Unranked player wins title


News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports



Switzerland's Belinda Bencic holds her trophy after defeating Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Switzerland's Belinda Bencic holds her trophy after defeating Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)


Switzerland's Belinda Bencic kisses her trophy after defeating Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)


Switzerland's Belinda Bencic celebrates after defeating Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)


Bencic beats Kvitova to win Dubai Championships title

Saturday, February 23

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Unseeded Swiss player Belinda Bencic pulled off another upset to win her first WTA title in three-and-a-half years, beating Petra Kvitova 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 Saturday in the final of the Dubai Championships.

The 45th-ranked Bencic has struggled with injuries in recent years but finally seems to be back to her best, following up wins against second-ranked Simona Halep and two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina by outlasting Kvitova.

“It’s incredible. I mean, I still cannot believe it,” said the 21-year-old Bencic, who also saved six match points against No. 9 Aryna Sabalenka in the second round. “So many times I was close to defeat. It’s unbelievable that I ended up winning this.”

Bencic had not won a title since the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2015. Back then, she was still a teenager and viewed as one of the top talents on the WTA Tour, breaking into the top 10 in the rankings. But injuries, including wrist surgery, have held her back until now.

And after four straight wins against top-10 ranked players this week, it could be just a matter of time until she’s back on that list as well.

“Of course they are very high-quality players, all of them,” Bencic said. “I’m so happy about the consistency that I could back up my wins. After playing a tough match, I could mentally win another one. It’s very difficult.”

She was on the front foot from the start against the two-time Wimbledon champion, breaking her opponent straight away and jumping out to a 4-1 lead. Kvitova’s serve improved in the second set, though, and the Czech player also broke Bencic three times to level the match.

But Bencic got the first break of the decider to go up 2-1 and then broke again for a 5-2 lead before serving out the match,

Kvitova beat Bencic on route to the Australian Open final this year, but said her inconsistent serve let her down this time.

“I think definitely I served much, much better in Melbourne than here,” Kvitova said. “The whole tournament I was pretty (much) fighting with my serve. It wasn’t really great. I played a lot from the second serve.”

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

2-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova reaches final in Dubai

Friday, February 22

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova came back to edge Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 Friday and reach the Dubai Championships final.

The second-seeded Kvitova picked up her tour-high 17th victory of 2019. She made it to her third final of the season — she was the runner-up at the Australian Open — and 35th of her career.

Bidding to add a second Dubai title to the one she won in 2013, and a 27th trophy overall, Kvitova will meet two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina or Belinda Bencic in the final.

Hsieh, who is ranked 31st and hits two-handed shots off both sides, was trying to eliminate her fourth top-10 seed of the week. That included wins over Angelique Kerber in the third round and Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

“She’s very tricky,” Kvitova said about Hsieh, who grabbed five games in a row to take the opening set and go ahead 1-0 in the second.

“I didn’t really play the best in the end of the first set. But I calmed down afterward a little bit,” Kvitova said. “With her, I need to be a little bit patient. … It’s not really that easy to make those winners against her.”

The players traded three breaks to begin the third set before Kvitova held for a 3-1 lead and was on her way.

Bencic upsets Halep to reach Dubai semifinals; Kvitova wins

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Unseeded Belinda Bencic rallied to beat second-ranked Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Thursday to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals.

Bencic, who saved six match points in the previous round against Aryna Sabalenka, failed to capitalize on an early break in the first set but Halep continued to struggle with her serve and was broken seven times in total. Bencic broke for a 5-4 lead in the second and then raced out to a 3-0 lead in the decider, having won six games in a row. Halep, who was playing her ninth match in 13 days after reaching the final in Qatar last week, got one break back but Bencic broke again for a 5-2 lead before converting her third match point.

“It was really difficult physically,” Halep said. “I was tired. After the second set, I felt like I’m getting cramping a little bit. It’s normal. I was sweating a lot. She played very well. In the end, she was a little bit stronger.”

Second-seeded Petra Kvitova had no such problems, winning the last eight games to oust Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0 to book her spot in the last four. Kvitova, the 2013 Dubai champion, needed just 62 minutes to wrap up the win. She will next face Su-wei Hsieh of Taiwan, who came from 5-1 down in the final set to beat fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. It was the latest upset for Hsieh, who ousted Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber on Wednesday.

