Naomi Osaka says she was unwilling to sacrifice her happiness after split from coach

Naomi Osaka and Sascha Bajin

World number one Naomi Osaka says she was not willing to “sacrifice” her happiness following her surprise split from coach Sascha Bajin last week.

Osaka split with Bajin 16 days after winning the Australian Open, which sealed back-to-back major titles after she won her first at the 2018 US Open.

“If I’m not waking up happy to practise and happy to be around the people I’m around, this is my life,” Osaka said.

“I’m not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around.”

Japan’s Osaka, 21, had worked with Bajin for just over a year when she announced the split on Twitter.

Bajin, the 2018 WTA coach of the year, is a former hitting partner of Grand Slam champions Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

Under him, Osaka rose from world number 72 at the start of 2018 to the summit of the rankings little over a year later.

No reason was given for the split at the time, but Osaka says issues with the German had been “brewing” at January’s Australian Open.

“I think some people could see that if they saw how we interacted,” she told reporters at the WTA event in Dubai.

“I’m not going to say anything bad about him because, of course, I’m really grateful for all the things he’s done.

“During the Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it. I’m not sure, but I think you guys noticed.”

Osaka said she hopes to have a new coach in place by the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which starts on 4 March.

“[The most important thing for me is] just to have a positive mindset,” Osaka said. “I don’t want someone that’s in the box saying negative stuff. That would be the worst.

“Yeah, someone that’s kind of direct, not afraid to say things to my face. I’d rather someone say it directly to me than go around my back. That’s one of the biggest things.”

Go to Source

Qatar Open: Elise Mertens beats Simona Halep to win her biggest tour title

Elise Mertens

Elise Mertens has claimed the biggest title of her career by beating top seed Simona Halep to win the Qatar Open.

Mertens, 23, recovered from a set and a break down – losing 18 points in a row at one stage in the second set – to beat the world number three 3-6 6-4 6-3.

World number 21 Mertens also overcame a lengthy medical time-out for a back issue in the first set.

“Simona is a great player and it’s nice to get the trophy,” the Belgian said.

Halep, 27, who last won the Qatar title in 2014, said: “Honestly, I wanted to lift this beautiful trophy but Elise deserved it very much.”

Mertens’ triumph over the Romanian was her third win over a top 10 player in Doha.

She had already beaten Angelique Kerber and Kiki Bertens, a year after she was knocked out of the tournament in the first round.

Halep outclassed her opponent in the opening set, but Mertens powered back into the match to force a decider.

The players traded breaks in the third set, but Mertens broke in the fifth game of the final set to make it 3-2 – the 12th break of serve in 24 games in the match.

Halep tried to rally, but at at 5-3 and appearing to be hampered by an injury, she lost her serve, handing Mertens a famous victory.

Go to Source

Halep beats Svitolina to reach Qatar Open final

Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep

Simona Halep won four games in a row in the final set to beat Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open.

The world number three Halep beat Ukrainian Svitolina 6-3 3-6 6-4 and will face either Angelique Kerber or Elise Mertens in the final on Saturday.

Svitolina had three chances to go 5-1 up in the third set but Halep managed to turn the match around.

“I didn’t give up today and I promised myself I would never give up against her again,” said top seed Halep.

“She’s a very good fighter and it’s probably the best match of the tournament so far. I was strong in my legs and I was definitely not tired.

“It means a lot to me to win here and the crowd were pretty awesome.”

Saturday’s match will be Halep’s 34th career final, with the Romanian triumphing in Qatar in 2014 when she beat German Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-3.

Go to Source

GB drawn with Kazakhstan & Netherlands in Davis Cup finals

GB Davis Cup winners in 2015

Great Britain will play Kazakhstan and the Netherlands at the Davis Cup finals in Madrid in November.

Wildcards Britain, who won the event in 2015, are seeded fifth and have been drawn in Group E.

Defending champions Croatia are in Group B alongside hosts Spain, while the United States – who have won the title on 32 occasions – are in Group F.

It will be the first Davis Cup finals played in the new week-long 18-nation World Cup-style format.

The event will take place between 18-24 November with matches consisting of two singles and one doubles rubber.

The six group winners, plus the best two second-placed teams – based on sets, games and points won – will qualify for the knockout phase.

The Davis Cup, which was founded in 1900, is one of the world’s largest international team competitions with 132 nations taking part in 2018.

