Maria Sharapova holds off Simona Halep's late comeback to win her second win in Singapore - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova holds off Simona Halep’s late comeback to win her second win in Singapore

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Maria Sharapova beat Simona Halep 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 54 minutes after a great match in which Sharapova had to hold off Halep’s late comeback in the second set. Both players traded breaks in the first set but Sharapova reeled off seven of the next eight games en route to building up a 6-4 5-1 lead. Halep trailed 1-5 in the second set but clawed her way into the match to 4-5 by getting two consecutive breaks but Sharapova broke serve to close out the second set.

 

Simona Halep came into the match with a straight set win over Flavia Pennetta in a match where she dropped just three games. The Romanian took a revenge against the Italian who beat her in the semifinal of the US Open.

Maria Sharapova battled past Agnieszka Radwanska in her first round robin match with 4-6 6-3 6-4 in her first completed match since Wimbledon.

Sharapova won all her five previous head-to-head matches against Halep but the Romanian pushed her to three sets in their last three clashes played in 2014 in Madrid, in the Roland Garros final and in Cincinnati

In the first set both players traded breaks in the second and the third games. Halep was broken in her first service game to trail 0-2. In the third game Halep hit an inside-out forehand at 15-30 to earn two break points. She hit a cross-court forehand return to break back for 1-2.

Sharapova held serve from 30-all to take the 3-2 lead. In the sixth game Halep hit a running forehand to which Sharapova responded with an inside-out backhand that clipped outside the line. Halep held serve to 15. Sharapova led 40-15 but Halep fought back to force the seventh game to deuce. At 15-30 in the eighth game Halep hit a backhand down the line winner to draw level to 30-all before holding her serve for 4-4. Sharapova hit a spectacular drop-shot to draw level to 30-30 at 4-4 before holding her serve.

At 4-5 15-40 Halep saved two set points but Sharapova converted her third break point to clinch the first set with 6-4.

In the first set Sharapova hit 11 winners to 17 unforced errors but made 5 double faults. She converted two of her four break point chances and won 62 percent of her first serve points. Halep hit 4 winners to 8 unforced errors and converted her only break point.

Sharapova held her serve easily to take a 1-0 lead. The Russian star broke serve in the second game to take a 2-0 lead after a 10-minute second game marked by great rallies from both players. Sharapova held her serve to 30 to race out to 3-0.

Halep won the fourth game breaking the losing streak of four consecutive games from 4-4 in the first set. Sharapova held serve for 4-1 as Halep sent her backhand into the net. Halep did not play a bad match but Sharapova outplayed the Romanian player with her great shots and defence.

Sharapova brought up a break point at 4-1 and converted it. She was looking to close the match out but she failed to convert two chances to serve out the match as she made her 7th double fault to face a break point. Halep got the break winning her second game since 4-4 in the first set. The Romanian player held her serve to love in the eighth game to win her second consecutive game for 3-5.

Halep was on fire and got a second consecutive break to claw her way back to 4-5 when Sharapova was serving for the match. Halep won a great first point before Sharapova reeled off four consecutive points to hold off Halep’s comeback. Sharapova broke serve with a backhand to close out the match after 1 hour and 54 minutes.

Sharapova hit 22 winners to 34 unforced errors. She converted 5 of her 11 break points and won 56 percent of her first serve points. Halep hit ten winners to 14 unforced errors and converted all her three break points. She won 70 first serve points and five of her eight points at the net.

Sharapova scored her 20th win in this tournament and her best win in more than one year. The last time she beat a world number 2 dates back to Cincinnati 2014 when she prevailed against Halep in the quarter finals.

Although Sharapova won her first two matches and dropped just one set against Agniszka Radwanska, she has not qualified yet for the semifinals. All four players in the Red Group have still a chance to get through to the semifinals.

Sharapova came into the WTA Finals with just one match since the long break after Wimbledon due to injury problems. She did not finish her first round at Wuhan where she picked up a left foreharm injury.

