WTA Premier Mandatory Madrid: Potentially great 1R matches in Madrid - UBITENNIS
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WTA Premier Mandatory Madrid: Potentially great 1R matches in Madrid

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TENNIS – The first round of the WTA Premier Mandatory Tournament at the Caja Magica features some very interesting matches like Venus Azarenka vs Venus Williams, Flavia Pennetta vs Andrea Petkovic, Simona Halep vs Alizé Cornet and Maria Sharapova vs Timea Bacsinszky Diego Sampaolo

 

The first quarter of the draw features 19-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams who will start against her compatriot Madison Brengle, who reached the semifinals last week on indoor clay in Stuttgart before a possible clash against another compatriot, either Sloane Stephens or Betthanie Matthek Sands.

In the Round of 16 Serena is on a collision course against either her sister Venus or Viktoria Azarenka who will square off against in a mouth-watering first round match. Vika battled past Venus in their last head-to-head match in Doha earlier this year with 2-6 6-2 6-4

Wiliams started her season with a 20-match winning streak and titles at the Australian Open and Miami but had to dig deep to beat Sara Errani in the recent Fed Cup Play-off match between Italy and the USA in Brindisi. In that match Williams committed 61 unforced errors and said afterwards that she needed to train harder for the clay season

Williams’s possible rival in the quarter finals could be either Carla Suarez Navarro or Ana Ivanovic. Navarro has recently reached the final in Miami and has become the third Spanish player in history in the top-ten.

Ivanovic has had a difficult start to her season and was knocked out in the first round in Stuttgart last week. She could face Romanian Aleksandra Dulgheru in the third round.

The second quarter is highlighted by Petra Kvitova who could face German Sabine Lisicki in the second round and Italian Sara Errani (quarter final in Stuttgart) in the round of 16. Kvitova, who returned last week in Stuttgart after a break of two months, could play against Eugenie Bouchard or Andrea Petkovic or Flavia Pennetta. Bouchard, who reached the Wimbledon final and two semifinals at the Roland Garros and at the Australian Open last year, has had a difficult season so far and lost five consecutive matches in which she won just two sets. The young Canadian will start against Barbora Stykova before meeting 2012 Madrid quarter finalist Varvara Lepchenko in the second round.

The third quarter features a potential second round between Caroline Wozniacki (finalist in Stuttgart) and Agniewska Radwanska, who lost in the first round in Stuttgart and is not in a good period of form. The winner of this match could meet Madrid defending champion Maria Sharapova in the quarter final

Sharapova will open her campaign against Timea Bacsinszky who won two back-toback titles in Acapulco and Monterrey but lost in the quarter final this ween against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in Marrakesh. Sharapova then could face either Caroline Garcia or Karolina Pliskova (finalist in Prague this week) who are expected to meet in the second round. Sharapova has already met Garcia in the 2011 Roland Garros where Maria fought back from a set and a break down

Simona Halep, semifinalist last week in Stuttgart and runner.up in Madrid last year against Sharapova, will be the stand-out name in the fourth quarter of the draw. Halep could face Roberta Vinci in the second round and Lucie Safarova or Camila Giorgi in the third round. The Romanian star, World Number 2, is on collision course for a possible quarter final against either this year’s Australian Open semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova or this year’s Charleston and Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber, who has extended her winning streak on clay to 11 consecutive matches including Charleston, the Fed Cup and Stuttgart. The German will face Sam Stosur in the first round before a possible re-match of the Charleston final against Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys in the second round and a third round match against Garbine Muguruza. .

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 

 

The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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WIMBLEDON: Simona Halep Impresses After Troublesome Physical, Mental Battle

2022 has been far from straightforward for the Romanian but she is seeing light at the end of the tunnel at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

For Simona Halep reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon is an achievement in itself after her recent misfortunes. 

 

It all began at the Italian Open last year where she sustained a calf injury that would force her to miss two major events, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games. Recovering from the setback was far from simple for the former world No.1 who soon found herself struggling mentally to the extent that she considered walking away from the sport altogether.

However, she managed to regain her desire and passion for tennis with the help of Patrick Mouratoglou who has officially been her coach since April. Halep continues to work her way back to top shape and her form at Wimbledon proves perseverance pays off. 

Playing her fourth round match against fourth seed Paula Badosa, Halep stormed to an emphatic 6-1, 6-2, win in just over an hour. She dropped only two points behind her first serve and hit 17 winners against just nine unforced errors. It is the third time this year she has beaten a top 10 player after previously beating Badosa on another occasion, as well as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

“It means a lot that I’m back in the quarterfinals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” said Halep.
“I’m working hard every day. I feel like if I do that, I will get better. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. I’m really confident. It’s a pleasure to be on the court.”
“I think this helps me a lot to be able to do my best tennis. And everything comes together. I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally.”

Speaking openly about her previous struggles, injury and confidence are two very different issues to deal with. But which one of those was the most difficult?

“It started with the injury, so I was not able to play for three, four months. Then I also lost the confidence, the belief that I can be good again, at the top. And I struggled for a long period,” she continued.
“But now it’s past. I’m here. I’m playing well. I’m feeling good on the court. So this is the most important thing, and I just want to focus on that.”

It is by no means a coincidence that Halep is thriving at Wimbledon considering her previous record. It was in 2019 when she produced a stunning display against Serena Williams to capture the title. Becoming the first and only player from her country to claim the women’s singles title. She has also reached the quarter-finals on three other occasions prior to this year.

“Grass is not an easy surface and you have to really connect with it. You have to get used to it.” Said Halep.
“I like it because it’s fast. I feel it. I feel stable on my feet. My legs are pretty strong for this surface. I feel my game fits it.”

As the only former Grand Slam champion left in the draw, Halep’s next test will be against Amanda Anisimova who defeated Harmony Tan 6-2, 6-3, in her fourth round match.

“I’m here to play as I did today, to focus on myself,” she states.
“I’m sure that I can play good tennis again. But it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward to it.”


Halep recently crushed Anisimova 6-2, 6-1, at the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. 

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