TENNIS WTA CINCINNATI – There was no doubt that this match was going to be a battle. However, no one expected a war for this win. Ivanovic took the early lead only to see Sharapova fight back hard to serve for the match in the third. However, Ivanovic would not be denied the victory as she finally seized the match 6-2 5-7 7-5. Cordell Hackshaw
Anytime Maria Sharapova (5) and Ana Ivanovic (9) play each other, the matchup always receive top billing as they are two of the tour’s top fan favourites. The rivalry has been somewhat one-sided with Sharapova leading 8-3 including a 7-match win streak. Their last two matches in recent months have been very competitive with Ivanovic finally snapping the Sharapova win streak to take the last match in straight sets. There was no doubt that this match was going to be a battle. However, no one expected a war for this win. Ivanovic raced out to an almost unsurmountable lead with a set and double breaks in hand, 6-2 4-0 in the second set, only to see Sharapova fight back hard to serve for the match in the third. However, Ivanovic would not be denied the victory as she finally seized the match 6-2 5-7 7-5 to face world’s number 1, Serena Williams in the final. “Just so, so thrilled and happy to stay composed and fight until the last moment,” Ivanovic said.
Ivanovic could not have asked for a better start to the match. She broke Sharapova for a 3-1 and consolidated to lead 4-1. She had another break point in the 6th game but Sharapova fought it off for 2-4. However, when Ivanovic got another break opportunity at 5-2, she converted to close out the set 6-2 in 40 minutes. “I was just trying to play my game. Trying to step up and be aggressive and don’t rush. Against Maria you really have to try and push her off the court. If you give her opportunity she’s going to dictate the points,” Ivanovic said after the match. Sharapova looked out of sorts but her fans were hardly concerned considering her track record. The Russian, particularly as of late, finds herself down a set and a break and then finds the will to win. These mighty comebacks were on full display at the recent French Open where she completed this feat three times in a row to get to the final where she won her 2nd French title. As a matter of fact, in her last match, she staged another comeback against Simona Halep (2) in a similar fashion.
True to form, in the 2nd set, Sharapova was soon down 0-2. Traditionally, it was at this point that Sharapova would make her charge to assert herself back into the match. However, she went down another break and saw Ivanovic serving for a 6-2 5-0 lead. Surely Sharapova could not pull off this Houdini-like escape. Sharapova would later explain her predicament, “I think it was a combination of flat, just not executing what I want to from the beginning of the match, making a few too many errors.” The chains were too tight as Ivanovic was in total control up to this point. The Serbian soon relinquished her strangle hold on the match when she got distracted by bad call from the umpire who allowed a 30-40 point to be replayed. Sharapova only needed that slight opening to break for 1-4. She held serve to lessen the lead to 2-4. Ivanovic was clearly rattled but she scraped through her next service game for a 5-2 lead. Sharapova held serve for 3-5 and forced Ivanovic to serve for the match. Ivanovic crumbled. She was now the erratic player on court as she could not put together several quality points in a row. Sharapova on the other hand was simply lethal off the ground. Her groundstrokes were firing on both wings and Ivanovic was left scrambling. That 5-2 lead quickly dissipated as Sharapova reeled off five consecutive games for the set 7-5.
Ivanovic had to regroup but history showed that Sharapova does not lose these types of matches. Once a player allows her back into the match, she quickly pounces and dismantles the opponent in the decisive set. The momentum was swinging all the Russian’s way. However, the momentum may have tempered as in the 3rd game of the set, a game apiece 15-15, Ivanovic inexplicably stopped play and laboured over to her chair in seemingly excruciating pain. It was later explained that her heart was beating at an alarming rate and she needed to a break. However, Ivanovic stated in the press conference that she was “nauseous.” The doctor was quickly ushered on court. Ivanovic took some medication and lied down on court for a bit. It all seemed bizarre but Sharapova was not bothered as she took an early break for 2-1. Ivanovic broke back for 2-2 but got broken again. Sharapova consolidated for 4-2. Ivanovic then came on strong aided by some untimely double faults from Sharapova to level the set again at 4-4. The Russian would not be denied as she broke to serve out the match at 5-4.
The momentum which had swung decisively in either player’s direction earlier in the match was now going back and forth between them at lightening pace. With the match squarely on her racquet, Sharapova buckled as she double faulted three times in the game giving Ivanovic the chance to break after saving two match points. It was now 5-5 in the set with Ivanovic serving just as she was in the 2nd set. Last time, Ivanovic was unable to hold her serve and nerves but this time around she withstood the Sharapova surge to gain the edge at 6-5. Now for the third time in the match, Sharapova was serving to stay alive. Ivanovic was not going to let a third chance for the match go by as she returned Sharapova’s serves with interest; deep and heavy to the baseline. Sharapova showed rare signs of nerves as she was unable to handle the pressure. Two match points were now against here. She saved one but on the other. Ivanovic unleashed a mighty backhand crosscourt that Sharapova could not get back into play. The 2 hours and 45 minutes battle was finally over with Ivanovic the winner 6-2 5-7 7-5.
The match statistics were not pretty. Sharapova served at 63% winning 60% of her 1st serve points and 37% behind her 2nd serve. She was broken eight times and had nine double faults with seven of them coming in the 3rd set alone. Sharapova had 29 winners to 45 errors. Ivanovic numbers were hardly any better. She got 61% of her 1st serves in to win 62% of those points and only 47% on her 2nd serve. She had six double faults. The Serbian had 28 winners to 51 errors. However, a match like this is cannot be summed up by the number but by the intangibles. Who held it together when it really counted? Sharapova later noted, “I created myself a good position after having a slow start. I was down and out in the match and I found a way to get myself in a winning position. Today it didn’t work out for me. That’s really the headline of the whole story.” Ivanovic herself noted that she thought that she was going to lose the match after the lead but then “try to think fresh and have positive affirmations.” Ivanovic will face Williams for their 8th meeting. Williams is 6-1 head-to-head. Neither player has won this title before so there will be a lot of build up for this match.
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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