In the final quarterfinal, two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine defeated Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Bencic. It’s the fourth year in a row that Svitolina makes the semifinals in Dubai, although she had to come from a break down in each set to get past Suarez Navarro.

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Conversation

The real women of ‘The Favourite’ included an 18th-century Warren Buffett

February 22, 2019

Author: Amy Froide, Professor of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Disclosure statement: Amy Froide does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: University of Maryland, Baltimore County provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

One of the challengers at this year’s Oscars is “The Favourite,” a film set in the early 18th-century court of British monarch Queen Anne.

Focusing on the political and sexual intrigues of a female-led state, the film has, at its center, not only the queen but also her two “favorites” – Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and Abigail, Baroness Masham. Much of the film focuses on how these two female courtiers vie for influence over Anne.

These early 18th-century women are hardly household names, so a movie that introduces them to a wider audience is welcome. And it doesn’t hurt that some of today’s biggest Hollywood stars inhabit the main roles: Olivia Coleman stars as Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz plays Sarah Churchill, and Emma Stone appears as Abigail Masham.

The film, as well as all three actresses, were nominated for Oscars.

But how does the portrayal of these women stack up against the historical reality? Might the fancy frocks, extravagant palaces and sexual triangles distract viewers from their true historical significance?

As a historian of women in early modern Britain, I’ve built my career analyzing the roles that women played in the past despite living in male-dominated societies. In fact, Sarah Churchill is featured in my recent book, “Silent Partners: Women as Public Investors during England’s Financial Revolution, 1680-1750.”

While “The Favourite” introduces viewers to the women who were important political figures in early 18th-century Britain, it doesn’t quite capture just how much power these women – especially Sarah – actually wielded.

Queen Anne and the birth of an empire

The Queen Anne portrayed in “The Favourite” is physically and mentally a mess, which isn’t entirely inaccurate.

While it is true that she had bad eyesight, was overweight, suffered from gout and endured the loss of 17 children, this was only one side of her.

By watching the film, you wouldn’t learn that Queen Anne presided over the union of Scotland and England into Great Britain in 1707, kept the Jacobite supporters of her Catholic half-brother at bay, successfully maintained a Protestant monarchy that has lasted into the present day, and furthered Britain’s rise to dominance on sea and land, ushering in the first century of Britain’s global empire.

Sarah pulls the (purse) strings

The figure around whom the action pivots in “The Favourite,” however, is not Queen Anne but Sarah Churchill. The power behind Anne’s throne, Sarah possesses the political, economic and military vision for the country.

As Keeper of the Privy Purse, one of Sarah’s jobs was to manage the royal household’s financial accounts. And with her husband, General John Churchill, away much of the time leading the queen’s troops, Sarah also handled the finances and investments for her own family.

Her political adversaries accused both Churchills of benefiting financially from their ties to Queen Anne. Sarah’s control over access to the queen and John’s role leading the army created opportunities for patronage, bribes and, in John’s case, some shady involvement in army supply contracts.

In my book, I argue that while the Churchills may have been venal and dishonest, much of their money came from Sarah’s astute and underappreciated investing in the stock market. As an early adopter of stock investing, Sarah put her family’s funds into the national debt, the Bank of England and shares in private companies. In 1704, she had over 19,000 pounds of her own money in stocks, or US$3.5 million today.

Sarah became famous for avoiding the losses so many of her contemporaries incurred in the South Sea Bubble of 1720, when investors poured money into the South Sea Company. She had wisely taken her family’s money out a few months before the crash because she realized the company’s stock was overvalued. In the process she made a cool 100,000 pounds.

Unlike the male courtiers in “The Favourite” who foolishly wager on duck races, Sarah didn’t make unnecessary gambles. She was such a savvy and significant investor; like Warren Buffett today, her actions and decisions could single-handedly influence the market. When British Prime Minister Robert Walpole needed money to fund the government, it was Sarah Churchill whom he approached for a loan of 200,000 pounds.

