Legal and Legendary: Serena finally wins the elusive 18th major title - UBITENNIS
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Legal and Legendary: Serena finally wins the elusive 18th major title

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TENNIS US OPEN – Williams came into the US Open having had a dismal year at the majors losing inexplicably to players she has either dominated in the past or ranked outside top 20. However, in New York City, everything came together nicely for the American. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw

 

In one of her press conferences at this year’s US Open, Serena Williams (1) was asked what does the number 18 means to her. Her response was an instant classic retort, “Legal and Legendary.” Back in 1999, just shy of the legal age of 18 years old, Williams won her 1st major at the US Open. Now, 15 years later, she has won her 18th at the Open, finally making her legendary. Now in the elite company of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, they and Williams are tied for 2nd on the All-Time major winners in the open era. Williams is 4 titles away from Steffi Graff who has 22 major titles. Margaret Court has 24 singles titles but 13 of those titles were won before the Open era in 1968. “I have been trying to reach it for so long … I didn’t really think would I get there. I just felt so good,” Williams said.

Williams came into the US Open having had a dismal year at the majors losing inexplicably to players she has either dominated in the past or ranked outside top 20. However, in New York City, everything came together nicely for the American. In sheer dominant fashion, Williams did not lose or even came close to dropping a set in her run to the final where she faced friend, Caroline Wozniacki (10). They have met 9 times prior to this match with Williams winning on eight of those occasions most recently in Canada and Cincinnati where Wozniacki pushed Williams to 3 sets. However, this time around Williams showed no mercy as she took the match for her 6th overall and 3rd straight US Open title 6-3 6-3 in 75 minutes.

After holding serve to open the match, Williams broke Wozniacki for 2-0. However, this break of serve would be the start of four successive breaks of serve. It was near calamity as both players struggled to get a 1st serve in and win points on their 2nd serves. Fans expected Wozniacki to have serving troubles but few figured Williams would be struggling so mightily. Williams only made 12/29 1st serves in the opening set. However, she was able to hold serve quite comfortably for the first time in the 7th game for a 5-2 lead. Wozniacki was also able to hold serve for the first time in the match but again had to fight off another break point.  Williams confidently closed out the set 6-3 in 40 minutes.

Wozniacki’s serving woes continued as she was broken to start the 2nd set and this time around, she was not getting a look on the Williams’ serve. Williams would only drop 4 points on serve in the 2nd set as she finally settled down and looked very much like the tennis legend that she is. Wozniacki had no answer for Williams’ game as every tactic she tried, she was outmaneuvered. “I went out there and I was a little nervous. I had a game plan in mind, but it was kind of difficult at the start. I tried to push her back, but that really didn’t work for me,” Wozniacki said after the match. Williams raced ahead to 5-3 and forced Wozniacki to serve to stay in the match.

Tennis is a sport built largely on pressure and this was a very pressurized situation for the Dane. Of her 8 service games thus far in the match, only two games had Wozniacki not face a break point and she had already been broken 4 times. It was too much for Wozniacki as she tried to hold in her 9th service game. She saw match point against her when Williams hit her 29th winner, a forehand crosscourt. On match point, Wozniacki’s backhand sailed long giving Williams the title, 6-3 6-3.

When asked whether she played her best in the match, Williams responded by saying, “I think I played well. I really do. I feel like to get through that with all the nerves and all the expectations and things that could have happened, I think considering the situation, yes, I think I played pretty good.” This is noteworthy because in her last two US Open finals, Williams had the early advantage against Victoria Azarenka and each time let it slipped particularly in 2012 when Azarenka served for the match in the 3rd set. However, Williams did well to close out this match in straight sets rounding off a great summer, winning three titles and near $4 million in prize money at the US Open alone having won the US Open series.

After the match, Wozniacki stated, “She really just stepped in and she was playing aggressive. She was playing better than me today.” Williams had 29 winners compared to 4 from Wozniacki. The American came to net 15 times and won the point on 13 of those occasions. The main issue for Wozniacki is that her serve is a serious liability. Despite getting in more 1st serves than Williams, the Wozniacki serve is very problematic. Williams was able to win over 50% of the points off Wozniacki’s serve, which is hardly surprising when looking at the serving statistic. Wozniacki won only 56% of the points off her 1st serve and 38% off her 2nd serve, which is only 9/24 points. Williams on the other hand, won 77% of the points on her 1st serve and 53% on her 2nd serve. Wozniacki cannot continue with this service game if she hopes to win majors in the future.

