Garbine Muguruza battles past Petra Kvitova to reach the last four in Singapore - UBITENNIS
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Garbine Muguruza battles past Petra Kvitova to reach the last four in Singapore

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Garbine Muguruza celebrating her latest win at the WTA Finals in Singapore (image via marca.com)

Spanish sensation Garbine Muguruza has finished first in the White Group after grabbing her third consecutive victory by defeating two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

 

Muguruza started the match positively by applying pressure on Kvitova in the first game of the match. The Czech was forced to save three break points before taking the opening game. After both players battling to hold their serve in the first four games of the match, it was the 22-year-old who struck first after she successfully converted her fourth break point to move ahead 3-2. Kvitova responded immediately in the next game by breaking back but she suffered another blow when Muguruza broke for the second consecutive time. This second break was fundamental for the Spaniard as she consolidated the break to move to just one game away from the first set (5-3). The significance of Muguruza taking the first set wasn’t just to have a stronghold in the match, it would also secure her place in the semifinals of the tournament. The task seemed easy for the 22-year-old as she served it out to love after 49 minutes.

The second set was an emotional roller-coaster for both players with six out of seven games consisting of breaks of service. Kvitova opened up a 3-1 lead before Muguruza clawed her way back to 3-3. There was apprehension for Muguruza and her team after the 22-year-old rolled her ankle on the court. Despite the scare, Muguruza didn’t request any medical attention throughout the match. Muguruza had a golden opportunity to break her Czech Rival to lead 5-4 and serve for the match but failed to capitalize after missing two backhands.The duo of costly errors revived Kvitova’s chances of staying alive in Singapore as she broke Muguruza for the fourth time in the set to force the match into a decider.

It was only the second time this week that a match has gone to three sets. The ups and downs of the second set continued into the third with there being continuous changes of momentum. Muguruza was starting to appear sluggish on the court as Kvitova grab the early break, but was once again unable to sustain the lead as Muguruza battled back. Kvitova had her chances to take the match, but every time she tried to lead, she failed to maintain it. The Czech was 4-2 up in the final set before losing her serve to love in the following game. The inconsistency in Kvitova’s game was costly. At 5-5, the world No.3 broke for the 8th time in the match for a chance to serve for her third victory in the tournament. The final game was far from straightforward for the second seed. In a game which consisted of two break points and four match point opportunities, Muguruza held her nerve to close out the match with a masterful shot at the net to grab the victory after two hours and 35 minutes.

Muguruza is the first Spanish woman to reach the last four of the WTA Finals since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. In her WTA Finals debut the 22-year-old has won all three of her round robin matches to secure her place at the top of the White Group. Kvitova could also qualify for the last four if Lucie Safarova beats Angelique Kerber in straight sets.

During the roller-coaster match, Muguruza produced 4 aces, 32 winners, 28 unforced errors and converted 8/13 break points.

Muguruza is the first player since 2009 to reach the semifinals of both the singles and doubles draw of the event. On Saturday she will play the first singles match and the second doubles match.

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Seven Extraordinary Facts About Rafael Nadal’s French Open Career

UbiTennis takes a closer look at the King of clay and his remarkable run of success at the clay court Grand Slam.

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Despite only being able to play three competitive matches on the clay heading into this year’s French Open due to the COVID-19 pandemic Rafael Nadal remains the heavy favourite and with good reason.

 

The world No.2 is the most successful player of all time to have ever played at the event which dates back to 1891. He holds an array of records at the major and has incredibly won 23 more matches than any other player on the ATP Tour. His current tally stands at 93 wins compared to second place Roger Federer who is on 70.

It’s Nadal. Even though he lost (at the Italian Open), I still think a lot of people will agree, he’s the No. 1 favourite. The record that he has there and the history of his results you just can’t put anybody in front of him,” Djokovic said of his rival last week.

To put into perspective Nadal’s remarkable run at the clay-court major, here are seven things to know about his French Open career so far.