“It definitely got realy tough. I guess those are the moments you have to get through when you haven’t played in a long time and against the number 2 player in the world these matches don’t come easy. It definitely showed until the end. I am quite pleased to be able to beat the number 2 player in the world. It was a very physical match. I found myself on the defense many times and was able to win a lot of the long points. ”, said Sharapova.

Halep commented after the match praising the great match of Sharapova. “She was moving pretty well. When I opened the court, she did some unbelievable shots. She didn’t miss. She was very close to the line. She had a good day today. She played her best. She deserves to win and I give her a lot of credit for this match”, said Halep

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Novak Djokovic Equals Laver’s Grass-Court Winning Streak With Emphatic Wimbledon Win

The world No.3 was in ruthless form as he dropped only seven game in his latest match at The All England Club.

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Novak Djokovic (SRB)- Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

Novak Djokovic has breezed into the fourth round of Wimbledon after dismissing fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets.

 

The reigning champion was in top form from the onset as he stormed to a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4, win in under two hours. It is the third time in a row he has beaten Kecmanovic on the Tour and the first on grass. In what was a largely clinical display from the former world No.1, Djokovic hit 36 winners and six aces.

“I thought it started off very well, very strong with a lot of good intensity. Good focus,” said Djokovic. “I know Miomir quite well, we train together a lot. I’m really glad that he, alongside a couple of other (Serbian) players is doing well. I wish him all the best. Hopefully, I will get to play against him many more times on the biggest courts.

In only the third all-Serbian men’s match in the Open Era at Wimbledon, Djokovic got off to a perfect start by steamrolling his way through the opener in just 25 minutes. Dropping just six points on his serve and 12 overall in the set. It is the first time he has bagel a player at Wimbledon since doing so against David Goffin in 2019.

Fortunately for Kecmanovic and the Center Court crowd, the second frame was much more competitive with the world No.30 producing glimmers of the tennis that has taken him to two Masters 1000 quarter-finals earlier this year. Three times in two separate games Djokovic had a break point chance but failed to convert.

Continuing to wear down his compatriot, the top seed eventually secured a breakthrough whilst leading 4-3. Playing behind the baseline he slipped on the grass during a rally whilst having another break point chance but this time Kecmanovic hit the ball out to hand him the advantage. Djokovic went on to close out the set with a backhand lob. 

The only blip in the match for Djokovic occurred when he was trying to close the match out. After easing his way to a double break advantage in the third set, he dropped serve for the first time. However, he prevailed on his second chance to serve the match out to seal his 330th Grand Slam main draw win. 

“It means that I have been playing for quite a few years which I’m very grateful for and I’m very blessed to be in this position to compete at the highest level,” Djokovic replied when asked about winning tally ay major events.
“I’m very proud of my consistency at this level.”

Friday’s win is Djokovic’s 24th in a row on the grass which puts him level with tennis great Rod Laver on the all-time list. Only Bjorn Borg (41) and Roger Federer (65) have ever won more matches on the surface. It is the 55th time in his career he has reached the last 16 of a major tournament. 

So far in this year’s draw, he has only dropped one set in three matches played. That was in the first round against South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo.

“I think I’ve been playing better and better as the tournament progresses. It is something you wish for as a player that you raise your level of tennis up a notch,” he said.
“I know I can always do better. I always expect the highest from myself but so far, so good. I look forward to the next challenge.”

Djokovic will play Dutch sensation Tim van Rijthoven in the fourth round.

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Tim Van Rijthoven Goes From Injury Woes To Wimbledon Sensation

The former top 20 junior endured three years of injury struggles but he is now playing the best tennis of his career with a potential clash against Djokovic looming.

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image via twitter.com/atptour

At the start of the year life on the ATP Tour looked very different for Tim van Rijthoven. 

 

The Dutchman was yet to break inside the world’s top 200, play in the main draw of a major and he predominantly featured on the lower-level Challenger Tour. However, that all changed when he embarked on this year’s grasscourt swing. After losing in the opening round of qualifying at the Surbiton qualifying to a player ranked No.375, Rijthoven received a wild card to play s-Hertogenbosch which has sensationally transformed his career.

