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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Cincinnati Open Final Preview: Will Kuznetsova And Medvedev Achieve Double Glory For Russia?

It’s Championship Sunday in Cincy, with two unlikely yet intriguing singles finals.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova – Western & Southern Open (foto via Twitter @CincyTennis)

Both world No.1’s were upset on Saturday by Russian opposition, opening up a golden opportunity for today’s singles finalists.  For three of the four, it’s a chance to win the biggest titles of their careers to date. And for the fourth, it’s a chance to win their biggest title in a decade.

 

Madison Keys (16) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (WC)

15 years ago, Kuznetsova was a teenage who shocked the tennis world by winning the US Open.  Five years and three Major finals later, she’d win a second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.  But recent times haven’t been as kind to Svetlana, who has struggled with injuries, coaching changes, and visa issues.  As per the WTA’s Courtney Nguyen, Sveta missed the beginning of the US hard court swing due to those visa issues, and contemplated retirement with her ranking at risk of dropping outside the top 200 due to her inability to travel.  But just a few weeks later, she’s into her biggest final in over two years, thanks to four victories this week over players ranked 11th or higher.  But in today’s final, she faces a competitor she’s never beaten.  Keys owns a 3-0 record in their head-to-head, with all three of those matches played on hard courts.  Madison is yet to drop a set to Svetlana. And just like Kuznetsova, Keys has looked really strong this week.  She’s been just clubbing the ball, and taking the match completely out of her opponents’ hands. But as a player who has choked in big matches before, can Madison maintain her form in this final?  Based on how well she’s fought this week and made slight adjustments when needed, and with a boisterous American crowd behind her, I think Keys will be ready for this moment.

Daniil Medvedev (9) v. David Goffin (16)

After a set-and-a-half against Novak Djokovic yesterday, it appeared the world No.1 would be cruising to a straight set victory.  Novak had been dominating opponents all week, and Daniil was receiving treatment on his right arm, which looked quite painful. But it seemed the 23-year-old Russian decided if he was going down, he was going down swinging.  Medvedev started going for his second serves, striking some just as hard if not harder than his first serves. He’d hit a total of 16 aces in the match. That, combined with his strong ground game which suddenly wouldn’t miss, infuriated Djokovic to the point where it seemed the world No.1 just wanted off the court before the final game had even been decided.  Danill is now into his third final in as many weeks, but lost in the final of his last two tournaments. His opponent today capitalized on an extremely open half of the draw. But the tennis gods definitely owe Goffin some luck after the bizarre injuries that have recently sidetracked his career. He injured his eye when a ball glanced off his racket, and injured his ankle when he slipped on the tarp at the back of the court at the French Open.  These two have met twice before, with both matches occurring earlier this year. Medvedev prevailed in straight sets at the Australian Open, while Goffin outlasted Daniil 7-5 in the fifth at Wimbledon. This will be Medvedev’s 16th singles match within the past 20 days, which is a ton of tennis no matter your age or your level of fitness.  And coming back less than 24 hours after a thrilling victory over the world No.1 is never easy. But against an opponent that hasn’t been playing with much confidence, and who is also vying for the biggest title of their career, I suspect Daniil will power his way to the winner’s circle again today.

Other notable matches on Sunday:

In the men’s doubles final, Wimbledon champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1) vs. Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek, who were Wimbledon semifinalists.

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Novak Djokovic Gives Verdict On Medvedev’s US Open Chances After Shock Loss In Cincinnati

Does the world No.1 see the Russian as a threat to his next grand slam bid?

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16-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic believes Karen Khachanov will be ‘in the mix’ of players with a chance of winning the upcoming US Open after suffering a shock loss to the Russian on Saturday.

 

The world No.1 crashed out of the Western and Southern Open to the very much inform Medvedev, who prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, in their semi-final clash. The world No.8, who also defeated Djokovic earlier this year in Monte Carlo, prevailed with the help of some blistering serving. Firing 16 aces past his opponent as he won 78% of his first serve. In total Medvedev produced 37 winners to 21 unforced errors.

“I thought I played a really good match. Yes, maybe in those games, especially in the third set when I was broken, at 1-All I could have done a little bit better, but when someone serves 128-miles-per-hour second serve and doesn’t make too many doubles faults and goes for every shot, you just have to put your hat down and congratulate him.” Djokovic said following the match.
“He played amazing tennis from 4-3 in the second set. Not much that I could really do. I tried to return his serve. And when I had my racquet on the ball I was also returning his serves, but you can’t really predict someone or prepare yourself for someone serving that big second serve consistently from 4-3 to the end of the match with making maybe two double faults out of God knows how many serves.”

