Ana Ivanovic wins a thilling match against Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the quarter finals in Beijing - UBITENNIS
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Ana Ivanovic wins a thilling match against Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the quarter finals in Beijing

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Ana Ivanovic won a thrilling three-set match over Svetlana Kuznetsova with 7-5 4-6 6-2 to reach the quarter finals at the China Open, a WTA Premier Mandatory in Beijing keeping her hopes alive to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Ivanovic needs to qualify at least for the semifinals at the China Open to stay in contention for the WTA Finals.

Kuznetsova, 2009 Roland Garros champion, broke to love for 5-4 in the ninth game but Ivanovic reeled off three consecutive games to clinch the first set with 7-5.

Kuznetsova got an early break in the second set and held her serve to take the second set with 6-4. In the third set the Russian player fended off two match points as she was serving at 0-40 but Ivanovic sealed the win with a break of serve despite a back problem. Ivanovic won her fifth consecutive match over Kuznetsova and now leads 11-3 in her head-to-head over her Russian rival. In their previous matches Ivanovic beat Kuznetsova in three sets in Stuttgart and in Montreal in 2014.

Ivanovic won three consecutive matches for the first time since this year’s Roland Garros where she reached the semifinals. In her previous two matches in Beijing she beat Casey Dellaqua 6-4 6-0 and Venus Williams 7-6 6-2.

In the quarter finals Ivanovic will take on Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova, who rallied from a set down to edge Flavia Pennetta.

Ivanovic credits her recent good results in Tokyo to her coach Nigel Sears, who was rehired by the Serbian star after Wimbledon where she was beaten by Bethanie Mattek Sands in the second round. After taking a break for one month Ivanovic reached the quarter finals in Toronto. Sears’ daughter Kim Sears married to Andy Murray last April. Ivanovic contacted Sears after Wimbledon when she stopped working with her former coach Dejan Petrovic.

“I started with Nigel after Wimbledon. We had a really good preparation. We had about three weeks of really hard work and we did a little bit of work on my serve and it was really improved”, said Ivanovic

“We had already worked well between 2011 and 2013 and we remained in touch. I hope he can help me because I am in a completely different stage of my career and many things have changed. I knew it was just a matter of time before all the pieces fell into place”, said Ivanovic

Garbine Muguruza rallied from a set down to beat Mirjana Lucic Baroni 1-6 6-2 6-1 to book her spot in the WTA Championships in Singapore on her 22nd birthday.

Lucic Baroni got an immediate break to race out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set en route to sealing the win on her first match point with an ace. Number 5 seed Muguruza got an early break en route to drawing level on sets before cruising to 4-0 lead in the third set en route to winning the third set with 6-1.

“I am very happy to be able one of the top eight players of the year. It’s one of the big goals in tennis”, said Muguruza

 

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Matteo Berrettini Beats Shapavolov to Reach Last Eight in Stuttgart, but Shelton Falls

Qualifier James Duckworth upset the second seed and now faces Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

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Matteo Berrettini - Wimbledon 2023 (foto Ubitennis)

In the shock of the day, Australian qualifier James Duckworth took out second seed Ben Shelton in three sets to advance to the quarter finals where he plays Matteo Berrettini, who won comfortably against Denis Shapavalov.

In the first meeting between the two, Duckworth completed a 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 win in just over two hours against the American, who was playing his first match on grass this season and is still short of match play on the surface. Despite blasting 21 aces, he could not win enough points behind his second serve and lost the match – although he had won more marginally more points in total. 

The 32-year-old Duckworth was formerly ranked inside the top 50 after claiming a personal-best 22 tour-level wins in 2021. However, he has been plagued by injuries since and has undergone nine different surgeries. He squeezed through the first set tie-break and despite a blip in the second set, refocussed in the decider and managed to break serve for the first time and make it count. 

In the headline match of the day featuring powerful serving along with brilliant sliced backhands from two former top tenners battling their way back from injury, Matteo Berrettini overcame Denis Shapavalov 6-4, 6-4.

The head-to-head showed Shapavolov with a 2-0 record but both matches were over five years ago and both on hard courts. Interestingly, while both matches went to three sets, it was the Canadian who had won all four tie-breaks played. 

