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A Keys to success: maiden title in Eastbourne

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TENNIS WTA – Madison Keys has won her first WTA title in Eastbourne by defeating in three long sets Angelique Kerber 6-3 3-6 7-5. From Eastbourne, Giulio Gasparin

 

The 19 year old girl from Florida has taken her maiden title at her very first final at the fourth match point, after serving 17 aces (one of them at 126 mph) and 60 winners.

It was not an easy task for the young American as Kerber did not give up until the very end and as both acknowledged the match was resolved by a couple of points and it could have gone either way.

Under the bright sun of an enjoyably warm summer day, the two athletes battled for almost two hours, though the quality struggled to kick in at first.

Both players looked quite nervous, though for different reasons: Keys was playing her first ever final and had never won against Kerber in their two previous matches, while the German was yet to win a title this year after the finals lost to Tsvetlana Pironkova in Sydney and Simona Halep in Doha. Moreover, the fifth seed had never won a title outdoors and two years ago finished runner up at this very event after wasting match points against Tamira Paszek.

In the early games, both had the chance to break the other’s serve, but in the end only the American capitalised her chances and found the break that decided the first set.

Kerber reacted by adding more power to her shots and, thanks to this new aggressive attitude, she managed to force Keys to risk more and hence miss more.

The fifth seed flew to an early 3-0 lead and she then managed to maintain the break lead until the very end of the set.

It all came down to the third set, where again it was the serve to rule most of the games, with both players holding with authority and giving very little chances to the other.

Keys on a let hit a 131mph serve, which would have been the fastest serve ever hit by a woman.

The American was impressive especially in the moments of difficulty to dig out of troubles with confidence.

What was evident, though, was that Kerber’s attitude had gone too passive again and it cost her many chances throughout the set, until she had to serve on 6-5.

In a stunning game for intensity and quality, Keys found some outstanding points, one of them, probably the best of the match, gave her the first match point after she defended Kerber’s accelerations and then closed with a lovely dropshot.

The German managed to clear three match points, but when an overrule by Alison Lang transformed a good second serve in a double fault for the fourth match point, it seemed as if her focus went lost and a netted forehand gave keys her first title.

The American, thanks to this win, will jump to world number 30 in Monday’s ranking.

Curiously, earlier today another American won her first WTA tournament, as Coco Vandeweghe lifted the trophy in Rosmalen becoming the first American not in the Williams’ family to win a trophy since Melanie Oudin’s success in Birmingham in 2012.

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Simona Halep Suffers Rare Panic Attack During French Open Loss

The ex-world No.1 has vowed to ‘learn from this episode’ after crashing out of the tournament.

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PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO - SIMONA HALEP OF ROMANIA

Former champion Simona Halep says she ‘lost it’ during her shock second round exit from the French Open on Wednesday.

 

The 19th seed was a set and a break up against Chinese world No.74 Qinwen Zheng before losing 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. In total Halep hit a costly 29 unforced errors against only nine winners and was broken five times overall.

“It was a difficult one. I was playing well at the start. I had a break in the second set, but then something happened. I just lost it.” Halep said during her press conference.
“But she’s (Zheng) playing well and she played a good match in the end.”

During the match Halep sought medical attention and appeared to be far from her best form. In the decider her blood pressure and pulse was checked by a doctor. She later revealed that the source of her issue was a rare panic attack which she says hadn’t really happened to her during any Tour match until now. The Romanian has been playing in the main draw of major events for 12 years.

“I didn’t expect it because it was just a panic attack,” she said.
I didn’t know how to handle it because I don’t have it often. I don’t really know why it happened because I was leading the match. I was playing well.’
“I couldn’t focus. After the match it was pretty tough. But now I’m good. I’ve recovered and I will learn from this episode.”

The 30-year-old concedes her panic attack might have been triggered by her desire to do well at the French Open where she won the title in 2018 and reached the final on two other occasions. Heading into this year’s draw she only played two clay events, reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid and then the second round in Rome.

“I didn’t feel better during the match. If I would have felt better, I would have started to play a little bit better,” she states.
“I couldn’t manage it and I don’t have many words about it. I just have to accept it and take it.’
“It’s part of the process, and I’m already looking forward to being better in that case if it’s going to happen, but I hope not.”

This year is Halep’s earliest exit from the French Open since 2013 when she lost in the first round.

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‘Great Things Are Going To Happen’ – Maria Sakkari Finds Silver Lining In Shock French Open Loss

The world No.3 insists that she is ‘feeling good’ after being knocked out of the Grand Slam.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Maria Sakkari says she is confident she is heading in the right direction despite suffering her earliest loss at the French Open since 2019.

 

The fourth seed, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros 12 months ago, was ousted 7-6(5), 7-6(4), by Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova. A former top 20 player who reached the last four of the Australian Open in 2021 before suffering from injury issues. Sakkari produced a costly 37 unforced errors which cancelled out the 31 winners she produced during the second round encounter.

She played an amazing match. She always plays extremely well in Grand Slams and today she was the better player, so I have to give it to her,” Sakkari of Muchova said during her press conference.
It’s disappointing for sure because it (the French Open) is still my favourite tournament and I’m sad.” She added.

Sakkari’s defeat concludes what has been a roller-coaster clay court swing for the Greek. In Stuttgart she was forced to retire during her opening match due to a gastroenteral illness. At the Madrid Open she crashed out in the second round to Daria Kasatkina before losing in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open to Ons Jabeur.

However, the 26-year-old believes there are positives which can be drawn from her latest match in the French capital.

“I found myself again in the court. I’m feeling good. I’m fighting. I’m enjoying my time on the court so I think that great things are going to happen soon,” she states.

Historically Sakkari has enjoyed mixed fortunes when it comes to playing in major tournaments. Last year at the Grand Slams she made two semi-final appearances, as well as losing in the second round at Wimbledon and the first round of the Australian Open.

“I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets, and so many upsets all these years. At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament,” she reflected.
“It’s very disappointing because I really wanted to do well again but I’m sure that I have a few more years left in my career.”

As for Muchova she is through to the last 32 in Paris for the second year in a row. Awaiting her next will be 27th seed Amanda Anisimova who defeated Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1, in her second round match.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Fitness Is Improving After Maiden French Open Win

The world No.12 is playing in the main draw of a major for only the fourth time in her career.

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EMMA RADUCANU OF GREAT BRITAIN - PHOTO: ANGEL MARTINEZ / MMO

British No.1 Emma Raducanu says she ‘felt really good’ during her roller-coaster win in the first round of the French Open.

 

The reigning US Open champion was forced to comeback from a set down to oust Czech qualifier Linda Noskova 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-1, after more than two-and-a-half hours of play. Noskova won the French Open girls title 12 months ago. Raducanu was on the verge of suffering a shock loss after going down a break twice during the second set before fighting her way back to force the match into a decider which she won with relative ease.

“It’s definitely a tough match to get through, and I’m really, really happy with the way that I regrouped after losing a set 7-6, which is always tough, having had some chances,” Raducanu said afterwards.
“To fight back, I was really pleased.”

This season is the first time Raducanu has played in the main draw of the French Open as a professional player. She had previously featured in the junior competition four years ago where she lost in the second round to Denmark’s Clara Tauson. She has now played at least one match in all four major events.

Comparing the tournaments, the Brit says the ‘vibes’ she feels are similar to that of what she experienced at the US Open where she made history by becoming the first qualifier to win the title. In New York she won 10 matches in a row without dropping a set.

I think that the French Open, I’d say it gives me similar vibes to the US Open just because of the crowd and just how involved they get. It’s a complete contrast to Wimbledon where it’s dead silent. You can actually hear a pin drop before you serve. It’s incredible,” she explains.
“It definitely took some getting used to, but when I went out there (on court), I was honestly just enjoying it, and I don’t take any of anything personally.
“You can actually say anything to me. So when I was on the court and you get people shouting things it didn’t really affect me at all.”

Noskova is the eighth player Raducanu has managed to defeat on the WTA Tour during what has been a mixed 2022 season so far. Heading into Paris, she has managed to win back-to-back matches in just two out of eight tournaments played. Part of the reason for the lopsided results has been physical issues with a back injury forcing her to retire from the Italian Open earlier this month.

However, the world No.12 is confident that her physical fitness is heading in the right direction. In recent months she has explored various training set ups and has gone through three different coaches. The latest being Torben Beltz who she ended her collaboration with after just five months together.

“I think that it is definitely improving,” she said of her physicality. “One thing that I have been doing in the lead-up for this week and the whole of last week, I was doing a lot in the gym, a lot before practice, after practice, just keeping all the muscles fired up. It’s something I probably haven’t really done before, train through tournaments.’
“I am pretty pleased with how I was out there physically, and I feel really good, to be honest.”

Raducanu, who is seeded 12th in the French Open draw, will take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round.

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