WTA Premier Madrid: Maria staged another magical comeback in Madrid - UBITENNIS
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WTA Premier Madrid: Maria staged another magical comeback in Madrid

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TENNIS WTA Premier Madrid – Maria Sharapova beat Li Na at the Mutua Madrid Open coming back from a set down 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3. Li had committed 43 errors to 13 winners as oppose to Sharapova who had a 39:21 errors to winners’ ratio. Sharapova will face Agnieszka Radwanska tomorrow for a place in the final. Cordell Hackshaw

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

Li Na (2), the 2011 French Open champion and Maria Sharapova (8), the 2012 French Open champion, found themselves on court far earlier than expected as the first quarterfinals between Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova never got underway as Williams retired from the match. Nonetheless, the quality of play, tension and excitement in this one matchup was equal to that of two combined. In the end, Sharapova, last year’s finalist, showed herself to be the clear favourite for the title at the Mutua Madrid Open with Williams’ withdrawal. As she did in the 2nd round here against American Christina McHale, the Russian was on the brink of defeat but as is the case so often in her career, only then she produced her best tennis; willing her opponents into submission. She wrested control of this match after being outplayed for over a set and a half by Li to take it 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3. Sharapova would later say I think today I was down, I didn’t play a great first set, and I found a way to get myself in a position to be in the third. Then certainly something changed a little bit and did something different to get myself going and give myself a bit more energy than I had in the first set.”

Maria Sharapova Part 1 “Experience helps to come back and stay focused”

It was apparent in the beginning stages of the match that Sharapova was not taking this match lightly. She holds a 9-4 lifetime record against Li but she is aware that Li is capable of playing a high level of tennis. Sharapova held comfortably on her first two service games. Li on the other hand was spraying the balls and fighting to hold serve. However, at 2-2, Sharapova lost her resolve and was broken to go down 2-3. She earned herself a break point in Li’s next service game but again Li did well to consolidate the break and go up 4-2. At this point, the Russian began to leak errors and was broken at love to give Li the double break. The Chinese wasted no time to close out the set 6-2 after 33 minutes. The numbers were not pretty by any stretch of the imagination as both women were erratic; 21 errors between them and only 4 winners. Li had no winners recorded though she won more points off her first serve (88%) than Sharapova did (58%).

Li carried her winning momentum into the 2nd set as Sharapova appeared to be forcing the issue and committing the errors. Li was able to capitalize on another break point to go up 4-3. However, as she served to consolidate the break, Li appear to have lost the plot as she was soon down 0-40. Sharapova needed no other invitation for her first break of the match and things were even again. She held serve comfortably for 5-4 putting the pressure back onto Li to serve to stay in the set. Li found her A game again and not only held easily but earned two break points on Sharapova’s serve. This would have put Li in command to serve for the match at 6-5. Again, Li lost her way and squandered the break chances and Sharapova seized this golden opportunity to take control of the match. Li was able to force the tiebreaker but Sharapova took command early with a 4-0 lead. She got to 6-3 in breaker and despite Li’s late charge to disrupt this comeback, Sharapova was able to close out the set 7-6(5).

Errors continue to pour from Li’s racquet in the 3rd set and Sharapova applied the pressure to the reigning Australian Open champion. Sharapova broke in the opening game but Li broke back immediately. She was unable to hold serve again and the Russian converted another break point and held serve to lead 3-1 in the set. Sharapova quickly got through her next couple of service games and was able to break easily again the Li serve to close out the match 2-6 7-6 6-3. This is another instance of Li leading in the early parts of a big match and then faltering to lose; reminiscing of her loss at the 2014 Sony Ericsson Open final to Serena Williams.

Maria Sharapova Part 2 “I wouldn’t mind if it (on court coaching) didn’t exist”

In the press conference, Sharapova had this to say of the turnaround in the match, I think it’s a combination of experience and kind of what you teach yourself and the motivation that you find inside of yourself to not letdown when you’re feeling things aren’t going the exact way that you wanted them to.” Sharapova added that focus is required to come back in a match as well as to stay ahead with a lead. Perhaps this is something Li should learn because this match should be cause for concern in her camp. It seems as though she is unable to finish matches against top players and her play becomes more erratic on big points. She only won a staggering 23% of her first serve points in the 3rd set compared to Sharapova who won 75%. Overall Li had committed 43 errors to 13 winners as oppose to Sharapova who had a 39:21 errors to winners’ ratio. Sharapova will face Agnieszka Radwanska tomorrow for a place in the final. The Polish number one player took out France’s Caroline Garcia 6-4 4-6 6-4.

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Tereza Martincova and Belinda Bencic reach the quarter final in Ostrava

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Czech wildcard Tereza Martincova upset Roland Garros Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6) after 2 hours and 19 minutes to advance to the quarter finals at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Martincova claimed her third top 20 win of her career and reached her second quarter final on home soil this season after finishing fourth in Prague. 

