Lucie Hradecka overcomes Eugenie Bouchard in Miami first round - UBITENNIS
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Lucie Hradecka overcomes Eugenie Bouchard in Miami first round

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Lucie Hradecka overcame Eugenie Bouchard 6-4 3-6 6-2. Bouchard held her service game to love but won just six points in the next five games. Hradecka pulled away to a 5-1 lead after winning 100 percent of her first serve points in the first seven games. Bouchard fought back by winning the next three games to claw her way back to 4-5.

 

Bouchard, who reached the finals in Hobart and Kuala Lumpur, broke serve to take a 4-1 lead and held her next service games to clinch the second set 6-3 on her first set point.

Both players held their service games in the first five games. Bouchard saved the only break point in the first five games with a service winner. Hradecka survived long games on serve in the third set before breaking serve on her first opportunity in the sixth game at 3-2 for Hradecka, as Bouchard made a double fault on the break point. Hradecka held her service games before converting her third match point with her backhand after 1 hour and 50 minutes. Hradecka will take on this year’s St.Petersburg winner Roberta Vinci who was forced to withdraw in Indian Wells when she was a set and a break down against Magdalena Rybarikova due to a left foot injury. Vinci leads 4-0 in her head-to-head matches against Hradecka.

Caroline Garcia fought back from a set down to beat Mirjana Lucic Baroni 2-6 6-1 6-3 in the second match on the Grandstand. Baroni got a double break to cruise to a 4-0 lead en route to winning the first set 6-2 in 33 minutes. Garcia fought back breaking at the start of the second set to take a 3-1 lead. Lucic Baroni dropped serve three times and made 12 unforced errors to drop the second set 6-1. The third set went on serve until Garcia led 4-3. The French player got the decisive break in the 8th game to close out the match in 1 hours and 47 minutes setting up a second round match against Andrea Petkovic.

Another French player Alizé Cornet beat Galina Voskoboeva 6-4 7-5 setting up a second round match against Agnieszka Radwanska. Cornet, who was sidelined by a back injury. There were 10 breaks of serve. Both players early in the opening set but Cornet got the break to take the 4-2 and held her service games to clinch the first set 6-4. Cornet closed out the second set on her second match point to take her first win since the Australian Open.

“I am just happy to be healthy and to move again and to enjoy playing tennis. I think the injury gave me a good lesson and I really appreciate even more my time on court now”, said Cornet.

Irina Falconi beat this year’s Rio de Janeiro winner Francesca Schiavone 7-5 6-1. Schiavone got an early break at the start of the first set to take a 2-1 lead but Falconi broke straight back in the next game. The US player won three consecutive games en route to breaking serve again at 4-2 before saving three break point chances in the seventh game. Schiavone won three consecutive games to draw level to 5-5 with a break-back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Falconi recovered from 0-30 at 6-5 to break serve at deuce and clinched the first set 7-5.

Schiavone started the second with a break but Falconi fought back by winning six consecutive games to clinch the second set.

Heather Watson breezed aside Petra Cetkovska 6-1 6-0 in 47 minutes. Cetkovska is making her come-back after being sidelined by injury problems for the past two years.

Yanina Wickmayer cruised past Karin Knapp 6-2 6-1. Knapp broke back in the second game but dropped her serve in the third and the seventh games to lose the first set 6-2. Wickmayer broke serve in the first game of the second set. Knapp missed a break-back chance in the second game but Wickmayer broke twice more in the fifth and in the seventh games to cruise to 6-1.

Dominika Cibulkova rallied from a set down to clinch her third consecutive win over Johanna Larsson 4-6 6-1 6-2 to set up a second round against Garbine Muguruza.

Christina McHale overcame a second set loss to edge past Misaki Doi 6-2 4-6 7-5. Vania King beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-4 6-4 to set up a second round match against Caroline Wozniacki.

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Kim Clijsters Still Capable Of Top-Level Wins, Says Former world No.1 Murray

Murray gives his verdict on Clijsters’ current form and if she can return to the top of the game.

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Image via WTA Insider on Twitter

Andy Murray believes it is only a matter of time before Belgium’s Kim Clijsters is able to return to her winning ways on the Tour.

 

The 38-year-old is currently in the process of her latest comeback which has been hampered by both injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. Since returning to the Tour at the 2020 Dubai Tennis Championships, Clijsters has only played in five tournaments and is yet to win a match. Her most recent defeat was at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells where she was ousted 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, by Hsieh Su-Wei.

It was in Indian Wells where Clijsters held a hitting session with Murray who says he was impressed by her level of play. Speaking to reporters in Antwerp where he is playing in the European Open this week, the three-time Grand Slam champion believes she is heading in the right direction.

“She still hits the ball fantastic. I think the decision-making and things like that will come with more matches,” atptour.com quoted Murray as saying. “I think physically she can get stronger. I think that was probably one of her biggest strengths when she was at the top of the game and as successful as she was.
“With more time, more matches, more time on the practice court, physically she’ll keep getting better. It’s not easy after such a long time out of the game, but I’m sure she can still win matches at the highest level, judging on how she’s handled herself so well.”

Following her most recent match, Clijsters said she is progressing well on the Tour given her lack of match play in recent times. She has only played two matches this year. The other took place in Chicago where she lost to Keterina Siniakova in three sets.

