WTA Finals Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Plays Jessica Pegula in the Championship Match - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Plays Jessica Pegula in the Championship Match



Iga Swiatek on Sunday in Cancun (twitter.com/wta)

It’s a unique Championship Monday in Cancun, with the singles and doubles champions to be decided.


The 2023 season started 10 months ago with a notable upset on the women’s side of the inaugural United Cup in Australia.  In the semifinals of that team event, after losing to Iga Swiatek four times in 2022, Jessica Pegula defeated her by a dominant score of 6-2, 6-2.  Will Pegula upset Swiatek again on Monday, and win the biggest title of her career?  Or will Swiatek prevail, and take the year-end No.1 ranking away from Aryna Sabalenka on the last day of the WTA season?

Jessica Pegula (5) vs. Iga Swiatek (2) – 4:30pm local time in Cancun

These have definitively been the best two players of the extended week, both with 4-0 records, and both claiming all eight sets they’ve contested.  Swiatek is now 67-11 on the season, with five titles (Doha, Stuttgart, Roland Garros, Warsaw, Beijing).  She’s currently on a 10-match hard court winning streak, and is looking to win this event for the first time in her third appearance.  After knocking Sabalenka out of the tournament on Sunday, Iga can overtake Aryna as the year-end No.1 with a win on Monday.

Pegula is now 59-17 this season, with two singles titles (Montreal, Seoul), two doubles titles with Coco Gauff (Doha, Miami), and a team title (United Cup).  She’s on a nine-match hard court win streak of her own, and is looking for her biggest career title in her second appearance, just a year after she went 0-6 in this event across singles and doubles.  With a win on Monday, Jess would move up from No.5 to No.4 in the rankings, and ahead of Elena Rybakina, which could have considerable seeding implications for January’s Australian Open.

Swiatek leads their head-to-head 5-3.  Since the aforementioned United Cup match, they’ve split two meetings this season.  In the final of Doha, Iga crushed Jess 6-3, 6-0.  But in the semifinals of Montreal, Pegula prevailed 6-4 in the third.

The first set will be extremely crucial for both players on Monday, as these are the two best frontrunners the WTA has to offer.  Amazingly, Pegula is 51-0 this season when winning the first set.  Meanwhile, as per Tennis Abstract, Swiatek is 60-1 this season when winning the first set, with her only loss coming against Jelena Ostapenko as the US Open.

Both players will certainly be feeling plenty of pressure on Monday, with a lot on the line for both.  It’s been a mentally-trying week for all the players at this event, as the weather conditions and bad court quality have been quite frustrating.  As great as both have performed to this stage, Pegula’s been just a bit steadier, with Swiatek suffering a few hiccups along the way.  And Iga has just a little bit more on the line than Jess.  This tournament has provided an assortment of different champions across the past decade, with a lot of surprising results.  And while this wouldn’t be the biggest shocker the WTA Finals has ever seen, I’m picking Pegula to end her tennis year the same way she started it: by defeating Iga Swiatek.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez (8) vs. Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva (6) – This is the doubles championship match, to be played at 1:30pm local time.  Melichar-Martinez and Perez are playing for the biggest titles of their careers, and are trying to overcome some significant scar tissue, as they’ve lost seven of their last eight finals as a team.  Siegemund and Zvonareva are the 2020 US Open champions, and won three titles this season.  Zvonareva is the only player with previous experience at the WTA Finals, as she qualified five times in singles, reaching the 2008 final, and also qualified in doubles in 2005, reaching the semifinals.


Rafael Nadal Announces First Tournament Since Injury

Rafael Nadal will make his ATP tour comeback in Brisbane.



Rafael Nadal (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has confirmed the date for his comeback to the ATP tour as he looks to add more Grand Slam titles to his collection before his potential retirement.


The 22-time Grand Slam champion has announced that his comeback will take place on the first week of the calendar as he will play the ATP 250 tournament in Brisbane which starts on the 31st of December.

It will be Nadal’s first tournament since last year’s Australian Open after he suffered a hip injury at the event.

In a video on social media Nadal announced his return to the tour as he looks to make an impact in Brisbane, “After a year away from competition, it’s time to come back. It will be in Brisbane the first week of January,” Nadal stated.

January’s event will be a welcome sight to Nadal as he had initially been expected to return during the clay court season but the hip injury was much worse than expected.

That lead to Nadal doing a press conference in Mallorca where he not only said that he was withdrawing from Roland Garros but also hinted that 2024 could be his last year, “My idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and try to say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me in my tennis career during [next] year, and just try to enjoy that, being competitive and enjoying being on the court, something that today is not possible,” Nadal was quoted by The News as saying.

There is a high level of motivation for Nadal next year as he will want to win the Olympics at Roland Garros in Paris.

