TENNIS- Sara Errani edged Daniela Hantukova with 6-4 7-6 (7-4) after a tight match. The first set saw both players trading breaks for six consecutive games from 1-1. In the ninth game Errani saved three break points before breaking in the hard-fought 52.minute 10th game at the third opportunity for 6-4 after Hantukova sent her forehand wide Diego Sampaolo
Errani fought back from 2-5 down to draw level to 5-5 in the second set by recovering one of the breaks with a couple of backhands.
In the tie-break Hantukhova got a mini-break with a down-the-line return but the Italian, who finished runner-up last year to Serena Williams, reeled off five consecutive points before clinching the second set tie-break with 7-4 to the delight of the Italian crowd.
Errani his 16 winners to 16 unforced errors, while Hanuckova produced 43 winners but committed 41 unforced errors.
“I am not happy with my match but the most important was to win”, said Errani.
Errani will face Christina McHale who upset Barbora Strykova 7-6 (7-5) 7-1.
Angelique Kerber, who won two clay tournaments this year in Charleston and Stuttgart but suffered an early defeat against Sam Stosur in Madrid, beat Alizé Cornet 6-4 6-2 After three consecutive breaks Kerber reeled off four consecutive games from 3-2 to win the first set with 6-2. The player from Bremen broke early in the second set and held her service games until 5-3 before breaking serve to love in the final game
Venus Williams beat 19-year-old Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-2. After a very long first game which lasted 16 minutes and featured 10 deuces Venus pulled away to 4-1 en route to winning the first set with 6-2.Venus, who is playing for the 11th time in Rome, cruised to 6-2 after half and hour. Venus could meet Flavia Pennetta, if the Italian beats Elina Svitolina.
Swiss Timea Bacsinskiy eased past Karolina Pliskova 6-4 6-0 in a match between two revelations of the WTA season. Pliskova broke for 4-3 in the first set but the Swiss player reeled off nine consecutive games to win the match. It was not so easy as the score suggests as both players played four games at deuce.
Sabine Lisicki defeated Sloane Stephens 6-4 6-2. Stephens broke serve in the first game but Lisicki broke back.after a very long second game but Stephens got a second break in the fifth game at deuce. At 1-4 down Lisicki earned three break points in the sixth game and converted on the third opportunity. The German broke again in the 8th game before clinching the first set with 6-4. Lisicki broke serve twice in the fourth and in the sixth games before clinching the win on her third match point.
Heather Watson cruised past Roberta Vinci with 6-3 6-1. This year’s Australian Open semifinalist Madiso Keys hit seven aces to beat her compatriot Madison Brengle 6-4 6-2.
Karin Knapp won the all-Italian match against Francesca Schiavone with 6-4 6-1. Schiavone, the veteran of this tournament with 18 appearances in this tournament, reached the quarter finals four times. Both players traded breaks at the start of the match.
At 2-2 the 2010 Roland Garros champion did not convert her two break points. At 3-2 Knapp, Schiavone recovered from 15-40 to win her service game. Knapp reeled off three of her next four games to win the first set with 6-4. After a couple of hard-fought games in the second set Knapp got her second break in the fourth game for 3-1 and held her next service games to win the second set with 6-1.
Veronika Kudermetova Finally Has Her Own Trophy
The Russian repeatedly went for winners and had all the answers in the clutch moments of the Charleston final.
Veronika Kudermetova finally has her name on a WTA Tour 500 tournament championship trophy after winning the Volvo Car Open singles title on Sunday in Charleston, S.C.
The slender Russian with a “fighter” mentality is listed right there with the likes of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Gabriela Sabatini and many other former greats of the women’s game who have won the long-running tournament that once was named the Family Circle Cup.
No wonder Kudermetova was so happy. In addition to winning her first WTA Tour title, she earned a check worth $68,570 and a sparkling white new Volvo car to use for one year.
NEW VOLVO HITS THE SPOT
“I am most proud I continue to play my game,” the 23-year-old told the Tennis Channel. “I work every day to be able to put my name on a trophy. I hope I can continue to play like this and win more trophies.”
And maybe more new cars?
“Maybe I give it (the Volvo) to my parents. I think they deserve this car, because they help me a lot, and I think this is for my family.”
RUSSIAN TOO GOOD FOR KOVINIC
The hard-hitting and aggressive Kudermetova was too good for 91st-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro. Despite falling behind in each set, Kudermetova won four of the last five games of the first set and the final five games of a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Kovinic. It took only 96 minutes for the 38th-ranked Kudermetova to reserve her place among the top 30 (at No. 29) in the new WTA rankings.
In becoming the first VCO champion to not drop a set since Serena Williams in 2012, Kudermetova didn’t just attack the 26-year-old Kovinic’s game, she attacked the clay court.
KUDERMETOVA SERVED WITH A PURPOSE
Kudermetova repeatedly went for winners, and she missed more than her share of shots, but in clutch situations she usually had the answer.
One of the answers was a serve that produced six aces, a little above her average in her first five victories in which she drilled 25 total aces.
That serve also put only 49.2 percent of her first serves into play. Yet, she was broken only once (the fourth game of the match) and faced a total of only two break points in the match.
Kudermetova often got out of trouble by dealing up unreturnable second serves. Kovinic simply couldn’t get a handle on hardly any serve that Kudermetova put into play (she double-faulted only twice).
NEW WTA TOUR 250 EVENT STARTS
After the win, Kudermetova got a quick hug from her coach, Sergey Demekhine. After all, Demekhine is her husband of four years.
