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AO15: Venus Williams battles past Camila Giorgi

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TENNIS AO15 – Venus Williams fought back from a 4-6 3-5 deficit to battle past Italian Camila Giorgi in three sets with 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. Diego Sampaolo

 

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Venus Williams survived a big scare when Camila Giorgi was leading 6-4 4-2 0-40 on Venus’s serve but the Italian did not convert three break points. Camila came within two points of winning the match when she was serving for the match at 5-4 but she made a forehand error and committed her 9th double fault. Venus bounced back from the brink of defeat and turned the match around. The US star saved two set points at 5-6 15-40 before clinching the tie-break with 7-3 before winning the decider with 6-1. Giorgi tried to fight back after losing the first two games of the third set when she won a very long third game of 17 minutes after saving seven break points. In the fifth game the young Italian went up 30-0 but she committed her 13th double fault to fall behind 1-4.

Venus collected her 223rd win on the WTA Tour in her legendary career which started in the 1990s.

Williams has reached the second week in a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbledon 2011. She will take on Agnieszka Radwanska who beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-0 7-5. Lepchenko had a late surge when she rallied from 2-5 down to almost push the match to the decider but Radwanska held on to clinch the second set with 7-5.

Venus leads 5-4 in the previous nine head-to-head matches but Agnieszka won all the last three matches in straight sets since Venus recovered from the Sjogren syndrome which sidelined her for seven months from September 2011 to March 2012. Venus will be looking to qualify for the quarter final in a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2010 US Open.

This old cat has a few tricks up her sleeve. She wasn’t doing anything wrong She was playing so aggressively. I had never played her before and to play someone of her level for the first time in a major, I didn’t know what to expect”, said Venus Williams in the post-match interview.

Camila played amazing. I thought she played awesome and just so aggressive. Everything was working for her. I have never played her before, so it’s challenging to get a rhythm against her. It’s challenging to know what the exact plays are. As the match went on I think I was able to get a little bit more settled and figure that out a little bit. But she played great. I just kept trying to get games on my board so hopefully I would get an opening at some point”

Venus went down a break in the second set and faced a triple break point at 4-2 but Venus managed to keep her focus and managed to recover.

When that was happening, my whole focus was: “Let me try to hold serve instead of saying: It’s almost over. I felt like I had some chances on the 5-4 return game. In the second set I just felt like if I play one or two points better then I am in there.

It feels fantastic to reach the second week. Especially when things happen in your life and it’s not in your control. It just feels awesome to be here but I don’t want to leave it at that. I will try to keep going”, continued Venus.

Venus started her career against players who are now long retired and now faces rivals who are much younger than her.

I think we talk maybe more about the players we see that aren’t playing anymore. We just can’t figure out how we are still here. That’s probably more on our mind. When you walk on that court, there is no such thing as age, height, any of that stuff. It’s really an even playing field. It’s a matter of: Can you get the ball in ? Can you win the point or not. It does not matter any of those variables. That’s what they are: I don’t think that enters our mind out there”

Venus praised Camila Giorgi saying that she is a potential to become a top-10 player. “I think that she has a potential for sure. She has a big game. She has motivation. She looks like she is working hard. She is moving up the rankings. I think the more she plays, she is going to learn. It’s about dealing with the pressure. I think that’s one of the hardest things to learn to do. Every point of the match. Every day that you are playing, it’s not easy for any player.

Venus’ sister Serena also got through to the fourth round. Serena fought back from a set down to overcome Elina Svitolina from the Ukraine in three sets with 4-6 6-2 6-0 to set up a fourth round against Garbine Muguruza who beat Swiss Timea Bacsinszky in three sets. It will be a re-match of the second round clash at last year’s Roland Garros where the young Spanish player upset Serena.

The last time both Williams’ sisters reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, Serena lift her fifth her fifth and last Trophy at Melbourne Park in 2010. She failed to advance the fourth round in 2012 and 2014 and was knocked out in the quarter final in 2013.

Viktoria Azarenka followed up her wins against Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova to set up a fourth round match against last year’s Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova. Azarenka built up a 6-4 3-0 lead but Zahlavova Strycova clawed her way into the match by drawing level to 3-3. Azarenka broke serve in the seventh game for 4-3 but the Czech player broke straight back to draw level to 4-4. Azarenka broke again for 5-4 before serving out for the match in straight sets. Azarenka clinched 21 of her last 22 matches in Melbourne after winning two titles in 2012 and 2013 and losing to Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter final in 2014. Her next match rival Cibulkova beat France’s Alizé Cornet 7-5 6-2. Cornet earned four set points at 5-3 and two more at 5-4 in the opening set and went up 2-0 in the second set but Cibulkova fended off all six set points and fought back in the second set by reeling off six consecutive games.

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. 

 

The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012. 

“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw. 
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”

Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week. 

“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.

There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open. 

Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20. 

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Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook. 

 

The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury. 

Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open. 

“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.

“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”

Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them. 

“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”

This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16. 

“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.

Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients. 

“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.

This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open. 

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Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion

Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.

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Simona Halep (@NewsCentralTV - Twitter)

Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.

However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.

Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.

This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.

https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep/status/1570370209504198656

Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.

Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:

Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion

Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet

Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko

Qatar: R1 l. Garcia

Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek

Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur

Rome: R2 l. Collins

Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng

Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia

Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu

Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina

Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya

Toronto: Champion

Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew

US Open: R1 l. Snigur

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