TENNIS WTA Rome – Serena Williams dropped the first set of her Rome campaign against Ana Ivanovic, but reached the second straight final following a 6-1 3-6 6-1 win. Giulio Gasparin
The world number one had to fight hard and come out on top to overcome the Serb, who showed some of her best tennis.
The two sets dominated by the American were not deprived of fight, as the 2008 Roland Garros champion often forced her opponent to play stunning rallies and face delicate points.
Williams, who went unbeaten on clay in 2013, did not have the chance to be fully tested on the surface this season, but showed to be ready to defend her Rome crown, after dropping the ones of Charleston and Madrid.
The first seed realised she had to find her best tennis from the very beginning as Ivanovic started aggressively and had immediately a chance to break.
With a massive display of strength, Williams hold serve and tried to break her opponent’s, but an ace from the Serb denied it.
The battle between the two became thrilling and lots of great points followed one after the other, but it was the world number one, who was winning the most important ones.
In what felt like a eye blink, the defending champion closed the first set with authority.
Ivanovic made great use of the words of her coach between the sets, as she stepped back on court with a renewed attitude and similarly to the start of the first partial, she tried to be more aggressive.
She held for the second time in the match to start the set on the front foot and never stopped being as she broke Williams’s serve in the second game, despite needing to stop playing for a few minutes due to a fly hitting her eye.
Suddenly roles switched, Ivanovic was barely missing and her first serve was almost always in and causing troubles to the reigning champion, whose errors started to add up, while her serve sank.
On 4-0 down, Williams tried a reaction, the volume of her grunts grew together with the power of her shots. She took one of the two breaks back and held securely, but Ivanovic did let her comeback succeed.
The Serb hold her nerves and closed the second set on the third set point.
One was to expect a reaction from the world number one, but what happened in the third set was astonishing.
Williams came back thunderously and gave no hope to Ivanovic, who suddenly was overwhelmed by the power, pace and depth of the American’s shots.
The Serb finally found a game in the third set just when she was about to run out of time, on 5-0 for the world number one.
She tried to react and get a boost of confidence from this hold of serve, but Williams did not want to waste any more time and with the third ace of the game, the fifth of the match, she closed the match and gained a ticket for the final.
Williams is definitely the favourite to defend her title, as she has never lost to Sara Errani, whose terrific clay-court tennis lacks the power to outhit the American.
The only advantages the Italian has leading to the final act of tomorrow is the knowledge of having nothing to lose and a 10.500 screaming fans all behind her.
Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette
China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player.
The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.
“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying.
Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.
20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina.
Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.
“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”
It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing.
Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open
Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat.
The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory.
Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.
“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added.
Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose
After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open.
The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall.
“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”
Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament.
Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.
Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”
It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.
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