Many of the players in the VCO will stick around Charleston to begin play in a WTA Tour 250 tournament that starts on Monday. Tunisa’s Ons Jabeur, who was eliminated by Kovinic in the VCO semifinals, has climbed to 27th in the world and is the top seed in the new tournament.
See James Beck’s Post and Courier columns at postandcourier.com (search on James Beck column). James Beck can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
Veronika Kudermetova Wins First WTA Title In Charleston
The Russian will now break into the world’s top 30 for the first time in her career on Monday.
Veronika Kudermetova has won the Volvo Car Open after beating her Montenegrin opponent Danka Kovinic 6-4, 6-2 in 1 hour and 45 minutes to win her first ever WTA title.
In what was her second Tour final of the season after Abu Dhabi, the Russian hit 22 winners against 19 unforced errors to cap off what has been a dream week. Kudermetova didn’t drop a set in the entire tournament en route to the title. Something that hadn’t been achieved since 2012 when Serena Williams lifted the title. She is only the third Russian woman to have won Charleston and the first since Daria Kasatkina in 2017.
“To be honest when I came here I did not think I could take the title because I did not prepare well even before Miami and I had troubles in my head,” the 23-yeare-old said following her win.
“I told myself I need to work and see how I will do here.”
The Russian got off to a fast start after earning two breakpoints in the opening game of the match but Kovinic was up to the task of saving them. However, the world No.91 was eventually broken on a third breakpoint.
At 2-1 the number 15 seed faced some pressure on her serve from the Montenegrin and would break to go back on serve. Two games later at 3-3 the Russian responded by earning three more breakpoints and broke once again.
Serving to stay in the set at 5-3 Kovinic faced two set points before being able to hold serve before the Russian served out the first set.
The first four games of the second set went with serve before Kudermetova once again earned two chances to get the first break of the set but it would take a third to break and take a 3-2 lead.
After consolidating the break the Montenegrin struggled on serve and a double fault gave her opponent a breakpoint and she would break en route to victory.
“I feel amazing, for me it doesn’t matter that I am not losing one set, it’s more important to take my first title but I feel really amazing and proud of myself,” Kudermetova said during her press conference.
Kudermetova will rise to number 29 in the new world rankings on Monday.
Paula Badosa Stuns Ash Barty in Charleston
The 23-year-old has recorded the biggest win on her career to date.
Spain’s Paula Badosa has beaten world No.1 Ash Barty 6-4, 6-3, at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston.
The world No.71 fired 7 aces with 19 winners while the top seed hit 24 unforced errors in a match where she didn’t look like herself. The win is is by far the biggest of Badosa’s career so far and she was ecstatic in her on court interview after the match. Prior to this week she had never defeated a top 20 player on the Tour.
“I can’t believe it, I still can’t believe I just beat number one in the world, I was quite nervous but I think I served very well,” said Badosa. “I think that was the key of the match and it was a tough match but I was there until the last moment and I could win.”
After holding serve in the first game of the match Barty had an early chance to break but the Spaniard would dig in and save both before holding serve. At 2-2 it was the world No.71 with a chance to break and she would earn the first break of the match with a stunning backhand winner.
The world number one had a chance to go back on serve but the Barcelona native hung in and held serve to consolidate the break. The next game the Aussie was struggling on serve and she would double fault to give her Spanish opponent another chance to break.
She would break to take a 5-2 lead but when she was serving for the first set she got tight and the Aussie earned three break points to get one of the breaks back. The world number 71 managed to save all three but the Brisbane native earned a fourth winning a great point with a volley winner and would break to make it 5-3.
At 5-4 the Aussie was pushing hard to go back on serve and once again had three chances to break but the Spaniard saved all three playing some great tennis and would serve out the set with a smash.
Badosa rode the momentum into the second set and earned two breakpoints right away in the first game and broke to take a 1-0 lead. The break wouldn’t last as the world number one would break right back the very next game to level the set at one.
Barty then saved two breakpoints at 2-2 to hold serve and then went on the offensive earning two breakpoints of her very own but the Spaniard saved them both.
At 3-3 the world number would serve a double fault to give her Spanish opponent three chances to break and she would get the break to take a 4-3 lead.
Badosa saved a breakpoint while serving to consolidate the break and would earn two matchpoints on her opponents serve. She won the match after Barty hit an unforced error.
In her post match press conference Badosa spoke about how she was able to overcome all the adversity she faced in the match.
” I’m quite happy because I was quite intense with the returns, I knew I had to be intense because she serves very good, she changes a lot the serve, she mixed a lot so I knew I had to be very focused on my returns and than in my serve I think I served very well which was the key of the match because I had a lot of breakpoints down but then I could do a good serve so I’m quite happy about that and I think I was intense the first balls against her the first two-three balls and I think that was very important.”
She will next face Veronika Kudermetova in the semifinals on Saturday who defeated former US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-4.
“It’s going to be a very tough match, a little bit different than today, they (both Kudermetova and Stephens) play more from the baseline. Ash mixes a lot the game so it will be different, very tough and both of them are amazing players”
Barty did take the opportunity after the match to speak to the press. She addressed if she felt fatigue played a factor in the match after a tough three set win against Shelby Rodgers.
“It’s probably been a collective of the last three weeks of playing a lot of matches which is always a good problem to have but without a doubt, I had to adjust with the way I wanted to approach the match and I tried to be super aggressive and all in all it was probably taking a few too many risks but it’s been an exceptional three weeks out of our trip and we can take nothing from the positives from it,” she said.
In other matches at the tournament, 12th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia beat Coco Gauff in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, and Danka Kovinic continued her amazing run by beating the number 11 seed Yulia Putintseva 6-7, 7-5, 6-1.
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