WTA Premier Madrid: Halep through to the Madrid final and to third place in the rankings - UBITENNIS
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WTA Premier Madrid: Halep through to the Madrid final and to third place in the rankings

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TENNIS – Simona Halep from Romania beat Petra Kvitova in the WTA Premier Madrid come back from a set behind 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. Halep is now just 21 points behind Azarenka in the WTA rankings and will become World Number 3 if she wins the tournament. Cordell Hackshaw

Interviews, results, order of play and draws of the Mutua Madrid Open

There should be no doubt about it; Simona Halep (4) of Romania is the real deal. She might not yet be contending for majors but she most certainly will be vying for a big title tomorrow as she placed herself in the Mutua Madrid final with a 6-7 6-3 6-2 victory over Petra Kvitova (5). The diminutive Romanian stood shoulder to shoulder with Kvitova, the 2011 Madrid champion on every point until the Czech succumbed to her superior movement and ball striking abilities. It was a great match overall filled with many great shots but in the end, Kvitova could not hold on to the lead of a set and early break in the 2nd set. “It was a very tough match today. I couldn’t believe that I can come back again. She played really well and she was fighting very well.” Halep stated after the match. “I’m really happy that I can play the final here in Madrid” Halep added.

In the 1st set, the level of tennis was high. Both women came out with their “A game”; hitting their first serves and going for their shots. Kvitova seemed the more aggressive of the two and was willing to take more risk. It was no wonder than she got 18 winners and 29 errors compared to Halep’s 6 winners and 13 errors for the set. The two saved early break points but Kvitova was able to break in the 6th game to go up 4-2. However, she was unable to consolidate and the set would ultimately be decided in a tiebreaker. It was at this point that Kvitova really showed her experience. She knew that it was important to take charge early and quickly raced to a 4-0 lead in the breaker. Halep could not find her range and it was only when Kvitova double faulted instead of going up 5-0, did she get on the board. In the end however, her efforts would be in vain and Kvitova took the set 7-6(4).

Halep was not pleased with herself after losing the set. A bathroom break did not help calm her nerves as she was broken in the first game of the 2nd set. Down 1-3, the Romanian decided to change her head gear from a visor to a simple hair band despite rising heat. This change of attire seemed to change the complexion of the match as Halep reeled off 5 straight games to take the 2nd set 6-3. This new found confidence saw her hitting 4 aces, winning 83% of her first serve points and committing only 6 errors compared to the 16 from Kvitova who was only winning 50% of the points on her first serve.

Halep’s sureness continued into the decisive set as she quickly broke Kvitova for a 2-0 lead. The Czech was looking out of sorts by now. She was fighting the conditions and looked a bit off-coloured. It was soon clear that Kvitova was not going to claw her way out of this hole. All Kvitova’s energies were spent on preventing another break of her serve. This in turn made it impossible for her to have any impact on the Halep serve. Kvitova saw no break point opportunities in the 3rd set despite Halep serving at 47%. However, the Romanian only dropped three points on serve for the set. Kvitova finally capitulated having committed 66 errors for the match as Halep got the double break in the 7th game and served out the match 6-7 6-3 6-2.

This is Halep’s first premier mandatory final and well deserved. After a magical 2013 where she won six titles, she quickly followed that up in 2014 with a quarterfinals appearance in Australia, getting to the semifinals in Indian Wells and winning the Qatar Open. Her current ranking of 5 in the world is the highest for a Romanian woman in the WTA history. Nonetheless, she would need all her experience and skill on maximum overdrive tomorrow in order to beat Maria Sharapova who made it to her second consecutive Madrid final. Halep has no illusion about the difficulty task ahead, Tomorrow I expect a very tough match…Maria is a champion and she knows how to manage the finals. I’m very excited that I can play my biggest finals tomorrow. I hope that my emotions will be down and I can play.”

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Sorana Cirstea Makes Winning Start To French Open After Seeking Help From Djokovic’s Coach

The Grand Slam winning mentor was seen in the crowd watching Cirstea play her first round match in Paris.

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Image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros

Heading into her 14th French Open main draw Sorona Cristea decided to take a shot and ask for advice from one former Grand Slam champion.

 

The 32-year-old Romanian has endured a mixed results on the clay this year with a run to the semifinals of the Istanbul Open followed by three straight first round losses on the Tour. It has been a frustrating past few weeks for the Tour veteran who is currently ranked 27th in the world. Just six spots below her career-high.

Seeking further guidance for her French Open bid, Cirstea approached Goran Ivanisevic for help. The former Wimbledon champion who now works as coach of the men’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic. To her delight, he agreed to give her some pointers.

