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Mladenovic Moves Past Lisicki

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

No.4 seed Kristina Mladenovic reached her fourth quarterfinal of the season with a solid straight sets win over rival Sabine Lisicki at the Citi Open.

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Insider Draw Analysis: Can Konta Overcome Kvitova To Win In Zhuhai?

Insider Draw Analysis: Can Konta Overcome Kvitova To Win In Zhuhai?

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

The Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai is the final event of the season, and the completed draw revealed four exciting groups, with the winner of each advancing into the semifinals. World No.10 Johanna Konta leading a stacked field of 12 that includes two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and Australian Open quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai, the latter two presiding over Monday’s draw ceremony.

WTA Insider broke down the four round robin groups; click here to check out the full singles draw.

Azalea Group: (1) Johanna Konta, Samantha Stosur, Caroline Garcia
Both Konta and Garcia head to Zhuhai direct from the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Konta served a first alternate while Garcia, top seed in alongside Kristina Mladenovic, earned a semifinal finish in doubles.

Konta enjoyed a strong finish to her breakout season with a run to the China Open final, and is playing her second tournament since becoming the first British woman to crack the Top 10 since Jo Durie in 1984.

Stosur had her best Grand Slam finish in four years when she upset 2015 finalist Lucie Safarova and 2014 runner-up Simona Halep en route to the French Open semifinals, falling to eventual champion Garbiñe Muguruza.

Garcia not only came within one match of finishing Co-No.1 in doubles, but the youngster also continued to build on her burgeoning singles career, winning two titles on two different surfaces in Strasbourg and Mallorca.

Camellia Group: (2) Carla Suárez Navarro, Timea Bacsinszky, Zhang Shuai
Second alternate in Singapore, Suárez Navarro came perilously close to the WTA Finals for a second straight season, and will look to make her first semifinal in Zhuhai after falling in the round robin stage in 2015.

A knee injury kept Bacsinszky out of Zhuhai last year, but the Swiss star put on a stunning performance to start 2016, winning another title in Rabat and winning back-to-back matches against Agnieszka Radwanska and Halep to roar into the semifinals at the Miami Open.

Rounding out the Camellia Group is one of the most compelling stories of the season in Chinese wildcard Zhang Shuai. Close to retirement, the veteran won her first-ever Grand Slam main draw match in emphatic style, knocking out then-World No.2 Halep as a qualifier before her run ended in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. Zhang continued to play high-level tennis throughout the year, beating Halep again to roll into the last eight in Beijing.

Petra Kvitova

Peony Group: (3) Petra Kvitova, Roberta Vinci, Barbora Strycova
One of the game’s biggest hitters goes head-to-head with a pair who rely on guile and cunning in the Peony Group as Petra Kvitova takes on Roberta Vinci and Barbora Strycova in her Zhuhai debut.

Kvitova began showing signs of her best tennis at the height of the Asian Swing. The Olympic Bonze medalist decimated an impressive field to win the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. In Beijing, she defeated Muguruza in straight sets before taking a narrow loss in the last eight.

Her countrywoman, Barbora Strycova, had a breakthrough season of her own, moving up to a career-high ranking of No.19 and a pair of Premier finals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and Aegon Classic. Kvitova and Strycova will meet again in a few weeks for the upcoming Fed Cup final against France.

Vinci became the oldest woman to make her Top 10 debut four days after her 33rd birthday, and bookended her season with solid results, winning the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy and returned to the second week of the US Open a year after stunning then-World No.1 Serena Williams to reach the final.

Rose Group: (4) Elina Svitolina, Elena Vesnina, Kiki Bertens
Svitolina headlines the final round robin group in Zhuhai alongside a pair of comeback kids in Elena Vesnina and Kiki Bertens.

The rising Ukrainian star qualified for the WTA Elite Trophy for the second year in a row; pairing up with 2016 International Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee and former No.1 Justine Henin, she kicked off her season with a title run in Kuala Lumper – surviving a thriller against Eugenie Bouchard. But her best results have come at the end of the season, making the semifinals or better at four of her last six tournaments, including the Toray Pan Pacific Open and China Open.