He won on his very first attempt

Nadal’s love affair at Roland Garros started back in 2005 when he was only 18. Yet to contest a major final, the Spaniard was seeded fourth in the men’s draw and impressively dropped only three sets en route to the title. Scoring consecutive wins over David Ferrer, Federer and Mariano Pueta to become only the sixth Spanish man to win the tournament in the Open Era.

When I arrived at Roland Garros for the first time in 2005, as always, I took it match-by-match, but I was aware that if I could play as well as I had played in the previous tournaments I had a chance,” Nadal reflected on the milestone.
“I was brimming with energy, the lack of awareness of someone so young and clearly I was capable of reaching important balls, that were very difficult, returning them with power, with intensity and playing with enormous passion.”

Nadal is one of only two men to have won the French Open title on their debut in the Open Era. The other was Mats Wilander who triumphed back in 1982.

Most decorated of all time

15 years on from when he lifted his first trophy, Nadal has won Roland Garros a record 12 times. Something that hasn’t been achieved by any other player since the Open Era began. Within that period the only time he didn’t win the tournament was in 2009, 2015 and 2016. Although in 2016 he withdrew during the tournament due to injury.

Prior to Nadal, the record for most men’s titles won belong to Frenchman Max Decugis who won the tournament eight times between 1903 and 1914.

Nadal’s tournament record
Champion – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019
Quarter-finals – 2015
Fourth round – 2009
Third round – 2016 (retired injured before the match)

Only twice has he been beaten

The 34-year-old has an incredible 97.9% winning rate at the tournament after winning 93 out of 95 matches played. The only players to have beaten him are Robin Söderling and Novak Djokovic. Söderling, who was the 23rd seed in the 2009 tournament, stunned Nadal 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, in the fourth round. Then in 2015 Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 6-3, 6-1, in the quarter-finals. Both of them went on to reach the final but failed to win the title that year.

Three of his title triumphs saw him go 21-0 in sets played

In 2008, 2010 and 2017 Nadal roared his way to the title without dropping a single set. Other players to have achieved the milestone in Paris include Ilie Nastase in 1973 and Bjorn Borg in both 1978 and 1980.

It was in 2008 when Nadal recorded his most one-sided win in a final at the French Open after crushing Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.

Only twice has he been taken to the full distance

What does Djokovic and John Isner have in common? They are the only players to have taken Nadal to five sets at Roland Garros. Isner was the first to do so during the first round of the 2011 Championships and had a two-set lead at one point before the Spaniard battled back to prevail 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. Two years later in the semi-finals Djokovic battled on court for more than four-and-a-half hours before falling 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7.

Overall Nadal has played 304 sets in his French Open career and has won 277 of them. Working out as a 91% winning rate.

The prize money

So far in his career Nadal has earned $22,051,715 in prize money due to his success in the French capital. To put the figure in perspective, only 21 players in ATP history have earned more than that throughout their entire careers.

In comparison, Federer has made $18,719,106 at Wimbledon where he has won the title a record eight times. Meanwhile, Djokovic has claimed $19,885,780 in winnings at the Australian Open which he has also won eight times.

Overall Nadal’s career earnings stands at 121,044,734 which is the third highest of all-time. Almost a fifth (18.2%) of that is from Roland Garros alone.

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French Open Capacity Slashed To 1000 Per Day

The Grand Slam has been dealt a heavy blow just two days before the main draw is set to get underway.

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There are fresh doubts over how many fans will be able to attend next week’s French Open after the country’s Prime Minister confirmed a new ruling will be applied to the event amid rising cases of COVID-19.

 

Jean Castex has confirmed that no more than 1000 people will be allowed to attend Roland Garros each day in line with the rules being applied to other major events in the country. The figure includes players, coaching staff, media and anybody else who will be working at the Grand Slam over the 15-day period. Meaning, that is unclear as to if the event will be open to the public at first and if it is how many will be allowed to enter.

