ROLAND GARROS: Larsson surprises Pennetta and reaches first slam R3 - UBITENNIS
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ROLAND GARROS: Larsson surprises Pennetta and reaches first slam R3

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TENNIS Roland Garros – Swede Johanna Larsson deservedly upset the 12th seed and Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta in a gruelling three setter ended 5-7 6-4 6-2. Giulio Gasparin

 

Interviews, Results, OOP, Draws from the Roland Garros

Swede Johanna Larsson deservedly upset the 12th seed and Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta in a gruelling three setter ended 5-7 6-4 6-2.

Larsson was the most incisive player in the first set, but failed to convert her best chances. It all came to a peak when she was broken from 30-0 up serving for the set on 5-4.

Pennetta found the first solid hold on the set to force the Swede to serve to stay in the set, but that proved to add up too much pressure on her, as she was broken to hand the set.

Pennetta then took full control of the match and it looked as if the 12th seed was going to pick up a comfortable win.

On 3-0 up for the Italian, Larsson managed to regroup herself and her tennis came back thunderously.

The Swede slowly started to improve the quality of her shots and more and more often she was taking the long rallies, in which Pennetta spent a lot of energy chasing big shots left to right.

Larsson completed the comeback and then broke the Italian in a very intense game, where Pennetta saved several break points with stunning backhands, but it was not enough.

The Australian Open quarter-finalist fought back to take the break, but her movements suddenly looked hampered, perhaps by the thigh injury that occurred ahead of the Parisian slam.

Larsson found one another break, but this time she did not let the emotions prevent her from being clutch and with a good service game, she captured the second set 6-4.

The leak of games from Pennetta did not stop after the break between sets and in less than 10 minutes she found herself down of two breaks.

From 4-4 in the second set, to 0-3 down in the third, the Italian won as much as 4 points, missing too many shots, but most of all being unable to stop the formidable forehand of the Swede.

The moment started to catch up on Larsson once again in the fourth game, as she hit three double faults –the only ones of her match-, but the legs of Pennetta clearly did not allow her to take advantage of any of the break points she had.

The last few games went on following the service pattern without any big emotion, apart from tears rapidly appearing after another bad miss by the Italian in the second point of the last game.

World number 93 Larsson conquered by this the first third round of a slam in her career, a fully deserved result, especially given the quality of tennis that she produced in the past two matches.

Pennetta, on the other hand, showed all her limits on the slow red clay: her shots are not heavy enough to break down her opponents, whilst her age does not allow to defend as much and her body run out of gas too soon.

Larsson will face Canadian rising star Eugenie Bouchard to try and get to the last 16.

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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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Andreescu edges Kostyuk to reach semis in Hua Hin

Bianca Andreescu is into the semi-finals in Thailand.

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Bianca Andreescu (@BenLewisMPC - Twitter)

The Canadian is into the final four in Thailand after beating the Ukrainian in straight sets.

 

Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the semifinal of the Thailand Open in Hua Hin after beating the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in straight sets 6-0, 7-6 in one hour and 28 minutes.

The number one seed hit 19 winners and won 69% of her first serve points in a match where she had an amazing start but was dealt some adversity in the second set.

“I don’t think I started playing bad in the second set,” Andreescu said. “I think she just raised her game and she is always a tough opponent so I wasn’t expecting anything easy.”

The Toronto native who was making her first trip to Thailand came out to a flying start breaking three times in the first set en route to serving a bagel 6-0 set in a mere 25 minutes on court.

Riding the momentum into the second set, the Canadian broke again in the first game and at 3-1 went up a double break and found herself up 5-1 and a game away from the semis.

That’s when the number five seed started fighting back and at 5-2 broke Andreescu for the first time in the match and won the next two games to level the set at 5-5, using her powerful forehand to do it.

The set and the match were ultimately decided by a tiebreaker where the top seed got the early lead at 4-2 and served out the set and match at 6-3 in the breaker to secure the win.

After the match in her on-court interview, she was asked about her chances in the next match.

