Simona Halep Delights as Timea Bacsinszky Stuns Agnieszka Radwanska In Miami - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Delights as Timea Bacsinszky Stuns Agnieszka Radwanska In Miami

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Simona Halep booked a quarterfinal showdown with Timea Bacsinszky at the Miami Open after  a convincing 6-3, 6-4, win over Great Britain’s Heather Watson.

The fifth seed produced a slow start to the match after dropping her first two serving games against the world No.69. It was a familiar pattern for both players, who were at times very tentative in their service games. Breaking back to level 3-3, Halep dominated the remainder of the opening set after giving the Brit a dose of her own medicine by breaking her two consecutive times to lead 5-3. The Romanian closed the set by  firing a blistering cross-court forehand winner.

Leading by a set, Halep still faced some tough resistance from the British player. Taking the early initiative to break for a 3-2 lead in the second set, Halep was broken immediately by Watson to level 3-3. The comeback from Watson was destroyed in the following game after a disastrous service game from the Brit. Back-to-back double faults aided Halep to break once again, but this time she was able to consolidate the break to lead 5-3. Easing to three match points after a backhand slice from her opponent failed to go over the net, Halep took the match after error No.33 came of Watson’s racket.

The win elevates Halep to her second consecutive quarterfinal in Miami. Despite her solid win over Watson, there is still room for improvement for the Romanian. Halep converted 5/14 break points and won only 1/5 points at the net. In addition, she produced 13 unforced errors compared to 12 winners.

Awaiting Halep in the last eight in Miami will be Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky. The Swiss player stunned third seed Agnieszka Radwanska 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, to grab the biggest win of her career.

Initially, it looked like Radwanska was on course for a comprehensive victory after sealing the first set in 35 minutes without facing a single break point. Bacsinszky started to turn her fortunes around in the second set as she took advantage to Radwanska’s inconsistencies on the court. Breaking the world No.2 three consecutive times, the Swiss player displayed the same form that took her to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros last year as she took the match into a decider.

After the conclusion of the second set, both players left the court for a comfort break. Returning to the court, Bacsinszky started the strongest by claiming eight consecutive points to grab the early break. As the Swiss players winner count grew, Radwanska didn’t know how to recover from the early onslaught. A surprise for the usually consistent Polish player. The mood of the Radwanska camp didn’t improve as an inspired Bacsinszky broke once again for the chance to serve for the match. She earned her first match point after a stunning backhand winner down the line. As the clock struck two minutes past the two-hour mark, Bacsinszky grabbed her first win over a top-10 player this year when a lengthy rally concluded with Radwanska hitting the ball out, prompting a scream of delight from her.

The unexpected win by the Swiss has ended Radwanska’s impressive 2016 record. Prior to Miami, the world No.2 has reached at least the semi-final stage at her last four tournaments.

I wasn’t playing that well myself in the first set, I told myself that it would be a long match. I started to come down a bit, I was very nervous in the first set”. The Swiss said about the biggest win of her career.

The 26-year-old also spoke about her lucky charm in the audience.

“ I feel great it has been a long way to here.” She said
“I have a lucky charm, she’s here, Lara Gut.”

Gut is a Swiss skier who won the overall world cup this year in the sport.

The upcoming Miami quarterfinal will be the third meeting between Halep and Bacsinszky. The Romanian currently leads the head-to-head 2-0.

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. 

 

The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012. 

“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw. 
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”

Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week. 

“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.

There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open. 

Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20. 

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Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook. 

 

The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury. 

Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open. 

“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.

“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”

Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them. 

“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”

This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16. 

“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.

Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients. 

“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.

This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open. 

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Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion

Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.

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Simona Halep (@NewsCentralTV - Twitter)

Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.

However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.

Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.

This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.

Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.

Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:

Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion

Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet

Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko

Qatar: R1 l. Garcia

Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek

Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur

Rome: R2 l. Collins

Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng

Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia

Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu

Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina

Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya

Toronto: Champion

Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew

US Open: R1 l. Snigur

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