US Open: Krunic eliminates Kvitova. Serena into the 3rd round - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Krunic eliminates Kvitova. Serena into the 3rd round

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TENNIS US OPEN – Unlike on Day 5 when several big names tumbled out of the draw, things were relatively calmer in the women’s draw. Flavia Pennetta played first up on the Arthur Ashe stadium and she was the first woman into the Round of 16 when she knocked out American Nicole Gibbs for the 2nd straight year 6-4 6-0. The real big upset of the day also happened early when reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova (3) got dismissed by Aleksandra Krunic. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

Unlike on Day 5 when several big names tumbled out of the draw, things were relatively calmer in the women’s draw. Flavia Pennetta played first up on the Arthur Ashe stadium and she was the first woman into the Round of 16 when she knocked out American Nicole Gibbs for the 2nd straight year 6-4 6-0. The real big upset of the day also happened early when reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova (3) got dismissed by Aleksandra Krunic 6-4 6-4. Kvitova has always struggled in the heat and humidity during the North American hardcourt swing and it clearly showed in her play.

In other matches, Serena Williams (1) has finally made it past the 3rd round of major since the Australian Open this year. Williams took on yet another American, her third successive in this tournament, Varvara Lepchenko. Again Williams made winning easy look very difficult. She seemed rather bothered through much of the match as she won 6-3 6-3 in just over an hour and a half. Lepchenko played very well within herself but in the big moments, she could not capitalize. Williams was very gracious to her opponent as they practice and hit together often, “[S]he gives 100% on the court. She always tries to do the best … She is an incredible fighter.”

Two-time finalist here, Victoria Azarenka (16) is seemingly getting better and better with each round. She dismantled Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1 in 57 minutes. This victory marked Azarenka’s 100th major win in her career. She will play Krunic in the Round of 16. Azarenka said, “I don’t know about her much … [S]he obviously is playing great tennis and really inspired here, you know, so many matches in a row and upsetting such a great player.” Nonetheless, it might be that Azarenka is extremely grateful for Krunic’s upset win over Kvitova as she has never beaten the Czech in any of their encounters.

The other top named player who made it through to the 4th round was Eugenie Bouchard (7) who is continuing to show that when it comes to the major stage, she is ready, present and willing to play. She took on Czech Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova. Zahlavova-Strycova is no stranger to playing big names as she had a wonderful Wimbledon this year making it to the quarterfinals for the first time in 33 appearances at a major. However, Bouchard has had an even better year at the majors and her experience showed through on the big points. Bouchard took the 1st set 6-2 but went down 3-5 in the 2nd set. Zhalavova was getting more aggressive on court and benefitting from the random errors from Bouchard. However, Bouchard fought her way back into the set to lead 6-5 but Zahlavova was able to hold serve to force a tiebreaker where she was able to level the match.

In the decisive set, there was definitely shifting momentums after the 6th game; 3 games all. There were 3 consecutive breaks of serve which saw Bouchard serving for the match up 5-4. The Canadian was able to serve it out for the win 6-2 6-7 6-4. “I was disappointed in myself, not necessarily about going to a third, but by my level in the second set. I was surprised I could do so many unforced errors in one set. You know, that’s something I definitely don’t want to repeat again. But I’m determined to do better in my next match,” Bouchard said after the match.

Bouchard’s next round opponent will be Ekaterina Makarova (17) who go to the Round of 16 when she took out Zarina Diyas 6-2 6-4. Other winner on the day was Kaia Kanepi who is continuing to have a wonderful tournament after she knocked out Sam Stosur (24) in the 1st round. Kanepi again upset another seeded player, this time Carla Suarez-Navarro (15) in straight sets knocked out another seeded player Carla Suarez Navarro (15) 7-5 6-0. She will have to maintain this winning form as she faces Williams in the next round. Casey Dellacqua (29) also finds herself in the Round of 16 after she knocked out Karolina Pliskova 6-3 3-6 6-4. It was a hard fought contest all the way to the end. Dellacqua will play Pennetta for a spot in the quarterfinals.

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Karolina Pliskova Finding Her Footing With The Help Of New Coach Krajan

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Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Karolina Pliskova’s resurgence on the Tour comes at a time when she has formed a new partnership with a well-known coach. 

