TENNIS – Two of the current big names in women’s tennis were summarily dismissed from these championships. Simona Halep (3) and Genie Bouchard (12) who both got the semifinal and final here last year respectively, faltered badly in their first round matches as they were battling not only inspired opponents but also nagging injuries. Cordell Hackshaw
Jana Cepelova from the beginning looked as though she were certain that she was going to upset Halep. The Romanian just could not sustain much of an advantage in the match particularly after taking the 1st set 7-5. Cepelova continued to be unrelenting in her return of serve and play aggressive in her service games. In the 2nd set, she broke for 5-3 but Halep broke back. Cepelova just stayed focus and broke Halep again to take the set. In the 3rd set, the Slovakian player raced out to a 4-1 lead and though Halep was able to claw her way back into, the Romanian had trouble holding serve. Cepelova broke Halep again for a 5-7 6-4 6-3 win.
“I had a few losses before coming here. My confident wasn’t too high. So I knew that, you know, during the matches it’s difficult because you feel the pressure. If you don’t handle it there very well, you might lose. I knew it would be difficult, but not like today, to be honest … I think emotional. I wasn’t there. I couldn’t handle it very well. She came back in a good way with her game. She was pushing me a lot. She was aggressive. But I can say that I let her come in and play aggressive,” Halep said after the match.
This major upset but no more so than it was to see that last year’s finalist, Bouchard, go out in straight sets to Ying-Ying Duan 7-6 6-4. Bouchard opened the match 2-0 and then it all went downhill for her. She lost the next 4 games and though she leveled the set 4-4, she could not secure the tiebreaker. Duan, playing her first Wimbledon looked the more experienced player on court as she took the breaker and in the crucial 9th game of the 2nd set, she broke Bouchard and served out the match at love 7-6 6-4. Bouchard cited an abdominal tear as the reason for her poor play. She added that she was advised to not play the event but could not resist the opportunity to play Wimbledon with all its prestige and history.
Nonetheless, this loss is merely a continuation of a string of poor performances from Bouchard since the beginning of the year. Since getting to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Bouchard is 4-13 for the rest of the year. She has been unable to string more than two match wins in a row and that has only happened once at Indian Wells. In 7 of the tournaments she has played, she did not win her opening round match including two first round losses at majors. “You know, a couple months ago when I had a loss in Indian Wells or Miami, I didn’t feel like it was the end of the world, but to some people it was. We’re closer to the end of the world now,” Bouchard said.
Petra Kvitova (2) and defending champion was in an absolute impeccable form as she took out Kiki Bertens 6-1 6-0 in just 35 minutes. Kvitova dropped only 1 point on serve, which was a double fault in the final game of the match. Poor Bertens had no answer to the power and precision from Kvitova. Kvitova will play Kurumi Nara in the next round. Angelique Kerber (10) completely destroyed her compatriot Carina Witthoeft 6-0 6-0 in just 45 minutes. Kerber has 21 winners to 5 errors, a rather impressive stat. Things most likely will not be so easy for Kerber in her next round as she faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Carolina Wozniacki (5) had to dig deep early in the 1st set against her opponent Saisai Zheng. Zheng was able to secure the double break in the opening set for 4-1 and despite giving one of the breaks back soon after, she served for the set up 5-4. However, she was unable to close out the set then and this allowed Wozniacki to assert herself in the match. Wozniacki went on a huge run winning 9 straight games for a 7-5 6-0.
Garbine Muguruza (20) took out American Varvara Lepchenko 6-4 6-1 to also move through to the 2nd round. 2012 Wimbledon finalist Aga Radwanska (13) got by the tricky opponent of Lucie Hradecka 6-3 6-2. Radwanska is looking to round into form at this tournament having had a dismal year. She recently got to the final of Eastbourne but lost to Belinda Bencic. Camila Giorgi (31) beat T Pereira 7-6 6-3. It was a tough opening set as she was down 1-4 in the earlier parts of the set. However, Giorgi played like the experienced player she is to secure the win. Ekaterina Makarova (8) is continuing to show signs of major success as she has made it to the 2nd week of the last 4 majors. She took out American Sachia Vickery 6-2 6-4.
Former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic (28) had a marathon match against Elena Vesnina. Vesnina served for the match up 7-6 in the 3rd but Jankovic broke to level it 7-7. In the 18th game of the set, Vesnina made a couple of errors which handed the match to Jankovic 6-4 3-6 10-8. Jankovic is looking to make the 2nd week at these championships for the first time in her career. French Open quarterfinalist, Elina Svitolina (17) had to win in 3 sets also to get by Misaki Doi 3-6 6-3 6-2 as did Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova over Mona Barthel 6-7 7-6 6-2. Local favourite, Laura Robson, was unable to keep hope alive for the home crowd as she lost 4-6 4-6 to Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (26) had a comfortable win over Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-4. French Open semifinalist, Timea Bacsinszky (15) got passed Julia Georges in straight sets 6-2 7-5 as did Sabine Lisicki (18) who beat Jarmila Gajdosova 7-5 6-4. American Christina McHale won in straight sets but it was not so simple for Mirijana Lucic-Baroni and Monica Niculescu who both won in three sets. They both beat formidable opponents; Lucic-Baroni took out Yaroslava Shvedova who made the 4th round here back in 2012 and Niculescu knocked out Monica Puig.
Iga Swiatek double bagels Karolina Pliskova to win Rome
Iga Swiatek dominated Karolina Pliskova for 46 minutes to win the Rome title.
