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Li struggles but edges past Wozniacki

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TENNIS – Li Na advanced to her very first semi-final in the Sony Open of Miami after defeating Caroline Wozniacki with a double 7-5. The Australian Open champion played a very inconstant match, decided more by the errors than by the winners of the players. Giulio Gasparin

Li Na advanced to her very first semi-final in the Sony Open of Miami after defeating Caroline Wozniacki with a double 7-5.
The Australian Open champion played a very inconstant match, decided more by the errors than by the winners of the players.

Wozniacki, who had lost only two games in the previous two matches, started well on her serve and immediately had a few chances to break the Chinese. However, Li found a way out of this tricky game and went on breaking the Dane twice to set a 4-1 lead.

The former world number one finally found better depth and her defence improved forcing Li to go for more in order to win a point, and eventually miss.

The Dane replied with a four game streak to go up 5-4, but on 15-30 behind the Chinese’s serve she missed a not too difficult volley and that seemed to set Li right back on track.

The second seed fought back once again, breaking Wozniacki from 30-0, as errors started creeping into the game of the Dane. Li then rushed to close the first set with a love hold.

The second set was largely dominated by solid holds from both players, even though Wozniacki called the trained a received medical treatments for some back pain, which clearly was affecting her evening.

Nonetheless, it was the former world number one to break the pattern and her opponent’s serve in the eighth game. Li surely missed too many balls, but like in the case of the third point of the game, often the Dane forced Li to play an extra ball, even when the point looked done and dusted.

Wozniacki could not exploit the momentum though and despite having given no chances for a break in the set, she got broken on 5-3, when serving for the set.

The 10th game was even more decisive in the outcome of the set, Wozniacki let an argue with the umpire distract her focus from the tennis, despite her rant being fully comprehensible –the umpire made an over-rule, later proved wrong by hawk-eye, on a deep backhand from the Dane, which had set her on a winning position for the rally.

Li went on holding the serve, while the nerves of the Dane made her game plan collapse: errors crept in like at the end of first set and in no time she got broken again. Once more Li found an easy hold, this time to win the match.

The Chinese will now play Dominika Cibulkova for the third time already this season, with both the precedents won by Li.

For Wozniacki it will still remain a positive tournament, especially given the lack of results in this 2014, but the match highlighted once more all her technical flaws and, contrary to what made her world number one for a couple of seasons, there seems to be little mental strength to compensate for them.

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Former Tennis Star Reveals 2016 Retirement Was Linked To 18-Month Ban

The former world No.66 says she was suspended from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player following one of her matches.

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Ekaterina Bychkova (image via Wikicommons)

A top 100 player who stunned Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of the 2005 US Open when she was the defending champion has made a shock revelation about the reason why she retired from the sport.

 

Ekaterina Bychkova, who peaked at a ranking high of 66th in her career, was a familiar face on the women’s Tour that played in 15 Grand Slam main draws between 2005-2011. During her career, she won 10 ITF singles titles and five in the doubles. She hung up her racket in 2016 after playing one qualifying match in St Petersburg but the decision to retire wasn’t entirely her choice.

In a recent interview Bychkova revealed for the first time she was slammed with a 18-month suspension from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player. The incident took place following her match against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova at an ITF $100,000 event in Nanjing, China.

“In the third set Kuchova began to suffer from convulsions (cramps). But according to the rules, you cannot call a doctor for convulsions and you cannot lie on the court for five minutes. However, she lay on the court for several minutes, then the supervisor came, who said that it was not a seizure, which means that a break was needed. He clearly sympathized with her,” she said during an interview with website Bookmaker Ratings.
“Kuchova returned to the match and immediately began to serve powerfully, kick the ball and move well. She was released psychologically, but on the contrary, I was shackled.”

A furious Bychkova ended up losing the first round match 7-5, 6-7(1), 3-6, to Kucova who is currently ranked 149th in the world. Although the incident between the two players didn’t take place on the court. It occurred later on that day when they crossed paths again.

“I was asked to take a walk for 20-30 minutes. Suddenly this beauty floats past me, cheerful. I broke down and started a fight,” she said.
“Two days later, the supervisor announced to me that our fight was on camera. It was a hostel on the court grounds, not an official hotel, and in fact the fight did not take place on the territory of the tournament.”

Reflecting on her actions, which was caught on CCTV, the Russian says they were in no way justifiable and she regrets how she reacted. Not only did she end up with a 18-month ban from the sport, she was also fined $3,150.

At the time Bychkova said she had the option to appeal the decision but opted not to do so because she didn’t want to go through the process of hiring lawyers and travelling to London for an ITF hearing. Claiming that the fight didn’t actually occur on the tournament site but at a hostel located on the surrounding grounds. She also said her decision to not to appeal was because she was ‘tired of tennis.’

