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Pro Tour

Osaka claims world #1

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By Editorial Team

Naomi Osaka finds herself in another grand slam final this weekend, but this time she faces a more tame opponent in Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

With Serena’s surprisingly early exit, Naomi has cemented her first opportunity to play for the number spot on the WTA ranking leader board. This should not be a huge shock to anyone after such a stellar 2018 season, but the pace in which she was able to rise among the ranks is quite amazing. Naomi was outside of the top 50 in 2017 and had no indication of top 10 aspirations until she defeated Angelique Kerber in the second round of the 2017 US Open.

Since then Naomi has been on a tear with top consecutive upsets leading up to her first big title win in last year’s BNP Open at Indian Wells where she defeated Kerber and Simona Halep back-to-back comfortably in straight sets. The women’s tour took notice as she then schooled her idol, Serena Williams, in a drumming at the Miami Open. Not to mention the US Open title and a second Serena beating on Ashe Stadium court.

Naomi will not have an easy route to her first AO title against Petra. These two have not played on tour yet so this first encounter could fall against Naomi if she is not playing her top game. First serve percentage and few unforced errors while playing her attacking game should do the trick for Naomi, but the left-handed Petra is able to handle power shots and control big points from the ground. The winner versus error ratio must go in Naomi’s favor if she is to be competitive against the more season veteran.

Osaka fans will be crossing their fingers as she laces up for her final round in Melbourne. With outcome uncertain and the hype of number one ranking in the balance, Naomi is well equipped mentally to handle the challenge and arise victorious as champion.

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Pro Tour

Monfils wins Rotterdam title

BT Media Group

By Editorial Team

Gael Monfils pulled out a gutsy performance against a peak performing Stan Wawrinka with steady play from the baseline and a big high percentage service game.

Gael has definitely taken note from being off almost half the 2018 season with multiple injuries. With a wrist injury that forced him to play a one-handed backhand, Gael kept up his spirits and continued to “just have fun” on the court.

After doing it his way in Rotterdam with a new coaching staff, fans can expect more great results from the Frenchman in the coming months heading into the US hardcourt season.

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Pro Tour

Monfils set for ABN AMRO World Tennis Title

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By Editorial Team

Gael Monfils has stormed his way back from a slow start in Melbourne to reach the semifinal round at the Sofia Open and now the finals of the ATP Master 500 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam where he must now face Stan Wawrinka to secure his first title since January 2018.

Gael showed plenty of fight against the younger Daniil Medvedev while coming back from being down a set to eventually pull out the upset win 6-4 in the third set. Gael’s first serve percentage exceeded 80%, and he also won 73% of his 2nd serve points. To say say that the serve made a difference for Monfils is an understatement.

With a booming and consistent serve Gael will definitely have a chance against a resurging Stan “The Man.” Gael must be able to get on the offensive early on in the match to keep Stan on his heels. As momentum shifts he will also need to remain mentally engaged, fight to the end and allow Stan to make the errors down the stretch.

The finals can be seen on the Tennis Channel at 6:30am PST.

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Baptiste captures $25K Florida title

BT Media Group

By Editorial Team

Hailey Baptiste was able to win her first $25K title this weekend in Plantation, Florida after rising through the qualifying rounds. Hailey’s game took off tremendously last year as she went deep in a few $60K and $80K events as a qualifier. With impressive results (including straight beat-downs on top ranked junior Caty McNally), her ranking has skyrocketed into the top 300.

Hailey did not experience the highs of the ITF World Junior circuit, but she was able to excel in doubles at the 2018 US Open Juniors where she reached the finals with partner Dalayna Hewitt.

Her former junior counterpart, Cori Gauff, received a wildcard this week in the Midland $100K event where she plays fellow American and teenage wildcard Ashley Kratzer (top 200 ranked) in the first round. Plus, Cori is scheduled to play the $25K in Surprise, AZ in early February where she received the main draw junior exemption (JE).

Expect to see more of Hailey on the WTA Pro circuit as she blows up draws sheets, whether main draw or qualifying. With a limited number of US based ITF events it is imperative that she continue to push forward in every tournament to accumulate points within the newly developed ITF World Tennis Tour.

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