Yaroslava Shvedova Beats Naomi Osaka to Take the 2015 Hua Hin Crown - UBITENNIS
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Yaroslava Shvedova Beats Naomi Osaka to Take the 2015 Hua Hin Crown

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The finals of Hua Hin, a new WTA 125K event, pitted eighteen year-old Naomi Osaka against the much more experienced Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.  In an exciting and dramatic 2 hour and 51 minute thriller, Shvedova prevailed 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.

Osaka had a somewhat easier path to the finals having beaten the third seed Nao Hibino in handy fashion 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday. Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Osaka is 5’11” and uses her height to full advantage with a strong service game. Against Hibino, Osaka had seventeen aces against just three double faults; further, she won 83% and 78% of her first and second serves-in, respectively. The right-hander is currently ranked number 203 and is the WTA Rising Stars invitational champion.

Shvedova had to work harder to get to the finals in a topsy-turvy 2 hour 42 minute match against Qiang Wang of China that included two tie-breaks. Shvedova’s terrific stamina and perseverance were on display all weekend. The 28 year-old is the fourth seed and is currently ranked 82 on the WTA tour. She played somewhat erratically against Wang; in particular her serve was unreliable and she was especially vulnerable at times on her second serve.

The final match began with a significant twist; Shvedova was the better server from the outset. With her first opportunity in the second game she placed all five of her first serves including an ace for good measure. Osaka’s serve was effective but not the dominant and reliable weapon displayed against Hibino.

Leading 2-1, Osaka had her first big chance to break on the sixth point but dumped a second serve opportunity into the net. Shvedova went on to win the game and Osaka seemed rattled. In the next game she had her first double fault and was broken at love.

Again in game six Osaka had another major chance to break back. Shvedova was a bit erratic and the lead shifted back and forth over twelve points. However, Shvedova rallied and put up an ace followed immediately by a second serve ace to win the game and lead the set 4-2.

Osaka rallied immediately and won her next service game at love and recorded her first ace of the match. But again Osaka failed to capitalize on her opportunities. In game eight Shvedova started to lose her serve and suffered on double fault. But she rose again to the challenge winning the 14-point game with another big ace.

The gripping 22-point final game of the first set was marked by a number of long rallies, some great court coverage and clever shots. However, Shvedova once again found the fortitude to hang tough. At deuce on the 21st point she had a nice get off of a terrific lob by Osaka and hit a short, unreturnable shot just over the net. She won the next point and took the first set 6-4.

Early in set two Osaka showed considerable frustration and negative body language. She was broken immediately and fell behind 0-2 as Shvedova easily confirmed the break. She was not serving nearly as well as in the semi-finals, typically landing 50% or less than her first serves in.

Down 1-3 and serving in game five the teenager temporarily found her service form and won at love punctuated with an ace. She carried this momentum and broke-back in game six to level the match at 3-3.   Neither player could gain the advantage and the set went to a lengthy tie-break marked by seven mini-breaks. Osaka took the set but it was anyone’s guess who had the advantage.

The third set was a see-saw of momentum. Osaka struck first in set three with a break of Shvedova in the third game.   Shvedova broke back immediately in game four but handed game five right back to Osaka. With the set at 3-2 favoring Osaka neither player could seem to muster a decent service game. Osaka double faulted twice in game eight and the set was leveled at 4-4. Shvedova held at love and the match was now teetering on Osaka’s racket. At 15-30 Osaka threw in her sixth double fault of the set. At Championship Point Osaka seemed to foil Shvedova with a short drop shot but the speedy 28 year old was able to move in an lift a beautiful ball over the net, past Osaka and down the line for a winner.

For Shvedova this is her second career WTA title and her first for 2015. Osaka is an up and comer with a great serve and very good ground-strokes and court coverage. Off of their strong showings at Hua Hin both are poised to start 2016 with confidence and promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ajla Tomljanovic reaches the Wimbledon quarter finals for the second consecutive year

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Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic reached the quarter final at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year after a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over France’s Alizé Cornet after 2 hours and 34 minutes. 

 

Tomljanovic had already beaten Cornet in three sets in the second round in last year’s edition of Wimbledon. 

The Australian player converted eight of his fourteen break points. She has become the first Australian player to reach consecutive Wimbledon quarter finals since Jelena Dokic advanced to the quarter finals in 1999 and the semifinals in 2000. 

Cornet reached her first Grand Slam quarter final at the Australian Open last January and broke Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak in the third round at Wimbledon. 

Cornet earned a break to open up a 4-1 lead in the opening set.  Tomljanovic broke back in the seventh game for 3-4. Both players traded breaks in the eighth and ninth games. Cornet sealed the first set with a third break in the 10th game after 49 minutes. 

The second set started with a trade of breaks. Tomlanovic earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Cornet broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Tomljanovic broke in the ninth game at deuce and served out the second set 6-4 at deuce. 

Tomljanovic earned a break for 2-1 in the third set after two consecutive double faults by Cornet. The Aussie player broke again in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead. Cornet pulled one of the two breaks back in the eighth game for 3-5, but Tomljanovic broke for the fourth game to seal the decider on her third match point setting up a quarter final against Elena Rybakina, who beat Petra Martic 7-5 6-3. 

