Young Talents and Reality Checks: Bencic First Big Loss - UBITENNIS
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Young Talents and Reality Checks: Bencic First Big Loss

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TENNIS – In 1997 Martina Hingis won three Grand Slams title and in the same year a girl that is now expected to take her legacy was born: Belinda Bencic. Giulio Gasparin

 

Aged 17, the Swiss has already reached the third round of a slam in Wimbledon and this week has reached her highest ranking at number 62.

Countless articles has already been written on the promising future of the 2013 Roland Garros and Wimbledon junior champion, but what happened last night in her opening match of Istanbul was something hardly anyone could predict.

She was set to face the former world number one and first seed Caroline Wozniacki, in a match that many experts had seen as a chance for a big win for the Swiss, as the days of the prime Wozniacki seemed long gone.

On the contrary, the Dane came out on top of her abilities and with a sensational performance obliterated the little resistance that Bencic could put up.

In 39 minutes, Wozniacki closed the match with a double bagel, a 6-0 6-0 that represent the first ever received by the talented Swiss.

What does that mean? Probably nothing more than the easiest conclusion: Bencic is young and though her talent is undeniable, she does not posses the experience of the former world number one, who played a brilliant match.

Surely it is hard to take it so easily, but many of the current stars of the WTA have suffered brutal beat-downs during their young days.

The same Caroline Wozniacki should know it as in 2008, when still 17, she was left with a single game by Maria Sharapova in Doha.

Sharapova had to face a couple of sever losses in her early days too: in 2002, aged 15, she played her first ever WTA event in Indian Wells, where in round two lost to Monica Seles 6-0 6-2. But the most remarkable loss in her career remains, again in Indian Wells, the only loss she suffered by the hands on Lindsey Davenport, who annihilated her in the semifinals 6-0 6-0.

It was 2005 and, contrary to Bencic yesterday, she had already won her first major at Wimbledon.

Another future world number one had to prove herself after a “bagel and breadstick” loss in her early years on tour: Dinara Safina made her slam debut on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows, when she was left with no games won by the eventual champion Serena Williams 6-0 6-1.

A 19-year-old Simona Halep also faced a big defeat by the hands of Sam Stosur at Roland Garros, when she lost 6-0 6-2. Three years later, Halep reached her first slam and Roland Garros final challenging Sharapova till the very end.

All these players, who were and still are part of the best of this game, happened to face a reality check in the first years as pros, when the experience of great champions was simply too big for them to handle.

In some cases, it did not even take great champions on the other side of the net, like Agnieszka Radwanska probably would argue, as she was defeated by a good player, but not a big talent, like Martina Muller 6-1 6-0 in the qualifications of Paris indoor in 2007.

A similar example goes for Ana Ivanovic, when, still 16, lost 6-1 6-1 to Sofia Arvidsson in Luxemburg.

So what does that mean for Bencic? As simple as that, Wozniacki played better, a lot better, but this does not change anything for her future hopes of becoming a star of this sport.

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Madison Keys Marches Into Cincinnati Final With Win Over Kenin

Madison Keys set up a intriguing final against Svetlana Kuznetsova with an excellent straight-sets win over Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals.

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Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

Madison Keys advanced to her ninth career final with an impressive 7-5 6-4 win over Sofia Kenin at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

The American, 24, has endured a patchy year on the WTA tour. But she found a rich vein of form in the early rounds to defeat Garbine Muguruza, Daria Kasatkina and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.

And by the time Keys set about dispatching Venus Williams in straight sets in the quarter-final, she looked full of confidence.

The World No.18 started in similar fashion against Kenin. She dominated her first two service games and broke the younger American in the fourth game to establish a 3-1 lead. She then held off a couple of break points in game five to increase her advantage to 4-1.

But Kenin is a fighter and she had no intention of giving up on the set. She broke Keys in game nine to make it 5-4 and then saved two break points to level the score.

The older American did not panic. She held serve comfortably and then hit a couple of excellent winners to break the 20-year-old for the second time in the set and take it 7-5.

Keys triumphs in close second set

There were a few momentum swings in the second set. Keys held to love in the first game but dropped her serve during a sloppy third game. Kenin then consolidated the break with a comfortable hold.

In response, the World No.18 fired down three aces as she held serve to love in just 42 seconds. She then unleashed a stream of winners to break the younger American and level the score at 3-3.

Both women played superb return games as they traded breaks to move the score along to 4-4. Then Keys unleashed a series of ferocious groundstrokes to repel a break point and hold for 5-4.

After an intense conversation with her father at the changeover, Kenin looked a bit subdued in game ten. She sent down a weak second serve on the second point which was punished by a backhand winner from the World No.18.

The 20-year-old made a double-fault to slip 15-30 behind. Then she came into the net and could only watch and admire as Keys guided a sublime backhand pass into the opposite service box for a winner that set up two match points.

The World No.18 did not have to wait long to celebrate victory, as an unforced error from Kenin on the next point sealed her win.

Keys will play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. The Russian continued her impressive week with an eye-catching 6-2 6-4 win over World No.2 Ashleigh Barty.

“I’m very happy to be in the final,” the American said. “Sveta has been playing incredibly well. She is a craftier player with a little bit of everything. It will be a pretty difficult match but I’m looking forward to it.”

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Madison Keys sets up an all-American semifinal against Sofia Kenin in Cincinnati

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Madison Keys hit 32 winners and never dropped her serve in her 6-2 6-3 win over Venus Williams in 77 minutes in an all-American quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach her first semifinal since winning the Volvo Car Open title in Charleston.

 

Keys broke three times and faced just two break points in the match. She earned her first break in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, as Venus made three double faults. Keys went up a double break at 15 to seal the first set 6-3.

Williams saved four break points to hold her serve in the fourth game for 2-2, after hitting her first winner of the match, but Keys sealed the win with her only break in the eighth game of the second set and a hold at love setting up an all-American semifinal clash against Sofia Kenin

“It was nice to see against a really aggressive player like Venus being able to defend as well as I did. Overall, I am pretty happy with almost everything I did tonight. I am happy with how well I served. She is a very good returner, and being able to have fairly straightforward service games was my favourite part. The biggest thing, after having a couple of tough losses in the last tournaments I have played, being able to bounce back, and especially after my first round here, being able to get that win and then just building on that”,said Keys.

 

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Svetlana Kuznetsova completes her come-back by reaching the semifinal in Cincinnati

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Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova came back from one set down to beat Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to secure her spot in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Kuznetsova, who was sidelined by a knee injury in the first half of the season, bounced back last week when she reached the third round at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. She beat Anastasija Sevastova, Dayana Yastremska and Sloane Stephens en route to the semifinal.

Kuznetsova hit 30 winners and broke three times to close out the match after 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Pliskova converted her only break point at love in the second game to win the opening set 6-3.

Pliskova saved three break points to hold serve at deuce in the fourth game before breaking serve at 15 to take a 4-3 lead. Kuznetsova broke back at 15 in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Kuznetsova earned four set points and converted her first chance to seal the tie-break 7-2.

Kuznetsova went up a break at love in the third game of the decisive set to take a 2-1 lead. Both Pliskova and Kuznetsova saved two break points in the fifth and sixth games. Kuznetsova sealed the win with a double break in the ninth game.

The Russian player set up a semifinal against 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty, who came back from one set down to beat Maria Sakkari 5-7 6-2 6-0.

 

 

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