Pennetta knocks out Li Na to reach her first Indian Wells final - UBITENNIS
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Pennetta knocks out Li Na to reach her first Indian Wells final

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TENNIS – Flavia Pennetta clinched an impressive 7-6 6-3 win over this year’s Australian Open champion and Number 1 seed Li Na to qualify for the final at BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. For the Italian player, a former top-10, it’s the most important final of her career. Diego Sampaolo

 

Pennetta has completed her magic week by beating World Number 2 Li Na after knocking out her compatriot Camila Giorgi, Sam Stosur and Sloane Stephens in the previous three rounds. The Italian survived an incredible quarter final marathon match against Sloane Stephens winning 6-4 5-7 6-4 after two hours and twenty-six minutes. During this match Pennetta went up a set and a break before Stephens clawed her way back in the second set. Pennetta served for the match at 6-4 5-4 but Stephens won the final three games of the second set to win 7-5 and went up 3-0 and got a point for 4-0 in the third set. However Pennetta clinched six of her next seven games to close out the third set on the fifth match point. This match was made very tough because of the very strong wind.

In the semifinal against Li Na Pennetta clinched a marathon 66-minute first set with 7-5 at the tie-break.

Pennetta broke serve four times in the first set but she never managed to consolidate them. She could not serve out the set twice at 5-4 and 6-5 but the first set came down to the tie-break. Pennetta took a 3-1 lead in the tie-break after Li Na made an unforced error. Li Na won two points in a row to draw level to 3-all. Pennetta recovered the mini-break at 6-4. Li Na fended off the first set point but she made her eighth double fault of the match on the second set point and Pennetta sealed the win in the first set.

The 32-year-old from Brindisi went down 0-2 in the second set but she fought back reeling off six of the next seven games. Pennetta got the decisive break in the eighth game for 5-3 before closing out the match with a backhand winner.

Pennetta hit 12 winners to 22 unforced errors. Li Na produced 29 winners but 52 unforced errors and faced many problems with her serve, as Pennetta broke her six times. .

Pennetta played one of the best matches in her career against Li Na who came to this match with a seasonal record of 17 wins in 18 matches.this season.

Pennetta scored her fourth win against a World Number 2 player after beating Jelena Jankovic in Zurich in 2008, Vera Zvonareva in Sydney in 2011 and Caroline Wozniacki in Beijing in 2011. During her career Pennetta won the Premier-level final in Los Angeles in 2009 and lost two finals in this tournament category in Los Angeles and Zurich in 2008. She is now back to the form of her 2009 magic season. This is the best result ever achieved by an Italian player in this Premier Mandatory Tournament. Thanks to this final reached in the Californian desert Pennetta will move up to World Number 14 in the WTA Ranking.

Pennetta has come back from a career-threatening wrist injury last year when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and the semifinal at the US Open. This year she reached two quarter finals at the Australian Open where she lost to Li Na and in Dubai where she was defeated by Venus Williams

Pennetta took a re-match of the quarter final match at this year’s Australian Open won by Li Na with a double 6-2 but today it was a different story.

In Australia I didn’t have any chance against her but tonight I played much better. I just fought and tried my best. At the beginning of the week if you told me: You are going to make the final here, I would have said: No, I don’t think so. I am really happy with my game. I want to thank the crowd. They are always very nice with me in the United States.”, said Pennetta.

About her final against Radwanska, Pennetta said: “I will have to be aggressive against Radwanska. I played well against her in Dubai and I hope to play in the same way.”

Li Na was the first to congratulate with Pennetta, saying: “Making the semifinals at Indian Wells it’s not too bad. It’s not like I lost to a bad player. She was playing really well”.

Pennetta set up a final against Agnieszka Radwanska who beat this year’s Doha champion Simona Halep. The Pole leads 5-2 in their head-to-head clashes against Pennetta but the Italian beat the Pole earlier this year in Dubai.

Radwanska beat Halep 6-3 6-4 in the first semifinal. The Polish player cruised to 4-0 in the first set and got a point for 5-0 but Halep managed to win the fifth game for 1-4. Halep clawed her way back but Radwanska closed out the first set with an ace for 6-3.

Halep, who won their last two head-to-head matches, fought back breaking serve to take a 3-1 lead in the second set but Radwanska won five of the next six games to close out the match with 6-3 6-4.

With the semifinal reached in Indian Wells Halep will move up to World Number 5 next week.

I played her a couple of weeks ago and I knew how she is playing. She had really great results for the last couple of months She is a very solid player. What I was trying to do was to play aggressive from the beginning of the match and just try to go for my shots. I was lucky”, said Radwanska

 

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Alycia Parks Stuns Garcia To Win First Tour Title In Lyon

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Image via WTA Twitter

Rising star Alycia Parks is on the verge of breaking into the world’s top 50 for the first time after stunning world No.4 Caroline Garcia in straight sets to win the Lyon Open. 

 

22-year-old Parks, who contested just three WTA main draws last year, battled to a 7-6(7), 7-5, win over Garcia who is the first top-five player she has beaten on the Tour. Throughout the final, the American didn’t drop serve after saving all four break points she faced. In total, she produced 28 winners with 15 of those being aces. It is only the second time she has beaten a top 10 player on the Tour after Maria Sakkari at the Ostrava Open last year. 

