Timea Bacsinsky fought back from one set down to edge Sara Errani to reach the semifinal in Beijing - UBITENNIS
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Timea Bacsinsky fought back from one set down to edge Sara Errani to reach the semifinal in Beijing

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Swiss Timea Bacsinszky fought back from losing the first set with a bagel to take an impressive win with 0-6 6-3 7-5 against Sara Errani to reach the semifinals of the China Open Premier Mandatory in Beijing.

 

Errani, the first Italian player able to reach the quarter finals in each Premier Mandatory Tournament (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing), had to save three break points at the start of the first set but from then she won eight consecutive games to build up a 6-0 2-0 lead. Bacsinszky committed two many unforced errors and won just two points on her serve in the first set.

Errani went up 40-15 on her serve in the third game of the second set earning two points for 6-0 3-0. Bacsinszky won those two points breaking serve in the third game and won her fifth consecutive game to pull away to 5-2. Errani broke back for 3-5 but Bacsinskiy broke again to take the second set with 6-3.

Bacsinszky went up a break at the start of the third set to build up a 3-0 lead. In a roller-coaster match Errani broke back to love. In the 8th game Bacsinszy went up 0-30 but Errani held her serve to draw level to 4-4. Errani went up 0-30 in the 11th game but Bacsinsky held her serve to take the 6-5 lead.

After a double fault from Errani Bacsinszky clinched the final game to take the third set with 7-5 and  reached the first Premier Mandatory semifinal of her career. Bacsinszky now leads 3-1 over Errani.

Bacsinszky has still an outside chance to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore. She is currently ranked 14th in the WTA Race to Singapore and needs two wins to keep her hopes alive. The Swiss player arrived in Beijing with five consecutive defeats but she found again her early-season form winning Camila Giorgi 1-6 6-4 6-3, Mariana Duque Marino 7-5 6-2 and Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 4-6 7-5.

The Lausanne player scored her 40th win of the year  She is one win away from breaking the top-10 for the first time in her career. With this win she keeps her hopes alive of qualifying the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Agnieszka Radwanska cruised past Angelique Kerber with 6-1 6-4 to reach the semifinals and is now two matches away from qualifying to the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Radwanska raced out to 6-1 in the first set in just 26 minutes. Kerber bounced back taking a 3-0 lead in the second set but Radwanska won six of the next seven games to clinch the second set with 6-4. Radwanska hit 11 winners to just 4 unforced errors.

Radwanska, who won in Tokyo two weeks ago, now leads 6-5 in her head-to-head matches against her German rival.

“It has been definitely an up and down season for me especially at the beginning of the season. I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. That was a bit frustrating. I diw much better during the grass court season. I had a couple of good results there and this helped me to be where I am right now. I still have a chance to go to Singapore and I am fighting for that ”, said Radwanska

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Greece’s Top Players Face Significant Opposition on Tuesday

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Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

Greece, the home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, saw its top male and female tennis player both suffer substantial heartache last month at Roland Garros.  In the men’s singles championship match, Stefanos Tsitsipas was up two-sets-to-love against Novak Djokovic, before succumbing to the world No.1 in five sets.  In the women’s singles semifinals, Maria Sakkari held a match point, but lost 9-7 in the third to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova.  Stefanos and Maria are entered into the mixed doubles event as a team, which will begin on Wednesday.  But on Tuesday, they will partake in what should be two of the most competitive singles matches of the day.

