WTA Reportedly On The Verge Of Announcing Their Return To China - UBITENNIS
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WTA Reportedly On The Verge Of Announcing Their Return To China

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The Women’s Tennis Association is set to announce that they will end their boycott of China this year, according to The Daily Mail

All relationships between the WTA and China were suspended in December 2021 amid concerns about the welfare of former world No.1 doubles player Peng Shuai. There are concerns that Shuai is being censored by authorities after making allegations of sexual assault against a former Chinese official. The tennis star has since said her allegation was a misunderstanding but most of her public interactions have been through the state-control media. It is unknown where she is at present or if she can leave China if she wants to do so. 

WTA CEO Steve Simon has maintained a firm stance on the matter by insisting that a proper investigation is conducted by authorities. Due to these unresolved concerns, it was decided to suspend tournaments in China. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon told The New York Times in December 2022.

However, Sportsmail reports that the WTA has decided to host seven events in China later this year, including the end-of-season finals in Shenzhen. Even though it appears that there has been no resolution to the Shuai case. 

China is yet to comment on the report but there was a brief hint of tournaments returning to their country earlier this year. On January 31st the website of the Shenzen regional government published a summary of their High Quality Development Conference. The event was attended by regional politicians and ‘adhered to the guidance of President Xi Jinping.’ Among their outlining of goals for 2023, the WTA Finals were mentioned. 

“Thie third (goal) is to focus on consumption growth….. successfully host high-level events such as the Shenzhen Marathon and Shenzhen WTA Finals,”  a quote from sz.com.cn read

At the time of that statement, there was little reaction from within the tennis world to this comment except for a couple of Chinese news outlets such as Shenzhen Evening News. 

The likely return of tennis in China will attract criticism from some. Earlier this month, a China researcher at Human Rights Watch said she was hopeful that the organisation would stick to their principles. Yaqui Wang said that human rights are more important than any financial loss which the WTA might be suffering from. 

 “I have tremendous sympathy for the WTA because I know it’s losing a lot of money but I have to say it got so much praise for standing up for the values it believes in contrary to a lot of other businesses,” Wang told The Reuters News Agency.
“At the time it happened, I felt very inspired and I really hope it (WTA) can stick to what it said. I understand it’s a lot of money but human rights are more important.
“Honestly, it should care for its own players.

The WTA is yet to comment on this matter. 

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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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

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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

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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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