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Mladenovic Bests Bencic In Den Bosch

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands – It’s never easy to face a close friend on the tennis court, and it’s even harder to do so when a final is at stake. But that’s exactly what No.3 seed Kristina Mladenovic was asked to do and she delivered in emphatic fashion, coming back from a set down to defeat Belinda Bencic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 and reach her second career WTA final at the Ricoh Open.

Watch live action from ‘s-Hertogenbosch this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

“It feels actually quite nice to play against her,” Bencic said after the match. “Obviously we are best friends, and it’s nice because it’s quite rare that you can have your best friend on the tennis circuit.

“We obviously expected to play each other someday, but we were both prepared.”

It was a familiar situation for the pair of former Junior World No.1s: just last year in this very stage, Bencic was the one to best Mladenovic in the quarterfinals on her way to her ‘s-Hertogenbosch final appearance. This year the pair met again, with a spot in the final up for grabs.

But even that wasn’t enough to drive the best friends apart, and they indulged in the usual selfies and pre-match banter on Twitter:

As soon as they stepped onto the court at the Ricoh Open, they were all business. Bencic raced through the opening set, taking it 6-2 in just 33 minutes, but nonetheless a troubling pattern emerged early on: the Swiss brought up nine break point chances and only converted on two.

In the following set, Mladenovic relied on her serve to bail her out of trouble time and time again, and her court movement began to come together. The Frenchwoman stormed back to take the second set 6-3, then completed her comeback to reach her second career WTA final. Bencic will surely rue the missed opportunities: in the last two sets, she created eight break chances and didn’t convert once.

“It was definitely a very tough match, and a very tricky one,” Mladenovic said afterward. “As probably everybody knows, Belinda is my best friend on the tour and in real life. It’s a lifetime relationship. It’s not easy.”

But Mladenovic also acknowledged that despite having her best friend on the court against her, revenge was the one thing on her mind today.

“The funny part is that we have played each other just one time, exactly one year ago right here,” she said. “It was a close match, three sets like this, and she won it. I’m just glad to have taken my revenge.”

More to come…

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Vandeweghe Reclaims Den Bosch Crown

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands – CoCo Vandeweghe overcame Kristina Mladenovic and the worst of the Dutch weather to recapture the Ricoh Open on Sunday afternoon.

Watch live action from ‘s-Hertogenbosch this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

Despite contending with multiple rain delays, Vandeweghe maintained her composure to break in the penultimate game and wrap up a 7-5, 7-5 victory. Vandeweghe, who also won the title in 2014, follows in the footsteps of Justine Henin and Tamarine Tanasugarn as only the third player in the tournament’s 21-year history to win it on two occasions.

After serving herself out of trouble on more than one occasion, Vandeweghe produced a couple of smart backhand returns to manufacture the decisive break in the penultimate game of the second. A lengthy downpour stalled her momentum, and on the resumption she fell a break behind.

The American reached the final without dropping the set and maintained her flawless record by reeling off the final four games of the match.

“It was actually really difficult – we had three rain delay stops – so it was really difficult to get yourself back into the match and make sure you’re fresh and light and ready to go. Especially the last rain delay in he first set. I was really trying to get myself moving,” Vandeweghe said.

“I got myself in a bit of a pickle in the second set, but I battled my way out of it, and sometimes the name of the game is just battling through adversity and problems you cause for yourself.”

More to follow…

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Elina Svitolina has moved into the Top 10 of the WTA rankings on the back of her sensational victory last week at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The new WTA World No.10 moved up three places from No.13, overtaking Britain’s Johanna Konta and becoming the first Ukrainian ever to break into the Top 10.

Speaking after her straight-sets win over Caroline Wozniacki, the 22-year-old said: “It’s big relief, because I knew that if I was going to win this match, I would be in the Top 10. There was extra pressure.”

Svitolina’s rise – the only movement in the Top 10 – is reward for a run of 12 straight victories, which have seen her lift two titles already this year. Her win in Dubai follows success at the Taiwan Open in Taipei and she is now looking to defend her title at the Alya WTA Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur, where she is the No.1 seed. Her streak also includes successive Fed Cup wins.

Here are more of the biggest ranking moves this week after Dubai and Budapest:

Timea Babos +6 (No.33 to 27): Hungary’s Timea Babos climbed to No.27 thanks to her success at the Hungarian Ladies Open on Sunday. The 23-year-old entered the tournament with an 0-5 win-loss record in 2017, and rediscovered her best tennis to beat Lucie Safarova in a three-set thriller in Budapest and claim her second WTA title.

Wang Qiang +16 (No.76 to 60): China’s Wang Qiang continues her steady rise up the rankings, backing up her appearance in the Shenzhen quarterfinals in January with a stunning run to the quarterfinals in Dubai. She posted wins over Jelena Ostapenko and Kristina Mladenovic, two Top 50 players, along the way.

