Ana Ivanovic and Garbine Muguruza reach the semifinals at the China Open - UBITENNIS
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Ana Ivanovic and Garbine Muguruza reach the semifinals at the China Open

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Ana Ivanovic beat Anastasya Pavluchenkova 6-3 7-5 to reach the semifinals at the China Open in Beijing keeping her hopes to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore.

 

Ivanovic broke serve in the fourth game of the first set. The Serbian player could not hold her serve in the next game but she hit a backhand pass and an inside-out forehand as Pavlyuchenkova was serving at 2-3 down to bring up a break point which she converted. After fending off two break points in the seventh game Ivanovic sealed the first set after 35 minutes

In the second set Pavlyuchenkova took a 4-2 lead but Ivanovic reeled off five of the next six games sealing the win with 7-5.

Pavlyuchenkova saved five break points in a very long game with seven deuces.

Ivanovic had a chance to serve out for the match at 5-4 but she made her only two double faults of the match and dropped her serve. Ivanovic earned a break point chance which she converted to seal the win.

Ivanovic is at home in Beijing where she has reached two semifinals and two quarter finals in her seven appearances in this tournament

“I was happy to stay calm after I got broken at 5-4 serving for the match. She hit well but I felt like I served poorly that game. I think that was the only game that i actually served quite bad. Not a good time to do that”, said Ivanovic

Ivanovic hit 22 winners to Pavlyuchenkova’s 21 and 26 unforced errors to the Russian’s 27.

Ivanovic has improved her winning record to 7-1 over Pavlyuchenkova. She won the first six head-to-head matches including four consecutive wins on hard-court.

“I struggled a little bit to get going. The first set I took some painkillers, then it was a little bit better”, said Ivanovic

Ivanovic will take on Timea Bacsinszky in the semifinal. Both players are still in contention to qualify for the WTA Finals. Bacsinszky is currently 14th in the Road to Singapore with 2873 points, while Ivanovic is ranked 17th with 2616 points. Only the winner of this match will still have the chance to qualify for Singapore. Ivanovic leads 2-0 against Bacsinszky in their head-to-head matches

In the fourth quarter final Garbine Muguruza beat Bethanie Mattek Sands 6-1 7-5. The Spanish player, who secured her spot for the WTA Championships in Singapore yesterday, looked to be cruising to a easy win as she was leading 6-1 5-2 but 30-year-old Mattek Sands rallied to claw her way back into the match. Muguruza survived a late fighback from Mattek Sands to close out the match with 7-5 setting up a semifinal against Agnieszka Radwanska.

Muguruza got an immediate break to cruise to a comfortable 6-1 in the first set. Down 2-5 in the second set Mattek Sands won three consecutive games to draw level to 5-5. Muguruza hit three consecutive winners in the final game to earn a match point. The Spanish player sealed the win as Mattek Sands made an error on her passing shot.

“I wanted to win so much. I was really motivated today to be in the semifinal. I have never been so far in a mandatory tournament. I really want to see what happens. I knew that Mattek Sands’ comeback was going to happen because I know how she plays. I was trying to be calm and see if she could handle this level for the whole match. So I was able to close in the second set”, said Muguruza.

 

 

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‘I Hope I Can Keep Up’ – Alexander Zverev Speaks Out Ahead Of Return From Injury

After suffering a horrific accident at the French Open, the German is once again raring to go. 

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Alexander Zverev - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Alexander Zverev says he has missed his fellow rivals as he prepares to return to the court at an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia in just over a week. 

 

The former world No.2 has been absent from the sport since June after badly injuring his ankle in his semi-final match against Rafael Nadal at the French Open. A scan later revealed he had torn various ligaments in his foot and he was later diagnosed with bone edema which is where there is an abnormal amount of fluid around the bone area. He had originally hoped to return to action earlier in the season but was unable to recover in time. 

Instead, Zverev’s first taste of competitive tennis in his comeback will be at the extravagant Diriyah Tennis Cup which features 12 players with the singles champion winning $1M in prize money. 

“I’m just looking forward to being back on court and being back on a competitive court because it’s been a very long time for me,” Zverev said during an interview for the event. “The best players in the world are there so it’s gonna be a high level tournament and I think everybody’s in form because they’re still either coming from Davis Cup or they just came from the ATP Finals so everybody will still be playing great tennis and I hope I can keep up with them.”

Also playing at the event will be Stefanos Tsitsipas, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Daniil Medvedev. It will be far from an easy return to action for Zverev after his lengthy absence from the sport. However, he is looking forward to being reunited with his peers. 

“I’ve also missed those guys to be honest even though we’re competitors but I have great friends there as well. You know, I missed seeing those guys on tour,” he said.
“I feel like me and Dominic (Thiem), we haven’t seen each other for almost two years now because he was injured in 2021 And I was injured in 2022. So we missed each other in a way. Yeah, so I’m just looking forward to being back on tour and I’m just looking forward to getting matches.”

Prior to his injury setback, the 25-year-old has won 29 out of 39 matches played this season with his best run being to the finals of events in Montpellier and Madrid. Out of those 29 wins, only three were against top-10 opposition.

