Tough wins for Azarenka and Errani early on Day 4 - UBITENNIS
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Tough wins for Azarenka and Errani early on Day 4

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US Open – Two-time US Open finalist (2012-2013) Victoria Azarenka (20) and 2012 semifinalist Sara Errani (16) both had to dig deep to get passed their 2nd round opponents as they were both facing upsets. Azarenka was able to get the job done in straight sets 7-5 6-4 against Yanina Wickmayer and Errani battled hard to escape the clutches of qualifier Jelena Ostapenko 0-6 6-4 6-3.

 

Azarenka was under pressure from the beginning of the match as Wickmayer jumped out to a 2-0 lead. She would sustain this lead until the 8th game when Azarenka broke back for 4-4. Wickmayer broke back for 5-4 and serve for the set but again was unable to hold the lead as Azarenka got back the break and broke her again in the 12th game for the set as Wickmayer was serving to stay in it, 7-5. In the 2nd set, Azarenka was able to be in control of the points better but could not serve out the match when she was up 5-3. Wickmayer on the other hand again could not hold serve when it counted the most. Serving to stay in the match down 4-5, the Belgian could not come up with the goods and so was bounced from the tournament 5-7 4-6. This has to be a tough loss for Wickmayer who has yet to equal her 2009 result when she made the semifinals. Since then, she has only gone past the 2nd round once. Azarenka moves through to the 3rd round where she will play Angelique Kerber (11) who beat Karin Knapp 7-5 6-2.

Errani looked well out of sorts at the beginning of her match. She lost the opening set 0-6 to Ostapenko who was simply on top of every shot. Errani had a medical time out and got some treatment which seemed have helped as the Italian raced out to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd set. Ostapenko was able to get back the double breaks for 3-4. However, Errani remained relentless as she broke back for 5-3 and despite being unable to serve out the set in the 9th game, she broke Ostapenko again to take it 6-4. The 3rd set saw 6 successive breaks of serves for 3-3. However, Errani allowed her experience to shine through as she held serve for 4-3 and broke Ostapenko for the 4th time in the set for 5-3. Errani then fought through the pain and serve it out 0-6 6-4 6-3 in 2 hours.

Errani is set to play Sam Stosur (22), 2011 champion here, who virtually stormed through to the 3rd round with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Evgeniya Rodina in just 51 minutes. The Australian had 8 aces added to her total of 29 winners. Rodina only had 1 ace and 7 winners altogether for the match. “I’m very happy with the way I played. I thought I played great from start to finish. [N]ice to get on and off very quickly, especially when it’s hot and I’ve got doubles later today. [M]y first two matches have been really good,” Stosur said after the match.

American Varvara Lepchenko took out Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko who earlier in the tournament upset Lucie Safarova (6). Lepchenko won 7-6 6-2 in just over an hour an a half. Andrea Petkovic (18) was also able to take out her opponent in straight sets. The German got by Elena Vesnina 6-3 7-6. Vesnina was able to gain a 5-3 lead in the 2nd set but was unable to serve it out at 5-4 and could not get much traction in the breaker.

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Multiple Players Removed From French Open Qualifying After Positive COVID-19 tests

One player has already confirmed their removal from the tournament with a source suggesting that there could be up to 15 positive tests at the event.

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It is understood that a series of male players have been removed from the French Open qualifying draw after either them or a member of their coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Spanish newspaper Marca broke the news on Sunday following information obtained by their sources. It has been reported that Denis Istomin, Ernesto Escobedo, Pedka Kristin and Bernabé Zapata have all been removed from the entry list. There has been no confirmation from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) concerning the positive tests. It is understood that Zapata and Kristin have been removed after their coach tested positive for the virus. It is unclear as to if the same scenario applies to Istomin and Escobedo.

Furthermore, Bosnia’s top player Damir Dzumhur has confirmed that he has been removed from the draw after his coach also tested positive. Although the world No.114 has questioned the test before suggesting that it could be a false positive. Dzumhur said his mentor was not given the option of a second test to double check.

“Unfortunately, my coach Petar Popović tested positive this morning. That’s why I can’t play at Roland Garros and I don’t have a chance to compete,” he wrote on Instagram
“He didn’t get a chance to do a second test and we’re sure he was false positive because my coach has antibodies. I’m disappointed, but I can’t change my mind and I have to move on. More information tomorrow.”

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Dzumhur’s criticism of the testing process appears to be a view that is also shared by others. Sport Klub has quoted another player, who wishes to remain anonymous, saying that there is poor communication going on in the French capital.

“The procedure is slow, communication is poor, there is a lot of waiting. Also, in the hotel, the maids do not wear masks, the tables are not cleaned regularly,” they told Sport Klub.rs.

Marca has claimed that there could be up to 15 positive cases at Roland Garros that also includes the women’s draw. Although there is no information about which WTA players may also be involved.

UPDATE

Since the publication of this article the French Tennis Federation has released a statement confirming two players have tested positive for COVID-19 and a further three have been in close contact with a coach who have also tested positive.

