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Kerber Edges Pliskova For US Open Crown

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

NEW YORK, NY, USA – Angelique Kerber capped off her rise to WTA World No.1 by winning her first US Open title, edging past No.10 seed Karolina Pliskova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

“It’s just amazing. I won my second Grand Slam of the year and it’s the best year of my career,” Kerber said after the match.

“For me everything started here in 2011,” she added, referring to when she made the semifinals ranked No.92. “And now here, five years later I’m standing here with the trophy. All the dreams came true this year.”

Pliskova, who was contesting the first Grand Slam final of her career, opened the match looking a bit nervy, hitting four unforced errors in her first service game – including a wild forehand volley at the net. She broke a string just as Kerber broke her serve, and the German consolidated to build up a 2-0 lead.

But now with a couple of games in the bag, both players began to settle into the match and bring out the sparring tennis they’ve produced in their past seven encounters. Kerber defending the ball well then found open court with her famously consistent ground strokes, keeping Pliskova on the run. For her part, the Czech took advantage of Kerber’s short balls and pounced on her second serve, but the loose errors proved to be her undoing as Kerber broke again to take the first set.

More to come…

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WTA Breakthrough Of The Month: Ostapenko

WTA Breakthrough Of The Month: Ostapenko

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Jelena Ostapenko didn’t enter the Qatar Total Open with high aspirations; two out of the main draw, the 18-year-old Latvian just wanted to win a match in qualifying before finding herself in the main draw.

“I was trying to improve,” she said. “First, it was like second round of quallies, and I was just really happy that I got main draw.

“On the first match, I was just trying to play my best tennis. Match by match, I played better and better.”

An understatement from the typically understated Ostapenko, who earned back-to-back wins over a pair of former World No.2s Svetlana Kuznetsova and Petra Kvitova en route to the second and biggest final of her career. Up a set against Carla Suárez Navarro, she showed off effortless power and gritty resilience through three sets, but ultimately fell to the experienced Spaniard.

Still, it was an impressive week for the Latvian, who jumps up to a career-high ranking of No.41 and joins fellow 18-year-olds Belinda Bencic (No.8) and Daria Kasatkina (No.46) to become the largest cohort of youngsters since April of 2009 (Caroline Wozniacki, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sorana Cirstea).

“It’s great but it’s just the first step,” she said during the trophy ceremony. “But my goal is to be even higher, so I hope I can make it.”

Final Results for January’s WTA Breakthrough Performance Of The Month

1. Jelena Ostapenko (50%)
2. Daria Kasatkina (23%)
3. Caroline Garcia (15%)
4. Zheng Saisai (12%)

Jelena Ostapenko

2016 Breakthrough Player Of The Month

January: Zhang Shuai


How it works:

Finalists are selected by wtatennis.com
Winner is then determined by a fan vote on wtatennis.com

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Williams Sisters Return To Compton, Renewing Ties To Childhood Community

Williams Sisters Return To Compton, Renewing Ties To Childhood Community

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

COMPTON, CA, USA – Former World No.1s Venus Williams and Serena Williams returned to their hometown of Compton, California last weekend to strengthen childhood ties to the city where they first played tennis.

“You always remember those places, like where we went to elementary school, the courts we practiced at, even our old home,” Venus told the LA Times. “And just places you used to go. And of course things change over time. Places move. Shops close. Streets change. But it’s still the same place.”

The Williams sisters made use of their eponymous charity fund to bestow a five-year endowment on what will be the Yetunde Price Resource Center, which will help those affected by violence and trauma. The center was named for their eldest sister, who was killed in 2003.

“We definitely wanted to honor our sister’s memory because she was a great sister, she was our oldest sister and obviously she meant a lot to us,” Serena said. “And it meant a lot to us, to myself and to Venus and my other sisters as well, Isha and Lyndrea, that we’ve been wanting to do something for years in memory of her, especially the way it happened, a violent crime.”

Saturday was dedicated to the refurbishing of Lueders Park tennis courts henceforth known as the Venus & Serena Williams Court of Champions.

