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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Stan Wawrinka Explains ATP Cup Absence And Olympics Situation Ahead Of Basel

Stan Wawrinka has explained why his Olympic dream is in doubt as he prepares to start his campaign in Basel.

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Stan Wawrinka (@usopen - Twitter)

Stan Wawrinka has explained why he is absent from the ATP Cup line-up as he begins his campaign in Basel on Wednesday. 

 

The three-time grand slam champion enters his home tournament in Basel having lost a three set final to a resurgent Andy Murray in Antwerp.

Despite the loss Wawrinka has been on a momentum swing himself having reached the US Open and Roland Garros quarter-finals this season.

Although this year has been a success, the Swiss’ 2020 calendar remains a mystery having been absent from Switzerland’s team for the ATP Cup next year.

Speaking to puntodebreak.com, Wawrinka explained his decision to not participate in the cup competition in January as well as questions over his Olympic eligibility, “I have a contract with the Doha tournament, which takes place at the same time as the ATP Cup,” Wawrinka explained.

“I would like to play it (Olympics). The desire is there, but now I have to adjust my calendar for 2020 with my team. I don’t know what criteria are required to get a Wild Card.” 

The 34 year-old is not the only one requiring a wildcard to enter the Olympics with Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori amongst others relying on the same rule.

Meanwhile Wawrinka is preparing for his first match in Basel, where he doesn’t have the best record having never reached the final.

A first round match against Pablo Cuevas awaits on Wednesday and he admitted his tension when performing in front of a home crowd,“In Basel I have always been a little tense, too hesitant,” he admitted.

“Correcting that and winning my first round match against Pablo Cuevas on Wednesday depends on me. It is not the tournament that suits my style of play and that is why, although I have played some good matches here, I do not have such a good performance.”

If Wawrinka wants to reach his maiden Swiss Indoors final, he will potentially have to go through Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

That dream last eight match is a long way away though as Wawrinka will have to go through Pablo Cuevas and the winner of Frances Tiafoe against Dan Evans.

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‘I Want Back In’ – Nick Kyrgios Returns To Davis Cup With Key Backing From Captain Hewitt

Former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt explains why the fiery player is back in the team after a 18-month absence.

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Nick Kyrgios (image via www.twitter.com/usopen)

Nick Kyrgios’ past disagreements with Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has seemingly been resolved after the Australian was included in this year’s nomination for the finals in November.

 

The former top 20 player haven’t featured in the team tournament since February 2018. His absence has been partly due to a spat with his team captain, as well as injury. Earlier this year Kyrgios took a swipe at Hewitt’s support for compatriot Alex de Minaur in a social media post that he later deleted. He was then not included in Australia’s clash with Bosnia and Herzegovina after failing to meet ‘cultural standards.’

Whilst the partnership hasn’t always been perfect, the two have found a mutual agreement. It started earlier this year when Kyrgios sent a message to Hewitt saying that he wanted to return back to the Davis Cup. That paved the way for discussions to take place in Indian Wells as they resolved their differences.

“I got a message (from him) saying ‘mate, I want to get back in the team’,” Hewitt told reporters on Tuesday. “The great thing is, he has a great relationship with all the players as well. It’s kind of about him wanting to be a part of the team and do the right things day in day out.’
“For me, I’d much rather have him on my team.”

Kyrgios is currently serving a six-month probation concerning his behaviour on the ATP Tour. During that period, if he commits any more major offences he faces the prospect of being banned for 16 weeks and a $25,000 fine. The penalty was issued following a string of offences he conducted in the Cincinnati Open in August, which resulted in him being hit with a $113,000 bill.

The 24-year-old is renowned for his fiery temperament on the tour, as well as his string of wins over high-profile players such as Novak Djokovic. Hewitt has insisted that Kyrgios’ recent antics shouldn’t exclude him from the Davis Cup.

“Nick’s a different character and I understand that and we’re not always going to put everybody in the same box.” He explains.
“You’ve got to deal with different personalities in all kind of sports, and I feel like I know Nick as well as anyone.
“I feel like on the Davis Cup court he’s done everything I’ve need in the past whenever he’s been a part of the team. He hasn’t put a foot wrong, he’s out there picking up balls, half coaching and encouraging other players.
“There’s a lot of things he does in a team environment that I actually think we’ll see the best of him.”

Kyrgios has represented his country in nine Davis Cup ties since 2013. Winning nine out of 15 matches played. In 2017 he played in Australia’s semi-final clash with Belgium, which they lost 3-2.

Few can dispute the talent of the current world No.30, however, he has recently missed a series of tournaments due to a shoulder injury. Nevertheless, Hewitt believes his player will be back to full fitness in time for the team competition.

“That has even been the sacrifice over the last couple of weeks, pulling out of the tournaments as well,” Hewitt said.
“After the Laver Cup he did have a shoulder-collar bone slight injury, which he’s pretty much over now, but he had to take a few weeks out, and he felt like if he kept playing that as going to jeopardise his chances of playing Davis Cup.
“He called me at the time about that and we thought that was the best situation. He comes in a little bit underdone, but fortunately he’s a guy that can go out there and light it up when he needs to.
“With this format there’s a lot of unknowns as well, but he’s the kind of guy this format will really suit.”

The Davis Cup finals will take place in Madrid between November 10-17. Australia has been drawn in Group D with Belgium and Colombia. Besides Kyrgios, de Minaur, Jordan Thompson, John Millman and doubles specialist John Peers have also been selected.

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Roger Federer Hails Andy Murray’s Comeback Triumph

The Swiss maestro shares his thoughts about the return of one of his rivals.

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20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer has said it is ‘great’ to see former world No.1 Andy Murray returning back to winning ways after the Brit ended his two-year title drought on Sunday.

 

Murray battled back from a set down to defeat Stan Wawrinka in the final of the European Open in Antwerp. The tournament was only the seventh singles draw he has played since undergoing a second hip operation. He has been troubled by the injury since 2017 and even admitted earlier this year that he was contemplating retiring from the sport due to persistent pain. Murray now plays with a metal rod in his hip joint

“Andy’s achievement was great,” Federer told reporters in Basel on Monday.
“I was a little bit torn, since he beat Stan (Wawrinka) in the final, but it was a great way for him to come back.”

Federer has paid tribute to Murray’s perseverance throughout his return to competitive tennis. The Brit started his comeback in June by playing only in doubles tournaments before making the switch to singles in August at the Winston Salem Open. He has now won nine out of his past 12 matches.

“He’s been playing to try and get close to his old level,” the world No.3 commented.
“It’s nice to see Andy healthy again. I remember in the locker room of the Australian Open.’
“It was very confusing for him and for all of us. I’m extremely happy for him.”

The two have clashed 25 times on the ATP Tour since 2005. It is Federer who leads their head-to-head 14-11 and has won their five most recent meetings. However, it is their encounter in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games that he particularly remembers.

“Last time I didn’t feel I had the crowd fully behind me was probably back in 2012 in London at the Olympics against Murray.“ He said.

In that encounter it was Murray who prevailed after losing to his Swiss rival just weeks beforehand in the Wimbledon final. Murray is the only man in history to win two consecutive Olympic men’s singles titles.

Federer is currently competing in the Swiss Indoors, where he is bidding to win a record 10th title. He kicked-off his campaign on Saturday with an emphatic straight-sets win over Peter Gojowczyk. The match was Federer’s 1500th on the tour.

In the second round, Federer will play either Dusan Lajovic and Radu Albot.

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