Simona Halep takes a confidence-boosting win against Ekaterina Makarova in Indian Wells - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep takes a confidence-boosting win against Ekaterina Makarova in Indian Wells

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Indian Wells defending champion Simona Halep beat Ekatrina Makarova 6-2 6-4 in 64 minutes on a windy night to reach the third round at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

Both players went on serve until the sixth game when Halep got a crucial break in the sixth game to clinch the first set. Halep broke serve in the second game of the second set but Makarova broke straight back in the next game. In the 10th game Halep earned three break point chances on the match point. Makarova saved the first opportunity but Halep got the crucial break with her crosscourt backhand winner to seal the win.

Halep has extended her win-loss record to 3-1 in her head-to-head against Makarova. In their previous meeting Makarova forced Halep to three sets in the quarter finals of the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships before Halep prevailed with 6-3 1-6 7-5. Makarova won only one clash against her Romanian rival in the quarter finals of the 2015 Australian Open.

It was a confidence booster for Halep, who won just three of her eight matches this year and was knocked out in the first round at the Australian Open. She struggled with illness and injury problems at the start of the 2016 season but she is returning to her best form which propelled her to the French Open final in 2014.

“It was a tough match. The wind was bothering us, but I am happy that I could win this match. I played a bit smarter. i knew how to adapt to the wind. Just in one part of the court I had to hit a bit stronger, and the other with more topspin. I adjusted really well today and I am really happy that I did it. I had tough matches this year where I couldn’t finish the match. I thank my coach Darren Cahill who really helped me to finish the ball and be strong in the end and to believe that I can win and make a break. I am not thinking about defending the title, but I am really happy to be back here on Center Court. I really have great memories from last year and I believe that here I can come back with my game and with my confidence”, said Halep.

Halep received a strong support from her Romanian fans.

“I want to thank everyone for staying. I know it’s difficult but thank you guys”, said Halep.

Halep will face Barbora Strykova, who reached the final in Dubai this year. They are tied 1-1 in their previous head-to-head matches but Halep won their most recent match at the 2014 China Open.

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Serena Williams’ 1000th Match Ends In Defeat To Podoroska

Serena Williams was defeated in Rome as she reaches a landmark milestone of 1000 WTA matches.

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Serena Williams (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Serena Williams’ 1000th WTA tour match has ended in a 7-6(6) 7-5 defeat to Nadia Podoroska in Rome.

 

The American made her return to tour for the first time in 84 days as she looked to build momentum heading into Roland Garros.

If the first few games were to set the tempo of the match then it would prove to be a long contest with Serena struggling to get any free points on her serve.

It was the Argentinian who got the first break of the match in the third game as she tested Serena’s stamina early on in the contest.

In typical Serena fashion, the 23-time grand slam champion produced some stunning ground-strokes especially from central positions to break to love straight away.

On serve, Serena looked fairly comfortable as she ended the match with eight aces although she only made a first serve percentage of 48%.

That was her key downfall as it was Podoroska who looked the more comfortable on return as she used some devastating angles to force unforced errors from the Serena racket.

A break for a 5-4 lead ensured that the last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist would serve for the opening set.

However Serena used her power and good point construction to once again break back which was met with a roar from the world number eight.

Eventually the first set would head towards a tiebreaker with Podoroska dominating the majority of it.

She had three set points which came and went as Serena used her fighting qualities to roar back into the match.

But once again some unforced errors would cost the four-time champion as Podoroska took the next two point to claim the opening set in 66 minutes.

In the second set, Serena was the early aggressor as she dictated points better setting the pace of the match.

Again though Podoroska extended the rallies and made the American move all round the court exposing as much space as possible.

The Argentinian was rewarded for her court coverage when she broke in the sixth game as Serena began to tire.

As in the first set, Podoroska couldn’t serve out the second set as her cautious play lead to Serena levelling it up at 5-5.

However Serena’s serve was just not working when she needed it too and Podoroska secured the final blow to seal a fantastic victory for her.

For Serena its onto Roland Garros as she will look to improve her fitness in the next couple of weeks.

