Serena Williams Eases Her Way Past Defending Champion Simona Halep - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Eases Her Way Past Defending Champion Simona Halep

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In her biggest test since her final loss to Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open, Serena Williams cruised past defending champion Simona Halep 6-4, 6-3, at the BNP Paribas Open.

The world No.1 faced some tough resistance during the opening set from Halep as she was broken in the third game of the match to go behind 1-2. She recovered from the early break in impressive style by breaking back immediately as she clinched four consecutive games to move ahead 5-2. Despite the dominating lead, Williams encountered difficulty serving out the set after Halep hit a deep forehand shot to break back and put proceeding once again on serve. Unfortunately for Halep and her fans in the crowd, she failed in her attempt to level at 5-5. As the Romanian serve to stay in the set, Williams charged to three set points. She took the set on her third chance after a forehand shot from Halep landed in the tramlines.

The second set was much more impressive from the top seed, with Williams dropping only six points on her serve. The decisive moment of the match occurred in the sixth game of that set. As Halep served at 30-40, she produced a costly double fault to hand the 34-year-old a break for a 4-2 lead. Unlike the first set, Halep was unable to find a way to break back. The world No.1 clinched the win with an ace down the line, her seventh of the match.

The display from Williams was a step up from her two previous matches in Indian Wells as she produced 28 winners compared to 24 unforced errors. She also claimed 82% of her first service points compared to Halep’s 56%. The triumph is a big confidence boost for Williams’ quest for her first title of the year, however, the world No.1 is still looking for improvement in her game.

“Yeah, I’m happy to be able to close that one out,” Williams said.
“Obviously, I think there is always things that I would like to work on to do better, but overall I think it was a solid win for me.”

The loss for Halep means that she is still yet to beat a top-10 player this year. Prior to run to the last sixteen in Indian Wells this week, the world No.5 has only been able to win two matches on the WTA Tour. Reflecting on her slow start to 2016, the 2015 Indian Wells champion believes that she has ‘found her game’ this week.

“It’s the best tournament this year so far, so it’s okay. I had good matches. I feel good. I found my game. I can say I’m healthy, so that’s the most important. I just want to keep working to get better.” Halep said after her loss to Williams

Agnieszka Radwanska Next

Williams will now play Agnieszka Radwanska for a place in the semifinals. Radwanska defeated Petra Kvitova in straight sets to move to the last eight. Radwanska’s latest win will elevate her to world No.2 when Monday’s rankings are published. Looking ahead to her next match, Williams is expecting a tough match against the Polish player.

“[Radwanska] knows how to play in big stadiums and big matches, big games,” The 21-time Grand Slam champion said.
“Obviously she does everything so well, including running, and this is a good surface for her because it’s a slow surface. I think I expect there will be a lot of long rallies.”

The head-to-head heavily favors Williams, who leads 9-1 against Radwanska. Her only loss occurred in 2015 at the Hopman Cup.

 

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Rafael Nadal Looking For More Accuracy After Cruising Past Delbonis

Rafael Nadal has explained where he needs to improve as he continued to impress on his march to the Australian Open third round.

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Rafael Nadal (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal is looking to be more accurate on break points despite cruising past Federico Delbonis 6-3 7-6(4) 6-1 at the Australian Open. 

 

The Spaniard hit 33 winners and broke Delbonis on three occasions as he produced a dominant display to reach the last 32 in Melbourne.

However even though there were many positives for Nadal, the 31 year-old only managed to convert 15% of his break point opportunities which could be concerning heading into the second week.

Speaking after his win today, Nadal told the media that he is constantly looking to be better and will hope to address the issue in the near future, “Well, I think I can do lot of things better,” Nadal claimed.

“I can do things better because of myself. I need to play better. Especially I need to convert the breakpoints. I was not able to check the statistics, but when you are not able to convert no one breakpoint after I don’t know how many chance, of course you are in trouble.

“I have been practicing a little bit better everyday. Of course, on the match situation, is a little bit different. I am confident that I going to play better because every day in the third set I have been able to show a good level of tennis. I need to do it before the next time.”

Obviously there is a cause for concern that Nadal will need a better break point conversion rate in time for the later rounds but it shows how great a champion Nadal is when he sees areas like this for a need to improve.

The 2009 champion will look to improve his return in time for his next match on Saturday when he plays 27th seed and Compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta.

It is a match, Nadal will look to make a statement in ahead of the second week as he looks to make a third final in four years.

Should the Spaniard reach the second week, he could face Nick Kyrgios at the start of the week and the Australian once again showed his public disdain for Nadal by mocking his serve in his four set win over Gilles Simon.

https://twitter.com/doublefault28/status/1220272894183444480

When asked about it in his press conference, the 19-time grand slam champion saw the funny side, “I really don’t care. I am here to play tennis. Honestly, I don’t care at all. If was funny, good. That’s it.”

Should Nadal and Kyrgios face each other it will be the first time since the Spaniard won a high-quality affair at Wimbledon last year in four sets.

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Alexander Zverev Warns Social Media Adding More Pressure To ‘Next Gen’ Than Ever Before

The German star discusses the downside to technology and the effect it has on his fellow players.

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Alexander Zverev is very much relishing being under the radar in the men’s draw at this year’s Australian Open.

