Aryna Sabalenka Denies Supporting War After Reaching Roland Garros Semi-Finals - UBITENNIS
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Aryna Sabalenka Denies Supporting War After Reaching Roland Garros Semi-Finals

Aryna Sabalenka attended her first press conference since the second round after reaching the Roland Garros semi-finals.

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Aryna Sabalenka (@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Aryna Sabalenka once again clarified that she doesn’t support the war or Belarus’ regime right now after reaching the Roland Garros semi-finals.

The Australian Open let her tennis do the talking as she cruised past Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-4 to reach her first Roland Garros semi-final.

Sabalenka was flawless throughout her 1 hour and 38 minute performance which sees her into the last four in Paris for the first time, where she will face Karolina Muchova.

However as expected it was what happened after the match that caused headlines as Sabalenka was waiting at the net for some kind of signal from Svitolina.

That didn’t happen though as Svitolina had her head down walking to her chair with the Ukrainian being booed by some of the fans inside Philippe-Chatrier.

After her win, Sabalenka said that going to the net was instinct and once again clarified her position that not only is she against the war but against Lukashenko, “I don’t know. It just was an instinct like I always do after all my matches,” Sabalenka said about the incident.

“Well, we played a lot of Fed Cups in Belarus. He was in our matches taking pictures with us after the match. Nothing bad was happening that time in Belarus or in Ukraine or in Russia. And I said it many times already, I’m not supporting war. I don’t want my country to be involved in any conflict.

“I said it many times, and you know where I stand, you know. You have my position. You have my answer. I answered it many times. I’m not supporting the war.

“And the thing that I don’t want sport to be involved in politics, because I’m just a tennis player, 25-years-old tennis player. And if I would like to be political I wouldn’t be here. I don’t want to be involved in any politics. I just want to be a tennis player.

“I mean, I don’t support war, meaning I don’t support Lukashenko right now.”

This is the strongest statement from Sabalenka yet about the war as she looks to focus on her Roland Garros campaign.

As for Svitolina, the Ukrainian thinks that Sabalenka waiting at the net inflamed the situation and admits she was expecting the boos, “Yeah, I think so, unfortunately,” Svitolina replied when asked whether Sabalenka’s actions encouraged the crowd’s booing.

“I don’t know, to be fair, what she was waiting, because my statements were clear enough about the handshake. Secondly, no, it was quite expected. I was expecting that. Whoever in this situation loses, I guess, gets booed, so I was expecting that. It was not a surprise for me.”

https://twitter.com/eurosport/status/1666065040821108737

‘I felt disrespected’

Today was the first time Sabalenka held an open press conference since the second round.

The Australian Open said that she felt disrespected by journalists and felt her press conferences were turning into a political TV show, “Just the way I was made feeling and I felt disrespected,” Sabalenka stated.

“I felt like journalist try to put the words in my mouth. I didn’t feel comfortable. This is just the way I felt. No, I don’t regret the decisions. I felt really disrespected, and I felt really bad. I mean, Grand Slam, it’s enough pressure to handle, and I just tried to focus on myself, on my game.

“I really hope that you guys will understand me, my feelings. You know that I really respect all of you, and I always open. You can ask whatever you want. You will get all the information. But in the last press conference, I felt like my press conference became a political TV show, and I’m not expert in politics. I’m just a tennis player.

“Yeah, I just need to step back and just bring focus on my tennis and on my game. Yeah, and I feel good that I did it and I feel sorry for you guys that you didn’t have chance to chat with me. But I’m here today, and I am ready to give answers for every question you have.”

Sabalenka will hope that she can fully focus on her tennis as she is halfway to the calendar Grand Slam should she win the next two matches.

The next test is against Karolina Muchova which Sabalenka leads their head-to-head 1-0.

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Rising Star Mirra Andreeva Teams Up With Wimbledon Champion Martinez

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Mirra Andreeva – Australian Open 2024 (foto: X @WTA)

Teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva has begun working with a former Grand Slam champion on a trial basis ahead of the French Open.

The 16-year-old has linked up with Conchita Martinez, who is overseeing her run at this week’s Rouen Open in France. Martinez peaked at a ranking high of No.2 during her career and won 33 WTA titles. After retiring from the sport, she has coached Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. 

Andreeva’s latest partnership was formed with the help of her agent ‘two or three weeks ago.’ According to the WTA website, their practice week went well and now they are testing working together during a tournament. 

“So far, so good,” said Andreeva“I like it, I hope she likes it too. We will see how it will go and then we will decide about our next tournaments. I cannot say there are special aspects we are working on. But the first thing we worked on was my slice, because she was a good slicer. So she told me some tricks, and I’m trying to use it when I have time and a good possibility on court.”

Andreeva is currently ranked 43rd in the world and is the youngest player in the top 100. She has already reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open but is yet to win a WTA title. So far this year the Russian’s best result was a quarter-final appearance at the Brisbane International. 

Martinez, who also reached the last 16 of a major at the age of 16, spoke about the teenager with Ubitennis during last year’s Wimbledon Championships. At the time she pointed out that consistency is key for the youngster.

“The most important thing is that she keeps practising and focusing on what she has to do to get better. It’s great what she is doing now but she has to maintain it,” she commented.

Andreeva kicked off her campaign in Rouen with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Nadia Podoroska. 

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Red-Hot Danielle Collins Ready To Take On Red Clay After Charleston Triumph

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Image via https://twitter.com/CharlestonOpen/

Just how good is Danielle Collins?

Right now, she may be as good as anyone on the WTA Tour.

