Day 5 Wimbledon 2015: Serena survives a thriller to face her sister Venus - UBITENNIS
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Day 5 Wimbledon 2015: Serena survives a thriller to face her sister Venus

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TENNIS – Day 4 ladies action was going along quite placidly until the match up of Serena Williams v Heather Watson. Watson came within two points of scoring this major upset but alas the 20-major champion Williams hung tough for the win Cordell Hackshaw

 

Serena Williams (1) found herself in an unexpected battle against British hopeful Heather Watson on Centre Court. It goes without saying that Williams was the clear favourite. However, after the American took the opening set 6-2 in 25 minutes. However, in the 2nd set, things got complicated. Watson spurred on by the clearly partisan crowd, broke Williams for a 3-2 lead. Williams broke back and was up 4-3. One figured that Williams would take control of the match but it was Watson who went into the ascendancy. She broke Williams for 5-4 and served it out to level the match at a set apiece.

The crowd was rabid. They were fervently cheering on their countrywoman. Watson fed off this charge and spurred herself on into the the 3rd set as Williams became noticeably rattled by the fever pitch. Williams was erratic and soon found herself down 0-3, a double break. Williams put her head down and reeled off 4 straight games for a 4-3 lead. However, serving to extend this lead at 4-4, she was broken at love. Watson served for the match up 5-4 and the crowd was delirious. Serena looked to be on her way out and her hopes of a “Serena Slam” and the “Grand Slam” were in serious jeopardy.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played the crowd here like that. They were really vocal – in between points, during points… I’ve never heard boos here, that was new for me. They were rooting for their champion. You can’t blame them – I would be too,” said Serena.

As Watson served for the match, Serena quickly asserted herself to get two break points to level it. The crowd became utterly unstoppable, calling out during points and at one point booing Serena, a 10-time champion here. It was distasteful. Serena held it together to level the match 5-5. Watson missed her opportunity as she came within 2 points of winning the match at deuce. Serena sensing the hesitation and the need for her own urgency, broke Watson and held comfortable for 6-5.

Now the pressure was all on Watson’s shoulder to serve to stay in the match. The Briton could not withstand the moment as Serena soon broke her to take the match 6-2 4-6 7-5 in 2 hours and 14 minutes. Watson said this of the match, “I was two points away so I’m pretty disappointed. Even now I just wish I could go back and play one point different to see if it would have changed things. It was a tough, tough ask. I was super, super close. That’s what hurts the most.”

“I honestly didn’t think I was going to win … How I pulled through I really don’t know. I was thinking I would be hanging around to watch Venus play. I couldn’t keep up with her. I thought maybe it just wasn’t my day. I should have won the second set and I didn’t. This was a match I think I would have lost last year or the year before. Mentally I’m stronger now. The older I get, the tougher I get upstairs,” said Serena after the match.

Serena will play her older sister Venus Williams (16) in the Round of 16 on Monday. Venus took out Aleksandra Krunic 6-3 6-2 in an hour and 11 minutes. Venus is looking to be in impeccable form. Her serve in particularly which has recently been a liability is now a valued asset. Venus is winning 85% of the points on her 1st serve and 73%  behind her 2nd serve. These are amazing numbers which would definitely bode well for her against Serena.

Maria Sharapova (4) and Victoria Azarenka (23) both were tested in their matches but got through in straight sets. Sharapova was broken by Carmila Begu (29) in the opening game of the match. However, Sharapova broke back and ran away with the match up 6-4 5-0 before Begu was able to break her again. However, Sharapova closed out the match 6-4 6-3. Azarenka had to contend with Kristina Mladenovic. Mladenovic was able to break Azarenka but she could not get a significant lead. Azarenka remained dogged in her pursuit to get back to major form. She took out the Frenchwoman 6-4 6-4.

There were several interesting matches on the day. American Coco Vandeweghe found herself down 0-2 at the start of her match against Australian Sam Stosur (22). Vandeweghe then reeled off 12 straight games to take it 6-2 6-0. Stosur capitulated inexplicably but then again, this has come to be her norm at Wimbledon. Bethanie Mattek-Sands looked to be in full control of her match verses Belinda Bencic (30) up 5-1 in the opening set. However, Bencic called for the trainer and upon resumption of play, took the next 6 games to take the set 7-5. In the 2nd set, Bencic got another crucial break for 6-5 and served out the match 7-5 7-5.

Sloane Stephens started off her match against Lucie Safarova (6) in good form. She was up 6-3 and had break points in the opening game of the 2nd set. Stephens failed to convert any of those break points and that allowed Safarova the leverage she needed to take over the match. Stephens never looked the same thereafter. Safarova broke Stephens and raced to a 4-1 lead to later take the 2nd set 6-3. Stephens just lost her way in the match as she only won a single game in the decisive set. Safarova through to the Round of 16 3-6 6-3 6-1.

In the other ladies’ match of the day, Zarina Diyas upset another seeded player at this tournament. She took out Flavia Pennetta (24) in the opening round and not has knocked out Andrea Petkovic (14) in the 3rd round 7-5 6-4. Diyas was leading 4-1 in the 2nd set, double break in hand when Petkovic broke down in tears. However, the tears helped as Petkovic was able to level to get one of the breaks back and saved two match points. Diyas sensing the door of opportunity for her to win this match might be closing, quickly closed out the match 7-5 6-4. This is the 2nd year in a row that Diyas has made it to the Round of 16 at Wimbledon. Unfortunately, she will face Sharapova as she did at the Australian Open.

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Samsonova Battles Past Bencic To Win Maiden Title In Berlin, Gets Wimbledon Wild Card

The Russian qualifier has stunned the tournament with a run that also seen her defeat Madison Keys and Victoria Azarenka.

