Emma Raducanu vowed to maintain her focus in the wake of her sensational US Open title as she prepares for her first WTA Tour event as a number one seed. 

Ranked a career-best number 21 in the world, the 18-year-old sensation is atop the singles draw at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz this week. 

Raducanu's remarkable run at Flushing Meadows has generated an avalanche of publicity and requests, but she insisted tennis will remain her top priority. 

"I made it very, very clear to every single person in my team that I was not going to cancel one training session or practice session for any off-court commitments," Raducanu told reporters. 

"That was non-negotiable for me. I wanted to make sure that that is my priority and it is, so everyone is clear about that. But it's just managing my time with the commitments around that."

Raducanu has a bye in the first round and will face the winner of the opening-round match between qualifiers Kateryna Kozlova and Wang Xinyu. 

The teen split with coach Andrew Richardson after the US Open and remains without an official adviser but said she plans to have someone in place by January's Australian Open. 

That was not something she would have anticipated worrying about during last year's tournament in Melbourne, when she was still a full-time student. 

"Only March the 18th was my first session on court in 2021," she said. "And so January, February, March I was literally just sat on my desk staring at a wall for nine hours a day.

"So I feel like where I am now I just need to really take it all in and enjoy because looking back at how far I've come it's pretty surreal.

"I just really need to enjoy it because when I was in the beginning of year I would have never thought this was possible. I'm kind of just really living in the moment right now I feel."

Serena Williams says the hamstring injury that forced her out of Wimbledon in the first round is "better" and she plans to play at the 2022 Australian Open. 

The site of her last grand slam crown in 2017 will be Williams' next chance to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 career slam titles. 

The 40-year-old tore her hamstring while playing Aliaksandra Sasnovich at SW19 in June and recounted the injury in an appearance Thursday on Jimmy Kimmel Live. 

"I was actually winning and I went for a shot and I heard this noise and I was like ‘oh no’," Williams said. "I felt it but I felt like 'OK, let me just keep trying', but it was bad and I was like, ‘oh man’.

"I love the grass, it’s something special walking out at Wimbledon, wearing all white and being on the green grass [but] it just wasn’t for me this year.”

The injury kept Williams out of the US Open, where she has not won since 2014 but reached the semi-finals in 2020 and the final in 2018 and 2019. 

While disappointed to miss her home slam, which she has won six times, Williams told Kimmel her recovery is on track and she "definitely" expects to play in Australia in January. 

"The hamstring is better," she said. "It took a long time. It took forever, but it's much better now." 

Williams is a seven-time champion in Melbourne, the most of any woman in the open era. 

 

 

Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova propelled a Russian tennis squad into their first Billie Jean King Cup final since 2015 as they sealed a 2-1 victory over the United States.

The Russians will meet Switzerland in the trophy showdown on Saturday, after Olympic champion Belinda Bencic defeated Ajla Tomljanovic to secure an unassailable 2-0 lead for the Swiss over Australia.

While Switzerland did not need a doubles decider, the Russian team, who are competing this week as Russian Tennis Federation, did.

Samsonova, who clinched her maiden singles title on the WTA Tour earlier this year, put them ahead in their tie against the USA, downing 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens 1-6 6-4 6-3.

Yet the USA hit back through Danielle Collins, who defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-7 (9-11) 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 – a contest that lasted two hours and 42 minutes in Prague.

Momentum was with the 18-time champions, but the Russians recovered in the doubles, with Samsonova and Kudermetova ultimately having little trouble in seeing off Shelby Rogers and Coco Vandeweghe 6-3 6-3.

Bencic saw off Tomljanovic to confirm Switzerland's place in the final, with Jil Teichmann having earlier overcome Storm Sanders 6-0 6-3.

Russia dominated this event, previously known as the Fed Cup, in the mid to late 2000s, winning four out of five editions from 2004 to 2008, but they have not triumphed since. Switzerland recorded their best result when a team featuring Martina Hingis finished second to Spain, way back in 1998.

Australia and Switzerland secured their spots in the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup and will go up against each other for a place in the final.

Belarus proved no match for Australia, who got the job done across their two singles matches on the day in the Czech Republic.

Storm Sanders got the ball rolling as she comfortably saw off Yuliya Hatouka 6-3 6-3 in the first contest of the day in Group B.

Ajla Tomljanovic was made to work a little harder by Aliaksandra Sasnovich as she lost the first set but eventually rallied to overcome her opponent 4-6 6-2 6-3.

