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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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

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After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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