TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – Third time is the charm for Eugenie Bouchard as she finally wins her 3rd major semifinal match to get to her 1st major final. She beat Simona Halep in straight sets 7-6 6-2 to face Petra Kvitova in the final of the 2014 Wimbledon. Cordell Hackshaw
Both Simona Halep (3) and Eugenie Bouchard (13) have the best record in majors this year on the women’s tour at 15-2. These two youngsters have done better at the majors than Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Sharapova as neither Halep nor Bouchard has lost before the quarterfinal stage. Now today, they were facing each other for a place in their first Wimbledon final and distinguish herself solely as the best at majors. Although Halep has made a major final recently at the French Open, it was Bouchard who showed herself more adept to this major pressure, handling all the distractions of the match as she took it 7-65 6-2. “I’m happy to get to my first Grand Slam final. It’s very exciting. It’s what I’ve worked so long … I’m just proud of myself for today’s effort,” Bouchard said.
Bouchard held serve to open the match and Halep responded by winning her first service game. The Romanian went on to break Bouchard when the Canadian’s forehand went long. Halep attempted to consolidate the break to edge ahead 3-1 but Bouchard broke her immediately to level it 2-2. In her attempt to chase down one of Bouchard’s shots, Halep appeared to have turned her ankle and had to be treated by the trainer. She played on with a taped ankle. Both players were making valiant attempts to break the other. Several times, Halep would get a 0-30 lead but could go no further as Bouchard produced some big time serving and got herself out of trouble. Bouchard for her part got break points in the 8th game which if converted would have had her serving for the set 5-4 but Halep too produced the big serves to stay even.
The tiebreaker would be the decider. In the opening points for the tiebreaker, neither player won points on their serve. Up 3-2, Halep about to serve, a spectator fell ill presumably from heat exhaustion and this delayed play for 5 minutes. Upon resumption of play, Halep won her first service point on serve for 4-2. She would be deflated from here on end. Bouchard came up with the necessary goods to win the next 5/6 points. She was now had a set lead 7-65.
Like the first women’s semifinal, the winner of the 1st set took complete charge of the 2nd set and the loser, seemingly capitulated. After 1-1, Halep seemed to have lost her way in the match. She looked passive throughout. She gave up on shots and began making careless errors and double faults at very inopportune times including on break point. “[I]n second set I lost my energy and I couldn’t believe anymore that I can finish the match in the right way for me,” Halep said after the match. Bouchard was soon up 5-1 and she was definitely swinging confidently. The Canadian had three match points on Halep’s serve but failed to convert them. It seemed as though the nerves were getting to her. Serving for the match 5-2, Bouchard would need three more match points in order to finally close out the match 7-6 6-2.
It was a bad day for Halep it seems. Each time she had the momentum, something came up in the match. She later spoke of these instances; the injury, “I felt a big pain in the moment, but then was better with the tape. But still I couldn’t push anymore in my leg. My first serve was really bad after that … [I]t was difficult to continue with another injury.” As for the distraction in the breaker, she mentioned that she lost her concentration at this time and eventually the set. However, Bouchard stayed focus throughout and was definitely the better player of the day. She won 74% of her 1st serve points compared to Halep who was only winning 54%. Despite them both making 23 errors in the match, Bouchard had 20 winners as opposed to Halep with 13. As for her match up against Petra Kvitova in Saturday’s final, Bouchard had this to say, “I think it will be my toughest match yet. I’m looking forward to the challenge … [S]he obviously likes the grass and has some good weapons, so I will be ready for those. I’ll try to impose my own weapons and game against her. I think we’ll both be going at it, which will make for a very good, you know, match.”
Naomi Osaka Overcomes Second Set Scare To Reach Last 32 At Australian Open
Naomi Osaka is into the last 32 of the Australian Open where Amanda Anisimova awaits.
Two-time champion Naomi Osaka overcame a second set scare to defeat Madison Brengle 6-0 6-4 to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
Osaka overcame a second set scare as she produced another dominant display of power to reach the last 32 against the unconventional American.
The world number 14 is looking for her fourth grand slam title in Melbourne.
Next for Osaka is Amanda Anisimova who beat a physically compromised Belinda Bencic 6-2 7-5.
It was a lightening quick start from Osaka who took the opening set in 20 minutes.
A display of power, accuracy and pace saw Brengle struggling to gain points on her service games.
The American isn’t a player who is going to hit you off the court and her shots were way too conservative against a player like Osaka who hits the ball so cleanly from the baseline.
Brengle came close but no reward as Osaka reeled off seven games in a row to take a 6-0 1-0 lead.
However Brengle eventually settled into her rhythm and to her obvious delight was ecstatic to win her first game of the match.
This relaxation allowed her to play with complete freedom as she started to use a lot of depth, angles and topspin to disrupt Osaka’s rhythm, who’s level dropped slightly.
Brengle created nine break points which Osaka saved with aggression and precison but on the tenth one, the American eventually broke to go a break up in the second set.
The American’s smile said it all as she was now in command of the second set but that didn’t last long.
That’s as Osaka used her champion’s skills to grind the break back and then went on a run of eight consecutive points to seal victory and a spot in the third round.
After the match Osaka spoke about her return game and the prospects of facing Amanda Anisimova in the next round, “I honestly want to say I returned pretty well,” Osaka admitted in her on-court interview.
“Been really working on it in the off-season. I’m trying not to [rate my level] if I compare myself to the past I will never be satisfied. I’m trying to take it one day at a time.
