Timea Bacsinszky rallied from a set down to overcome Ana Ivanovic in three sets to reach her biggest final at the China Open Premier Mandatory. With this win the Swiss player has broken into the top-10 for the first time in her career.
Bacsinszky earned two break point chances in the third games but Ivanovic saved them to take a 2-1 lead before getting the first break of the match for 3-1.
The Lausanne player earned break-back chances but Ivanovic held her nerve and won the game. Bacsinszky had a good service game to win the sixth game before breaking serve in the next game for 3-4. She clawed her way back into the match winning her third game in a row to draw level to 4-4. In the ninth game Bacsinszky earned two break point chances but Ivanovic won four consecutive points to save them and took the 5-4 edge. Bacsinszky had a strong service game to draw level to 5-all. Ivanovic won the 11th game with a solid service game before clinching the decisive break in the 12th game to take the first set with 7-5 after 58 minutes
Ivanovic struggled with her serve in the second set. Bacsinszky broke serve for the third time in the match to pull away to 4-1 and held her serve easily in the next game.
Bacsinszky served for the set at 5-1 but Ivanovic clawed her way back winning three games in a row for 4-5. The Serbian star brought up two break points and cae close to drawing level to 5-all but Bacsinszky held her serve before serving out for the second set for 6-4 after a hard-fought final game.
Ivanovic suffered from a back problem and called for a medical time-out as she was 1-2 down. Bacsinszky won the 4th game on serve to love and broke serve in the next game for 4-1 as the back problem affected Iavnovic. Bacsinszky won the final two games in the third set cruising to 6-1 after two hours and 20 minutes. Baczinsszky reeled off 16 of the final 17 points of the match. For the third tim this week Bacsinszky won a match after recovering from a set down. She won her previous two matches in Beijing against Carla Suarez Navarro and Sara Errani with 7-5 in the third set.
Ivanovic produced 38 winners to 41 unforced errors, while Bacsinszky hit 22 winners to 22 unforced errors
Bacsinszky has reached for her biggest final as she has never qualified for a title match in her career at Premier level. Earlier this year she won two titles in Acapulco and Monterrey. She has moved up to world number 10 for the first time in her career, a remarkable achievement considering that she was ranked 47th at the start of the year. She has become the fourth Swiss player to break into the top-10 after Manuela Maleva Fragnière, Martina Hingis and Patty Schnyder.
Bacsinszky will need to win the China Open title to stay in contention for the WTA Finals in Singapore, while Ivanovic will no longer have the chance to qualify for the end-of-the year tournament.
“I want to thank the crowd. Many people have been cheering for me. I am sorry for Ana’s fans too. You were cheering for her a lot. I love you crowd. You are an awesome crowd”, said Bacsinszky.
Cincinnati Open Saturday Preview: The Semifinals
Both the men’s and women’s top seeds have advanced this far, but just how favored should they be to win this event?
Novak Djokovic remains the heavy favorite on the men’s side, but faces a stiff test in the winningest player in the US Open Series. And the other semifinal is quite an unlikely one. While David Goffin was a semifinalist here a year ago, this is Richard Gasquet’s first Masters 1,000 semifinal since Miami in 2013, as highlighted by Ravi Ubha on Twitter. On the women’s side, the 2009 French Open champion faces the 2019 French Open champion. And in the other semifinal, two Americans will battle to represent the US in the championship match at one of their country’s biggest tournaments.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Daniil Medvedev (9)
These are easily the two men who have played at the highest level this week in Cincinnati. Neither has dropped a set or been challenged at all by their opposition. Djokovic owns a 3-1 record against the 23-year-old Russian, but Medvedev claimed their most recent match in Monte Carlo earlier this year. That was at a time when Novak was struggling with his form, which has not been the case of late. Since that loss in Monte Carlo, Djokovic is a stellar 23-2, with his only losses coming on clay at the hands of Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Medvedev though is on a similarly impressive tear, with 12 wins within the past three weeks alone. Daniil now leads the ATP with 42 match wins this year. He’s playing today to reach his third final in as many weeks. But taking out Novak Djokovic on a hard court is a tall task nowadays, and all the tennis Medvedev has played these last few weeks has to catch up with him eventually. As excellently as Daniil has been playing against lesser competition, he’s struggled when facing bigger names, such as last week’s Rogers Cup final against Rafael Nadal where he won just three games. I expect Medvedev will be a bit more successful today, but Djokovic remains the favorite.
Ash Barty (1) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Both of these players were forced to come back from a set down yesterday. Barty did so emphatically, winning 12 of the last 14 games. Kuznetsova’s comeback was a bit more complicated, as Karolina Pliskova served for the match in the second set. That was the 34-year-old’s third victory this week over a player ranked 11th or higher. This surprising run follows a rough period in her career where she even considered retirement, as outlined here in a great WTA piece by Courtney Nguyen. This will be Kuznetsova’s first match against Barty, who has fought her way to this semifinal despite not playing her best tennis this week. With Pliskova as well as Naomi Osaka losing yesterday, Barty is guaranteed to regain the No.1 ranking after this tournament. That may free her up and help her up her level. Her all-court game will be a lot for Kuznetsova to handle, especially considering this is the most tennis Svetlana has played in a long time. Barty is the favorite here, but judging by the way Kuznetsova has competed this week, another Sveta upset would not be a total shock.
