Monica Puig Grabs Another Shock Win As Simona Halep Survives A Scare In Sydney - UBITENNIS
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Monica Puig Grabs Another Shock Win As Simona Halep Survives A Scare In Sydney

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Monica Puig in action at the Apia International in Sydney (image via Zimbio.com)

Qualifier Monica Puig has continued her dream run in Sydney after defeating Australia’s Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-4, to reach the semifinals at the Apia International.

 

Puig, who had to win three qualifying matches to reach the main draw in Sydney, started the match the sharpest after breaking Stosur in the first game of the match to lead 2-0. The world No.94 was still facing tough resistance from Stosur after fending off break points in the sixth and eighth games of the match. The hard work invested into the match paid off for Puig after a backhand unforced error from Stosur handed the Puerto Rican the opening set.

The positive momentum from Puig continued into the second set. An outstanding forehand cross-court shot gave her a chance to break for 2-1. The 22-year-old grabbed the break after another costly error came off of Stosur’s racket. The aggressive play from Puig proved too strong for Stosur, who was unable to break back. The Puerto Rican dropped only three points in her service games throughout the second set. The victory was sealed when a return from Stosur went out.

The victory is Puig’s first win over Stosur on her fifth attempt. The impressive performance produced by Puig consisted of 13 aces, 27 winners and 17 unforced errors. The world No.94 will now play in her first semifinal on the WTA Tour since the Pattaya Open last February. Following her win, an emotional Puig spoke about her delight.

“I’ve been working so hard on every aspect of my game, that’s why I got a bit emotional after this win,” Puig said.
“It was a tough preseason for me. It was a difficult year for me last year so it’s really nice to see some of my best tennis so early in the season.
“I’m just really excited for what is to come”.

In the last four Puig will play either Belinda Bencic or Ekaterina Makarova.

Top seed Simona Halep endured a roller coaster match against world No.11 Karolina Pliskova. The world No.2 is still recovering from an Achilles injury which troubled her during her second round encounter against Carolina Garcia. Despite the injury concern, the Romanian managed to book her place in the last four with a 6-4, 7-5, win.

As the encounter got underway Halep enjoyed an encouraging start after grabbing back-to-back breaks against her error-stricken opponent to lead 4-1. The top seed almost lost the advantage towards the end when the Czech broke back to love to retrieve one of the breaks. Serving for the set at 5-4, Halep was in danger of losing the advantage when Pliskova had a break point chance to level at 5-5. Halep successfully fended off the break point before holding her serve to take the opening set.

There was still more trouble ahead for Halep in the second set after a series of breaks of serve. Identical to the first set the world No.2 broke to lead 2-1, however, this time her lead was lost four games later when Pliskova broke back to level 4-4. The break by Pliskova was the first of four consecutive breaks exchanged between the two. Edging herself ahead, Halep was tasked with serving the match out at 6-5. Aided by a series of errors from her rival, the top seed took the match after a forehand from Pliskova went long.

The match was far from perfect for the 24-year-old who produced 33 unforced errors compared to 22 winners. In addition Halep produced two aces and converted 5/12 breaks points to seal the win after an hour and 38 minutes.

As well as booking her place into the last four in Sydney, there was also positive signs regarding Halep’s ongoing injury. During her press conference the world No.2 said that she experienced minor pain.

“I only had a little bit of pain in the second set, I feel ok” Halep said.

In the last four Halep will play Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian experienced a tough opening set before easing her way to a 7-6(1), 6-0, win over world No.19 Sara Errani. Kuznetsova is currently ranked 25th in the world, a distant position from her career best of 2 back in 2007. During a recent interview, the Russian has admitted that she is currently encountering difficulty on the tour.

“Now I’m not going through a pleasant part of the career,” the world No.25 told apiainternational.com.au.
“I mean, I feel a bit bad saying that it’s not my good year because some girls dream about this, but I mean for me it’s not good enough.

Halep has played Kuznetsova on five previous occasions, leading the head-to-head 3-2. Their last meeting was at the 2014 Stuttgart Open when Kuznetsova won in straight sets.

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Emil Ruusuvuori upsets Aslan Karatsev in Nur Saltan

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Emil Ruusuvuori upset Aslan Karatsev 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to advance to the quarter finals at the Astana Open in Nur Sultan. 

 

Ruusuvuori has reached the semifinals in Atlanta and Winston Salem and beat Alexander Zverev en route to the fourth round at the Miami Open last April. 

The world number 84 set up a quarter final match against Ilya Ivashka in the quarter finals. Ruusuvuori will be bidding to take a re-match against Ivashka, who won their previous head-to-head match in Winston Salem last August. 

Alexander Bublik came back from one set down to beat Miomir Kecmanovic 2-6 6-3 7-5. Bublik set up a quarter final match against Carlos Taberner, who rallied past Egor Gerasimov 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 7-5. 

Soonwoo Kwon knocked out Dusan Lajovic 7-5 6-4 after 1 hour and 38 minutes setting up a quarter final against Laslo Djere. 