Sixteen nations previously competed in the World Group in a straight knockout, with one of the nations hosting the tie.

An increasing number of top players have skipped matches in recent years to ease their schedule.

The 25-year, £2.15bn revamp of the Davis Cup is funded by an investment group led by footballer Gerard Pique.

Full draw

Group A: France, Serbia, Japan

Group B: Croatia, Spain, Russia

Group C: Argentina, Germany, Chile

Group D: Belgium, Australia, Colombia

Group E: Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Netherlands

Group F: US, Italy, Canada

Go to Source

Indian Wells: Two-time champion Maria Sharapova withdraws

Maria Sharapova

Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova says she is “working through some painful days”, after withdrawing from next month’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.

The 31-year-old, who has a shoulder injury, has withdrawn or retired from two out of the three events she has played in since September’s US Open.

“It’s been an issue last year and going into this year,” said the Russian.

“My doctor says it’s a day-by-day pain management situation.”

Sharapova beat defending champion Caroline Wozniacki to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in January before losing to Ashleigh Barty.

She then pulled out of the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy at the end of January.

“The shoulder injury hasn’t been much of a secret in the past year,” she said.

“That’s been something I have been struggling with and had to shut down the season after the US Open.

“[It’s] still not where I want it to be, I’m still working through some painful days.

“That’s something that I have had to deal with since I was 21 years old and really at the peak of my career.”

BNP Paribas Open tweet

Go to Source

Laura Robson: Comeback from hip surgery ‘better than expected’

Laura Robson

Former British number one Laura Robson says she felt “better than expected” after fearing she “would be terrible” in her comeback tournament following eight months out.

The 25-year-old, who had hip surgery last June, lost 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (8-10) 6-0 to Liechtenstein’s Kathinka von Deichmann in the ITF W60 in Shrewsbury.

“It was nice to be back,” Robson, the current world number 511, told BBC Shropshire after Tuesday’s match.

“I’m quite happy that my body held up.”

Having lost in the final round of qualifying for the World Tour event, Robson faced world number 162 Von Deichmann as a ‘lucky loser’ at the Shrewsbury Club.

Robson, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2013 and was ranked world number 27 in the same year, added: “I definitely had some rust but that can only improve by playing more matches.

“Especially with the second round of surgery, it’s quite difficult to find the motivation to rehab all over again, so I’m really happy that I’ve actually made it back on to a tournament.”

Robson was courtside in Bath last week to watch Great Britain win four consecutive Fed Cup ties, culminating with Saturday’s decisive win over Serbia.

She said: “All I wanted to get out of this week was to enjoy being on court.

“I enjoyed it out there and I competed pretty well for someone who has been away for months.”

Robson intends to play at Glasgow’s W25 tournament next week.

Laura Robson was talking to BBC Shropshire’s Mark Elliott.

Go to Source

Fed Cup: Great Britain to face Kazakhstan in play-offs

Katie Boulter and Anne Keothavong

Great Britain will play Kazakhstan at home in April’s Fed Cup World Group II play-offs.

It is the fifth time in eight years GB have reached this stage, but the first time they have been handed a home tie as they look to reach the World Group for the first time since 1993.

British number one Johanna Konta beat Aleksandra Krunic to seal a 2-0 win against Serbia in the last round.

The tie is expected to be played at London’s Copper Box Arena.

Kazakhstan’s number one Yulia Putintseva is ranked 43 in the world, four places behind British number one Johanna Konta.

Britain’s number two Katie Boulter, is ranked 13 places above opposite number Zarina Diyas.

Putintseva has reached the French Open quarter-finals twice in the past three years, although GB captain Anne Keothavong will not choose to play the tie on clay.

Go to Source

Naomi Osaka: World number one splits with coach Sascha Bajin

Naomi Osaka and Sascha Bajin

World number one Naomi Osaka has split with her coach Sascha Bajin 16 days after winning the Australian Open.

The Japanese 21-year-old, whose win in Melbourne sealed back-to-back Grand Slam titles, worked with the German for just over a year.

“I will no longer be working together with Sascha,” Osaka tweeted. “I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future.”

Bajin was named WTA coach of the year for 2018.

He is a former hitting partner of Grand Slam champions Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

Under Bajin, Osaka rose from world number 72 at the start of the 2018 to the summit of the rankings little over a year later.

No reason has been given for the split, which comes less than six months after he said he was in it for the long haul.