Sharapova taking care of business in Miami - UBITENNIS
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Sharapova taking care of business in Miami

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TENNIS – Maria Sharapova (4) perhaps has a love/hate relationship with Miami. She lives close by and so it is presumed that she is fond of the surroundings. However, she must find this tournament particularly frustrating as she has made it to the final five times (2005, 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013) and has yet to win the title. Cordell Hackshaw

 

Maria Sharapova (4) perhaps has a love/hate relationship with Miami. She lives close by and so it is presumed that she is fond of the surroundings. However, she must find this tournament particularly frustrating as she has made it to the final five times (2005, 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013) and has yet to win the title. Her form so far at the tournament has not been the best as she was pushed to three sets by her last two opponents and now she was facing a red-hot Petra Kvitova (8) who simply destroyed Ana Ivanovic (12) in previous round handing the former World No. 1 double bagels in the last two sets. Sharapova has a 4-2 head-to-head with Kvitova winning their last three encounters. However, it was their 2011 Wimbledon encounter when the Czech beat the Russian in straight sets to take the title that most tennis fans remember. Since then Kvitova has faded much to her fans’ chagrin and is now embroiled in the gossip columns with her ongoing affair with fellow Czech Radek Stapanek who was in the stands.

Kvitova continued her fine form from her previous match to break Sharapova in her opening service game. She quickly got to 4-2 saving two break points along the way. At this point, Kvitova started to lose focus and began getting careless with her shots. Sharapova upped her game and intensity. She exploited Kvitova’s lack of agility on the court and constantly had her off balance. Sharapova broke and was up 5-4 with Kvitova now serving to stay in the set. Kvitova was able to get it to 5-5 but at the crucial stage of 5-6, she was unable to hold her serve to force a tiebreaker and handed the set to Sharapova 7-5.

As the match went on, Sharapova just got better. She would later say, “I started getting more chances as we played more games in the first set, and little by little I started getting myself back in the points more and playing my game, playing well, going inside the baseline.”She was winning more points on her serve and applied the pressure to her opponent who only seemed to be dwindling as she became more error prone and reckless with her shots. Consider that in the 2nd set, Sharapova was only getting in only 62% of her 1st serve but won 81% of them and dropped only 8 points on serve. Kvitova on the other hand got 80% of her 1st serve in but only won 58% of them. She was unable to come up with any answers for Sharapova’s groundstrokes and aggressive stance at net. The only question that remained for the match was whether Kvitova was going to get a bagel as Sharapova was ahead 5-0 in the 2nd set. Kvitova saved face and held serve but it did little to deter Sharapova from taking the match 7-5 6-1 and a spot in the semifinals.

Sharapova noted of her opponent in the post-match interview “Petra is a Grand Slam champion. ..You can never underestimate someone that goes on the court and has that experience. She’s capable of playing really great tennis, and I think everyone knows that.” Sharapova has now improved to a 6-0 lifetime record in Miami at the quarterfinal stage and is 5-0 in the semifinals. However, Sharapova next faces the winner of the Serena Williams (1) v Angelique Kerber (5) quarterfinal match. There is no doubt that she would much prefer to face the German over the American if she hopes to be 6-0 in the semifinals.

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Victoria Azarenka Survives Three-Set Battle With Pegula In Berlin

Azarenka is one of two seeded players left in the draw along with Belinda Bencic.

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Victoria Azarenka is into the semifinals of the Bett1 Open after outlasting America’s Jessica Pegula 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

 

The two-time Australian Open champion won 70% of her first service points and broke Pegula six times en route to the victory. It is only the second time Azarenka has reached the last four of a WTA tournament this season after the Doha Open back in March. This week she is bidding to reach her first Tour final on the grass since 2010 and win her first title on the surface at the age of 31.

“I’m really happy that I made it out, I played really well at the beginning of the match,” said Azarenka. “In the second set she played some good shots and I felt like I slowed down but I was glad I was able to turn it around”.

The number seven seed got off to a great start earning three chances to break in the opening game of the match and getting the early break. At 4-2 she earned the double break when the American produced a poor service game and double faulted on breakpoint. Enabling Azarenka to take the opener in just 26 minutes.

The beginning of the second set was identical to the first with the world No.16 earning three more breakpoints and breaking to take an early lead. However, Pegula fought back to earn three chances to break but Azarenka saved all three and held serve. The set stayed on serve until 4-3 when the American had another chance to break. This time a poor service game from the Belorussian gave up the break of serve.

At 6-5 with Azarenka serving to stay in the middle set Pegula found herself at set point and clinched the set after the world number 16 hit another unforced error.

Into the decider and again just like the first two sets it was the 31 year old who broke in the opening service game of the set but the world number 26 responded by breaking right back the very next game and the next two games followed suit with two breaks of serve.