Now at the age of 35 she has decided to give playing professional tennis another go. This week she played her first match in five years at an ITF event in Moscow where she lost in the first round to world No.611 Anastasia Tikhonova.

There has been no public comment from Kucova regarding Bychkova’s account of what happened in China.

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Naomi Osaka Dedicates Latest Grand Slam Win To Those Affected By Hardship

The tennis star has issued a statement to her fans in Japan and around the world following her latest triumph.

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Naomi Osaka hopes her Australian Open victory will help inspire tennis fans around the world as she aims to continue her surge in form on the Tour.

 

The world No.2 clinched her fourth Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park on Saturday after defeating Jennifer Brady in straight sets to clinch her 21st consecutive win on the Tour. At the tournament she also scored wins over former world No.1 players Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams. She is the first woman to have won her first four major finals played since Monica Seles during the 1990s.

In the wake of her latest triumph, the 23-year-old issued a statement through her management company in which she said her win is dedicated to those still recovering from the 2011 Japan earthquake.

“I would like to thank everyone in Japan for their continued warm support,” she said. “Since I heard there was another large quake in Japan recently, I also want to dedicate this win to those whose lives have still yet to be fully put back together following the ravages of the Great East Earthquake and Tsunami.”

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami devastated the country on March 11th with more than 15,000 people being killed. It also caused the worst nuclear accident in Japan’s history after a reactor released radioactive material. Last week a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the same region in what scientists described as an ‘aftershock’ from 10 years ago.

Continuing her tribute to those who have faced difficult times, Osaka has also dedicated her victory to those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s Australian Open took place under strict rules with all players having to go through a 14-day quarantine upon aerial into the country.

“Seeing as we are still contending with the coronavirus on a daily basis, I would like to dedicate this victory to the people around the world who are doing what they can to help us escape its shadow,” she continued in her statement.
“Although there has been a lot of sad news lately regarding the coronavirus and earthquakes, I think that we need to remember the importance of life and have an open heart to help one another in times like these.”

Given her recent dominance on the Tour, Osaka has been backed for even more future glory in the future with Mats Wilander saying she will win at least 10 major titles. Something has only ever been achieved by five women in the Open Era. However, Osaka insists that she will not be thinking too far ahead.

“I like to take things not big-picture. For me, I like to live in the moment,” she explains.
It’s an honour that he said that, of course. But I don’t want to weigh myself down with pressure and expectations.
“I know that the people that I’m playing against are the best players in the world, and, you know, if my time comes to win another Grand Slam, it will come.
“But for right now I can only control what I can control, and that’s working hard and giving myself opportunities.”

Osaka is only the fourth active player to have won a quartet of major titles after the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters.

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Naomi Osaka Downs Brady For Fourth Grand Slam Title

Naomi Osaka won her second Australian Open title with a straight sets win over Jennifer Brady.

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Naomi Osaka (@BJKCup - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka won her fourth grand slam title after a 6-4 6-3 win over Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open final.

 

Osaka was too good for the first time grand slam finalist as she prevailed in a relatively comfortable straight sets win.

The victory means it is her fourth grand slam title, second Australian Open victory and now 21 wins in a row.

It was easy to tell who was the more experienced player under these circumstances as Osaka settled into the match quickly with two aces contributing to a love hold.

As for the American, she needed a bit longer to settle in a grand slam final with a 29% first serve percentage in her first two service games.

That is not going to get it done in a grand slam final as two double faults in the fourth game handed the break to the 2019 champion for a 3-1 lead.

However the American didn’t get to her first grand slam final without a bit of resilience and some nice forehands mixed with some sloppy Osaka play , saw Brady break straight back.

As the forehand gained consistent power and shape, the backhand was also good in attacking situations as she forced the third seed to use some difficult angles from static court positions.

This match turned into an enjoyable contest with Brady hitting some amazing shots to get the Rod Laver Arena crowd into the match.

After a gritty hold from break point down, Osaka used her champion qualities to rally from 40-15 down to break and take the first set 6-4 after an easy forehand into the net from Brady.

The momentum was now firmly with Osaka as she looked more and more confident on return as she continued to use the angles and deep shot-making to force the errors from Brady.

Although the American tried to be aggressive as possible, there was no control when constructing points against a dominant Osaka.

Two breaks of serve in quick and convincing fashion saw a 4-0 lead as a second Australian Open title was in sight.

A mini fight back, saw Brady restore some competitiveness in the contest, with some good serving and controlled aggression from the baseline as the score was reduced to 4-2.

However, unable to take advantage of a half-opportunity in the next game, it wasn’t to be Brady’s day.

Winning two of the next three games, a forehand unforced error from Brady sealed Osaka’s fourth grand slam title and second Australian Open.

It is now 21 victories in a row since the Cincinnati tournament in New York last year.

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