TENNIS US OPEN – The action in the bottom half of the women’s draw has been hot on Day 5. The temperatures again remain moderate like Day 4 but it seems as though there was a strong wind as top seeds and favourites fell by the wayside in a violent manner. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw
The biggest story of the day has to be the 3rd round dismissal of Venus Williams (19) by Sara Errani (13). Williams came into this match with a 3-0 lifetime record against the Italian. Playing in front of home crowd and considering her past success her at the Open, Williams was the definite favourite. However, Williams had one of the worst starts to a match ever. She dropped the opening set 0-6 in 26 minutes. Williams was simply too erratic with 18 errors alone in the 1st set. She won only 8 points on serve whilst Errani dropped only 5 points on her serve. Who would have thought that Sara Errani could be outserving Venus Williams? “[F]irst set I start very good, very aggressive … She didn’t put too many first serves, so maybe that was a bit [of] the key,” Errani said. Of the 23 first serves that Williams attempted to put in, she only made 7; a staggering 30%.
As if the opening set was not a weird aberration in and of itself, the 2nd set rolled around and it was more of the same but only this time, Williams was the one in control. The American bageled Errani, 6-0, in 29 minutes. Williams lost only 9 points on serve and Errani only won 6 points on serve. The match was level and after two sets, no two players had won games in any of the set. Oddly enough, this is not the first match with such a strange scoreline that Williams has been involved in. In the 4th round of the 2009 US Open, Williams fell to Kim Clijsters 0-6 6-0 4-6 in the 4th round.
The 3rd set finally saw both players holding serve in their respective opening service game. Then there were four successive breaks of serve. It was not until the 7th game of the set that Williams held serve again to lead 4-3. She then broke Errani for the third consecutive time to lead 5-3 with a chance to close out the match. However, Williams problematic serve came under extreme scrutiny again as Errani broke her to get back on serve. Williams said after the match “I think at that point I went for too much … I hit some balls, you know, I think maybe early in the rally.” The aggressive returning that saw Williams break Errani 6 of the last 7 times, the Italian served was gone. Williams was appearing timid on court and Errani regained confidence to be the more aggressive one.
Williams held serve and again could not break Errani to finish the match. Hence at 6-6 in the 3rd set, a tiebreak was necessary to decide the winner. Errani got a 2-0 lead when Williams committed 2 errors on her backhand. She would extend this lead to 5-2 when again made 2 more errors on her backhand. Williams then won the next 3 points for 5-5. The crowd was beside itself. They were chanting and cheering Williams on with everything they had. In this clutch moment, Errani with two serves and the chance to close it out, the Italian withstood the pressure to secure the win with two amazing winners, 6-0 0-6 7-6(5).
Errani’s opponent in the Round of 16 is a bit of a surprise as she will play qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni who upset the Simona Halep (2) in straight sets, 7-6 6-2. Fans were still reacting to the Williams/Errani result when they realized that the world’s number 2 was sent packing. Halep was leading 5-2 in the 1st set and had two set points but failed to convert allowing Lucic-Baroni to gain the necessary confidence boost to knock out a top player. “[S]he came back really well and she started to hit every ball. Everything was in for her. It wasn’t my best day, but still I did everything I could on court,” Halep said. In the 2nd set, Lucic-Baroni continued to hit out and Halep wilted under the pressure. The Croat closed out the match in just over an hour and 34 minutes. Lucic-Baroni noted after the match, “I finally been able to play the tennis that I love the way I love to play … being very aggressive and consistent at the same time.”
No sooner had this match concluded than yet another upset took place. Angelique Kerber (6) was dismissed in straight sets by Belinda Bencic 6-1 7-5. Bencic raced out to a 3-0 lead before Kerber got on the scoreboard but this made little difference as the momentum was clearly in Bencic’s favour. She closed out the set by taking the next three games. In the 2nd set, Kerber seemed to be on the comeback trail as she was up 5-2. However, poor play from the German continued to plagued her as Bencic fought her way back into the set and claimed the match by winning the last 5 games. “[I]t feels amazing. I played a really good match right from the start, and then I had a little bit timeout in the second. But I’m happy that I came back. It’s amazing that after last year I played juniors here, and this year I’m in the fourth round. So it’s incredible,” Bencic said after the match.
Unseeded Shuai Peng followed up her 2nd round upset of Agnieszka Radwanska by taking out another seeded player in the 3rd round. Roberta Vinci (28) lost 4-6 3-6 in an hour and 14 minutes. “I was for sure really happy win today. Before the match, actually I was nervous. I really want to win because I know I have the chance,” Peng said after the match. An interesting note about all these 3rd round upset victims, they all struggled in the earlier part of the tournament. In particular Halep, Kerber and Williams all struggled mightily in their opening round matches having to come through in 3 sets. Vinci had a tough 3-set match in the 2nd round.
