Maria Sakkari Eyes Permanent Role For Mentor Philippoussis After Wimbledon Heartbreak - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sakkari Eyes Permanent Role For Mentor Philippoussis After Wimbledon Heartbreak

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Maria Sakkari hopes that a recent addition to her team could become more permanent after she crashed out of Wimbledon on Wednesday. 

Sakkari, who was seeded eighth in the draw, got off to a perfect start before losing 0-6, 7-5, 6-2, to Marta Kostyuk. It was evident how much that defeat affected her afterward when she agreed to speak to a handful of journalists, including Ubitennis. Tears fell from her face due to a combination of both disappointment and frustration with it being the second major in a row where she has lost her opening match. Something that has never previously occurred in her career.

It was less than two years ago when the Greek was starting to establish herself as a force to be reckoned with in the big events. During the 2021 season, she reached the semi-finals of both the French Open and the US Open.   

“Since I played my last semifinal at the US Open I haven’t had any good result that I would be happy with (in the majors),” a disappointed Sakkari reflected. 
“Maybe I put too much pressure on myself? Maybe the fact I want to finish the season in the top eight puts a lot of pressure on myself.’
“It is very tough to handle right now and I just don’t know how to get over this, it’s very difficult.”

It has been a rather strange season for Sakkari when it comes to results. Out of 13 tournaments played, she has reached the semi-finals at five of them but failed to win back-to-back matches at seven others. Consistency appears to be an issue for the world No.8 who admitted that the hardest aspect of the sport she is dealing with concerns the mental part of her game. 

In recent weeks, Sakkri has enlisted the help of Mark Philippoussis who is marking the 20th anniversary of his run to the Wimbledon final as a player. His addition is alongside her principal coach Tom Hill. Initially, the collaboration was for the grass swing but could it be extended further?

“We have to sit down and see. It was a trial period but we both like each other,” she commented. “There are a lot of things I can learn from him. I think that he’s a great guy and a great coach. He has helped a lot with my game but today wasn’t the case that I was able to show that.’
“It would be amazing if all the three of us can continue together.”

Philippoussis has also previously worked with Stefanos Tsitsipas on the Tour until he decided to cut down on his team size. The split was said to be a mutual decision. 

“We have been working on everything. Mental, tennis-wise and everything tactical. Somebody can bring something new into the team and that is what we are working on.” Sakkari said of her latest mentor. 

No timeline has been given regarding Philippoussis’ future in Sakkari’s team but he could be exactly what she needs to overcome her troubles.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

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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