Check out a full interview with the Williams sisters here, along with some of the best photos from the weekend below:

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

Venus Williams, Serena Williams

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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WTA Finals: 40 Days Out

WTA Finals: 40 Days Out

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

The 2016 Grand Slam season is in the books, but there is still plenty of tennis before the WTA’s grand finale at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Top tier tournaments in Tokyo, Wuhan, and Beijing will help determine the remaining spots for Singapore. Who has already qualified and who has the edge heading into the Asian Swing? 

“With only 40 days to go until the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the Road to Singapore is really heating up now with the best players putting in all their final efforts to secure a prized spot among the greatest eight,” said Melissa Pine, Vice-President of WTA Asia-Pacific and Tournament Director of the WTA Finals. “Women’s tennis is truly exciting at the moment and I am sure that this year’s WTA Finals will feature some of the most thrilling action on court. It is definitely going to be a great time for all the fans!”

KEY INFORMATION:
Tournament Level: Tour Championships
Prize Money: $7,000,000
Draw Size: 8 main draw singles (round robin)/8 main draw doubles (knockout)
Main Draw Ceremony: Friday, October 21
First Day of Main Draw: Sunday, October 23, 5pm
Singles Final: Sunday, October 30, NB 7.30pm
Doubles Final: Sunday, October 30, 4pm

MUST FOLLOW SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS:
@WTA
@WTA_Insider – WTA Insider, Senior Writer Courtney Nguyen
@WTAFinalsSG – The official tournament Twitter for the WTA Finals
Get involved in conversations with the official hashtags, #WTAFinals and #WTA.

OPENING DAY ACTION:
This year, fans can look forward to the new Family Day At The Tennis festivities which will complement the scintillating action on Center Court on opening day. Session 1 ticket-holders will be given a Family Day At The Tennis Passport which they can use to earn themselves incentives and prizes such as front-row tickets, fast-track access to special activities, and a meet and greet with WTA legends, while attempting various activities and challenges at the all-new Fan Village.

QUALIFICATION UPDATE:
– Top 2 on the WTA rankings, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber became the first two women to qualify for Singapore; leading the Road to Singapore leaderboard for most of 2016, Serena and Kerber contested two of the three Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon championships. The two will be making their 13th and fourth WTA Finals appearances respectively; Serena has won the title five times.
– By winning her second Grand Slam title at the US Open, Kerber moves up to No.1 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard.
– Three doubles teams have already qualified. Australian Open champions Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza were the first women to qualify for Singapore, followed by French Open champions Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. Olympic Gold medalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina became the third team to qualify after reaching the semifinals of the US Open.
– Hingis and Mirza are defending champions and plan to play Singapore despite splitting after the Rogers Cup, while Garcia and Mladenovic will be making their first apperance as a team after debuting in 2015 with different partners. By reaching the US Open final, the French will take over the No.1 ranking on the Road to Singapore leaderboard. 

Elena Vesnina, Ekaterina Makarova

MAKAROVA AND VESNINA QUALIFY FOR SINGAPORE:
– Makarova and Vesnina were forced to withdraw from the WTA Finals last year, but have qualified twice before, reaching the finals in 2013. The Russians rode a 13-match winning streak into the US Open semifinals with a title at the Rogers Cup before Rio. Learn more about Makarova and Vesnina’s qualification story here.

SINGAPORE IN SIGHT FOR BUCIE?
– Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova were the second team to qualify for Singapore last year, but have played just six events in 2016 due to Safarova’s struggles with illness and injury. Still, the captured their their major title as a pair at the US Open, moving up to No.7 on the RTS leaderboard.

LOOKING AHEAD: THE ASIAN SWING
Six spots in singles and five spots in doubles will be decided during the WTA tour’s final stretch of the 2016 season. The first major tournament of the Asian Swing is the Premier-level Toray Pan Pacific Open, won by defending WTA Finals champion Agnieszka Radwanska last year. From there, the tour heads to China for back-to-back weeks at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open (won by Venus Williams) and the Premier Mandatory China Open (won by French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza).

Here is the current RTS leaderboard in singles and doubles; who will qualify next?

