Final Grass Court Tournaments in full swing before Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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Final Grass Court Tournaments in full swing before Wimbledon

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TENNIS – Last year’s Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard won her first match on grass this season beating Allison Riske 7-6(5) 6-3 at the Aegon Classic in Eastbourne after early round defeats at s’Hertogenbosch and Birmingham. Diego Sampaolo

 

Riske took a 2-0 lead in the first set but Bouchard reeled off four consecutive games to take a 4-2 lead. Riske fought back winning three games in a row for 5-4. At 5-5 in the tie-break Bouchard won the final two points to clinch the first-set tie-break. The Canadian broke serve for 4-2 en route to winning the second set with 6-3. After winning the first set at the tie-break Bouchard saved four break points in the first service games of the second set. The Canadian converted the only break point in the second set to clinch the win.

“It’s good to get a win on grass. I was a little bit more aggressive and I was trying to enjoy the moment. It was a tough match. She plays good tennis, especially on grass. I knew to be prepared for a really tough match. I am happy I was able to stay with her when it was tough in that first set and just fight it out, ” said Bouchard

Bouchard will take on Belinda Bencic who beat this year’s Australian Open semifinalist and Eastbourne defending champion Madison Keys 6-2 6-2. It will be the first head-to head match between Bouchard and Bencic

Caroline Wozniacki started her grass season with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 win over Jarmila Gajdosova. The Danish star went down a break. Gajdosova served for the set at 5-4 but Wozniacki broke back to force the first set to the tie-break where she won 7-4. Wozniacki broke twice for 4-1. Gajdosova recovered the break but Wozniack broke again to clinch the second set with 6-2.

Daria Gavrilova fought back from a set down to edge Camila Giorgi 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3. Giorgi, who won her first tournament at s’Hertogenbosch, went up a break twice to win the first set with 6-3 despite six double faults and 40 percent of first serve points: Giorgi went down a break in the secon set on the only break point chance she faced in the second set: Giorgi went up 0-40 on Gavrilova’s serve but she failed to convert her three break points. She managed to break back on her fourth opportunity. In the ninth game the Italian earned a break point which would have enabled to serve for the match but she didn’t convert it. In the tie-break she earned a match point at 6-5 but Gavrilova reeled off three consecutive points to win the second set. Gavrilova broke serve at the start of the decider and again in the fifth game. As Gavrilova served for the match Giorgi broke back but in the following service game she faced the first match point with a double fault. She saved it but Gavrilova converted the second opportunity.

Gavrilova will face Sara Errani who battled past last year’s Wimbledon quarter finalist Barbora Zahlavova Strykova 6-2 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (9-7). Errani has won her first match on grass since Wimbledon 2012. Errani was broken in the first game of the first set but she held her service games. Strykova won the second-set tie-break 7-1. The third set also came down to the tie-break. Strykova went up 6-4 and earned two match points but committed a double fault on the second opportunity. Errani earned a match point but Strykova saved it. The Italian closed out on the second match point after 3 hours

Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Flavia Pennetta 6-3 6-3. Kuznetsova broke serve in the fourth game. Pennetta earned a break back point chance in the ninth game as Kuznetsova served for the set but the Russian player saved them with her serve. In the second set Kuznetsova converted her second break point chance in the seventh game.

Dominika Cibulkova beat this year’s Roland Garros finalist Lucie Safarova 7-6 (9-7) 6-4. After a trade of breaks in the third and in the fourth games of the first set Safarova did not convert two points and drooped the first set at the tie-break. Cibulkova broke early in the second set before saving all the six break points

Joanna Konta beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-2 6-4. Another British player Heather Watson rallied from a set set down to beat Elina Svitolina 3-6 7-5 6-4. Sloane Stephens defeated Carla Suarez 6-1 7-5

Nottingham: Baghdatis upsets Ferrer

Marcos Baghdatis upsets David Ferrer 6-2 7-6 (7-4) in the second round of the Aegon Classic in Nottingham. The player from Cyprus scored his first win over a top-10 player in more than two years.

Baghdatis hit nine aces and won 73 percent of his service points. Baghdatis broke twice in the first set before closing out in the eighth game. The second set came down to the tie-break where the Cypriot won 7-4.

Baghdatis will face German rising star Aleksander Zverev who fought back from a set down to edge past Tomas Bellucci 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 6-4.

