Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka lead the line-up at the Madrid Mutua Open - UBITENNIS
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Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka lead the line-up at the Madrid Mutua Open



Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka will headline the main draw at the Madrid Mutua Open one week after playing the final at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. 

This year’s main field expands from 64 to 96 players at the two-week women’s and men’s tournament at the Madrid Caja Magica. 

Swiatek, who beat Sabalenka in the Stuttgart final on Sunday, will take on either 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu or a qualifier. Top seed Swiatek leads 2-0 in her two previous head-to-head matches and beat her British opponent in the Round of 16 at Indian Wells last March. 

In her only previous appearance in Madrid Swiatek lost to eventual finalist Ashleigh Barty. Swiatek withdrew from last year’s edition due to a shoulder injury. The Polish player lost to reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the fourth round at last January’s Australian Open. Last February Swiatek successfully defended her title at the Doha Qatar Open by beating Jessica Pegula in the final. One month later she lost to Rybakina for the second time this year in the semifinals at Indian Wells. In last week’s Stuttgart Porsche Grand Prix Open Swiatek beat Zheng Qinweng, Karolina Pliskova, Ons Jabeur and Sabalenka to win her 13th career WTA title. 

Swiatek is on a collision course for a potential quarter final clash against Elena Rybakina, who leads 2-1 in their three head-to-head matches. 

Former Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova could meet Rybakina in the Round of 16 in this section of the draw. 

Number 3 seed Jessica Pegula will face either Italy’s Jasmine Paolini in the second quarter of the draw. Pegula, who reached the final in Madrid last year, could potentially face Elina Svitolina in the third round and Daria Kasatkina in the quarter final. Svitolina has never reached the third round in Madrid. The Ukrainian player will play her first WTA Tour 1000 tournament since her maternity leave. She made her come-back at the Charleston after giving birth to her daughter Skai. 

Last year’s Wimbledon and US Open finalist Ons Jabeur headlines the third quarter of the draw. The Tunisian player will take on either Ana Bogdan or Anna Bondar. 

Coco Gauff is seeded to play against  Maria Sakkari in the round of 16 in this quarter of the draw, which also features former Grand Slam champions Jelena Ostapenko and Sofia Kenin, who won the 2017 French Open and the 2020 Australian Open respectively. 

Barbora Strycova will face Elisabetta Cocciaretto in her come-back match after her maternity leave. 

Sabalenka will meet either Lauren Davis or Sorana Cristea in the second round in the bottom of the draw. Cristea beat Sabalenka in the quarter final at the Miami Open. Sabalenka beat Rybakina in three sets in the final of the Australian Open final last January. She lost to Krejcikova in three sets in the quarter final in Dubai. She lost to Rybakina in the Indian Wells final in a re-match of the Australian Open title match. 

The bottom half of the draw also features two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who could face last year’s WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in a potential Round of 16 match. Kvitova won three Madrid Mutua Open three times in 2011, 2015 and 2018. 

In this section of the draw last year’s Nottingham and Birmingham champion Beatriz Haddad Maia could take on 2021 US Open finalist Leyah Fernandez. 

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing



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



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



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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