Daria Kasatkina continues her rise after beating Daniela Hantuchova at Indian Wells - UBITENNIS
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Daria Kasatkina continues her rise after beating Daniela Hantuchova at Indian Wells

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Russian teenager and World Number 48 Daria Kasatkina beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-2 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes. Kasatkina hit 21 winners and made 17 unforced errors to Hantuchova’s 21 winners to 33 unforced errors.

 

Kasatkina got an early break in the first set. The young Russian did not face a single break point in the first set and got the double break to close out the first set 6-2. Hantuchova made 19 unforced errors to Kasatkina’s just 4 in the first set.

Hantuchova saved two break points at the start of the second set but dropped her serve in the third game. The former top-ten from Slovakia did not convert a point for 4-2 before Kasatkina broke serve to love in the next game. As Hantuchova served to stay in the match, Kasatkina rallied from 0-40 but the Slovakian player held her serve. Kasatkina converted the first of her three match points to serve out for the match.

The young Russian player has advanced for the first time in a Premier Mandatory. She will face number 6 seed Carla Suarez Navarro, who won her biggest title in Doha last month.

Kasatkina, who was born in Togliatty on 7th May 1997, scored the biggest win of her career last January when she beat Venus Williams 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3 in the first round at the ASB Classic in Auckland. She lost in the third round to Serena Williams at this year’s Australian Open. She lost to another teenager Belinda Bencic 4-6 3-6 in the semifinal at St. Petersburg. In the Russian tournament Kasatkina beat former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova 4-6 7-5 6-3.

Kasatkina and her doubles partner Elena Vesnina broke Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza’s winning streak record of 41 consecutive doubles matches at the Qatar Open in Doha where they reached the semifinals. In the Doha singles tournament Kasatkina lost to Roberta Vinci 6-2 4-6 6-7 (3-7) after earning three match points in the third set.

For the first time since 2009, there are three teenagers inside the top 50. Kasatkina has joined this exclusive club together with Belinda Bencic (finalist in St. Petersburg) and Jelena Ostapenko (finalist in Doha).

Kasatkina climbed nearly 300 ranking places between 2014 and 2015 to reach world number 72 and was nominated for the WTA Newcomer of the Year Award. During the 2015 season Kasatkina won five ITF titles and won her first WTA main draw match last July in Bad Gastein. She beat Alexandra Krunic before reaching the quarter finals where she pushed Sara Errani to three sets. Kasatkina reached the third round at the 2015 US Open in her first Grand Slam tournament and qualified for the semifinal at the Premier tournament in Moscow. She came through three qualifying rounds before beating two top-30 players Carla Suarez Navarro and Irina Camelia Begu.

Kasatkina has risen 36 places in the WTA Ranking in the first two months of 2016. Kasatkina was introduced to tennis by her brother at the age of six. Her favourite stroke is her forehand. Her favourite surface is clay. A trademark of her game is her ability to come forward and close out points at the net.

It was the second consecutive first-round defeat for Hantuchova, who won the Indian Wells tournament twice in 2007 and 2007.

“It’s the first time here and I am really happy to be here. It’s always difficult to play your first match of the tournament, especially against such a good player like Daniela and it’s my first match on such a good court. I didn’t know I am playing against Suarez Navarro because I didn’t see the draw. Carla is playing well and won her last tournament, so I have to play my best tennis to beat her”, said Kasatkina.

In other matches of the first round at Indian Wells Margarita Gasparyan beat Olga Govortsova 6-1 6-3 setting up a second round match against St. Petersburg champion and Number 9 seed Roberta Vinci. Annika Beck defeated Bethanie Mattek Sands 6-2 6-2. This year’s Australian Open quarter finalist Zhang Shuai battled past Pauline Parmentier in a close first-set tie-break before the French player was forced to withdraw from the match due to a respiratory problem.

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Iga Swiatek Saves Two Match Points To Edge Out Krejcikova In Rome

Iga Swiatek survived a 2 hour and 50 minute clash to advance to the Rome Quarter-Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Iga Swiatek saved two match points to defeat Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5 to reach the last eight in Rome.

 

The defending Roland Garros champion battled and clawed to victory in 2 hours and 52 minutes after saving two match points.

Swiatek will now play the winner of the match between Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

A summary of the match would be a lot of errors and tentative play throughout as the Pole was too aggressive in the opening set allowing a lot of unforced errors into her game.

Meanwhile Krejcikova was solid but was aggressive with the right angles in the right moments.

This proved crucial for the Czech Republican as she took advantage of Iga’s inability to produce first serves.

A crucial hold at 4-2 was enough for Krejcikova as there were six breaks of serve in the opening set. A long ninth game ended with the Czech taking the set 6-3.

In the second set it was more of the same with Swiatek as she was not able to produce her best tennis.

After going down an early break, Swiatek knew she had to build the points up slowly and gain her confidence. This is what occurred as she got the break back immediately and started to hold serve more comfortably.