Other notable matches on Saturday:
Madison Keys (16) vs. Sofia Kenin. Kenin took their only previous meeting 6-4 in the third, which was earlier this year on the clay of Rome.
David Goffin (16) vs. Richard Gasquet (PR). They’ve split their two encounters, both played within the last two years on hard courts.
In the women’s double final, Rogers Cup finalists Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs (5) vs. Lucie Hradecka and Andreja Klepac (8), who were on a four-match losing streak prior to this week.
Novak Djokovic Shakes Off Elbow Pain To Reach Cincinnati Semis
The reigning Wimbledon Champion is now on a 10-match winning streak.
Top seed Novak Djokovic remains on course to claiming his 34th Masters 1000 title after disposing of France’s Lucas Pouille in straight sets at the Western and Southern Open.
The world No.1 required just under 90 minutes to defeat Pouille 7-6(2), 6-1, in their quarter-final encounter on Friday. Djokovic, who is the defending champion in Cincinnati, remained unbroken throughout the match as he dropped only five points behind his first serve. Furthermore, the 16-time grand slam champion hit 17 winners to 15 unforced errors on route to claiming his 63rd quarter-final win at a Masters tournament.
“I thought he played really well throughout the first set,” Cincinnatti.com quoted Djokovic as saying after. “We both held our service games quite comfortably to the tiebreak and I just stayed in there very focused, didn’t drop my level, he did – double-faulted, missed a couple of forehands and that cost him the tiebreak and after that, beginning of the second set I knew it was very important to try to break his serve right away and get into an advantage and I managed to finish off the match really well.”
Whilst the match appeared straightforward on paper, there was also a scare for Djokovic during the second set. The Serbian halted proceedings in order to have a medical time out. Telling the trainer, he felt ‘tightness’ in his right elbow. Djokovic missed a chunk of the 2017 season due to his elbow and has previously undergone surgery on it. However, there is no indication that his latest issue is anything substantial.
“I had some tightness, especially on my serve, and managed to finish the match which is great, but the pain is there so hopefully I’ll have no pain tomorrow (Saturday),” said Djokovic.
The next test for the Serbian will be the rapidly rising Daniil Medvedev. A player who has won 12 out of 14 matches since Wimbledon and was runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup last week. Medvedev brushed aside Roger Federer’s conqueror Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-3, in his quarter-final match.
Djokovic lost to Medvedev earlier this year on the clay at the Monte Carlo Masters. However, he leads their overall head-to-head 3-1.
“Novak is Novak. There is actually nothing to say about him. Just huge respect.” Medvedev said during his press conference.
“I think he probably wants his revenge, wants to show it’s him the No. 1 in the world, which he is.’
“It’s going to be a great semifinal.”
Should Djokovic win his next match, it would be his 39th on the tour this season. Placing him joint-third for most matches won this season along with Federer.
Naomi Osaka Suffers Injury Setback Ahead Of US Open Title Defence
There are fears that the defending champion may not be able to play in New York after sustaining a new injury.
World No.1 Naomi Osaka faces a race against time to be fit for the US Open after being forced to retire from her quarter-final match in Cincinnati on Friday.
The two-time champion was taking on Sofia Kenin when she pulled out of the match whilst trailing 0-2 in the final set due to a leg injury. Osaka won six out of eight games before deciding to pull out of the match after jamming her knee whilst serving. Immediately after hurting her knee, she underwent a medical time out and had taping placed on it. However, it was not enough to keep her playing.
“It sucks. Especially since I didn’t want to get injured this close to the Open. And now I’m kind of worried a little bit.” Osaka said following her match.
“She (Kenin) was playing well. I had to really think about what I had to do during the match, so I’m not that mad at the result.’
“The injured part sucks, but losing, it’s not that big of a deal.”
Stating that she usually has a ‘high pain tolerance’ Osaka is left on edge about what exactly her latest injury issue is. She entered her press conference at the Western and Southern Open limping and with an ice pack over her knee. Raising concerns in her camp.
The timing comes just over a week before the start of the US Open. Where the 21-year-old will be defending a grand slam title for the first time in her career. Despite the setback, Osaka has vowed to play at Flushing Meadows. Even if that means going against medical advice.
“I don’t even really think about winning the tournament. I just want to have the chance to play it.” She commented about the upcoming major.
“I feel like this might have that 1% chance of me not being able to play, and that’s what’s concerning me.’
“In the end, I’m going to play even if the doctor says no probably. But I don’t know.”
It is the first time Osaka has been forced to quit a match since the WTA Finals last October due to a left hamstring injury. Comparing that injury to her latest, the Japanese player described it as ‘something different.’
“I think they said I had a slight tear in my hamstring then. This is something different.” She explained.
“I don’t really know yet. I stopped kind of immediately after instead of pushing, so I’m hoping that that would affect how soon I can start playing again.”
The US Open will get underway on August 26th. Osaka will be bidding to become the fourth woman to defend the title since 2000. Following in the footsteps of both of the Williams sisters and Kim Cjisters.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
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