Despite the difference in ranking and achievements on the tour between the two players, Djokovic’s loss is by no means a disaster. Since Wimbledon Medvedev has become one of the most successful players on the ATP Tour. Winning 13 out of 15 matches played. Cincinnati is the third consecutive tournament where he has reached the final after Washington and the US Open. The last man to reach three finals within three weeks was Alexander Zverev in 2018.

“He certainly improved since Australian Open this year. His forehand is better. His movement is better.” – Djokovic on Medvedev

Giving the rapid surge in form by the 23-year-old, some are starting to talk up his chances of causing a stir in the upcoming US Open. Medvedev is yet to progress beyond the fourth round at a grand slam, but that could change soon. He has already won 43 matches this season, which is more than anybody else on the ATP Tour.

“He deserves to be in the mix, certainly, with all his results. He’s working his way to top 5 of the world. He’s definitely one of the best players in the world at this moment.” Djokovic analysed.
“He deserves to be in the contention for the championship in New York. But again, it’s best of five. It’s two weeks. It’s Grand Slam. It’s a different environment, different experience.’
“It just takes I think, than just your game. I think it takes patience and ability to know how to deal with all the off-court things, the importance of a slam.”

Djokovic will now switch his focus to Flushing Meadows, where he will be seeking to defend the title he won 12 months ago. Meanwhile, Medvedev has a clash with David Goffin awaiting him on Sunday. Goffin downed France’s Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4, in his semi-final match.

The upcoming final will be the third meeting between the two players in 2019. Medvedev was triumphant at the Australian Open before losing in five sets to Goffin at Wimbledon. Whoever wins on Sunday will claim their first Masters 1000 title. Becoming the ninth person to do so in the last 21 events.

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David Goffin Praises Coach Johansson Following Masters Milestone In Cincinnati

The world No.19 believes he is back to playing his very best tennis.

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David Goffin @Noventi Open 2019 (foto via Twitter)

Belgium’s David Goffin believes his recent resurgence in Cincinnati might not have happened if it wasn’t for the guidance of his recently appointed coach Thomas Johansson.

 

At the Western and Southern Open Goffin downed Richard Gasquet in straight sets on Saturday to reach his first ever Masters final at the age of 28. So far in the tournament he has dropped one set in four matches played, which was against Taylor Fritz in the first round. The run is a much needed boost for Goffin, who lost in the first round of his two previous tournaments.

“I knew before the match that I had to go and be aggressive on his second serve, to put him under pressure.” Goffin said about his 6-3, 6-4, win over Gasquet.
“I think that was the tactic before the match, and I did it really well. I put him under pressure. Controlled the game after the return.”

Stating that he is back to playing his ‘best tennis,’ Goffin paid tribute to coach Johansson. A former Swedish player who won the 2002 Australian Open and reached a ranking best of seventh that same year. Two two have previously worked together back in 2016 before reuniting again in March following the departure of Theirry Van Cleemput from Goffin’s team.

“Thomas came during Indian Wells. It was much better. Week after week I started to play well during practice. Then after that some part of the matches were much better.” Said Goffin.
“Then one matches, two matches, and then after that — it takes some time to go back to your best level.’
“Then on the grass I continued to play some good tennis.
“Now here (in Cincinnati), a final, it’s great now. I’m feeling great. I’m back at my best tennis.”

Since the reunion of the Goffin and Johansson, the Belgian has experienced encouraging results on the tour as he seeks more consistency. His best runs include reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, semi-finals in Estoril and Final at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. Goffin also took a set off Rafael Nadal at the French Open before losing in the third round.

Goffin’s run to the Cincinnati final has also made history. He is the first ever Belgian player to reach the final of a Masters 1000 tournament. A milestone that leaves him with mixed emotions.

“Of course it’s really nice and it is important, but I’m not focused on making history in my country.” He said.
“I love to play Davis Cup. I love to play for my country. I love to make everything for Belgium.’
“I’m just focused on what I have to do step by step. I try to do my best. I try to win every match, and then we see at the end.”

Targeting the biggest title in his career, Goffin will play Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the final on Sunday. Their head-to-head is currently tied at 1-1.

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