TOKYO (AFP) – Liudmila Samsonova said that Wimbledon’s ban on Russian players had given her time to transform her game, after winning her third title in four tournaments yesterday at the Pan Pacific Open.
The Russian world number 30 beat China’s emerging teenager Zheng Qinwen 7-5, 7-5 to add to the titles she won in Washington and Cleveland in August, having not dropped a set all week in Tokyo.
The 23-year-old said she was “shocked” when she heard that Russian and Belarusian players would be banned from the June-July Wimbledon Grand Slam in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
She used the month off to sharpen her game and is now reaping the benefits, having also beaten Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza this week in the Japanese capital.
“I said, ‘Okay, I have one month without tournaments, so let’s work this month’,” said the powerful Samsonova, who hits between 120 and 150 practice serves every day.
“I used it so well because I was working so hard. I had 32 days of just practising, which is not normal at that time of the year for a tennis player.”