James Duckworth edged Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to get through to his first quarter final of the season. Duckworth will take on reigning Astana Open champion John Millman.  

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Hubert Hurkacz beats Lucas Pouille to advance to the quarter finals in Metz

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Top seed Hubert Hurkacz eased past Lucas Pouille 6-2 6-3 with three breaks to advance to the quarter final at the Moselle Open in Metz after 68 minutes. Hurkacz has extended his lead to 3-1 in his head-to-head against Pouille. 

 

Hurkacz broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. He claimed the second set with another break in the fourth game.  

Hurkacz was playing for the first time since his second round defeat against Andreas Seppi at the US Open.  The Polish player, who won at Delray Beach and the Miami Open last March and is currently ranked ninth in the ATP Race to Turin, set up a quarter final against Andy Murray. 

“It was a good match from my side. Lucas is a great player. He is playing very aggressively. H eis coming back and I have high hopes I will see him closer to the top 10, he has the game. It was really great to play here in front of you guys, it was a lot of fun. I was able to practise here a couple of times on this court, so that helped for sure. I played two doubles matches with my friend Jan Zielinski. I really enjoy playing here and it is nice to see the crowd. It is a great atmosphere. ”, said Hurkacz. 

Gael Monfils beat Phillip Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-2) 6-4. The first set went on serve with no breaks en route to the tie-break. Monfils earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. Monfils went up a 2-0 lead with a break in the first game of the second set. Kohlschreiber broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Both players traded breaks in the seventh and eighth games to draw level to 4-4. Monfils broke for the third time in the ninth games and served out the win at love. 

Monfils set up a quarter final match against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who came back from one set down to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 0-6 6-4 7-6 (7-4). 

Davidovich Fokina broke serve three times at deuce to win the opening set 6-0. Basilashvili claimed the second set 6-4 with a break in the first game.

Davidovich Fokina earned the first break of the third set on the fourth deuce to take a 2-0 lead. Basilashvili broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4. Basilashvili saved four break points in the 10th game. Davidovich Fokina fended off five break points to hold serve in the 11th game after 10 deuces. Basilashvili earned three match points at 6-3 with three mini-breaks. Davidovich Fokina saved a match point, but Basilashvili sealed the win on his second chance. 

German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk edged past Karen Khachanov 6-3 7-6 (7-2) to advance to his third quarter final of the season. Gojowczyk claimed the first set 6-3 with a break in the fourth game. The second set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Gojowczyk got three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Gojowczyk set up a quarter final against Marcos Giron, who upset Alex De Minaur 7-5 7-6 (7-5). De Minaur went up a 5-1 lead with two breaks. Giron pulled both breaks back to draw level to 5-5. Giron won the final two games with a break in the 12th game. De Minaur broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead. Giron converted his second break-back point to draw level to 6-6. In the tie-break Giron went up a 3-1 lead with a mini-break. De Minaur broke back to draw level to 3-3 and earned another break to take a 5-4 lead, but Giron won the final three points to claim the tie-break 7-5.

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Maria Sakkari beats Jelena Ostapenko to reach the quarter final in Ostrava

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Number 4 seed Maria Sakkari beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-4 6-2 after 1 hour and 23 minutes in his opening match at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open to reach her seventh quarter final of the year. 

 

Sakkari and Ostapenko were tied 1-1 in their previous head-to-head matches. Ostapenko beat Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-2 on green clay at Charleston 2017. Sakkari took a re-match over Ostapenko with a 6-1 3-6 6-2 win over her Latvian rival. 

Sakkari has continued her successful season highlighted by two Grand Slam semifinals at Roland Garros and at the US Open. Ostapenko reached the final in Luxembourg last week. 

Ostapenko saved two break points in her first three service games at deuce. Sakkari converted another break point in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. The Greek player broke serve in the first game of the second set with a forehand winner. 

Sakkari got a double break in the third game and held his next service games to close out the second set 6-2. 

Number 7 seed Elena Rybakina qualified for her sixth quarter final of the season with her 6-3 2-6 6-1 win over qualifier Magda Linette after 1 hour and 37 minutes. 

Rybakina earned her first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. The Kazakh player saved three break-back points in the fourth game and sealed the first set 6-3 with a double break in the ninth game at deuce. Linette earned an early break in the first game of the second set. Rybakina broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Lynette won the final four games with a double break to take the second set 6-2. 

Rybakina earned her first break point in the third game at 2-1 lead, as Linette made a double fault. The Kazakh player broke serve at love in the fourth and sixth games to win the third set 6-1. Rybakina set up a quarter final clash against number 1 seed Iga Swiatek in their first head-to-head clash. They have never met at WTA Tour level. They met twice at junior level a 1-1 tie in their two head-to-head matches. Swiatek beat Rybakina 6-2 6-2 on hard court at Repntiny 2018. Rybakina this defeat by beating her Polish rival 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 on clay in the final of the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan.

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