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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Indian Wells Daily Preview: The Women’s Semifinals

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Ons Jabeur celebrating her quarterfinal win on Thursday evening (twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Friday evening will host the women’s singles semifinals.  The first features two Major champions: Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka.  The second includes two good friends who are both looking to achieve their first WTA 1000 final: Ons Jabeur and Paula Badosa.

 

Also on Friday, the last two men’s singles quarterfinals will be decided.  Will Stefanos Tsitsipas and Sascha Zverev prevail against two players making their Masters 1000 quarterfinal debuts, setting up a blockbuster semifinal on Saturday?

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Jelena Ostapenko (24) vs. Victoria Azarenka (27) – Not Before 6:00pm on Stadium 1

Azarenka is a two-time champion of this event, though prior to this fortnight, she was only 2-2 in the desert since her last title run in 2016.  Injuries have derailed her progress throughout this season, but she has been in fine form this tournament, not dropping a set through four rounds.  Ostapenko was just 4-3 lifetime at Indian Wells before this year, and was a modest 23-15 on the season when she was withdrawn from the US Open due to undisclosed medical reasons.  But this past month, she’s gone 9-2, and is a win away from her third WTA 1000 final.  Their only previous encounter came two years ago at Roland Garros, when Azarenka prevailed in straight sets.  Like most Ostapenko matches, this will mostly be decided by her winner-to-error ratio.  When she starts making errors, she can become awfully negative real fast.  But based on her current form, I expect Jelena to remain confident, and dictate her way to Sunday’s championship match.

Ons Jabeur (12) vs. Paula Badosa (21) – Last on Stadium 1

With Thursday’s quarterfinal win, Jabeur will officially become the first Arab player (male or female) to debut inside the top 10 on Monday.  It’s been an incredible season for Ons, who has accumulated 48 wins, and is 8-1 over the last three weeks.  Badosa is now into her second WTA 1000 semifinal of the year, equalling the feat she first accomplished in Madrid, her country’s biggest tournament.  Paula has consecutively defeated three of 2021’s best players without dropping a set: Coco Gauff, Barbora Krejcikova, and Angelique Kerber.  These two friends played earlier this year at another American WTA 1000 event, when Jabeur outlasted Badosa in Miami 7-5 in the third.  Infused with the excitement of making her top 10 debut, I expect the more experienced and eclectic Ons to find a way to overcome Badosa, and to play in the biggest final of her career come Sunday.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili (29) – Tsitsipas leads their head-to-head 2-0.  Both matches occurred on hard courts in 2019, and both were quite tight.  Basilashvili ousted Karen Khachanov in the last round.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Taylor Fritz (31) – Zverev is 3-1 against Fritz, though they are 1-1 on hard courts.  Their most recent meeting on this surface went to the American, two years ago in Basel.  This week Taylor upset the two top-ranked Italians: Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner.

Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Grigor Dimitrov Praises ‘Surreal’ Achievement Ahead Of Indian Wells Semis

Grigor Dimitrov hailed his recent career milestone as he moved into the Indian Wells semi-finals.

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Grigor Dimitrov (@atptour - Twitter)

Grigor Dimitrov has praised his recent career milestone after reaching the Indian Wells semi-finals.

 

The Bulgarian overcame Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz in three sets to reach the semi-finals at Indian Wells.

Dimitrov backed his win over US Open champion Daniil Medvedev in style to reach his first masters 1000 semi-final of the season.

However reaching the semi-finals wasn’t the only achievement as he sealed his 100th masters 1000 win of his career.

Speaking after the match Dimitrov described it as ‘surreal’, “I didn’t know until everyone started mentioning it now,” Dimitrov said in his post-match press conference.

“Really I’m very humbled. It’s such an amazing thing. I’m so thankful to everyone, to everybody that is in the team, that has worked in the team. Last but not least my family.

“It feels like I want to say surreal because I never thought turning pro that I’m going to have let’s say a hundred matches at such a level. I’m very fortunate to be able to put myself in that position over and over, especially throughout the tough years, injuries and so on.