It meant the two countries' doubles meeting was a dead rubber – Belarus at least took the opportunity to avoid a 3-0 annihilation as Sasnovich teamed up with Lidziya Marozava in the 6-4 6-4 defeat of Olivia Gadecki and Ellen Perez.

In Group D, Switzerland and the Czech Republic claimed one victory apiece in the singles – Marketa Vondrousova had too much for Viktorija Golubic in a 6-4 6-2 success that gave the Czechs the upper hand.

But Belinda Bencic levelled things up despite the unenviable task of facing world number three Barbora Krejcikova, emerging with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 success.

Bencic was then involved in the doubles decider as well, getting the better of Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova with Jil Belen Teichmann, their 6-3 6-3 win sealing the semis spot for the Swiss.

The Russian Tennis Federation – who eliminated defending champions France on Wednesday – and the United States are due to contest the other semi-final.

 

 

France's Billie Jean King Cup defence ended at the hands of the Russian Tennis Federation, who will meet the United States in the semi-finals after Wednesday's play in Prague. 

Clara Burel put France on course for the 3-0 victory they needed to advance from Group A with a three-set victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova, but Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova outlasted Alize Cornet in the second rubber to ensure a new champion will be crowned. 

Pavlyuchenkova saved six of 10 break points and racked up an impressive 34 winners en route to a crucial 5-7 6-4 6-2 success against Cornet. 

"I'm so, so happy and so proud of myself because I think it was an incredible match. It was very good tennis but more importantly I think it was an amazing fighting spirit from both of us," said Pavlyuchenkova. 

"We were like two tigers. Nobody wanted to give the other anything and I think that's what matters. That's the sport we're playing." 

Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova comfortably defeated Cornet and Burel in the doubles to consign the reigning champions to a 2-1 defeat. 

The RTF will go up against the USA in the first semi-final, with the Americans comfortably seeing off Spain in the singles rubbers. 

Sloane Stephens bested Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-4 6-4 before Danielle Collins swept Sara Sorribes Tormo aside 6-1 6-0 in under an hour. 

Collins won 83 per cent of points behind her first serve and forced Sorribes Tormo into 24 errors during a resounding victory. 

Spain avoided a 3-0 defeat, though, with Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova beating Caroline Dolehide and CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3 6-4 in the doubles rubber. 

Belinda Bencic fought back to beat Angelique Kerber in a blockbuster showdown and help Switzerland eliminate Germany on day two of the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague.

Germany lost to hosts Czech Republic on the opening day and were brushed aside 3-0 by Switzerland on Tuesday, with world number nine Kerber losing 5-7 6-2 6-2 to Bencic.

Kerber was carrying an injury and was outlasted by the Olympic gold medallist, with that triumph coming after Viktorija Golubic defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-4 7-5.

Golubic and Jil Teichmann added further gloss to the scoreline by overcoming Anna-Lena Friedsam and Nastasja Mariana Schunk in the doubles.

Switzerland will now meet the Czech Republic in a winners-takes-all contest to determine who finishes top of Group D.

The upset of the day came in Group B as Australia beat Belgium 2-1, with Daria Gavrilova kicking things off by beating Greet Minnen 6-4 1-6 6-4.

Storm Sanders then battled back to beat Elise Mertens 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-0, rendering Mertens and Minnen's doubles win nothing more than a consolation. 

In Group A, Russia cruised to a 3-0 win over Canada.

Daria Kasatkina beat Carol Zhao 6-3 6-1 and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was too strong for Rebecca Marino as she prevailed in three sets.

Slovakia top Group C, meanwhile, after beating the United States 2-1. Shelby Rogers fell 6-4 6-4 to Viktoria Kuzmova before Danielle Collins levelled with a 6-3 6-2 win against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

That set up a decider in the doubles, which went the distance as the Slovakian pair of Kuzmova and Tereza Mihalikova prevailed 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 12-10 in a thriller with Caroline Dolehide and CoCo Vandeweghe.

Donna Vekic ended a personal trophy drought as she beat Clara Tauson in the WTA Courmayeur Open final in Italy on Sunday.

The 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 victory saw Croatian Vekic secure a third WTA Tour title of her career, and a first since 2017 when she triumphed at the Nottingham Open.

Tauson, who beat Jelena Ostapenko to win the Luxembourg Open in September, was unable to add to the two WTA titles she has won this year.