With Roger Federer’s spectacular exit on Saturday from the tournament, ending his bid for 18th major singles title, Williams admitted that she was nervous about her own quest, “Thought it wasn’t meant to be for us. At least one of us made it.” Williams’ 18th major singles title including 5 Australian Open titles (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009-10), 2 French Open (2002, 2013), 5 Wimbledon (2002-03, 2009-10, 2012) and now 6 US Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012-14). Williams has stated that she is already thinking about number “19” but not “22” which would equal Graff’s major haul. However, she reiterated what underlines her dominance in the sport. “I always say it’s difficult to beat me because I serve pretty good, I have a pretty good return, I’m pretty fast. If I’m doing all those things combined, you know, it’s definitely difficult to win.” 

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Australian Open: Iga Świątek stumbles past Kaia Kanepi to make the semis

Iga Swiatek outlasted Kaia Kanepi in a gutsy match to reach the last four in Melbourne.

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Iga Swiatek (@TennisPodcast - Twitter)

Former French Open winner Iga Świątek overcame some serious woes to outlast Kaia Kanepi in a 3-hour battle.

 

The 20-year-old bounced back from losing the first set to eventually triumph 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.

This included the Pole serving 12 double faults.

She will have to improve dramatically in a short turn around of just 24 hours, as she faces the power play of Danielle Collins on Thursday.

The American will no doubt be the fresher of the two, winning in contrast, a comfortable straight sets.

https://twitter.com/BJKCup/status/1486212998796648448

Świątek and Kanepi both held their first three service games, before things began to get really interesting mid-way through the opening set.

A sloppy game from the Pole, including two double faults, gave the break on a plate to the Estonian.

At 36, Kanepi is one of the most experienced players on the WTA, and the seventh seed could ill afford to be handing out freebies.

The veteran made every use of the new balls, serving powerfully and tucking away a forehand smash to move 5-3 up.

Świątek then stumbled through her own marathon service game, that included a whopping nine deuces, and four break points/set points saved.

Kanepi’s service game was far from straight forward also, as she finally took the opening set after four deuces, and on her ninth set point, 6-4.

At the beginning of the second set, Świątek played another shaky service game to surrender the break to Kanepi.

A powerful cross-court backhand drive from the Estonian left her opponent on the floor, and it didn’t look like being the Pole’s day.

But Świątek dug in, and after four deuces on the Kanepi serve, she broke back.

At this point, the momentum suddenly shifted towards the Pole as she held serve before stealing the double break.

Świątek soon surged into a 4-1 lead, having won four games in a row, and looked to be cruising towards the second set.

But Kanepi held and broke back, before a comfortable hold saw her level at 4-4.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1486206899263528962

The second set trickled away on serve and a tie-break was needed to separate the pair.

But Świątek played the smarter tie-break, and four straight points saw her seal it 7-2, as Kanepi’s wayward backhand went long.

After a 69-minute second set, the youngster clenched her first, as Rod Laver Arena roared, with the match going to a decider.

All the energy was with Świątek, who broke at the beginning of the third, as she moved ahead 2-0, with Kanepi panting and struggling after over 2 hours in the Melbourne heat.

To her credit, she fought back, breaking the Warsaw native to level at 2-2.

But in a topsy turvy match, Swiatek broke and held to lead 4-2 and close in on a semi-final place.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1486279587634245633

The pole secured the double break but surrendered her own before finally prevailing in a marathon match point, to make the semi-finals for the first time in Australia.

After the match she had this to say: “I’m really glad that I still have my voice because I was shouting so loud.

“This match was crazy and without the energy of the stadium I think it would’ve been really hard to win it.”

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1486209694964273156

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Madison Keys unlocks Barbora Krejčíková to make the Australian Open semi-finals

Madison Keys is into the Australian Open semi-final after dismantling Roland Garros champion Barbora Krjecikova.

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Madison Keys (@TennisChannel - Twitter)

America’s Madison Keys returned to a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time in nearly four years with a resounding win over Barbora Krejčíková.

 

The current French Open champion went down in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 25 minutes.

For Keys, it’s her first Grand Slam semi-finals since New York back at the US Open in September 2018, and prior to that, the French Open semis the same year.

It’s been a long road with injuries for Keys, but having won in Adelaide at the start of the year, the American is on a 10-match win streak, and looking dangerous again.

She will next play Australian world number one Ash Barty, who powered past American Jessica Pegula in a quickfire straight sets, 6-2, 6-0.

Keys came out firing in her opening service game, winning four straight points and thumping a forehand winner to seal the game.

In Krejčíková’s opening service game, at 30-15 down, Keys produced a stunning backhand drive down the line to send early warning signs to her opponent.