 

Tuesday is scheduled to host all eight women’s singles round of 16 matches, as well as the eight remaining men’s singles second round matches.  Also, the second round of both men’s and women’s doubles is scheduled to conclude.  However, “scheduled” is the key word in those sentences, with potential rain in Tokyo’s forecast for the morning and the evening.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing men’s and women’s matchup, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) [GRE] vs. Frances Tiafoe [USA]– 11:00am on Centre Court

This is a rematch from the first day of Wimbledon, when Tiafoe upset Tsitsipas on Court No.1 in straight sets.  Tsitsipas was just 15 days removed from his French Open final defeat, and hadn’t played any matches on grass ahead of The Championships.  Stefanos had claimed their first two meetings in straight sets.  Frances played well in the opening round of both singles and doubles, as he and Rajeev Ram beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.  But the slow-playing hard courts in Tokyo should certainly favor the Greek.  Tsitsipas went 23-5 on clay this season, compared to Tiafoe’s subpar record of 3-5.  And overcoming Philipp Kohlschreiber in a tight three-set battle on Sunday should boost the confidence of the third seed.

Elina Svitolina (4) [UKR] vs. Maria Sakkari (14) [GRE] – Third on Centre Court

Svitolina has barely reached this stage, winning consecutive matches 6-4 in the third.  By contrast, since falling behind in the opening set of her first round against Anett Kontaveit, Sakkari has rolled, dropping only five games across her last three sets.  Sakkari also leads their head-to-head 2-1, and has prevailed in both their previous hard court meetings.  Svitolina’s only victory came two years ago on the grass of The All England Club.  Maria’s defensive skills rival that of Elina, but Svitolina’s offensive is not nearly as commanding as Sakkari’s.  The combination of this slow surface and the speed of these two competitors should result in some grueling, compelling rallies.  In the end, this is another matchup where Greece should be favored to prevail.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Naomi Osaka (2) [JPN] vs. Marketa Vondrousova [CZE] – Osaka is yet to be tested through two rounds.  This will be her first meeting with Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up who has struggled to rediscover her form after getting injured shortly thereafter.

Marcos Giron [USA] vs. Kei Nishikori [JPN] – Nishikori upset fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev in the first round.  Giron is a 28-year-old American who recently reached a career-high ranking of 64th in the world, and is currently ranked four spots higher than Kei.

Barbora Krejcikova (8) [CZE] vs. Belinda Bencic (9) [SUI] – Roland Garros champion Krejcikova has now won 22 of her last 23 singles matches.  Bencic hasn’t defeated a top 20 player since October of 2019.  This clash of top 10 seeds is another first-time encounter.

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) [CZE] vs. Paula Badosa and Sara Sorribes Tormo [ESP] – Krejcikova also won the women’s doubles tournament at the French Open with partner Siniakova, their third Major as a team.  Badosa and Sorribes Tormo are good friends who have been rooting each other on in singles, where both have reached the round of 16.  Earlier in the day, Badosa will play Nadia Podoroska, while Sorribes Tormo will play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz [GER] vs. Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury [GBR] – Murray and Salisbury upset Roland Garros champions Herbert and Mahut in the first round.  Krawietz and Puetz are both ranked inside the top 32 in men’s doubles, but they do not normally play as a team.

Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Proud Novak Djokovic Puts Tennis Into The Spotlight At Olympics

Closing in on his Olympic dream, the world No.1 is relishing his time both on and off the court in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic - image via ITF Tennis

Earlier this week Novak Djokovic described the Tokyo Olympics as ‘so many amazing people in one place’ and he himself is proving to be hit at the Games.

 

Over the past couple of days the Serbian has been seen speaking to his fellow team mates about the importance of mental strength, doing the splits with a Belgian gymnast in a photo which has gone viral and has taken time to speak with various athletes from different countries. It is safe to say the world No.1 is relishing his Olympic experience, as well as the chance to promote his sport.

“There’s a lot of attention towards tennis as a sport in this Olympic Games,” Djokovic told reporters on Monday. “We are grateful, because we are representing our country, ourselves, but also our sport in the Olympic Village.”

Djokovic continued his campaign for a maiden gold medal by easing to a 6-4, 6-3, win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. A player who he also scored three consecutive wins against during the 2020 season. In Tokyo the top seed is more satisfied with his latest win compared to two days ago when he voiced his concerns about playing in the blistering heat.

