Johanna Konta had Thursday’s shot of the day at the Apia International Sydney.
MELBOURNE, Australia – Angelique Kerber, Garbiñe Muguruza and Simona Halep – Adidas brand ambassadors and top seeds at the Australian Open – chatted with media ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam.
Joined by Japanese rising star Naomi Osaka, the players took part in an Adidas event where they were put through their paces in a series of workouts at the National Tennis Centre.
After working up a sweat, Kerber, Muguruza and Halep discussed their chances at the Australian Open.
“Obviously I’m nervous, I mean it’s the first Grand Slam of the year,” Muguruza said. “I wanna do it so well, so I have to be calm sometimes. So hopefully I won’t get crazy.”
Watch the video above to hear from all the players, and check out the best photos of the event right here – courtesy of Fiona Hamilton and Tennis Australia:
KATOWICE, Poland – Francesca Schiavone is into her second quarterfinal of the year with a straight sets win over Alizé Cornet at the Katowice Open, 7-5(6), 6-1.
Watch live action from Katowice this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!
Although her ranking has dipped to just outside the Top 100, Schiavone, a WTA veteran, won her seventh career title earlier this year in Rio de Janeiro. In Katowice, she was up against Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet, who was making her way back to the tour after a two-month injury layoff.
Despite Cornet’s inspired performance in the previous round – she had to battle through a tough three-set challenge from Bulgarian qualifier Isabella Shinikova – the Frenchwoman couldn’t make it past one of her toughest rivals. Schiavone’s mastery of the angles kept confounding and wrong-footing Cornet, the same way she has done to win nine of their previous 11 encounters.
The two played a tortuous and highly competitive first set, which saw Cornet break Schiavone while the Italian was serving for the set at 5-4 then go on to send it to a tiebreak. A couple of Cornet’s double faults gave Schiavone the edge, and she grabbed the first set after an hour and 10 minutes.
The second set was more one-way traffic for the Italian, despite Cornet throwing everything she had at her opponent. A line-to-line rally at 2-0, 40-30 left both players out of breath and laughing, even going up to shake hands at the net. Schiavone quickly closed out the set 7-5(6), 6-1.
“It was a really tough match, a close match, in the first set,” Schiavone said. “Then I managed to win the tie-break playing aggressive – I took my chances.
“The match was really in the balance until then, but in the second set I think [her level] went a little bit down and mine went up.”
Joining Schiavone in the Katowice quarterfinals are No.7 seed Timea Babos and Polish favorite Magda Linette – who both fought their way back to victory after dropping the first set 1-6 – as well as Pauline Parmentier.
Good, ladies? @alizecornet @Schiavone_Fra @KatowiceOpen_ pic.twitter.com/6XzbzPQwdf
— Team♡Alize Cornet (@teamalizecornet) April 7, 2016
Qualifier Elise Mertens pulls off the first big surprise of 2017, conquering No.3 seed Monica Niculescu to win her first WTA title at the Hobart International.
For Johanna Konta, the opening weeks of the new season could hardly have gone any better. Picking up from where she left off at the end of 2016, Konta has continued to rack up the wins and on Friday evening collected her second career title thanks to a dominant victory over World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska at the Apia International Sydney.
Success in Sydney will have tasted particularly sweet for Konta, who was born in Sydney and learnt the game in the nearby suburb of Collaroy before moving to Britain as a teenager.
Her return to Australia’s cultural capital has afforded plenty of time to catch up with old friends and family, including elder sister Eva, who is married to AFL player Shane Mumford.
“I’m just really happy I get to stay here a little bit longer,” Konta said after her quarterfinal win over Daria Kasatkina.
“I think it’s more just about prolonging my stay here, more than anything, because I get to spend a bit more time with my sister.”
#SAPStatOfTheDay: @JoKonta91 did not drop a set ALL week en-route to @SydneyTennis Title! pic.twitter.com/AFZXwPPLua
— WTA (@WTA) January 13, 2017
However, with one piece of silverware in the bag the 25-year-old’s focus is now firmly set on the Australian Open, where she reached the semifinals 12 months ago. Friday’s draw handed her a first-round date against Kirsten Flipkens, with Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova also lurking in her quarter.
The last British player to win the tournament was Virginia Wade in 1972, and on current form, the Briton will fancy her chances against all-comers. Ever the consummate professional, though, she is taking nothing for granted: “I’m really pleased with just the amount of matches I have been able to play. Obviously how I have done here, I take it as a really positive thing, as a nice reward along the way for the hard work that myself and my team have put in every day.
“But it’s not a reflection of how next week will go, how the rest of the year will go. It’s back to everyday hard work, because that’s what dictates how I do.”
Perfect backhand down the line from @JoKonta91! ?
Wins @SydneyTennis Final Shot of the Day! pic.twitter.com/G6k8xrlTwx
— WTA (@WTA) January 13, 2017
A meticulous approach to each and every aspect of her game has characterized Konta’s rapid ascent of the tennis ladder. As impressive as her shotmaking is at times, her mental fortitude is arguably the cornerstone of her game.
During the off-season Konta parted ways with Esteban Carril, the coach who helped chart her passage from the outer extremities of the Top 100 to the game’s elite. Impressively, the changes behind the scenes – which also included the death of sports psychologist Juan Coto – do not seem to have jolted Konta from her unerring path to the game’s summit.
She is now working with the much-respected Wim Fissette, who looks to have successfully harnessed the career momentum that has helped her win 22 of her past 27 matches.