Abigail Masham is a more shadowy historical figure. As Emma Stone so ably shows in the movie, Abigail was quite intelligent.

But she seemed to be more interested in political maneuvering for personal gain, or for the benefit of her party, the Tories, who competed with the Whigs for power. Tellingly, Abigail left politics when Anne died, while Sarah, a Whig, didn’t end her political involvement even when dismissed from Anne’s service.

A reflexive response to powerful female figures

As a queen, Anne had female, rather than, male attendants, meaning that those closest to power were also women. In “The Favourite,” Sarah Churchill tells the government ministers that if they want to see the queen, they need to an appointment with her. This inverted power dynamic made contemporaries uncomfortable and resulted in rumors and insinuations about the nature of the relationships between the queen and her female attendants.

Not surprisingly, “The Favourite” makes much of these lesbian rumors, and some scenes depict sexual activity between women. But the 18th-century suggestions of homosexuality had more to do with the discomfort contemporaries had about women wielding power than actual same-sex relationships, although those happened too.

While the movie primarily focuses on the politics of the personal – the cat fights, jealousy and love triangles – the reality is that these women ran Britain.

The movie is on firmer ground in the way it depicts the men in their orbit. They are either absent (the Duke of Marlborough is away at the front), foolish (Minister Harley struts around in make up and a foppish get-up) or subservient (the young Colonel Masham follows Abigail around like a puppy).

Yes, women like Sarah enjoyed a lot of power due to her role as the queen’s favorite, and yes, she used that power to benefit her family. No, she probably wasn’t nice.

But how was this any different from the male courtiers who had been close to English kings for centuries? Sarah Churchill wasn’t doing anything new or particularly wrong.

She was just doing it as a woman.

The Conversation

3 tips: How to teach children to watch commercials more closely

February 22, 2019

Author: Sarah Gretter, Senior Learning Experience (LX) Designer, Michigan State University

Disclosure statement: Sarah Gretter does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

With all the time that young people spend in front of screens these days – from TVs to laptops, cellphones and iPads – children are bound to see a lot of ads and commercials.

On average, American children spend anywhere between three to nine hours of time on screen. This includes TV, DVD, mobile, computer and video games.

To take advantage of all the time that is spent being plugged in, companies are spending billions of dollars on slick techniques to get attention. And it’s working. For instance, children between the ages of 2 to 11 see an average of 25,600 TV ads a year.

As entertaining as commercials may be, research has shown young people can’t always separate fact from fiction. For instance, a 2016 study found that out of 7,804 student responses, more than 80 percent of middle school students believed that web ads were real news stories. The same study found that more than 80 percent of high school students had a hard time distinguishing between real and fake photos.

Based on this evidence, America’s young people, it seems, could benefit from media literacy – a subject that is one of the focal areas of my research. Media literacy is about being able analyze and evaluate the messages we see in different media platforms.

For parents and others who want to empower children to be more aware of how commercials influence what they think and do, here are three ways to use media literacy skills to accomplish that end. The tips may be particularly useful during major TV events that prompt companies to make special commercials, such as the Super Bowl or the Oscars, which airs on Feb. 24.

1. Ask questions

While ads can help young viewers socialize as consumers and tell them about products, research also shows that young audiences aren’t always able to detect persuasion in advertising.

The National Association for Media Literacy Education suggests that people get in the habit of asking questions so it can help them intelligently process the information to which they are being exposed.

One of the questions viewers should ask is: Who created the message? All media messages are constructed by an author. Thinking about who that is helps create distance from the message of the commercial itself.

Viewers should also ask if the commercial appeared credible. Commercials often transport many of us into a story world. Resisting the enticement of stories allows viewers to stay grounded in a critical mindset.

2. Use your senses

Young viewers should be encouraged to ask how a commercial made them feel. Advertising relies heavily on people’s emotional reactions. Becoming more aware of how we’re made to feel during an ad can give us a clue about its effect on us.

Discussing how ads make children feel helps make children more aware of how ads influence their behavior. Rawpixel.com

Young viewers should also be encouraged to analyze what techniques were used to get their attention. Media makers use a variety of creative techniques to catch our eye, like bright colors, humor or celebrity endorsements. Focusing on how words, colors or camera angles affect the way we see or hear the message is important to analyze its appeal.

