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Sport Tennis

The week in tennis: Danielle Collins, Sloane Stephens, Rafael Nadal and more

This week, Danielle Collins continued her incredible run, Ben Shelton won a big title on clay, and Rafael Nadal's status after withdrawing from Brisbane with an injury.


  • Apr 12 2024
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The week in tennis: Danielle Collins, Sloane Stephens, Rafael Nadal and more
The week in tennis: Danielle Collins, Sloane Stephens, Rafael Nadal and more

A new week, a new surface, another title for red-hot Danielle Collins.

After winning her first 1000-level title in Miami on the hard court last week, Collins secured the trophy on the green clay at Charleston on Sunday with a dominant 6-2, 6-1 victory over Daria Kasatkina in the 77-minute final.

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Collins, 30, dropped just one set throughout the tournament and defeated a string of decorated opponents, including Ons Jabeur, Sloane Stephens and Maria Sakkari, on her way to the title. Having entered Miami ranked No. 53, she is now riding a career-best 13-match win streak and rose to No. 15 on Monday.

She also became the first woman to win Miami and Charleston back-to-back since Serena Williams in 2013.

While this would be an impressive streak for anyone, it's made even more mind-blowing considering Collins has said many times that this will be her final season on tour. Collins initially made the announcement at the Australian Open in January, citing her challenges with endometriosis and desire to start a family, and has since said her decision has given her extra motivation on the court. Kasatkina joked about Collins' impending retirement during the trophy presentation.

"I wanted to say I'm going to miss you on tour, but after this match I'm not sure honestly," Kasatkina said with a laugh. "To be honest, I'm going to miss you because you're such a character, your personality is amazing and I think that tennis is going to lose a lot after your retirement. So enjoy this moment. You're playing amazing."

Collins, who was a two-time NCAA singles champion while at Virginia, sealed her victory while South Carolina and Iowa were playing for the national championship and during Nelly Korda's latest LPGA win -- and Jessica Pegula might have just summed up the moment perfectly.

Here's what else you might have missed from around the tennis world last week:

New hardware for Shelton

Ben Shelton, another former NCAA singles champion, arrived in Houston for the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship with a 2-7 record on clay and having lost his previous five matches on the surface.

But that was no matter for the 21-year-old.

Despite challenging opponents and needing three sets in all but one of his matches, Shelton dug deep and won the title -- the second of his career and first on clay -- with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over defending champion Frances Tiafoe on Sunday. Shelton, who had 11 aces in the match, became the youngest player to win the event since Andy Roddick in 2002 and rose to a career-high ranking of No. 14 on Monday.

Shelton and Tiafoe, who are close friends, had a memorable trophy presentation after the match as they both exchanged kind words and Shelton thanked Tiafoe, 26, for paving the way for him and other players of color.

"You've been such an inspiration to kids, people of color in our sport, [you're] just an amazing representation," Shelton said. "You've been that guy to always put on for us and always be selfless, thinking about others, kids younger than you. So thanks for everything that you do for our sport and people who look like you and me."

While Shelton later tweeted he was upset about the timing of the match as he couldn't watch South Carolina and Iowa play, he was at least able to have an epic celebration as he jumped off of a diving board into a pool.

The rest of the week's winner's circle

Prior to last week's Estoril Open, Hubert Hurkacz had earned seven singles titles -- coming on both hard court and grass surfaces -- but had never won a title on clay. That changed in Portugal.

Hurkacz, 27, looked more than comfortable on the surface and rolled to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Pedro Martinez in Sunday's final. He had 15 aces in the match and won 83 percent of points behind his first serve. Hurkacz, who is now back at his career-high ranking of No. 8, is 8-2 in ATP Finals.

Friends and peers like Iga Swiatek and Casper Ruud were quick to congratulate Hurkacz on social media after the match. Ruud, the tournament's top seed who lost to Martinez in the semifinals, even hilariously reminded Hurkacz of the help he had provided at the start of the week.

