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Dubai: Pliskova stops Safarova

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TENNIS DUBAI – Czech young star Karolina Pliskova fought back from a set and a break down to edge past her compatriot Lucie Safarova in three sets with 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, a Premier-5 level Tournament. Diego Sampaolo

 

Karolina Pliskova beat Safarova for the second consecutive week six days after their last head-to-head match in Antwerp. Pliskova had a start probably because of tiredness after travelling a lot in the first two months of the year (after the Australian Open she played for Czech Republic at the Fed Cup match against Canada in Quebec City before travelling back to Europe for Antwerp).

Safarova looked to be in control of the match until she led 6-3 3-1 with a break in the second set but the match changed completely when Pliskova won the tie-break forcing the match to the third set. Pliskova dominated the third set dropping just one game at 4-0 confirming her excellent level reached in the second half of last year and in the first part of the year where she reached the final in Sydney, the third round at the Australian Open and the semifinal in Antwerp. Before Dubai she had never reached the semifinals in a Premier-5 Tournament.

“The same thing happened yesterday against Ana Ivanovic. I was up a set and a break and it went to three sets. It was a similar match but this time it went my way. I have to say that Lucie played very well today. She deserved to win as well today. I feel a bit sorry for her”, said Pliskova.

Pliskova will take on Spaniard Garbine Muguruza who rallied from a set down to edge last week’s Antwerp finalist Carla Suarez Navarro in the Spanish derby with 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3. For Muguruza it’s the best result ever achieved son far in her career, as she had never reached the semifinals in a Premier-5 Tournament.

Suarez Navarro got a double break at the start of the first set but Muguruza reeled off four consecutive games to take the 5-4 lead. Muguruza missed out on two chances to take the first set. Suarez Navarro earned three break point chances in the 11th game but Muguruza saved them with two winners and an ace on her second serve. Suarez Navarro saved another break point forcing the first set to the tie-break and clinched the first set with 7-4.

Garbine bounced back getting the break in the opening game of the second set and took the second set with 6-3 forcing the match to the third set. Both players traded breaks at the start of the decider. The match was decided in the 8th game where Garbine sealed the win with a break of serve against a very tired Suarez Navarro who committed a costly double fault on the break point. Garbine closed out the match on the next game.

Simona Halep took the re-match against Elena Makarova who beat the young Romanian last month in the quarter finals at the Australian Open.

After dropping the second set and being forced to the third set, Halep opened up a 5-3 lead in the decider. Makarova clawed her way back drawing level to 5-all. Halep held serve to love in the 11th game for 6-5 before getting the decisive break to clinch the win with 6-3 1-6 7-5 on her fifth match point.

“There were ups and downs tonight. It wasn’t easy to be in control of the match because she is a good player. I played really well in the first set, but in the second set she started to hit stronger. I was a bit nervous to finish it off when I missed out on the first four match points at 6-5”, said Halep

In the fourth quarter final last year’s US Open Caroline Wozniacki beat Italian Flavia Pennetta 7-5 6-0. Pennetta went up a break twice in the opening set. The Italian had two chances to hold her serve in the sixth game after breaking for 3-2 but she was broken back. The first set went on serve until the 12th game when Wozniacki got the break to clinch the first set. From 5-5 Wozniacki reeled off eight consecutive games

The opening set was marked by long and hard-fought rallies. The fourth game featured 46-shot rally.

After dropping serve early in the second set Pennetta had a chance to break back but Wozniacki saved it to open up a 3-0 lead. The Danish star cruised to a bagel setting up a blockbuster semifinal against Simona Halep.

Halep and Wozniacki are tied 1-1 in their previous head-to-head matches but they have not clashed since 2013.

“I felt like we had some long rallies out there. There was one point that took forever. I was like: Are you kidding me ? How am I supposed to play a full match like this ?”, said Wozniacki.

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Former Finalist Marketa Vondrousova To Miss French Open Following Surgery

The Olympic silver medallist will miss a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Czech world No.35 Marketa Vondrousova has pulled out of next week’s French Open after undergoing what she describes as a ‘small surgery.’

