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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Iga Swiatek Unfazed By Pressure Heading Into French Open

The 20-year-old says she has ‘accepted a few things’ which has made it easier for her to relax on the Tour.

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Photo by Roberto Dell’Olivo

After claiming her fifth title in a row at the Italian Open, Iga Swiatek has insisted that she will be able to cope with the high expectations from those around her heading into the next Grand Slam later this month.

 

The world No.1 dispatched of Ons Jabeur in straight sets on Sunday at the Foro Italico to extend her winning streak to 28 matches. Becoming only the fourth woman to do so since 2000 after both of the Williams sisters and Justin Henin. Overall, she has won 35 matches this season against just three losses. Prior to Rome, she also won titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Stuttgart. A run she described as ‘pretty surreal.’

Given Swiatek’s surge on the Tour, she is heading into the French Open as the one to beat in the women’s draw. A former winner of the major back in 2020, the Pole has the extra pressure of being the No.1 seed in a Grand Slam draw for the first time at the age of 20. In recent weeks she has had to also deal with a surge of media interest in her.

However, ironically Swiatek believes her unbeaten run in the sport has in one way helped eased her own personal expectations.

“Right now it’s a little bit better ’cause I kind of accepted a few things,” she told reporters in Rome on Sunday when asked about how she is dealing with the pressure.
“I already know that I did some great stuff this season, so I feel like I can just play freely and not think I have to win some tournaments or I have to win some matches or I have to save some points.’
“This year the pressure that I always put on myself, it’s a little bit lower. For sure the expectations around are higher, but I never had a problem to cut it off and not to think about it.”

Approaching Roland Garros Swiatek believes the best method is to change nothing. She is currently coached on the Tour by Tomasz Witkorowski who joined her team during the off-season. Witkorowski has previously worked with Agnieszka Radwańska. Also supporting her is sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz who has been working with the tennis star for over two years.

“Honestly, I’m going to do the same way I’ve done here (in Rome), also in other tournaments,” Swiatek said of her preparations for the French Open. “For sure it’s going to be a little bit harder with all the breaks that we’re going to have between matches. I also like the rhythm that we have on Grand Slams. Again, I’m going to try to do step by step, just think of the next match as I did in these tournaments.”

Should she win the French Open, Swiatek would have the longest winning streak on the WTA Tour since Serena Williams back in 2013. Whilst many are tipping her for more Grand Slam glory, she is keeping an open mind about how much longer she can keep her winning streak for.

“Good question. I think nobody knows the answer,” she replied.

The French Open will begin next Sunday.

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Novak Djokovic Topples Tsitsipas To Win Record 38th Masters Title In Rome

The world No.1 says his latest triumph ‘couldn’t be a better time of the year’ with the French Open swiftly approaching.

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Novak Djokovic overcame a second set blip to seal his sixth Italian Open title after ousting an at times erratic Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

The world No.1 enjoyed a dream start before later getting tested during his 6-0, 7-6(5),win over the 23-year-old in what was their ninth Tour meeting. After storming through the opener, Djokovic was forced to battle back from 2-5 down in the second set. Overall, he produced 24 winners against 14 unforced errors to extend his head-to-head record against Tsitsipas to 7-2.

“I can say that I pleasantly surprised myself even though I had a clear game plan and strategy coming into the match,” Djokovic told TennisTV when asked about his start to the final. “I knew what was expected from the other side so I knew what I had to do. I did play a perfect set, no doubt about it.’
“After that it was a little bit tough at the beginning of the second. At this level one or two points can turn a match around and he was back in the game. 1-4 and 30-40 to him (Tsitsipas), the match could have easily gone into the third set but I somehow managed to find the right shots at the right time.” He added.

Taking to the court to play in his 12th Rome final, Djokovic dictated proceedings from the onset by producing clinical tennis against Tsitsipas who struggled to find his rhythm on the court. The top seed first drew blood in the opening game when a forehand from his rival slammed into the net which rewarded him a break. Two games later Djokovic extended his lead further to 3-0 at the expense of more Tsitsipas mistakes. This time it was a double fault followed by a backhand going wide.

Djokovic’s relentless play frustrated Tsitsipas who appeared lost. A remarkable contrast to their previous meeting at last year’s French Open where the Serbian had to battle back from two sets down. In cruise control, he closed out the 30-minute opening set with a smash at the net to become the first player to bagel Tsitsipas since Rafael Nadal did so at the 2019 Australian Open.

