Tatjana Maria Says More Support Needed For Mums On Tour Ahead Of Wimbledon Return - UBITENNIS
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Tatjana Maria Says More Support Needed For Mums On Tour Ahead Of Wimbledon Return

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Image via twitter.com/wta

12 months after her fairytale run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon, Tatjana Maria is ready to return to the scene of her greatest Grand Slam triumph. 

The German stunned the draw last year with wins over Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko to reach the final four. At the time Maria had never gone beyond the third round of a major event. She was eventually knocked out of the tournament by Ons Jabeur. 

Maria is the first mother of two to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon this century. She had her first child (Charlotte) in December 2013 and her second (Cecila) in April 2021. Playing on the Tour as a parent is far from easy but more players are doing so with other notable examples being Victoria Azarenka and Elina Svitolina. Something she describes as a ‘positive development’ for the women’s game which hopefully will trigger more support for mums in the sport. 

“It would be helpful if all the big tournaments would provide a nursery. It’s something only offered by the Grand Slams and a few tournaments like the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix,” Maria said during an interview with the Porsche Newsroom.
“There’s been one there for years now. It would be very positive for the children and the mums (if other tournaments follow suit),” she added. 

Maria is currently ranked 58th in the world and is hoping to fair better at Wimbledon than she did at the French Open earlier this year. In Paris, she was thrashed 6-0, 6-1, by Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the first round. Since then, she has faired better on the grass with a run to the final of a WTA 125 event in Italy. Then in Bad Homburg this week she took a set of Iga Swiatek before losing 12 out of the next 14 games played. 

“It’s my favourite Grand Slam. It has a special atmosphere and a unique history that can be felt in every corner of the grounds. And then I also love playing on grass,” she said of Wimbledon. 
“I want to enjoy such wonderful moments in the future too. It’s something I work on every day, and I try to give my best. I’m however not putting myself under any pressure. For sure, I made it to the semis last year and perhaps people are now expecting that things will go just as well again. I’m hoping for the same. As I won’t be seeded then it’s a question of whether the draw is kind to me. It’s something I can’t influence.”

Regardless of what happens over the coming weeks, 35-year-old Maria is proud to show that it is possible to balance motherhood with life as a professional athlete. 

“I think they do,” she replied when asked if others see her as a role model. “In my example, they see that it’s possible to have a child during one’s career and then return to the professional tour. I after all have come back twice, first after Charlotte’s birth, which amazed many, and then a second time after Cecilia was born. It’s possible.”

The draw for Wimbledon will take place tomorrow at 10am with action getting underway on Monday. 

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Rafael Nadal makes a winning come-back against Flavio Cobolli in Barcelona

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Rafael Nadal made a winning come-back by beating Italy’s Flavio Cobolli 6-2 6-3 in 1 hour and 26 minutes at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. The twelve-time Barcelona champion won his third match this year. 

Nadal is playing just his second tournament of the year and his first since last January, when he reached the quarter final in Brisbane. 

Nadal converted two of his eight break points and held four service games in the first set. The Spaniard held serve from 0-30 down in the first set. Cobolli faced two break points in the fourth game and saved them. The Italian player wasted a game point and was broken on Nadal’s third break point after a backhand error. Nadal consolidated the break by holding serve with a service winner to take a 4-1 lead. Cobolli faced four break points in the sixth game, but he saved three of these break points with service winners and held serve with a powerful serve to reduce the gap to 2-4. Nadal held serve at love in the seventh game with a service winner.

Cobolli missed a game point after Nadal’s backhand crosscourt winner, as he was serving to stay in the set in the eighth game. Nadal earned a set point after a forehand error from Cobolli and converted it, when the Italian player netted a forehand. 

Cobolli earned his first break point in the opening game of the second set. Nadal fended it off with a drop shot winner to hold serve after Cobolli’s forehand error. 

Nadal earned two break points, as Cobolli netted a backhand in the second game. The home star converted his break point to open up a 2-0 lead, as Cobolli hit a forehand long. Cobolli broke back in the third game after Nadal made a backhand error. 

Nadal broke serve again in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, when Cobolli made a double fault. The former world number 1 player held his service game with a service winner in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Cobolli held serve to love in the sixth game with a forehand winner to reduce the gap to 2-4. Nadal held serve in the seventh game after a forehand error from Cobolli to open up a 5-2 lead forcing the Italian player to serve  to stay in the match. Cobolli held at love to cut the deficit to 3-5. 

Nadal served out the win with a hold at 15 after Cobolli’s backhand error. Cobolli made 41 unforced errors, including 27 in the opening set. 

Nadal set up a second round match against Alex De Minaur. The 92-time titlist leads 3-1 in his four head-to-head matches against his Australian opponent. 

“Every time it is more difficult and especially when you are at an advanced age. It makes things even tougher. I am going through tough moments but at the same time, when I am able to be on Tour for a few days and practise with the guys then be able to compete a little bit, it means a lot to me. It’s still enjoyable enough to keep going. I am happy to start with a victory without a doubt”, said Nadal.

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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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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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