Serena and Maria move one step closer to a semis clash - UBITENNIS
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Serena and Maria move one step closer to a semis clash

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TENNIS – The 2013 Miami finalists, Serena Williams (1) and Maria Sharapova (4) are both on the same side of draw this year and if the seeds hold true to form, they are expected to meet in the semifinals. However, coming into their 4th round match ups, neither player has showed anything that might indicate that they may even get to the semifinal. Cordell Hackshaw

The 2013 Sony Ericsson Open women’s finalists, Serena Williams (1) and Maria Sharapova (4) are both on the same side of draw this year and if the seeds hold true to form, they are expected to play each other in the semifinals. They are the biggest names in all of women’s tennis today. They have a much touted rivalry which in fact is no rivalry as Williams dominates the head to head at a staggering 15-2 with those two losses coming far back in 2004. Nonetheless, their meeting in a match is always a hot ticket for fans. However, coming into their 4th round match ups, neither player has showed anything that might indicate that they may even get to the semifinal much more win the title.

 

Sharapova was up first against Kristin Flipkens (19) of Belgium. Sharapova did not have much to fear from this matchup as she has a 4-0 lifetime record over Flipkens having never dropped a set in any of the encounters. However, with the Russian looking vulnerable so far this tournament and having failed in spectacular fashion to defend her Indian Wells title last week, conditions seemed ripe for an upset. Flipkens, it seemed also sensed this moment. She jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the 1st set. Sharapova was unable to get any rhythm from her opponent as Flipkens threw “junk” her way; off speed shots, high loopy forehands as well as her infamous slice backhand. This forced the Russian to generate her own pace, which ultimately made her very erratic. Sharapova got one of the breaks back but could not mount a comeback as errors continued to pour off her racquet. Flipkens took the set 6-3.

 

However, this is Maria Sharapova and her competitiveness is far more renowned than her game at times. She put the fact that she only had one winner and five double faults in the 1st set behind her and raced out to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd set. Flipkens was unable to call upon the game plan she had successfully employed earlier in the match but yet the determination to get this first win over Sharapova remained. She called recently retired ATP tour player, Xavier Malisse who was now her coach on court. Malisse’s advice seemed to have done the trick as Flipkens broke and was had break point and a 2nd serve to play with to get back on serve 4-4. However, the tennis gods, if they do indeed exist, were not on her side. The chair umpire’s microphone system chose that precise moment to go on the fritz. This gave Sharapova a much needed reprieve and another 1st serve because of the unintended delay between serves. Sharapova did not waste this gift and edged ahead 5-2. Flipkens broke Sharapova as she served for the set 5-3 and was serving to even the set at 5-5. Yet again, the Belgian’s A game deserted her giving Sharapova 3 set points. The Russian only needed one; 6-4 Sharapova.

 

In the 3rd set, Sharapova finally found her range and greatly cleaned up her game. She got an early break and was up 3-0. The serve was in full effect winning 78% of her first serve and 60% of her 2nd serve. Flipkens had four break points at 1-3 to get back on serve but Sharapova was determined to not relinquish another of her service game. She held serve, broke Flipkens again and served it out 6-1. Sharapova 3-6 6-4 6-1.

 

This was far from Sharapova’s best and if she wishes to win this title for the 1st time after 5 previous failures in the finals, this level of play will not change her luck. She herself noted, “I wasn’t doing too much from my end and made a lot of mistakes from the first ball, which gives your opponent that confidence and the time they need to do whatever they want.” Sharapova’s next opponent in the quarters will be Petra Kvitova (8), 2011 Wimbledon Champion who won that title over Sharapova. Kvitova is looking to be in fine form as she completely dismantled her 4th round opponent here Ana Ivanovic (12) 3-6 6-0 6-0.