An unsteady start from both players saw service breaks in each of the first four games. Vekic finally held at the third attempt, before breaking Tauson again.

At 5-2 down in the first set, Tauson came alive, finally holding serve before breaking Vekic for a third time. The 18-year-old briefly showed the heart that had seen her save five match points in her semi-final victory over Liudmila Samsonova as she denied Vekic three set points.

The main issue for the 18-year-old Dane in the first set was her first serve, on which she only won 52 per cent of points, compared to Vekic's 79.2 per cent success rate.

Having forced a tie-break, Tauson gave herself a mountain to climb again as her opponent won the first six points. Despite a mini fightback from the teenager, Vekic was able to finally see the first set out.

The 25-year-old, who had not lost a set on her way to the final, broke again in the third game of the second set. Tauson had fought from a set down in both her quarter-final and semi-final, but she was unable to repeat the trick as Vekic eased to another straight-sets victory.

Anett Kontaveit failed to read the script as she beat Simona Halep to win the Transylvania Open and qualify for the WTA Finals for the first time.

Kontaveit went into Sunday's final knowing victory over top seed Halep would earn her the last place in the season-ending tournament in Guadalajara.

The Estonian duly denied Ons Jabeur a WTA Finals spot, beating Romanian home favourite Halep 6-2 6-3 in Cluj.

Second seed Kontaveit has now come out on top in 10 consecutive matches, having won the Kremlin Cup last weekend, and this was her fourth title of a stellar season.

Halep had not dropped a set in her previous three meetings with Kontaveit, but the former world number one was soundly beaten to miss out on a fourth title on home soil – five years after her last in Bucharest.

The 25-year-old Kontaveit took her run to 26 victories in her last 28 matches, winning 70.6 per cent of points behind her first serve to Halep's 44.1 per cent.

Kontaveit broke three times in a one-sided first set and fought back from 2-0 down in the second to continue her brilliant run.

Halep has not won a title since September 2020, having been unfortunate with injuries this year.

Simona Halep progressed to her first final of 2021 as she thrashed Marta Kostyuk to reach the showpiece at the Transylvania Open.

Halep has now reached a WTA final in 12 consecutive seasons after easing to a 6-0 6-1 victory over her teenage opponent.

The two-time grand slam champion faced Kostyuk at Indian Wells three weeks ago and was forced to come from a break down in the first set before prevailing in straight sets.

No such recovery effort was required in Cluj, with Halep progressing to her third final in Romania having twice won the Bucharest Open.

"I really wanted to play the final here. It's a home tournament and always when I come here, I feel great," Halep said. 

"I'm really happy, motivated and I'm looking forward to playing the final tomorrow.

"I knew that I had to play a little bit faster, more aggressive and to open the court a little bit more. There [at Indian Wells], she didn't miss very much as she did today, but I think I took the ball faster and quicker, and the serve helped me today."

"I'm just trying to give my best, trying to be aggressive and enjoy. When I smile inside, it looks better outside. I have the whole country with me when I play at home, so that's why I'm motivated, that's why I feel safe and strong on the court, and I always want to play my best.

"I won twice in Bucharest and, hopefully, tomorrow's the lucky three, but if not, it's still a good result and it's good to be home." 

Halep is unlikely to have it so easy in the final, which sees her face the in-form Anett Kontaveit, who will have added motivation on Sunday.

Kontaveit needed just over an hour to defeat Rebecca Peterson 6-3 6-2, her 25th win in her last 27 matches.

Victory over Halep would see Kontaveit beat Ons Jabeur to the eighth and final spot at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara. However, Halep has won all three of their previous meetings.

At the Courmayeur Open, Clara Tauson will face Donna Vekic in the final after they overcame Liudmila Samsonova and Jasmine Paolini respectively.

Emma Raducanu's hopes of facing idol Simona Halep in the semi-finals of the Transylvania Open were brutally ended by a crushing defeat to Marta Kostyuk on Friday.

US Open champion Raducanu claimed her first ever regular WTA Tour win in Cluj earlier this week, with the 18-year-old keen to impress in the homeland of her father, but Kostyuk denied her the chance of a dream last-four clash with Halep.

The 19-year-old Ukrainian swept Raducanu aside in just 57 minutes, winning 6-2 6-1 as Kostyuk furthered her own burgeoning reputation in the game by reaching a third semi-final of the year.