Unknown to many in the draw, he stunned the likes of Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime en route to the final. Standing in his way of a maiden title was world No.1 Daniil Medvedev who he impressively disposed of in straight sets with relative ease. It was a fairytale journey but was it a one-off?

“I actually played a very good match in Surbiton. My opponent was also just playing very well. It was a close match. I think I lost 7-5 in the third set, but could have gone either way. So I wasn’t too sad about that.” Rijthoven said during his press conference.
“My mindset stayed the same. Just kept doing my thing. Obviously in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, it’s my home country, so there’s a lot of positive vibes there which maybe helped me also to gain the title.”


Rijthoven is once again making waves on the Tour but this time at Wimbledon. Receiving another wild card into the event, he continues to show his potential. On Friday he disposed of 22nd seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, to reach the fourth round on his Grand Slam debut. Becoming only the seventh male player to do so since 2000. Even more remarkable is that Wimbledon is only the third grass-court event at Tour-level he has played in his entire career. 

“It was not like any other match. I think he’s a very streaky player. Can play very well at times, can also make some mistakes at times,” the world No.104 commented on his latest win.
“For me it was just about keeping the ball in play and making him play a lot of shots, giving him a chance to miss basically.”

Rijthoven’s breakthrough has been a long time coming. As a junior, he achieved a ranking high of No.13 and reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 Wimbledon boy’s tournament before losing to Noah Rubin. However, as a pro, he was hampered by injury issues over a period lasting roughly three years. Besides surgery on an artery and his wrist, he was also troubled by a condition called golfer’s elbow for nine months.

“I’ve had my ups and downs, injuries here and there. I’ve also struggled mentally. I’m just happy to be in the place I am right now. I hope to be there for a couple more years, or a lot more years actually.” he said.

The man in charge of mentoring the rising star is Igor Sijsling, who still has an active ATP ranking of 549. He is a former top 40 player who reached the third round at Wimbledon in 2013. The two have been working together since the start of this year. 

Rijthoven is now on an eight-match winning streak since making his Tour debut but could face his toughest challenge next should Novak Djokovic come through his third round encounter. The Serbian is seeking his seventh Wimbledon title and fourth in a row.

“Before the tournament started, it was a dream for me to play him,” he said of Djokovic. “To be able to have that chance and to maybe even play on Center Court or Court 1 is beautiful and magical.”
“I go into every match thinking I can win. Also against Djokovic I’ll go into that match thinking I can win.”

Should Rijthoven play and beat Djokovic, he will be only the second player ranked outside the top 100 to do so this year after Jiri Vesely. 

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Djokovic, Kerber, Alcaraz Face Seeded Opposition

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A shot of a double rainbow over the grounds on Thursday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Third round singles action begins on Friday, which is the first day seeded players clash in the draw.  Novak Djokovic, Angelique Kerber, and Carlos Alcaraz will all face seeded opposition on Friday.  And in perhaps the day’s most marquee matchup, Italy’s Jannik Sinner takes on John Isner, who eliminated Andy Murray on Wednesday.

 

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Diane Parry – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Jabeur is now on a seven-match win streak, dating back to her title run two weeks ago in Berlin.  She has earned two comprehensive victories this week, dropping just four games in each of her first two rounds.  Parry is a 19-year-old who also nabbed her first two matches in straight sets.  And just a few weeks ago, Diane also reached the third round of her home Slam in Paris, where she upset Barbora Krejcikova in the defending champion’s return from an injury layoff.  There is plenty of promise in Parry’s game, but upsetting the new world No.2, whose style of play is a great fit for grass courts, would be a shocking result.


Angelique Kerber (15) vs. Elise Mertens (24) – Second on No.1 Court

Kerber got off to a terrible start this season, with a record of 2-8.  Surprisingly, Angie found her form on her worst surface, with a clay title run in Strasbourg.  Since last year, the 2018 champion is 15-3 on grass, and has not lost a set this week.  Mertens is now into her 18th consecutive third round at a Major, though just barely.  She needed to save two match points in the second set on Wednesday, before coming back to play an extended third set on Thursday, to eventually prevail 7-5 in the third.  Elise claimed their only previous encounter in three sets, which occurred three years ago in Doha.  But on grass, Kerber should be considered the favorite.  Angie thrives off the low bounces these lawns provide.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Miomir Kecmanovic (25) – Second on Centre Court

After Djokovic was prevented from playing the Australian Open in January, it’s Kecmanovic who benefited from taking the top seed’s place in the draw.  Miomir took full advantage, reaching the second week of a Major for the first time.  And he has continued that momentum throughout the year, accumulating 27 match wins through six months.  But he will likely be outmatched by his fellow Serbian on Friday.  Djokovic is on a 23-match win streak at Wimbledon, and after some subpar form in his opening round, he comfortably dispatched of Thanasi Kokkinakis on Wednesday.  Novak has claimed both his previous encounters with Kecmanovic, making him a clear favorite to reach the round of 16 at The Championships for the 14th time.


Jannik Sinner (10) vs. John Isner (20) – Third on No.2 Court

Isner demoralized the British audience on Wednesday by earning his first victory over two-time champion Andy Murray in nine tries.  John’s serving was extra impressive in that match, striking 36 aces across four sets.  But the rest of his game was highly effective as well, with 82 winners and only 32 unforced errors.  And as Ben Rothenberg highlighted on Twitter, he broke Murray twice after only breaking him once across their previous eight matches.  Meanwhile, Sinner came into this event 0-4 in main draw matches on grass, yet gained two four-set wins this week over Stan Wawrinka and Mikael Ymer.  Jannik and John’s head-to-head is tied at 1-1, with Isner prevailing last year in Cincinnati, and Sinner prevailing later in the year in Davis Cup.  As monstrous as Isner’s serve can be, maintaining his high level from Wednesday in all aspects of his game will be challenging.  I give the slight edge to the more well-rounded game of Sinner, whose penetrating groundstrokes should earn him a few breaks of serve.


Carlos Alcaraz (5) vs. Oscar Otte (32) – Third on No.1 Court

Despite only playing two grass court matches in his career prior to this fortnight, Alcaraz appears pretty comfortable on this surface.  After surviving a tight five-setter in the first round against Jan-Lennard Struff, Carlitos prevailed in straights in the last round.  But his opposition on Friday is quite a formidable grass court player.  Otte is a 28-year-old who, as a qualifier, pushed Andy Murray to five sets at this event one year ago.  And Oscar is now 7-2 on grass this season, coming off back-to-back semifinals in Stuttgart and Halle.  He also reached the second week of last summer’s US Open, and is now ranked inside the top 40.  Yet based on what we’ve seen Alcaraz achieve this season, building a record of 34-4 with four titles, the 19-year-old’s mix of power, speed, and finesse should be enough to overcame the veteran from Germany.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Frances Tiafoe (23) vs. Alexander Bublik – These are two of the sport’s most entertaining players to watch.  And both are in strong form, each winning all six sets they’ve contested this week.  They played just last week in Eastbourne, with Bublik victorious in three sets. 

Jelena Ostapenko (12) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu – Ostapenko has twice reached the quarters or better at this event, and was the runner-up a week ago in Eastbourne.  Begu is a 32-year-old who reached the second week of Roland Garros a few weeks ago.  And Begu took their only prior matchup, four years ago in Madrid on clay.

Maria Sakkari (5) vs. Tatjana Maria – Sakkari has easily advanced to this stage, and is vying for her fourth appearance in the round of 16 out of the last six Slams.  Tatjana is a 34-year-old who upset Sorana Cirstea in the last round.  In the first round of this year’s Australian Open, Sakkari defeated Maria in straights.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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