Gilles Simon fought back from a set down to edge Marcel Granollers 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-0). Granollers was leading 6-4 5-4 40-0 but Simon saved all the three match points he faced before winning the tie-break. Granollers went up a break in the third game of the decider. Simon broke back at 4-2 before winning the tie-break 7-0

Simone Bolelli overcame Martin Klizan 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 setting up a third round against Adrian Mannarino who beat Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (7-4) 6-4.

Bolelli held his first service game before breaking serve in the second game. Klizan had to save two break points in the fourth and in the sixth games with his serve. The second set went on serve until 4-4. Bolelli earned two break points which would have enabled to serve for the match but Klizan saved them. After trading mini-breaks Klizan opened up a 4-2 lead but Bolelli drew level to 4-4. Klizan reeled off the next three points to win the tie-break. Bolelli broke serve to love in the sixth game

Andreas Seppi did not recover from the final in Halle and was knocked out by Yen Hsun Lu with 6-4 6-3

Feliciano Lopez defeated 17-year-old Taylor Harry Fritz 6-3 6-3. Fritz, who reached the Roland Garros Junior final and is making his debut on the ATP Tour, upset Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1 6-4.

Leandro Mayer beat 19-year-old Hyeon Chung 6-3 6-1. Dominik Thiem won over Malek Jaziri with 6-3 6-1 Sergiy Stakhovskiy beat Viktor Troicki 6-4 6-2 setting up a third round match against Denis Istomin who cruised past Juan Monaco 6-1 6-2. Alexander Dolgopolov overcame Pablo Andujar 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: The Ladies’ Semifinals

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Ons Jabeur during her quarterfinal victory on Tuesday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Thursday’s ladies’ singles semifinals are full of inspiring storylines, featuring the 2019 champion alongside three debutantes at this stage of a Major.  Simona Halep is on a 12-match win streak at The Championships, and is yet to drop a set this fortnight.  Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina had previously only reached the quarterfinals at a Slam, and have made history by becoming the first players from their countries to reach a Slam semifinal.  And remarkably, 34-year-old mother-of-two Tatjana Maria had never been beyond the third round at a Major, and was on a nine-match losing streak at Slams prior to this fortnight. 

 

Also on Thursday, the gentlemen’s doubles semifinals will be played, as well as the mixed doubles championship match.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Tatjana Maria – 1:30pm on Centre Court

These are two good friends who describe each other as frequent barbecue buddies.  They also possess two of the sport’s most eclectic styles, with plenty of slices mixed with surges of power.  But in this matchup, Jabeur is clearly the favorite.  Ons has become the No.2 player in the world, with an outstanding record of 35-9 this season.  She was a quarterfinalist here a year ago, and is an undefeated 10-0 on grass in 2022, and 20-2 on this surface since last year.

Maria missed the first six months of the 2021 season due to giving birth to her second child.  She came into this year ranked 284th in the world, yet she’s accumulated 36 match wins at all levels.  As a qualifier, she won a WTA title on clay this past April in Bogota.  And despite her lack of results at Majors, with a career record of 12-34 in main draws, Tatjana has fought her way into her first Slam semifinal, with four three-set victories.  In three of those matches, she came back from a set down.  And she also won three of them by a third-set score of 7-5, even saving two match points against Jelena Ostapenko.

They’ve only played once at tour-level, with Maria prevailing in straight sets five years ago in Linz.  But in 2022, Jabeur is the far more accomplished player, especially at Majors.  And her all-court skills outmatch those of Tatjana.  As long as Ons does not succumb to the pressure of being a strong favorite in her first Slam semifinal, Jabeur should comfortably advance to Saturday’s championship match.


Simona Halep (16) vs. Elena Rybakina (17) – Second on Centre Court

Halep has been on a tear in her last few matches.  On Monday, she allowed fourth-seeded Paula Badosa only three games.  On Wednesday, Amanda Anisimova was only able to win six.  However, both of those opponents already had previous poor results against Simona, as their games do not match up well with that of the two-time Major champion.  The same cannot be said for Rybakina.