Pavlyuchenkova earned the first break to take a 4-3 lead and served for the first set in the 10th game, but she never reached a set point. The Russian player came just two points away from winning the first set at 5-4 30-15, but Martincova won four consecutive points before winning the tie-break 7-5. 

Martincova dropped just eight points in the first six games of the second set. The Czech player fended off two break points to consolidate her lead for 2-0. She raced out to a 7-6 (7-5) 5-1 lead, but Pavlyuchenkova saved two match points to hold serve forcing Martincova to serve for the match. Martincova dropped four consecutive points. Pavlyuchenkova got another break, when Martincova was serving for the match for the third time at 6-5. Martincova went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Pavlyuchenkova drew level to 4-4 before saving a third match point. Martincova won the final two points to claim the tie-break 8-6. 

Martincova set up a quarter final match against Maria Sakkari, who beat last week’s Luxembourg finalist Jelena Ostapenko. 

This year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic cruised to a 6-2 6-3 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo in just 88 minutes. Bencic claimed her 15th win in her last 18 matches. Bencic broke six times and reeled off eight consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set to cruise through to a a straight-set win. Sorribes Tormo saved a break point to win her first game for 1-4 and pulled one break back in the sixth game, but Bencic sealed the win with her third break in the ninth game. “I think I prepared well for this match tactically, and also mentally, because it’s very tough. You have to win the point many times against her, especially on this surface, where it’s very slow. I am happy that I stayed disciplined for the whole match”, said Bencic. 

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Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Indian Wells, Unclear If She Will Play Again This Year

There is no official word but it looking increasingly likly that the world No.8 might have pulled the plug on her 2021 season.

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka has officially withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells just weeks after saying she will take a break from the sport due to personal reasons.

 

The former world No.1 hadn’t played a match since her loss to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open. Speaking to reporters in New York, Osaka said she didn’t know when she would play another match on the Tour. Earlier this year she opened up about her mental health struggles after revealing she has been suffering from social anxiety and depression. Osaka also took time away from the sport during the summer after pulling out of the French Open before deciding to skip Wimbledon.

“This is very hard to articulate. Basically I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry,” she said following her loss to Fernandez.
“I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while. How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.”

Osaka’s withdrawal from Indian Wells was confirmed by the tournament who published an announcement on social media. Although they didn’t specify what reason she used to withdraw from the tournament which is one of the biggest events outside of the Grand Slams in terms of ranking points and prize money on offer.

It was Indian Wells where Osaka won her first prestigious title back in 2018 after defeating Daria Kasatkina in straight sets. The following year she was the top seed in the draw but lost to Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

There has been no official comment from Osaka or her team about Indian Wells and if she will play again this season. Although it looks increasingly unlikely. She is in with a chance of qualifying for the WTA Finals in November but even if she does make the cut it is unclear if she will attend the event which has been relocated from China to Mexico.

This year Indian Wells will get underway on October 4th which is more than six months later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Simona Halep Ends Six-Year Collaboration With Coach Cahill

One of the longest coaching partnerships on the WTA Tour has come to an end.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep is on the lookout for a new coach after unexpectedly announcing her split from Darren Cahill on Wednesday.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has been working with the Australian mentor for most of the time since 2015. There was a brief period where Cahill stepped away from his duties to spend more time with his family before later returning. Under his guidance, the Romanian reached the top of the world rankings and featured in the final of three major tournaments, winning two of those.

“After six wonderful years working together, Darren Cahill and I have decided that it’s time to end our working relationship,” Halep wrote on social media. “Thank you D for everything, for making me a better tennis player and a better person.”

55-year-old Cahill is a former player himself who has also worked with a series of top players prior to Halep. In the past, he has coached both Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi to world No.1 at different stages of their careers. Doubles specialist Horia Tecău reportedly told Romanian TV that it was rumoured Cahill received an annual salary in the region of one million euros during his time with Halep. Although this has not been verified.

The announcement comes a week after Halep married Macedonian businessman Toni Iuruc. One of those who attended the event was Illie Nastase who was one of the world’s best tennis players during the 1970s, winning both the French Open and US Open.

I didn’t know anything about Simona’s intention to break up with Darren Cahill. It took me a little by surprise. But Simona Halep has proven she knows what she’s doing. As I did not know, I do not see what I could comment. But there is no question of collaborating (with her),” Nastase told playsport.ro.
I didn’t talk to her about this or to anyone else in her entourage… I think only Simona knows who her future coach will be. I trust her choices.”

So far in 2021 Halep has achieved a win-loss record of 15-7 during what has been a rollercoaster season. An Achilles injury forced her to miss both the French Open and Wimbledon, as well as the Tokyo Olympics. Since returning to the Tour from her injury she has won back-to-back matches in one out of three tournaments played. Reaching the fourth round of the US Open.

There has been no official word on who may replace Cahill as Halep’s coach.

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