TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – Both Sam Stosur and Sloane Stephens probably came into 2014 Wimbledon Championships feeling very confident about their game. They both got to the 4th round of the French Open a few weeks ago and the grass courts of Wimbledon do favour their style of play. However, Stosur was ousted by Belgian’s Yanina Wickmayer 3-6 4-6 and Stephens by Russian Maria Kirilenko 2-6 6-7. Cordell Hackshaw
Both Sam Stosur (17) and Sloane Stephens (18) probably came into 2014 Wimbledon Championships feeling very confident about their game. They both got to the 4th round of the French Open a few weeks ago and the grass courts of Wimbledon do favour their style of play. However, watching their matches today, one would have figured that Stosur and Stephens were playing their first match on grass as they both looked so unsure of themselves. They were outplayed and outwitted by their opponents and in the end sent packing in straight sets to provide the tournament with its first upsets on Day 1. Stosur was ousted by Belgian’s Yanina Wickmayer 3-6 4-6 and Stephens by Russian Maria Kirilenko 2-6 6-7.
Wickmayer started the match by breaking her Australian opponent and held serve for 2-0. Stosur then picked up her play. She was serving up aces whenever in trouble, 13 for the entire match, and going for her big forehand. However, whenever pushed to the backhand side, she found herself in danger as Wickmayer kept pressuring it relentlessly. Wickmayer was able to stay ahead for 5-3 by escaping a tricky 8th game. Continuing her aggressive style of play, Wickmayer secured two more break points on the Stosur serve for set points in the 9th game. Stosur’s backhand was again under pressure and Wickmayer with her a more formidable backhand was able to break to take the set 6-3 in half an hour.
Wickmayer raced to a 5-2 lead after she broke Stosur in the 6th game. Stosur favoured running around the backhand for a huge forehand return whenever she had the chance on the Wickmayer serve. However, this left the court wide open on the forehand side and Wickmayer made her pay for this as she hit all short balls into the open court. Stosur now serving to stay in the match, held serve at love and forced Wickmayer to serve for the match. Wickmayer found herself down triple break points. She saved one with an ace but a scorching forehand return from Stosur got things back on serve 4-5. Stosur, again serving to stay in the match, could not hold on to the momentum as she opened with a double fault. She was now facing two match points and though she saved one, she could not save the other. Wickmayer with an amazing forehand crosscourt winner, knocked out the 17th seed Stosur 6-3 6-4 in 69 minutes.
In 2012, Kirilenko made it to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, one of her best efforts in a major. She quickly followed that up with a 4th place in the singles and bronze medal in doubles at the London Olympics, which was held at Wimbledon. However, since then, the former top-10 Russian has been plagued with injury and now ranked 109th in the world. Perhaps Stephens, ranked 18th in the world, was looking Kirilenko’s current status and not considering that she was facing a formidable opponent as she started the match very flat. The American failed to convert a break point chance in the 3rd game of the match and then saw Kirilenko raced ahead 5-2 in the 1st set. Stephens found herself being outmatched by Kirilenko’s big forehand and making careless errors at key moments in the match. Kirilenko, with the momentum largely on her side, broke Stephens again to the take the set 6-2 in 35 minutes.
In the 2nd set, Stephens looked more alert for the match. She broke Kirilenko in the 3rd game of the set and led 3-1. She maintained the lead to 4-2 but Kirilenko hungry for more Wimbledon success continued going for her forehand and broke Stephens for 4-4. Kirilenko then held serve for 5-4 to have Stephens serve to stay in the match. Stephens up 40-0, lost concentration once again and saw her game points disappeared for deuce. Stephens sensing the end close at hand, held her serve with a clutch forehand down the line. Kirilenko held serve for 6-5 and again pressured Stephens to hold serve. Stephens fought off five match points in this 12th game to push the match in a 2nd set tiebreaker. Stephens then captured the momentum in the breaker up 6-4. However, Kirilenko would not be denied as she capitalized on Stephens errors on these big point to take it 6-2 7-6(6) in just over an hour and a half.
