Ana Ivanovic beat defending champion Simona Halep 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 to book her spot in the quarter finals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament. Ivanovic and Halep did not get on the court until after 8 pm due to heavy rain.
Halep broke serve in Ivanovic’s first service game to take a 3-1 lead. Ivanovic earned break point chances in the sixth games but she did not convert them.
Halep earned a set point when she was serving for the first set at 5-4 40-30, but she hit her backhand into the net to waste her chance. Ivanovic saved a set point and broke back to draw level to 5-5. Ivanovic saved two break points in the next game before Halep hit an ace down the middle to force the first set to the tie-break.
Halep got a mini-break to win the first point but Ivanovic fought back to win six of the next seven points, including a 21-shot rally for 4-1. Ivanovic earned a set point as Halep made consecutive forehand errors. Ivanovic closed out the first set in one hour and 17 minutes when Halep hit a backhand wide.
There were three breaks of serve in the first three games of the second set. Ivanovic fired four straight winners to earn an early break to love. Halep broke straight back to draw level to 1-1 bu Ivanovic got another break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Ivanovic saved three break-back point chances in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. Halep held her serve in the fifth game at deuce for 2-3. In the third consecutive game at deuce Ivanovic held her serve for 4-2. Ivanovic got a double break in the seventh game for 5-2 and served out for the second set on on her first match point to reach her fourth the quarter finals in Dubai for the fourth time in her career. Halep won just seven points on her serve in the second set.
Ivanovic has scored her first win over a top-5 player since she defeated Eugenie Bouchard at the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.
Ivanovic suffered first-round defeats in Auckland and Sydney and lost in the third round at the Australian Open but has showed recent good form reaching the semifinals in St. Petersburg last week. The Serbian player dropped just one game against Daria Gavrilova in Dubai.
“I am delighted. It was a great battle in the first set. She is a great player and I really had to raise my game, which I think I did. It was not easy but I am really thrilled to be through. I was a little bit anxious because it was stop and go. I think we both wanted to continue playing but it was a little bit slippery. I needed to stay calm and I am glad I managed to do that. ”, said Ivanovic.
Ivanovic set up a quarter final against Barbora Strykova, who fought back from a set down to beat Julia Georges 2-6 6-3 6-1.
Halep was disappointed with her match. “It was close. In the first set I had set ball. I couldn’t finish, and then I lost a little bit of confidence and it was over. I think I was doing okay. I was aggressive. She played really well. She came back well. I served okay. I returned okay”
Elina Svitolina overcame second seed Garbine Muguruza 7-6 (7-3) 6-3. Svitolina had chances to close out the first set at 5-4 and at 6-5 but was broken each time. The first set came down to the tie-break where Svitolina prevailed 7-3 after 1 hour and 15 minutes. Sviltolina held off a late comeback from Muguruza in the second set to close out the second set 6-3.
“It was really tough and as you can see for both of us it was a real battle. I am happy I could win the the first set because it was up and down, really a rollercoaster”, said Svitolina.
Madison Brengle pulled off an upset when she came back from losing the first set with a bagel to overcome Petra Kvitova 0-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-3. Muguruza made 68 unforced errors.
“I am not really ready to compete. I think I just need to start from zero again and forget these couple of tournaments”, said a disappointed Muguruza.
Svitolina will face Coco Vandeweghe who overcame a second-set loss to beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 3-6 6-4.
Kvitova went up a set and a break but she was broken back at 3-1. At 4-5 Kvitova saved three set points. Brengle cruised to 7-1 in the tie-break. Brengle fought back from 1-3 by winning five consecutive games to take the win the the third set by 6-3.
Andrea Petkovic beat Jelena Jankovic 6-3 6-2 setting up a quarter final against Andrea Petkovic. Barbora Strykova came back from a set and a break down to edge Julia Georges 2-6 6-3 6-3. Sara Errani cruised to a 6-3 6-0 win over Yaroslava Schvedova in just 59 minutes. Errani broke serve three times in each set and won 85 percent of her first serve points.
Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose
After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open.
The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall.
“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”
Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament.
Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.
Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”
It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.
Ex-No.1 Ash Barty Stands By Retirement Decision
Despite the growing number of players returning to competitive tennis after giving birth, Ash Barty says she is contempt in retirement.
Barty, who is still only 27 years old, stunned the sport at the start of 2022 when she announced her retirement from the sport just weeks after winning the Australian Open. She has won 15 WTA titles during her career with three of them being at Grand Slam tournaments. She also held the world No.1 spot for 121 weeks and earned more than $23.8M in prize money.
The Australian returned to the media limelight on Friday by attending a special event to announce the return of the Brisbane International next year. It will be the first time the tournament has been held since the COVID pandemic with the women’s draw being increased from 32 to 48. However, no such changes will be made to the men’s draw. There will be a record prize money pool of AUS$3.1M.