Vesnina was ranked outside the Top 100 a short nine months ago, but rebounded spectacularly from a low of No.122 to a career-high of No.19. Claiming wins over the likes of Halep, Venus Williams, and Caroline Wozniacki, she qualified into the final of the Volvo Car Open before taking her best major result by dismantling Dominika Cibulkova on her way to the Wimbledon semifinal.

A cancer scare nearly took Kiki Bertens out of the game, but the Dutch powerhouse showed off some of her obvious potential in Paris, upsetting Bacsinszky to find herself in her first Grand Slam semifinal. The run also helped her clinch a berth on the Olympic team.

Zhang Shuai

The doubles teams were split into two groups before the singles draw was made with help of Kvitova and Zhang:

All photos courtesy of Getty Images and WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

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WTA Establishes Official WTA Coach Program

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ST PETERSBURG, FL, USA – The WTA has announced a newly established WTA Coach Program which will launch January 2017 as the new season begins.

WTA coaches will be recognized as a WTA Registered Coach under a formalized WTA Coach Program. The WTA Coach Program is designed to professionalize, standardize, and recognize the important role of coaching on the WTA, signifying that coaches are a key element of the WTA business.

This newly formed program will allow world class coaches, whether working with top players or emerging talent, access to benefits at WTA tournaments, professional development programs, and will provide more opportunities to broaden the product and the WTA audience, becoming a marketable asset for women’s professional tennis. It will also allow fans the ability to get closer to the game and the on court action through coaches.

Steve Simon, WTA CEO, stated, “I am pleased to introduce this new program which will professionalize and raise the standards associated with being a coach on the WTA. Coaches are an integral part of the players’ achievements and performance on the court. We recognize the value of coaches and their overall contribution to the game and to the WTA.”

Coaches who wish to participate in the program must be currently working with a WTA Tour level player and meet defined criteria (including professional certification or licensure from a coaching governing body), uphold professional obligations and be recommended by a WTA player.

A Coach Program Advisory Committee has been formed of six coaches representing each global region and this group will advise WTA staff on the administration and governance of the program, acceptance of applicants, and will provide continual feedback from the coaching body.

Former WTA player and current coach of Australia’s Daria Gavrilova, Nicole Pratt, is one such member of the Coach Program Advisory Committee. Pratt commented, “The establishment of the WTA Coaches Program is a leap forward for validating the expertise of many of the coaches on the WTA. We are looking forward to working together and feel confident there will be tremendous benefits for all stakeholders.”

Additionally, Craig Kardon, a member of the Coach Program Advisory Committee who is a longtime WTA coach and current coach of CoCo Vandeweghe stated, “I am very excited about the new WTA Coach Program. This program will give professional tennis coaches a platform for promotion and professionalism while coaching on the pro tour.”

As part of their registration, coaches will participate in weekly activities to help promote WTA tournaments, the WTA and women’s tennis, including media opportunities, clinics, and coach symposiums. Additionally, coaches will be made available immediately following matches for international media opportunities, allowing coach insight and perspective on the match.

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Stephens Makes Winning Start In Auckland

Stephens Makes Winning Start In Auckland

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Sloane Stephens made a confident start to both the season and her latest coaching partnership with a straight set victory over Polona Hercog.

Watch live action from Brisbane & Auckland this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

It was not all plain sailing for Stephens, who frittered away early leads in both sets before eventually prevailing, 6-3, 6-3.

“I think I was just trying to make it harder in myself! But it was good practice, so that’s good,” she said in her on-court interview.

However, the No.5 seed admits she and new coach Kamau Murray still have plenty to work on ahead of the upcoming Australian Open.

“I think the main thing we should focus on is that I won today and anything else will just wait for another day,” she added.

Stephens’ next outing will come on Wednesday when she takes on Carina Witthoeft, a 6-2, 7-6(3) winner in her all-German clash with Tatjana Maria.

Also advancing at the ASB Tennis Centre was Svetlana Kuznetsova, whose opening outing of the new season was cut short after just 49 minutes when her opponent, Mona Barthel, retired through injury. No.4 seed Kuznetsova, who was leading 6-2, 1-1 at the time, will face either Francesca Schiavone or qualifier Tamira Paszek in the second round.

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