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image via https://twitter.com/bett1open

Liudmila Samsonova is the 2021 Bett1 Open champion after pulling off another upset by beating number five seed Belinda Bencic 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 in front of a capacity crowd on Steffi Graff Stadion under hot and humid conditions.

 

The 22-year-old underdog caps off what has been a fairytale run in Germany for the qualifier. Prior to the tournament Samsonova had never beaten a top 20 player in her career or reached a Tour final. Against Bencic she hit 28 winners to 15 unforced errors and won 66% of her service points.

” I was so nervous today even before the match and during the first set so after the first set I took a toilet break and told myself to play a more aggressive game and it worked,” Samsonova said following her triumph.

It was world No.12 Bencic who got off to a fast start by holding serve comfortably and than the following game setting up the first break chance with a return forehand winner before the Russian would double fault twice in a row to give the early break. At 3-0 the Swiss found herself again at double breakpoint and managed to seal the it en route to taking the first set in just 28 minutes.

However, the second set was the total opposite with underdog Samsonova holding serve and breaking the very next game with a powerful forehand winner. Like Bencic in the first set, she turned her lead into a double break and served out the second set.

The Russian carried the momentum into the third and deciding set earning a chance to break in the first game and the world No.12 would double fault to give the break. At 4-2 the world No.106 had a chance to go up a double break but Bencic managed to save it and hold serve before going on the offensive. The Swiss had two chances of her own to go back on serve but the Russian saved all three breakpoints she faced.

At 5-3 the Samsonova had two chances to seal the match and the title on her opponents serve. Bencic saved the first one but the world number 106 would seal the win on the second.

In her post match press conference Samsonova explained how once she levelled the match was able to close it out.

” I was trying to keep my game going and try to be aggressive on my first shot and my serve and on the return and that is what I was focusing on”.

The young Russian now has her sights sets on Wimbledon as she awarded a main draw wild card after the match.

“They just told me that I’m going to have the wildcard for the main draw, so I’m so happy,” she said.

Samsonova is the 10th first-time WTA champion this season.

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Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka To Team Up For Olympic Bid

The two players say their main focus is on playing singles but a ‘great opportunity’ has presented itself.

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The two highest ranked WTA players from Belarus are being considered as strong contenders to win an Olympic medal later this year after they recently confirmed plans to join forces.

 

Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka are set to play in the women’s doubles tournament despite only playing together five times before on the WTA Tour. The duo has illustrated their potential at the Bett1 Open in Berlin, where they clinched the title on Sunday. In the final the pair upset top seeds Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs 4-6, 7-5, 10-7, to claim their first ever trophy together.

We both brought a different level, mindset than a few years ago. It was important to play together to feel each other’s game, see what we can try, apply what works, what we can work on. Our priority is singles but it’s a great opportunity at the Olympics to team up,” WTA Insider quoted Azarenka as saying following the final on Sunday.

Whilst they are both best known for their singles game, they have also had previous success in the doubles. Sabalenka won the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open alongside Elise Mertens, as well as three Premier titles.

“We’ll play at the Olympics. To win a title, it gives us a lot of confidence and we feel each other better and players will know that we are playing good with each other and it’s more confidence for us and more pressure for other players,” the world No.4 commented.

Azarenka has already enjoyed success at the Olympics in her career. In 2012 she defeated Russia’s Maria Kirilenko in straight sets to win a bronze medal. During the same year she won gold in the mixed doubles alongside Max Mirnyi. Making her the only Belarusian tennis player in history to have won multiple Olympic medals.

This year’s Tokyo Olympic tennis tournament will be held at the Ariake Tennis Park and will get underway on July 24th.

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Victoria Azarenka Survives Three-Set Battle With Pegula In Berlin

Azarenka is one of two seeded players left in the draw along with Belinda Bencic.

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Victoria Azarenka is into the semifinals of the Bett1 Open after outlasting America’s Jessica Pegula 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

 

The two-time Australian Open champion won 70% of her first service points and broke Pegula six times en route to the victory. It is only the second time Azarenka has reached the last four of a WTA tournament this season after the Doha Open back in March. This week she is bidding to reach her first Tour final on the grass since 2010 and win her first title on the surface at the age of 31.

“I’m really happy that I made it out, I played really well at the beginning of the match,” said Azarenka. “In the second set she played some good shots and I felt like I slowed down but I was glad I was able to turn it around”.

The number seven seed got off to a great start earning three chances to break in the opening game of the match and getting the early break. At 4-2 she earned the double break when the American produced a poor service game and double faulted on breakpoint. Enabling Azarenka to take the opener in just 26 minutes.

The beginning of the second set was identical to the first with the world No.16 earning three more breakpoints and breaking to take an early lead. However, Pegula fought back to earn three chances to break but Azarenka saved all three and held serve. The set stayed on serve until 4-3 when the American had another chance to break. This time a poor service game from the Belorussian gave up the break of serve.

At 6-5 with Azarenka serving to stay in the middle set Pegula found herself at set point and clinched the set after the world number 16 hit another unforced error.

Into the decider and again just like the first two sets it was the 31 year old who broke in the opening service game of the set but the world number 26 responded by breaking right back the very next game and the next two games followed suit with two breaks of serve.

At 3-3 the Azarenka had three more breakpoints and got the break once again but this time the break was enough for her to serve out the match. After the match Azarenka spoke about losing the momentum in the second set and how she was able to get it back and push through.

” I paid too much attention on the things that I didn’t take opportunities and matches on grass can go fast with one or two breaks and it’s more difficult and hopefully I can stop putting myself into too much trouble”. She said.

Azarenka will next face Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova who stunned Madison Keys in three sets – 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.

Elsewhere, Alize Cornet also continued her amazing run by beating the number six seed Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, and Belinda Bencic booked her spot in the final four beating another Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.

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