Raducanu proved her own worst enemy, her 41 unforced errors more than double Kostyuk's 16, with the latter feeling confident as early as the first game when two double faults helped her break the Briton's serve.

"I don't know how I won the first game, I think that's where everything started," Kostyuk said. "I somehow won that game and I gained this confidence, like I'm not going to lose this match.

"After that, by the fifth game maybe, I figured out how to play her – today. Maybe next time I play it's going to be different tactics."

Top seed Halep enjoyed a similarly straightforward victory as she lost just two games en route to a 6-1 6-1 win over Romanian compatriot Jaqueline Cristian, a particularly impressive feat given she had been suffering with a back injury this week.

That success preserved Halep's 100 per cent record against fellow Romanians.

On the other side of the draw, second seed Anett Kontaveit was also an impressive winner as she disposed of Anhelina Kalinina 6-1 6-3 in just over an hour. Kontaveit has won 24 of her last 26 matches and will be the firm favourite against unseeded Rebecca Peterson, who beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 3-6 6-3.

At the Courmayeur Open in Italy, third seed Liudmila Samsonova cruised into the semis thanks to a swift 6-1 6-2 demolition of Anna Kalinskaya. She will meet Clara Tauson – seeded fifth – after the Dane came through a more gruelling 3-6 6-4 6-2 win over Ann Li.

The other semi will be contested by Donna Vekic and Jasmine Paolini, who were straight-sets winners over Wang Xinyu and Dayana Yastremska, respectively.

Emma Raducanu is on course to face her idol Simona Halep for the first time in the Transylvania Open after they both advanced to the quarter-finals on Thursday. 

Raducanu celebrated her first WTA Tour win at the expense of Polona Hercog in Cluj on Tuesday and followed that up with a 6-3 6-4 defeat of Ana Bogdan. 

The 18-year-old US Open champion had a first-serve percentage of 69 and won 87 per cent of those points, breaking three times to move into the last eight. 

Third seed Raducanu said: "It's definitely taking me some time to find my feet still. I'm just taking some learnings from every match that I play. I don't think I'm the finished product yet." 

Next up for the Brit is a meeting with fellow teenager Marta Kostyuk after the sixth seed sent Mona Barthel packing with a 6-4 6-4 victory. 

Halep was troubled by a back injury in a 6-4 6-2 success over Varvara Gracheva in her homeland. 

The two-time grand slam champion played through the pain barrier, breaking twice in each set to progress, and could face Raducanu if she beats fellow Romanian Jaqueline Cristian. 

"The back got blocked and the pain is really big," Halep said in the on-court interview. "You cannot really bend much and you cannot move. 

"But sometimes you are used to the pain, I had this before many times, and I just wanted to continue and finish this match. It's good that I won this match, I don't know how." 

Anett Kontaveit, striving to secure a WTA Finals berth, extended her indoor winning run to 12 matches by seeing off Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3 6-4, while Rebecca Peterson knocked Irina Bara out in straight sets. 

In the Courmayeur Open, Jasmine Paolini came out on top 6-4 7-5 in an all-Italian battle with Lucrezia Stefanini and Zhang Shuai got past Wang Xinyu 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. 

The unseeded Donna Vekic also secured a place in the quarter-finals. 

Simona Halep eased to victory over compatriot Elena-Gabriela Ruse on home soil in Romania to advance through to the last 16 of the Transylvania Open.

Ruse won her first WTA title at the Hamburg European Open in July and reached the final of the Palermo Ladies Open later that month, but she was second best against Halep.

The top seed produced a commanding performance as she held serve throughout and broke her opponent twice in both sets to progress 6-1 6-2 in a time of 73 minutes.

Halep, who departed at the quarter-final stage of the Kremlin Cup last week, is on course to meet US Open winner Emma Raducanu in the semi-finals in Cluj.

Anett Kontaveit also prevailed on Wednesday with a straight-sets win of her own, the second seed seeing off Aleksandra Krunic 6-3 7-5.

The 25-year-old, seeking her third WTA 500 indoor trophy in the space of two months, made the most of some Krunic errors to set up a last-16 tie with Alison Van Uytvanck.

Anhelina Kalinina earlier beat Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-2 6-2 to become the first player to book their place in the quarter-finals.

At the Courmayeur Open in Italy, top seed Dayana Yastremska required three sets to overcome Kateryna Kozlova 6-1 3-6 7-5.

