Roger Federer Drops Out of Top 5; Azarenka and Nadal Rule Cincinnati

Azarenka's first trophy since 2013

Starting epidemic of injuries

A new tennis season kicked off this week. The beginning of the year is always a pleasant time for both fans and tennis players. There is a feeling that everything starts with a clean slate, novelty and that everything is possible in the new year.
At the start of the year for the girls, almost the entire top ten went into battle. Not

played only Lucy Shafarzhova , who is still recovering from the effects of a bacterial infection and has even withdrawn from the Australian Open, as well as Flavia Pennetta , but here in general, everything is simple - the Italian has finished her career.

Only two representatives of the top 10 had a good week. But we will talk about Angelica Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska , but for now, a few words about those for whom the week has not been good. The Brisbane Premiere line-up has been strong this year. But literally within an hour, the competition lost two stars. Maria Sharapova failed to play in the first round with Ekaterina Makarova due to an injury to her left forearm. Simona Halep was supposed to open the season with a game with Victoria Azarenka , but the blockbuster in the second round did not take place, as Simona withdrew due to an Achilles injury. In both cases, these are the injuries that worried tennis players last year, which is somewhat alarming. However, both girls are positive about their participation in the Helmet and are already training. And Simona should play in Sydney at all.

Second seed Garbinier Mugurus also did not stay in Brisbane for a long time. In her first match in the tournament, she played with Varvara Lepchenko . The American dragged out the starting game and even managed to win it in a tie-break. In the second set, the Spanish woman began to pay attention to her leg, as she was bothered by calluses. And in this case, the same happened to her before. Garbinier herself admitted that she expected to finish the match, but then realized that it was better to take care of herself, and refused.

Serena Williams performed at the Hopman Cup. We will tell you about this tournament in all details in another article. Serena did not make it to the first leg and withdrew in the middle of the second due to knee problems. And again the trauma, which already happened, but the American herself said that these are all trifles, by Melbourne she will be in perfect order. And only in the case of Petra Kvitova , the refusal was not associated with something chronic. In Shenzhen, she was badly poisoned, could not even train for several days, and as a result, in the first match she did not have enough strength to finish the game with Zheng Sisai .

The trend is alarming, given that everything the top 6 players, except for Agnieszka Radwanska, experienced some kind of ailments. But preliminaries can always be sacrificed for the ultimate goal, which in this case is the Australian Open, so it's too early to panic about the health of the women's tennis elite. In Asia last year there were also general refusals, but in the end, everyone played in Singapore, except for Serena, who then rather had a staff.good reasons for ending the season early.

Azarenka remembered the taste of victory

Despite the rejections, the tournament in Brisbane turned out to be interesting. Instead of one Russian derby (Sharapova - Makarova), we got another (Gasparyan - Makarova). Margarita, who lost in the last round of qualification, looked decent, but lost in three sets. Makarova ranked second

Brisbane International. Brisbane, Australia. Hard. Women.

Singles. Final.
Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) - Angelica Kerber (Germany, 4) - 6: 3, 6: 1.

ASB Classic. Auckland, New Zealand. Hard. Women.

Singles. Final.
Sloane Stevens (USA, 5) - Julia Görges (Germany) - 7: 5, 6: 2.

Doubles. Final.
Elise Mertens / An-Sophie Mestach (Belgium) - Danka Kovinich / Barbora Strycova (Montenegro / Czech Republic) - 2: 6, 6: 3, [10-5].

Shenzhen Open. Shenzhen, China. Hard. Women.

Singles. Final.
Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland, 1) - Alison Riske (USA) - 6: 3, 6: 2.

Doubles. Final.
Vanya King / Monica Niculescu (USA / Romania) - Yifan Xu / Saisai Zheng (China, 1) - 6: 1, 6: 4.

round, where coped with Andrea Petkovich .

Nice start to the season Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova . In the starting game, she defeated the 12th racket of the world Tim Baczynski . Then, in a tense match, she stopped Alize Korne. Officially, the tournament in Brisbane is held on open courts, but since during the week the tennis players were bothered by both heat and rain, many matches were held under a canopy. And on indoor courts in the last couple of seasons, Anastasia performed very well. However, in the quarterfinals, she still lost to Angelica Kerber . The German woman looked great during the first week. In the semi-finals, she very confidently dealt with Carla Suarez-Navarro .