“I think for me the most important thing is that, what I talked with my coach and my trainer about, my fitness coach, was physically being able to get through these matches without big concerns. That was the main goal,” Clisjters said following her loss to Su-Wei.
“I came close, but still have a good feeling about, you know I’ve made progression and I think that’s the most important thing.”

Clijsters has won 41 WTA titles during her career with the last of those occurring a decade ago at the 2011 Australian Open. She has held the world No.1 spot for 20 weeks and has earned more than $24.5M in prize money.

It is unclear as to what tournament Clijsters will be playing next.

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Aryna Sabalenka Believes Experience Is The Key To Grand Slam Glory

The world No.2 reflects on her year so far as she aims to end the season on a high.

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Aryna Sabalenka returns a shot during a Women's Doubles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

This year has been full of mixed emotions for Aryna Sabalenka when it comes to playing in the four most prestigious tournaments of the sport.

 

In the Grand Slams the world No.2 achieved the best performances of her career to date by reaching the semi-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open. A breakout run for the Belarussian who had never gone beyond the fourth round of a major until this season. She was denied a place in her maiden final by Karolina Pliskova and Leylah Fernandez with both of those matches being three-set encounters.

Whilst Sabalenka has a lot to be proud of when it comes to these results, does she have any regrets as well?

“I would go back to my semifinal matches at the US Open and Wimbledon. I would have tried to do everything differently – maybe I would have been less nervous,” she told reporters during her pre-tournament press conference at the Kremlin Cup. “The game was very nervous, and I would have returned to these matches to worry less.”

The 23-year-old believes her experiences will place her on a strong footing going into future Grand Slam events. In recent years she has also turned to the help of a sports psychologist but says it doesn’t fully prepare her for the real thing.

“I have been working with a psychologist for a very long time. In fact, if you look at me 4 years ago and now, I have improved my psychological condition,” she said.
“It seems to me that no psychologist will prepare me for these situations (in Grand Slams). You need to go through it yourself, feel it, get nervous, understand this situation for yourself.’
“I’m more than sure that the next semifinal at the Slam I won’t be so nervous. I will act more confidently, I won’t make the stupid errors that I made in important moments in the last semi-final. It’s a matter of experience, you need to go through it. I don’t think a psychologist will be able to prepare for this.”

So far this season Sabalenka has contested three Tour finals, winning titles in Abu Dhabi and Madrid. Overall, she has won 43 matches on the WTA Tour which is the third highest tally after Barbora Krejcikova (44) and Ons Jabeur (48). She is also currently at a ranking high of second in the world and has defeated three top 10 players – Krejcikova, Ash Barty and Simona Halep.

However, Sabalenka believes there is still room for her to improve further. She is currently coached by Anton Dubrov who previously worked as her hitting partner for 18 months.

“I think I played very consistently this year, but, of course, it is possible to be more consistent. I have to keep working on myself, be more consistent. I think I’m moving in the right direction, I just need to keep working on myself.” She states.

This week’s Kremlin Cup will be the first tournament Sabalenka has played since the US Open. She was forced to miss Indian Wells after testing positive for COVID-19 which left her bed bound for four days. Whilst admitting she is yet to reach her full fitness since being ill, Sabalenka is not letting that get in her way.

“I’m not in my best shape, but I know that I need the upcoming matches in the Kremlin Cup, because I haven’t played for almost a month. Maybe I haven’t returned to 100% of my physical form, but psychologically I am at my maximum and ready to win no matter what.” She concludes.

Sabalenka is the top seed in Moscow and will begin her campaign against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.

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Leylah Fernandez Overcomes Pavlyuchenkova To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round

It was a tough day at the office for the US Open runner-up.

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Leylah Fernandez (Darren Carroll/USTA)

Leylah Fernandez pulled off one of her famous comebacks in the Californian desert beating the number nine seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 41 minutes.

 

The Canadian hit 24 winners in the win while the Russian hit 46 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth before Fernandez was able to pull through in the end.

“What I am most proud of is the way that I fought and honestly today wasn’t my best performance,” Fernandez said afterwards. “But I fought for every point and I was trying to figure things out. I was proud I was able to find a way to get back in the match and get the win”.

After holding serve in her opening service game the world number 28 started putting the pressure right away on the Russian by getting two early break points but failed to convert.

At 3-3, it was Fernandez facing the pressure on her serve and the world number 13 had four looks at a breakpoint. On the fourth the Canadian cracked and double-faulted for the first break of serve of the match.

The Russian lead didn’t last long as the Canadian responded right away in the following game and the next four games went with breaks of serve as both players were struggling to hold serve.

Pavlyuchenkova eventually served for the set at 6-5 and was able to serve it out to take a 7-5 lead.

Pavlyuchenkova carried the momentum into the second set and broke Fernandez’s serve in the first game of the set but at 2-1 got broken once again and the set went back on serve.

It stayed on serve until 4-3 when Fernandez managed to get the crucial break of serve and that was enough for her to serve out the second set.

The first four games of the third set went on serve and at 2-2 again it was the Montreal native earning a breakpoint and breaking once again and despite facing pressure from the Russian was able to serve out the match.

After the match in her on-court interview, Fernandez was asked about all the support she has been getting recently and what it means to her to play on such a big stage.

“I got goosebumps,’ she said. “I was super excited to play here in Indian Wells for the first time and to play in a stadium where so many legends played who fought and won so it’s an honor to be here. I can’t wait to play my next match”.

Fernandez will next face the American Shelby Rogers in the round of 16 on Tuesday after she beat the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-0, 6-2.

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