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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Felix Auger Aliassime helps Canada reach the Davis Cup Final

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Canada reached the Davis Cup final for the second time in three years after beating Italy 2-1 in the semifinal in Malaga. 

 

Denis Shapovalov beat Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 in the opening match.

Felix Auger Aliassime earned a 6-3 6-4 win over Lorenzo Musetti to draw level to 1-1 before teaming up with Vasek Pospisil to defeat Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-2) 7-5. 

Sonego beats Shapovalov 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4

Lorenzo Sonego battled past Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 after 3 hours and 14 minutes to give Italy the 1-0 point in the opening singles match of the Davis Cup Finals by Rakuten in Malaga. 

Shapovalov hit five aces, made seven double faults and converted just one of his 13 break points. Sonego fired seven aces, made three double faults and converted one of his four break points. 

Shapovalov won the first nine points of the match to take a 2-0 lead with a break in the opening game. Sonego won three consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead with a break-back in the fifth game. Shapovalov saved two break points in the sixth game to hold serve at deuce for 3-3. Sonego fended off two break points in the seventh game for 4-3. Sonego earned two mini-breaks on the second and sixth points to race to a 5-1 lead. Shapovalov clawed his way back by winning three points for 4-5. Sonego earned two mini-breaks to seal the tie-break 7-4, when Shapovalov sent a forehand long after 1 hour and 10 minutes

The second set went on serve until the 10th game, when Shapovalov earned three consecutive set points at 4-5 0-40 on Sonego’s serve. The Italian player saved five set points to hold serve at deuce for 5-5 and sent the second set to the tie-break. 

Sonego won four consecutive points from 1-2 down to take a 5-2 lead in the tie-break. Sonego missed a drive volley to set up a match point. Shapovalov won his fifth consecutive point to seal the second set to send the match to the decider. 

Shapovalov saved two break points in the first game of the third set. The Canadian player made three double faults but he held serve at deuce without facing any break points. Shapovalov saved a break point in the sixth game with an ace. Sonego fended off three break points at 3-3 in the seventh game to hold serve after three deuces before Shapovalov received treatment for a back issue. 

Sonego earned the decisive break in the 10th game to close out the match after Shapovalov made three double faults. 

Sonego has drawn level to 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Shapovalov, who beat the Italian player 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3 in the Rome Masters 1000 tournament. 

“It’s an unbelievable moment for me. Shapovalov fights non-stop. I had to be focused on every point and I needed the help of all my team. This is just a great moment for Italy. It was really tough to remain focused because I lost the tie-break in the second set, but I was really positive and my captain helped me a lot to do my best to stay in the match and I enjoy the match until the last moment for me. It was a really tight match and a big win and a big win. It was an amazing win for me and for my team”, said Sonego. 

Auger Aliassime beats Musetti 6-3 6-4 

In the second singles match Felix Auger Aliassime beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 6-4 converting a break point late in both sets to send the tie to the decivive doubles clash. Auger Aliassime did not face a break point and won all but three of his first serve points. 

Auger Aliassime earned his first break in the sixth game to open up a 5-2 lead and held his next service games to seal the first set 6-3 with an ace after 39 minutes. 

Musetti held his serve after three deuces to hold serve in the first game of the second set. Both players held serve until 4-4. Musetti saved the first break point in the ninth game with a service winner, but Auger Aliassime converted his second chance with a down the line winner. Musetti went up a 0-30 lead on Auger Aliassime’s serve in the 10th game, but the Canadian player hit three service winners to serve out the match 6-4 keeping Canada’s hopes of reaching the final alive. 

Auger Aliassime now leads 3-2 in his five head-to-head matches against Musetti. 

“It’s sad, because it’s the second time in a row that I have the chance to bring Italy to the final. I played until the last point, and Felix played better than me. he deserved to win”, said Musetti. 

Canada beats Italy 7-6 (7-5) 7-2

Canadian captain Frank Dancevic made a late change to the doubles line-up, calling up Auger Aliassime to team up with Vasek Pospisil. 

