last six Majors, she has reached three semifinals, yet lost all of those semifinals 6-4 in the third.  In Sunday’s semifinals at this event, she erased much of that scar tissue by defeating World No.1 Iga Swiatek.  In her second appearance at the WTA Finals, she has reached the biggest final of her career. 


Monday’s play in Fort Worth begins at 5:30pm local time with the doubles championship match.  It will be Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) vs. Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens (4).  Krejcikova and Siniakova have not dropped a set this past week, and are looking to defend their title from a year ago after claiming three titles this season, all of which were Majors.  Kudermetova and Mertens are also undefeated to this stage, and this is their fifth final of 2022.  In last year’s final, the Czech team defeated Mertens and her then-partner, Hsieh Su-Wei.


Caroline Garcia (6) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (7) – Not Before 8:00pm in Fort Worth

The winner of this championship match will become the new World No.4.  They have split four previous meetings, all on hard courts.  Three of them took place in 2018, with Sabalenka taking two of three.  But earlier this season in Cincinnati, Garcia prevailed in three sets, on the way to her biggest title to date. 

Garcia went 3-1 this past week, with her only loss coming at the hands of Swiatek.  In a must-win match to advance out of round-robin play, she outlasted Daria Kasatkina in a grueling match decided by a third-set tiebreak.  She then bounced back just a day later in the semifinals to easily dispatch of Maria Sakkari, who had been undefeated to that stage.

Sabalenka also went 3-1 this past week, with her only loss coming against Sakkari.  Her most notable round-robin win occurred on the first day of thetournament, when she survived a high-quality affair with Ons Jabeur 7-5 in the third.  In her aforementioned semifinal against Swiatek, she became only the ninth person to defeat Iga this season, and only the fifth to take a third set from her. 

Sabalenka had the much tougher semifinal on Sunday, and it was an emotionally draining one for sure.  How will she recover for Monday night’s final?  Garcia’s return position well inside the court will apply plenty of pressure to Aryna’s serve, which as noted can go off the rails at any moment, especially during big moments.  And having taken their only match this year, I like Caroline’s chances of winning the 2022 WTA Finals.

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Emma Raducanu Draws Inspiration From Andy Murray Ahead Of 2023

Emma Raducanu spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career.

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(@HeartThamesNews - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu has spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career and is optimistic about turning her form in 2023.

 

The former US Open hasn’t had too bad of an off-season after receiving her MBE for her services to sport.

Raducanu made history in 2021 as she won the US Open as a qualifier at 18 years of age.

However the Brit has yet to back that up with Raducanu changing coach on a number of occasions as she looks for some stability in 2023.

Speaking in a recent interview with Grazia Raducanu said that she believes that momentum can change quickly in tennis and that confidence is the key to success, “[In tennis] it could look like it’s all going down, down, down and just not getting any better,” Raducanu was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Just one match can have a big influence on your confidence and once you have confidence and the momentum comes, you feel like you can’t lose. It’s a very individual sport – people are friendly but it’s difficult to be really close with those you’re competing with.”

One player that can relate to what Raducanu is saying is Andy Murray with confidence being a key theme of the highs and lows of Murray’s career.

Raducanu said that she talks to Murray regularly about the highs and lows of tennis, “Andy Murray is so good to talk to because he’s been through pretty much what I’ve been going through,” Raducanu said.

“I have always looked up to him and watched him winning his first Wimbledon and the Olympics.”

Raducanu will hope that she can use Murray’s words as inspiration for next season as she currently sits at 75 in the world.

The Brit will start her season in 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand on the 2nd of January.

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Fernando Verdasco Given Two Month Doping Ban

Fernando Verdasco has been banned from tennis until the 8th of January.

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Fernando Verdasco (@UniversTennis - Twitter)

Fernando Verdasco will miss the first week of the 2023 season after being provisionally suspended for two months after testing positive for the drug methylphenidate.

 

The former world number seven tested positive for the drug at the Challenger event in Rio De Janeiro and has accepted a voluntary ban until the 8th of January.

As well as testing positive for the drug methylphenidate, Verdasco had also forgot to renew his Therapeutic Use Exemption despite the Spaniard admitting that he was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In a statement published today the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), explained why his ban has been shortened from two years to two months, “The ITIA accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” they said in a statement on his website.

“In the specific circumstances of this case, based on the player’s degree of fault the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme allows for the applicable period of ineligibility to be reduced from two years to two months.”

The 39 year-old will as a result miss the first week of the new season with the Spaniard being currently ranked at world number 125.

In 2022, Verdasco’s best results on the ATP tour were quarter-final performances in Buenos Aires and Estoril while he also won a challenger title in Monterrey in March.

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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