Leylah Fernandez to Compete at This Year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals

Leylah Fernandez is gearin’ up for a special cup

The 19-year-old half-Ecuadorian Canadian tennis sensation and U.S. Open finalist is among the players named to the 12 teams at next month’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Leylah Fernandez

Fernandez will play for Canada in the competition.

But she isn’t the only Latina set to play in the Cup.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza will play for Spain along with Carla Suarez Navarro.

Meanwhile, Caroline Garcia is set to play for defending champion France, alongside her teammates Alize Cornet and Fiona Ferro, who were all part of the  group that won the event in 2019. The 2020 edition was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Matches will be played in Prague on Nov. 1-6.

The host Czech Republic will be led by 2021 French Open singles and doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova.

She is joined by Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up and the 2020 Tokyo Games singles silver medalist, and Katerina Siniakova, who was Krejcikova’s doubles partner for three Grand Slam doubles titles and a gold medal at the Summer Games.

Sloane Stephens is joined by Jessica PegulaDanielle Collins, CoCo Vandeweghe and Caroline Dolehide on the U.S. roster.

Paula Badosa Advances to First-Ever Grand Slam Quarterfinal at the French Open

It’s a personal Grand Slam best as a pro for Paula Badosa

Six years after winning the French Open as a junior, the 23-year-old Spanish tennis player outlasted Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 at Roland Garros on Sunday to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Paula Badosa,

“I’ve always liked dreaming big,” said Badosa after her win.

Badosa fell into a seeded position, at No.33, at Roland Garros when Alison Riske withdrew from the draw, but anyone who has followed the tour from week-to-week would have circled her name regardless.

Back on her favorite surface, Badosa came into Paris with the highest clay winning percentage on tour, at 86.7% (13-2). Her four wins and Paris brings that tally to 89.4%.

Badosa had been building a steady head of steam all season. She took her momentum from 2020 Roland Garros, where she notched just her second and third Top 50 wins, over Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko, to make her first Slam Round of 16.

Badosa then went on a string of notable semifinal runs.

  • In Lyon, her first of the season.
  • In Charleston, her first at the WTA 500 level, with a first win against a Top 20 player (Belinda Bencic) and first over a reigning No.1 (Ashleigh Barty).
  • In Madrid, her first at the WTA 1000 level.

And to add one more career milestone to the list, in Belgrade, where she captured her first WTA title.

As a result, Badosa rose from No.71 at the start of the clay season to No. 35 ahead of the French Open.

Badosa will next face Tamara Zidansek for a spot in the final four.

Carlos Alcaraz Among ESPN’s ’21 Under 21′ Tennis Players to Watch in 2021

Carlos Alcaraz is among the phenoms to watch this year…

ESPN has announced tennis’ 21 under 21 for 2021, with the 17-year-old Spanish tennis player among the sport’s rising stars making the grade.

Carlos Alcaraz

Despite the circumstances of the 2020 season, Alcaraz managed to move up 350 spots the rankings by year’s end, moving from No. 491 to No. 141, even reaching a career-high of No. 136 in October.

He started the year with back-to-back titles on the ITF Futures tour and was granted a wild card into the Rio Open in February. And the then-16-year-old made the most of his ATP Tour level debut, upsetting former World No. 17 Albert Ramos-Viñolas in 3 hours, 36 minutes in the opening round to become the first player born in 2003 to win a match and the youngest match winner since 2013. Alcaraz called the victory the high point of his season.

Following the restart of the season in August, Alcaraz went 20-4 in ATP Challenger events and won three titles at Trieste, Barcelona and Alicante, as well as playing in the final at Cordenons. He was named the ATP‘s Newcomer of the Year and is the youngest player in the top 600.

But Alcaraz, who idolizes fellow countryman Rafael Nadal, has even bigger goals for 2021. He hopes to make his first main draw appearance at a major in Australia in February and then play in all of the Grand Slams. As for his ranking? He’s hoping to make another big push in the new year.