“I am hoping to win the tournament and I really believe in myself and if I get the support I need hopefully I can win the next two matches.”

Andreescu will face another Ukrainian in the semi-finals Lesia Tsurenko who had no issues getting past the German Tatjana Maria in straight sets 6-1 6-1 in one hour and 16 minutes.

In the other two quarterfinal matches, Lin Zhu of China beat the Slovenian Tamara Zidansek in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 15 minutes to set up an all-Chinese semi-final with the number seven seed Xinju Wang.

Wang needed three sets to get past the Brit Heather Watson 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in two hours and 40 minutes.

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink On Sabalenka’s Rise, Swiatek’s Tough Year Ahead

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta to look back on the highs and lows of this year’s Australian Open women’s tournament.

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Image via Australian Open Twitter

On Saturday Aryna Sabalenka ousted Elena Rybakina in an epic three-set encounter to claim her first Grand Slam title at the age of 24.

 

The triumph has been a long time coming for the Belarussian who has reached the semi-final stage of a major on three previous occasions. Steve Flink and Ubaldo Scanagatta take a look at Sabalenka’s technical game and what her recent breakthrough could mean for her future career. 

Sabalenka is calmer now, there is much more composure. Even when she served a double fault on match point in the last game (of the final) she kept her concentration, took a breath, and got on with it,” said Flink. 
“I think one of the separating factors between her and Rybakina was that she defended better and she is a better shotmaker from the baseline. 
“Sabalenka is a good all-around player, there is a way to go but she is getting there. “

There is also high praise for Rybakina who has reached two major finals within the past year, winning the Wimbledon title. The Kazakh is now in the world’s top 10 but would be currently in the top five if Wimbledon awarded points last year. 

“Rybakina has one of the best women’s first serve’s in tennis but maybe needs to improve on her second,” Flink pointed out. “It kicks up a bit and the better players can take advantage of that. She can also get a little shaky off the ground but by being in the final of two majors over the past year, I am very encouraged by her. “

Flink also explains where he believes Coco Gauff will have a better future than compatriot Jessica Pegula. Even though the latter produced a better result at Melbourne Park by reaching the quarter-final before losing to Victora Azarenka. 

“Gauff in the long term,” he said.
“She is working hard on improving her forehand which is still not good enough and the second serve. These have been holding her back. She had a good disposition on the court and doesn’t get too excited.’
“Over the next two and three years she is going to improve considerably. So I think the ceiling for her is greater but maybe this year it will be Pegula who will be better. “

The biggest shocks of the tournament came from the top two seeds – Ons Jabeur and Iga Swiatek. Jabeur lost in the second round and Swiatek crashed out in the fourth. In Flink’s view, the Tunisian will be able to turn her fortunes around but the world No.1 will not be ‘such a dominant force’ as she was in 2022. 

“With Swiatek, it is going to be interesting. She won 37 matches in a row leading up to Wimbledon (last year) and she won her second French Open in the process. I don’t think we will see her as a dominant force (compared to 2022). She will be in the top three or top four for a long time because of her consistency but Rybakina beat her really comfortably at the Australian Open,” he commented. 
“I think she relies a lot on her defence but I don’t think she is as comfortable now. She might hold on to her No.1 spot but I wouldn’t be surprised if she finished the year at three or four in the world.” 

However, Flink does back Swiatek to win this year’s French Open after winning two out of the past three editions. Although he is not so sure when it comes to who might win the men’s title…….

Video breakdown:

0:00 intro

0:30 – An analysis of the final between Sabalenka and Rybakina

2:20 – Flink takes a closer look at Sabalenka’s and Rybakina’s current form and what they can improve

3:40 – Ubaldo’s view on Sabalenka’s game 

5:40 – Sabalenka’s double fault woes – are they over?

6:50 – How could clay affect Sabalenka’s game?

7:30 – Flink on Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula 

9:30 – Jabeur’s and Swiatek’s Australian Open performances

15:00 – Who will win the French Open? 

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