Wickmayer and Stosur were near dead even in almost all categories. They both got 61% of 1st serves in and won over 70% of those points. They each had 25 winners and very close on errors; Stosur had 9 errors and Wickmayer 8. However, the main difference was the 2nd serves as Wickmayer won 13/20 of those points and Stosur 7/20. This in turn saw Wickmayer able to break Stosur four times and only being broken once in the match. Kirilenko, on the other hand, had a wonderful serving day as she got an impressive 85% of her 1st serves in and winning 73% of those points and 60% on her 2nd serves. She had 27 winners to 14 errors compared to Stephens who had 25 winners and 18 errors. Stephens got 70% of her 1st serves in but was only winning 63% of them and 46% on her 2nd serves. Kirilenko would be hoping to carry this fine form into the 2nd round where she will far Shuai Peng for a place in the 3rd round. Wickmayer will play Ana Konjuh of Croatia in the 2nd round.
Belinda Bencic overcomes first hurdle while Keys breezes through at Australian Open
Belinda Bencic won a tricky encounter against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova while Madison Keys hammered Daria Kasatkina.
Belinda Bencic secured safe passage through to the second round of the 2020 Australian Open with a hard-fought 6-3 7-5 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
The Swiss, 22, enjoyed an excellent 2019. She reached her first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open, won two WTA Premier titles and returned to the top ten after a three-year absence caused by a series of injuries.
Now the pressure is on for Bencic as she seeks to consolidate her ranking, so she was understandably relieved to negotiate the first hurdle at the first major of the year.
“I think every first round is very difficult,” the Swiss said in her on-court interview. “It’s really tough to find rhythm so I think it’s all about fighting and I’m really happy I got through.”
The first set was a bit of a scrappy affair. Bencic capitalised on a poor start from Schmiedlova to move 4-0 up. Then the Slovakian benefitted from some sloppy tennis from the Swiss as she dragged herself back into the set at 4-3.
Games eight and nine could have gone to either player. However, Bencic made fewer errors than her opponent and that proved crucial as she won both to take the set 6-3.
Bencic recovers after slow start
Although she won the opening set, the World No.6 looked very frustrated as she walked to her chair. And that annoyance came through in her tennis for the next three and a half games as she struggled to find the court.
When Bencic did get the ball in, she frequently landed it short. And Schmiedlova punished her with a series of excellent winners.
Then, just as the set seemed to be running away from the Swiss player at 3-0 with the Slovakian serving, she re-discovered her rhythm.
Bencic hit a couple of winners and outlasted Schmiedlova in a couple of long rallies to prolong the game and force two break points. Then she benefitted from an error by the World No.202 which gave her the break she needed.
For the next two games, the World No.6 looked in total control. She bossed the points and quickly levelled the set at 3-3.
The Slovakian responded superbly. She cracked three big winners to break her opponent for the second time in the set.
This time, however, Bencic refused to let her get away. She broke back immediately and then held her serve to love to move 5-4 ahead.
Schmiedlova held comfortably in game ten. Then the Swiss player battled through a very difficult service game. She let out a roar of ‘come on!’ when her opponent’s last ball travelled beyond the baseline.
Buoyed by this, Bencic attacked the Slovakian’s serve. She extracted two errors from the World No.202’s racket and cracked a forehand winner to make it 0-40. Then she seized the third of her match points with a deep backhand that Schmiedlova could not get back over the net.
Keys powers past Kasatkina
Madison Keys started her 2020 Australian Open campaign in style as she thumped Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-1 in just 57 minutes.
The American began in blistering style as she hit seven winners in the first five games to move 4-1 up. Then she gathered herself after a brief blip to close out the set 6-3.
The second set was even more one-sided. Keys crunched 19 winners and broke Kasatkina three times to take it 6-1 in 26 minutes. She will now face either Magda Linette or Arantxa Rus in round two.
Cori Gauff: “My goal is to win as many Grand Slam titles as possible”
Fifteen-year-old US tennis sensation Cori Gauff stunned former world number 1 player Venus Williams 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne in a re-match of their first-round clash at Wimbledon last summer, where the teenager beat her compatriot to clinch her first Grand Slam main draw match.
