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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Tereza Martincova and Belinda Bencic reach the quarter final in Ostrava

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Czech wildcard Tereza Martincova upset Roland Garros Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6) after 2 hours and 19 minutes to advance to the quarter finals at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Martincova claimed her third top 20 win of her career and reached her second quarter final on home soil this season after finishing fourth in Prague. 

Pavlyuchenkova earned the first break to take a 4-3 lead and served for the first set in the 10th game, but she never reached a set point. The Russian player came just two points away from winning the first set at 5-4 30-15, but Martincova won four consecutive points before winning the tie-break 7-5. 

Martincova dropped just eight points in the first six games of the second set. The Czech player fended off two break points to consolidate her lead for 2-0. She raced out to a 7-6 (7-5) 5-1 lead, but Pavlyuchenkova saved two match points to hold serve forcing Martincova to serve for the match. Martincova dropped four consecutive points. Pavlyuchenkova got another break, when Martincova was serving for the match for the third time at 6-5. Martincova went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Pavlyuchenkova drew level to 4-4 before saving a third match point. Martincova won the final two points to claim the tie-break 8-6. 

Martincova set up a quarter final match against Maria Sakkari, who beat last week’s Luxembourg finalist Jelena Ostapenko. 

This year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic cruised to a 6-2 6-3 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo in just 88 minutes. Bencic claimed her 15th win in her last 18 matches. Bencic broke six times and reeled off eight consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set to cruise through to a a straight-set win. Sorribes Tormo saved a break point to win her first game for 1-4 and pulled one break back in the sixth game, but Bencic sealed the win with her third break in the ninth game. “I think I prepared well for this match tactically, and also mentally, because it’s very tough. You have to win the point many times against her, especially on this surface, where it’s very slow. I am happy that I stayed disciplined for the whole match”, said Bencic. 

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Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Indian Wells, Unclear If She Will Play Again This Year

There is no official word but it looking increasingly likly that the world No.8 might have pulled the plug on her 2021 season.

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka has officially withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells just weeks after saying she will take a break from the sport due to personal reasons.

 

The former world No.1 hadn’t played a match since her loss to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open. Speaking to reporters in New York, Osaka said she didn’t know when she would play another match on the Tour. Earlier this year she opened up about her mental health struggles after revealing she has been suffering from social anxiety and depression. Osaka also took time away from the sport during the summer after pulling out of the French Open before deciding to skip Wimbledon.

“This is very hard to articulate. Basically I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry,” she said following her loss to Fernandez.
“I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while. How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.”

Osaka’s withdrawal from Indian Wells was confirmed by the tournament who published an announcement on social media. Although they didn’t specify what reason she used to withdraw from the tournament which is one of the biggest events outside of the Grand Slams in terms of ranking points and prize money on offer.

It was Indian Wells where Osaka won her first prestigious title back in 2018 after defeating Daria Kasatkina in straight sets. The following year she was the top seed in the draw but lost to Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

There has been no official comment from Osaka or her team about Indian Wells and if she will play again this season. Although it looks increasingly unlikely. She is in with a chance of qualifying for the WTA Finals in November but even if she does make the cut it is unclear if she will attend the event which has been relocated from China to Mexico.

This year Indian Wells will get underway on October 4th which is more than six months later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Simona Halep Ends Six-Year Collaboration With Coach Cahill

One of the longest coaching partnerships on the WTA Tour has come to an end.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep is on the lookout for a new coach after unexpectedly announcing her split from Darren Cahill on Wednesday.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has been working with the Australian mentor for most of the time since 2015. There was a brief period where Cahill stepped away from his duties to spend more time with his family before later returning. Under his guidance, the Romanian reached the top of the world rankings and featured in the final of three major tournaments, winning two of those.

“After six wonderful years working together, Darren Cahill and I have decided that it’s time to end our working relationship,” Halep wrote on social media. “Thank you D for everything, for making me a better tennis player and a better person.”

55-year-old Cahill is a former player himself who has also worked with a series of top players prior to Halep. In the past, he has coached both Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi to world No.1 at different stages of their careers. Doubles specialist Horia Tecău reportedly told Romanian TV that it was rumoured Cahill received an annual salary in the region of one million euros during his time with Halep. Although this has not been verified.

The announcement comes a week after Halep married Macedonian businessman Toni Iuruc. One of those who attended the event was Illie Nastase who was one of the world’s best tennis players during the 1970s, winning both the French Open and US Open.

I didn’t know anything about Simona’s intention to break up with Darren Cahill. It took me a little by surprise. But Simona Halep has proven she knows what she’s doing. As I did not know, I do not see what I could comment. But there is no question of collaborating (with her),” Nastase told playsport.ro.
I didn’t talk to her about this or to anyone else in her entourage… I think only Simona knows who her future coach will be. I trust her choices.”

So far in 2021 Halep has achieved a win-loss record of 15-7 during what has been a rollercoaster season. An Achilles injury forced her to miss both the French Open and Wimbledon, as well as the Tokyo Olympics. Since returning to the Tour from her injury she has won back-to-back matches in one out of three tournaments played. Reaching the fourth round of the US Open.

There has been no official word on who may replace Cahill as Halep’s coach.

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