“I think we’re both going to take our chances. It’s very interesting to play against the younger players because I remember being a younger player myself and having nothing to lose.”
Friday’s meeting between the two players will be the first time they have faced each other.
Aryna Sabalenka Survives Sanders Scare At Australian Open
The Belarussian was made to work hard during her opening match at Melbourne Park.
World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka came back from the brink of defeat to seal her spot in the second round of the Australian Open.
The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist struggled with her consistency throughout her 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, win over wild card Storm Saunders, who is yet to win a Grand Slam main draw match in her career. At one stage Sabalenka looked to be on the verge of suffering a third consecutive Tour defeat after trailing by a set and a break to the underdog before staging an emphatic fight back. Doing so with the help of her rival who started to unravel as the match progressed.
“She played well, she’s a tough opponent and I’m happy I won today,” Sabalenka said of Sanders during her on-court interview.
Sabalenka’s roller-coaster victory is best illustrated by the match statistics. Dealing with inconsistencies in her serve, she produced a total of 12 double faults and won 43% of her second service points. Furthermore, she hit a total of 29 winners against 37 unforced errors en route to the victory.
Playing a top 10 player for only the second time in her career, 27-year-old Sanders started the match in clinical fashion as she produced a level of tennis which exceeded that of her current ranking. Three consecutive times she managed to dismantle the Sabalenka serve to open up a swift 4-1 lead. However, the second seed briefly managed to find her footing in the match to claw her way back and level the set at 5-5. Not to be disheartened, Sanders continued pressing her opponent who faltered at the worst possible moment. Granting the underdog another break before she closed out the set.
On the verge of suffering an upset, Sabalenka’s woes continued in the second set when she got broken once again three games in. Trailing 5-7, 1-3, she managed to turn her fortunes around with the help of a six-game winning streak. Exposing the inexperienced her opponent has of playing on the biggest stages of the game. Serving to level up, she triumphed on her third set point with the help of a serve down the center of the court which Sanders returned out.
Into her stride, Sabalenka charged towards the finish line by winning a further four games in the decider before Sanders managed to register another game of her own. Serving for the win, a blistering serve down the center of the court secured the victory.
“I was already (mentally) in the locker room. Maybe that was the key because I stopped thinking too much and started playing tennis. I tried to put the ball (on the court) as much as I could and I think I did it well. That’s why I came back (in the match),” Sabalenka commented on how she turned the match around.
“Now I will recover and then tomorrow I will speak with my team about my next opponent.”
Sabalenka will play China’s Wang Xinyu in the next round. She could claim the world No.1 ranking in Melbourne if one of two scenarios occur over the coming days. She reaches the final and Ash Barty loses before the quarter-finals or Barty reaches the Quarter-finals and Sabalenka goes on to win the title.
Garbine Muguruza Reaches New Milestone As Swiatek Finds Her Groove At Australian Open
The two title contenders were in impressive form during their opening matches.
Third seed Garbine Muguruza extended her perfect run of first round wins at the Australian Open to 10 with a straightforward victory over France’s Clara Burel.
The former world No.1, who is yet to lose an opening match played at Melbourne Park in her career, required just under 90 minutes to see off Burel 6-3, 6-4. Muguruza broke her rival three consecutive times during the first set to win the opener in just over half an hour. Then in the second she eased to a 5-3 lead but failed to convert three match points. Muguruza was then broken in the following game before breaking back again to seal victory.
“It felt very good. I didn’t know really who I was facing. We’ve never played before,” Muguruza told reporters afterwards. “Very tricky. You’re always nervous going out there on Rod Laver, which I love, and starting a Grand Slam campaign.’
“I’m very happy the way I played and, of course, controlling the nerves.”
On what is the ninth anniversary of her Melbourne Park debut. Muguruza is hoping to go one step further than she did back in 2020 and win the title. She has now won 27 matches at the Australian Open which makes it her second most successful Grand Slam in terms of wins. Her best is the French Open where she has recorded 29 victories.
Muguruza will next take on another French player in the shape of Alize Cornet. During her on-court interview on Tuesday she was asked about her net play which the Spaniard said is a reflection of her on-court personality.
“It’s just a journey of adapting to your character,” she said. “I’m an aggressive player on the court and I like to dominate. I train like that. I’m not like that outside but inside the court I’m aggressive.”
Swiatek and her new coach
Another winner on day two was former French Open champion Iga Swiatek who swept aside Britain’s Harriet Dart 6-3, 6-0. At the start of the match she was trailing 1-3 before fighting back by winning 11 games in a row. The Pole is playing in her 12th Grand Slam main draw and is hoping to go beyond the fourth round in Australia for the first time in her career.
“You could see that first few games were pretty tricky for me. With the sun, I know I got broken in my second service game,” said Swiatek.
“I’m pretty happy that I was patient, I found the rhythm throughout the match. That’s pretty positive.”
Swiatek is in Melbourne with her new coach Tomasz Wiktorowski who is known for his previous work with Agnieszka Radwanska. She admits the new collaboration is very much a work in progress but believes she is heading in the right direction with her new mentor.
“He didn’t change a lot at the beginning because he was good to continue the process that I’ve had. Too many changes would be really confusing,” she said of Wiktorowski.
“We’re focusing on different stuff. We’re working on my strengths, which is great, because it’s going to give me confidence. I’m going to be able to be more, like, proactive on court. We were working on some attack formations and offensive game.’
“But we also didn’t have time to work on everything that we wanted to because there is a lot to improve in terms of my volleys and maybe slice.”
Swiatek will play Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the second round.
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