Wimbledon: Na Li suffers another early round defeat - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon: Na Li suffers another early round defeat

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – World’s number 2, Na Li has made another early round exit from a major for the second time in a row. She loses third round to Czech Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova 7-65 7-65. Cordell Hackshaw

 

Results, Order of Play, Draws and Interviews from The Championships

Na Li (2) went out early again in her second major in a row. Several weeks ago, she went out in the first round of the French Open and now, she was dismissed in the 3rd round of Wimbledon. Since winning the Australian Open, she has struggled to find similar form and show herself to be a consistent contender for major titles. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova who has been showing superb form on grass this year, making it to the finals of Birmingham couple of weeks ago, remained focus and determined as she knocked out Li 7-65 7-65 in the near 2 hours and 20 minutes battle. “Well, the key was just the belief, the belief in myself, to not give her any easy points. I think I did that right. I was serving very well. I was following the tactic what my coach said. I think that was the key,” Zahlavova-Strycova said after the match.

Li came out in fine form as she broke Zahlavova-Strycova in the opening game. She looked to be very aggressive in her return game but all this momentum soon dissipated as Li was immediately broken when she double faulted on break point in her opening service game. Li continued in this passive mood as she was broken yet again in the 4th game to see Zahlavova-Strycova go up 3-1. Li was making some rather strange and amateurish errors. One such error from Li came in the that 4th game when on game point Li allowed her opponent to get away with a poor lob which Li inexplicably misjudged to go out since the ball landed right near her feet well inside the baseline. Li would make 21 unforced errors altogether in the 1st set compared to 14 from Zahlavova-Strycova. Zahlavova-Strycova remained positive on court despite being broken in the 5th game as she went after her shots particularly on the Li serve. Li saved a break point in the 8th game which would have given Zahlavova a chance to serve for the set at 5-3. The set went to a tiebreaker as they remained on serve.

In the breaker, again Li started off aggressively by taking the first two points but then became lackadaisical as she allowed Zahlavova-Strycova to be the one dictating play in the breaker particularly on Li’s service game. Up 6-5, the Czech was able to take the set 7-65 after Li mishit the ball and could not keep it in play. In the 2nd set, they would remain on serve for its entirety with no break point opportunities for either player. Li had chances to force issue up 5-4 and again at 6-5 on Zahlavova-Strycova’s serve but she missed two easy overhead shots which would have given her break points had she made them. Instead Zahlavova-Strycova held serve to extend her life in the set and be that closer to the upset victory.

Another tiebreaker would decide the set and as in the first one, Li took the early lead 2-0. However, she was unable to maintain this lead as she could not put the returns on Zahlavova-Strycova’s serves in play. Zahlavova-Strycova kept things even throughout until she edged head ahead ever so slightly at 6-5. On match point, Li serving, it appeared as though another of her forehand went long. Zahlavova-Strycova, ecstatic, came up to net to shake hands but Li had challenged the call. The celebration was cut short as Li was right; her ball was in and she had another shot at saving match point as they re-played the point. However, with this second chance at life, Li double faulted and handed the match to Zahlavova-Stryvoca 7-65 7-65.

Zahlavova-Strycova summed up her feelings on this big win, “I feel great here and I felt great on Birmingham. I believed in myself coming into this match. I thought I can do it. That what happened. I’m really glad I could pull this through.” This is indeed an impressive win. The Czech was able to stay so mentally sharp throughout the match not only by holding serve but more importantly playing the big points very well. She was clearly the one dictating play on court, finding her way up at net and winning 21/29 points there, compared to Li was 16/34. This was the major difference in the match as they had similar stats everywhere else. Zahlavova-Strycova will next face Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the quarterfinals; “[S]he’s a great player … This will be a challenge for me. This is my first time in the second week of a Grand Slam so I will enjoy. I will do the same like I did the previous matches: I will focus on myself, on my game … I like to play volleys, I like to serve good. So we see how it goes.”

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Kristina Mladenovic Dropped By Coach After Six Months

The 26-year-old reacts to the unexpected departure of her mentor.

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Former top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic has suffered an off-court blow following the departure of her coach Sascha Bajin.

 

The 26-year-old had been working with Bajin since April and has made steady progress on the tour by rising more than 20 places to back inside the world’s top 40. Last Month Mladenovic reached the semi-finals of the Zhengzhou Open, in what was one of her best runs on the WTA Tour this year. During 2019 she has also recorded four wins over top 10 players, including Naomi Osaka when she was No.1 in the world.

It is understood that the departure of Bajin was on his own terms and not of a mutual agreement. Bajin is the former hitting partner of Serena Williams (2008-2015) and help guide Osaka to her two grand slam titles prior to his departure in February. In 2018 he was awarded the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year Award.

“I’m very disappointed about Sasha’s decision not to continue our relationship next season, I enjoyed our work, we had some great wins and I truly felt my game was on the rise again.” Mladenovic wrote on Twitter.
“I think that there was a lot more to achieve together, but I can’t change his opinion and decision. On my side, I am proud of my year and progress and I will keep working hard and build strong to be even better in 2020.”

