WTA Yet To Decide On Host For 2024 Tour Finals After Cancun Controversy - UBITENNIS
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WTA Yet To Decide On Host For 2024 Tour Finals After Cancun Controversy

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The WTA has confirmed to Ubitennis that negotiations for hosting the 2024 WTA Finals are ongoing and no decision has been taken yet. 

This year’s season-ending finals have been criticized by some players over the court’s conditions and lack of preparation. It wasn’t until September that Cancun was announced as the host city of this year’s event. A stadium for the event had to be built and wasn’t fully completed until the weekend it started. Giving players little time to practice on the court before playing their matches. 

 “My first WTA Finals is not at all what I imagined. We work hard all year to get to the finals and in the end it’s just a disappointment,” Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova wrote earlier this week.
“(The) stadium is not at all ready for the matches and to me it feels like the people from WTA are absolutely not interested in how we who are supposed to play on that court feel. We do not feel that anyone listens to us and is interested in our opinions. Very sad.”

WTA CEO Steve Simon recently said in an interview with The Athletic that his organization only had four months to find a venue and didn’t want to commit to any long-term agreement. The reason why they only had four months was because they were unable to reach an agreement with Shenzhen which hosted the event in 2019. China had previously signed a multi-year deal to host the event before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Then all WTA tournaments set to be held in China last year were suspended due to concerns that former world No.1 Peng Shuai was being censored by authorities after she accused a former government official of sexual assault. 

As for the future, the governing body of women’s tennis confirmed that they are in discussions with ‘various groups’ regarding where the WTA Finals could be headed next with Saudi Arabia understood to be a key contender. The WTA didn’t comment when asked if they have held any meetings with members of the Saudi Tennis Federation in recent weeks. Although sources have claimed that there was a recent visit made to the country by a senior official.  

The Middle Eastern nation will be highly appealing to the WTA due to its high investment and growing expansion into the world of sports. Saudi Arabia is the next host of the ATP Next Gen finals and will hold a series of exhibition matches later this year. However, officials have been accused of using sport to cover up their human rights violations. 

Another concern is related to LGBT players playing in a country where homosexuality is illegal. According to The Athletic, it was claimed that the WTA advised players who may feel uncomfortable playing in the country due to this reason to say ‘I’m happy to play wherever the WTA Finals is hosted, it’s a prestigious event.’ 

When asked for clarity on this by Ubitennis, the WTA confirmed that the document sent to players was to make them aware of some topics that might come up during their press conferences. The messaging and statements outlined were provided to help players ‘think and prepare’ for their own responses. However, they state that the organization would never tell a player what to say with their job being to guide them. 

The WTA concludes that its priority is continuing to build a strong future for women’s tennis. 

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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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