After her first round loss at the Australian Open to Elena Rybakina, the Czech won nine consecutive matches on the Tour. In Romania, she claimed her 17th WTA title at the Winners Open before reaching the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 event in Doha. However, she was unable to play her semi-final clash against Iga Swiatek due to a lower back injury. During this period she has improved her ranking from 77th to 36th. 

Pliskova began the season without a coach at her side but is now working with Croatia’s Zeljko Krajan. A partnership she believes is showing promising signs already. 

“Personality-wise, I think he’s kind of similar to me,” Pliskova told WTA Insider. “Not really high or low. Relaxed and very like calm. 
“We didn’t really plan yet anything because now the schedule was difficult. I might be in qualifying in Indian Wells. Maybe I enter San Diego. So I don’t really know what’s gonna be. I’m just living day by day at the moment.” 

Krajan has worked with a series of players on both the WTA and ATP Tour’s. He guided Dinara Safina to three Grand Slam finals between 2008 and 2010. He has also worked with Borna Coric, Laura Robson, Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika cibulkova.

Pliskova, who is a former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, has endured a roller-coaster journey on the Tour in recent months with mixed results. Last season she failed to win back-to-back matches at 11 consecutive tournaments. 

So how has she managed to regain her form on the Tour?

“Motivation was never really a problem for me,” Pliskova said. “If I go on the court no matter how bad or good I feel, I always want to win. I always want to compete. 
“But my game is based on confidence and I need to feel that. Even if I’m not playing well or winning many matches, I just need to find that confidence in that moment or in that game because it’s just so risky. My shots are so flat, so I go for mostly lines. If something is not going well or you start to doubt, then of course you miss a little bit. Everything is about this.”

Unseeded at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Pliskova beat China’s Zhang Shuai in the first round. She will next play Ashlyn Krueger in the second round on Tuesday.

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Elena Rybakina Eases Past Kasatkina To Win Abu Dhabi Open

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Elena Rybakina has captured her second title of the season after beating an erratic Daria Kasatkina in straight sets at the Abu Dhabi Open. 

The world No.5 stormed to a 6-1, 6-4, win over the Russian in just over an hour. It is the third time in Rybakina’s career that she has beaten Kasatkina on the Tour and she now leads their head-to-head 3-2. The triumph comes a month after she won the Brisbane International, which is also a WTA 500 event. 

Rybakina’s latest match saw her capitalise on her opponent’s costly mistakes. Kasatkina struggled with her serve throughout the majority of the final and only managed to hold twice in eight attempts. Opening the door for the former Wimbledon champion who hit 17 winners against 12 unforced errors en route to victory. 

“I want to thank the fans who came this week,” said the new champion. “It has been an amazing atmosphere, especially to see flags from Kazakhstan. It means a lot, thank you so much.”

A one-sided 25-minute opening set saw Rybakina claim four straight games to clinch an early lead. During to the opener, Kasatkina only managed to win 26% of her service points. It was the fourth time in the tournament that the Kazakh had won a set by conceding two or fewer games. 

Fortunately for world No.14 Kasatkina and the crowd, there was more of a battle in the second frame. Twice in a row Rybakina worked her way to a break advantage before losing it in the following game. Then at 4-4, she dealt the decisive blow by hitting a clean forehand winner to break yet against and this time had a chance to serve for the title. With the rain starting to fall, she converted her first championship point with the help of another error from across the net. 

The defeat for Kasatkina comes a day after she came through a marathon three-hour semi-final match before criticising the WTA over their tournament scheduling. She is currently set to play in the Qatar Open with her opening match taking place tomorrow. It is the sixth time in a row she has been beaten by a top-five player on the Tour. 

“Congratulations to Elena, you’ve had a great week,” she said.
“Thanks to my team who has always been next to me. I am really proud of the job we’ve done and how we are doing. Thanks for always believing in me.”

Rybakina also referred to the demanding calendar during the trophy presentation. 

“Tough week (for Kasatkina), especially the last matches. Tomorrow there is already a match in Doha but hopefully, we will both recover and do well there. Maybe also play (against each other) in the final there,” she said. 

Unlike Kasatkina, Rybakina has a first round bye in Doha. She has now won seven WTA trophies so far in her career. 

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