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

WTA

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

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?

Published

on

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. 

Focus

Roland Garros 2024: Naomi Osaka Edges Past Bronzetti In Opening Round Test

Naomi Osaka stumbled past Lucia Bronzetti to set up a potential second round clash with Iga Swiatek.

Published

on

(@RelevantTennis - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka began her Roland Garros campaign with a 6-1 4-6 7-5 victory over Lucia Bronzetti.

The multiple-time Grand Slam champion was making her first appearance at Roland Garros since 2022 and was bidding to secure her eighth victory of her career at the event.

It was a fast start from the world number 134 who broke twice in the opening set on her way to a 6-1 set.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-NhGfGlXI4

There was accurate and aggressive counter-attacking tennis from Osaka who took advantage of some cheap unforced errors from Bronzetti.

In the second set, there was more stable and convincing serving from the Italian as Osaka had minimal opportunities to secure the break.

A big opportunity did present itself to Osaka in the seventh game as she found the angles to force errors from Bronzetti, creating two break points.

That big opportunity was wasted as Bronzetti continued to extend the rallies and tested Osaka’s stamina.

The move paid off for Bronzetti as she broke in the tenth game, taking advantage of some inconsistent serving from Osaka with the Italian converting her second set point.

In the final set it looked like Osaka was going to run away with the match as she secured an early double break lead as she went 4-0 ahead.

But once again Osaka took her foot off the gas with Bronzetti gaining the two breaks back and winning four games on the bounce.

Too many tactical errors nearly cost Osaka but the former Australian Open and US Open champion managed to notch up her first Grand Slam win for two years by claiming the last two games.

Now Osaka could face world number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek in the second round should the Pole get past Leolia Jeanjean.

So far on day one Dayana Yastremska came from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6 6-3 6-3 while Marie Bouzkova knocked out 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-2 6-4.

Continue Reading

WTA

Roland Garros 2024: ‘Proud’ Iga Swiatek Seeks Consistent Improvement

Iga Swiatek continues to find improvement despite her dominance ahead of her Roland Garros opener.

Published

on

Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Iga Swiatek had admitted she is ‘proud’ of her clay court season but is seeking consistent improvement over the rest of the season.

The world number one is aiming for a third consecutive Roland Garros title and heads into Paris in dominant form.

Titles in Madrid and Rome with two contrasting wins over Aryna Sabalenka means she is the overwhelming favourite heading into the fortnight.

Speaking ahead of her opening match Swiatek spoke about how she is a better tennis player from 2022 and how proud she is of her clay court season so far, “I think I’m a better player because I just grew and I worked hard during the past two years,” Swiatek explained in her press conference.

“I feel like I’m progressing, so I guess I should be a better tennis player. Comparing the results, or my feelings, two years ago it was all kind of new for me, and I think I won so many matches also because nobody really expected it.

“When the streak started, I wasn’t even second in the rankings, so I think other players were also unprepared maybe for my game sometimes. Now it’s different. Now they are prepared, and I feel like I keep having a target on my back, because I’m No. 1. So I think actually I’m more proud of what’s happening right now and winning all these titles this year already has shown that we are going on the right path.”

Despite her recent dominance, Swiatek isn’t resting on her laurels as she continues to seek improvement.

The Pole has been working on several areas on her game including the serve as she has become a more aggressive player over the last couple of years.

Swiatek spoke on the changes she has made with her coach as she seeks more consistent improvement, “Changing the technique, I think it allowed me to serve faster. We worked on my placement as well, so it got better for sure. I feel like I have more options when I’m serving,” Swiatek told the Roland Garros website.

“As you could see in Rome, for example, I had many situations when I was a break point down, and I was able to kind of save the game with my first serve. So this tournament showed that we are going in the right direction. Next goal is to keep my serve at a consistent level throughout the whole season. We’ll see how that’s going to go.

“But I think overall my coach from the beginning had a great idea about my serve. The other thing is me implementing it, so we are working hard for the movement to be smooth and to get muscle memory, so even under the biggest pressure and stress, I’m going to be serving the same way.”

Swiatek will begin her campaign against qualifier Leolia Jeanjean in her opening round match on Monday with potentially Naomi Osaka awaiting in round two.

Continue Reading

Focus

Roland Garros 2024: Coco Gauff Preparing For Uncomfortable Changes In Paris

Coco Gauff is ready to make uncomfortable changes to her game ahead of Roland Garros.

Published

on

(@usopen - Twitter)

Coco Gauff has said that she is ready to make uncomfortable changes to her game as she prepares for Roland Garros.

The American is a former finalist having reached the final in 2022 but has struggled with her game throughout the clay court season.

However there was hope in Rome as she did reach the semi-finals in Italy before losing comfortably to Iga Swiatek in the last four.

Speaking ahead of the start of the tournament Gauff is confident of a good run in Paris after an encouraging display in Italy, “I have been here for a couple days now, and I feel like I have been preparing great,” the American was quoted by Reuters as saying on media day.

“Had a good tournament in Rome, so I’m excited, hope I can have good vibes here. Last week I felt like from the start of the week till the end of the week I improved a lot. It gave me a lot of confidence for this tournament.”

Despite a recent poor run of form, Gauff has had an incredible last 12 months and is looking to reach a third consecutive Grand Slam semi-final.

However Gauff would like to be more competitive when facing her rivals at the big events which is something that hasn’t improved since she won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open.

Now the 20 year-old has admitted that she will have to make some uncomfortable changes to her game as she prepares for her Roland Garros campaign, “I feel like, overall, if I want to be the player that I want to become, I have to be uncomfortable and make changes to my game, not just to my serve, but other things, as well,” Gauff explained.

“I have been trying to improve it with every tournament, from the start of the clay to Rome. My last match it was a lot better in terms of percentage and the double faults. I think I’m confident.

“I feel like it’s getting better but it’s obviously a shot that is tough to change because when you’re tight you revert back to what you know works. Sometimes it’s tough to push yourself to do the uncomfortable things which you know in the long term are better for you.”

Gauff will begin her campaign against a qualifier on Monday.

Continue Reading

Trending