In the offseason, the German woman mainly worked on serving, as well as on the transition from defense to attack. In addition, Angelica added in terms of physical training. In the new season, Kerber will try to perform better in big tournaments. Last year, she never went through the second week on Helmets, so here she needs to add.

Victoria Azarenko also worked a lot on physical fitness. The Belarusian herself admitted that she lacked this in the previous season. At the beginning of the year, she noted that she had not felt so healthy for a long time. And the Belarusian looked completely different on the court. It was noticeable that she was determined and very motivated. True, her grid turned out to be not as difficult as it might have seemed after the draw.

In the first round, she defeated Elena Vesnina , who was out of qualification. Then, instead of Simone, Halep played with Yvonne Bonaventure. In the quarterfinals, there was the first rival in the rankings - Robert Vinci . But even there, Victoria did not have any problems. In the semi-finals, quite unexpectedly, she played with Samantha Crawford . American held the best Kar tournamentere. In the quarterfinals, she played with inspiration against Petkovic, winning the second set by zero against the German. However, she did not show her best game with Azarenka. Of course I was nervous. You don't go out on court every day after Federer, ”Crawford admitted. It was only in the second set that she produced some excellent backhand, but did not change the overall picture. Thus, Azarenka reached the final, losing only 13 games!

In the decisive match, Azarenka played with Kerber. Last year, these tennis players fought a great battle at the US Open. That match, according to the author of this article, was the best last season. What do I remember about that match? It was stressful, we both played very well. I enjoyed that game. Angelica and I know how to make each other show the best game, ”Azarenka said before the final.

And the decisive match did not disappoint in terms of quality. The first half of the starting set was at a very high level. Both moved well, tried to play actively. And for a while the game looked equal. However, Kerber failed to maintain such a high level, while Azarenka played very well throughout the match. She received well, defended well when needed, finished well the rallies at the net. For the entire match, Victoria struck 23 blows through and made only nine unforced errors. Kerber in the first set still had a positive balance of punches and mistakes, but in the second set there were more inaccuracies. Throughout the week Azarenka looked great, and in the final she also left her opponent no chance, beating Kerber for the sixth time in six matches - 6: 3, 6: 1.

Victoria won her first trophy since August year 2013. Almost 900 days have passed since then. This victory is the result of Azarenka's active work in the offseason. It is always pleasant when you can contemplate the results of your own labor. In addition, psychologically, it was also important for the Belarusian to win this long-awaited victory in order to gain confidence before the Australian Open, where after such a start of the season she will be a clear contender for the long run.

Stevens coped with a double load. on the day of the final

Venus Williams came to defend the title in New Zealand at the tournament in Auckland. But the seventh racket of the world was defeated in the first match. Her

All titles of Victoria Azarenka (18): 2016 - Brisbane; 2013 - Cincinnati, Doha, Australian Open; 2012 - Linz, Beijing, Indian Wells, Doha, Australian Open, Sydney; 2011 - Luxembourg, Marbella, Miami; 2010 - Kremlin Cup, Stanford; 2009 - Miami, Memphis, Brisbane.

All titles of Agnieszka Radwanska (18): 2016 - Shenzhen; 2015 - WTA Final Championship, Tianjin, Tokyo; 2014 - Montreal; 2013 - Seoul, Sydney, Auckland; 2012 - Brussels, Miami, Dubai; 2011 - Beijing, Tokyo, Carlsbad; 2008 - Eastbourne, Istanbul, Pattaya; 2007 - Stockholm.

All titles Sloane Stevens (2): 2016 - Auckland, 2015 - Washington.

ogOrchila Russian woman Daria Kasatkina. We talked about this meeting in more detail in the article Kasatkina opened the season with a victory over Williams . True, Kasatkina did not succeed in continuing the victorious gait. It is curious that the day after the victory over the favorite, the Russian woman was still put on the far court, where she lost to the Japanese woman Nao Khibino. Moreover, Daria applied for the match and was two points away from victory, but could not put the squeeze on her opponent. Kasatkina has already managed to play in Sydney qualifying, where in the second round she failed to finish the match against Lara Arruabarrena .