Last week at the Kremlin Cup Mladenovic reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Belinda Bencic. At the tournament she scored wins over seeded players Anastasija Sevastova and Kiki Bertens. Whilst her season has been mixed, the Frenchwoman believes she has the ability to beat the best players in the world.

“When I put together everything on court I can beat anyone.” She told reporters in Moscow.
“And no matter what the season, no matter what ranking, I always have some upsets here and there but now it is really about coming back in the rankings where I was at my highest. And already this year, I am still not satisfied with my ranking but I have a lot of wins against very good players.”

Mladenovic, who is also a top five doubles player that won the French Open title in June, is currently ranked 39th in the world. She is set set to end the season inside the top 50 for the fifth year in a row.

There has been no information released about who may potentially replace Bajin next year.

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Kristina Mladenovic reaches her second semifinal of the year in Moscow

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Kristina Mladenovic reached her second semifinal this year at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow with a 6-4 2-6 6-1 win over this year’s St. Petersburg and Madrid Kiki Bertens after 2 hours and 7 minutes.

 

Mladenovic scored her fourth top 10 win after beating Naomi Osaka in Dubai, Ashleigh Barty in Rome and Elina Svitolina in Zhengzhou.

Mladenovic has always played very well on Russian soil winning the only title in her career in St. Petersburg in 2017 and finishing runner-up in the same tournament last year.

In the first set Mladenovic fended off a break point in the fourth game with a serve and volley before holding serve with a backhand volley. The French player broke serve with a forehand down the line in the fifth game.

Mladenovic saved three break points, as she attempted to serve the set out. The French player sealed the first set on her second set point after Bertens missed two passing shots and made her 17th unforced error.

Bertens broke twice to build up a 4-0 lead in the second set. Mladenovic pulled one of the two breaks back with a lob in the fifth game, but Bertens won eight of the next nine points to win the second set 6-2 forcing the match the third set.

Mladenovic earned a break point in a long third game in the decisive set and converted it with a winner. The Frenchwoman earned her triple break with consecutive backhand passes to race out to a 5-0 lead. Mladenovic was not able to serve out the match in the sixth game, but she broke again in the seventh game to seal the third set 6-1.

Mladenovic set up a semifinal against Belinda Bencic, who came back from one set down and saved two set points in the first set to beat Belgian qualifier and world number 120 Kirsten Flipkens 7-6 (10-8) 6-1 after 1 hour and 34 minutes.

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Top Seed Elina Svitolina Ousted On Mixed Day For Top Names In Moscow

The world No.4 has suffered a blow heading into the prestigious WTA Finals later this month.

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Elina Svitolina (@usopen on Twitter)

Elina Svitolina’s hopes of claiming her first title of 2019 this week has come to an abrupt end after she crashed out in the second round of the Kremlin Cup on Thursday.

 

The world No.4, who had a bye in the first round, failed to capitalize on some crucial chances  during her 6-2, 1-6, 7-5, loss to Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova. Who was playing a top five opponent for the first time in her career. In the decider, Svitolina twice broke for an opportunity to close out the match. However, her opponent refused to buckle as she clawed her way back to level 4-4 before going on to break Svitolina as she was serving to stay in the match.

“I think it was a really tough match. We were playing well in the third set, it was very tight. Unfortunately, it didn’t go my way,” Said Svitolina.

Thursday’s loss continues the title drought for the 25-year-old, who is yet to win a trophy this season. Svitolina has won at least one WTA title each year since 2014. If she wants to continue that trend, she will need to win the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen. A tournament where her last triumph occurred.

“I will try to recover and be ready for Shenzhen, the last tournament.” She said. “Definitely, I am very positive about going to defend my title. I am looking forward to it. Hopefully I can be ready and try to give everything I got.”

It is the first time Svitolina has lost her opening match in a tournament since Eastbourne back in July.

Meanwhile, Kudermetova is relishing in another milestone during what is a strong end to her 2019 season. Since the US Open, she has reached the semi-finals in both Hiroshima and Tianjin. In Wuhan she also claimed her first ever Premier title in doubles alongside Duan Yingying.

“My tactical plan was to put pressure, to come to the net, because during the rallies from the baseline I had fewer chances.” Kudermetova commented about her latest win.

There was better news for second seed Kiki Bertens. The Dutch player recovered from a set and a break down to see off Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, after more than two hours of play. Saving eight out of the 13 break points she faced during the process.

“It is important for my body to feel well. In the next match I will try to play as aggressive as today and keep fighting for every ball.” Bertens commented during her on-court interview.

The win boosts Bertens’ hopes of qualifying for Shenzhen, which will get underway later this month.  She can secure her place this week in Moscow if she reaches the final. Bertens’ last WTA final appearance was almost three months ago in Palermo, Italy.

Next for Bertens will be Kristina Mladenovic, who knocked out seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. It is only the second time this season Mladenovic has managed to reach back-to-back quarter-finals on the tour. Last week in Linz she lost in the last eight to Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Five out of the eight seeded players have already crashed out of Moscow. Bertens, Alexandrova and Belinda Bencic are the only seeds that remains.

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