 

Vondrousova, who reached the final at Roland Garros back in 2019, underwent a procedure on her left wrist after experiencing recurring pain. She decided to do so following a medical consultation and will be soon going through rehab. It will be the first Grand Slam event she has missed since the 2019 US Open which she also withdrew from due to a wrist injury.

“The last few weeks were not easy, I have been experiencing recurring pain in my wrist,” Vondrousova wrote in an Instagram post published on Monday. “After seeing a couple of doctors I decided to get this small surgery done to be able to play pain-free.”
“Staying positive through the recovery and can’t wait to be back on the court soon,”
she added.

The 22-year-old last played on Tour at the Stuttgart Open where she lost in the first round to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. So far this season she has achieved a win-loss record of 13-5 with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships as a qualifier. Vondrousova also reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and defeated Emma Raducanu in the Billie Jean Cup.

A former junior world No.1, Vondrousova has been ranked as high as 14th in the world. So far in her career, she has won just one WTA title which was back in 2017 at the Lugano Open in Switzerland. However, she has reached the final at another four events with the last being at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has scored a total of six wins over top 10 players.

Another player in doubt for the French Open is defending champion Barbora Krejcikova who hasn’t played a match on the Tour since February. The world No.2 has been sidelined from action due to an elbow injury but remains on the entry list for the Grand Slam which will begin on Sunday.

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday.

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Announces Pregnancy

Tennis’ power couple are set to become parents later this year.

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Former world No.3 Elina Svitoliva has announced that she is expecting a baby girl in October on social media.

 

The 27-year-old made the announcement on Sunday morning with a picture of her and her husband, French tennis star Gael Monfils. Known by some as the sports ‘power couple,’ the two tied the knot last July in Geneva ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games after first going public about their relationship in 2019. They even have their own Instagram account called ‘g.e.m.s. life’ which has more than 139,000 followers.

“With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October,” the couple wrote on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina/status/1525778313918177280

Svitolina hadn’t played on the Tour since losing to Heather Watson at the Miami Open in March after deciding to take time away from the sport due to events happening in her home country. Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine earlier this year which has claimed thousands of lives. Svitolina is one of the sport’s most outspoken players regarding the conflict. She has previously spoken out against the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes from Wimbledon by arguing that they should be allowed to participate if they condemn the actions of their home countries.

We don’t want them banned completely,” Svitolina told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.”

Prior to announcing her pregnancy, Svitolina has achieved a win-loss record of 5-8 on the Tour this season with her best runs being to the third round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals of a WTA event in Monterrey.

During her career, the Ukrainian has won 16 WTA titles and reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams during 2019.

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Bianca Andreescu reaches Rome quarterfinals after beating Petra Martic

The Canadian was able to get by her Croatian opponent in straight sets on Thursday afternoon in the Italian capital.

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Photo by Roberto Dell’Olivo

Bianca Andreescu is through to the quaterfinals of the Italian Open being played at the Foro Italico in Rome after beating Petra Martic in 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 45 minutes.

 

The Toronto native served four aces and won 76% of her first serve points in a match that was pretty straight forward for the world number 90 who makes her first quaterfinal this season.

During the first set both players did a good job holding serve and it was pretty tight until 4-4 when the Canadian was able to convert and served out the first set to take a 1-0 lead.

Andreescu was hungry for the early break in the second set and she got it but the Croat broke right back the following game to level the set at 2-2. She was then put on the defensive as the world number 47 started putting pressure on the Canadian but Andreescu was able to save two breakpoints before being able to hold serve to make it 3-3.

The next game Martic produced a poor service game and the 2019 US Open champ took full advantage, getting the break and that one break was enough for her to serve out the match.

Her reward for reaching the quarterfinals a date with the world number one Iga Swiatek who had no issues beating the Minsk native Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-1.

This will be their first ever meeting on the WTA Tour.

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