“It clearly means a lot to me. I really appreciate it. I’m very, very humbled on it. Like I’m smiling inside. I’m smiling inside. I think it’s a beautiful thing. I’ll keep on going hopefully another decade.”

Dimitrov’s first masters 1000 win came against Marsel Ilhan in 2011 at Cincinnati and the Bulgarian’s only trophy at this level came in 2017 when he beat Nick Kyrgios in the final of the same tournament.

Now Dimitrov will look to win his second masters 1000 title of his career as he takes on Cameron Norrie in the last four on Saturday.

Norrie currently leads the head-to-head 1-0.

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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Two Women’s Quarterfinals Feature Four of 2021’s Best Players

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Angelique Kerber is a defending finalist at Indian Wells (twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Angelique Kerber has won 20 of her last 24 matches.  Anett Kontaveit has claimed 16 of her last 17, which includes two titles.  Paula Badosa is 38-15 on the year, and 8-3 against the top 20.  Ons Jabeur is on the cusp of becoming the first Arab player to reach the top 10.  Which two of these four impressive performers will reach Friday’s semifinals?

 

Also on Wednesday, the first two men’s singles quarterfinals will be contested, with significant implications as to who will qualify for next month’s ATP Finals.  And in the doubles, the final two men’s quarterfinals will be played, alongside the women’s semifinals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Ons Jabeur (12) vs. Anett Kontaveit (18)  – Not Before 3:00pm on Stadium 1

A win today would guarantee Jabeur’s top 10 debut next week.  But that will be a tough ask against the WTA’s hottest player of the last two months.  Since adding Dmitry Tursonov as her coach, who previously guided Aryna Sabalenka during her rise to the top of the sport, Kontaveit has been on fire.  She was the champion in both Cleveland and Ostrava, with her only loss coming at the US Open against another of 2021’s best players, Iga Swiatek.  Anett has not dropped a set through three rounds, though Jabeur has been dominant as well, allowing her last two opponents only eight games across four sets.  Ons has taken both of their previous tour-level encounters, and she’s the last person not named Iga to defeat Kontaveit.  Two months ago in Cincinnati, she outlasted Anett 7-5 in the third.  But based on Kontaveit’s current level of confidence, I give her the slight edge to advance after what I expect to be a tenacious battle with some grueling rallies on these slow-playing courts.

Angelique Kerber (10) vs. Paula Badosa (21) – Not Before 6:00pm on Stadium 1

This will be the first career meeting between the three-time Major champ and the 23-year-old Spaniard, who has had a tremendous year despite a terrible start.  Upon arriving in Melbourne, Badosa tested positive for COVID, which forced her to spend three weeks in full quarantine.  But she’s now vying for her fifth semifinal of the season, and her first since May.  Kerber had a pretty miserable season until June, and even pondered retiring from the sport.  However, she has been an entirely different player since the grass court season.  Her only losses since mid-June have come against world No.1 Ash Barty, or fellow lefties (Leylah Fernandez, Jil Teichmann).  But these court speeds are not conducive to Angie’s game.  They are playing more at the speed of a clay court, and that’s never been her best surface.  By contrast, Badosa thrives on clay, compiling a record of 17-3 this year.  In the last round, Paula defeated Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets, and Krejickova has been one of 2021’s toughest outs.  I like Badosa’s chance of achieving her fifth semifinal of the season.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Diego Schwartzman (11) vs. Cameron Norrie (21) – Schwartzman easily dispatched of Casper Ruud on Wednesday.  Norrie has won three consecutive three-setters this fortnight.  Cam leads their head-to-head 2-1, which includes a four-hour, five-set victory at last year’s US Open.

Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (23) – Hurkacz was a semifinalist here in 2019.  Dimitrov pulled off an incredible comeback on Wednesday, after falling behind a set and two breaks against top-seeded Daniil Medvedev.

Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (2) vs. Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (3) – When these two teams met in the Wimbledon semifinals, Hsieh and Mertens prevailed 6-3 in the third.

Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov vs. Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev – This quarterfinal features three players in the top 15 of the Race to Turin singles rankings.  The last time Karatsev and Rublev teamed up, this past March in Qatar, they won the title.

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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