Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova upsets US Open champion Flavia Pennetta in Beijing - UBITENNIS
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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova upsets US Open champion Flavia Pennetta in Beijing

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World Number 32 Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova rallied from a set down to edge this year’s US Open champion Flavia Pennetta with 3-6 6-4 6-3 after two hours. The first set went on serve until the fifth game when Pavlyuchenkova broke for 3-2 but Pennetta broke back en route to winning four consecutive games. The Italian clinched the first set with 6-3 with an ace after 36 minutes. The Italian star won 76 percent of her first serve points and hit 4 aces.

 

Pavlyuchenkova played a solid second set winning 86 percent of her first serve points. In the 8th game Pennetta fought back from 15-40 to save two break points with four consecutive points but two games later Pavlyuchenkova broke to love en route to closing out the 42-minute second set with 6-4

Pavlyuchenkova went up a break to love to race out to a 3-0 lead. Pennetta did not give up and broke back for 2-3. The Russian player broke serve to love in the sixth game. Pennetta held her serve in the 8th game for 3-5 but Pavlyuchenkova sealed the win on the first match point in the ninth game after 42 minutes. Pavlyuchenkova won for the first time in her career against Pennetta who won their previous two head-to-head matches in the Roland Garros in 2008 and in Cincinnati in 2011

Timea Bacsinszky overcame a second-set loss to edge past Carla Suarez Navarro with 6-4 4-6 7-5 setting up a quarter final against Sara Errani. The Swiss player went up a set and a break but she lost six consecutive games to drop the second set. She bounced back building a 4-2 lead in the third set with a break of serve but Suarez Navarro broke back to draw level to 5-5. Bacsinszky won the final two games to clinch the third set with 7-5.

Bacsinszky enjoyed a great spring winning two back-to-back tournaments in Monterrey and Acapulco before reaching the semifinals at the Roland Garros. She went on to reach the quarter finals at Wimbledon but lost her last four matches before the China Open.

The Lausanne player beat her quarter final rival Errani in three sets with 6-0 4-6 7-6 in their only previous head-to-head match in Monterrey earlier this year.

Bethanie Mattek Sands overcame this year’s US Open finalist Roberta Vinci 6-1 3-6 6-2. The US player raced out to a 3-0 lead with a break of serve. Vinci held her serve to win her first game for 1-3.. Mattek Sands played a great tennis producing a series of inside-in forehands and stop-volleys and cruised to winning the first set with 6-1. Vinci held her serve in the first game of the second set before converting the second of her three break points to take a 2-0 lead. Mattek Sands broke back but dropped her serve to go down 1-3. Vinci held her service game to pull away to 5-1. Mattek Sands recovered one of the breaks for 3-5 but Vinci sealed the second set on her first set point with her forehand after 36 minutes.

Mattek Sands went up a break in the 20-point fourth game of the third set on her third break point opportunity. Mattek Sands saved five break point chances in the third set and broke serve in the 8th game on the third match point after 1 hour and 43 minutes

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Ash Barty Reveals Where Her Confidence Surge In 2021 Came From

Many players would say it is from match wins but Barty has a differnt view.

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MADRID, SPAIN - MAYO 6: BARTY during Mutua Madrid Open 21(Photo by Diego Souto/MM0)

With 25 wins already to her name this season Ash Barty believes her current mental state wouldn’t be where it is if she hadn’t put in the world during the off-season.

 

The world No.1 is through to her fourth WTA final of the season after defeating Spain’s Paul Badosa in straight sets at the Madrid Open on Thursday. Barty is now on a nine-match winning streak after lifting the Stuttgart Open trophy just over a week ago. Prior to Stuttgart, she also won the Miami Open and Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne. Underlining her status as the highest ranked player on the women’s Tour.

Relishing in a surge in confidence, Barty believes the biggest impact on her success was the work she did with her team back in her native Australia. She missed almost 11 months of the Tour between 2020-2021 due to travelling concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is coached on the Tour by Craig Tyzzer who first started working with her at the start of 2016.