 

After a roller-coaster 2019, the German started off 2020 by losing all of his singles matches at the ATP Cup. Although, it appears that Zverev is once again gaining in momentum at Melbourne Park, where he is yet to go beyond the fourth round. In his latest match he ousted Egor Gerasimov 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-5. Impressively winning 82% of his service points to secure a place in the last 32 on Saturday.

“I just think there’s more young guys that are playing better. The attention is going towards them, as well, a little bit.” Zverev said during his press conference.
“It’s a nice feeling for me, but I’m through to the third round, I’m happy about that. We’ll see how the tournament goes.”

A former winner of the prestigious ATP Finals, the 22-year-old had been tipped by many as one of the future stars of the men’s game. Naming him as one of the successors to the prestigious Big Four (including Andy Murray). He is currently the only active player outside of the quartet to have won three Masters 1000 trophies on the tour.

It hasn’t always been a smooth journey on the tour for Zverev, who first broke into the world’s top three in November 2017. With his best grand slam performance to date being to the quarter-finals of the French Open twice, some leading figures have been critical. Boris Becker, who has a close partnership with the world No.7, once said that he was ‘too dimensional’ and failed to improve his game over a 18-month period.

As for the inability of him and his Next Gen rivals to have a major breakthrough in a grand slam, Zverev admits that it is hard to escape from the pressure at times. When asked to draw parallels between him and past players in a similar situation, the German points out the growing negative impact of social media.

“To read what’s going on, to read the press, something like that, you had to buy a newspaper, go on the laptop and search for it. Now you open up Instagram, there’s 5 million people that have an opinion about you all of a sudden.” Zverev explained.
“I think that has changed in that regard. It’s maybe more difficult for us (the Next Gen) now.”

Throughout the Australian Open, Zverev has vowed to minimise the time he spends on social media. An approach that has been taken by others. Stefanos Tsitsipas to have taken a break from the online world in the past.

“Do I think is it more difficult for us than 20 years ago? Yes, maybe, because of the social media, mobile phones, of the opinions that everybody can spread out on the Internet.” Said Zverev.
“Even though when people say they don’t care, they still read it. In the back of their mind, they’re aware of it. So I think that is a massive difference.”

As for toppling Federer and Co in the future, Zverev believes it will be a joint effort. Saying that once one player claims a major title, it will spark a domino effect among the younger players on the tour.

“I think it started with Tsitsipas getting to the semifinals here (at the Australian Open). Then Medvedev got to the (US Open) final. I’ve made two (French Open) quarterfinals. I think we help each other.” He said.
“Even though maybe some of us don’t want to admit it because we have all kinds of personal relationships that we have with each other, but once one of us wins it, it’s going to be good for the others, as well.”

Zverev will play Fernando Verdasco in the third round.

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Simona Halep Rallies To 90th Grand Slam Win At Australian Open

The world No.4 has achieved a new milestone at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

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Simona Halep’s quest for a first Australian Open title is gaining momentum after she strolled into the third round with a solid 77-minute victory at Melbourne Park.

 

The 2018 runner-up overcame some late resistance en route to her 6-2, 6-4, win over British qualifier Harriet Dart. A world No.172 player who was making her main draw debut at the tournament. Separated by 162 places in the rankings, the disparity between the two players was noticeable. Dart produced glimmers of her talent, but was undone by an array of unforced errors. Which amounted to 34 in total. Enabling Halep to dictate proceedings throughout the majority of the match.

“I like to play under pressure. It is more fun and exciting. But I would prefer to finish the matches when I have the chance to.” Halep said during her on-court interview.

Under the guidance of Darren Cahill once again, the latest performance saw the former world No.1 win 67% of her first service points and break Dart five times in total. However, it was a far from a perfect match with the Romanian’s unforced error count overshadowing her winners at 23 to 14.

“It’s very nice to have him back. It gives me confidence and I’m really happy about my team.” She commented on her reunion with Cahill.

Both sets of Halep’s latest encounter featured a similar pattern of her dismantling the fragile serve on her opponent. During the opener, the two-time grand slam champion broke three consecutive times en route to clinching a 6-2 lead.

It was a much more testing time in the second frame with the underdog staging a last-minute fight back. Leading by a set and 5-2, Halep looked to be on course for a one-sided victory. However, Dart wasn’t finished yet. The underdog produced her best tennis to retrieve one of the breaks to the annoyance of a growlingly frustrated Halep. Who made glares towards her camp in the crowd. Despite the scare, it was not enough to derail the world No.4. On her fourth match point Halep prevailed with the help of a forehand shot from her opponent landing beyond the baseline.

“It was a little bit dangerous before I lost my focus a little bit at the end. She started to play very well, so it was more difficult for me to hold. But I’m happy I went through it.” Halep reflected after.

Thursday’s victory hands the Romanian her 90th main draw win at a grand slam level and 21st at the Australian Open. Improving her overall record of wins in the second round of grand slam tournaments to 20-7. Halep is the only player to have had a top four seeding at the Australian Open every year since 2016.

Awaiting the 28-year-old in the next round will be either 2019 semi-finalist Danielle Collins or Yania Putintseva. She hasn’t played Collins on the tour since 2014 and is yet to face Putintseva.

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