I knew that I hadn’t beaten him before,” said Berrettini aftrewards. “They were two tough matches although a long time ago. I knew I had to play my best tennis to beat him today. I know that in my career I have been pretty successful on grass, especially here and now let’s see if I can reach the semi-finals. I have to rest a little bit and think tomorrow about the next match. It was a perfect test for me to see my level, after a long time on grass, especially after the battle I had on Tuesday, I’m really happy to be through to the quarter finals.”

Both players played a high quality first set where once again serve dominated proceedings; Berrettini winning 82% and Shapavalov 83% behind first serves while both saved a breakpoint each. But in the game of tennis, double faults can be costly, especially if you do it at the wrong time. And it was the Canadian who threw in his one and only double fault when at breakpoint down to lose serve and go 4-5 down.

Berrettini took three hours to defeat Roman Safiullin on Tuesday but fortunately had a day off before today’s encounter, while Shapavalov fought from 2-4 down in the first set to win 7-6, 7-5 over qualifier Matteo Martineau despite ten double faults.

Shapavalov, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon three years ago before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, was rattled midway through the second set when serving and heard some computer bleeps between his first and second serve to lose concentration and concede the break. 

Berrettini was the first Italian man to reach the quarter finals of all four Grand Slams, and the only two-time winner of this event since it switched to grass in 2015, a place he clearly enjoys playing.

I put a lot of emphasis on my serve, especially on the grass,” he explained. “It’s important to make him feel the pressure that when he is serving, he better not get broken, otherwise he will be in trouble. I like using the slice to come in on the grass, especially against the one handed backhand, it’s something that’s very useful. We practised a little bit together yesterday and this morning so I’m happy that it worked.”

Shapavalov was the second Canadian after Milos Raonic to break the top ten of the rankings in 2020, but has now dropped outside of the top 100. The Italian offered some words of comfort to his beaten opponent: “Due to our conditions, we both got injured, and that’s why I think he’s probably going to be in the top 50, 30, 20 really soon, we know his potential, and for me as well. I know how tough it is to come back after many injuries, so good luck to him.”

In the first match of the day, America’s Brandon Nakashima flashed winners from across the court and defeated French veteran Richard Gasquet in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to advance to his second grass court quarter final in just 71 minutes.

Both players traded breaks of serve early in the first set before 70th ranked Nakashima took the decisive break to lead 5-3. He served out a love game to take the opener. He then broke again right at the start of the second set to take full control of the match. 

Gasquet, in the draw as the highest lucky loser after top seed Alexander Zverev withdrew with fatigue after reaching the Roland Garros final, struggled to make much impact on his return games as Nakashima regularly ramped up the speed on his first serve. Still, he showed flashes of his trademark backhand late on with a couple of flourishing winners as the match neared the end. But even when the Frenchman had break back chances in the second set, the American saved them with huge aces. 

“It’s never easy against a player like Richard, he has so much experience on the tour,” said 22-year-old Nakashima on court afterwards. “I’m just happy to win and with the way I played today. I served and volleyed at the important moments and happy to be in the quarter finals. I served well during the big points; it was very crucial to get the confidence. I was returning well and capitalising on the breakpoints I had was also very important.”

It was Nakashima’s first time in Stuttgart, and he also paid tribute to the crowd: “It’s a beautiful tournament, I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far and I’m happy to play again here tomorrow. Thank you all for coming out and I appreciate the support.”

The next match on Centre was a first tour-level meeting between another Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech and home hope Jan-Lennard Struff – who did not disappoint the home fans with a straight sets victory. 

Games went with serve in the first set and neither player came close to a breakpoint – until the 28-year-old Rinderknech served at 4-5 down and Struff hit a forehand winner at 30-30 to bring up a set point. But though Rinderknech saved four set points in all, the scoreboard pressure finally told as Stuff converted on his fifth when approaching the net forcing an error from his opponent. 

Rinderknech, who broke into the top 50 for the first time in January 2022, rallied well in the second set and took it to a tie-break but capitulated without winning a point as Struff completed a 6-4, 7-6 win.