“The Roland-Garros tournament directors can confirm that 2 players competing in the qualifying tournament have tested positive for Covid 19 and three others have confirmed close contact with a coach who has tested positive for Covid 19. In line with tournament health protocols, the 5 players will not compete in the qualifying tournament which begins tomorrow and will self isolate for a period of 7 days. In total, some 900 tests have been carried out since Thursday 17 September.” The statement reads.

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Maturing Simona Halep Closing In On Rome Milestone

The Romanian is hoping that it will be third time lucky at the Foro Italico this year.

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Simona Halep 2 (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Top seed Simona Halep survived a roller-coaster encounter against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza to progress to the final of the Italian Open on Sunday.

 

The world No.2 required more than two hours to disposed of Muguruza 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, in what was the seventh meeting between the two Grand Slam champions on the WTA Tour. It was a far from straightforward win for the Romanian who lost her serve three consecutive times during the second set. However, she managed to bounce back in the decider with the help of a four-game winning streak as she edged towards victory despite facing some late resistance.

Against Muguruza she’s a very, very difficult player and a good player. It’s always good vibe and a good feeling when I win against her,” Halep told reporters after.
“I know I had so many chances to maybe finish the match a little bit faster and easier, but she doesn’t give up.’
“Credit to her that she fought till the end. I am happy that I was a little bit stronger in the end and I could be more aggressive when I needed to.”

There is still room for improvement for Halep who won only 48% of her service points and converted nine out of her 18 break point opportunities. She also hit 21 winners alongside 22 unforced errors.

The latest victory was the first singles match at this year’s Italian Open to take place in front of fans. Due to a recent decision by the local government, a maximum of 1000 spectators has been allowed to attend the Foro Italico on its last two days. A move that has been hailed by Halep even though she admits that it was her opponent who was getting more cheers.

“It’s been nice to see people in the crowd, even if they were all not supporting me today. They were with Muguruza, but I understand,” she said.
“But I was happy to see them and I felt the energy.”

Halep now moves into her third Rome final where she will have a shot of achieving a unique milestone of winning three major clay events on the WTA Tour along with the French Open and Madrid Open. Something only Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have achieved.

Standing in her way of the title will be the winner of the all-Czech clash between Karolina Pliskova or Markéta Vondroušová. Somewhat of a relief for Halep who lost her two previous finals in Rome to Elina Svitolina.

“I’m not playing her so I have a plus,” she joked.
“It’s a final, so I have to manage it a little bit better than previous years. It’s gonna be a tough match.’
“Now I’m more mature. So let’s hope that I can be better tomorrow and to win it.”

Halep will be playing in her 18th WTA final on the clay and is currently on a 13-match winning streak.

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Novak Djokovic Under Scrutiny Over Racket Smashing Incident At Italian Open

The tennis star admits that such actions do not set a good example for younger players.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic says he is ‘not perfect’ after losing his cool during one stage of his semi-final match at the Italian Open.

 

The Serbian tennis star was frustrated with parts of his game throughout his roller-coaster 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over German qualifier Dominik Koepfer. At one stage of the match Djokovic was issued a warning from the umpire after smashing his racket out of anger. The action came during the sixth game of the second set where he was unexpectedly broken to love.

“Well, let me tell you that it’s not the first nor the last racquet that I’ll break in my career. I have done it before. I’ll probably do it again,” Djokovic said during his press conference.
“I don’t want to do it, but when it comes, it happens. That’s how I, I guess, release sometimes my anger. And it’s definitely not the best message out there, especially for the young tennis players looking at me. I don’t encourage that, definitely.”
“We’re all people. We all do our best. There were times and periods when I don’t do that, and there are sometimes periods when I do. It’s unpredictable really in life what can happen.”

Djokovic’s on-court actions are being closely scrutinised following his shock removal from the US Open less than two weeks ago. In the fourth round of the New York major the 17-time Grand Slam champion accidentally hit a ball behind him that struck a lineswoman and resulted in the tournament referee disqualifying him. Something that had never previously happened in Djokovic’s career, who apologised afterwards for the incident.

I am working on my mental and emotional health as much as I’m working on my physical health,” he stated.
“It’s always been part of my, I guess, training and recovery, as well, developing strong character and understanding myself on different levels, the holistic approach to life.”

In Rome Djokovic’s next test will be Norwegian rising star Casper Ruud, who is through to his first Masters semi-final after disposing of Matteo Berrettini in three sets. Ruud won his first ATP title back in February at the Argentina Open and a couple weeks later reached the final of the Chile Open. Both of those events took place on the clay.

“He’s making his way up the ranking scale. It’s really impressive to see him in semis, but at the same time, it’s kind of expected, knowing how well he can play on this surface,” Djokovic said of his next opponent.

Should Djokovic go in to win the Italian Open he would overtake Rafael Nadal to become the most decorated player in Masters history with 36 titles. He is already a four-time champion in Rome and last won the tournament back in 2015.

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