While Halep leads their head-to-head 2-1, their last two encounters have been extremely right.  Two years ago in Dubai, Simona required a third-set tiebreak to survive.  And at last year’s US Open, she prevailed 6-3 in the third.  The big difference between the set Rybakina won in New York, and the two sets she lost, was her winner-to-error ratio.  In the set she won, those numbers were equal.  In the sets she lost, she struck nearly twice as many unforced errors as winners.

While reducing her error count will be key for Rybakina, so will continuing to serve well.  In her last two rounds alone, Elena as struck 21 aces and only one double fault.  Rybakina leads the WTA ace count this season, though Halep remains of the sport’s best returners.  And Simona’s serve has improved significantly over the last few seasons.

Experience may be the key factor on Thursday, which is obviously a huge advantage for Halep.  This is her ninth Major semifinal, and her third at Wimbledon, while this Rybakina’s first at any Slam.  Also Centre Court itself will be new territory for Elena, who has never played on this court in her career.  And based on Halep’s current form, the 2019 champion should be favored to return to the final.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk (2) vs. Matthew Ebden and Sam Stosur – Skupski and Krawczyk are the defending champions, while Ebden and Stosur were finalists at last year’s Australian Open.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (1) vs. Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell (14) – Ram and Salisbury and two-time Major champions as a team.  Ebden and Purcell were finalists at this year’s Australian Open.  That’s the event where these teams last met, with the Australians prevailing in the semifinals.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (6) – Mektic and Pavic are the defending champions, while Cabal and Farah won this event in 2019.  Cabal Farah are 2-0 against Mektic and Pavic this season.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Nick Kyrgios Insists Bombshell Assault Charge Didn’t Affect Wimbledon Prep

The tennis star has been publicly questioned about the allegations for the first time.

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Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios says he has ‘a lot of thoughts’ concerning the revelation that he has been charged with assaulting his former girlfriend.

 

On Tuesday it was reported in the media that the tennis star has been summoned to court next month over an incident involving his former partner  Chiara Passari. The incident is reported to have taken place in December 2021 which has triggered the charge of ‘common assault.’ In the worst-case scenario, those convicted of such offenses can face up to two years in prison in extreme cases. 

The timing of the news coincides with Kyrgios enjoying his best-ever win at a Grand Slam. He defeated Cristian Garin in straight sets to book a showdown with Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon semi-finals. A player who he has beaten on three previous occasions. It was after his milestone win when the tennis star was asked about the assault charge. 

“Obviously I have a lot of thoughts, a lot of things I want to say, kind of my side about it,” he said.
“I’ve been advised by my lawyers that I’m unable to say anything at this time.’
“I understand everyone wants to kind of ask about it and all that, but I can’t give you too much on that right now.”

Due to the ongoing legal case, it is unclear if Kyrgios was informed about the charge on the same day the news broke out or before. Although he has assured that the development had no impact on his preparations or affected his mentality at The All England Club. 

“It didn’t really affect me at all, to be honest,” he stated.
“Obviously seeing it — I’m only human. I read about it and everyone else was asking questions. It was hard. It was hard to kind of just focus on the mission at hand. It was the quarterfinals of Wimbledon today. I know deep down that’s what I was prepared for.’
“It didn’t really affect my preparation at all. I knew I stayed true to myself and gave my best performance today.”

The court is a much happier place for Kyrgios at the moment. Currently ranked 40th in the world he is the lowest-ranked player to reach the last four at Wimbledon since Marat Safin did so in 2008. His win-loss record on the grass this season currently stands at 12-2.

The surge in form for the tennis star comes during what has been a roller-coaster career where he had doubted on multiple occasions if he wanted to continue playing. 

“I obviously had thoughts the last year, year and a half, whether I wanted to play anymore. I lost the love, lost the fire and lost the spark,” Kyrgios reflects.
“Then some things just changed in my life. I kind of just rediscovered that I’ve got a lot of people that want me to play, that I play for. I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I feel like I’m probably playing some of my best tennis, mentally I’m feeling great.”

As for his upcoming clash with Nadal, the former top 20 star feels that it could be a very special encounter. Although the match is currently overshadowed by Nadal’s health with him nursing an abdominal injury.

“We are two completely different personalities. I feel like we respect the hell out of each other, though,” he said. “I feel like that would be a mouth-watering kind of encounter for everyone around the world. That would probably be the most-watched match of all time. I would argue that.”

Kyrgios will play Nadal on Friday. 

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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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