Daily Bagel: Victoria Azarenka saddened by her split with coach Sam Sumyk, Caroline Wozniacki goes sandboarding and more.
The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• The semifinals at the Dubai Championships are set. Karolina Pliskova beat Lucie Safarova 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 to advance to her second straight Premier semifinal and third of the year. She'll face Garbine Muguruza, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7, 6-3, 6-3. The other semifinal features top seed Simona Halep, who avenged her Australian Open loss to Ekaterina Makarova with a 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 win. She'll play Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Flavia Pennetta 7-5. 6-0.
• Top seed Milos Raonic is out of the Open 13 Marseille. Raonic lost to Simone Bolelli 6-4, 3-6, 7-6. Stan Wawrinka, Gilles Simon, and Dominic Thiem advanced.
• In an interview with The New York Times, Victoria Azarenka describes her split with coach Sam Sumyk as "sad".
“I never will forget what we achieved together and always will be grateful, but yeah, it was a bit surprising for me,” Azarenka said in a telephone interview Tuesday from Doha, Qatar. “To me, it’s just sad. There’s no other emotion. There’s no anger. There’s no anything else but just sadness, because it’s like a breakup in a way.”
• According to this Spanish report, the Valencia Open is voluntarily stepping down to an ATP 250 tournament, selling its ATP 500 sanction to the Vienna Open.
• Kei Nishikori has signed a deal with Japanese beer-maker Asahi. Nishikori will become the new ambassador of Asahi Zero Dry, a non-alcoholic beer. From the IMG press release:
The new deal is in line with IMG’s strategy to position Japan’s Nishikori as the face of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and create partnerships with the sponsors of the Games. Nishikori’s current sponsors Nissin, Weider and Airweave are among other brands involved in the Tokyo Olympics.
• The most-viewed WTA Tournaments in 2014? 1. WTA Finals, 2. Miami Open, 3. BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells), 4. Rogers Cup (Toronto), and 5. Madrid Open.
• An interview with a "more mature" Ana Ivanovic in Dubai.
• Worth a follow: A new tennis blog called Tennis Translations seeks to do exactly what it says: provide English translations of player quotes.
• Roger Federer wishes you a happy Chinese New Year from Dubai:
• Caroline Wozniacki went sandboarding in Dubai earlier this week: