Nao Hibino Wins Her First WTA Title, Vekic Runner-Up again at Tashkent Open - UBITENNIS
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Nao Hibino Wins Her First WTA Title, Vekic Runner-Up again at Tashkent Open

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October 3, 2015

Tashkent Open Final

By: Jillian Wright

 

It was only two weeks ago at the Japan Open that Nao Hibino of Japan won her first WTA match in her first WTA main event appearance. Today she won her first WTA title beating Donna Vekic of Croatia in straight sets at the Tashkent Open: 6-2, 6-2. Hibino did not drop a set in the tournament.

In the trophy ceremony after the match, Hibino praised the peaceful and welcoming atmosphere of the tournament. She said that she was very happy to win her first WTA title in Tashkent and hoped to be back next year. Currently ranked 117, the 20 year old will move up to the top eighty when the rankings come out on Monday.

This was the fourth finals appearance for Vekic. The 19-year-old was also the runner up in this tournament in 2012. She has one WTA title, the 2014 Malaysian Open where she bested Dominika Cibulkova. Vekic is ranked 137, she should move up about 30 spots. Throughout most of the match Hibino was able to dictate play with penetrating ground stokes, nice angles and good movement. She got off to a fine start breaking Vekic in the first game. Vekic lost serve again seventh game to go down 2-5. In the first set, Vekic faced eight break points, saving six of them. Her serve let her down, with a first serve percentage of 57% and winning only 53% of her service points. Hibino did not show any signs of nerves serving for the set and won it 6-2.

The second set started in the same fashion as the first. Vekic had been up 40-0 in the first game, but Hibino fought back get the early break – aided in part by two Vekic double faults. Hibino added another break in the fifth game and went on to win the set 6-2. Vekic’s first serve percentage was low again in the second set (just 42%) and she won only 52% of her service points compared to Hibino won 70% of her service points.

It was a good win for Hibino, beating one of the WTA’s rising stars. Vekic has been ranked as high as 62 (July 2013) and has much more tour level experience than Hibino.

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Casper Ruud Hopeful Of Big Breakthrough Despite Monte Carlo Loss

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Casper Ruud believes he is heading in the right direction to winning one of the sport’s prestigious titles after losing in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters. 

Ruud, who has been ranked as high as second in the world, missed out on claiming his maiden Masters 1000 title after suffering a straight sets loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. The defeat extends his hunt for a trophy at an event which is rated above the ATP 250 level. It is a frustrating situation for the Norwegian who is a three-time Grand Slam finalist. 

Ruud has settled for runner-up at seven tournaments categorised as an ATP 500 or above. However, only in one of those matches has he won a set which was against Carlos Alcaraz in the 2022 US Open final. 

“Today didn’t feel so close because I lost straight sets to Stef but he also played very well,” Ruud told reporters.
“I think I have taken a few steps this week, but today it just didn’t work out well.”

Whilst praising his opponent, the world No.10 admits he didn’t ‘find a good balance’ in his game against Tsitsipas. Failing to convert all eight of his break point opportunities. He also says playing in slightly warmer conditions compared to previous days presented a challenge to him. 

Despite the latest disappointment, Ruud exits Monte Carlo with a confidence boost following his semi-final win over Novak Djokovic. Not only was it the first time he had beaten the 24-time major winner, it was the first time he had beaten a current world No.1. Becoming the first player from his country to do so. Before that triumph, he held a dismal 0-11 record against top three players on the Tour. 

“I think I played well on the clay and also yesterday beating Djokovic was a fantastic win for me and something that I hope I can kind of take confidence from.” He said.
“Maybe not today but maybe next time I play a big match or hopefully next time if I’m in a big final again I will think about maybe the fact that I have beaten Novak before can be something that can give me confidence.”

Ruud has won 24 matches so far this season with Monte Carlo being his third tournament final of the year after Los Cabos and Alcapulco. He was also a semi-finalist in Estoril.

“I was able to play a final of a 1000. Wasn’t able to win, so I will continue to chase and try to improve my game always,” he stated.
“I have taken a few small steps I think in the right direction in the last six months tennis-wise, physically also, and I think we are doing something right, and hopefully can continue on this positive trend that I’m in.”

Up next for Ruud will be the Barcelona Open where he will be the second seed after Andrey Rublev. Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz has withdrawn from the tournament due to an arm injury. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Beats Erratic Ruud To Win Monte Carlo Masters

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image via twitter.com/ATPTour_ES

Stefanos Tsitsipas registered his 100th Tour-level win on clay with a comprehensive victory over Casper Ruud in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday.

The 25-year-old was in control throughout the majority of his 6-1, 6-4, triumph over the world No.10 at the Monte Carlo Country Club. Tsitsipas didn’t drop his serve throughout the clash (saving eight out of eight break points) as he hit 30 winners past an out-of-sorts Ruud who had beaten Novak Djokovic just 24 hours earlier. It is the first time he has won a title since last year’s Los Cabos Open and it is his 11th overall. 