 

Williams took the court after the Sharapova’s victory against fellow American Coco Vandeweghe. This was their third meeting, first since the summer of 2012. One needs not speak of Williams’ many accomplishments from that point onward but Vandeweghe has been lost in the depths of tour since then. Ranked outside the top 100, Vandeweghe was given a wild card last week at Indian Wells. She lost in the 1st round but came through the qualification rounds in Miami and took out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (21) and Sam Stosur (16) along the way to set up this 4th round meeting with Williams. However, this was not the same Coco Vandeweghe from 2012. She now possessed a massive serve capable of popping it up to the 120mph range and a deadly backhand particularly the one down the line.

 

In the early parts of the match, Vandeweghe was hanging tough with the top ranked Williams. She was keeping her honest and not letting Williams get any early advantage in the match. However, this match was vital to Williams to send a message that she was indeed here to retain her title. Williams broke to go up 4-2 but soon faced break point to get back on serve. No sooner had she saved it to get back to deuce than the infamous Florida rain came to disrupt play.

 

When play resumed just over an hour later, it appeared as though the rain had washed away any impediments to Williams’ game. She served out the game and lead 5-2. Vandeweghe was able to make the scoreline in the 1st set respectable by forcing Williams to serve it out 6-3. However, in the 2nd set, it was all Williams. She was ready for the Vandeweghe first serve and the younger American was only able to win 46% of her 1st serve in the set compared to 77% in the 1st set. Williams on the other hand only dropped one point on serve for the entire 2nd set and thus took the set 6-1. Williams 6-3 6-1.

 

Williams was very complimentary of her compatriot in her on court interview, commending her serve and even noting that “It was a much tougher match than the scoreline showed.” Vandeweghe should not be disheartened by this loss. With her performance here this week, she is back in the top 100 and giving her automatic main draw entry into both the French Open and Wimbledon draws. Hopefully, this level of play continues and improves throughout the year. She also has the added bonus of Williams’s open invitation to play doubles together; providing of course big sis’ Venus Williams is not around and she has the time, Williams added. Vandeweghe is very stoked by the idea and ready whenever Williams is ready.

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Dayana Yastremska Cleared Of Wrongdoing Over Failed Drugs Tests

The tennis has star had been provisionally suspended from the Tour since 7 January 2021.

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Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska said she looks forward to ‘returning to her passion’ after getting her doping ban lifted with immediate effect following a hearing.

 

The former world No.21 has been sidelined from the sport with a provisional suspension after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone which is prohibited under category S1 of the 2020 WADA Prohibited List (Anabolic Agents). The positive test came from a sample which was taken on November 24th that Yastremska argued was linked to cross-contamination. She had appealed for her provisional ban to be lifted earlier this year but was denied.

Following her official hearing on May 21st, the Independent Tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has concluded that the tennis star didn’t deliberately take performance enhancing drugs. In their ruling, the panel says they ‘accept’ how the substance managed to get into Yasstremska’s body. She has previously claimed to have ‘scientific evidence’ of cross contamination.

Ms. Yastremska’s provisional suspension is lifted with immediate effect, and she will not serve any period of Ineligibility for her violation. For the avoidance of doubt, Ms. Yastremska is eligible to resume competition immediately.” The ITF stated.

In a statement, Yastremska says she has struggled over the past six months with the negative comments related to her suspension from the sport. Earlier this year she flew to the Australian Open hoping to compete, but wasn’t allowed to under anti-doping rules.

“I’ve been through a lot in the last 6 months and found it difficult to deal with all the negative comments,” she wrote.
“I want to thank my family, my lawyers, my agent and the entire Top Five Management team for their continued and unwavering support. I would also like to thank my fans for the love and messages that I received during this difficult period.’
“Now I look forward to returning to my passion – tennis. It was taken away from me for too long, I can’t wait to get back on tour.”

The 21-year-old has won three WTA Premier titles so far in her career with her most recent triumph occurring at the 2019 Strasbourg Open. Her best run in a Grand Slam was two years ago at Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round before losing to Zhang Shuai of China.