Just think about it. Who’s better?

Winning a seven-round near-major one week on hard courts, then putting together six straight victories the next week on green clay is fairly significant.

Collins didn’t go against a lame duck field in either tournament, especially at the Credit One Charleston Open where she defeated three of the best clay-courters on the tour in Ons Jabeur, Maria Sakkari and Daria Kasatkina, as well as the likes of Sloane Stephens and Paula Badosa. She defeated a Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, on hard courts in the Miami final.

ONLY TWO LOSING SETS IN 28

Collins lost only two of the 28 sets she played in Miami and Charleston.

Of course, second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and third-ranked Coco Gauff are power players on any surface. But after those two, Collins looks capable of winning anything in sight. It would be interesting to see Collins take on either of those two on Europe’s red clay.

Collins now has played about as brilliantly in these two tournaments as Sabalenka, Gauff or top-ranked Iga Swiatek have played within the last year.

Collins has the type game no one wants to play against right now. She has jumped all the way to 15th in the world after her success at Miami and Charleston.

COLLINS DOMINANT IN FINAL

Against 2017 Charleston winner Kasatkina in Sunday’s final, Collins was dominant in a 6-2, 6-1 victory. The Russian didn’t have the game to match up with Collins’ power. Collins played to win, and wasted few opportunities.

No one on the WTA Tour attacks more aggressively than the 30-year-old Collins. Short balls end up being a “done deal” when Collins moves in on them and smashes forehands, backhands and lobs away. She nails high back-handed returns of lobs to the corners with the same type of precision she connects with high forehand put-aways inside the court. Few players can hit that type of backhand high volley with such power and precision.

 She also plays the baseline as aggressively as anywhere else, and her serve is solid enough to keep her out of early trouble. Few double-faults find her racket.

LOCKED INTO PROCESS

“I think one of my biggest areas of improvement over the course of the last few weeks has been my concentration and focus and really being locked into my process,” Collins said after winning Charleston.

“These women that I’m playing against, they’re the best in the world, and it’s — sometimes things go your way and then sometimes things don’t go your way, and you have to be open to that when those times do happen.

“I’m really looking forward to getting home (Bradenton, Fla.) and getting some time to spend where I don’t think about tennis, and then hopefully when Madrid comes around I am back in ‘Danimal’ mode. Then it’s back to reality. So it’s like spring break for me. I feel like a kid at spring break.”

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Danielle Collins Extends Winning Streak To 12 Matches

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image via https://twitter.com/CharlestonOpen/

Danielle Collins just goes out and wins.

She wastes few shots and is a master of shot placements.

The court surface doesn’t seem to matter. She did it a week ago on hard courts to win the Miami Open. And she is doing it again at the Credit One Charleston Open on clay courts.

Collins has won 12 straight matches and is one win away from a coveted second straight title on the WTA Tour.

She’s unseeded, but keeps winning. She is the last American standing.

In Saturday’s Charleston semifinals, Collins scored a relatively easy 6-3, 6-3 win over third-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.

KASATKINA STANDS IN COLLINS’ WAY

Just 2017 Charleston champion Daria Kasatkina is standing in the 30-year-old Collins’ way of a second straight tour title.

Oh, yes, Collins is playing her final year on the WTA Tour. She wants to go out a winner badly.

Kasatkina is the fourth seed, and she may already have played a key role in Collins’ drive to another title. Top seed Jessica Pegula appeared to be unbeatable in this Charleston Open until running  into Kasatkina in Saturday’s first semifinal and simply couldn’t close out the Russian when their  match was on the line.

PEGULA’S LOSS BIG SURPRISE

Pegula’s 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) loss to Kasatkina was the biggest surprise of this tournament. Pegula had won the last 12 games of a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kasatkina in 2023 in Tokyo’s Pan Pacific Open.

Very tough match,” the ultra-conservative playing Kasatkina said about Saturday’s long match that ended in a third-set tiebreaker.
“Really happy with my win, with the way how I did it. And, yeah, really happy to be in the finals here again.”

Kasatkina has been impressed by Collins’ outstanding recent play.

“Danielle is, I think, playing the best tennis of her career right now. She’s fearless. When she feels her game, she’s one of the most dangerous players on tour, and she definitely feels it right now,” Kasatkina said.
“So, yeah, it’s going to be very tough battle. And it’s finals. I mean, it’s so nice. I’m so happy to be in the finals, and I think it’s going to be a good one. I think the atmosphere is going to be great because playing an American in the United States, it always brings some extra electricity on court. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”

COLLINS IMPRESSED BY KASATKINA’S PLAY

Collins also has respect for Kasatkina’s style of play.

“We’ve played so many matches against each other over the years and battles. She’s one of my favorite players to watch because she makes these matches so interesting,” Collins said about Kasatkina.

“The way that she plays and her tennis IQ, how creative she is on court is phenomenal. I think against Daria I have to be very flexible. She has just about every tool in her toolbox. She can hit big. She can hit with shape. She can hit slices. She can come into the net. She does everything very, very well. She serves and returns well. She mixes up her pace. She’s just solid all over. And so, it’s going to be a battle, and I have to be ready to play a long, tough match, if that’s what’s needed.

“I’ll have to kind of take a little bit more of a look statistically at some things and some different patterns, but I think the biggest thing is just fighting until the end and being adaptable out there.”

About her win over the usually solid Sakkari, Collins said, “I think my aggressive game style helped me. I had to stick with it. And she was throwing a lot at me and doing a lot of different things.
“So, I had to try to counter that and use my aggressive game style as much as I could.”

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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