All the other winners in the draw stayed on course as the higher seeded player won in relatively easy fashion. Maria Sharapova (5) in last women’s match of the day, took out Sabine Lisicki (26) in straight sets 6-2 6-4. Sharapova used to the night matches on the Arthur Ashe stadium looked quite at home as Lisicki struggled to maintain any momentum in the match. Sharapova will next face Caroline Wozniacki (10) who took out Andrea Petkovic (18) also in straight sets 6-3 6-2.
Luci Safarova (14) is continuing her success at the majors this year as she knocked out Alizé Cornet (22) in a hard fought encounter 6-3 6-7 6-4. Safarova will take on Peng in the Round of 16 for a place in the quarterfinals. The other winner on the day was Jelena Jankovic (9), 2008 finalist who is quietly moving through the draw. She dismantled Johanna Larsson 6-1 6-0 in under an hour. After the match Jankovic stated, “[I]t’s quite hot out there … I wanted to get the job done as soon as possible. I was very focused from the beginning to till the end.”
Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname
The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.
Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.
Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.
“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”
Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.
“I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”
Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.
Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.
Why Ash Barty Isn’t Staying At The Olympic Village In Tokyo
The two-time Grand Slam champion has opted to stay at an alternate venue heading into the Games.
Ash Barty will prepare for her debut at the Olympic Games by staying at a base located outside of the athletes village as part of her ‘performance plan.’
The world No.1 heads into Tokyo as one of the favourites for gold following her triumph at Wimbledon where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final. She is one of six top 10 players set to play in the women’s singles tournament which will start on Saturday.
Leading up to the Games, the head of the Australian Olympic delegation has told reporters that Barty’s decision not to stay in the village will enhance her gold medal chances. In previous Games athletes have stayed outside of the villages but this year it is more challenging to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fans are banned from attending the event amid fears of the virus spreading if they do so.
“Ash is staying elsewhere,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman told the Australian Associated Press.
“We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it’s just what works best for them.
“Something I’ve always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.
“In terms of her performance plan, it’s best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that.”
The exact location of Barty’s base has not been disclosed but it is near to the village where she was said to have visited and had a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.
“She is staying in an Australian environment where she can still easily access the village,” Chesterman stated.
The 25-year-old is bidding to become only the second Australian in history to win a medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. The first was Alicia Molik who claimed a bronze medal back in 2004.
During a recent interview with The ITF, Barty said playing at the event is a dream come true for her as she describes representing her country as the ‘highest honour.’
“Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine as a kid, I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told the ITF.
“For an Aussie it’s the best thing you can do and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You’re playing to represent your nation. You’re playing to make people proud and that’s not just with results it’s with your attitude.”
Bianca Andreescu pulls out of Tokyo Olympics
The world number five has officially pulled out of the Olympics in Tokyo stating reasons due to the ongoing pandemic situation.
Bianca Andreescu will not be making the trip to Tokyo to play in the Olympics after withdrawing due to the current pandemic situation.
The former US Open champion issued a statement concerning what she describes as a ‘difficult decision.’ Andreescu is the latest top name to pull out of the Olympics. Last week Nick Kyrgios also said he wouldn’t be playing for similar reasons. Due to a a surge of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, the city has gone into a state of emergency which prompted organisers to ban spectators from attending Olympic events in the city. Athletes will be subjected to tough restrictions during their time at the event, as well as regular testing.
” I would like to inform you that I have made the very difficult decision to not play in the Tokyo Olympics later this month,” Andreescu wrote on Instagram. “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris! “
The Canadian hasn’t played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Alize Cornet of France and most recently split with her coach Sylvain Brunneau after a four-year partnership.
Her 2021 season has been up and down starting in Australia where she lost in the second round before making the semifinals at the Phillips Island Trophy event. She then made the final at the Miami Open before taking a fall in the final against Ash Barty and was forced to retire due to injury.
Then the clay-court season came and Andreescu tested positive for Covid. She was forced to miss events in Madrid and Rome, so she headed to Strasbourg for some preparation before the French Open. The world No.5 won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out due to an ab injury. She then lost in the first round of the French Open.
The Canadian moved on to the grass-court season heading to Berlin but again would get upset in the first round by Alize Cornet before winning one round in Eastbourne and losing to Anett Kontaveit.
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