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Pro Tour

Osuigwe faces McNally in Texas $80k for spot in semifinal

Kevin Hagen of AP

By Editorial Team

Whitney Osuigwe is having an amazing rookie year on the WTA Pro Circuit as she blazed through the competition going from 1120 to a 309 pro ranking in a 12 month span all at the young age of 16 despite the WTA rules set on the number of pro events she enters. Currently WTA Tour players are not allowed to compete in a full schedule of professional level tournaments until attaining age 18.

After dominating the juniors with 2017 French Open title and number 1 world ITF ranking Whitney did not get caught up in the hype, but rather went to work with her coach and Dad Desmond 6 days a week to prepare for the 2018 pro circuit. Since dabbling into the pros competing in the smaller $10k and $15k events at age 15, Whitney has built a strong base for her game making her climb to the top this year more expected than spectacular.

2017 US Open qualifying rounds and 2018 Miami Open main draw matches have done wonders for the young talent from Bradenton, Florida (IMG). With multiple deep runs in $25ks and $60ks, Whitney has saved her best result in this week’s $80k in Tyler, Texas where she defeated top 300 talent Sophie Chang 6-3 in the third set and next fended off Kurumi Nara (ranked 162) 6-2 in the third set to reach the quarterfinal round to now face fellow American Caty McNally.

Caty McNally, a top world ranked junior and sought after doubles partner, has also been on a tear in Texas this week as she was able to side step 128th ranked and 3rd seeded Fanni Stollar (upset in 1st round) to dominate Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-2, 6-1.

The match up between Whitney and Caty is even at 1 all, but Whitney should have the edge although Caty was able to squeak out on win over Whitney 7-6, 6-3 in the 2018 Junior International Roehampton semifinal match. Whitney took the initial match up in the 2017 Paris at Roland Garros Junior French Open quarterfinal 6-3, 6-3 where Whitney went on to win the title.

They keys for Whitney are court positioning and isolating the weaker backhand side of Caty in longer rallies. Whitney’s big weapon is her forehand and she plans on opening up the court often enough to bang her loaded forehand to Caty’s neutral backhand to end points quickly.

With a win here against one of her best friends on tour, Whitney will advance to the semifinals to face either Bencic or Day and come closer to stepping into the top 250 in her first full year of professional tour competition.

Whitney is definitely on the progression to attain top 200 status next year and begin to make appearances in major WTA International, Premier and Grand Slam events. Expect great things from Whitney in 2019 and maybe her first WTA title win as she continues to shred pro tournament draws in a city near you.

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Pro Tour

Serena eager for rematch against Osaka

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By Editorial Team

Serena Williams made light work of Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 6-1 today and has been able to cruise through the draw with little opposition. Now the temperature turns up for Serena as she faces top seeded Simona Halep in the round of 16 after she defeated her older sister Venus in straight sets today.

This R16 match well give onlookers a glimpse into the psyche of Serena after last year’s US Open outburst that ultimately resulted in her losing the final match. Serena will have to play well while also keeping her emotions in check, but history shows that Simona has not been a challenge with eight wins and only one loss against the Romanian.

The past success and confidence should push Serena onto the next heavyweight match-up with Naomi Osaka in the semifinals assuming both players are able to surpass big tests along the way. Naomi must get past a streaky Madison Keys and 13 seed Sevastova in tomorrow’s competition.

Fans across the globe are expecting to see a rematch to see if Serena can put an end to the two match losing streak against the young and talented Osaka. Expect a ton of fireworks in the top half of the draw as the 2019 Australian Open moves into the second week. In addition to another AO title, Serena seeks her 24th grand slam win to make tennis history. Its safe to say that a lot is riding on the next few days for Serena.

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Pro Tour

Tiafoe fights Dimitrov for AO Quarterfinals

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By Editorial Team

Frances Tiafoe battled his way into the round of 16 after defeating an ailing Kevin Anderson in four sets and edging out Andrea Seppi in strong fashion at the 2019 Australian Open. Frances was able to dig deep in his first round match against Kevin, and that confidence carried over into the second round giving him the edge to pull out a five set victory against Andreas 6-7, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Frances’ road to the second week of play does not get any easier as he now faces the well rested and fine tuned 20th seed, Grigor Dimitrov. The last time these two met it was a grind to the finish as Grigor was able to hold off Frances 7-6 in the third set in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Canada round of 16.

Frances’ game matches up well against Grigor, but he’ll have to match his intensity to continue to pull out consecutive wins over top 20 players. If Frances is able to maintain this high level of play and swing with confidence from both sides of the court anything is possible. For Frances its about maintaining his energy and keeping up his positive momentum as Grigor tries to sprint out to a big lead early in the match. Mental toughness will be the key against the battle tested 20th seed.

Last season ended on a sour note for Frances as he failed to win big matches following a disappointing early round US Open loss. It now seems as if he transitioned coaches and has brought on more close knit family into his camp enabling him to feel more comfortable and play freely. With a few more top wins in January, Frances will be able to get better draws, go on deeper runs in major events and ultimately propel himself into the top 20 this season.

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Pro Tour

AO Women’s draw favors top seeds

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By Editorial Team

With Serena winning comfortably today over Tatjana Maria 6-0, 6-2 the draw has become more top heavy than expected. Serena is also the favorite against Eugenie Bouchard on Wednesday who has been on a winning streak with good results over the last 5 months. Her older sister Venus was able to escape an early upset today by being patient with the talented veteran Mihaela Buzarnescu to cross the finish line 6-2 in the third and final set.

Madison Keys took out the young Australian upstart Destanee Aiava 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of play and now faces Anastasia Potapova on Wednesday for a spot in the round of 32. Madison is in top form and should be able to take advantage of her weaker section of the draw.

Its clear skies and smooth sailing for Osaka and Stephens as they both were able to move past their opponents in a graceful fashion. They both play lesser know and lower ranked players as they are blessed with favorable draws.

However, Sachia Vickery has yet another challenge after defeating Ysaline Bonaventure yesterday 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Sachia appears to have overcome her negative self-talk and willing herself into winning tennis this year as she showed a ton of patience and determination in getting past her first round hurdle. Now she must pull herself together once again to battle top American Danielle Collins in what could be competitive match assuming Sachia is able to hold up physically in the extremely hot conditions. Sore knees have also been a major issue for Sachia, but there have not been any signs of injury thus far in the AO.

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