“I want to finish the year in the top 50,” he said.

But Alcaraz isn’t the only Latinx tennis player to make the list…

Canada’s Leylah Fernandez completed her high school studies in the spring during the tour stoppage.

The 18-year-old half-Ecuadorian tennis player made her major main draw debut at the Australian Open in January — just a year removed from winning the junior title — but it was what she did in the weeks following the event that raised tennis fans’ eyebrows.

After losing in the first round in Melbourne, Fernandez scored her first win over a top-10 player (Belinda Bencic) while representing Canada in the Fed Cup (now known as the Billie Jean King Cup) in Switzerland. Later that month, she won six matches in seven days as a wild card qualifier in the Mexican Open, rolling into the final, where she ultimately lost to Heather Watson. The following week, she advanced to the quarterfinals at the Monterrey Open, defeating 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the second round.

Fernandez made a second-round appearance at the US Open and advanced to the third round of the French Open, where she took a 5-1 first-set lead over Petra Kvitova before the two-time major champion came back to win.

Fernandez thinks her 2021 will be even more successful. Her plan is to reach the top 10 by the end of the year.

Thiago Seyboth Wild wasn’t exactly the favorite entering the Chile Open last February after cracking the top 200 for the first time. But having notched one of the biggest wins of his career the week prior at the Rio Open in 3 hours, 49 minutes — the longest match ever in tournament history — over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and taking World No. 32 Borna Ćorić to three sets the next round, the then-19-year old Brazilian tennis player was flying high entering the event.

What he did over the course of the week in Santiago was even more impressive.

Seyboth Wild knocked off three seeds en route to the title, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to win an ATP event and the youngest Brazilian champion in the Open era.

He found mixed results after the restart, losing in the first round of the US Open and not making it past qualifying at the French Open. But he made a finals appearance at a Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence, which lifted him to a career-high No. 106 in the rankings.

Seyboth Wild hopes to build off what he achieved in 2020 in the new year, although he says he focused more on some of the small things during the preseason.

Here’s the complete list in alphabetical order:

Carlos Alcaraz
Age: 17
Ranking: 141
Country: Spain
Career highlights: Winner of three ATP Challenger titles and three ITF Futures titles; Won his ATP main draw debut at the 2020 Rio Open

Bianca Andreescu
Age: 20
Ranking: 7
Country: Canada
Career highlights: Champion, 2019 US Open, 2019 Indian Wells and 2019 Canadian Open

Amanda Anisimova
Age: 19
Ranking: 30
Country: USA
Career highlights: Semifinals, 2019 French Open; Champion, 2019 Copa Colsanitas

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Age: 20
Ranking: 21 (77 in doubles)
Country: Canada
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2020 US Open; Six-time ATP finalist; Doubles champion, 2020 Paris Masters 

Leylah Fernandez
Age: 18
Ranking: 88
Country: Canada
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 French Open; Finalist, 2020 Mexican Open

Hugo Gaston
Age: 20
Ranking: 162
Country: France
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2020 French Open

Coco Gauff
Age: 16
Ranking: 48 (45 in doubles)
Country: USA
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2019 Wimbledon and 2020 Australian Open; Doubles quarterfinals, 2020 Australian Open; Champion, 2019 Linz Open; Doubles champion, 2019 Washington Open and 2019 Luxembourg Open

Varvara Gracheva
Age: 20
Ranking: 94
Country: Russia
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 US Open; Seven ITF titles 

Kaja Juvan
Age: 20
Ranking: 104
Country: Slovenia
Career highlights: Second round, 2019 Wimbledon, 2020 US Open, 2020 French Open; Seven ITF titles 

Sebastian Korda
Age: 20
Ranking: 118
Country: USA
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2020 French Open; One title on ATP Challenger Tour 

Marta Kostyuk
Age: 18
Ranking: 99 (112 in doubles)
Country: Ukraine
Career highlights: Third round, 2018 Australian Open, 2020 US Open; Three ITF singles titles, two ITF doubles titles 