At 3-3 the Azarenka had three more breakpoints and got the break once again but this time the break was enough for her to serve out the match. After the match Azarenka spoke about losing the momentum in the second set and how she was able to get it back and push through.

” I paid too much attention on the things that I didn’t take opportunities and matches on grass can go fast with one or two breaks and it’s more difficult and hopefully I can stop putting myself into too much trouble”. She said.

Azarenka will next face Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova who stunned Madison Keys in three sets – 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.

Elsewhere, Alize Cornet also continued her amazing run by beating the number six seed Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, and Belinda Bencic booked her spot in the final four beating another Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.

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Alize Cornet stuns Bianca Andreescu in Berlin

Andreescu was playing in the main draw of a WTA grass-court tournament for only the second time in her career after Wimbledon 2017.

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Alize Cornet’s run at the Bett1 Open in Berlin continues as she managed to upset Bianca Andreescu 7-6(2), 7-5 in two hours and six minutes on Steffi Graff Stadion.

 

“At the beginning of the match I was feeling very good,” said Cornet. “I played some of my best tennis at the start of the match and I think I felt more comfortable than in the first round. The first match helped get me more comfortable on the surface but it was a huge battle playing a match that lasted over two hours and I am really happy that I got through”.

It was the number three seed who got off to a fast start being the more aggressive player earning two chances to break in the opening service game of the match but failed to convert. The very next game it was Cornet with three chances to take the lead and she did just that and it stayed on serve until 4-2 until Andreescu had a chance to break to go back on serve and she would get the break back.

At 5-4 the world number 63 reached set point but Andreescu managed to save it with one of her big serves and held serve before going back on the offensive. Earning another breakpoint but again couldn’t finish and the set would be decided by a tiebreaker.

Cornet ran away with the breaker jumping out to a 4-1 lead and would win it 7-2 to take the first set 7-6.

She carried the momentum into the second frame and in the first game she set up two breakpoints with a stunning forehand winner and broke to take a 1-0 lead. At 3-1 the world number 63 had a chance to go up a double break and she did just that breaking again to get a 4-1 lead but the Canadian responded right away by breaking right back the very next game.

At 4-3 the Toronto native had a break chance to go back on serve which she converted on to level the set at 4-4 and it stayed on serve for two more games until it Cornet managed to get the crucial break to take a 6-5 lead and serve out the match.

” She’s a really talented player, she plays amazing and she is dangerous on every surface but I think today my experience on grass helped me”. Cornet commented on her opponent.

She will now face either Garbine Muguruza or Elena Rybakina in the quarter-finals.

There were three other second round matches being played on Steffi Graff Stadium. The day started with another upset as Ekaterina Alexandrova beat the number two seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 in only an hour and 30 minutes.

Belinda Bencic, the number five seed, had no issue dispatching the Croat Petra Martic 6-3, 6-4. In the final match of the day, a third upset occurred when Madison Keys beat the top seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets 6-4, 1-6, 5-7.

The action continues on Thursday with four more second round matches featuring the local favourite Angelique Kerber taking on Victoria Azarenka.

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Berlin Round-up: Garbine Muguruza Cruises Past Cirstea In Berlin

The number six seed only needed 80 minutes to advance past her Romanian opponent.

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Garbine Muguruza started her grass court season on the right foot beating Sorana Cirstea in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 20 minutes on Steffi Graff Stadium.

 

She will next face Elena Rybakina who was pushed to three sets by the American Shelby Rodgers 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted one hour and 43 minutes.

Angelique Kerber only needed one hour to dispatch the Japanese player Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-1 and after the match she gave her thoughts on what seemed like a comfortable first win on grass for the local favourite.

“It was a really solid match and it’s never easy to play a first match on a grass court, especially against a lefty as well, so I’m really happy about my performance and how I started the grass court season,” She said.

Kerber will now face the daunting task of playing the Belorussian Victoria Azarenka who beat another German Andrea Petkovic in a tough straight sets victory (6-4, 7-6).

In the other results of the day the Croat Petra Martic needed three sets to beat the American qualifier Asia Muhammad 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 to set up a second round match with Belinda Bencic.

In an all American battle Jessica Pegula only played 12 games against Hailey Baptiste who was forced to retire due to injury, Pegula will next face Karolina Pliskova in the next round.

The young Russian Veronika Kudermetova needed three sets to beat the Czech Karolina Muchova in a match that went two hours and 28 minutes 7-6, 5-7, 6-2. She will now face Liudmilla Samsonova who pulled off the only upset of the day by beating Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (6).

Round two begins on Wednesday with four second round matches and will feature Elina Svitolina taking on Ekaterina Alexandrova, as well as Bianca Andreescu facing Alize Cornet.

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