Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia reach the second round at the Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia reach the second round at the Australian Open

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Number 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka cruised past Tereza Martincova 6-1 6-4 in 1 hour and 9 minutes to advance to the second round. 

Sabalenka won the 11th WTA Tour title of her career at Adelaide International 1 a week ago. She has started the 2023 season with a 5-0 record for the third time in the past five seasons. 

Sabalenka saved four of her five break points at 1-1 in the opening set and broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to cruise through to a 6-1 in the first set. 

Sabalenka saved Martincova’s final break point with a rally forehand pass down the line at 1-0 in the second set. The Belarusian player saved it before earning the decisive break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. She held on her next service games without facing any break points to close out the second set 6-4. 

“I am super happy with the win. Ir wasn’t an easy match. I am just happy with the good start. The only thing I can say is that I am really working hard. Physically, mentally I am ready to go deep in Melbourne. Hopefully I will do my best on court, and I will go deep. I am really doing everything I can do to get as far as I can. It’s tough to say that. This time I am going to make a final. I am going to win a Grand Slam”, said Sabalenka. 

Number 4 seed Caroline Garcia cruised past Canadian qualifier and world number 190 Catherine Sebov 6-3 6-0 after 1 hour and 5 minutes. Sebov was making her Grand Slam debut and playing against a top 10 player for the first time in her career. 

One year ago Garcia was ranked outside the top 70 and lost to qualifier aHailey Baptiste in the first round of the Australian Open. Last season the French player won in Cincinnati and the WTA Finals title beating Sabalenka in Fort Worth climbing to world number 4. 

The first set went on serve in the first seven games before Garcia broke serve with a forehand winner to take a 5-3 lead. 

The French player closed out the first set with two consecutive aces before breaking three times to cruise through to a bagel win in the second set. 

“I am pretty happy with the first match. It’s never easy to start the tournament. Today the conditions were tough, a couple ralliy games were a bit tight.  The ball was not going out of the racquet very fast in the first couple of games. Then with time it got better and better. I am glad I stayed calm and just focused one point at a time to be able to improve and stay positive. On the Rod Laver Arena it was pretty nice. Obviously it was warm. It was nice to be able to walk in the shadow a little bit when you were able able to serve, but I did not feel that such warm weather. There were nervesObviously there is. I think there will always be some. That mean I care about what I am doing. I was not expecting at the beginning to play on Rod Laver Arena, so I was a little bit surprised when I saw the schedule out. It’s my first win on Rod Laver Arena, so it was pretty nice”, said Garcia. 

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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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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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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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