Ann Li
Age: 20
Ranking: 98
Country: USA
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 US Open; Three ITF titles 

Caty McNally
Age: 19
Ranking: 121 (42 in doubles)
Country: USA
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 US Open; Doubles quarterfinals, 2020 Australian Open; Doubles champion, 2019 Washington Open and 2019 Luxembourg Open 

Lorenzo Musetti
Age: 18
Ranking: 128
Country: Italy
Career highlights: Semifinals, 2020 Sardinia; Third round, 2020 Italian Open; One ATP Challenger title and two ITF Futures titles 

Brandon Nakashima
Age: 19
Ranking: 166
Country: USA
Career highlights: Second round, 2020 US Open; One ATP Challenger title and two ITF Futures titles 

Anastasia Potapova
Age: 19
Ranking: 101 (133 in doubles)
Country: Russia
Career highlights: Second round, 2019 Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon; Finalist, 2018 Moscow River Cup, 2018 Tashkent Open; Doubles champion, 2018 Moscow River Cup, 2019 Lausanne

Thiago Seyboth Wild
Age: 20
Ranking: 116
Country: Brazil
Career highlights: First round, 2020 US Open; Champion, 2020 Chile Open

Jannik Sinner
Age: 19
Ranking: 37
Country: Italy
Career highlights: Quarterfinals, 2020 French Open; Champion, 2020 Sofia Open, 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals 

Iga Swiatek
Age: 19
Ranking: 17 (75 in doubles)
Country: Poland
Career highlights: Champion, 2020 French Open 

Clara Tauson
Age: 18
Ranking: 152
Country: Denmark
Career highlights: Second round, 2020 French Open; Seven ITF titles 

Dayana Yastremska
Age: 20
Ranking: 29 (90 in doubles)
Country: Ukraine
Career highlights: Fourth round, 2019 Wimbledon; Champion, 2018 Hong Kong, 2019 Hua Hin, 2019 Strasbourg

Beatriz Haddad Maia Defeats Sloane Stephens to Reach Mexican Open Quarterfinals

It’s a big take down byBeatriz Haddad Maia

The 22-year-old Brazilian tennis player, currently ranked No. 195 in the world, has defeated top seed Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals at the Mexican Open.

Beatriz Haddad Maia

It’s Haddad Maia’s first victory in seven career matches against players ranked in the top 10. 

The fourth-ranked Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, was making her first appearance in the event since winning the 2016 title.

“It was just a tough match, obviously she played well,” Stephens said. “A tough day. But I’m not too sad about it. I’m just going to go back and work some more, practice some more and get ready for Indian Wells.”

Haddad Maia will face Wang Yafan in the quarterfinals. Wang led Monica Puig4-1 when Puig retired because of an injury.

Garbiñe Muguruza: The Highest Paid Latina Athlete in the World

Garbiñe Muguruza is the highest-paid Latina athlete…

Forbes has released its list of the 10 Highest-Paid Female Athletes, with the 24-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan professional tennis player and former world No. 1 making the cut.

Garbiñe Muguruza 

Muguruza comes in at No. 4 on the list, behind Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens.

Muguruza, who won her second Grand Slam at Wimbledon last year, earned 11 million during the tracking period.

Muguruza’s title at the All England Club meant a big bonus from sponsor Adidas and also helped her land a deal with Rolex. Evian signed Muguruza this year for a multiyear, global marketing campaign. Other sponsors include BabolatBeats by Dre, Maui Jim sunglasses and Caser Seguros insurance.

In all, the 10 highest-paid female athletes banked $105 million from prize money, appearances, royalties and endorsements in the 12 months ending June 1, 2018. The tally is down 4% from last year and 28% from five years ago. Blame the retirements of popular endorsement stars like Li Na, Danica Patrick and Ana Ivanovic. Another dent: The off-court income of Maria Sharapova, who was the top-earning female athlete for 11 straight years, is still down more than 50% after the fallout from her 16-month suspension for taking a banned substance. Sharapova ranks fifth this year at $10.5 million.