I think a lot of the confidence I’ve gained this year was from the work that I’d done with my team prior to even playing my first match,” said Barty. “Without a doubt, you grow with each match that you play, every opportunity you get to try something new or try and rectify a few mistakes that you made in previous matches. That’s all learning.”

Elaborating further Barty says the confidence boost she gains from training is something she tries to use in matches and not vice versa. Although she has already recorded 11 wins over top 20 already this year. The only players who have beaten her so far in 2021 are Karolína Muchová, Danielle Collins and Badosa.

“I think the confidence comes from the practice and the preparation. Then the match is the opportunity to go out there and hone your craft,” the former French Open champion explains.
“I think with more matches that you play, it’s always a different opponent, different conditions. I think there are so many different variables in tennis, that’s the challenge, just trying to bring your best regardless of those conditions, regardless of who you’re playing, what surface, whether it’s windy, cold, rainy, whatever it is. Trying to adapt to that as best you can. I feel like we’ve (my team) had a really good balance of that this year.”

The 25-year-old says she analyses every match with her coach, regardless of what the outcome is. Earlier this week in Madrid she scored wins over Petra Kvitova and Iga Swiatek.

For us, the growth never stops. When the growth stops, the game stops for me. It’s a massive part of me, always trying to get better every single day,” Barty concludes.

Barty has now won 16 consecutive matches on the red clay.

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Rafael Nadal Lends Backing To Real Madrid’s Zidane Following Champions League Exit

The king of clay reacts to his his team’s loss to Chelsea and explains what he would do regarding the future of manager Zinedine Zidane if he was in charge.

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MUTUA MADRID OPEN DE TENIS 2021. FOTO: Mateo Villalba

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal believes Zinedine Zidane is the best person to lead Real Madrid after they crashed out in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

 

The 34-time La Liga champions lost 2-0 to Chelsea in the second leg of their tie on Wednesday, moving the English team into the final who won 3-1 on aggregate. It is the third year in a row that Real Madrid has failed to reach the trophy match. To put that into perspective they were crowned champions four times between 2014-2018.

Reacting to their loss, world No.2 Nadal says he is ‘proud of his team.’ The Spaniard says his support for Real Madrid stems from his family who backed them whilst he was growing up. Even though his uncle Miguel Ángel Nadal played for Barcelona between 1991-1999. In the past Nadal has even indicated that he would be interested in potentially becoming president of the club one day.

“I have to say I’m very proud of my team,” Nadal said following his win over Alexi Popryin at the Madrid Open.
“With all the difficulties that we (Real Madrid) had during the whole season with, I don’t know, 60 injuries, it was difficult to be where we were until yesterday. Fighting for the two most important competitions we are playing: semifinals in the Champions League, and still fighting for La Liga (trophy).”

Nadal extended his praise to team manager Zidane who is spending his second stint with the club after briefly departing back in 2018 before returning the following year. One media outlet has claimed that the Frenchman could be considering resigning in the near future but there is no confirmation of such a move.

“For me 100% Zidane is one of my favourites, without a doubt,” he stated. “Great person, great values for Real Madrid. I think the season is doing great after all the bad luck with injuries that we had. It’s difficult to ask for more.’
“So if I was the one to decide, of course I don’t have any doubt that Zidane is the right guy to prepare probably the next team.”

At the Madrid Open Nadal’s win over Popyrin is his 53rd in the tournament. He has also extended his perfect record against qualifiers on the clay to 40 wins on the ATP Tour.

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Madrid Open Daily Preview: The Men’s Third Round and Women’s Semifinals to be Played on Thursday

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Rafael Nadal practicing in Madrid (twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen)

Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka are one round away from meeting in their second consecutive final, after Barty defeated Sabalenka in the championship match of Stuttgart.  On Thursday, both face unseeded yet considerable opposition.  And all 16 remaining men will play their third round matches, featuring seven of the ATP’s top 10.

