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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Another Defeat For Iga Swiatek – Should Her Fans Start To Worry?

Iga Swiatek unexpectedly lost to Beatrice Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open in Toronto. This was the third defeat of the WTA world No.1 in a month and a half. Is there anything to worry about?

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Iga Swiatek - Roland Garros 2022 (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Article written by Dominik Senkowski (@dsenkowski07)

 

It was an extremely close match played in difficult conditions. Swiatek lost to Beatrice Hadad Maia 4:6, 6:3, 5:7 in Toronto.

The Polish woman admitted that she could not deal with the strong wind, saying during her press conference “I think without the wind I would manage. But it was pretty crazy out there.”

Haddad Miai, who is the first Brazilian to reach the last eight of a WTA 1000 event, revealed that she also had problems with the weather.

”We have no influence on the weather, we have to deal with it somehow. I think mentally I managed to overcome it,” she said.

Three failures

This was the third defeat for Swiatek in a month and a half. She had been undefeated since February, winning six tournaments in a row, including a Roland Garros. After that, however, she did not reach the semi-finals even once. In Wimbledon she was eliminated in the third round by Alize Cornet and then in Warsaw in the quarter-finals by Caroline Garcia. Now she did not make it past Beatrice Hadad Maia in Toronto. Do fans of the Polish woman have anything to worry about?

Of course, Swiatek as the top seed should have played better against the Brazilian. However, it must be remembered that she is still only 21 years old and has the right to fluctuate in form. Even the best tennis players of recent years – Roger Federer, Serena Serena, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic – did not win all the games in their best time. Swiatek still has a phenomenal balance of 49 wins to 5 defeats this year. She is the undisputed leader of the WTA rankings and will probably end the year as number one in the world.

There is no doubt that the rivals are more motivated to clash with Iga. In addition, they increasingly believe that they are able to defeat her since Cornet, Garcia and Hadad Maia did it. But still, it all depends on Iga. If she improves her serve, she can be unstoppable again. Recently with Garcia and Hadad Maia, she had problems with the second serve. She must pay more attention to it.

Time for Iga

Time should play in favour of Swiatek. Before Toronto, she played exceptionally on clay courts in Warsaw in a tournament organized by her father Tomasz. Frequent changes of the surface from grass to clay and hard courts in 1.5 months are not easy at such a young age. In Poland Iga said that she had no experience with it, she was just learning. She continues to learn valuable lessons and still can be better. We should remember it.

It seems that in the coming days she will be training on hard courts. She could feel more confident and come stronger as in spring. In Warsaw Iga said that she treats the first tournament before the US Open swing less seriously. She was aware that she needed more playing time to get better results. Her increasing self-esteem makes her behave calmer, even after defeats. That is why she can return to the right path soon.

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Rafael Nadal Returns To Cincinnati With Shot At No.1 Ranking

This is what the king of clay has to do to reclaim the top position.

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ATP RAFAEL NADAL OF SPAIN - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

It has been over a month since Rafael Nadal last played a match on the Tour but in the coming days, he will have a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings.

 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been absent from action ever since pulling out of his semi-final match at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear. He was set to play at this week’s National Bank Open in Montreal but withdrew after feeling a ‘slight bother’ in his abdominal region following training. Nadal decided not to play after consulting with his doctor.

Instead, the Spaniard will return next week at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. He confirmed his return in an Instagram post, where he wrote: “Very happy to play again in Cincy. Flying there tomorrow (Thursday).”

Whilst the Spaniard will be finding his feet in the coming days, in Cincinnati he has a chance to dethrone Daniil Medvedev from the world No.1 position. Medvedev lost his opening match in Montreal to Nick Kyrgios. To do this he would need to win the Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career and hope that Medvedev doesn’t make the quarter-finals. Nadal won Cincinnati back in 2013 after defeating John Isner in the final.

So far in his career, Nadal has spent 209 weeks as world No.1 with his longest streak being 56 weeks in a row (2010-2011). In total, he has been at the top of the rankings for eight separate periods and last held the position in February 2020.

Nadal’s No.1 stints
-Aug 18 2008 – Jul 5th 2009 (46 weeks)
-Jun 7 2010 – Jul 3rd 2011 (56 weeks)
-Oct 7th 2013 – Jul 6th 2014 (39 weeks)
-Aug 21 2017 – Feb 18 2018 (26 weeks)
-Apr 2nd 2018 – May 13th 2018 (6 weeks)
-May 21st 2018 – Jun 17th 2018 (4 weeks)
-Jun 25th 2018 – Nov 4th 2018 (19 weeks)
-Nov 4th 2019 – Feb 2nd 2020 (13 weeks)

At present nine out of the world’s top 10 players will participate in the Western and Southern Open. The only exception is Novak Djokovic who is currently banned from entering America because he isn’t vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Jack Draper Considered Skipping Montreal Masters Before Getting Biggest Win Of Career

The rising star completes a trio of British players who have booked their places in the third round of the Masters 1000 event.

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Image via https://twitter.com/OBNmontreal/

British qualifier Jack Draper says his decision to play in Montreal this week has paid off after he scored his first-ever win over a top 10 player on Wednesday.

 

The 20-year-old stunned world No.5 and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4), in what is only his fourth appearance in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Draper, who is currently ranked 82nd in the world, won 74% of his first service points and blasted 21 winners past his Greek rival. Recovering from a 1-3 deficit in the second set en route to a straight sets victory.

Leading up to this week, Draper and his team considered not playing in Montreal following his 6-4, 6-2, loss to Andrey Rublev in Washington. However, their decision to do so was the right one. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, he beat France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round before knocking out Tsitsipas.

“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”
“I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.” He added.

Draper’s win comes during what has been a solid season for the Brit who has won four Challenger titles. A former top 10 junior player, he won his first main draw Grand Slam match in June at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International.

Awaiting the youngster in the third round will be French veteran Gael Monfils who is playing in his first tournament since May. Monfils defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(8).

Draper is one of three British players to have reached the last 16 in Montreal. Ninth seed Cameron Norrie will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dan Evans faces Taylor Fritz.

According to the Pepperstone live ATP rankings, Draper will break into the world’s top 70 for the first time next week.

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