Gauff, the youngest player in the draw, was ranked inside the top 700 at the age of 14 one year ago. She crowned her breakthrough 2019 season with her maiden WTA title in Linz.
Gauff earned two breaks and dropped her serve once to book her spot in the second round. She broke at 15 in the opening game with a deep return, and held serve with a service winner in the second game, before saving a break point with an ace in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. Williams saved two set points in the seventh game on serve at 3-5 before breaking back to draw level to 5-5 after a double fault from Gauff sending the match to the tie-break.
Gauff earned a mini-break in the first point of the tie-break, but Williams pulled it back to draw level to 5-5. Gauff won the next two points and sealed the first set, when Venus netted a volley on the 12th point.
Gauff reeled off five consecutive points to open up a 3-0 lead with her break of the second set and sealed the win after 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Gauff ended the match with 17 winners and won 64 % points at the net.
“I definitely was more confident this time. I think I was used to playing on big courts, so the crowd did not startle me as much as last time. I was definitely a bit more positive coming into this match this time around. My mission is to be the greatest. That’s my goal, to win as many Grand Slams as possible. For today my mission was to win. I did not want to let the nerves come to me. I know I had a couple of set points, and she played well. I knew I had to take it from her. She wasn’t going to give it to me. That was really the mission”,said Gauff.
‘It’s All Good’ – Ash Barty In High Spirits Following Australian Open Wobble
The Australian favourite experienced a difficult start to her match on Monday.
A lacklustre playing Ash Barty was given a big scare early on in her opening match at the Australian Open after being forced to come back from a set down against Lesia Tsurenko.
The world No.1 rallied from behind to down Tsurenko 5-7, 6-1, 6-1. A player who is ranked more than 100 places lower than her. Barty’s opening encounter at Melbourne Park this year was very much a match of two halves. During the first 45 minutes, she looked tentative on court and struggled to find consistency in her shot making. Hitting 19 out of her 30 unforced errors during the opener. However, as the match progress Barty’s level elevated as she ended up racing towards the finish line with the help of a seven-game winning streak between the second and third set.
“I think in the first set I was still in control. It was just a little bit of execution.” Barty said during her on-court interview.
“I was just rushing a little bit, trying to finish off points too quickly. Once I was able to get my physicality into it, I felt more comfortable and I was able to look after my service games a little bit better.”
Barty, who won the Adelaide International last week, struggled with her serve early on against her Ukrainian rival. Throughout the first set the world No.1 went down a break twice before fighting her way back to draw level. The at times erratic hitting from Barty, ended up costing her the opening set against Tsurenko. Who clinched the lead at the expense of a double fault from the top seed.
With a muted silence around the usually animated Rod Laver Arena, Barty finally managed to find her footing in the match and rapidly did so. Significantly elevating her form and benefiting from a slight lull in the intensity coming from across the court, she charged through the second set in just 27 minutes. Impressively winning 27 out of 39 points played that triggered a huge roar from her home crowd.
Continuing to turn her fortunes around, Barty broke once again at the start of the decider with the help of a Tsurenko double fault. Continuing to exert her dominance on proceedings, the double break was sealed shortly afterwards, when the Australian broke to love two games later. In the lead, it was only a matter of time before victory was Barty’s, who converted her first match point following Tsurenko’s eighth double fault.
“It’s all good.” She joked about her minor scare. “It’s amazing to be back out here (on the Rod Laver Arena). Obviously it’s a tight turnaround from Adelaide but it’s nice to sort it (my game) out at the start of the second set. I sharpened up and did what I needed to do.”
“This is the moment I’ve been looking forward to the most. Through the off-season I couldn’t wait to walk out on this beautiful court and play in front of so many people who gives me so much love and support. It’s incredible.” She added.
Barty, who is yet to go beyond the quarter-finals in Melbourne, is bidding to become the first Australian player to win a singles title at the tournament since 1978. In the second round she will play either Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson or Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.
Barty’s first round stats
- Aces – 10
- First serves won – 78% (32/41)
- Second serves won – 48% (15/31)
- Winners – 20
- Unforced errors – 30
- break points converted – 7/10
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