Rybakina beat Tomljanovic 6-4 6-0 in the first round of the Madrid Mutua Open last year. 

“Today was crazy. Cornet’s level was really high from the get-go. I think the second point of the first game was so long that I thought to myself: ‘I don’t know if I am going to physically be able to keep up with her. It felt like a coin toss. She fights until the end. She wasn’t giving me much. That’s why in the end I was a little in disbelief that I actually came through”, said Tomljanovic. 

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WIMBLEDON: Simona Halep Impresses After Troublesome Physical, Mental Battle

2022 has been far from straightforward for the Romanian but she is seeing light at the end of the tunnel at The All England Club.

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For Simona Halep reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon is an achievement in itself after her recent misfortunes. 

 

It all began at the Italian Open last year where she sustained a calf injury that would force her to miss two major events, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games. Recovering from the setback was far from simple for the former world No.1 who soon found herself struggling mentally to the extent that she considered walking away from the sport altogether.

However, she managed to regain her desire and passion for tennis with the help of Patrick Mouratoglou who has officially been her coach since April. Halep continues to work her way back to top shape and her form at Wimbledon proves perseverance pays off. 

Playing her fourth round match against fourth seed Paula Badosa, Halep stormed to an emphatic 6-1, 6-2, win in just over an hour. She dropped only two points behind her first serve and hit 17 winners against just nine unforced errors. It is the third time this year she has beaten a top 10 player after previously beating Badosa on another occasion, as well as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

“It means a lot that I’m back in the quarterfinals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” said Halep.
“I’m working hard every day. I feel like if I do that, I will get better. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. I’m really confident. It’s a pleasure to be on the court.”
“I think this helps me a lot to be able to do my best tennis. And everything comes together. I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally.”

Speaking openly about her previous struggles, injury and confidence are two very different issues to deal with. But which one of those was the most difficult?

“It started with the injury, so I was not able to play for three, four months. Then I also lost the confidence, the belief that I can be good again, at the top. And I struggled for a long period,” she continued.
“But now it’s past. I’m here. I’m playing well. I’m feeling good on the court. So this is the most important thing, and I just want to focus on that.”

It is by no means a coincidence that Halep is thriving at Wimbledon considering her previous record. It was in 2019 when she produced a stunning display against Serena Williams to capture the title. Becoming the first and only player from her country to claim the women’s singles title. She has also reached the quarter-finals on three other occasions prior to this year.

“Grass is not an easy surface and you have to really connect with it. You have to get used to it.” Said Halep.
“I like it because it’s fast. I feel it. I feel stable on my feet. My legs are pretty strong for this surface. I feel my game fits it.”

As the only former Grand Slam champion left in the draw, Halep’s next test will be against Amanda Anisimova who defeated Harmony Tan 6-2, 6-3, in her fourth round match.

“I’m here to play as I did today, to focus on myself,” she states.
“I’m sure that I can play good tennis again. But it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward to it.”


Halep recently crushed Anisimova 6-2, 6-1, at the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. 

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Wimbledon: Quarter-Finalist Cristian Garin loves The Event But Not So much The Surface

The South American reacts to reaching his first major quarter-final.

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Cristian Garin (CHI) - Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Just over a week ago, Cristian Gain admitted that he was ‘upset’ when he saw his draw for Wimbledon this year. 

 

The world No.43 was set to take on the formidable Matteo Berrettini in the first round who has won two grass-court titles in a row in recent weeks. However, the Italian was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Instead, his opponent was the much lower-ranked Elias Ymer from Sweden who he defeated in straight sets. Since then, Garin hasn’t looked back.

On Monday at The All England Club, he staged an audacious comeback to defeat Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(10-6). Not only did Garin bounce back from two sets down, he also saved two match points in the process. Becoming the first player from his country to reach the last eight of the tournament since Fernando Gonzalez in 2005 and only the fourth in history to do so. 

“It is something very special for me. Wimbledon is my favorite tournament. Every time that I play this tournament is something special I feel,” said Garin.
“To be in the quarterfinals is a dream. I will try to enjoy it. I will try to give my best in the next round.”

Ironically Garin comes from a country where there are no grass courts. This year is his fifth appearance at Wimbledon and it was at the event where he made his Grand Slam debut back in 2017. However, like many other South Americans, clay is still his preferred surface.

“I said Wimbledon is my favorite tournament, not my favorite surface,” he jokes. 
“I think the grass is very fun for me. I have to change a little bit the way that I play. I think here on this surface you have to be aggressive.

Garin is one of only five ATP players from Chile currently ranked in the world’s top 500. Since April he has been coached by Pepe Vendrell who previously worked as a mentor to Roberto Bautista Agut and served as Spain’s captain in the ATP Cup. 

The next test for Garin will be a showdown against the formidable Nick Kyrgios who defeated Brandon Nakashima in his fourth round match.

“He is for me one of the guys that I like to watch. He’s very good for tennis,” he said of Kyrgios.
“In these rounds, you play the best. For me, Nick is obviously one of the best on grass.”

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