Even though the world number 15 looked more confident with her shots and started to construct points better she could not successfully get into Krejcikova’s service games.

Towards the end of the set Swiatek saved two match points as this dramatic contest went to a second set tiebreak.

Swiatek’s mini-break lead was reduced but her fighting spirit was not as Krejcikova felt the pressure and a double fault from her gave the Pole a lifeline as she forced a deciding set.

After spending the change of ends being emotional, Swiatek regained similar form in the final set with her drop-shots being effective.

Krejcikova held nerve of her own as she continued to force the Pole to make unforced errors and just be as solid as she could be.

Swiatek saved three break points in the seventh game to lead 4-3 and then pounced in the 12th game with some heavy returns to take the match and move into the last eight.

Next for the Pole after a mammoth clash will be Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina as she climbs into a new career ranking of 14 in the world.

In other results today Coco Gauff knocked out Madrid Champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-3 for one of the best wins of her career.

The vibrant American faces world number one Ash Barty who continued her amazing season with with a 6-3 6-3 win over Veronika Kudermetova.

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Serena Williams’ 1000th Match Ends In Defeat To Podoroska

Serena Williams was defeated in Rome as she reaches a landmark milestone of 1000 WTA matches.

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Serena Williams (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Serena Williams’ 1000th WTA tour match has ended in a 7-6(6) 7-5 defeat to Nadia Podoroska in Rome.

 

The American made her return to tour for the first time in 84 days as she looked to build momentum heading into Roland Garros.

If the first few games were to set the tempo of the match then it would prove to be a long contest with Serena struggling to get any free points on her serve.

It was the Argentinian who got the first break of the match in the third game as she tested Serena’s stamina early on in the contest.

In typical Serena fashion, the 23-time grand slam champion produced some stunning ground-strokes especially from central positions to break to love straight away.

On serve, Serena looked fairly comfortable as she ended the match with eight aces although she only made a first serve percentage of 48%.

That was her key downfall as it was Podoroska who looked the more comfortable on return as she used some devastating angles to force unforced errors from the Serena racket.

A break for a 5-4 lead ensured that the last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist would serve for the opening set.

However Serena used her power and good point construction to once again break back which was met with a roar from the world number eight.

Eventually the first set would head towards a tiebreaker with Podoroska dominating the majority of it.

She had three set points which came and went as Serena used her fighting qualities to roar back into the match.

But once again some unforced errors would cost the four-time champion as Podoroska took the next two point to claim the opening set in 66 minutes.

In the second set, Serena was the early aggressor as she dictated points better setting the pace of the match.

Again though Podoroska extended the rallies and made the American move all round the court exposing as much space as possible.

The Argentinian was rewarded for her court coverage when she broke in the sixth game as Serena began to tire.

As in the first set, Podoroska couldn’t serve out the second set as her cautious play lead to Serena levelling it up at 5-5.

However Serena’s serve was just not working when she needed it too and Podoroska secured the final blow to seal a fantastic victory for her.

For Serena its onto Roland Garros as she will look to improve her fitness in the next couple of weeks.

As for Podoroska she will play Petra Martic after the Croatian beat Kristina Mladenovic today 7-5 6-3.

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Naomi Osaka’s Clay Woes Continue After Pegula Defeat In Rome

Naomi Osaka went out in the second round in Rome to Jessica Pegula.

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Jessica Pegula (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka’s clay court woes continued in Rome after losing to Jessica Pegula 7-6(2) 6-2.

 

The world number two admitted previously that learning the clay court trade would take time and this continues to be the case after another early defeat on the surface.

After losing in the second round in Madrid to Karolina Muchova, Osaka knew she needed a quick start in this match and she produced that with the early break for a 2-0 lead.

Pegula’s loss in Madrid was in the third round although that was to the eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka and she had every reason not to be intimidated as she slowly worked her way in the match.

The American reaped her rewards as she took her second break point to bring the match back on serve.

Despite the setback, Osaka continued to dictate play using her athleticism to bring shots back with depth and pace as she was arguably playing the better tennis.

In the latter stages of the set, the Australian Open champion had created three set points before some bold Pegula tennis denied Osaka the set.

Eventually the first set went to a tiebreak which saw the world number 31 be more aggressive and produce some stunning tennis to win seven of the nine points on offer to win the tiebreak 7-2.

In the second set, Osaka fell apart as her backhand, net play and general point construction crumbled quickly.

Pegula offered more in attacking combinations and produced some big serves as she broke three times in the second set.

Despite breaking in the sixth game, it was another disappointing performance from Osaka who conceded defeat in 90 minutes.

As for Pegula she has set up a third round clash with Ekaterina Alexandrova.

In other results so far today Elina Svitolina survived a scare as she edged past Amanda Anisimova 2-6 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Garbine Muguruza also edged past Bernarda Pera 2-6 6-0 7-5 in just over two hours after the Spaniard struggled with a foot injury.

There were comfortable victories for Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova while Petra Kvitova was knocked out by Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-4.

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