Sara Errani overcomes Madison Brengle to reach the semifinals in Dubai - UBITENNIS
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Sara Errani overcomes Madison Brengle to reach the semifinals in Dubai

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Sara Errani bounced back from a set down and a third-set deficit to overcome a marathon match against Madison Brengle 4-6 6-1 6-4 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament.

Errani, who played the final in Dubai against Petra Kvitova in 2013, won a hard-fought match after earning 39 break points but managed to scrape through to secure her spot in the semifinal where she will face the winner of match between Coco Vandeweghe and Elina Svitolina.

Errani converted on 10 of her 22 break point chances, while Brengle broke seven times.

In the first set Errani won four consecutive games from 0-1 down to take a 4-1 lead thanks to a double break. Brengle rallied from 0-30 down to get both breaks back clawing her way back into the match. The US player broke again when Errani was serving to stay in the set and won her fifth consecutive game to close out the first set 6-4.

Errani converted her fourth break point chance at deuce at the start of the second set. Brengle bounced back from 15-30 to earn four break-back point chances in a very long second game which went to deuce. Errani saved them to hold her serve for 2-0. The Italian player broke serve for the third time in the second set to race out to a 5-0 lead.  Brengle got one of the three breaks back on the set point but Errani did not make the same mistake of letting Brengle back into the set and broke for the fourth time in the second set to take the second set 6-1.

Brengle recovered from 0-40 by winning three consecutive points to break serve at deuce after a very long first game. Errani broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Brengle broke serve twice more in the third game and in the fifth game to build up a 4-1 lead. Errani bounced back by winning four consecutive games to win a dramatic match by 6-4 in two hours and 22 minutes.

Errani had already beaten Brengle in three sets in Toronto last year.

“ It was very windy. She did not miss a ball. It’s not easy to play against her. At the beginning there was a lot of wind. Just to be in the semifinal for me is an amazing result. I will try to play to do my best in my next match. It was difficult for me to play the ball. I could have lost easily. I just kept fighting. ”, said Errani.

Caroline Garcia beat Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-4 to reach her first WTA Premier-level of her career.

Garcia didn’t face a break point in the first set. The French player broke serve in a very long third game to take a 2-1 lead and in the ninth game to close out the opening set in 37 minutes. She did not face any break points on her serve during the first set.

Garcia broke serve on the third break point to take a 2-0 lead. Petkovic broke straight back in the third game. They went on serve until the 10th game when Perkovic was serving to stay in the match at 4-5. Garcia clinched another break in the final game to close out the match by 6-4 after one hour and 31 minutes when Petkovic hit a backhand wide. Garcia hit 23 winners to Petkovic’s 6.

Garcia took a re-match against Petkovic who had beaten the French player twice last year in Eastbourne and at the US Open in 2015.

Garcia will play against either Ana Ivanovic or Barbora Strykova in the semifinals.

 “You always have to fight very hard against Andrea. She is a big fighter always trying to come back in the match. The conditions were very difficult. It was very windy, sometimes more than yesterday. I always have to be ready for the ball. Sometimes it was not very good tennis. It was not very rhythmic but you have to stay focused and just keep your tactics on”, said Garcia.

The Dubai Tournament has become the first in WTA Tour history to see all eight seeds lose in the first round. It’s the fourth time in WTA history that no seeds reached the quarter finals. This has added to the unpredictability of this tournament which is held in tricky weather conditions. The top four seeds Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Carla Suarez Navarro and Petra Kvitova were all knocked out on a rain-disrupted Wednesday after getting a first-round bye. The other four seeds Belinda Bencic, Karolina Pliskova, Roberta Vinci and Svetlana Kuznetsova lost in the first round.

 

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Karolina Pliskova Finding Her Footing With The Help Of New Coach Krajan

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Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Karolina Pliskova’s resurgence on the Tour comes at a time when she has formed a new partnership with a well-known coach. 

After her first round loss at the Australian Open to Elena Rybakina, the Czech won nine consecutive matches on the Tour. In Romania, she claimed her 17th WTA title at the Winners Open before reaching the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 event in Doha. However, she was unable to play her semi-final clash against Iga Swiatek due to a lower back injury. During this period she has improved her ranking from 77th to 36th. 

Pliskova began the season without a coach at her side but is now working with Croatia’s Zeljko Krajan. A partnership she believes is showing promising signs already. 

“Personality-wise, I think he’s kind of similar to me,” Pliskova told WTA Insider. “Not really high or low. Relaxed and very like calm. 
“We didn’t really plan yet anything because now the schedule was difficult. I might be in qualifying in Indian Wells. Maybe I enter San Diego. So I don’t really know what’s gonna be. I’m just living day by day at the moment.” 

Krajan has worked with a series of players on both the WTA and ATP Tour’s. He guided Dinara Safina to three Grand Slam finals between 2008 and 2010. He has also worked with Borna Coric, Laura Robson, Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika cibulkova.

Pliskova, who is a former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, has endured a roller-coaster journey on the Tour in recent months with mixed results. Last season she failed to win back-to-back matches at 11 consecutive tournaments. 

