Raducanu’s Homecoming live on BBC and LTA social channels

Watch The Homecoming live on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport online and the Red Button today, Friday, at 12.30pm as the LTA celebrates the return of Emma Raducanu and the other British US Open champions, Joe Salisbury, Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett.

Ruud to lead Europe’s Laver Cup defence

The fourth Laver Cup, tennis’ version of golf’s Ryder Cup, the brainchild of Roger Federer and his management team, gets underway today, Friday, in Boston after being cancelled last year by the COVID pandemic.

Swiatek and Kvitova open Ostrava accounts

It took a while for top seed Iga Swiatek to find her way past Yulia Putintseva at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open on Wednesday, while Petra Kvitova needed 3 sets to reach the quarter-finals.

Murray advances into Metz last eight

Former world number one Andy Murray put together a solid performance to defeat Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and reach the last eight of the Moselle Open in Metz, France, his first appearance in a quarter-final since sweeping to his 46th title in Antwerp nearly two years...

Raducanu and Konta pull out of Chicago

British No 1 and 2, Emma Raducanu and Johanna Konta, have pulled out Chicago Fall Tennis Classic next week, joining a growing list of absentees that includes World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and two Americans, Sofia Kenin, ranked 7, and Coco Gauff, ranked No 19.

Teichmann fells Kerber in Ostrava

Angelique Kerber suffered a surprise first round defeat at the J & T Ostrava Open on Tuesday at the hands of Jil Teichmann, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Rybakina, Yulia Putintseva and Tereza Martincova all advanced to round two.

Murray ends run of defeats

Andy Murray just wants to get a good run of matches in order to get his body used to the physical on court pressures having lost in the opening round of the US Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas in what was an exciting five-set thriller.

Raducanu becomes a Tiffany ambassador

Newly-minted US Open champion Emma Raducanu is now an ambassador for Tiffany & Co, the luxury jeweller owned by LVMH.

Phlebotomus simonahalepae

Simona Halep has been in the news with her recent wedding but now, in one of the more bizarre stories of the week, the former World No 1 has given her name to a newly discovered species of insects in Romania.

Kontaveit, Badosa and Sorribes Tormo among early winners in Ostrava

The J & T Bank Ostrava Open, a WTA 500 event, kicked off on Monday in the Czech Republic when Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit  beat Sorana Cirstea from Romania, 6-4 6-4, to set up a second round meeting with Spain’s Paula Badosa, the 9th seed, who was a 6-2 6-2 winner...
Tennis News, Tennis Results, Live Tennis Scores & Interviews

Zhuhai | Sabalenka opens Elite Trophy with Sakkari win

The 5th Elite Trophy Zhuhai got under way in China on Tuesday, rewarding the players who narrowly missed out on qualifying via the Porsche Race to Shenzhen for the Shiseido WTA Finals next week with their own end-of-season championships.

I don't know that the courts are fast, but it feels really comfortable Aryna Sabalenka

A total of 12 singles players and 6 doubles teams are included in the Elite Trophy field, competing for a total prize purse of over $2.4 million.

The singles players are competing in 4 round robin groups of 3, with the winners of each group advancing to the knock-out semi-finals at the weekend; while the doubles teams are split into 2 round robin groups, with the winner of each advancing to the final.

First out of the blocks in the Rose Group was the No 4 seed Aryna Sabalenka, who proved a little too hot for Maria Sakkari and won in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.

The Greek won their only previous meeting in Cincinnati earlier this year and although the sets were tight on this occasion, it was the Belarusian’s superior fire-power that held the edge.

Afterwards, Sabalenka said that she had learned some valuable lessons from that earlier defeat.

“I was crazy on the court, I was getting mad because of everything,” she recalled. “So this time I was trying to stay calm until the end and just fight for every point, because she’s a big fighter and she will go for it, it doesn’t matter what – and so I was trying to stay focused on each point.

“And of course I think my game was more consistent today.”

Also a factor was that Sakkari is just back from a two month break due to a wrist injury and playing only her second match.

Sabalenka lost her first 4 matches against Top 25 players in 2019, including a Fed Cup defeat to Ashleigh Barty, but has since gone 5-2 against the same category of rival, and took the titles in Wuhan and Shenzhen.

In short, she is on fire and struck 6 aces to open her campaign, breaking her opponent once in each set.

The serve-dominated affair featured few extended rallies as aces and service winners flowed.

During the first set, Sabalenka won 88% of her first serve points, with Sakkari only just behind on 79%, and the first 7 games passed by in a series of rapid-fire holds.

The Belarusian had to stave off 5 break points in the 3rd game, and survived 3 double faults in the 7th, while Sakkari was able to save 2 break points in the 6th, both serving their way out of trouble.

The 8th game saw Sabalenka step up to take advantage of the lesser Sakkari second serve, which garnered the 24-year-old only 27% of the points behind it across the match compared to Sabalenka’s 61%.

Racing to the net with alacrity, Sabalenka broke with a fine, deep forehand volley, and swiftly served out the set, finishing with a bold serve-and-volley that saw her final shot catch the net cord to bounce out of Sakkari’s reach.

The second set followed a similar pattern, opening with 8 consecutive holds.

Sabalenka missed chances as she squandered a break point in the 3rd and 5th games as Sakkari grew increasingly frustrated at her inability to impact her rival’s service games.

At 4-4, Sabalenka once again rose to the occasion with the 21-year-old’s forays to the forecourt proving key as she rushed the net off deep returns and forcing Sakkari into error to concede the sole break of the set.

Despite 2 more double faults as she attempted to serve out the win, taking her tally to 8 for the match, Sabalenka, the World No 14, successfully sealed victory.

Her court speed, it turned out, had even surprised Sabalenka

“I just know in the practice I didn’t feel that the courts are really fast,” she explained. “But today, especially on the baseline, it was really, really fast… I think it’s helped my game a lot.

“I don’t know that the courts are fast, but it feels really comfortable.”

Sabalenka is up and flying in the Rose Group.

Earlier in the day the Chinese wild-card pairing of Xinyu Wang & Qianthui Tang went the distance against the No 4 seeds, Oksana Kalashnikova from Georgia and America’s Sofia Kenin, winning through 6-2 4-6 [10-7] to give the home crowd plenty to cheer about.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.