He came to one of my practices two days ago. Basically, I just asked for his help and I was lucky enough to get an hour of his time,” Cirstea told reporters.
“I talked with him a little bit about what’s going through my head and just tennis. It was a very, very pleasant hour.”

Ivanisevic was seen courtside watching Cirstea play her first round match at Roland Garros on Sunday morning. The 26th seed defeated Germany’s Tatjana Maria 6-3, 6-3, in just over an hour. Hitting a total of 34 winners against 26 unforced errors.

“I was very surprised to see him because I know he’s very busy with Novak,” she continued. “He was very, very kind to be there and I was happy to see him there.’
“He’s just been giving me a few tips and tricks from a Grand Slam champion, and as a coach of No. 1, and someone that has so much experience. I’m very grateful and very lucky to have the chance to spend that hour on court with him.”

This year’s French Open is the 53rd Grand Slam Cirstea has played in. She has reached six WTA finals, winning the 2008 Tashkent Open and 2021 Istanbul Open. Against top 10 players she has recorded a total of 16 wins to date.

Reflecting on her development as a player, the Romanian believes a change in perspective has enabled her to enjoy more success on the Tour in recent years. Cristea has been continuously ranked in the world’s top 100 since September 2019.

“When I was younger, I was taking the losses a bit much, they were hurting a bit too much, where now I am much more relaxed, much more at peace,” she explains.
“You cannot change what happened last week, so why bother? Try to learn and then just go forward with the positive mindset.”

Cirstea will play Sloane Stephens in the second round of Roland Garros. Stephens, who is unseeded in the draw, battled back from a set down to defeat Germany’s Jule Niemeier 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

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Former Finalist Marketa Vondrousova To Miss French Open Following Surgery

The Olympic silver medallist will miss a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Czech world No.35 Marketa Vondrousova has pulled out of next week’s French Open after undergoing what she describes as a ‘small surgery.’

 

Vondrousova, who reached the final at Roland Garros back in 2019, underwent a procedure on her left wrist after experiencing recurring pain. She decided to do so following a medical consultation and will be soon going through rehab. It will be the first Grand Slam event she has missed since the 2019 US Open which she also withdrew from due to a wrist injury.

“The last few weeks were not easy, I have been experiencing recurring pain in my wrist,” Vondrousova wrote in an Instagram post published on Monday. “After seeing a couple of doctors I decided to get this small surgery done to be able to play pain-free.”
“Staying positive through the recovery and can’t wait to be back on the court soon,”
she added.

The 22-year-old last played on Tour at the Stuttgart Open where she lost in the first round to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. So far this season she has achieved a win-loss record of 13-5 with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships as a qualifier. Vondrousova also reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and defeated Emma Raducanu in the Billie Jean Cup.

A former junior world No.1, Vondrousova has been ranked as high as 14th in the world. So far in her career, she has won just one WTA title which was back in 2017 at the Lugano Open in Switzerland. However, she has reached the final at another four events with the last being at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has scored a total of six wins over top 10 players.

Another player in doubt for the French Open is defending champion Barbora Krejcikova who hasn’t played a match on the Tour since February. The world No.2 has been sidelined from action due to an elbow injury but remains on the entry list for the Grand Slam which will begin on Sunday.

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday.

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Announces Pregnancy

Tennis’ power couple are set to become parents later this year.

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Former world No.3 Elina Svitoliva has announced that she is expecting a baby girl in October on social media.

 

The 27-year-old made the announcement on Sunday morning with a picture of her and her husband, French tennis star Gael Monfils. Known by some as the sports ‘power couple,’ the two tied the knot last July in Geneva ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games after first going public about their relationship in 2019. They even have their own Instagram account called ‘g.e.m.s. life’ which has more than 139,000 followers.

“With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October,” the couple wrote on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina/status/1525778313918177280

Svitolina hadn’t played on the Tour since losing to Heather Watson at the Miami Open in March after deciding to take time away from the sport due to events happening in her home country. Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine earlier this year which has claimed thousands of lives. Svitolina is one of the sport’s most outspoken players regarding the conflict. She has previously spoken out against the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes from Wimbledon by arguing that they should be allowed to participate if they condemn the actions of their home countries.

We don’t want them banned completely,” Svitolina told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.”

Prior to announcing her pregnancy, Svitolina has achieved a win-loss record of 5-8 on the Tour this season with her best runs being to the third round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals of a WTA event in Monterrey.

During her career, the Ukrainian has won 16 WTA titles and reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams during 2019.

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