Explaining his decision to play in Saudi Arabia, Zverev said it was important for him to play matches against the best in the world ahead of the new season. Some players have been criticized for playing in the country due to its human rights record. Saudi Arabia has been accused of sportswashing which is the process of staging sports events to improve the image of a country which has been tarnished by wrongdoing. 

“You don’t want your first event to be back in Australia, because you then feel like okay, you may be fit physically, you may be in the best shape of your life, but if you haven’t played matches in seven months, it’s still a different fitness level it is still a different, mental stress as well,” Zverev explained. 
“So you want to play before the Australian Open and I think that’s why Saudi Arabia fits in so well this year.” 

The Diriyah Tennis Cup will begin on December 8th. 

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Cameron Norrie Outlines His Goals For 2023

After a breakthrough year on the Tour, the world No.14 says there is still room for improvement in his game. 

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Cameron Norrie (GBR) in action against Lucas Pouille (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.2 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 3 Wednesday 30/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Cameron Norrie says he wants to become a ‘tougher’ player and is working on certain areas of his game. 

 

Norrie has achieved a series of firsts in his career this year, including cracking the top 10 and reaching his first major semi-final at Wimbledon. He has won two titles in Lyon and Delray Beach, as well as reaching the final of two other ATP events. Overall, he has recorded a win-loss of record of 49-26 but has suffered disappointment in recent weeks on the Tour. Since the US Open, he has failed to win back-to-back matches. 

“I obviously had a great year last year and I wanted to back that up and I felt like I did that and I played a few finals and won a couple of titles, but the highlight was Wimbledon and making the semi-finals there.” Tennis365 quoted Norrie as saying
“Especially at home with everyone supporting me, my friends or family all there at probably the biggest tournament in the world. So that was very cool.”

Norrie is coached by Facundo Lugones who has been at his side since 2017. The two met each other at Texas Christian University and both played for the University’s tennis team TCU Horned Frogs. Lugones’ work with the Brit was recognised in 2021 when he received the ATP Coach of the Year award. 

Looking to the future, Norrie says he wants to add even more firepower to his game to become more of a formidable opponent. 

“I think there’s still a lot of things I can improve on and I think I can work on my general ball speed and hitting the ball a bit harder on the forehand side and hitting my spots better on the serve,” he said. 
“And I think when I’m playing my best is when I’m coming forward more and more. So I think I can work on that area and ultimately keeping all the execution levels up. I feel like I can be even tougher player to play against.”

The hope is that with more power the 27-year-old can achieve more milestones in his career over the coming years. Overall he has won four Tour titles with the most prestigious of those being the 2021 Indian Wells Masters. 

“As a player, you want to tick that box, and you want to be inside the top 10,” he continued.
“And I was thinking about it when I was on the cusp of making it for like three or four months in I was making all these points and I wasn’t going ahead in the rankings, and then when I was when I finally made the top 10 It was it was pretty cool.
“But the kind of thing about tennis is when do something like that then you want to do something else.
“Be top five and top three and then aiming towards number one in the world.
“So it’s never enough.”

Norrie is one of four British men in the ATP year-end top 50. Lower than him in the standings are Daniel Evans (No.27), Jack Draper (No.42) and Andy Murray (No.49).

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Rafael Nadal Says Creating ‘Good Memories’ Is The Most Important Part Of His Legacy  

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RAFAEL NADAL OF SPAIN - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

Rafael Nadal says he doesn’t like to define himself as one of the all-time greats of the sport and instead is more concerned about creating good memories for those around him.  

 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is one of the most decorated players in the history of tennis with 92 Tour titles to his name. He has won more ATP trophies on the clay (63) than anybody else and is a 14-time French Open champion. He has also beaten a world No.1 player a record 23 times and is the oldest man to have completed a career Grand Slam twice. 

Nadal is currently in South America where he is taking part in an exhibition Tour alongside Casper Ruud. During his press conference in the Ecuadorian capital of Quinto, the world No.2 was questioned about his legacy in the sport and if he defines himself as the best in history.

I don’t think about it. I think it’s something that goes to the background,” he replied.
The important legacy is that all the people I have lived with during these 20 years of my career have a good human memory of me. After all, the personal issue, education, respect and affection with which you can treat people is above the professional issue, because it is what remains in time,” he added.

The 36-year-old missed out on finishing the season as world No.1 for the sixth time in his career. Ahead of him is rising star Carlos Alcaraz who has staged a meteoric rise where he has won two Masters 1000 events before claiming his first major title at the US Open in September. It is the first time in ATP history that the year-end top two are both Spanish players. 

However, Nadal admits he is not confident the duo will be able to maintain their stronghold at the top in the new season. 

I don’t think it’s going to be a trend. It’s difficult to maintain such a high level. I play very few events at this point, so it’s difficult to maintain a very high ranking because you have to be very successful in the events where you compete,” said Nadal.
Carlos has incredible potential and that is why he is where he is, because he deserves it, and he is also very young and has a lot ahead of him. Casper was very close to being number one in the world and winning his first Grand Slam at the US Open.” He added. 

On the court, Nadal was unable to keep his winning run against Ruud after losing 6-4, 6-4, to the Norwegian on Sunday evening at the Coliseo General Rumiñahui Arena in Quito. The two will next travel to Bogota in Colombia before ending their Tour in Mexico City. 

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