Naomi Osaka and Yaroslava Shvedova Fight Their Way into the Hua Hin Finals - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka and Yaroslava Shvedova Fight Their Way into the Hua Hin Finals



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In the first semifinal at Hua Hin, a new WTA 125K event, Nao Hibino took the first set from Japanese countrywoman Naomi Osaka at 6-4 with a solid serving performance. The twenty year-old Hibino combined 4 aces, no double faults, 68% first serves in, 16 first serve points won and 70% points won on second serves. The third seed only won two first serve returns but was steadfast when it most mattered winning her only break point opportunity.

However, eighteen year-old Osaka showed great resiliency and quickly found her composure and form in the second set. Her big serve resulted in 8 aces against just one double fault. While only landing 59% of her first serves in, she won 12 of those13 points. She was able to go for it on first serve because her second serve proved to be a reliable safety net evidenced by 89% second serves won. Osaka was formidable returning serve winning 8 of 18 opportunities.

Hibino, who recently won her first WTA title at the Tashkent Open folded under Osaka’s pressure. She won just 1 of 13 points on return of first serve, and 1 of 9 on second serves. She landed 72% of her first serves in but could then only win 10 of those points on 18 opportunities. Osaka took the second set comfortably at 6-3.

The onslaught continued into the third set which saw Osaka breeze to a 6-1 conclusion. Osaka who is currently ranked number 203 reached her highest ranking of 156 in July. Given today’s performance, the WTA Rising Stars Invitational champion is well positioned to bolster her resume with a WTA125K crown.

The second semifinal was a grueling 2 hour 42 minute marathon which pitted the fourth seed Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan against Qiang Wang from Tianjin, China. Wang landed the first big blow taking the see-saw first set 7-6. She broke first in game 3 at love taking advantage of substandard Shvedova serving including a double fault. Wang consolidated and broke Shvedova again for a commanding 4-1 lead. But Shvedova broke back immediately despite strong serving by Wang. Shvedova went on a mini-run with another break to level the match at 6-6.

In the decisive first set tie-breaker, Wang served first and each player held. However, with Wang holding a 3 points to 2 advantage, Wang took advantage of a Shvedova second serve and grabbed a mini-break for 4-2. Then at 6-4, Wang again jumped on a Shvedova second serve to close out the set.

The second set also went to tie-breaker with Wang grabbing a mini-break on the first point and taking a 3-0 lead. A run of back and forth double faults and breaks put the tie-beak at 5-4 in favor of Shvedova and Wang serving. Shvedova broke for 6-4 and then Wang double faulted to hand the set to Shvedova.

In the third set each player improved their serving materially. The first three games were routine. However, Shvedova held serve in a 14 point game four to level the match at 2-2. Wang missed three opportunities to break which proved to be a turning point. In next game Shvedova broke Wang at love. Each player held serve thereafter and Shedova served out in style for the victory.

The twenty eight year-old Shvedova will face Osaka for the title tomorrow. Each comes into the match with a measure of confidence after regaining their form and finishing their semi-final matches strongly. That said it will be interesting to see if Shvedova’s experience will overcome the power serving skills of the up and coming Osaka.

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Injury-Hit Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Reaches French Open Quarters



Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova said ‘anything is possible’ after winning her marathon fourth round match against Elise Mertens at the French Open on Sunday. 


Pavlychenkova, who reached the finals of Roland Garros in 2021, bounced back from a set down to beat 28th seed Elise Mertens 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, after more than three hours of play. The Russian struggled early on in the match after winning just two out of her first six service games. She found herself down 3-6, 1-3 (0-40), at one stage before producing a triumphant comeback. Overall, she hit 50 winners alongside 48 unforced errors. 

“I’m really proud of myself. It was an incredible match,” Pavlychenova said on the court afterwards. “Losing the first set and in the end, finding the strength to win.’
“I’m glad to be here playing on this court (Phillippe Chartier) again, especially after my injury. I didn’t play for a year so I am very happy to be here.”

The win comes after what has been a turbulent battle for Pavlychenkova over the past year with her fitness. In 2022 she missed eight months of the Tour due to a serious knee injury which prohibited her from walking or even sitting down. Fearing for the future of her career, she underwent successful knee surgery. 

Since beginning her comeback in January, the 31-year-old had only won eight matches in nine tournaments played, which include two at the ITF level, coming into Paris. Despite this, she has regained her form at Roland Garros with Mertens being the third consecutive top 30 player she has beaten after Liudmila Samsonova and Anastasia Potapova. 

“I was sure that I could do that,” she commented on her resurgence. “I’ve enjoyed playing here in Paris ever since I was a junior, especially on this court. I think mentally I am stronger than before. We will see where it goes from here.”

A former world No.11 player, Pavlychenkova’s belief in her game is still as high as ever as she refuses to rule out the possibility that she could stun the tournament by lifting the trophy next Sunday. 

“I think anything is possible, that’s why I’m here and that’s why I came back after my injury,” she stated. 
“Since last year in November, it has been difficult. But I’ve been practising well and I thank my team for getting me in this position.”

Currently ranked 333rd in the world, Pavlychenkova is the lower-ranked player to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam since Kaia Kanepi at the 2017 US Open. She will next play either Karolína Muchová or Elina Avanesyan. 

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Doubles Pair Disqualified From French Open Match



A women’s doubles match at the French Open on Sunday ended in tears with one of the pair being disqualified midway through the second set.

Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi were facing Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzková in the third round. After losing the opening set in a tiebreaker, the pairing worked their way to a 3-1 lead in the second before the match came to a sudden end.

After the end of a game, Kato hit a ball to the other end of the court which accidentally struck a ball girl in the head. The umpire then initially issued a warning to Kato. However, a protest from Tormo and Bouzkova who pointed out that the ball girl was crying resulted in the tournament supervisor being called to the court. Both Tormo and Bouzkova were heard saying that Kato should receive a default.


 After a discussion, it was decided that Kato and Sutjiadi would be defaulted from the match due to a violation of the rules, giving the opponents the win. Naturally upset by the accident, Kato was left in tears when informed about the decision with her partner consoling her.

Kato did speak with the ball girl shortly after the incident to make sure she was fine. This occurred before the supervisor entered the court. 

According to the Grand Slam rulebook, ball abuse is defined as ‘intentionally hitting a ball out of the enclosure of the court, hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”

It is not the first time a player has been defaulted from a Grand Slam match after accidentally hitting an official on the court. The most famous incident was when Novak Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta at the 2020 US Open after hitting a ball hit a female lines judge in the neck. He was later fined $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

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Grand Slam Glory Is The Main Goal For America’s Coco Gauff



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

 Coco Gauff has big aspirations and she isn’t afraid to speak openly about them. 


Following her second round win over Julia Grabher at the French Open on Thursday, the 19-year-old played down the fixation on her current ranking which is No.6 in the world. Gauff admits that her position is something that doesn’t concern her in the sport unless she is sitting at the top of the world rankings. 

“I’m not a ranking person at all. The goal is No.1, and I think that’s when I would care about the ranking,” she stated in her press conference. 
“Anything in between two and 10, I mean, I’m going to be honest, it’s not that important to me.”

Gauff first broke into the world’s top 10 in September 2022 and has remained there ever since. At the time she was the youngest top 10 debutant on the WTA Tour since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. She has been ranked as high as No.4 in the world.

“When I made the top 10, it was a cool accomplishment, but for me it was never about staying there. I only want to go upwards,” she said. “The biggest goal is to win Grand Slams, and I think the ranking will come with Grand Slams.”

It was 12 months ago at Roland Garros where Gauff achieved her best performance at a major by reaching the final before losing in straight sets to Iga Swiatek. The tournament is her best Grand Slam in terms of match wins (13) and is the only one where she has reached the quarter-finals or better on multiple occasions. Gauff also won the French Open girls’ title back in 2018 at the age of just 14. 

Five years on from the junior triumph, she has become a regular fixture on the Tour. So much so, that there is already another generation of players on the rise. One of those includes Russia’s Mirra Andreeva who says her ultimate goal in tennis is to break Novak Djokovic’s all-time Grand Slam title record which currently stands at 22. Andreeva, who is only the seventh player under the age of 17 to reach the third round of Roland Garros since 1993, will be Gauff’s next opponent. 

“I think she knows the game well, and she’s proved her position to be here and proved in her results in the past, so I don’t think the age thing matters,” Gauff commented on her next opponent. 
“I’ve never thought about my age, to be honest. This will be my third time playing someone younger than me.
“Honestly, the first two times I didn’t even think about it because when you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff will play Andreeva on Saturday. 

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