Wimbledon 2015 Day 1: Williams Sisters, Sharapova and Azarenka have easy opening matches - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon 2015 Day 1: Williams Sisters, Sharapova and Azarenka have easy opening matches

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TENNIS – The opening day of Wimbledon saw a lot of ladies action. There were no major upsets as top favourites and former champions here Serena and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova had very light workouts. Cordell Hackshaw

 

USUAL SUSPECTS
Serena Williams (1) opened her campaign for a second “Serena Slam” (winning 4 majors in a row) and the third leg for a  first “Grand Slam” (winning all  4 majors in the calendar year) got off to a sloppy start. An erratic Williams started off the match down 0-2 against Russian Margarita Gasparyan. The Russian continuously unleashed a nice one-handed backhand which is extremely rare on the ladies’ tour these days. Williams was able to hold serve with confidence for 1-2 however, it was clear that Gasparyan was ready for the challenge of defeating the number 1 player in the world. Williams had several break points to level set early but she missed them badly with poor errors. Gasparyan held serve for 3-1 and secured herself a break point to go up 4-1. It was at this point that Williams fully realized the urgency of situation. With some quick big serves, Williams was able to erase her problems for 2-3. Williams then wrest control of the match to break for 3-3 and then break again in the 10th game for 6-4.

Williams carried this momentum into the 2nd set as she raced out to a 3-1 lead. However, Gasparyan found herself with triple break points but could not convert any of them. Williams held and broke the Russian again for 5-1. With a smash winner, Williams moved into the 2nd round 6-4 6-1. Williams would later state that though she expected Gasparyan to be good, she did not expect her to be this good.

Victoria Azarenka (23) was the first player through to the 2nd round of Wimbledon with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. Azarenka did not play this event last year and has struggled at this event though she made it to the semifinals back in 2012 and won the bronze medal at the Olympics here. Both times she lost to Serena Williams. This is a really good start for the Belarusian who is trying to work her way back to major form after an injury plagued 2014.

Maria Sharapova (4) v Johanna Konta The young Brit had a break point in the opening game of the match. However, Sharapova was not about to let a young upstart dash her hopes of a second Wimbledon title. Konta failed to break the Sharapova serve and it was a routine victory for the Russian 6-2 6-2. Sharapova will face Richel Hogenkamp for a place in the 3rd round. Also having an easy day at the office was 5-time champion Venus Williams (16) who took out fellow American Madison Brengle 6-0 6-0 in 42 minutes. Also winning without dropping a game was Andrea Petkovic (14) with a 6-0 6-0 routing of another American Shelby Rogers. Williams would take on Yulia Putinseva in the next round. Petkovic will face Mariana Duque-Marino. Ana Ivanovic (7) won comfortably on the day 6-1 6-1 over China’s Yi Xu.

SURPRISES
Several seeded players found themselves in unexpected battles in their opening round matches. This year’s French Open finalist, Lucie Safarova (6) had to play 3 sets to get past American Alison Riske 3-6 7-5 6-3. Riske served for the match up 5-4 in the 2nd set but Safarova broke twice to take the set and push to a decider. In the 3rd set, Riske went up 2-0 but was unable to maintain the momentum. She lost 6 of the next 7 games. Fellow Czech, Karolina Pliskova (11) also had a tough time again an American, Irina Falconi, 6-4 4-6 6-1. Sara Errani (19) had to deal with fellow Italian Francesca Schiavone unrelentingly fighting spirit. Schiavone won 4 straight games in the 2nd set down 3-5 to take it to the 3rd. However, she could not keep up with the will of Errani who won 6-2 5-7 6-1. Belinda Bencic (30) fresh off her first WTA title in Eastbourne had to deal with the dangerous floater that is Tsetvana Pironkova. However, the Swiss player held her nerves to take it in three sets 3-6 6-1 6-3. Perhaps not surprising but more so interesting is the fact that Daniela Hantuchova easily dismissed Dominika Cibulkova  7-5 6-0. Cibulkova recently returned to the game after surgery but it was nonetheless a shocking loss.

UPSETS
Carla Suarez Narravo (9) was the biggest upset of the day as she was completely dismantled by the 2014 Junior Wimbledon Champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. Suarez-Narravo just never looked comfortable in the match as she was outplayed from almost the first ball. The Spaniard had only had 1 winner compared to 30 from Ostapenko and was only able to break once in the entire match. She was only able to win 37% of the points on her 1st serve compared to 91% from the Latvian. Thus this encounter was a quick one as Ostapenko took it 6-2 6-0 in 53 minutes. She will face Kristina Mladenovic who took out Alexandra Dulgheru 6-2 6-1.

Flavia Pennetta (24) was another nearly casualty of the Championships. She spilt the opening sets with Zarina Diyas to force a decider. However, Diyas got out to a 4-0 lead in the 3rd set, a lead to great for Pennetta to recover. The Italian was able to claw her way back into the match and got one of the breaks back for 3-4. Diyas played aggressive on the big points to prevent another break and given Pennetta a real shot of regaining control. Serving for the match up 5-4, Diyas mixed it up, with some very aggressive serving and soon earned 2 match points. Pennetta saved one of the match points. Diyas double faulted on the 2nd one for deuce. Pennetta thought she had a winner for break point but the forehand was wide. She was unable to challenge as there is no players’ review on Court 10. Diyas with a third match point held her nerve and it was Pennetta who faltered as her shot went into the net. Diyas through 6-3 2-6 6-4.

OTHER WINNERS
Several Americans made it through to the 2nd round of Wimbledon: Lauren Davis, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Coco Vandeweghe and Sloane Stephens who upset 27th seed and last year’s quarterfinalist, Barbora Strycova 6-4 6-4. Sam Stosur (22) also made light work of her opponent as she won in straight sets as did Urszula Radwanska and Irina Begu (29). Heather Watson took out Caroline Garcia (32) 1-6 6-3 8-6 over the course of two days. The match was suspended because of poor lighting on the opening day. It concluded on Day 2.

 

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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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