Fissette, who has worked with Sabine Lisicki, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka and most famously Kim Clijsters, has a fine track record. In Konta he has another potential success story on his hands.
Very happy with winning the title @SydneyTennis pic.twitter.com/9RLwNPun4h
— Wim fissette (@wimfissette) January 13, 2017
The next step for his charge is Grand Slam glory. She has tasted it briefly, reaching the US Open fourth round twice, as well as last year’s run at Melbourne Park, and her consistency bodes well for another good showing over the coming fortnight.
“I do feel with myself that I am playing a good level. And the way it’s coming through, so far, is it’s been consistent over the last two weeks,” Konta said after beating Radwanska.
“But like I said, it’s no reflection of how the Australian Open will go… There are so many things that are a factor, and most importantly, I will continue to look at my health, happiness. And again, that will give me the best shot at trying to be consistent, like Aga. That’s pretty hard.”
She will begin her campaign on Tuesday, offering sufficient time to recover from her Sydney exploits. The conditions in Melbourne are likely to be every bit as brutal as they were in Sydney, where the WTA’s heat rule came into play on several occasions.
Konta began refueling for the battles ahead in the moments following the trophy ceremony, a British favorite getting her ready for the Antipodean press pack. “Because it’s quite late, I’m not too sure [what to eat]. I had a ham-and-cheese toasty, which was amazing!”
KATOWICE, Poland – No.5 seed Camila Giorgi and No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova overcame tough semifinal opponents to set up a clash for the Katowice Open title on Sunday.
Watch live action from Katowice this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!
Giorgi booked her spot into the final after a win over Qatar Open finalist and No.3 seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 6-3. The two had never played before, but their similar style of big-hitting tennis provided for many tense baseline rallies.
The 18-year-old Latvian kept pace with Giorgi as the two traded four consecutive breaks of serve in the first set.
“I just played my game today,” Giorgi said after the match. “I did not have any special tactics, but I played very well and I am happy to be back in the final.”
Though she’s into the Katowice final for a third straight year, the Italian has yet to win the title – finishing runner-up to Alizé Cornet in 2014 and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in 2015.
“I like the surface very much and the fans make playing in Poland very special for me,” Giorgi added.
“I hope tomorrow I can finally win the trophy.”
Standing across the net from Giorgi on her third attempt for the title will be Cibulkova, who made her way to her second final of the year after overpowering Pauline Parmentier 7-5, 6-0.
Initially up 5-2 in the first set, Cibulkova let her lead slip and allowed the Frenchwoman an edge back into the match. Although she pushed her way back, Cibulkova – a 2014 Australian Open finalist – was able to seal the set after almost an hour. The next set came much quicker for the Slovak, shutting out Parmentier after an hour and twenty five minutes.
“I was mentally strong, even in those tough moments in the first set,” Cibulkova said. “In the second set I was even more aggressive, I was dominating on the court and I didn’t give her any chance.
“That second set was probably one of the best sets ever, for me.”
Cibulkova will need to come up with that same level in the final against Giorgi, an opponent who’s defeated her in their previous two encounters.
“It’s gonna be a tough match. She’s an aggressive player trying to go for, really, everything,” Cibulkova said. “I just hope my coach and I find a good tactic, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
MOSCOW, Russia – As the last Premier-level event of the year and the last tournament before the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the Kremlin Cup has been witness to many last-minute qualification campaigns from hopefuls looking to claim the final spots into the WTA’s season-ending event.
This year is no different, with a three-way battle royale set to play out over the eighth spot.
“We all know that VTB Kremlin Cup is the last chance to get into WTA Finals in Singapore,” Carla Suárez Navarro admitted during her WTA All Access Hour.
Defending champion and top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and No.2 seed Suárez Navarro are on a collision course in Moscow, and the stage looks set for a finals day showdown with more than just the title at stake. If Kuznetsova or Suárez Navarro walk away with the Kremlin Cup crown, they’ll qualify for the WTA Finals.
However, Johanna Konta looms in background; if Kuznetsova and Suárez Navarro fail to claim the title then Konta – who is not competing this week – takes the eighth Singapore spot by default.
But if they’re feeling any pressure, both players are quick to shrug it off and focus on the task at hand.
“If I win the tournament, it would be amazing and that’s what I am expecting,” Kuznetsova said during her All Access Hour. “But I don’t want to go that far ahead. My goal is to concentrate for tomorrow. I know I will to my best and to fight in every match.”
“There are a lot of good players [here in the draw],” Suárez Navarro shrugged. “Every match will be tough for sure, I don’t think too much about Singapore.”
Kuznetsova took a last-minute wildcard in order to defend her title – and make a last-minute push for Singapore – though she explained that it was due to a scheduling error, and not a late change of heart.
“There’s a lot of talks around, but I am concentrated on my schedule and if I feel I can do it and want to play here. I really wanted to be here. I just didn’t choose the right time to sign in,” the Russian explained with a rueful smile.
“I am a tennis player and want to concentrate on every match and to show a good level of the game,” she added. “If I get in, it’s good. But I am more concentrated on my performance here.”
For Suárez Navarro, the situation is all too familiar. Last year, she made the trip from Beijing to Moscow and fell just short of qualifying for the Finals.
This time, the Spaniard is keen to change the outcome, especially since her fortunes rest completely on her racquet.
“Some players do follow the results of others, but it is not my case, it all depends on me,” she explained. “Probably because it is the end of the year, I don’t think about other tournaments. I should play match after match and it won’t be easy for me.”
“But I feel better this year, I have more experience.”