Iga Swiatek is the 2021 BNL D’Italia Open champion after beating Karolina Pliskova, the number ninth seed, in 46 minutes. The Pole thrashed her opponent 6-0, 6-0 with the help of 17 winners as she lost only 13 points the entire match.
“I’m really happy, I’m kinda overwhelmed because at the beginning of this tournament I wouldn’t even dream of winning and it was super tough, we have to fight and obviously Karolina (Pliskova) had a great run here,” said Swiatek.
The number 15 seed got off to the best possible start having no issues in her opening service game and in the following game it was visible her Czech opponent was having issues with her serve.
Pliskova would serve a double fault to give the first breakpoint of the match and the Pole took to take an early 2-0 lead and from there it was one way traffic.
The number nine once again would double fault to gift another breakpoint at 3-0 and the 19 year old pounced with her powerful forehand to go up a double break and would break one more time to seal the first set in 19 minutes.
Fans at the Foro Italico were expecting a response in the second set from Pliskova but it was utter dominance from the Pole and again the number nine seed again struggled with her serve double faulting on breakpoint at 1-0 to once again give the early break.
There was a mini fight back from the Czech at 2-0 when she managed to earn two breakpoints to try and get back in the match but the number 15 seed would save both and hold serve.
The next game she continued to attack and play her aggressive game style earning two more breakpoints and breaking one more time to take a 4-0 lead and you could sense this match was going to be over very quickly.
Swiatek would seal the win with another one of her trademark forehand winners to take the match and the title which will boost her on Monday to number nine in the world and her first appearance in the top 10.
After the match Pliskova admitted today was not her day, “You have days like this in where things are not going your way,” Pliskova said in her trophy ceremony speech.
“That was the day today I still tried but it was not working for me. I will just quickly forget about today. I had some great matches here. Final is always a great week, great tournament.”
Both players will now head to Roland Garros with Swiatek looking to successfully defend her title.
Iga Swiatek Completes Double Duty To Reach Rome Final
Iga Swiatek has set up a final showdown with Karolina Pliskova in Rome.
Iga Swiatek reached her first Rome final with a 7-6(3) 6-3 win over Coco Gauff.
The Pole made her first WTA1000 final after completing her second win of the day in convincing fashion.
Swiatek will now play Karolina Pliskova in tomorrow’s final after she beat Petra Martic in the first semi-final.
The first set set the standard for the match with ridiculous shot-making from the off as both players settled into the match quickly.
It was Swiatek though who grabbed the first break of the match as she forced some unforced errors out of the young American.
Gauff’s hard hitting and athleticism meant that she was far from out of the match as she managed to hit several winners and punch holes through the Pole’s game.
Eventually the 17 year-old managed to break back as the Roland Garros champion’s power had decreased and more unforced errors crept into her game.
However in the first set the Pole won five of her six service games when she was down in the game and that mental advantage in pressure points was crucial as she ensured that the first set was heading towards a tiebreak.
More solid play from the Pole and better tactical play ensured that Gauff hit a flurry of unforced errors and Swiatek won seven of the ten points available to take the opening set in 1 hour.
In the second set, Swiatek’s confidence was on full show with an improvised forward tweener and efficient serves put the American under really pressure.
Inevitably the pressure told as a double fault handed the world number 15 the crucial break for a 3-1 lead.
If that was impressive then, the hold after was even more impressive as the Pole withstood some ferocious firepower especially from the backhand side to save two break points and consolidate the break.
Swiatek produced another break as her all-round consistency was too solid for Gauff’s power and ferociousness in the fore court.
The Pole produced some late jitters as Gauff did well to apply pressure on the Roland Garros champion, a double fault while serving for the match handed the American a lifeline.
However it was only a lifeline as Swiatek completed victory to move into her first WTA 1000 final.
It was a confident performance as she moves into the final in what is ideal preparation for her Roland Garros title defence.
She will now play Karolina Pliskova in tomorrow’s final after the Czech Republican reached her third consecutive Rome final with a 6-1 2-6 6-3 win over Petra Martic.
Iga Swiatek upsets Svitolina to reach semis in Rome
Iga Swiatek beat Elina Svitolina to rack up her first top 10 win of the season to reach the Rome semi-finals.
The Polish teenager upset the number five seed in straight sets to reach the final four in Rome.
Iga Swiatek continues to rack up the wins against the top 10 players in the world, this time against the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina beating her 6-2, 7-5 to reach the semifinals of the BNL D’Italia Open in Rome.
She got off to the best possible start using her speed and aggressive groundstrokes to hold her opening service game and the very next game went on the attack earning two breakpoints with a sublime forehand return winner.
The number five would save both before succumbing to a third when the number 15 seed pulled out a powerful forehand winner to take an early 2-0 lead.
The Odessa, Ukraine native had a chance to get back in the set earning her first breakpoint of the match at 3-1 but again it was the 19 year old would come up with the goods to save it.
When serving to stay in the first set at 5-2 the number 15 seed continued to pressure the Ukrainian serve and earned three sets points which she would convert on to take the first set.
It was the number five seed who would earn the first chance to break in the second set with a forehand winner of her very own but again was denied by the Polish teenager.
The Ukrainian would finally get the breakthrough to take a 2-1 lead but Swiatek would respond the very next game breaking right back using her backhand this time.
After holding serve the Pole had a chance to take the lead once again and the number five seed would double fault twice in a row to once again get broken and trail 4-2.
Just like earlier in the set the Ukrainian would bounce back the very next game breaking right back and it would stay on serve until 6-5 with the number five seed serving to stay in the match.
The Pole would earn two match points and convert on her first chance to take the set and the match setting up a semifinal later today against Coco Gauff who was able to finish her match yesterday.
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