The German has now reached his third Stuttgart quarter final in his last four appearances, missing a match point against Frances Tiafoe in last year’s final. “I was serving pretty good today, all match,” he said after the match. “That can put a bit of pressure on his service games if he doesn’t get a look on mine, I’m very happy with the result today. It’s very nice to play in Germany and amazing support always, so I really enjoy it.”

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Rafael Nadal Announces Wimbledon Withdrawal, Will Play Bastad Ahead Of Olympics

Rafael Nadal has announced his schedule ahead of the Olympic Games.

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Rafael Nadal has announced that he will be playing the ATP 250 event in Bastad ahead of the Olympic Games as he will once again withdraws from Wimbledon.

The Spaniard is set for a massive summer as he competes in singles and doubles at the Olympic Games.

It was announced yesterday that he and Carlos Alcaraz will team up in the doubles event in Paris as Nadal searches for his third gold medal.

However Nadal’s big summer before the Olympics has been slightly altered in order to have the best preparations possible for the big event.

This is as Nadal has announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon with the Spaniard not playing the event since withdrawing from his 2022 semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

In more surprising news though Nadal announced on social media that he will be playing the ATP 250 event in Bastad, Sweden ahead of the Olympic Games, “During my post match press conference at Roland Garros I was asked about my summer calendar and since then I have been practising on clay. It was announced yesterday that I will play at the summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics,” Nadal explained on X.

“With this goal, we believe that the best for my body is not to change surface and keep playing on clay until then. It’s for this reason that I will miss playing at The Championships this year at Wimbledon.

“I am saddened not to be able to live this year the great atmosphere of that amazing event that will always be in my heart, and be with all the British fans that always gave me great support. I will miss you all.

“In order to prepare for the Olympic Games, I will play the tournament in Bastad, Sweden, a tournament that I played earlier in my career and where I had a great time both on and off the court. Looking forward to seeing you all there. Thank you.”

Nadal last competed at Bastad in 2005, where he won the title defeating Tomas Berdych in the final.

The tournament will take place the week after Wimbledon on the 15th of July with world number one Jannik Sinner scheduled to participate there as well.

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Holger Rune: ‘I Play Twice As Better Now Compared To When I Was No.4’

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Holger Rune is confident his tennis is heading in the right direction despite slipping to his lowest ranking since October 2022 this week. 

The Dane has dropped two places in the PIF ATP rankings to 15th in the world following his run to the fourth round of the French Open where he was beaten by Alexander Zverev. So far this season, Rune has compiled a win-loss record of 22-12 with his best result being a run to the final in Brisbane, as well as the semi-finals of three other ATP events. Against top 10 opposition he has won one out of four matches which was against Grigor Dimitrov in Monte Carlo. 

“I don’t think about it, and it’s not a problem. Of course I won’t be the top seed for the grand slams, but I won’t run into someone like Alcaraz in the opening rounds either,” Rune recently told Danish media about his current ranking. 

Elaborating further about his game on the court, the 21-year-old believes he is playing at a better level than before. He is currently coached on the Tour by Patrick Mouratoglou who he reunited with earlier this year. The duo also worked together on the Tour between October 2022 and March 2023. He has also spent brief periods with Boris Becker and Severin Luthi but both of those collaborations failed to materialise into something long-term.  

“I feel that I play twice as well now compared to when I was ranked number four last year,” he said.
“Back then I had a bit of difficulty winning some matches over the summer, but now I feel that I am in a good flow. I play good tennis, work hard and structured and am more stable in my game.”

Rune says the key for him is to keep ‘trusting the process’ as he aims to return back into the world’s top 10. He is one of three men currently in the top 20 aged 21 or under. The other two are Carlos Alcaraz (No.3) and Ben Shelton (No.14). 

“I can’t see it 100 percent on the results yet, but there is nothing else to do but trust the process. Both mentally, physically and tennis-wise, I am on the right track,” Rune commented.
“I can never say that it is satisfactory to lose in the fourth round at the French Open, but there were clearly some better strokes in my game, says Rune.”

Rune’s next tournament will be at the Cinch championships in London which will get underway on Monday. He is currently the fifth highest-ranked player entered into the draw. 

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