Maria Sharapova fought back from a set down to defeat Petra Kvitova 3-6 6-4 6-2 to give Russia a 2-1 lead in the third singles rubber match at the Fed Cup Final at the O2 Arena in Prague. This win puts Russia one win away from their first Fed Cup win since 2008. Karolina Pliskova needs to win against Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova to keep Czech hopes alive.
Kvitova and Sharapova clashed for the 11th time in their careers. Sharapova led 6-4 in their previous head-to-head matches but was 4-3 on hard-court, although Kvitova won their last two matches in straight sets in the last two editions of the WTA Finals in Singapore.
Kvitova converted her third break point with her volley to go up 1-0 before consolidating the break in the second game. Sharapova saved a break point to get her first game on the scoreboard. From a break point down Sharapova held her serve with an ace and two unreturnable serves.
Kvitova led 4-2 with a comfortable hold of serve. The Czech player put pressure on Sharapova who had not earned a break point in the first six games. Sharapova held her serve in the seventh game to claw her way back to 3-4. Kvitova broke serve to love in the final game to seal the first set with 6-3 after 46 minutes as Sharapova hit a volley into the net.
Sharapova earned her first break points of the match in the first game of the second set but Kvitova saved them to hold her serve. Sharapova saved five break point chances in a very long second game winning the game point at deuce with a groundstroke onto the line. At 1-2 Sharapova had a cofortable hold in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Sharapova got her first break of the match in the fifth game to take the 3-2 lead. Kvitova broke back to love to draw level to 3-3 after a double fault and two attempted drop-shots into the net by Sharapova.
In a 11-minute seventh game Kvitova saved break points before holding her serve with a forehand winner. In the 8th game Sharapova earned a game point with a slice before holding her serve to draw level to 4-4 with a serve and a winner. Kvitova made two double faults at 4-4 40-15. Sharapova took advantage to break serve at deuce for 5-4. Once again Sharapova proved to be one of the fiercest competitors when she served out in the most crucial moment of the match to love to force the match to the third set.
Both players held their serve in the first four games of the decider without any break points. sharapova rallied from 15-30 down to break serve in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead. Sharapova held serve to consolidate her break for 4-2. Sharapova got the double break to pull away to 5-2 as Kvitova made her 8th double fault of the match on break point. Sharapova closed out with a forehand winner to hold her serve to love for 6-2 after a hard-fought match.
Kvitova has lost for the third time in 26 Fed Cup match since 2011. Before today’s defeat the Czech player lost against Ana Ivanovic in the 2012 final in the O2 Arena in Prague and against Roberta Vinci in the semifinal of the 2013 Fed Cup Final in Palermo.
“It’s an incredible achievement for me because I have never been in a Fed Cup Final. Petra played an unbelievable first set. She was so aggressive, hitting really deep all the strokes. I didn’t have the momentum in tbe first set. I felt once I got the energy back”, said Sharapova
Cameron Norrie Eyes Grand Slam Breakthrough Following Indian Wells Run
The Brit hopes his performance at the Masters 1000 event will help him break new ground in the future.
Cameron Norrie hopes his run at the BNP Paribas Open will set him on course for future success at the Grand Slams where he is yet to reach the second week.
The world No.26 has broken new territory by reaching his first ever Masters 1000 final at Indian Wells and is only the fourth man from his country to do so at the tournament. He sealed his place in the final on Saturday with a 6-2, 6-4, win over Grigor Dimitrov in just under 90 minutes. Dimitrov is the third seed Norrie has beaten in the tournament after Roberto Bautista Agut and Diego Schwartzman.
Norrie’s unprecedented run has also sealed his spot in the world’s top 20 next week for the first time in his career. He will also overtake Dan Evans to become the new British world No.1. The new milestones occurs during what has been a breakthrough season for the 26-year-old who has reached the final at five other tournaments, winning his maiden title at the Los Cabos Open in Mexico.
However, in the Grand Slams Norrie is yet to make his mark. Out of 16 main draw appearances, he has managed to reach the third round four times with three of those occurring this year. His combined win-loss records at major tournaments currently stand at 12-16.
“I’ve had some opportunities there to make the second week of a slam, but it’s not gone my way,” Norrie said during his press conference on Saturday.
“It’s all been great learning for me. Hopefully with these results I can put myself in a higher seeding there, then maybe have some more chances.
“I’ve faced some pretty decent players this year in the third round [at the slams].
“Those experiences have been great for me, those big matches.”
However, the losses he suffered at Grand Slams this season has been to high-profile names. He was defeated by Rafael Nadal at both the Australian Open and French Open. Then at Wimbledon he fell to Roger Federer. The only exception was at the US Open where he lost to Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz Garfia who went on to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and reach the quarter-finals.
“I’ve been playing a lot of big matches this year, which has helped. I feel like I am used to the big moments and the big matches,” Norrie said. “I’m feeling more and more comfortable and I feel like I am playing on my terms in key moments.”