As for Podoroska she will play Petra Martic after the Croatian beat Kristina Mladenovic today 7-5 6-3.

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Naomi Osaka’s Clay Woes Continue After Pegula Defeat In Rome

Naomi Osaka went out in the second round in Rome to Jessica Pegula.

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Jessica Pegula (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka’s clay court woes continued in Rome after losing to Jessica Pegula 7-6(2) 6-2.

 

The world number two admitted previously that learning the clay court trade would take time and this continues to be the case after another early defeat on the surface.

After losing in the second round in Madrid to Karolina Muchova, Osaka knew she needed a quick start in this match and she produced that with the early break for a 2-0 lead.

Pegula’s loss in Madrid was in the third round although that was to the eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka and she had every reason not to be intimidated as she slowly worked her way in the match.

The American reaped her rewards as she took her second break point to bring the match back on serve.

Despite the setback, Osaka continued to dictate play using her athleticism to bring shots back with depth and pace as she was arguably playing the better tennis.

In the latter stages of the set, the Australian Open champion had created three set points before some bold Pegula tennis denied Osaka the set.

Eventually the first set went to a tiebreak which saw the world number 31 be more aggressive and produce some stunning tennis to win seven of the nine points on offer to win the tiebreak 7-2.

In the second set, Osaka fell apart as her backhand, net play and general point construction crumbled quickly.

Pegula offered more in attacking combinations and produced some big serves as she broke three times in the second set.

Despite breaking in the sixth game, it was another disappointing performance from Osaka who conceded defeat in 90 minutes.

As for Pegula she has set up a third round clash with Ekaterina Alexandrova.

In other results so far today Elina Svitolina survived a scare as she edged past Amanda Anisimova 2-6 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Garbine Muguruza also edged past Bernarda Pera 2-6 6-0 7-5 in just over two hours after the Spaniard struggled with a foot injury.

There were comfortable victories for Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova while Petra Kvitova was knocked out by Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-4.

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Madison Keys Outlasts Stephens As Bencic Exits Rome

Madison Keys outlasted Sloane Stephens while Belinda Bencic crashed out in Rome.

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Madison Keys (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Madison Keys Outlasted Sloane Stephens 4-6 6-2 7-5 to reach the second round as Belinda Bencic lost in Rome.

 

In a rematch from the 2017 US Open final Keys avenged her loss from then and last month’s defeat in Charleston to reach the second round in Italy.

In a topsy-turvy contest it was Stephens who took the opening set despite heading a break down early in the set.

A crucial break in the ninth game gave her the third break of the set as the Lucky Loser took the first set in 49 minutes.

In the second set Keys responded well, managing to dictate points more comfortably and despite losing the early break advantage broke Stephens in her last two return games to level the match at one set all.

Unlike the first two sets, it was Stephens who managed to break first as she won the opening game of the final set.

The pair then shared a combined three games in a row with Stephens losing her momentum and racking up more unforced errors as the final set was back on serve.

Both players then saved break points on there serve before Keys eventually pushed over the finishing line on her third match point to seal victory.

Despite victory, Keys’ 56 unforced errors doesn’t bode well for her second round match tomorrow against Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek as the American will need to play a much cleaner match to make the last 16 in Rome.

In other results so far in Rome, Belinda Bencic crashed out in Rome after a 6-3 6-4 defeat to Kristina Mladenovic.

Despite a convincing win for Bencic over Mladenovic in Madrid, the doubles grand slam champion managed to control her game in a close match which saw Bencic lose all the close points and games.

Mladenovic will now play Petra Martic in the second round which has seen Serena Williams part of the draw open up nicely.

Speaking of Serena, her first match of the week will be against Nadia Podoroska after the Argentinian beat Laura Siegemund 2-6 7-6(3) 6-1.

Here are some of the other results so far on day two in Rome:

Yaroslava Shvedova def Martina Trevisan 0-6 7-6(4) 7-6(6)

Caroline Garcia def Elisabetta Cocciaretto 7-6(8) 6-2

Bernarda Pera def Tamara Zidansek 6-3 6-2

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