However before Nadal can think about the end of his career, the Spaniard will be determined to make an impact in Australia as he looks to stop Novak Djokovic’s dominance.

The tournament in Brisbane starts on the 31st of December while the Australian Open takes place on the 14th of January.

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Nick Kyrgios Opens Up About His Self-Harm Battle And Murray’s Support



Nick Kyrgios (AUS) playing against Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios says he became addicted to pain during his battle with self-harm that lasted between 18 and 24 months.


In an exclusive interview with Piers Morgan Uncensored on TalkTV, the former Wimbledon finalist spoke about his mental health issues. Kyrgios has previously spoken publically about the topic but has now revealed further details about the extent he went through and the role Andy Murray played in supporting him. He was admitted to a psychiatric ward in London and contemplated suicide following the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.

“It was pretty dark to be honest,” Kyrgios told Morgan. “I won tournaments on the professional tour, drinking every night, self-harming, burning things on my arm, cutting myself for fun. It became an addiction of pain. I hated myself. I hated waking up and being Nick Kyrgios.”

One of those who tried to help the Australian address his self-harm problem was three-time Grand Slam champion Murray who noticed cuts on Kyrgios’ arms during one of their practice sessions four years ago. According to The Times, the former world No.1 then alerted Kyrgios’ manager John Morris about the cuts.

Paying tribute to the Brit, Kyrgios says Murray has supported him throughout his career. The 28-year-old has been ranked as high as 13th in the world and has won seven ATP titles. Besides his run to the Wimbledon final last year, he has also reached the quarter-final stage of a major on three other occasions.

“Andy was always a big supporter of me,” Kyrgios said. “As soon as I came on the tour, he kind of saw a work in progress and took me under his wing. Then he realised later in my career that I don’t think I was coachable or I was on my own path, but he was always someone that was looking out for me.
“He saw it [the self-harm] and he said, ‘What’s that on your arm?’ It was pretty bad at that stage. Andy obviously was trying to give me advice on it. But I was just so stuck in my ways at that time that I didn’t listen. Obviously I’m very thankful. I thank him a lot.”

Kyrgios, who has only played one match on the Tour this season due to injury, hopes that he can help others by speaking publicly about his mental health battle. Something he describes as ‘the most powerful thing in his career.’

“I feel like I’ve helped so many people after I opened up about it and put it on social media,” Kyrgios said.
“I’ve almost been a beacon for people who are struggling. When they feel like they’re overwhelmed and they’re going towards drinking, drugs and stuff, they open up and they feel like I’m relatable.
“That’s been the most powerful thing in my career; people coming to me with genuine issues.
“They send me photos in my Instagram, direct messages, self-harming and genuinely wanting to commit suicide.
“I have conversations with these people. Sometimes I’ve had phone calls with these people. That’s making a real difference and I’m just really proud.”

Kyrgios recently had a stint in broadcasting after working for The Tennis channel during the ATP Finals in Milan. He is continuing his rehab from injury but it is unclear as to when he will make his return to professional tennis.

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Hamad Medjedovic earns first place in Red Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah



Hamad Medjedovic beat Abdullah Shelbayh 3-4 (6-8) 4-2 4-3 (7-5) 4-2 to earn first place in the Red Group with a perfect 3-0 record at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah. 


Medjedovic needed to win at least one set to reach the semifinals, while Shelbayh needed to win the match in three or four sets. Luca Van Assche qualified as the second-placed player from the Red Group.

Medjedovic will face Dominic Stricker in the semifinal, while Van Assche takes on Arthur Fils.  

Medjedovic fired 18 aces and won 88 % of his first-serve points. He saved all three break points against Shelbayh. 

Medjedovic fired a tournament-leading 45 aces and was broken twice. 

Medjedovic saved three break points to hold serve in the fourth game of the first set. Shelbayh went up a mini-break twice, but Medjedovic pulled back on serve both times. Shelbayh won the final three points to clinch the tie-break 8-6. Both players went on serve in the first five games before Medjedovic earned the break to win the second set 4-2. 

The third set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Shelbayh earned the first mini-break to take a 3-2 lead. Medjedovic pulled back on serve to draw level to 3-3. The Serbian player earned a second mini-break to close out the tie-break 7-5. 

Medjedovic started the fourth set with an early break in the first game. He held on his next service games and sealed the win on his first match point. 

Medjedovic set up a semifinal match against Dominic Stricker. Luc Van Assche will face Arthur Fils in an all-French semifinal.“It was a great match. I played really good after the first set He is a very good friend of mine. He is a very good player and obviously the crowd here loves him and I respect that. It was a pleasure to play in front of the crowd”, said Medjedovic. 

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