 

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the two most prominent matches of the day, and note the other intriguing matchups on the schedule.  Thursday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Paula Badosa (WC) – Not Before 1:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

What a tournament it’s been for the 23-year-old wild card, who is the first Spanish woman to ever reach the semifinals of her country’s biggest tournament.  But this result is not a fluke: she’s now 14-6 this season, and 3-0 against top 20 players.  That includes a victory over her opponent today, who she defeated in straight sets last month on the green clay of Charleston.

In that match against Barty, Badosa saved 12 of 14 break points faced.  After the match, Badosa credited her aggressive game plan of attacking early in rallies as her key to success.  However, replicating that feat in front of a home crowd, and against an in-form world No.1, will be a tall task.  Barty is now 24-3 this season, and has claimed 16 of her last 18 deciding sets.  Ash possesses a high tennis IQ, and I expect her and her team to learn from the loss in Charleston, and figure out a way to overcome the impressive Spaniard.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Casper Ruud – Not Before 4:00pm on Arantxa Sanchez Stadium

Tsitsipas is now 10-1 on clay this season, with his only loss coming at the hands of Rafael Nadal, in a championship match where he held a match point.  Meanwhile, Ruud has compiled an impressive 25-9 record on this surface since the start of last year.  And the 22-year-old is 4-1 this season on clay against top 20 opponents, with his only loss coming at the hands of Andrey Rublev in Monte-Carlo. 

This will be their first tour-level meeting, though they did play in 2016 at an ITF event on clay, which went to Tsitsipas in a third-set tiebreak.  Ruud is fully capable of making this another tight contest, but Stefanos has been the second best clay court player so far this season, which makes him the favorite to advance.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Aryna Sabalenka (5) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – Sabalenka has been on a tear, winning 30 of her last 36 matches.  And she’s yet to drop a set at this event.  Pavlyuchenkova has defeated four top 25 players this fortnight to reach her first WTA 1000 semifinal in over a decade.  Their only previous meeting was two years ago in Canada, with Pavlyuchenkova prevailing 7-5 in the third.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Alexei Popyrin – Nadal has 392 career match wins at the Masters 1000 level.  21-year-old Popyrin only has six, though the Australian earned an impressive win on Wednesday over Jannik Sinner.

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Cristian Garin (16) – Medvedev just earned his first win on clay since April of 2019.  By contrast, Garin has earned five clay court titles since April of 2019.  Two years ago at the Rogers Cup, Medvedev defeated Garin in straight sets.

Dominic Thiem (3) vs. Alex de Minaur – Thiem has reached the semifinals or better of this event in his last three appearances.  De Minaur often trains in Spain, but had never won a match on clay at the Masters level before this week.  Thiem leads their head-to-head 3-0.

Sascha Zverev (5) vs. Dan Evans – Zverev was the champion of this event three years ago, and comfortably dispatched of Kei Nishikori on Wednesday.  Prior to Monte-Carlo last month, Evans had lost 10 consecutive matches on clay, but has now won six of his last eight.  In their only prior encounter, Evans was victorious in four sets at the 2016 US Open.

Andrey Rublev (6) vs. John Isner – Since the beginning of 2020, Rublev is 66-16.  Isner is just 16-3 during that same span, though he saved a match point to prevail over Roberto Bautista Agut on Wednesday.  The American defeated Rublev at the 2015 Miami Open, when Rublev was only 17-years-old.

Matteo Berrettini (8) vs. Federico Delbonis – Berrettini won the clay event in Belgrade two weeks ago.  Delbonis’ two career titles have both come on this surface.

Aslan Karatsev vs. Alexander Bublik – Karatsev is now 19-5 in 2021, and on Wednesday came back from a set and a break down against Diego Schwartzman.  Bublik is 18-11 this season, and upset Denis Shapovalov in the last round.

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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