“I want to thank you for all coming out, this title means a lot to me,” Parks said afterwards. “France has a special part in my heart right now. I want to congratulate Garcia, you had an amazing week, keep playing how you’re playing.”

The victory caps off what has been a breakthrough week for Parks who dropped two sets in five matches played which was in her opening two rounds. Earlier in the tournament, she also defeated seventh seed Danka Kovinic and fourth seed Petra Martic to become only the third unseeded player to win a WTA event so far this year.  

Parks was ranked 199th in the world 12 months ago but has climbed up the rankings and is now set to break into the world’s top 70 for the first time on Monday. Towards the end of last year, she won back-to-back WTA 125 tournaments and has now won 16 out of her last 17 matches played. Her only loss was to Czech teenager Sara Bejlek in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open.

As for Garcia, Sunday’s clash was the first time she had contested a WTA final in her home city of Lyon. Coming into her clash with Parks, she had won 10 out of her last 11 finals played on the Tour. It is the 40th time in her career she has lost to an American player in a WTA main draw.

Congrats on an amazing week and the (past) couple of months have been unbelievable (for you),” said Garcia. “It’s your first WTA title today and it was well deserved. You played amazing and if you keep playing like this you are for sure going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks, who graduated from High School in 2019, is coached on the Tour by her father Michael who has been her main mentor since childhood. 

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Garbine Muguruza Switches Focus From Ranking Points To Enjoyment In Hunt For Form

Ranked outside the WTA top 80 for the first time since 2013, Muguruza is hoping to stage a comeback with the help of a new perspective.

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Garbine Muguruza (ESP) waves to the crowd after defeating Fiona Ferro (FRA) on No.2 Court in the first round of the Ladies' Singles at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 1 Monday 28/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

To say that last year was tough for Gabine Muguruza is a bit of an understatement. 

 

The Spaniard started 2022 among the best players in the world and was ranked No.3 as a result of her triumph at the WTA Finals just a couple of months earlier. However, the year didn’t go as planned for two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza who won just 12 matches. In total, she played in 17 tournaments but only managed to score back-to-back victories in two of them. In October she plummeted down the rankings from 13th to 57th. 

Muguruza’s problems have continued into this season. She is yet to win a match and is now down to 82nd in the world which is her lowest position in almost a decade. January 2013 was the last time the 29-year-old was ranked outside the top 100. 

“I’ve had so many moments in my career where I’ve been so high, and other moments when I’ve not been so high. It’s a process of trying to get back up there,” the former world No.1 told The National. “Now I’m focusing on training hard and being humble.
“You have to know that maybe you haven’t had the success recently as you had in other years, but that’s fine because things can change very quickly.
“With tennis, one week it can go wrong, then next week it can go well, then everything changes again. I think experience helps me to stay calm in the not-so-good moments when I haven’t been playing as well or results haven’t followed.”

It is a frustrating situation for somebody of Muguruza’s ability to be in. At the 2021 WTA Finals, she scored four wins over top-10 players but since then hasn’t beaten anybody ranked higher than No.31 in the world. 

Eager to get back to the top of the sport, she has decided to change her outlook on how she approaches the Tour. Muguruza, who is coached by Conchita Martinez, now says her main priority is enjoying her tennis. If this is achieved, she is confident the results will follow in due course. 

“I feel that this year it’s more about keeping it calm and more simple,” she said. “Last year I put myself under a lot of pressure, telling myself to keep going to stay at the top all the time. That definitely didn’t help me, and it was a bit of a struggle.
“This year, yes ranking is important – I’ve been at every possible ranking – but that is not my priority anymore. Now it’s about enjoying my time on court and taking the trophies back home, then we’ll see what the ranking is.”

Muguruza’s next test will be at the Abu Dhabi Open, which will get underway on Monday. She has been drawn to play Karolina Pliskova in the first round who recently reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Then if she wins, she faces Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. 

“I played some good tennis [in Australia]. A bit disappointed about the quarter-final but overall my level is there. Of course, there are some things to improve to become more solid but overall the situation is quite good,” Pliskova said ahead of the first round clash. 

12 months ago Muguruza reached the third round in Abu Dhabi before losing to Maria Sakkari. 

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Injured Bianca Andreescu retires From Semi-Final match In Hua Hin

The Canadian was looking to book a spot in her first WTA final of the year but was forced to retire after injuring her right shoulder.

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Lesia Tsurenko booked her spot in the final of the Thailand Open in Hua Hin after Bianca Andreescu was forced to retire whilst down 7-6, 4-0.

 

The first set was extremely tight with the first four games being breaks of serve. Andreescu got the crucial break to lead 5-3 and served for the first set but the Ukrainian fought back to level the set at 5-5. Then Tsurenko was the one to break serve but she was able to close out the first set.

After the opener, the semi-final clash went completely one-sided with Tsurenko taking over by winning four games off the trot before Andreescu decided to call it quits. The Canadian had a medical timeout during a second set changeover.

Tsurenko gave full credit to her opponent and despite the retirement says it was a very difficult match.

“Bianca is such an amazing player she said. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today”. She said.

Tsurenko is looking to win her fifth WTA title and will be playing in her first final since 2019 in Hua Hin. She faces the China’s Lin Zhu who earlier in the day beat the number seven seed Xinyu Wang 6-2, 6-4, in one hour and 38 minutes to book her spot in the final.

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