By teaching young viewers to question the “behind the scenes” of commercials, it will better enable them to understand the production techniques that marketers employ to sell their seemingly perfect products.

3. Reflect

Dialogue and reflection are important aspects of media literacy. Talking about commercials with others creates a common ground to exchange perspectives.

Young viewers should also be encouraged to ask why a particular message is being sent. Most media messages are typically developed to generate revenue or influence decisions Young viewers should be taught to look for motives, such as to inform, persuade or entertain.

Also, young viewers should be encouraged to ask what values are represented? Commercials often carry underlying themes that deal with politics, sexuality or identity. Looking at the points of view represented in the message is important to detect how chosen values are being reinforced.

By reflecting on the techniques and motives surrounding commercials, parents, educators and others can teach young people to make better sense of the many commercial messages they will see throughout their lives.

FIFA bans Chelsea from signing players through next season

Friday, February 22

ZURICH (AP) — Chelsea was banned by FIFA on Friday from signing players until the 2020 offseason transfer window for breaching rules covering youngsters.

The Premier League club has the right to appeal against the sanction, which covers the next two transfer windows — the entire 2019-20 season — and also includes a fine of 600,000 Swiss francs ($600,000).

The English Football Association was also fined 510,000 Swiss francs ($510,000) and given six months to “address the situation concerning the international transfer and first registration of minors in football,” FIFA said.

Both the FA and Chelsea announced plans to lodge appeals.

The punishment is the latest blow for Chelsea, which has dropped to sixth in the Premier League and was knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United on Monday. Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, who has transformed the London club with his wealth since his 2003 takeover, is currently unable to travel to Britain because of visa issues.

FIFA punished Chelsea for breaching rules related to the signing of 29 players under the age of 18.

International transfers involving players under 18 are prohibited unless their families had already moved to the new country for non-soccer reasons or they are close to the border of another nation. There is an exception for clubs within the European Union and European Economic Community which allows the transfer of 16- to 18-year-old players provided conditions are met on education and living conditions.

It was first reported three years ago that Burkina Faso attacker Bertrand Traore played for Chelsea’s under-18 team in 2011 while still 16. Traore made only 16 appearances for Chelsea’s first team before being sold to Lyon in 2017.

FIFA did not detail the specifics of the case against Chelsea, but it said the club also entered into agreements which “allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.”

Chelsea said it was initially charged over 92 players but no breach was found by FIFA in relation to 63 of them.

“The club is extremely disappointed that FIFA has not accepted the club’s submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players,” Chelsea said in a statement. “Chelsea FC acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will shortly be submitting its appeal to FIFA.”

The FA is challenging its fine and said it had already “raised some concerns with FIFA regarding its disciplinary processes.”

“We will however continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case,” the FA said in a statement.

Both the FA and Chelsea could ultimately challenge any FIFA appeal ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. When Real Madrid received a similar ban in 2016, the sanction was reduced to one transfer window by CAS. But Atletico Madrid failed to cut its punishment covering two transfer windows.

Chelsea already finalized one transfer knowing the FIFA verdict was pending. Christian Pulisic was signed for 64 million euros ($73 million) in January and the 20-year-old winger was immediately loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of this season. The German club didn’t have to pay a fee.

The transfer ban does not prevent Chelsea from selling players. Winger Eden Hazard, who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, has indicated he could look for a transfer at the end of season but he is under contract at Stamford Bridge until the end of the 2019-20 season.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic holds her trophy after defeating Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122387580-995c04e4b71148d1bd8a9fa94b93f782.jpgSwitzerland’s Belinda Bencic holds her trophy after defeating Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic kisses her trophy after defeating Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122387580-d7b4e3accedc449192f2a072e55ef9ed.jpgSwitzerland’s Belinda Bencic kisses her trophy after defeating Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic celebrates after defeating Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122387580-bcc4d5f4da7f418e948a177a44568fe5.jpgSwitzerland’s Belinda Bencic celebrates after defeating Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova during their final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports