TENNIS ROLAND GARROS – Perhaps it was the late start due to the rain delay or maybe it was being on the brink of a huge career milestone but both Andrea Petkovic and Simona Halep raced into their maiden major semifinal berth with relative ease. They both dispatched of seasoned veterans on tour who have had great success at these championships. Cordell Hackshaw
Perhaps it was the late start due to the rain delay or maybe it was being on the brink of a huge career milestone but both Andrea Petkovic (28) and Simona Halep (4) raced into their maiden major semifinal berth with relative ease. They both dispatched of seasoned veterans on tour who have had great success at these championships. They also won with the same score line without any of the dramatics that highlighted the other two women’s quarterfinals. Petkovic took care of Sara Errani (10) the 2012 finalist here 6-2 6-2 and Halep dismissed Svetlana Kuznetsova (27) the 2009 champion 6-2 6-2.
Petkovic and Errani were first up on after the delay and immediately, the more experienced Italian broke the German immediately and held serve for a 2-0 lead. “I had a very good game plan from my coach. It didn’t work in the beginning…[S]o I was kind of getting a little worried.” Petkovic said after the match. However, she added the she believed in the plan and decided to stick with it and “So I was lucky that I started playing better and that I was putting more balls into play. And then also the game plan started working out better.” She was more than lucky as she reeled off 6 straight games to close out the set 6-2 in 27 minutes. Errani on the other hand looked listless and unable to show off her trademark defensive skills. She was pulled well out of her comfort zone and unable to get any momentum swinging her way.
The 2nd set began with the players trading breaks for four successive games to be even at 2-2. It was not until the 5th game that Petkovic finally held serve and never looked back. She continued with the game plan that worked so well for her in the 1st set. She attacked Errani’s serves relentlessly, continually pummeling it and returning them with interest. The Italian was left scrambling behind the baseline trying to get the heavy deep shots back into court. Petkovic would break Errani for the 7th consecutive time when the Italian sprayed the ball wide resulting in her losing the match. In just over an hour, Petkovic moved through to her first major semifinals 6-2 6-2. The German spoke about match point, “I saw the ball, and it was so slow. I just prayed to God that it went out, because I didn’t want to smash that ball…I was just praying that it went out….Please, please, please, please, please. When it went out I was super relieved and super happy.”
Errani spoke of the match “Well, I think she played a good match. The problem was not that. It was me. No power, no energy.” That was not the Italian’s only problem; she also had no serve. She held serve once during the eight times she serve. Despite getting 75% of her first serves in, she was only winning 39% of those points and 17% on second serve. It was easy pickings for Petkovic who on the other hand did not have great numbers but good enough to beat Errani. She got 91% of her serves in but only won 56% of the points on first serves and 50% on second serves. However, she was able to get 26 winners many of which came off the Errani serve. Petkovic’s achievement is the first time a German woman has made it to the semifinal at the French Open in near 15 years when Steffi Graf did so in 1999. Graf would later go on to win the title over Martina Hingis.
In the last women’s quarterfinals, Halep was facing a more formidable foe than Petkovic in the form of Kuznetsova. Kuznetsova knows that it takes to win here in Paris and so far this tournament, has shown herself looking very much like a former champion. However, the Russian came out flat against the Romanian who quickly took a 2-0 lead. Kuznetsova broke back and got to 2-2 but she was making far too many errors to be effective on court. She committed 23 in total for the match. Halep was thus able to break her opponent twice in the set and serve it out 6-2 after 33 minutes.
Kuznetsova left the court for a medical time out at the end of the set and returned with her one of her thighs heavily wrapped. She later confirmed that it was a hamstring injury. This hardly helped her cause as she was kept far behind the baseline trying to work her way into the court. She was no match for the precision hitting and footwork of Halep. “I was very aggressive. I played very fast…Is my style to play fast and to take the ball very early. She’s more defensive than me. She’s playing more far from the court. So my point was today my tactic was to play fast, to play very close to the ball, and just to open the angles.” Halep said of her game plan.
Like Errani, Kuznetsova found herself scrambling behind the baseline and forced to be far too defensive on a day that required them to be offensive-minded if they wanted to win. Halep worked her way into the set and raced to a 4-1 lead. Kuznetsova got one of the breaks back for 2-4 but Halep continued to pile on the pressure and broke back immediately to serve for the match 5-2. It looked for a moment that Halep would be unable to serve it out as she double faulted three times in the final game but she got herself together and continued to push her opponent around until finally Kuznetsova dumped another forehand into the net. Halep won 6-2 6-3 in 79 minutes.
Kuznetsova was broken six times in the match which was no surprise as she was only winning 43% of her first serve points and 35% on her second serve. Halep was significantly better in both areas as she won 57% on her first serve and 50% on her second serve. This would be Halep and Petkovic’s 4th meeting with Halep leading 2-1. “It will be a tough match, for sure. It’s a little pressure because it’s semifinal, but I feel good. I feel my game. I feel prepared for the next match. For sure I will try everything to win.” Halep said of the upcoming semifinals.
Serena Williams Loses Late-Night Wimbledon Thriller To Tan
In what could possibly be her final appearance in singles at The All England Club, Williams was edged out by a French qualifier.
The eagerly awaited return of Serena Williams to professional tennis has ended in defeat after she crashed out of the first round at Wimbledon.
Until this week, it has been 12 months since the 40-year-old last played a Tour-level match in singles. Taking on French qualifier Harmony Tan, the American bowed out 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7), after more than three hours of play. Making it the first time she has suffered back-to-back losses in the opening round at Wimbledon after being forced to retire in 2021 due to an ankle injury.
Williams had a chance to serve for the match at 5-4 in the decider but failed to seize the opportunity. Paving the way for Tan to go on and narrowly prevail in the tiebreaker during what was a sensational encounter with plenty of twists and turns.
“It was really tough. I had some chances in the first set. It didn’t work out, it was just totally different to me.” Williams said during her press conference.
“It was definitely a long battle and fight. It was better than last year.”
Playing in her 21st Wimbledon main draw, Williams got off to a rollercoaster start that saw her fall behind 0-2 before she valiantly battled back with the help of a four-game winning streak. It was visible that she still had tremendous power in her shotmaking despite her lengthy absence from the sport but the inevitable signs of rust were also on display.
It was for this reason that the opener featured various changes of momentum with 24-year-old Tan drawing level. A player who was playing in the Wimbledon main draw for the first time and briefly broke into the world’s top 100 earlier this year. Tan continued applying the pressure with the clever use of slice shots as she benefited from a series of mistakes from the Tour veteran. Back-to-back mistakes from Williams and then a winning forehand from the Frenchwoman on the next point enabled her to break for a chance to serve the first set out at 6-5. A mission she accomplished with a winning forehand passing shot on set point.
Williams briefly left the court whilst there was a delay to the match for the roof to come on. Upon her return, she found herself in a mammoth Tan service game which lasted around 20 minutes. A total of 12 deuces were featured before the American converted her sixth break point opportunity by hitting a shot that painted the baseline. That breakthrough would prove to be a turning point in the match as Williams went on to level at one set apiece.
Exchanging breaks early on in the decider, fatigue began to settle in for both players during what was one of the most dramatic encounters to take place in the women’s draw in recent times. Williams looked to be on the verge of sealing victory after a Tan backhand into the net enabled her to break for a chance to serve the match out at 5-4. It was evident how much the match meant to Williams who threw her hands in the air out of pure relief. However, she failed to capitalize on the opportunity. It would be a gutsy Tan who would go on to prevail in the tiebreaker. Ending Williams’ Wimbledon campaign this year and potentially permanently.
“I don’t know what to say because I am so emotional but she is a superstar and for my first Wimbledon but it is just … wow,” Tan said in her post-match interview with the BBC. “When I saw the draw I was really scared. It’s Serena Williams. She’s a legend and I was like ‘Oh my God, how can I play?’. I thought if I could win one or two games it would be really good for me.”
The question now is where does Williams go from here? After already establishing herself as one of the all-time greats with 73 Tour titles and more than $94M in prize money earnings, she can easily walk away from the sport with her head held high. Furthermore, she has plenty of other interests to keep her busy. One of which is her multi-million-pound investment fund named Serena Ventures.
“That’s a question I can’t answer. I don’t know. Who knows where I’ll pop up.” She replied when asked about her future in the sport.
“I gave all I could. Maybe tomorrow I could have given more. Maybe a week ago I could have given more. At some point you have to be able to be okay with that. And that’s all I can do. I can’t change time or anything.” She added.
It would be foolish to write Williams off right away with her home Grand Slam, the US Open, later this year. After her defeat to Tan, Williams said it made her want to return to the practice courts. A sign that she isn’t done with tennis just yet.
“When you’re at home, especially in New York, and the US Open, that being the first place I’ve won a Grand Slam, is something that’s always super special. Your first time is always special.” She said.
“There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home.”
As for Tan, she faces 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second round.
Bianca Andreescu eases past Emina Bektas for first-ever win at Wimbledon
The Canadian is through to the second round at the All England Club for the first time after dominating the American qualifier.
Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the second round at Wimbledon after beating the American qualifier Emina Bektas 6-1, 6-3 in only 55 minutes on Court 14.
The Toronto native hit 28 winners and served five aces in a match that she dominated from start to finish.
The world number 56 got off to a quick start setting up two breakpoints in the opening game with her stellar forehand but the American was able to save both and hold serve.
At 1-1, Andreescu had two more chances again using her forehand to great effect and broke to take an early 2-1 lead. She then turned that break into a double break and served out the first set.
The second set was more of the same from the first as the Toronto native set up three early chances to break in the first game and broke serve once more to take a 2-0 lead.
At 3-1 the world number 224 fought back as she started to find her game and got one of the breaks back but the Canadian responded the following game by breaking right back.
From there it was smooth sailing for the Canadian as she was able to serve out the match and book her spot in the second round for the first time.
Andreescu will now face Elena Rybakina in the next round after the Kazak beat the lucky loser Coco Vandegweghe in straight sets 7-6, 7-5. This will be their first meeting.
Iga Swiatek Becomes First Woman Since 1997 To Win 36 Matches In A Row After Wimbledon Triumph
The top seed encountered a blip en route to her latest victory this season.
In her first match since triumphing at the French Open, Iga Swiatek reminded her peers why she is world No.1 by producing a clinical first round win at Wimbledon.
Swiatek, who has now won an outstanding 36 matches in a row, was largely the dominant force throughout her 6-0, 6-3, triumph over Croatia’s Jana Fett. A 25-year-old who was playing in the main draw of a major for the first time since 2018. Swiatek stormed through the match with the help of 10 winners and broke her opponent six times.
“It was my first match on grass this season so I knew it was going to be tricky. I lost my focus a little bit (in the second set) and she used that pretty well,” said Swiatek.
“I’m pretty happy that I came back and finished in two sets. I’m just feeling out how to play here (at Wimbledon) and implementing all the things we have been practicing. It’s a new experience for me.”
The 21-year-old top seed was selected by Wimbledon to open up proceedings on Center Court on the first Tuesday. An honor which is usually done by the reigning women’s champion but Ash Barty has retired since her triumph. Tournament CEO Sally Bolton commented that Swiatek was the ‘obvious choice to do so.’
Living up to Bolton’s recent praise, Swiatek came out the blocks running as she raced through the opener in just over 30 minutes. Winning 31 out of 49 points played in the set. Incredibly that was the 17th time she has won a set 6-0 this year during a competitive match.
However, the fairytale start failed to continue into the second frame with Swiatek coming unstuck behind her serve. Twice in a row, she was broken by a growingly confident Fett who fed off of the animated support she received from the crowd. Out of nowhere, the former top 100 player worked her way to a 3-1 lead.
Sensing danger, Swiatek worked her way back to draw level at 3-3 with the help of some costly errors from her rival. Closing in on victory two games later, she failed to convert a duo of break point opportunities before succeeding on her third attempt after a Fett backhand landed out. Serving for a place in the last 64, she sealed victory with a 106 mph serve down the center of the court that Fett hit back into the net.
“It’s pretty tricky because I still feel like I have only played like 12 weeks on the grass in my life. But the atmosphere and tradition (of Wimbledon) is pumping me up so I’m motivated to play here well and use the experience my coach has,” the top seed commented afterward.
Swiatek is only the third woman to win 36 Tour-level matches in a row since 1990. Martina Hingis achieved the milestone in 1997 and Monica Seles did so in 1990.
In the second round, Swiatek will play Dutch lucky loser Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.
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