Petra Cetkovska: From Injury agony to Grand Slam triumph - UBITENNIS
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Petra Cetkovska: From Injury agony to Grand Slam triumph

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Petra Cetkovska (image via Sky Sports)

During day four of the US Open, Czech Republic’s Petra Cetkovska produced the biggest upset in the women’s draw as she stunned 2014 runner-up Caroline Wozniacki in the second round. Facing a player ranked 144 places above her, Cetkovska endured three hours and five minutes on the court in the humid weather to eventually clinch the 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (1), win. The victory was a massive achievement for the Czech considering 12 months ago, she was facing the daunting prospect of back surgery.

 

Cetkovska’s career has been plagued by injuries. After achieving a career ranking high of 25 in June 2012, She missed the first three months of 2013 due to a stress foot fracture followed by a hip injury which sidelined her from the 2014 Australian Open. Unfortunately, her injury woes continued. During July she said that she was unable to walk following an ITF tournament in July. Then a few months later following her second round exit to Petra Kvitova at the US Open in 2014, Cetkovska underwent a MRI on her back. The scan revealed that she had a tear in her labrum as well as a hip issue.

“It started to be really painful, so I got an MRI back here (in New York). They said there is a tear in the labrum and something else on the other side of the hip with the bone”. She recounted following her match.

“So I came back and I asked some very good doctors about what do they think about it. They both agreed this is worth the operation. With the exercises, it’s a 50% chance it might heal. I decided to do the operation. It was at the end of September. Then I was one month on crutches and I could start to run slowly after three months”.

Due to the procedure, Cetkovska missed the first three months of the 2015 season. Her return to the tour was a painful experience with three successive first round exits before her first match win at an ITF $50,000 event in Surbiton, Great Britain. As the season progressed, so did her results. After successfully qualifying for the main draw at Wimbledon (losing to Timea Babos in round 1), she reached back-to-back finals on the ITF Circuit. In August she won her first title of the year at a $75,000 event in Poland, beating Jeļena Ostapenko in the final round.

Due to her troublesome 12 months, it is understandable why the Czech is delighted with her victory. The win over Wozniacki is without a doubt a happy ending to Cetkovska’s turbulent year-long struggle.

In her first Grand Slam third round since 2013, the 30-year-old will play 28th seed Flavia Pennetta. Cetkovska has played her twice before (2009 and 2012) and is yet to beat her.

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Australian Open Day 8 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

The second week begins with eight stellar fourth matchups.

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The eight women that play in singles today possess eight distinctly different styles and personalities, making for some intriguing clashes. On the men’s side, all eight players are inside the top 20 on the live rankings, creating some marquee matchups. But the most talked-about match of the day is certainly Nadal/Kyrgios.

 

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Nick Kyrgios (23)

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These two men were playing nice when speaking to the press on Saturday, but make no mistake: they do not get along. Kyrgios’ coming out party occurred at the expense of Nadal at the 2014 Wimbledon, when the then-wild card upset Rafa in the fourth round on Centre Court. More recently, they split two meetings in 2019. After Kyrgios defeated Nadal in Acapulco last year, Rafa presented Nick with a less-than-thrilled handshake. A few months later on the “No Challenges Remaining” podcast, Kyrgios described Nadal as acting “salty” whenever Nick defeats him. Rafa, like many, respects Nick’s talent, though not all his on-court antics, or the all-too-common lack of effort. Kyrgios certainly gave full effort on Saturday, in his fifth-set tiebreak win over Karen Khachanov. But what will Nick have left after the longest match of his career? He spent a total of nine-and-a-half hours on court in the first week, compared to just five-and-a-half for Nadal, who has steamrolled the competition without the loss of a set. If Nick were 100%, I’d give him a considerable shot at winning in front of a raucous Australian crowd. But a depleted Kyrgios won’t have much chance of keep up with the 19-time Major champion.

Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. Stan Wawrinka (15)

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When these two met four months ago in the US Open quarterfinals, Wawrinka had no answers for Medvedev’s unique style of play. Stan’s offense was muffled by Daniil’s movement and variety on that day. Their only other encounter was at Wimbledon in 2017, when Medvedev upset an injured Wawrinka in Stan’s last match before undergoing knee surgery. The 23-year-old Russian has certainly been the better player over the last six months. Daniil has a lot of confidence coming off his run of six straight hard courts finals last season. Wawrinka has struggled at tour events of late, while at the Majors he’s shown he still has some magic left in him. The US Open was his second Slam quarterfinal of 2019. He reached the same round at the French Open, thanks to his epic, five-hour victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas. And despite playing nine sets in his first two rounds, he should be relatively fresh after receiving a second-set retirement from John Isner on Saturday. That was certainly welcome after Wawrinka revealed he was battling illness earlier in the week, and even vomited multiple times during his five-setter against Andreas Seppi. I expect Stan to arrive on court with some better tactics this time out, but still give Medvedev the slight edge in what could easily become an extended affair.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Elise Mertens (16)

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Halep leads their head-to-head 2-1, though Mertens prevailed when they last played a year ago in Doha. That was on Elise’s way to her first WTA Premier title. Mertens’ best results in her career have been on hard courts. She was a quarterfinalist in New York last year, and a semifinalist here two years ago. Other than a tiebreak set she lost to Cici Bellis in the last round, she was dominant in week one, losing only six games in her other six sets. Simona has also looked sharp thus far, having yet to drop a set. The slower conditions this year in Australia should favor the defense and movement of Halep. I suspect this will be a tight matchup, but favor Halep to advance.

Dominic Thiem (5) vs. Gael Monfils (10)

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This is a fourth round battle between two top 10 players, and two of the sport’s most impressive athletes. But they have a rather unique and one-sided history. Thiem is 5-0 against Monfils, having taken 11 of 13 sets played. They were due to meet on three other occasions, but withdrawals by both players prevented those matches from happening. Monfils had less troubling advancing to this stage than Thiem, who played a total of nine sets in his last two matches. In both those rounds, Thiem held significant leads, but let his opponent back into the match. Neither Thiem nor Monfils has historically been a strong performer at this Major, though Dominic is much-improved on hard courts since 2018. And with such a lopsided head-to-head, Thiem should possess the necessary confidence and fire power to reach his first Australian Open quarterfinal.

Sascha Zverev (7) vs. Andrey Rublev (17)

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Rublev has been on fire since the Davis Cup last November, and is currently on a 15-match winning streak. Meanwhile Zverev has not been at his best, suffering with service issues and battling off-court distractions. 2019 was not his best year, but it also wasn’t all that ugly. Zverev still managed to qualify for the ATP Finals despite struggles both on and off the court. But Sascha should be feeling good about his tennis coming off week one, where he didn’t drop a set through three rounds. And he owns a 3-0 record against Rublev, who has never taken a set off him. While Andrey may be a bit worn down from playing so much tennis this month, he just has so much more momentum than Zverev. And the 22-year-old Russian will be the first real test for Zverev in this tournament, so we’ll see how the German’s serve holds up under pressure. I foresee Rublev’s groundstrokes proving too much for Zverev, leading Andrey to his second Major quarterfinal.

Other notable matches on Day 8:

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  • 2016 champion Angelique Kerber (17) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (30). The 28-year-old Russian has a slight 7-6 edge in their head-to-head, and claimed their most recent encounter last September. Pavlyuchenkova is 5-1 in the fourth round at Majors, having not lost at this stage in 10 years.
  • Kiki Bertens (9) vs. Garbine Muguruza. Reuniting with Conchita Martinez has already paid dividends for Muguruza, who just destroyed Elina Svitolina on Saturday, hitting 31 winners and only 9 unforced errors. Garbine is 2-0 against Kiki in both of their recent hard court meetings, and Bertens had a losing record in Melbourne prior to this fortnight.
  • Anett Kontaveit (28) vs. 18-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland. Kontaveit dominated Belinda Benic two days ago, losing only one game in a 49-minute match. Swiatek is one of the WTA’s most talented and fastest-rising stars, set to debut inside the top 50 next week. Kontaveit won their only previous encounter last summer in Cincinnati.

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John McEnroe Lashes Out At ‘Offensive And Homophobic’ Margaret Court

The seven-time grand slam champion didn’t hold back in his criticism of the controversial tennis great.

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Tennis legend John McEnroe has blasted Margaret Court for her controversial views in a three-minute monologue broadcasted on Eurosport.