So how has she managed to regain her form on the Tour?

“Motivation was never really a problem for me,” Pliskova said. “If I go on the court no matter how bad or good I feel, I always want to win. I always want to compete. 
“But my game is based on confidence and I need to feel that. Even if I’m not playing well or winning many matches, I just need to find that confidence in that moment or in that game because it’s just so risky. My shots are so flat, so I go for mostly lines. If something is not going well or you start to doubt, then of course you miss a little bit. Everything is about this.”

Unseeded at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Pliskova beat China’s Zhang Shuai in the first round. She will next play Ashlyn Krueger in the second round on Tuesday.

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Elena Rybakina Eases Past Kasatkina To Win Abu Dhabi Open

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Elena Rybakina has captured her second title of the season after beating an erratic Daria Kasatkina in straight sets at the Abu Dhabi Open. 

The world No.5 stormed to a 6-1, 6-4, win over the Russian in just over an hour. It is the third time in Rybakina’s career that she has beaten Kasatkina on the Tour and she now leads their head-to-head 3-2. The triumph comes a month after she won the Brisbane International, which is also a WTA 500 event. 

Rybakina’s latest match saw her capitalise on her opponent’s costly mistakes. Kasatkina struggled with her serve throughout the majority of the final and only managed to hold twice in eight attempts. Opening the door for the former Wimbledon champion who hit 17 winners against 12 unforced errors en route to victory. 

“I want to thank the fans who came this week,” said the new champion. “It has been an amazing atmosphere, especially to see flags from Kazakhstan. It means a lot, thank you so much.”

A one-sided 25-minute opening set saw Rybakina claim four straight games to clinch an early lead. During to the opener, Kasatkina only managed to win 26% of her service points. It was the fourth time in the tournament that the Kazakh had won a set by conceding two or fewer games. 

Fortunately for world No.14 Kasatkina and the crowd, there was more of a battle in the second frame. Twice in a row Rybakina worked her way to a break advantage before losing it in the following game. Then at 4-4, she dealt the decisive blow by hitting a clean forehand winner to break yet against and this time had a chance to serve for the title. With the rain starting to fall, she converted her first championship point with the help of another error from across the net. 

The defeat for Kasatkina comes a day after she came through a marathon three-hour semi-final match before criticising the WTA over their tournament scheduling. She is currently set to play in the Qatar Open with her opening match taking place tomorrow. It is the sixth time in a row she has been beaten by a top-five player on the Tour. 

“Congratulations to Elena, you’ve had a great week,” she said.
“Thanks to my team who has always been next to me. I am really proud of the job we’ve done and how we are doing. Thanks for always believing in me.”

Rybakina also referred to the demanding calendar during the trophy presentation. 

“Tough week (for Kasatkina), especially the last matches. Tomorrow there is already a match in Doha but hopefully, we will both recover and do well there. Maybe also play (against each other) in the final there,” she said. 

Unlike Kasatkina, Rybakina has a first round bye in Doha. She has now won seven WTA trophies so far in her career. 

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Ons Jabeur Hoping For Better Fortunes In Doha Despite Injury Concerns

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Ons Jabeur (TUN) playing against Venus Williams (USA) on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

Ons Jabeur is optimistic that she will be ready in time to play at her next event in Doha after suffering an emotional exit from Dubai on Friday. 

The two-time Wimbledon finalist was in tears during her straight sets loss to Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals. Jabeur later revealed that her emotional reaction was linked to the reoccurrence of a knee injury in recent days which has troubled her in the past. She said the pain can differ at various tournaments but in Dubai, it was causing her significant discomfort. 

“I’m an open book, an emotional person. I like to show myself. One thing I have learned is to accept the emotion, and if I try to hide it, it will not make me feel good,” Jabeur told reporters in Doha at a pre-tournament press conference. 
“So it’s good to let it out and be done with it than to keep it inside and probably will make more problems for you later.”

Despite the setback, the world No.6 intends to play at the Doha Open which gets underway today. She will be the fourth seed in this year’s draw and will be playing in the event for the first time since 2022. Last year she was forced to skip the Middle East swing after having surgery to treat an enlarged nodule which was obstructing her airway and preventing oxygen from reaching her lungs. 

“I’m very happy to be back. I’m obviously happier than last year,” she said. “I’m glad to be united with my fans here, and hopefully it’s going be a great week for me.
“I have been struggling with the knee for a long time, and last week was very, very tough. Hopefully, I can recover in time and then play better here in Doha.”  

This time of the year has always meant a lot to the Tunisian, who has spoken on numerous occasions about her aim to inspire more players from her region to take up tennis. She is the first Arab player to reach a Grand Slam final, crack the top 10 in the WTA rankings and qualify for the season-ending Tour Finals. 

“It is very important to be here to connect with Arabic crowds. I feel so much love here in the region, and obviously, that’s one of the reasons I chose to play Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Dubai, because I feel so good here.” She said.

Declaring she is ‘happy’ with her rhythm on the court, Jabeur will begin her campaign in Doha against either Lesia Tsurenko or Turkish wild card Zeynep Sonmez.

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