Yastremska is currently ranked 37th in the world. She has not given any details about when or where she plans to return to competitive tennis yet.

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Victoria Azarenka And Amanda Anisimova Advance In Bad Homburg

Victoria Azarenka continued her momentum towards Wimbledon.

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Victoria Azarenka (@24NewsHD - Twitter)

Victoria Azarenka and Amanda Anisimova both cruised into the second round as they prepare for Wimbledon.

 

Starting with two time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka who enters this week after winning the doubles title with Aryna Sabalenka in Berlin.

Azarenka continued her momentum with a 7-5 6-0 win over compatriot Yuliya Hatouka.

The world number 14 struggled in rainy conditions in Germany in the first set as she was broken three times in the first set.

It was a tough start from Azarenka who couldn’t consistently blast past the world number 271.

In the end Azarenka saved some break points and broke in her following two return games to seal the opening set in 53 minutes.

However the second set was much easier as she didn’t concede a single break point and won all six games.

Azarenka will now play Alize Cornet in the second round.

Meanwhile 19 year-old Amanda Anisimova is looking for a good grass court season after crashing down to 81st in the world.

The American sealed a 6-1 7-5 win over German veteran Andrea Petkovic as she moved into the last eight.

Anisimova produced a high-quality first set as she stormed into a 4-0 lead in the opening set.

After sealing the opening set in 24 minutes, Anisimova continued the momentum by breaking in the opening game of the second set.

However Petkovic has shown good performances on a grass court in the past and she remained resilient to break back for 4-4.

Despite that setback, the American broke in the eleventh game and closed out the match to love.

Anisimova will play Angelique Kerber or Anna Blinkova next.

In other results Katerina Siniakova edged past Jessica Pegula 6-3 5-7 6-4 and will meet Laura Siegemund in the quarter-finals.

Siegemund booked her place in the last eight with a 6-2 6-2 win over Tamara Korpatsch.

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Bianca Andreescu Battles Past McHale In Eastbourne

Bianca Andreescu had to work hard to earn her opening round win in Eastbourne.

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Bianca Andreescu (@WTA_insider - Twitter)

The Canadian needed three sets and over two hours to win her first match on grass in over three years.

 

Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the second round of the Viking International in Eastbourne beating the American qualifier Christina Mchale in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and four minutes.

“I think for me it was super important that I held serve and used my serve to my advantage and taking control of the points from the start and then in the second set she (Mchale) started taking control of the points my serve wasn’t that good and it showed and in the third set I stepped on the break and continued to move forward as much as I can and continued to put pressure”.

A match scheduled for 10:30am local time the match was delayed by rain by four hours, starting at 1:30pm local time and it was the Canadian who started the match the more aggressive player and at 2-1 earned the first two breakpoints of the match with a forehand return winner.

She broke to take a 3-1 lead but the American pushed back and at 4-2 she had a chance to go back on serve but the world number seven hung in and saved it.

At 5-3 with the number three seed serving for the first set it was the world number 96 with three chances to break but the Toronto native would save all three before facing a fourth and succumbing to it. However Andreescu would break once more the following game to seal the first set.

The American was determined to level the match in the second set and broke in the opening game to take a 1-0 lead with a stunning forehand winner and it stayed on serve until 4-1 when the Canadian would get a break back but the New Jersey native would break again the following game and serve out the second set to level the match.

The Canadian pushed hard in the beginning of the third set earning three chances to break at 1-0 and got the crucial break when Mchale would serve a double fault.

Andreescu would serve for the match at 5-2 and it took three match points to get the job done and seal the win for her first win on grass of the 2021 season.

After the match in her post match press conference Andreescu spoke about needing a match like that to get herself going.

“Yes for sure, It felt really good to get that under my belt and I felt really good out there as well so that’s a bonus, my serve keeps improving and my shots, in general, keep penetrating the court more than my last two matches so for me it’s a win”.

Andreescu will now either face Anett Kontaveit or Svetlana Kuznetsova in the next round.

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