 

The former world No.1 has called out the ex-Australian player for her comments about the LGBT community and questioned her stance on racial equality. In the past Court, who is now a Christian pastor, has been condemned for her controversial views. She once said that the women’s tour was ‘full of lesbians‘ and during her playing career described rival Martina Navratilova as a ‘bad role model’ due to her sexuality. In other incidents she also boycotted Qantas airlines due to their support of marriage equality and publicly criticised former player Casey Dellacqua for having a baby with her same-sex partner.

Speaking out about the 77-year-old, McEnroe launched an attack on her behaviour during his Commissioner of Tennis programme. Branding her both as both offensive and homophobic.

“There’s only one thing longer than the list of Margaret Court’s tennis achievements: it’s her list of offensive and homophobic statements,” McEnroe said on Eurosport.
“Just a few examples. During the apartheid regime in South Africa, she said: ‘I love South Africa. They have the racial situation better organized than anyone else’. What?
“About transgender children and LGBTIQ: ‘It’s all the work of the devil… tennis is full of lesbians… it is sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality’.

Continuing his outburst, the American urged Serena Williams to match and break Court’s all-time record of most grand slam titles. The world No.10 currently has 23 to her name, which is one behind her. Williams lost in the third round of the Australian Open this year.

“Serena, do me a favour: get two more Grand Slams this year and get to 25, so we can leave Margaret Court and her offensive views in the past, where they both belong.” He said.

The timing of the comments are by no means a coincidence. This year the Australian Open is marking the 50th anniversary of Court’s calendar grand slam. Something that has caused a widespread debate in the tennis community.

In a bid to resolve the argument, Tennis Australia has stated that they are celebrating Court’s achievements and not her. They previously stated in a press release that her views do not reflect theirs. However, the move has been criticised by McEnroe.

“It doesn’t work that way. You can’t separate the person from her achievements.” He argues.
“Look at me! If you recognize the fact that I won seven grand slams, guess what?: Then you got to celebrate that fact that I got the loudest mouth in the history of the tennis tour.”

The Australian Open will officially mark the 50th anniversary of Court’s achievements on Monday at Melbourne Park. At the venue, the second biggest stadium is named in her honour.

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Roger Federer Overcomes Fucsovics To Reach 57th Grand Slam Quarter-Final

Roger Federer came back from a set down to defeat Marton Fucsovics and reach his 57th grand slam quarter-final.

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Roger Federer (@atptour - Twitter)

Roger Federer reached his 57th grand slam quarter-final with a 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory over Marton Fucsovics. 

 

The Swiss maestro overcame tough conditions and a rusty opening set to reach the Australian Open last eight with a four set victory.

It now means Federer will play his 15th Australian Open quarter-final and his 57th grand slam last eight when he plays world number 100 Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday.

After an epic match with John Millman a couple of days ago, Federer was hoping that victory would give him confidence against an in-form Marton Fucsovics.

There were some confident moments to start the match as Federer struck the ball cleanly off both wings as he looked for a fast start.

But Fucsovics was also hitting the ball well, creating wide angles to make life difficult for the 20-time grand slam champion.

Eventually it was the Swiss maestro who would blink first as a poor game full of unforced errors and poor decision-making handed the early break to the Hungarian.

Fucsovics kept his cool and continued to play with bold as well as brave tennis to hold his nerve and seal the opening set in 37 minutes.

However the first set was the only set where Fucsovics played anywhere near his best tennis as Federer stepped up a gear for the rest of the match.

Using good variety, Federer settled into a rythym as the winners flowed from his racket as the Hungarian started to fade especially on serve.

Two breaks of serve was needed in the second set as he blasted his way to the second set, 6-1.

Another masterclass was handed out in the third set although not without struggled as Fucsovics capitalised on Federer inconsistency to break late in the set.

Although by that point Fucsovics was two breaks down when he broke and Federer broke him back anyway as he shortened the points up at the net as the 3rd seed took a two sets to one lead.

In a match lacking in quality, it was Federer who proved to be the more ruthless and clinical player as he took advantage of a lethargic Fucsovics.

Another two breaks of serve sealed a spot in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for a 15th time in his career. Next up will be world number 100 Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday.

After the match, Federer admitted the conditions were tough to play in, “Was a tough start,” Federer said in his post-match interview.

“I thought that Marton played clean. It was the rest of the Millman match, he gave me a beatdown from the baseline, so maybe took my confidence away a little bit, and it just took some time.

It’s really slow in the night time especially when it’s cool like this. I had to figure it out, finally found a way at the start of the second set and from there, things got a little bit easier.”

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