At six of the last 10 Grand Slam tournaments, a woman has reached her first major singles final. All six first-time finalists lost the match, four of them in straight sets while winning no more than six games. Five then lost their first match at the next tournament. None has reached another major final since. Four of them failed to reach the quarterfinals at the next major they played. Three have fallen out of the Top 10 in the rankings.Breakthrough performances have been followed by letdowns.The most promising of the six players is Simona Halep. She came the closest to winning her major final debut, taking 15 games off Maria Sharapova at the French Open in June. Halep followed that by reaching the semifinal at Wimbledon the next month. And she enters the U.S. Open — which began this week — ranked No. 2 in the world. Yet she doesn’t look likely to reach the final in Flushing, New York. She won just two matches at warm-up tournaments, and Halep dropped the first set to unranked Danielle Rose Collins (the U.S. college singles champ) before coming back to win her opening match Monday.“Every day we have to work to reach the top and to stay there, because it’s more difficult to stay there than to reach it,” Halep said at a news conference after her win.It’s a bit early to declare the most recent first-time finalist a letdown; Eugenie Bouchard hasn’t gotten a chance to play another major since reaching the Wimbledon final this summer. On Tuesday, she begins her U.S. Open against Olga Govortsova. Early returns for Bouchard aren’t good, though: She’s won just one match in three tournaments since getting routed by Petra Kvitova in the Wimbledon final.Like the current group of young contenders, Kvitova didn’t immediately back up her breakthrough performance. She won Wimbledon in 2011, at age 21, in her first major final. Then she lost three of her next five matches, including her first-round match at the U.S. Open. But she won two tournaments and the Fed Cup later that summer, and Wimbledon this summer. She has been a regular in the Top 10 since reaching her first major final.Victoria Azarenka followed shortly after Kvitova and was more consistently successful. She reached her first major final at the Australian Open in 2012, at age 22, and won it — routing Maria Sharapova, as Kvitova had done the previous summer at Wimbledon. Then Azarenka won the next two tournaments she played and held the No. 1 ranking for much of the next year, including during her successful defense of her Australian Open title the next year.It’s natural that an athlete who is playing her first major final against a player who has been there before would be an underdog. And it’d be unfair to expect the player to repeat her performance at the next major, rather than regressing a bit to the mean. Plus, the women who have broken through recently are young and have time to return to the sport’s most prominent matches.Among the six most recent first-time major finalists, Sara Errani was the oldest at the time of her breakthrough. She had just turned 25 when she reached the 2012 French Open final, relatively young in the aging sport of tennis. Four of the others were younger than 24 when they reached their first Grand Slam final. But only Bouchard was younger at her first breakthrough than Kvitova and Azarenka were.
Turnabout is fair play: Marriott ready to take on Airbnb Share Monday, April 29, 2019 By: The Associated Press BETHESDA, MD — Marriott, the world’s biggest hotel company, will soon start taking reservations through its website for 2,000 homes in 100 markets in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.The frustration for agents is that like Airbnb and other home-sharing options, the business model, with website bookings, is geared to B2C.Marriott expansion of its Homes and Villas program to other locations comes as Airbnb moves further into the hotel space. The San Francisco-based company says it’s working with a New York real estate developer to establish a hotel with 200 suites in Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. Airbnb, which plans to go public but hasn’t made clear when, also acquired Hotel Tonight, a last-minute booking service, in March 2019.Marriott is targeting families and groups with its home-sharing platform, and the homes skew toward luxury, with prices ranging from US$200 per night for a one-bedroom apartment to $10,000 for a full Scottish castle. Nearly 40 of the markets are in places where Marriott doesn’t currently have hotels, like Bar Harbor, ME and Bordeaux.Marriott is a long way from matching home-sharing behemoths like Airbnb, which boasts six million listings worldwide, or Booking.com, which has listings in 220 countries. The homes in its program aren’t even exclusive Marriott properties. Marriott is partnering with rental management companies to handle the maintenance and cleaning.More news: AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsBut Marriott believes it has advantages. Unlike its home-sharing rivals, it has a loyalty program that lets travellers earn and use points on its hotels and homes. Business travellers can accumulate points at Courtyard hotels, for example, and use them for a week at a beach house. Airbnb is working on a loyalty program of its own, but the rollout has been delayed.Marriott says it also guarantees hotel-like standards that are often missing in home-sharing, such as WiFi, crisp white sheets, bath amenities, baby cribs and smoke alarms. Airbnb has tried to tackle that problem with user reviews and its Plus program, which highlights rentals that meet higher quality standards. But the sheer volume of properties makes it difficult to police them all.“One of the challenges you see with home-sharing is there’s too much inventory without quality filters or brand assurances,” says Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott’s global chief commercial officer. “There’s inconsistency across the brand experience.”Hotels have struggled to determine the right path into the home-sharing market. Hyatt invested in Oasis, a luxury home-sharing site, in 2017, but said the company was struggling to grow because of regulatory hurdles. The companies parted ways last year.More news: Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaAccorHotels bought home-sharing site Onefinestay in 2016 but has struggled to make money on it. Choice Hotels, like Marriott, partnered with property management company RedAwning and gets a cut of every property booked.For now, the home-sharing unit won’t be material to Marriott’s earnings, Linnartz said.Marriott’s move is an acknowledgment that home-sharing – which has boomed in the last decade since Airbnb’s founding – has fundamentally changed guests’ expectations. People may be satisfied with a cookie-cutter hotel for a business trip or a soccer tournament, but sometimes they want something unique and memorable, Linnartz said.Marriott began testing home-sharing with 200 homes in London last year, and later expanded it to several other cities in Europe. The company found that most of its home-sharing guests were leisure travellers and they stayed an average of 5.1 nights, or double the length of a traditional hotel stay.Marriott’s research also showed that 30% of its customers had stayed in a shared home in the last year.“When they were doing that, they weren’t staying at an offering from us,’’ said Linnartz. “This is a gap we want to close.” Tags: Airbnb, Marriott << Previous PostNext Post >>