World No.5 Caroline Garcia Backs WTA’s Return To China After Peng Boycott - UBITENNIS
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World No.5 Caroline Garcia Backs WTA’s Return To China After Peng Boycott

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Caroline Garcia (@usopen on Twitter)

France’s Caroline Garcia says she is looking forward to returning to China later this session after the WTA announced on Thursday that they will resume holding events in the country. 

 

Tournaments in China had been suspended since December 2021 due to concerns about the safety of former world No.1 doubles player Peng Shuai who previously accused a government official of sexual assault. There are fears that Peng has been censored by authorities with the majority of her media appearances since then being through state-controlled media. WTA CEO Steve Simon has called for an investigation into the matter and decided to suspend relations with China after they failed to resolve the issue. 

However, in a major climbdown, the WTA Tour has conceded that it is unlikely that they will win their argument with Chinese officials and has decided to resume hosting events in the country which will be a big financial benefit. In 2019 nine tournaments were held in the region which had a combined prize money pool of $30.4 million. 

“After 16 months of suspended tennis competition in China and sustained efforts at achieving our original requests, the situation has shown no sign of changing. We have concluded we will never fully secure those goals, and it will be our players and tournaments who ultimately will be paying an extraordinary price for their sacrifices.” The WTA said in a statement. 
“For these reasons, the WTA is lifting its suspension of the operation of tournaments in the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) and will resume tournaments in China this September.”

The U-turn has been welcomed by world No.5 Garcia who says she understands the WTA’s decision. The Frenchwoman has won three Tour titles in China so far in her career, including premier events in Wuhan and Beijing in 2017. 

“The ATP and the ITF was already going back, and women’s tennis is following,” she told BBC Sport.
“In the past we have had some huge tournaments over there and I think it is an important swing for us in our calendar and I’m looking forward to it.”

Garcia isn’t the only person to speak in favour of the move. Former player and current captain of the British Billie Jean King Cup team, Anne Keothavong, told British media on Thursday that ‘business is business’ but added that Peng’s safety remains her main concern. 

“From a tennis perspective, hopefully it will be a welcome return,” said Keothavong.
“I don’t know whether they have been able to investigate in the way that they would have liked, but tennis is a business. The WTA need to generate commercial revenue and the players need a circuit to compete.”

Furthermore, world No.154 Katie Boulter also welcomed the return of tournaments to China as it gives players more playing opportunities on the Tour. 

However, Yaqiu Wang from The Human Rights Watch has said the development is a ‘huge disappointment’ for the Chinese Human Rights Community. In a statement, Wang said it is vital that Peng’s case continues to be in the limelight as it highlights what she described as ‘corruption and abuse’ at the top of the Chinese government.

“The WTA deserves credit for its initial stance, which was an act of courage, but the decision to move ahead with the tournament will be a huge disappointment for the Chinese human rights community. It is not surprising, though, given the money at stake and the record of other international businesses in China,” said Wang
“International businesses need to work together to do the right thing. It’s hard to challenge the Chinese government alone, but if businesses band together to address China’s flouting of human rights, the power balance can shift.”
“It’s important to keep Peng Shuai’s case in the public eye. What she did initially was extraordinary. It gave the world a glimpse into the corruption and abuses at the very top of the Chinese government. For it, she is still paying a price.”

The WTA is yet to update their calendar for the second half of the 2023 season but The Daily Mail has previously reported that seven tournaments will be held in China later this year, including the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

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Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player. 

 

The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.

“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying. 

Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.

20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina. 

Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.

“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”

It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing. 

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Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open

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Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat. 

 

The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory. 

Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.

“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added. 

Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court. 

Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. 

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Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose

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After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open. 

 

The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall. 

“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”

Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament. 

Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.

Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury. 

“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”

It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.

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