Here’s the complete list:

1, Serena Williams — Total earnings: $18.1 million
2. Caroline Wozniacki — Total earnings: $13 million
3. Sloane Stephens — Total earnings: $11.2 million
4. Garbine Muguruza — Total earnings: $11 million
5. Maria Sharapova — Total earnings: $10.5 million
6. Venus Williams — Total earnings: $10.2 million
7. P.V. Sindhu — Total earnings: $8.5 million
8. Simona Halep — Total earnings: $7.7 million
9. Danica Patrick — Total earnings: $7.5 million
10. Angelique Kerber — Total earnings: $7 million

Garbine Muguruza Named WTA Player of the Year

Garbine Muguruza is capping off the year with a special honor…

The 24-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan player, this year’s Wimbledon champion, has been named the WTA Player of the Year.

Garbine Muguruza

The women’s tennis tour announced the annual honors Friday. The awards are voted on by members of the media.

Muguruza beat Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final in July for her second Grand Slam title, then moved up to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time in September.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens is the Comeback Player of the Year.

Other award recipients include French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko as Most Improved Player, CiCi Bellis as Newcomer of the Year, and Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan as Doubles Team of the Year.

Garbine Muguruza Upsets Karolina Pliskova to Reach Western & Southern Open Final

Garbine Muguruza has taken down the world No. 1 to reach her first Western & Southern Open final.

The 23-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan tennis player and reigning Wimbledon champion beat World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova to secure a place in Sunday’s final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where she’ll take on No. 2 seed Simona Halep.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza came through 6-3, 6-2, having set the tone after breaking Pliskova in the very first game.

Muguruza kept the pressure on Pliskova’s serve, securing a key break to lead 4-2 in the second set before closing out victory in one hour and 21 minutes after taking a fifth match-point chance against the top seed.

Halep, meanwhile, could take over from Pliskova at the top of the WTA rankings if she’s able to win the tournament.

Halep had to battle past British No. 1 Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) in their quarterfinal, which lasted almost two hours.

However, Halep coasted through the second semifinal with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Sloane Stephens in just 56 minutes.

Bündchen to Appear as Part of Under Armour’s New Women’s Campaign

Gisele Bündchen is breaking out her armour

The 34-year-old Brazilian supermodel has signed on to be part of Under Armour’s new women’s campaign.

Gisele Bundchen

Bündchen, the world’s top-earning model in 2014, has reportedly agreed to a multiyear deal, according to ESPN.com. Financial terms were not disclosed.

On Tuesday, the shoe and apparel brand posted a teaser video on YouTube featuring Bündchen, who is married to New England Patriots‘ star quarterback Tom Brady.

In the video, she’s seen wearing the brand’s gear and heading into an empty loft with a heavy bag hanging from the ceiling. It ends with the promise of more to come about the relationship Thursday.

In 2010, Brady joined Under Armour, receiving an undisclosed piece of the company for his endorsement. Although Brady has been selective with his endorsements, landing Bündchen might have been harder.

Last month, Forbes magazine said she was the highest-earning model in the world for the eighth year in a row, pulling in an estimated $47 million. In comparison, Brady received a $30 million signing bonus for a restructured and extended deal he signed last year with the Patriots, and he has a $2 million base salary for this upcoming season.

Bündchen will be part of Under Armour’s women’s campaign, which kicked off last month with the signing of ballerina Misty Copeland, another nontraditional endorsement deal for the brand. The Copeland spot, featuring her against-all-odds story, has garnered more than 5.8 million views on YouTube.

The campaign, with its I Will What I Want slogan, also includes skier Lindsey Vonn, soccer player Kelley O’Hara and tennis player Sloane Stephens.