Ana Ivanovic was in the Brisbane final last year , where in a beautiful match she lost to Sharapova. This year, the Serb chose the more modest Auckland. But, like Venus, she left the competition in the first round. She was beaten by qualifying Naomi Broedy.

The British woman found herself in an unusual situation in the next round. At the tie-break of the second set, her rival Elena Ostapenko hit a ballboy with her racket. Whether it was an accident, only Elena knows for sure. Nevertheless, according to the rules, in such a situation, Ostapenko should have been removed from the match. This is exactly what the British insisted on. But the arguments with the judge and the supervisor did not lead to anything. The Latvian was given the usual warning and the game continued. In the decisive set, Broedy bounced back with 1: 5. And after the match, she continued a verbal skirmish with her opponent. The tennis community sided with Naomi. She was supported by many tennis players, as well as compatriot Andy Murray . In addition, other athletes noted cases of inappropriate behavior on the part of Ostapenko last season.

At the end of the tournament, Caroline Wozniacki was the favorite. She had difficulties at the start with Danka Kovinich, but then she confidently reached the semifinals. On January 8, she did not have time to finish the first set with Sloane Stevens . Due to the rain, the match was postponed to the next day. At the same time, the first semifinal had already ended by that time. In it, Julia Görges beat Tamira Pazhek. The Austrian, once considered very promising, has given her best performance in four seasons. She qualified, and on the way to the semifinals knocked out Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova. However, for Yulia it was the best tournament since 2012. It was then that the German woman was in the final of the WTA tournament for the last time.

On January 9, Görges was in an excellent position, as her rival had to go to court twice. Stevens managed to maintain an advantage in the first set against Wozniacki, which she had since Friday. In the second game, she tried not to give up the initiative to the Danish woman. The game was still equal, so the tie-break, which the American played better, decided everything. Sloane had enough strength for the final. Görges was never able to take the opponent's serve, and in the end she lost 9 games out of the last 11 - 5: 7, 2: 6.

You can't be ready in advance for a break for rain and play out the match the next morning. You just have to try to show the best that I am capable of. And I succeeded,- said Stevens. The American has been somewhat stagnant in the ranking lately. After defeating Serena Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open - 2013, it seemed that she would become a star very soon, but so far this has not happened. Sloane continues to change coaches, having parted ways with Nick Saviano before this season. Nevertheless, over the past six months, she won her second title, so at least there has been progress in this direction.

Radwanska's easy walk in China

The least eventful tournament this week was the Shenzhen. In China, only one Russian woman competed - Irina Khromacheva, who got into the base by a special invitation, but lost in the first round. We have already mentioned the refusal of the second seeded Petra Kvitova. Also in the first round lost the third and fourth seeded - Irina Begu and Monica Niculescu. We also note the first victory of Eugenie Bouchard since September 2015. The Canadian reached the quarterfinals in China.

But overall, the tournament was a benefit to Agnieszka Radwanska . The polka walked very easily on the net. It is clear that she had no tough rivals either. Here is her path to the title: Krunich, Shuai, Qiang, Fridzam and Riske. The Polka did not lose a single set and only once gave more than four games in one game. Agnieszka ended last year with a victory in the WTA Final Championship, so she had a winning streak of eight matches. By the way, in December Radwanska played at the IPTL, where she became the most effective player in the entire league. Everything goes to the fact that this season can be a real breakthrough for the polka, if she continues in the same spirit. The victory in China was Radwanska's 18th career title. Now she will rise to fourth place in the WTA rankings. Thus, she will be in the top 4 seeded at the Australian Open, while Sharapova will receive the fifth seed.

Last week before the tournament in Melbourne there will be two competitions in Australia - Premier in Sydney and Intertnational in Hobart. In Sydney, the squad is quite good: Halep, Kvitova, Radwanska, Kerber and many others.

20 in ‘20 with Victoria Azarenka and host Bethanie Mattek-Sands

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