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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Victoria Azarenka Cruises Past Svitolina To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

The former champion produced a ruthless display to book her place in the last 16.

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Victoria Azarenka (Photo by Darren Carroll/USTA)

Victoria Azarenka is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 15th seed Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-2 in 67 minutes.

Facing a top 20 player at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2016, the world No.25 hit 17 winners and four aces in the win. Azarenka, who is one of only eight active players to have won more than 100 Grand Slam main draw matches, improving her record against Ukrainian players to 16-1.

 

“I thought I was really well-executing my game plan. I wanted to put as much pressure as I could on her and kind of not let her come into the match,” said Azarenka. “She’s an amazing fighter. I know if I give her a little room, she’s going to get back out there. That was my purpose today, and I think I executed that well.”

It was the number 24 seed with the better start to the match and ashe played aggressively from the word go. Earning three chances to break in the very first game and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. After consolidating the break, Azarenka was hungry for more and she got another chance to go up a double break and broke once again with a stunning forehand winner.

at 4-0, the Belorussian continued to dominate and broke Svitolina’s serve once more this time with a backhand winner down the line before serving out the first set to take it 6-0 in 25 minutes flat.

The first game of the second set was a carbon copy of the opening of the first set with Azarenka breaking once again to take a 1-0 lead and it stayed on serve until 4-2 when the number 24 seed went up a double break to lead 5-2.

The last game was a long affair with the Ukrainian starting to find her game and it went back and forth with the Belorussian looking to seal the win while Svitolina pushed back to stay alive.

It took six match points and saving three break points before Azarenka was able to serve it out and take the win. She will now face Barbora Krejickova who defeated Jelena Ostapenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“The rise of Barbora has been pretty incredible over the last year and a half, basically since COVID. She seems to kind of elevate her game more and more. She has all the good tools to play,” the two-time champion said of her next oponent.
She can play aggressive, she can mix it up. A very dangerous player. We played once in Ostrava. It was pretty tight match and really good quality.” She added.

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Naomi Osaka Overcomes Second Set Scare To Reach Last 32 At Australian Open

Naomi Osaka is into the last 32 of the Australian Open where Amanda Anisimova awaits.

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Naomi Osaka (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Two-time champion Naomi Osaka overcame a second set scare to defeat Madison Brengle 6-0 6-4 to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

 

Osaka overcame a second set scare as she produced another dominant display of power to reach the last 32 against the unconventional American.

The world number 14 is looking for her fourth grand slam title in Melbourne.

Next for Osaka is Amanda Anisimova who beat a physically compromised Belinda Bencic 6-2 7-5.

It was a lightening quick start from Osaka who took the opening set in 20 minutes.

A display of power, accuracy and pace saw Brengle struggling to gain points on her service games.

The American isn’t a player who is going to hit you off the court and her shots were way too conservative against a player like Osaka who hits the ball so cleanly from the baseline.

https://twitter.com/andy_murray/status/1483721476461240322

Brengle came close but no reward as Osaka reeled off seven games in a row to take a 6-0 1-0 lead.

However Brengle eventually settled into her rhythm and to her obvious delight was ecstatic to win her first game of the match.

This relaxation allowed her to play with complete freedom as she started to use a lot of depth, angles and topspin to disrupt Osaka’s rhythm, who’s level dropped slightly.

Brengle created nine break points which Osaka saved with aggression and precison but on the tenth one, the American eventually broke to go a break up in the second set.

The American’s smile said it all as she was now in command of the second set but that didn’t last long.

That’s as Osaka used her champion’s skills to grind the break back and then went on a run of eight consecutive points to seal victory and a spot in the third round.

After the match Osaka spoke about her return game and the prospects of facing Amanda Anisimova in the next round, “I honestly want to say I returned pretty well,” Osaka admitted in her on-court interview.

“Been really working on it in the off-season. I’m trying not to [rate my level] if I compare myself to the past I will never be satisfied. I’m trying to take it one day at a time.

“I think we’re both going to take our chances. It’s very interesting to play against the younger players because I remember being a younger player myself and having nothing to lose.”

Friday’s meeting between the two players will be the first time they have faced each other.

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Aryna Sabalenka Survives Sanders Scare At Australian Open

The Belarussian was made to work hard during her opening match at Melbourne Park.

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Aryna Sabalenka (Darren Carroll/USTA)

World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka came back from the brink of defeat to seal her spot in the second round of the Australian Open.

 

The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist struggled with her consistency throughout her 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, win over wild card Storm Saunders, who is yet to win a Grand Slam main draw match in her career. At one stage Sabalenka looked to be on the verge of suffering a third consecutive Tour defeat after trailing by a set and a break to the underdog before staging an emphatic fight back. Doing so with the help of her rival who started to unravel as the match progressed.

“She played well, she’s a tough opponent and I’m happy I won today,” Sabalenka said of Sanders during her on-court interview.

Sabalenka’s roller-coaster victory is best illustrated by the match statistics. Dealing with inconsistencies in her serve, she produced a total of 12 double faults and won 43% of her second service points. Furthermore, she hit a total of 29 winners against 37 unforced errors en route to the victory.

Playing a top 10 player for only the second time in her career, 27-year-old Sanders started the match in clinical fashion as she produced a level of tennis which exceeded that of her current ranking. Three consecutive times she managed to dismantle the Sabalenka serve to open up a swift 4-1 lead. However, the second seed briefly managed to find her footing in the match to claw her way back and level the set at 5-5. Not to be disheartened, Sanders continued pressing her opponent who faltered at the worst possible moment. Granting the underdog another break before she closed out the set.

On the verge of suffering an upset, Sabalenka’s woes continued in the second set when she got broken once again three games in. Trailing 5-7, 1-3, she managed to turn her fortunes around with the help of a six-game winning streak. Exposing the inexperienced her opponent has of playing on the biggest stages of the game. Serving to level up, she triumphed on her third set point with the help of a serve down the center of the court which Sanders returned out.

Into her stride, Sabalenka charged towards the finish line by winning a further four games in the decider before Sanders managed to register another game of her own. Serving for the win, a blistering serve down the center of the court secured the victory.

“I was already (mentally) in the locker room. Maybe that was the key because I stopped thinking too much and started playing tennis. I tried to put the ball (on the court) as much as I could and I think I did it well. That’s why I came back (in the match),” Sabalenka commented on how she turned the match around.
“Now I will recover and then tomorrow I will speak with my team about my next opponent.”

Sabalenka will play China’s Wang Xinyu in the next round. She could claim the world No.1 ranking in Melbourne if one of two scenarios occur over the coming days. She reaches the final and Ash Barty loses before the quarter-finals or Barty reaches the Quarter-finals and Sabalenka goes on to win the title.

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