WTA Cincinnati: Serena sizzled in the final for 1st title - UBITENNIS
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WTA Cincinnati: Serena sizzled in the final for 1st title

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TENNIS WTA CINCINNATI – Serena Williams can finally say that her name is written on the Cincinnati title trophy as she took out 9th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-1 in just over an hour. Cordell Hackshaw

 

There are few top tournaments on the WTA tour where world’s number 1, Serena Williams has not hoisted the trophy at some point in her career. In fact, at most of these events, Williams is a multiple winner. However, the Western & Southern Open is a different affair. Williams had never made the final until last year and had yet to win the title. This year, Williams can finally say that her name is written on the Cincinnati title trophy as she took out 9th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-1 in just over an hour. “It was definitely the best performance of the [summer]  hopefully not the last,” Williams later stated.

As have been a recent pattern for Williams, she started this match in half gear. She was flat and listless on the court. She was seemingly pushing the balls to Ivanovic’s favourite wing, her forehand and paying dearly for this error. Williams spoke about this point in the match, “I think 13 or something like that, and I’m not sure if I was down a break or what. She could have been up 41. She was obviously at that point playing so well.” Her fans might have been worried but not Williams. She just stepped up her intensity and produced superior tennis. She saved break point to hold for 2-3 and then broke Ivanovic at love in the 6th game to level it at 3-3. At this point, a totally different player was across the net from Ivanovic. Williams went on a tear, winning the next 9 of 11 games to take the match 6-4 6-1.

Ivanovic had no answers. Perhaps it was the lingering effect of fatigue from the marathon match she played against Maria Sharapova in the semifinal but she could do nothing to stop the onslaught from Williams. “[A]t some point of the match actually felt quite embarrassed walking from one side to the other for returns,” Ivanovic later stated. She was only winning 50% behind her 1st serve and 40% on her 2nd serve. This was coupled with 21 errors including 4 double faults to only 13 winners. Williams on the other hand had 12 aces, won 80% of her 1st serve points and 52% on her 2nd serve. She had 26 winners to 13 errors. Williams stated, “This is definitely a level that could take me to the [US Open] title. I still have a lot of work to do, but I think my serve was doing a lot better.” With this title, Williams has her 5th title of the year, 62nd career overall. She also cements her place at the top of the US Open Series earning herself a chance to win an extra million dollars if she can secure a third consecutive US Open title.

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12th time Lucky: 30-Year-Old Heather Watson Breaks New Ground At Wimbledon

The British veteran has brought delight to home fans at The All England Club.

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Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/status/1542870640591527943/photo/2

Heather Watson says she has no words to explain her feelings after securing a place in the last 16 at Wimbledon for the first time in her career.

 

Reaching the third round was nothing new for the Brit after she had done so on three previous occasions at The All England Club. After winning just two games against Agnieszka Radwanska in 2012, she suffered narrow defeats to Serena Williams in 2015 and then Victoria Azarenka two years later. No matter what she tried, it appeared that reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon was too much for Watson.

However, this year was her golden opportunity with her section seeing seeds Belinda Bencic and Beatriz Haddad Maia losing in the first round. Watson’s third round opponent was Kaja Juvan. Coincidentally another player who hasn’t gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon in her career.

Cheered on by the Court One crowd, Watson prevailed 7-6(6), 6-2, after coming through some tricky moments. She was a break down in the first set and then in the second she stormed to a 5-0 lead before nerves started to play havoc. After dropping two games in a row, Watson battled through a 10-minute service game before prevailing on her first match point with a winning volley at the net.

“It wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a bit of drama at the end. Wow! What an atmosphere,” said Watson.
“There is nowhere I would rather play. You lot (the crowd) got me over the line. I thought she was playing her best tennis at the end.’
“I know I am not speechless as I am blabbing on but I don’t know what to say.”

This year’s Wimbledon is Watson’s 43rd Grand Slam appearance. Heading into the event she has had far from ideal preparation after stuffing an injury scare with her hamstring. Whilst some might have written off her chances of producing a deep run, she never gave up her own belief.

“I wouldn’t still be playing if I thought that ship had sailed,”
she stated in her press conference.
“I’ve been in the third round quite a few times here at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.  I was just sort of waiting for it to happen. I waited long enough,’
“I’m really happy to be into the second week of a Grand Slam for singles finally.”

To get to this position, it has been a bumpy ride for Watson this week with her earlier matches in the tournament being hampered by rain delays and night-time suspensions due to poor visibility.

“This is the first time I get to enjoy this win because in my first two matches I was just constantly in focus mode,”
she reflected.
“I feel like this win’s very different to the others, not just because I’ve reached one of my goals but because I have a bit of time for it to sink in.”

Awaiting Watson in the last 16 will be Germany’s Jule Niemeier who recorded her first win over a top 10 player earlier in the tournament by defeating Anett Kontaveit. Should she win she will follow in the footsteps of Johanna Konta who is the last British woman to reach a Wimbledon quarter-final back in 2019.

