Jelena Ostapenko Cruises Past Alexandrova To Capture Maiden Linz Title - UBITENNIS
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Jelena Ostapenko Cruises Past Alexandrova To Capture Maiden Linz Title

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Jelena Ostapenko has continued her promising start to the year by winning the Linz Open for the first time on Sunday.

The world No.12 was in impressive form as she stormed to a 6-2, 6-3, victory over second seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the Austrian capital. The triumph comes less than a month after Ostapenko won the Adelaide International, which is also a WTA 500 event. It is the first time in her career that she has won multiple singles titles within the same season since 2017.

Ostapenko’s latest victory saw her win all nine of her service games against Alexandrova, who was visibly frustrated with her inability to tame the Latvian. Alexandrova sealed her place in the final after coming through a marathon semi-final match that lasted more than three hours. It is the second time she has finished runner-up at the event.

I want to congratulate Ekaterina on a great week. I think you played great and I wish you good luck in the next tournaments for this season,” the new champion said during the trophy presentation.
“Thank you to my team and my friends who are here supporting me today. It is not always easy with me but thank you so much for your support.
“I appreciate your support, I think we are a great team and the trophy shows this. I hope there will be many more to come
.”

Ostapenko, who was playing her 25th tour-level match of the season (including doubles), began the final in clinical fashion with the use of some heavy shot-making. She broke Alexandrova for the first time four games into the final after the Russian hit a forehand unforced error. Surging to a 5-2 lead and dropping just one point behind her first serve, the top seed worked her way to three set points. She converted her third opportunity by hitting a deep shot towards the baseline, which was returned out by Alexandrova, to seal the opener in less than 30 minutes.

Continuing to dictate play, the 26-year-old broke for a 3-1 lead in the second frame by hitting a thunderous backhand return winner. After just over an hour of play, Ostapenko earned her first championship point by hitting another backhand return winner but failed to convert when leading 6-2, 5-2. Nevertheless, she prevailed in the following game following an error from across the court.

Ostapenko is the first player from her country to win the Linz title. Her victory comes almost five years after she last played at the tournament in 2019. On that occasion, she reached the title match and then claimed the opening set before losing to Coco Gauff.

It’s not my first time in Linz but I really love it. A few years ago I was in the final but I didn’t get the trophy. I think the trophy this year is so much nicer. I’m really happy to have it.” Said Ostapenko.

So far in her career, Ostapenko has won eight WTA titles and earned more than $14.6M in prize money. She has been ranked as high as No.5 in the world back in 2018.

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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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