The triumph in Monte Carlo comes after what has been a mixed past couple of months on the Tour for Tsitsipas. Coming into the tournament, he had lost seven out of his last eight matches against top 20 players and fell out of the world’s top 10. However, he has turned his fortunes around at the Masters 1000 event with a duo of top-five wins over Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner before defeating Ruud. It is the third time he has won the tournament after 2021 and 2022. 

“It’s been very difficult. To be back on the podium and winning tournaments feels amazing. I can’t thank enough my family, friends and if there is a god out there for making this moment possible,” said Tsitsipas. 
“I am extremely generous to every single person behind this journey. The trilogy is more special than the first or second time. This is unbelievable for me. Capturing this win today was nerve-wracking. I really wanted the trilogy and I got it. I’m extremely happy today.”

12th-seeded Tsitsipas inflicted his first blow three games into the final with the use of a forehand winner to break for a 2-1 lead. The Greek almost lost his advantage twice in the following game but dug deep to keep ahead. Meanwhile, a lacklustre Ruud struggled for consistency throughout the opener as he hit back-to-back errors from his forehand side later in the set to hand his rival the double break. In cruise control, Tsitsipas clinched the 6-1 lead after just 36 minutes of play following a Ruud double fault. 

At the start of the second frame, the world No.12 experienced some issues with his shotmaking and greater resistance from across the court but continued to weather the storm. Best illustrated at 3-3 when Tsitsipas survived a 13-minute service game by saving a trio of break points. Battling his way to a game away from glory, he earned his first match point after a backhand error from Ruud. He then sealed victory with a forehand winner down the line. 

Moments after the match concluded, Tsitsipas wrote the phrase ‘fate favours fearless’ on the camera lens.

“I had a chat with one of my team members last night. I had to go out here and show that kind of tennis because I promised every single one (of his team) that I’m not going to give up and make the most out of it,” he said. 
“I’m glad that I showed some unbelievable and ruthless tennis. From the beginning until the end my play was cohesive.”

As for runner-up Ruud, the Norwegian continues his quest for a title at a tournament above ATP 250 level. Despite coming up short, his win over Djokovic in the semi-finals was the first time he has beaten a current world No.1 in his career. Furthermore, he has won 24 matches already this season which is the second-highest on the ATP Tour after Jannik Sinner (25). 

“I feel like we (Ruud and his team) are getting closer to a big title. I’m looking forward to having another chance in the future. Hopefully we can break that last barrier and win a big tournament like this,” Ruud commented during the trophy presentation.

Tsitsipas will now rise to seventh in the PIF ATP rankings on Monday. He has become the fifth player to win the Monte Carlo crown three or more times. Following in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg, Thomas Muster and Illie Nastase.

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Disappointed Novak Djokovic Draws Positives From Monte Carlo Run

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Novak Djokovic is hopeful that his run at the Monte Carlo Masters has set strong foundations for the rest of the clay swing as he chases after his first title of the season. 

The world No.1 missed out on a place in the final of the Masters 1000 event following a three-set loss to Norway’s Casper Ruud. Djokovic trailed 1-4 in the final set of his latest match before fighting back to draw level. However, the comeback wasn’t enough to see him cross the finish line with the Serbian hitting a double fault when facing match point. It is the first time he has been beaten by Ruud who he still leads 5-1 in their head-to-head. 

“I had my chances but the last game was not great,” Djokovic reflected on his latest performance.
“Unforced errors and he (Ruud) was solid until the last shot and deserved to win.
“My game was kind of up and down. The positive thing is that I managed to come back after losing the first set and found strength in the game.
So there are positives to take away from this tournament but of course I’m disappointed with the loss.”

Djokovic currently has 11 wins against four losses so far this season (including the United Cup). He has yet to reach a tournament final but did reach the last four at the Australian Open before losing to Jannik Sinner. He has now failed to win a title during the first four months of a season in two out of the last three years. However, in 2022 he was prohibited from playing in Australia due to his vaccination status. 

Whilst he is hungry for more silverware, the 24-time Grand Slam champion isn’t too concerned about his recent title drought. The last tournament he triumphed at was the ATP Finals in Turin last November. 

“I’m used to really high standards in terms of expectations of the results, so not having a title compared with the last 15 years is not a great season at all.” He said.
“But I had semis of Australia, semis here (in Monte Carlo). I only played three tournaments this year so it’s normal to expect that you have some seasons where you don’t start well, and this is the one.
“Hopefully I can pick up, in terms of results. I can build from here because I played some good tennis. Hopefully, in the next tournaments I’ll be able to play even better.”

Djokovic has opted to not play in any of the three tournaments taking place on the Tour next week. His next scheduled event will be the Madrid Masters which he has won three previous occasions. 

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