Matteo Berrettini also won an ATP trophy this week with the title in Marrakech. Playing in just his third tournament since returning from a lengthy layoff due to an ankle injury, his 7-5, 6-2 final victory over Roberto Carballes Baena marked his first title since 2022 and his return to the top 100. He is now ranked No. 84.

"This is a small step in my comeback, but it feels so good to be back enjoying what I love to do," Berrettini wrote on Instagram after the match.

At the Copa Colsanitas Zurich in Bogota, Camila Osorio won her second career title on home soil with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over top-seeded Marie Bouzkova. The Colombian, who previously won the event title in 2021, credited the supportive fans for helping her win yet again.

"The Colombian fans helped me throughout the whole week," Osorio said, via the WTA. "They were always pulling me up, giving me positive vibes."

A first for Stephens

As the 2017 US Open champion, 2018 French Open finalist and former world No. 3, there's a lot Sloane Stephens has achieved in her incredible career. However, the 31-year-old made even more history for herself on Sunday when she won the first doubles title of her career.

Playing alongside Ashlyn Krueger, 19, for their fourth tournament together, and having received a wild card for entry, the all-American duo defeated Ukrainian twins Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiia Kichenok 1-6, 6-3, [10-7], in Sunday's final in Charleston.

"I held the [singles] trophy here in 2016 and to be holding my first-ever doubles title here in Charleston is super special for me," Stephens told the crowd after the match.

Nadal watch

After withdrawing from Indian Wells ahead of the event last month, Rafael Nadal had indicated he would be returning in time for this week's tournament in Monte Carlo. However, Nadal, who is an 11-time Monte Carlo champion, announced he would not be playing in the clay event with a social media post Thursday.

After nearly a yearlong absence due to a hip injury, the 37-year-old returned to competition at Brisbane in January but suffered a muscle tear at the tournament and has not been able to play since. He has previously said he expects the 2024 season to be his last on tour.

WTA Finals announcement

After months of rumors and speculation, the WTA announced it would be holding its signature year-end event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the next three years.

"Bringing the WTA Finals to Riyadh is an exciting new opportunity for us and a positive step for the long-term growth of women's tennis as a global and inclusive sport," WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in the statement Thursday. "We've been impressed by the commitment shown by the Saudi Tennis Federation to grow the sport at all levels and we have no doubt that players and fans can look forward to a world-class event in Riyadh as the finale to the 2024, 2025 and 2026 seasons."

The Middle Eastern nation had been rumored for the 2023 event, and there was widespread criticism from many involved in the sport about the country's record on human rights violations. It ultimately was granted to Cancun, Mexico, but, having had less than two months to prepare the venue, that location was widely panned for its playing conditions.

Many players voiced their hope that the 2024 location for the event would be announced well in advance, but others in tennis were equally vocal about the displeasure about Riyadh being a potential host, including Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who wrote an opinion piece together for The Washington Post in January.

"Not only is this a country where women are not seen as equal, it is a country where the current landscape includes a male guardianship law that essentially makes women the property of men," Evert and Navratilova wrote. "A country which criminalizes the LGBTQ community to the point of possible death sentences. A country whose long-term record on human rights and basic freedoms has been a matter of international concern for decades.

"Staging the WTA final there would represent not progress, but significant regression."

Neither the WTA nor Simon specifically addressed their concerns in Thursday's statement. Instead, the statement highlighted record prize money of $15.25 million for 2024 and hopes for growing women's tennis around the world. In an interview with The Associated Press, Simon said Evert and Navratilova's concerns had been discussed.

"We're going into this eyes wide open that the investment in sport by Saudi certainly provokes strong views from people," Simon said. "We've met with Chris and Martina and listened to their concerns and we have shared their concerns through our stakeholders as well, without prejudice. We've also shared the concerns around women's rights and LGBTQ+ rights within the Kingdom of Saudi. Our focus is on how we develop women's tennis for the benefit of everybody involved in the game."

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