In the battle of the 26-year-old’s, the Czech was moving Keys well around the court, and held serve.

Both players continued to hold and at 2-2, Keys was pushed all the way, saving three break points in a mammoth game of six deuces.

Mentally this affected the world number four who eventually crumbled, as Keys got the break, converting on her fifth break point.

The unseeded American stormed into a 5-2 lead, but Krejčíková called on the trainer, struggling with heatstroke in the sheer 33-degrees Melbourne heat.

Keys whipped up two sets points, only needing one, as she slammed down an ace to take the first set 6-3.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1485803935508365312

The world number 51 continued to defy the script, breaking the fourth seed at the beginning of the second set.

She consolidated it with a hold of serve, before wrapping up the double break for a 3-0 lead.

But the match was far from over, as Krejčíková broke back, against the run of play, and soon only trailed 3-2.

Keys wasn’t shaken by this. The 2017 US Open finalist produced a strong service game and a tidy forehand gave her a 4-2 cushion.

The American continued to play some inspired tennis, and nabbed another break with a wonderful forehand return winner, to put her on the cusp of victory.

And Keys opened up two match point opportunities, only needing one, as she powered into the semi-finals once again.

After the match, she opened up to the Rod Laver Arena crowd.

“I think I’m going to cry. It means a lot,” she said.

“I’m really proud of myself and so thankful to my team, my friends and my family for helping me through what was a really tough year.”

The American continued. “I did everything I could with my team to reset this off-season.

“Focus on starting fresh, just starting from zero, and not worrying about last year. That’s gone well so far.”

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‘A Lot Of Fun’ – Ash Barty Storms Into Australian Open Semis

The top seed required just over an hour to secure her place in the last four at Melbourne Park.

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Image via twitter.com/australianopen

Ash Barty is two wins away from becoming the first the first home player to claim the Women’s Australian Open title in 40 years after producing a dominant display during her quarter-final clash on Tuesday.

 

The world No.1 experienced little difficulty throughout her 63-minute 6-2, 6-0, triumph over an error-stricken Jessica Pegula who was far from her best. Barty won 81% of her first service points and broke her rival five times en route to her latest victory. She is the only player remaining in this year’s women’s draw who is yet to drop a set in the entire tournament.

“It was solid tonight. I had a lot of fun out here,” Barty said afterwards. “I was able to serve and left quite a lot of forehands in the center of the court. I was happy to take the game on, be aggressive on my forehand and not worry if I missed a couple. As long as I was doing the right thing and I felt that I was able to do that throughout the match.”

21st seed Pegula posed a stern test for Barty coming into the match and had recorded a series of notable wins following their meeting in the first round of the 2019 French Open. Since the start of 2021 the American has recorded eight wins over a top 10 player and also reached the last eight at Melbourne Park 12 months ago. In the previous round she beat fifth seed Maria Sakkari.

However, it was the world No.1 who got off to the dominant start in their latest encounter by fighting back from a 40-0 deficit to break Pegula in the opening game. Capitalizing on what was some lopsided play coming from across the court, Barty extended her lead later in the set by securing a double break. Using her slice to force Pegula out wide, a backhand shot from her crashed into the net which gifted the top seed her second break for a 5-2 lead. After just 35 minutes of play the home favorite secured the opener with a perfectly placed ace down the center of the court.

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with Barty once again breaking instantly against her growingly frustrated opponent. Comfortably in the lead, the top seed began hitting more loosely as she continued to dominate the match with her tactics of the slice and hitting deep towards the baseline. From then on, the match was a foregone conclusion as the two-time Grand Slam champion raced towards the finish line.

Jess is an incredible person. I love to test myself against her and she came out here and made me play my best tennis so far this week,” Barty said of Pegula. “A credit to her, she had an exceptional couple of years and she is definitely a top 20 player. She deserves to be in these later ends of the slams and she still has a few more to come, that’s for sure.”

Barty will next take on Madison Keys who has already beaten three seeded players in Melbourne Park this year. Keys’ latest triumph was over reigning French Open champion Barbora Krejčíková who she beat 6-3, 6-2. The 26-year-old is through to the last four of a major tournament for the first time since 2018.

“It is so nice to have Maddie (Keys) back playing her best tennis. She is a top player and she deserves to be at the top of our game,” Barty commented. “I know she had a rough time last year with injury and illness.’
“I’ve had plenty of battles with Maddie before. We’ve had the Fed Cup, played in all different circumstances and this (their upcoming match) is just going to add to it. I can’t wait, I know it is going to be a good one.”

It is the second time in Barty’s Career she has reached the Australian Open semi-finals after 2020.

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