The gauge is lowered to 1,000 people,” Castex confirmed this Thursday evening on TV channel France 2. “We will apply the same rules at Roland Garros as elsewhere. There is no reason why we do not apply the same rules as everyone else.”

BFMTV have quoted Castex saying that the fact the French Open is held over a big area and is open air changes nothing because there will be what he describes as ‘population groups.’ Tournament director Guy Forget told reporters earlier this week that he was optimistic of welcoming 5000 people to the event each day.

The decision raises the possibility that at least some of the tournament could be held behind closed doors to keep in line with the ruling, especially the earlier rounds. Not only are there 256 singles players taking part, there are also doubles players and those taking part in the junior tournaments. Last month the entire US Open took place without fans after local health officials deemed it too risky to open the tournament up to the public because of the pandemic.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) is yet to comment on the latest development. Although Castex said he has been assured that officials will abide by the guidelines and it is up to them as to how they will do that. Just seven days ago the FFT was told to cut their plans for 11,5000 fans to 5000 before the latest reduction today.

France has seen a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in recent days. According to Reuters, health authorities reported a record 16,096 new cases within a 24-hour period on Thursday. Beating the previous record (13,498) by almost 2000. The country had set a all-time daily record four times within the past eight days.

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Andy Murray Set For 2017 Rematch With Wawrinka As Thiem Handed Tough Route In Paris

Dominic Thiem is given a hard draw at Roland Garros as Andy Murray meets a familiar foe in his first match.

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Andy Murray set for a 2017 Roland Garros rematch with Stan Wawrinka as Dominic Thiem handed difficult draw in Paris.

 

The Roland Garros draw has served up some tasty first round encounters with the main talking points taking place in the third quarter.

In that third quarter, sees a rematch between two grand slam champions from an epic semi-final in 2017.

Of course that match is Andy Murray taking on Stan Wawrinka in what is Murray’s first appearance in Paris since that match.

A couple of days ago, the duo were practicing in a sign of reminiscing their past, now they will do more than that when they take on each other in the first round.

However the tasty matches don’t stop there as the recent US Open champion Dominic Thiem has been given a rotten draw which includes a first round match against another former US Open champion, Marin Cilic.

Should Thiem beat Cilic then he could face tall American Reilly Opelka and Rome semi-finalist Casper Ruud before even getting to the second week.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka could wait in round four for the Austrian while Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman could be a last eight opponent.

Gael Monfils and Alexander Bublik will also clash in the pick of the first round in the third quarter.

Thiem is also in Rafael Nadal’s half, the man who is looking to win a 13th Roland Garros title.

The Spaniard will kick things off against Egor Gerasimov with Dan Evans or Kei Nishikori potentially awaiting in R3.

After a promising first week, Nadal could face John Isner or Fabio Fognini in the last 16, with Alexander Zverev awaiting in the quarter-finals.

The German, who recently lost an epic US Open final, will begin against Dennis Novak, with Alex De Minaur awaiting Zverev in R3. While the pick of the first rounds in Jannik Sinner against David Goffin.

In the top half, Novak Djokovic will begin against Mikael Ymer as he is arguably the best player in the world right now.

Hubert Hurkacz and Karen Khachanov are likely to stand in his way en route to the quarter-finals.

Potential last eight matches include Matteo Berrettini, Jan Lennard Struff and Pablo Carreno Busta.

While Roberto Bautista Agut will face Richard Gasquet in the pick of the first round matches in the second quarter.

Finally in the second quarter Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are on a quarter-final collision course with each other but face tough opening matches.

Medvedev takes on talented Hungarian Marton Fucsovics while Tsitsipas plays Jaume Munar.

Denis Shapovalov, Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev are among those lurking in the second quarter.

A tasty two weeks in Paris are set, with the main draw beginning on Sunday in the French capital.

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