Berrettini and Fognini converted their second break point in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. Auger Aliassime and Pospisil broke back on their third opportunity in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both teams went on serve setting up a tie-break. Auger Aliassime earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Berrettini and Fognini went up a break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Auger Aliassime and Pospisil broke back in the third game after two double faults from Fognini to draw level to 2-2. Both players went on serve until the 11th game when Auger Aliassime and Pospisil earned the decisive break on their third opportunity to take a 6-5 lead. The Italian team wasted two break-back points at 5-6 in the 12thgame.  Auger Aliassime delivered two first serves to get to deuce with an ace and a winner and won the final four points to secure their spot in the final. 

Felix Auger Aliassime: “That’s the good thing about having many good players on the team. I feel like Denis and Vasek played really well yesterday to come back and win, but Denis had a long match, and we knew coming this week that we could make some changes depending on how singles went. I feel like the whole team connected around this idea and there was no ego in the wrong place. Everybody just has the clear idea of the main goal, which is lifting the cup tomorrow”. 

Canada improved their lead against Italy to 3-0 in the three head-to-head matches after wins in 2013 and 2019. 

Canada is one win away from a historic first Davis Cup title.  

Canada set up a final against Australia, who reached the Davis Cup final for the first time in 19 years after a 2-1 win over Croatia on Friday. 

Australia holds a 9-1 lead against Canada. Howevr the Canadian team earned a win in their last match at the 2019 Davis Cup match. 

Auger Aliassime and Shapovalov lost to Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger Aliassime in the Davis Cup final in Madrid in 2019. 

“Making the finals is always an amazing feeling, and I really believe in the team. We have done it before. We are here again and I believe we can win this, so we are going to go after it tomorrow and give it all we have got”, said Frank Dancevic.

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Australia fights back from losing the first match to reach the Davis Cup final

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Australia fought back from losing the first singles match to beat Croatia 2-1 reaching its first Davis Cup in 19 years. 

 

Alex De Minaur cruised past Marin Cilic 6-2 6-2 in just 44 minutes to send the semifinal to decisive doubles match. Cilic made 10 double faults, as De Minaur broke four times to draw level to 2-2 in his head-to-head matches. De Minaur has improved his Davis Cup hard-court singles record to 10-1 in the Davis Cup. 

“This is what this team is about, that never say-die attitude. I have had a couple of instances when I have been in this position and I feel like my back is against the wall, and there is only a wall to break through, and that’s going forward steam ahead and just going after every single point. My job was to keep us alive, and I am happy to do anything I can do for my country”, said De Minaur. 

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell came back from one set down to beat Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 6-4. Thompson and Purcell broke twice and never dropped a service game to come back from losing the first-set tie-break. 

The first set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Mektic and Pavic earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Thompson and Purcell broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead and held serve in the 12th game to force the match to the decider. The Australian team broke again in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held their next two service games to close out the third set 6-4. 

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. 

“I am so proud. Australia has a rich history in this competition. We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions. I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it”, said Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt. 

Australia will face either Italy or Canada in the final. 

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Borna Coric beats Thanasi Kokkinakis to give Croatia a 1-0 lead against Australia in Davis Cup semifinal in Malaga

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Borna Coric beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-3 after 1 hour and 32 minutes with a break in each set to give Croatia a 1-0 lead over Australia in the first match of the semifinal of the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Malaga. 

 

Coric hit 19 winners to just 9 unforced errors. 

Kokkinakis saved a break point in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. The Croatian player converted his third break point at deuce in the 10th game to close out the first set 6-4. 

Coric faced the only break point at the second set and earned the only break in the sixth game to seal the win 6-4 6-3. 

“This means a lot to me. I was watching the guys playing Davis Cup when I was injured and doing my rehab. To play for Croatia is an amazing feeling for me. I was turning to my coach in the first set and saying: ‘I don’t know what to do against his serve’, but I started to read it later on, and thankfully I was serving well myself. When I was younger, I did not serve so well and I needed to improve it. After my shoulder injury I did not know whether I would be able to serve again at all, but I did so much work on it that I serve even better now then I used to”, said Coric.

Alex De Minaur will face 2018 Davis Cup champion Marin Cilic. In their previous head-to-head matches Cilic leads 2-1 over De Minaur and beat the Australian player 6-1 5-7 6-4 in the Group Stage of the Davis Cup finals. 

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