“I was struggling with certain things in the first round, but today was far more pleasant to play, just a higher level of tennis on my side,” he said.
“I’m very pleased with the way I felt on the court.”

There is more than just a gold medal at stake for Djokovic as he aims to reach a milestone which has never been achieved by a male singles player in the history of tennis. With three major titles under his belt already this year, he is on course to achieve the calendar Golden Slam where a player with all four Grand Slams and Olympic gold within the same year. Only Stefi Graf has done this in the Open Era which was back in 1988.

I’m obviously very pumped and inspired to make history,” Djokovic states. “I have that guiding star that is there and I see it and it gives me light and it gives me energy but at the same time I better stick to the stuff that I know works well on a daily basis for me.”

The next test for Djokovic will be Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain who experienced a much tougher second round encounter. Fokina battled to a 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3, win over John Millman after almost three hours of play.

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Tokyo Olympics: Naomi Osaka Shrugs Off Nerves, Muguruza Talks Music And Sakkari Has A Day To Remember

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Naomi Osaka - image via ITF Tennis

Japan’s Naomi Osaka continued her quest for a maiden Olympic medal on Monday with a comprehensive straight sets win over Viktorija Golubic.

 

Osaka, who is the highest seed remaining in the draw following Ash Barty’s exit, dropped just five games during her 6-3, 6-2, win over the world No.50. Impressively winning 86% of her first service points and 78% of her second to set up a third round showdown against former French Open finalist Markéta Vondroušová.

“I feel like I was a bit more nervous before the match,” Osaka said afterwards. “I felt a lot of butterflies, but I think as I started playing and feeling more comfortable, I knew that no matter what it would be a great match.”
“I just thought about playing my game. It’s a bit hard to play someone that slices a lot like she (GOLUBIC) does. I feel like she’s very smart so just not putting too much stress on myself over what she will do.” She added.

The 23-year-old is bidding to become the first ever Japanese tennis player to win an Olympic gold medal. Osaka is one of the faces of Tokyo 2020 and was the person who lit the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony on Friday.

“I didn’t feel pressure. I felt more excitement. It was like a sense of duty, something I wanted to accomplish.” She commented on her role.
“It would mean a lot to win gold here, but I know it’s a process. I know these are the best players in the world, and honestly I haven’t played in a while, so I’m trying to take it one notch at a time.”

Tokyo is the first event Osaka is playing in since the French Open in May. She recently took a break from the sport for reasons related to her mental health after revealing she has been suffering from depression and social anxiety since 2018.

Success for other seeds

Elsewhere on Day three of the Games, Garbine Muguruza spoke about her love for reggae music after brushing aside China’s Wang Qiang 6-3, 6-0. The Spaniard was only on court for 62 minutes as she broke her opponent five times in a row.

“I think I played very well from the beginning and took my chances and I did it right. My tennis was there today.” Muguruza said of her performance.

Travelling around the world to play various events, the two-time Grand Slam champion revealed that she uses music to help combat loneliness on the Tour. Among her favourite songs to listen to is I Wish You Were Here by Alpha Blondy and Sunshine Reggae by Laid Back.

“I love reggae, it puts me in a happy and relaxed mood. I love Latin music, but reggae, yes, definitely.” She said.
“I grew up in Venezuela and there you also listen to the Caribbean type of beat. I love the beach and my family always play reggae, and it’s cool.”

Greece’s Maria Sakkari was another player who looked impressive during her second round match. Sakkari eased to a 6-1, 6-2, win over Nina Stojanović in what is her first ever Olympic Games. The win took place a day after her 26th birthday which she will remember for a long time.

“To spend my birthday here (at the Olympics), I don’t know if it will happen again in my life. It was pretty unique and very nice to be here and celebrate with my colleagues and the rest of the Greek team. They had a really nice surprise for me yesterday, and it was very nice of them. It feels very special.” She said.

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