CiCi Bellis +14 (No.70 to 56): 17-year-old Cici Bellis’ dream run to the Dubai quarterfinals – her first ever Premier 5 quarterfinals – have rocketed the American to No.56, her career-highest ranking. Bellis backed up her first round upset of No.17 seed Yulia Putintseva by completing the shock of the tournament over World No.6 Agnieszka Radwanska in the round of 16.

Click here to see the full updated WTA rankings, as of February 27.

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RTS Update: Cibulkova Climbs Up

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

EASTBOURNE, Great Britain – Aegon International winner Dominika Cibulkova not only returned to the Top 20 with her second title of 2016, but the former Australian Open runner-up also cracked the Top 8 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard, leapfrogging Mutua Madrid Open conqueror Simona Halep and Aegon Classic champion Madison Keys to begin the Wimbledon fortnight ranked No.7.

“Right now I’m not thinking about it,” the Slovak told WTA Insider in the latest edition of Champions Corner. “In 2014 I was very close, and that’s what made me very intense and want it too much. I was over-motivated and it didn’t happen. So, I’m not thinking about it.

“It’s really far and I want to learn from my mistakes and really enjoy what I’m doing on the court. I’m really happy right now on the court, and when I’m playing free is when I’m at my best.”

Finishing second to Cibulkova on Saturday, Pliskova reached her second final of the grass court season – having already won the Aegon Open in Nottingham – and moved up four spots to No.15 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard.

Veteran Elena Vesnina and young gun Jelena Ostapenko each moved within spitting distance of the RTS Top 20; the 2013 champion lost to Pliskova in a rain-affected quarterfinal and moved up four spots to No.23, while the former Wimbledon junior champion moved up two spots to No.24 after losing to the eventual champion in the second round

RTS Ranking Movers

Dominika Cibulkova: No.12 to No.7 (+5)
Karolina Pliskova: No.19 to No.15 (+4)
Elena Vesnina: No.27 to No.23 (+4)
Jelena Ostapenko: No.26 to No.24 (+2)

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Sadikovic Steadies For Serena Challenge

Sadikovic Steadies For Serena Challenge

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

WIMBLEDON, Great Britain – At 27 years old, Amra Sadikovic is finally on the main stage. Currently ranked No.148, the Macedonian-born Swiss qualified for her first main draw at a Slam at Wimbledon, and on Tuesday she’ll get a chance to walk on Centre Court against an all-time legend in Serena Williams.

So how did Sadikovic react to seeing her name next to Serena’s in the draw?

“I was happy because to me it’s a dream coming true,” Sadikovic told WTA Insider. “You don’t get these chances every year to play one of the best players ever, and then on Centre Court, and in Wimbledon. What else? To me I’m going to go out there and fight and enjoy every single moment.

“There were a lot of players that told me, bad luck, tough draw. It is a tough draw, definitely. But I don’t look at this negative at all. It’s only positive. I can only win. I don’t feel pressure.”

Sadikovic was nowhere near the All England Club in 2014. In fact, she was nowhere near her professional tennis career. The 27-year-old walked away from her pro career at 25 and was coaching at a tennis club in Basel, Switzerland, when she happened to catch a bit of Wimbledon on the TV during a break between lessons.

Amra Sadikovic

On the screen was Eugenie Bouchard, a player Sadikovic had played and beaten before. Bouchard had played her way into the semifinals and eventually the final. It was a wake-up call for Sadikovic.

“I had lessons and I had a break. I saw she was on TV and I was like, ‘What? Really? I remember beating her.’

“I worked with kids, adults, good juniors [at the club]. It was so much fun. It’s something that I really want to do later on again again. But after a while I started missing competition. When you turn on the TV and you see the players playing the Grand Slams and you’ve beaten them, that hurts.”

Seeing women she competed against gain success on tour, Sadikovic began to consider a comeback. She missed the competition and her normal, daily routine began to grow tiresome.

“After 14 months, the last question I asked myself was are you able to get back – because I didn’t practice – body-wise, physical-wise. Then it was Timi (Timea Bacsinszky). She gave me the last kick. She’s done unbelievable. Respect for that.”

Sadikovic made her return at an ITF 20K in Essen, Germany last year in June. She qualified and made the quarterfinals, losing to compatriot Viktorija Golubic. Flash forward a year and she defeated Golubic in straight sets last week en route to qualifying for Wimbledon.

“I really gave up on pro tennis when I was 25,” Sadikovic said. Prior to retiring she reached a career-high ranking of No. 179 in 2012, winning eight ITF titles. “In the end it was because I was on court and I didn’t enjoy it anymore. I really asked myself what am I doing here? I don’t want to be here.

“It was also connected with money. It was not easy to afford all these things. I had the Swiss Federation supporting me but in the end it was not enough. My parents could not afford all this. The last 3-4 months I didn’t enjoy it on court anymore. Once I made the decision I felt relief. I don’t regret it. Thank god it was the best decision I ever made.”

Amra Sadikovic

Sadikovic says she’s returned to her “second career” with an entirely new mindset, one that is informed with the perspective she gained after walking away. She suffered from a crisis of confidence in her first career, never fully convinced she was good enough be a Top 100 player. But with the support of her family, that’s all changed.

“I have really the best family that I can have. They supported me at every step. Even my sister and her husband they said if you need money we help you out, just go and do your thing. Because I didn’t reach my potential. And I knew that.

“People told me you have the game, you can be Top 100 easily, but it was me. I didn’t believe. I was not 100% convinced I could make it. Now it’s a completely different story.”

Reflecting on her journey sees Tuesday’s match against Serena as a reward for her faith in herself and brave decision to return to the tour.

“I had problems handling pressure,” Sadikovic said, referring to her younger self. “I was afraid, scared — what happens if I lose? — instead of just enjoying playing because it’s such a privilege.

“Now I’m relaxed really because I know how it is when I worked at a coach. It’s a normal life and you have daily routines. But you get tired of it. It made me realize how nice the life of a tennis player really is. Before it was like I had to play. Now I have to be thankful that I can play against Serena, on Centre Court. So I don’t feel much pressure anymore.”

Amra Sadikovic

Quick hits with Amra Sadikovic:

WTA Insider: How do you feel about playing on grass?
Sadikovic: “For me it’s special playing on grass courts. Maybe the surface fits my game because I’m playing a man’s style game. I like to play slice. To me it’s elegant playing on grass. Everything is clean and just nice. It’s hard to explain.”

WTA Insider: For people who have never seen you play before, what should they expect from you on Tuesday against Serena?
Sadikovic: “Definitely say they are going to see variety. I hope my serve is going to work because that is also a weapon. I’m going to go out there and try to play my game and not focus on who is over there. That’s going to be the most important thing to me and then I’ll try to make her work as hard as I can.”

WTA Insider: You were born in Macedonia. How did your family come to live in Switzerland?
Sadikovic: “I was born in Macedonia but I’m not connected to this country. My parents moved during the war to Switzerland but my relatives are in Bosnia. So I’m more connected to Bosnia than Macedonia.”

WTA Insider: How did you pick up tennis?
Sadikovic: “My dad, he used to play basketball. Nobody in my family played tennis. I was watching TV all the time and I just wanted to try it. There was a match between Sampras and Agassi at the US Open and I just wanted to try that. This is how it started, when I was 9.

There was a club close to our house. When I came up with this idea that I wanted to play tennis my parents were happy because they were working a lot. We went to the club, we asked for a practice. I started right away three times a week. A week later I was playing club matches and I won the tournament. It was so cool.

WTA Insider: Did you play any other sports as a kid?
Sadikovic: “I played a lot of soccer with my cousins and basketball with my dad. It was nice but I didn’t want to depend on anyone. If I win, I did this. Nobody else. That’s why I decided to play tennis.”

WTA Insider: You’ve qualified for your first main draw at a Slam. What’s your next goal?
Sadikovic: To crack Top 100 by the end of the year.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – Players are making themselves at home in the desert as they prepare for the BNP Paribas Open which gets underway at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Wednesday. Famous for the surrounding mountain ranges and its hot climate, the BNP Paribas Open is the first WTA Premier Mandatory tournament of the year.

While some players have been enjoying the practice courts under the palm trees and Californian sun, others have been taking in views of a different kind as they soak up the sights of the Golden State.

Chan Yung-Jan admired the view over downtown Los Angeles while exploring the Griffith Observatory.

Daria Kasatkina experienced colder climes at the top of this mountain.

With a stunning mountain range in the background, Belinda Bencic enjoyed her practice.

Alison Riske was up early to hit the courts.

)>Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is excited to be back at the BNP Paribas Open.

Julia Goerges and Elena Vesnina were all smiles after their practice.

Roberta Vinci basked in the early morning sun on Monday.

Tsvetana Pironkova is also happy to be back at the BNP Paribas Open.

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – CiCi Bellis will be looking to continue her meteoric rise to tennis superstardom as the American teenager enters a star-studded field at this week’s BNP Paribas Open.

Following on from some impressive victories of late, including a win over Agnieszka Radwanska to become the youngest quarterfinalist at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships since 2001, Bellis has climbed to No.55 in the WTA rankings and a certain Chris Evert thinks it won’t be long before the precocious talent rises even higher.

“There are a handful of players who are going to overpower her right now, but by the end of the year I wouldn’t be surprised if she was Top 20,” Evert said in a recent interview with the NY Times.

“Her legs are rock hard. I think the off-court training has helped her a lot. Two years ago, she would counterpunch and would sort of absorb power from her opponent, and now she’s giving it.”

It’s hard to believe that Bellis will only turn 18 on April 8. But Evert, who has been mentoring Bellis through a USTA program, has been impressed with a maturity and willingness to learn that could take her to the very top of the game.

“I’ve been so impressed by her maturity and self-reliance and just the hunger she has to learn. Her eyes are wide open to any information that you can give her. Bottom line is no drama. Some of these other girls, when they are practicing, it’s yelling and up and down and emotions and body language, and with her, it’s steadfast.”

Bellis is set to play Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens in the opening round of her first Indian Wells and, if successful, will face French Open Champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round.

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