For those hoping that Barty might have a change of heart and return to competitive action at her home event in Brisbane, they are going to be disappointed.
“I don’t have the time – I don’t have the time to train, I don’t have the time to prepare, and I have so many great memories out on this court, and now I just get to create new memories,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Barty as saying.
“I’m certainly not coming out of retirement. Pat (Rafter) may be more likely than me.”
Earlier this year Caroline Wozniacki announced her return to tennis following a three-year retirement from the sport. Despite playing in only two WTA tournaments beforehand, she reached the fourth round of the US Open where she was defeated by Coco Gauff who went on to win the title. Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina returned to the Tour following the birth of her first child and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
Barty has previously said she would like to remain involved in tennis by helping support the rising stars of the game in her home country. Currently, Australia doesn’t have any players in the top 100 on the women’s Tour. In contrast, there are nine Australians in the top 100 on the men’s Tour.
“It’s depth, you have to play at your top level, you have to be consistent across a 52-week calendar to keep your ranking up with the top of the world,” she said.
“I think it’s exciting for the women’s game, it creates hunger, passion and drive for girls wanting to be the best and knowing there’s an opportunity to take that top spot.
“There’s obviously not as many girls in the top 100 as we would like, but there’s plenty coming through that are learning their craft, developing.
“It takes time to understand how you think you can fit in, how you think you can grow into your play. I’m excited for the next five or 10 years to see where they can get to.”
The Australian tennis season will begin on December 29th with the United Cup. A mixed-team competition that will be held in Sydney and Perth. Two days later, the first singles events in Brisbane and Adelaide will get underway.
The 2024 Australian Summer of Tennis calendar
Venue: Perth – RAC Arena, Sydney – Ken Rosewall Arena
Group Stage – 29 December 2023 to 5 January 2024
Finals – 6 to 7 January 2024, more details to be announced soon
Category: ATP / WTA international mixed team competition
31 December 2023 to 7 January 2024
Venue: Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane
Category: WTA 500 / ATP 250
Draw size: WTA – 48 singles / 24 doubles; ATP – 32 singles, 24 doubles
31 December 2023 to 6 January 2024
Venue: Canberra Tennis Centre, Canberra
Category: ATP Challenger 125 / WTA 125
Draw size: ATP – 32 singles, 16 doubles; WTA – 32 singles, 16 doubles
8 to 13 January 2024
Venue: The Drive, Adelaide
Category: WTA 500 / ATP 250
Draw size: WTA – 32 singles, 16 doubles; ATP – 28 singles, 24 doubles
8 to 13 January 2024
Venue: Domain Tennis Centre, Hobart
Category: WTA 250
Draw size: 32 singles, 16 doubles
AO Opening Week, including Australian Open qualifying (8 to 12 January)
8 to 14 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam
Draw size: Q128 singles
15 to 28 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam
Draw size: 128 singles, 64 doubles
The WTA Tour In 2024 Should Be Even Stronger
To Aryna Sabalenka, every shot seems to be a go-for-it.
The two Grand Slam champions in Sunday’s U.S. Open men’s final would say, “Thank you” for a similar approach by their opponent. But Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev don’t play that game often.
They play to win. Sabalenka didn’t, although she wanted so badly to earn her second Grand Slam title this year.
COCO PLAYED TO WIN
Coco Gauff also played to win, once she got past a one-sided first set. Sabalenka kept going for it, and the world’s new No. 1 player paid the price in a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 loss to young Coco Gauff.
So, what happens now? Obviously, Sabalenka and Gauff will lead the way as the best women’s players in the game . . . for now.
Where does French Open champ and former world’s No. 1 Iga Swiatek fit? Wimbledon titlist Marketa Vondrousova, Jessica Pegula, 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Ons Jabeur and yes, Karolina Muchova fit into WTA Tour stars led by Sabalenka and Gauff?
WTA TOUR SHOULD BE EVEN BETTER IN 2024
The 2024 women’s season is sure to be an exciting one. Any of these eight players could turn out to be superstars by this time next year.
Or it might be that there are simply too many equals in the women’s game, or maybe not enough stability at the top of the game. Superstars are important to a tour.
What would the ATP Tour have looked like without Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal all winning Grand Slams about the same time?
Gauff has been amazing since returning from Europe to the U.S., going 16-0 in the U.S. and suffering her only loss in Canada to doubles partner Pegula.
GAUFF MOVING UP TO THIRD
Gauff is projected to climb three spots in the WTA rankings to No. 3.
But Saturday was the dream come true for the 19-year-old. She simply outplayed the hard-hitting Sabalenka in the last two sets.
Just as Medvedev’s victory over Carlos Alcaraz was set up by Medvedev’s amazing defense, running down practically everything Alcaraz had to offer, Gauff’s victory was secured by her ability to repeatedly chase down what looked like Sabalenka winners.
Gauff usually kept running down Sabalenka’s missiles until the Belarussian missed the court.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
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