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Barty Resurgence Continues In Taipei

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Ashleigh Barty continued her impressive progress through the draw at the OEC Taipei WTA Challenger with a straight-set win over fellow qualifier Junri Namigata on Wednesday.

Fifty-four minutes was all it took for Barty to wrap up a 6-2, 6-3 victory and set up a quarterfinal against No.6 seed Evgeniya Rodina.

Despite only turning 20 earlier this year, Barty is embarking on her second ascent of the tennis ladder. After a glittering junior career, she enjoyed instant success in the senior ranks, reaching three major doubles finals alongside fellow Australian Casey Dellacqua.

However, the stresses of life on tour soon took its toll on her teenage mind and body, prompting a 17-month hiatus. She has played sparingly since returning – a bone stress injury disrupted the momentum from an encouraging grass court campaign – but looked in fine form against Namigata, two breaks in the opening three games setting her on course for a comfortable victory.

Rodina overcame a slow start against Dalila Jakupovic, eventually triumphing, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. Also advancing to the last eight in Taiwan were Olga Govortsova and Vitalia Diatchenko. Govortsova saved two match points to defeat Julia Boserup, 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-5, while 2014 champion Diatchenko saw off Miyu Kato, 7-5, 6-4.

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Svitolina Splits With Coach Iain Hughes

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Elina Svitolina has announced a coaching shake-up, parting ways with coach Iain Hughes:

The 22-year-old Ukrainian has also been working with former No.1 Justine Henin since February, bringing the Hall of Famer on as a coaching consultant. Neither have confirmed whether that relationship will continue in 2017.

Svitolina’s announcement comes on the heels of her career-best season, after making the final of the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai to finish the season at her career-high ranking of No.14 and winning a fourth career title in Kuala Lumpur.

This season she became the only woman to beat both reigning No.1s this year, beating Serena Williams at the Olympics and Angelique Kerber at the China Open.

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Kudryavtseva Quells Bouchard In Québec

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

QUÉBEC CITY, Canada – Alla Kudryavtseva took out top seed and hometown favorite Eugenie Bouchard, 6-2, 6-3, to advance into her second WTA quarterfinal of 2016 at the Coupe Banque Nationale.

“The crowd was amazing; it was a sold out match today, and it was very nice to play singles in a full stadium,” she told WTA Insider after the match. “We started with some good points. I was in trouble in the second game, but I was able to come up with good shots on break points.

“From then on, I kind of rolled – talk about being in the zone! – I was hitting my shots very well, and it was just working. It was just electric and I love how engaged the crowd was – though sadly, they were engaged against me! But it was still nice to have the full house atmosphere, and by the end I really felt like they appreciated the level of tennis I was playing.”

Kudryavtseva has been ranked as high as No.56 in singles, and the doubles star has shown signs of possibly improving upon that career with a run to the quarterfinals at the Internationaux de Strasbourg and a quality week of wins at the Rogers Cup. But it all came together for the Russian as she headlined the night session in Québec City as she saved three early break points to roar out to a set and double break lead, clinching the match two games later – setting up match point with a screaming forehand winner – in just over an hour.

“I don’t get to play indoors as much anymore now that I don’t train as much in Russia. But I put some good hours in, playing two doubles matches, and I think that helped me get used to the surface, the Center Court, and being in the groove of the tournament – not having too much of a break between my first and second round singles matches.

“Things kind of worked, and isn’t it nice when things just work out?”

Up next for the Russian is American nemesis Lauren Davis, a qualifier who has won each of their previous three meetings – a stat about which Kudryavtseva is keenly aware.

“Horrible match-up for me! Horrible! She beats me every time! But every week is different, and every match is different, different surface – although, we have actually played indoors before.

“But I’m just enjoying my time on the singles court right now, coming off a big win. I just hope to bring a good level tomorrow, and I’m sure things will work out if I do that.”

Earlier in the day, France’s Oceane Dodin reached her first WTA quarterfinal with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Sachia Vickery, while Alison Van Uytvanck ended lucky loser Barbora Stefkova’s run in the second round, 6-4, 6-3. Finally, Jessica Pegula completed the quarterfinal line-up by defeating young Canadian hope Francoise Abanda, 7-6(2), 7-5.

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