Halep cruises to her first mandatory semi-final - UBITENNIS
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Halep cruises to her first mandatory semi-final

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Simona Halep has no troubles in her quarter-final match against Australian Casey Dellacqua, as she closes the match in exactly one hour with a double 6-2.

 

Halep, who had never gone past the third round in a Premier Mandatory before, enforced her status as one of the WTA best players by pushing her limits further and size this new achievement.

The Romanian, who showed one of the most impressive improvements of the past decade in the space of few months last year, is now sure to finish within the top six after this week, with a chance to be number five if Jelena Jankovic does not reach the final.

Halep had won no WTA titles before May 2013, but after the six titles won in the space of few months, she included her first Premier 5 in Doha and now looks to be a heavy favourite for the title in Indian Wells too.

Surely the level of her opponent might make one think that she was supposed to tame, but the world number 78 is no opponent to underestimate, former top 40 and recent 4th rounder at the Australian Open.

Halep executed her game plan in a perfect way, taking time off the shots of Dellacqua, who was this way forced to hit often on the run or far from the baseline.

Contrary to what happened in the past few matches, the Romanian allowed no chances to her opponent by keeping the focus always high, in a way that she could save all the 11 break points she faced throughout the match.

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Petra Martic scores easy win in Palermo

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Petra Martic cruised to an emphatic 6-0 6-3 victory over Alison Van Uytvanck in the first round of the Palermo Ladies Open to get her return to competitive action off to an ideal start.

 

The Croatian, 29, is the top seed at the event and, in her pre-tournament interview, she seemed to relish the opportunity to return to the tennis court.

“It’s been so long without tennis, without competition, without the adrenaline that we all kind of love,” Martic said. “So I’m just going to try to enjoy myself. To be back on the court right now is really just a privilege without thinking about any results or any goals or focused on numbers or anything else.”

The Croatian may not be thinking about numbers, but hers were impressive today. She won 71% of all points behind her serve and 49% when returning serve. Furthermore, she broke Van Uytvanck four times and looked in complete control throughout the match, which lasted just 67 minutes.

“I’m really happy with today’s performance,” Martic said in her on-court interview. “I played better than expected. I tried to go out with no expectations because nobody played for five months.”

The Croatian was also asked whether she thinks surprising results are more likely considering everyone is short on match practice. She replied, “I don’t think that’s something new. It’s been like that for a long time in women’s tennis. Anyone can win on a given day.”

Having beaten the World No.57, Martic will now face the World No.119: Liudmila Samsonova. The young Russian came through qualifying and then stunned veteran Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.

Kontaveit progresses to Last 16

Anett Kontaveit (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

In the last match of the day, fourth seed Annet Kontaveit booked her place in the second round with a 6-3 6-3 win over Patricia Maria Tig.

While the score line may look comfortable, the Estonian had to work hard to overcome a determined display from the Romanian. In the end, victory took 106 minutes to complete.

“It was really exciting to play my first match,” Kontaveit said in her on-court interview. “It was great to step back on court and play a WTA tournament.”

She continued, “It was very competitive. I think I played important points quite well. There are things I could have done better but I’m pretty happy.”

The Estonian’s reward is a last-16 clash with Laura Siegemund. The German, ranked 63, is often a tricky opponent, and Kontaveit should be particularly wary of her capabilities on clay as it is her favourite surface.

Five seeded players are safely through to the second round at the Palermo Ladies Open. But the fifth seed Elise Mertens is not one of them. She suffered a disappointing 6-4 6-1 loss to World No.110 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

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Camila Giorgi starts her Palermo campaign with a straight-set win over Rebecca Peterson

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Italian star Camila Giorgi recovered from a slow start to edge Rebecca Peterson 7-5 6-4 reaching the second round at the 31st edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo.  

 

Peterson held serve at love and converted the first break point of the match to open up a 3-1 lead. Giorgi broke back to draw level to 3-3 and saved two break points in the eighth game. Giorgi broke serve in the 11th game and held serve to claim the first set with a forehand winner. 

Giorgi broke twice in the first and third games to open up a 4-0 lead before Peterson won three consecutive games. The Swedish player pulled one break back in the eighth game to claw her way back to 3-5. Giorgi earned a match point with a service winner and closed out the match as Peterson hit a forehand past the baseline. 

“At the start of the match, I was a little slow in the legs a bit. I played my game more in the second set, playing faster, so I took advantage in the second set. There were not too many options to practice, but I worked with a physicla trainer. It was only in the past few weeks that I got to start practicing again. For the most part, I spent time with my family. We have spent so much time travelling over the years. It was nice just to be at home. Italian players are doing at this tournament. Here in Palermo it would be nice to have an all-Italian final”,  said Giorgi. 

Giorgi will face 19-year-old Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan, who came back from a set and 4-5 down to beat last year’s Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova 1-6 7-5 6-4. Juvan, who came through the qualifying round, scored the biggest win of her career. Vondrousova made a major breakthrough last year when she reached the Roland Garros final, but her progress was hampered by a serious injury. After Wimbledon she underwent surgery. 

Juvan broke twice to take a 4-0 lead in the second set, but Vondrousova reeled off five consecutive games to take a 5-4 lead. Juvan, who upset Venus Williams in Acapulco earlier this year, won the final three games to win the second set 7-5. 

Juvan broke two breaks to open up a 4-0 lead with two breaks. Vondrousova got one break back to claw her way back to 2-4, but Juvan earned her third break in the seventh game. Vondrousova recovered another break in the eighth game, but Juvan saved three break points to hold her serve in the 10th game to win the third set 6-4. 

“Obviously this top 20 win is motivation to keep playing. I try not to think about the rankings too much. I just want to play as many matches as I can right now”, said Juvan. 

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‘My Body Is Not Use To Playing At 2am’ – Kristyna Pliskova Stuns Sakkari In Late-Night Palermo Duel

The Czech player has caused the biggest upset of the draw so far.

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Kristyna Pliskova has started her return to professional tennis following the five-month break by recording one of the biggest wins over her career at the Palermo Open.

 

The Czech tennis player held her nerve to knockout world No.20 and third seed Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4, in a late-night encounter. The first day of the WTA event saw a series of matches go the full distance, leading to Pliskova’s opening match taking place in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Despite the later than expected encounter, a sleepy Pliskova still managed to come out on top to record only her seventh win over a top 20 player and second this year. She also beat Aryna Sabalenka at the Shenzhen Open in January. During her latest match, the Czech stood firmly behind her serve as she won 80% of her first service points and saved all three break points she faced. Overall, she won 69 points in the match compared to Sakarri’s 60.

“The conditions were really tough,” wtatennis.com quoted Pliskova as saying. “Before the match, I was also sleeping a little bit! We stayed so late here, I think it’s tough for [Sakkari] as well.”
“The body is not used to playing at 2:00 a.m.,”
she added.

Pliskova broke Sakkari twice in the match by doing so at the start of each set. The triumph avenges her loss to the Greek in their previous meeting that took place at the 2017 Wimbledon championships. On that occasion Sakkari fought back from a set down to win.

Former Wimbledon girls champion Pliskova is seeking her first WTA title in almost four years this week in Palermo. Her next opponent will be Italian veteran Sara Errani, who required almost three hours to oust Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, in a roller-coaster encounter.

“[Errani is] at home here, so for sure the people will cheer for her,” Pliskova commented on her next test. “She had quite a tough match, I saw. It’s very different from today, but I will try to hold my serve and hopefully I will also break her!”

Pliskova is currently ranked 69th in the WTA rankings.

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