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Tennis Update • Aryna Sabalenka And Elise Mertens Win The Doubles In Indian Wells

By  Jade Tammen Nordness


Aryna Sabalenka •  Dmitry Tursunov


Tursunov’s Tough Love Prevails


Today in the Women’s Double’s Final, WTA Coach, Dmitry Tursunov, the Russian-born, California-boy ATP player turned WTA coach will be celebrating as his 20-year-old prodigy, Aryna Sabalenka along with partner Elise Mertens, claim the title at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open title.


On Tuesday, Sabalenka fell from the Women’s Singles draw dropping a tough three set match to German, Angelique Kerber. After a nervous first set start, Sabalenka called for her coach.  A lively discussion was had, but seemingly too late to save the 1-6 set.  Deeper into the second set Tursunov was again summoned to console the flustered 20-year old.  According to the translation of a helpful Tennis Channel fan, Sabalenka appealed to her coach, asking his support.  His dispassionate “no” and seeming disinterest in supporting the defeatist behavior, became the fodder for commentators Mary Carrillo and Tracy Austin as well as Tennis Channel fans throughout the remainder of the evening match.


Austin believed the coach was being paid to both speak to. motivate and support his player, while Carillo argued that Sabalenka’s blatant behavior towards her coach was best ignored.  Clearly Tursunov’s reaction had an effect, as Sabalenka fought back to win the second set 6-4, but ultimately fell 4-6 in the third to a determined Kerber.


In today’s doubles final, Sabalenka seemed to maintain her focus, and while struggling with her serve, did dig deep to match ground strokes with the #1 seeded doubles team of Krejcikova and Siniakova, prevailing with a 6-3; 6-2 win over the favored pair.


As for Tursunov’s coaching style, we refer back to a statement he made during an interview at the 2018 US Open: “Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and be patient.  Some days she’s receptive, some days she’s got too many other things in her head and she doesn’t really want to listen… so you have to take your foot off the gas and just let her stumble around and hit her pinky toe against the corner of the bed in order to say, ‘Ok, I don’t know what I’m doing, what do you think?’”


Whether you agree with Austin’s “talk” or Carillo’s “don’t talk” arugument, you must agree with Tursunov’s results as they are certainly speaking for themselves at the moment with Sabalenka’s success at this year’s BNP Paribas Open.  Keep an eye on this fiery 20-year-old Belarusian as she is taking the WTA tour by storm this year and the sky seems to be the limit.

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