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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Gael Monfils advances to Australian Open fourth round without dropping a set

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Gael Monfils has reached the second week at the Australian Open with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-3 win over Cristian Garin. 

 

Garin saved an early break point and took a 4-2 lead in the tie-break with an early mini-break in the opening set, but Monfils came back by winning five consecutive points to claim the tie-break 7-4. 

Monfils earned two early breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead in the second set. Garin pulled one break back at love in the fifth game for 1-4, but Monfils broke for the third time to close out the second set 6-1. 

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games of the third set. Monfils broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, when Garin made three unforced errors. The Frenchman saved a break point in a 18-point game in the sixth game and held serve with his 17th ace and broke serve to close out the match with a forehand volley winner. 

The Frenchman has not dropped a set so far this week and recorded five sets at 6-1 or better this week. Earlier this year he won the Adelaide International 1 title.

“It was a tough match, the conditions were different today. It was hot. It was quicker. I felt that I needed to adapt the game plan a little bit. He was playing well. He was playing well. I had to battle  and was very lucky and fortunate to win this breaker in the first set, and I just think I was solid enough to win in straight sets”, said Monfils. 

Monfils will be aiming to reach his 10th Grand Slam quarter final against Miomir Kecmanovic, who beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 7-5. 

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Pablo Carreno Busta reaches the fourth round at the Australian Open for the third time in his career

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Pablo Carreno Busta reaches the second week in Melbourne after a four-set win over Sebastian Korda

 

Pablo Carreno Busta beat Sebastian Korda 6-4 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 in their first head-to-head match after 3 hours and 27 minutes to advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne for the third time in his career after achieving this feat in 2018 and 2019. 

Carreno Busta will take on Matteo Berrettini, who beat reigning Next Gen ATP champion Carlos Alcaraz 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 2-6 7-6 (10-5). 

Carreno Busta earned his first break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Korda broke straight back on his third break point in the ninth game. Carreno Busta broke again on his eighth set point to seal the first set 6-4. 

The Spanish player hit 18 winners to just 8 unforced errors and got the crucial break in the 12th game to close out the second set 7-5. 

Korda came back from 3-5 down to win a tight tie-break 8-6 in the third set. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the fourth set. Carreno Busta earned two breaks in the fifth and eighth games to close out the fourth set when Korda hit a forehand wide. 

Carreno Busta reached the US Open semifinals twice in 2017 and 2020 and won two ATP Tour titles in Hamburg and Marbella in 2021. 

Korda was aiming to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the third time after achieving this feat at Roland Garros in 2020 and Wimbledon in 2021. 

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Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.

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Denis Shapovalov - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.

 

The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.

” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.

Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.

However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.

The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.

The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.

The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.

Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.

After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.

” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.

Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

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