Clara Tauson and Ann Li also avoided upsets as they beat Giulia Gatto-Monticone and Kamilla Rakhimova respectively.

Emma Raducanu collected her first WTA Tour victory as she defeated Polona Hercog at the Transylvania Open in Romania.

Raducanu, who was the surprise US Open champion in September after not dropping a set throughout the tournament, appeared at just her fourth tour-level tournament and came to Cluj as third favourite.

The 18-year-old had lost opening-round matches at previous events in Nottingham, San Diego and Indian Wells.

However, world number 23 Raducanu finally recorded her first victory as she overcame a first-set scare to triumph over Hercog 4-6 7-5 6-1.

In the opening match of Tuesday's fixtures, sixth seed Marta Kostyuk cruised past Bernard Pera 6-3 6-4 to secure her last-16 berth.

Irina-Camelia Begu, ranked one behind Kostyuk for the tournament, did not enjoy similar fortunes as Romanian compatriot Irina Bara triumphed 7-6 (7-2) 0-6 6-4.

Jaqueline Cristian survived a marathon slog against Kaja Juvan as she came from a set down to win 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-3) and book a second-round meeting with Ajla Tomljanovic.

Number one seed Simona Halep – who departed at the quarter-final stage of the Kremlin Cup last week – plays her first game on home turf on Wednesday against Elena-Gabriele Rusa and could meet Raducanu in the semi-final stages.

Meanwhile, Liudmila Samsonova, the third favourite at the Courmayeur Open, cruised past Stephanie Wagner 6-3 6-0 while seventh seed Jasmine Paolini comfortably dispatched Martina Di Giuseppe 6-4 6-1.

Shuai Zhang, who is the third seed in Italy, also enjoyed a routine victory as she eased past Jessica Pieri 6-1 6-3 after fourth favourite Petra Martic crashed out 3-6 4-6 to Saisai Zheng.

Jil Teichmann suffered a shock exit in the first round of the Transylvania Open as Anastasia Gasanova came from behind to win 4-6 6-0 7-5.

The competition's fourth seed and world number 39 started off well against Russian Gasanova, who is only ranked 146th by the WTA, but was crushed in the second set and was unable to recover in the decider.

It is a disappointing result for the Swiss, who made it to the final of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati in August, losing to world number one Ashleigh Barty.

Ana Bogdan won 7-6 6-4 on home turf against Ivana Jorovic and will likely play US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the round of 16 if the third seed can beat Polona Hercog on Tuesday.

Raducanu is still without a coach after parting with Andrew Richardson, and she faced the media on Monday, saying: "I am going to find my tennis, I just need a little bit of time.

"I don't think there is any pressure on me. I feel like everyone should just be a little patient with me."

Bogdan will also expect compatriot and top seed Simona Halep, with the two-time grand slam champion facing another Romanian in Elena Gabriela-Ruse on Wednesday, to join her in the next round.

Meanwhile, fifth seed Clara Tauson enjoyed a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win over Stefanie Voegele in the Courmayeur Open in Italy.

Sixth seed Alison Riske and 10th seed Dayana Yastremska both won in straight sets to ensure there were no upsets in today's games, beating Ankita Raina and Vitalia Diatchenko respectively.

Anett Kontaveit will face Ekaterina Alexandrova in the Kremlin Cup final after maintaining her magnificent form with a straight-sets defeat of Marketa Vondrousova.

Ninth seed Kontaveit ousted Vondrousova in Moscow on Saturday with a commanding 6-3 6-4 victory.

The Estonian had lost both of her previous two meetings with Vondrousova, but needed only an hour and 14 minutes to reach her fifth final this year.

Kontaveit struck 26 winners, with her backhand a potent weapon, and broke five times – three of those coming in the first set after she failed to hold in the first game of the match.

The 25-year-old Tallinn native has lost only two of her past 22 matches, while her winning run indoors now stands at nine.

Standing in the way of Kontaveit and a fourth title in 2021 is home hope Alexandrova, who advanced to her first WTA 500 final when Maria Sakkari retired due to dizziness.

Alexandrova was leading 4-1 in the opening set when the fourth seed from Greece decided she was unable to continue.

There will be an unseeded champion at the Tenerife Open after Colombian Camila Osorio beat Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5.

Ann Li will play in her second title-decider of the year courtesy of an emphatic 6-2 6-1 triumph over Alize Cornet.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.