Under Armour’s women’s business registers about $500 million in sales and makes up roughly 30 percent of the company’s overall apparel sales annually.

The husband-wife team of Brady and Bündchen is perhaps the highest-profile to align with a sports brand since Andre Agassi left Nike in 2005 to join Adidas, the brand endorsed by his wife, Steffi Graf. Agassi went back to Nike last year.

Garcia: The Unofficial MVP During France’s Fed Cup Matches Against the United States

Caroline Garcia is having a banner year… And, she’s got this week’s Fed Cup results to prove it.

The 20-year-old half-Spanish tennis player almost singlehandedly led France to a 3-2 upset of the United States in the international Fed Cup competition on Sunday.

Caroline Garcia

Garcia had a hand in all three of her country’s victories. She beat the USA’s Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens in singles matches early in the meet before joining teammate Virginie Razzano to win the decisive doubles match.

“I’m not sure what I’m doing differently,” she said. “I don’t know. I guess it’s working, so I’ll try to keep doing it, whatever it is.”

France qualified for the World Group in 2015 and will compete for the Fed Cup championship.

The USA is relegated to World Group II for next year.

Garcia and Razzano beat Stephens and Keys 6-2, 7-5 in the fifth and deciding match of the best-of-five, two-day competition held at Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis University.

Garcia, ranked 51st in the world, came from out of nowhere to capture her first WTA championships in winning both the singles and double titles in the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogota, Columbia, on April 13.

She carried the momentum from those victories into the Fed Cup.

“She was totally amazing, unbelievable,” France captain Amelie Mauresmo said. “She really rose to the occasion and was fearless.”

Garcia and Razzano used a pair of nifty passing shots to break Stephens’ serve in the 11th game of the second set. The pair won the lengthy 14-point game to take a 6-5 lead. Razzano then served out the match.

Garcia began her run by beating Stephens 6-3, 6-2 in the opening match on Saturday.

“She was the star of the weekend,” USA captain Mary Jo Fernandez said. “I never thought that she got nervous in any of the matches. She’s really aggressive and it’s all coming together.”

France played Sunday without its top player, Alize Cornet, who suffered a groin injury in a three-set loss to Keys on Saturday.

Fernandez took a chance on using Keys and Stephens in the series-deciding doubles match. The duo of Lauren Davis and Christina McHalewas originally slated to play.

But Fernandez chose to go with the two singles players even though they were coming off tough matches earlier in the day. Keys had just 35 minutes of rest after her loss to Garcia.

“I was trying to go with the players that had big weapons and (could) impose their game on the French,” Fernandez said.

Said Keys: “Not very often do you finish a match and go out again (35) minutes later. I was a little bit more tired.”

Puig’s Impressive Run at Wimbledon Ends Against Sloane Stephens

The clock has struck twelve for Monica Puig…

The 19-year-old Puerto Rican tennis player’s Cinderella run at Wimbledon came to an end at the hands of another young tennis star.

Monica Puig

Sloane Stephens, the last American singles player still in the hunt at the All England Club, advanced to the quarterfinals on Monday by beating Puig 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

It was a hard-fought 2-hour, 4-minute match on Court 18.

“Just knowing that I am a good tennis player. I’m top-20 in the world for a reason. I didn’t, like, all of a sudden, snap my fingers and I got good,” Stephens said. “I put in a lot of work. (It) took a lot of sweat (and), like, ‘bad hair’ days, all that other stuff, to get to where I was. I realize that I just couldn’t let that go to waste. I had to get back to work.”

Despite the loss, Puig still has plenty of reason to be proud.

Competing at Wimbledon for the first time in her professional career, she pulled off an upset win over No. 5 seed Sara Errani in the first round. She then beat Spain’s Silvia Soler Espinosa in the second round and Eva Birnerova in the third round.

Puig, the first woman in the Open era to represent Puerto Rico in the fourth round, surpassed her best performance in a Grand Slam at the All England Club. She’d previously reached the third round at this year’s French Open.