Cheered on by the crowd who were hoping for a battle between two of the Tour’s best players, Tsitsipas finally ended his losing streak by holding at the start of the second set. Prompting chants of ‘Tsitsipas’ to erupt at the Foro Italico. The Greek capitalized on the support as Djokovic faltered with a forehand mistake to gift him a break for 3-1 and revive his title hopes. One notable difference between the sets was the change of his tactics by hitting more to the Djokovic backhand.

After positioning himself on the verge of forcing a decider, Tsitsipas was unable to seize the opportunity. Working his way to a 5-2 lead, a tentative service game saw him produce a failed drop shot followed by a backhand unforced error to hand his nemesis the break back. Who eventually battled back to level 5-5.

With a historic 38th Masters 1000 title at stake, Djokovic held his nerve to prevail in a roller-coaster second set tiebreaker. After getting the mini break for a 3-2 lead when a Tsitsipas backhand crashed into the net, he lost his advantage 5 points later when one of his shots touched the net and landed out. Nevertheless, Djokovic nudged his way to championship point with a serve down the line was returned out by Tsitsipas. The title was then sealed when his rival hit a backhand that drifted wide.

“I have been building my form over the last couple of weeks and like the previous years I knew that my best on the clay is usually coming around Rome time,” said Djokovic. “It couldn’t be a better time of year coming into Roland Garros with a (Masters) title in this wonderful tournament.”

Djokovic’s latest win is his 232nd over a top 10 player which is an Open Era record for the ATP Tour. Besides claiming his 87th Tour title, he has become the oldest player ever to have won the Italian Open. Beating the previous benchmark set by Nadal 12 months ago.

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Clinical Iga Swiatek Storms Past Jabeur To Claim Second Successive Rome Title

Swiatek’s sensational 2022 season continues as she tames the world No.7 to claim her fifth Tour title in a row.

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Iga Swiatek has become only the fourth WTA player since 2000 to win a 28th match in a row after dismantling Ons Jabeur in the final of the Italian Open.

 

The world No.1 largely dictated proceedings throughout her 6-2, 6-2, triumph over the Tunisian in what was yet another clinical performance from the 20-year-old. Overall, she won 67% of her first service points and broke five times. Recording her first win over Jabeur since the 2019 Washington Open and only the second in her career out of four attemps.

I want to congratulate Ons. You’ve shown the fighting spirit, so much variety on court that really, it’s so nice to have you on tour because your tennis is just different and it’s really interesting for women’s tennis. Also off court you’re such a great person,” she said during the trophy ceremony.

Swiatek entered the final as the bookmakers favorites given her stellar run on the Tour in recent weeks. The Pole was on a 27-match winning streak and had impressively won 40 out of her last 41 sets played. Meanwhile, Jabeur also had momentum on her side after recently winning the biggest title of her career last week in Madrid and claiming 11 straight wins for the first time in her career at the age of 27.

With the trophy at stake, it was the world No.1 who dedicated the match early on with some clinical play. Swiatek’s ability to play quickly and take time away from her opponent during rallies enabled her to break in just the second game. Back-to-back Jabeur forehand errors handed the former French Open champion the break as she eased to a 3-0 lead with relative ease. Triggering flashbacks of Swiatek’s win in the Rome final 12 months ago where she thrashed Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0.

This time round Swiatek did drop games, but her performance was just as impressive. After missing her first set point, she earned a second chance by punishing a Jabeur dropshot with a cross-court forehand winner. The 6-2 lead was then sealed when a baseline exchange between the two concluded with a deep Swiatek forehand to the corner of the court which her opponent couldn’t return.

Historically winning the first set in the final of a WTA 1000 event is crucial with only 1 out of the last 24 title matches being won by a player who didn’t (Osaka at the 2019 China Open). On top of that, Swiatek boasted a staggering 30-0 record when claiming the opener at these tournaments.

Set number two was a case of deja vu with Swiatek once again utilizing her powerful shot-making to draw errors from across the court as she broke early on en route to a 3-0 lead. At this stage it was visible that Jabeur was getting fatigued and frustrated as she kicked one of the tennis balls.

Nearing towards the title, Swiatek encountered a blip by dropping one of her service games to the delight of a suddenly rejuvenated Jabeur and her fans. Then when leading 6-2, 4-2, she valiantly saved a quartet of break points to move to a game from victory. Avoiding the threat, Swiatek triumphed on her first championship point when yet another baseline exchange concluded with an error from across the court. Prompting a tearful Pole to collapse to the ground.

I want to congratrulate Iga for the great run,” said runner-up Jabeur.
“You’re a really great inspiration for all of us, so thank you.”
She added.

Swiatek has now won 35 WTA Tour matches this season which is 10 more than any other player, according to SAP Tennis Analytics.

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