“She’s a really good player, a great talent. When I played her (in Monterrey) she was outside the top hundred. I remember saying to my team, `This girl will be top hundred in no time,” Watson said of her next opponent.
“It will be a tough match. She’s one for the future. I’m going to go home and do my homework.” 

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Erratic Iga Swiatek Struggles Past Lucky Loser To Reach Wimbledon Third Round

In what was a roller-coaster encounter, the top seed was far from her best but still managed to maintain her unbeaten streak.

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World No.1 Iga Swiatek heads into the last 32 at Wimbledon with plenty to think about producing a mixed performance during her 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, win over Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.

The reigning French Open champion endured patchy periods of play throughout her latest match at The All England Club. Prompting her to shake her head and make occasional glares towards her teams in the stands. Her winner count of 31 was almost canceled out by 30 unforced errors as she broke four times in the match.

 

“I think she used all the advantages that she could. I feel that she was using the wind better than me,” said Swiatek. “She played a really great match.’
“I’m pretty happy that I could fight back and have another chance to play here (at Wimbledon).”

Seeking her 37th win in a row, Swiatek found it tough going ealy on against Kerkhove. A Dutch world No.138 who only managed to enter the main draw with the help of a lucky loser position and was yet to play a top 10 player in his career. The Pole struggled to find her footing on the surface as she leaked a series of costly unforced errors. That resulted in her getting broken twice in a row and falling behind 2-4. 

Visibly rattled on the court, Swiatek’s consistency level was far from that which has taken her to winning six consecutive titles within the past four months. Part of that explanation is the fact that she had only ever played nine Tour-level grass-court matches in her career heading into the second round at SW19.

Fortunately for the world No.1 she was let back into the set at the expense of a lackluster service game from her rival which featured two doubles faults. A four-game winning streak saw her turn the match round. On her first set point she prevailed after a Kerkhove backhand crashed into the net.

Swiatek continued to have difficulty pulling away from her rival in the second frame. Kerkhove has only managed to win two Tour-level matches this year with one of those being in the first round of Wimbledon. The underdog continued to exceed expectations by breaking midway through to nudge ahead 4-3. Doing so with a return that brushed the top of the net before landing on the other side. That was enough for Kerkhove to unexpectedly take the match into a decider.

Facing the prospect of losing to a player outside the top 100 for the first time since April 2021, Switek regained some much needed momentum with a clean forehand winner down the line which enabled her to break for a 3-1 lead. Battling her way towards the finish line she sealed victory with a the help of a forehand error from Kerkhove.

“It’s really special to me but what I’m out there I’m not thinking about that. I’m just trying to play my best tennis possible on the grass.,” she said of her winning streak.
“I’m happy it’s 37 and I’m going to do my best to get even more.

The next test for Swiatek will be a clash with France’s Alize cornet who beat Claire Lu 6-3, 6-3. It is only the second time she has made the last 32 in 12 appearances at the Grand Slam.

“I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be really exciting,” Swiatek commented. “The third round, the people who are there deserved to be there. I hope it is going to be a really good fight.”

Swiatek is only the second woman to win 37 matches in a row since 1990 after Martina Hingis.

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Two-Time Champion Petra Kvitova, Badosa Back Wimbledon’s All-White Policy Amid Concerns

It is one of the most traditional policies in tennis but should the all-white rule be adjusted to take into account issues experienced by female players?

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Petra Kvitova (CZE)- Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Petra Kvitova has come out in support of Wimbledon’s policy requiring all players to wear white whilst competing at the championships.

The Czech, who won the title in 2011 and 2014, has spoken in favor of the rule despite some other female players expressing their concerns due to health reasons. Unlike other Grand Slams, Wimbledon has one of the strictest policies in the sport when it comes to clothing. All players participating must wear nearly all-white attire or risk facing a fine if they do not. The policy can be traced back to the Victorian era when at the time it was considered that wearing white showed less sweat. Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious traditions which makes Wimbledon unique.

However, there have been calls by some for changes to be made. Especially for the female players who potentially face the awkward situation of wearing white whilst on their period. In a recent interview with The Times, Canadian Player Rebecca Marino said such a situation is her ‘worst fear.’ Heather Watson and former player Renee Stubbs have also spoken out.

 

“I know it’s not really comfortable for girls playing in white when they have periods,” Kvitova commented following her 6-1, 7-6(5), win over Ana Bogdan.
“On the other hand, I think that we (as players) can manage it somehow, as well. We do have a lot of options about it, as well. It’s very unusual that you get it (your period) during the match. It can happen, of course.”

Spanish fourth seed Paula Badosa, who will play Kvitova in the third round, was another player to speak about the uniform rule following her comprehensive 6-3, 6-2, win over Irina Bara in the second round on Thursday. It is the third major in a row where she has reached the last 32.

I think it’s nice and it’s traditional. It’s always different. I think grass courts, as well, it’s a different part of the season. It’s nice like that, I think, to play like this. One or two weeks per year, it’s always nice and unique.” She commented.

This year there has been a small adjustment made to the policy with players allowed to wear blue and yellow ribbons in support of Ukraine. 

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