Now on the verge of becoming the first British player in history to win the Indian Wells title, Norrie takes on Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in the final. A player who he thrashed 6-0, 6-3, in Rotterdam earlier this year.
“I’m looking forward to the match and really looking forward to going out and enjoying it again,” he said.
Norrie was born is South Africa and grew up in New Zealand. He attended University in Texas where he became the No.1 college player in America. He has represented Great Britain since 2013.
Nikoloz Basilashvili Puts ‘Small Country’ Georgia On The Map With Historic Run To Indian Wells Final
The 29-year-old is a win away from the biggest title of his career at the age of 29.
Prior to the start of the BNP Paribas Open Nikoloz Basilashvili had never progressed beyond the fourth round of a Masters 1000 tournament in 32 attempts.
However, in the Californian desert the Georgian has enjoyed a fairytale run to the final with wins over Karen Khachanov followed by a shock victory against second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. In his latest match, Basilashvili took on home favourite Taylor Fritz, whom he ousted 7-6(5), 6-3, in what was a relatively close encounter. The world No.36 failed to convert set points whilst leading 5-4 and 6-5 in the opening set before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the second frame it was a single break in his favour which guided him to the finish line.
“I’m really happy. I think I played pretty good tennis. In my opinion, Taylor made me play a lot of balls. I had to actually play very good tennis from the baseline to beat him,” said Basilashvili who hit a total of 26 winners during the match.
The 29-year-old has been ranked as high as 16th in the world back in 2019 but has since fallen down to a current position of 36th. This season he has already won two ATP 250 titles in Doha and Munich. It was in Doha where he defeated Roger Federer, who was playing his first match following an injury break.
Despite those successes, Indian Wells is Basilashvili’s biggest achievement to date. Ironically, he had never won a main draw match at the tournament until this year. Now he is a win away from becoming the first player from his country to claim a Masters 1000 title.
“I’m super happy I can achieve something like this, especially (from) a country like Georgia, a very small country. Tennis is not that popular. I made my way. I passed really tough roads to get to here, so it means a lot,” he reflected.
Basilashvili says he had to work hard to get where he is now due to where he came from. Working his way up through the lower level tournaments without a sponsor or wildcard’s to back him up. He didn’t break into the world’s top 100 until the age of 23 and he won his first Tour title at 26. Basilashvili has also scored six wins over top 10 players in his career but 2021 is the first season where he has managed to record multiple wins.
“I made my way, I passed very difficult times. I had to gain a lot of experience from playing futures, then playing challengers, move on from challengers and then to ATP tournaments,” he said.
“I knew I would never play really good tennis at a young age because I needed this experience. I never had an opportunity to get wild cards. I did not have any support from my country because obviously tennis is not popular there.’
“As well as the financial side, I never had a kind of sponsor. I knew I had to pass those roads to get to here match by match gaining experience as well as playing quarterfinals, semifinals. This is all experience.’
“I’m happy where I am right now. I am calculating how I’m playing. I calculated that I could play good tennis late in my career, at a late age.”
Standing in the way of his first Masters 1000 title will be Cameron Norrie who is also through to the biggest final of his career to date and will pose a stern challenge. The Brit has already played five Tour finals this year, winning his first title in Mexico. Norrie defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4, in his semi-final match.
“He’s playing very good at this tournament. He had previously had really good weeks. I will learn him (his match) today, and come up with a plan for tomorrow,” Basilashvili said of his upcoming opponent.
“But overall he’s not so nice to play against from the baseline. He’s been playing really, really smart and very good tennis. I’m looking forward to it. If I can play my game and be relaxed, I think I can play well.”
The winner of Sunday’s final will be the first man ranked outside of the world’s top 25 to do so since Ivan Ljubicic in 2010.
Daniil Medvedev Withdraws From Moscow
Daniil Medvedev has withdrawn from Moscow as he looks to recover for the last two tournaments of the season.
US Open champion Daniil Medvedev has withdrawn from his home tournament in Moscow as he looks to get fully fit for the rest of the season.
The world number two suffered a disappointing exit in the fourth round of Indian Wells when he lost to Grigor Dimitrov from a set and 4-1 up.
After that disappointment Medvedev has decided to take some time off and therefore withdraw from the Kremlin Cup next week in Moscow.
Citing not being at 100% the Russian will now look to be fit for the rest of the season which ends at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, “Hello everyone! I am really sad to announce that this year I won’t be participating in Kremlin cup,” Medvedev announced on his social media platforms.
“It’s always special to have a chance to play in front of Russian fans. I signed in to give myself best chances to play, but with calendar this year being extremely tough I felt that my body is not ready 100% anymore.
“This decision was very tough for me but it has to be done in order to be able to finish 2021 season strong! Thank you and see all soon!”
Medvedev will next play the last Masters 1000 event in Paris-Bercy before finishing his season in Turin as he looks to finish his historic season with a flourish.
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