Svetlana Kuznetsova beats Timea Bacsinszky to reach the Miami final for the first time since 2006 - UBITENNIS
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Svetlana Kuznetsova beats Timea Bacsinszky to reach the Miami final for the first time since 2006

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Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-3 to return to the Miami Open Final ten years after her triumph over Maria Sharapova in this tournament. The Russian player fended off 12 of the 14 break points she faced in today’s semifinal.

 

Kuznetsova came into the semifinal after winning all her matches against Carina Witthoeft, Caroline Garcia, Serena Williams and Ekaterina Makarova in three sets.

In the third game Kuznetsova was forced to deuce but managed to hold her serve to take a 2-1 lead. In the fourth game Bacsinszky went down 15-30 but held her serve as Kuznetsova made three backhand unforced errors. At 2-2 Bacsinszky earned two break points but Makarova saved them. The first set went on serve until the 8th game when Bacsinszky faced a break point at 30-40 but Kuznetsova made two crosscourt forehand errors. Kuznetsova wasted a 40-15 lead when she hit a forehand into the net to face a break point but she managed to save it.

Bacsinszky earned a double break point in the 10th game. She hit a return long on the first break point chance. Kuznetsova hit a running backhand down the line to fend off the second break point.

The Russian player saved all the five break point chances she faced in the first 11 games of the first set.

At 5-6 Bacsinszky netted a backhand to face a set point on her serve. On a 16-shot rally Kuznetsova hit a forehand volley into the open court to convert one of her just two break point chances for 7-5.

Bacsinszky got the break in the first game of the second set but Kuznetsova broke straight back.

Kuznetsova faced a triple break point in the third game but she saved all three chances and held her serve with a running forehand down the line for 2-1. Kuznetsova broke again to open up a 3-1 lead but Bacsinszky broke back. Kuznetsova got another break (the fifth break in the first six games of the second set) for 4-2. Kuznetsova held her serve for 5-2 with a half-volley winner. As she was serving for the match Kuznetsova saved three break points. The Russian player hit an ace to earn the match point and clinched the win with a crosscourt backhand on her first opportunity after 1 hour and 56 minutes to extend her winning streak to 3-0 against her Swiss rival.

Kuznetsova will face either 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber or two-time Miami Open champion Victoria Azarenka. Kuznetsova won four of her seven head-to-head matches against Kerber and is tied 4-4 in her head-to head matches against Azarenka.

“I enjoyed the fight and I am happy I am still able to play against the best players in the world. I was praying to finish it in two sets so I would have a little more time to rest”, said Kuznetsova.

Bacsinszky failed to convert 12 of her 14 break point chances. “I played well but Svetlana played better when she saved my break points. However, this tournament gives me a lot of energy for the future”, said Bacsinszky.

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Andrey Rublev into the final of Rotterdam after beating Stefanos Tsitipas

The Russian world number 8 booked his spot in Sundays final with a straight sets win over his Greek opponent.

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Andrey Rublev will play in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3,7-5.

 

The Russian hit 34 winners en route to reaching the 10th ATP finals of his career and first this season. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas produced a total of 13 unforced errors. The win is a case of sweet revenge for Rublev who had lost to her Greek rival in their two previous meeting on the Tour. He has now levelled their head-to-head at 3-3.

“[I play tennis] to play at the best level, to play at the best tournaments, to try to compete, then to go deep and to try to win them,” Rublev said in an on-court interview. “A final is always special, so I am going to try to do my best tomorrow.”

After both players held their opening service games it was the Russian who earned the first breakpoint of the match and would break as the world number six would serve a double fault to give the world number eight a 2-1 lead.

The Athens, Greece native had a chance to break back the very next game but the Russian was up to the task of saving it and holding serve to consolidate the break.

At 3-2 the Greek had another chance to break back with three breakpoints but again the Russian stood tall saving all three before eventually holding serve but the games were getting tighter and tighter.

Rublev would serve out the first set to love and take it 6-3 and was one set away from making another ATP final.

The second set was closer than any other set played this week and there wasn’t a breakpoint the entire set. Both players were doing a better job of holding serve and the set headed into a tiebreaker.

The Greek would crack first as on his first service point of the breaker he would send a return into the net giving his Russian opponent a 2-0 lead which he would consolidate as the world number six hit another unforced error to make it 3-0.

That was more than enough for Rublev who would serve out the set and the match taking the breaker 7-2 and the set 7-6 to seal the victory and a coveted spot in Sundays final.

After the match Tsitsipas was pretty blunt in his thoughts of how the match went.

“He killed me”

He would go on to say that he felt his serve let him down and that as the match progressed he felt it getting weaker and weaker and it actually started in his doubles match yesterday.

In his post match press conference UbiTennis asked him if he felt his aggressive game overpowered Tsitsipas.

” To be honest I wasn’t really thinking about it, I was just thinking about myself that I need to go for the shots I need to hit if not he will do it, he played aggressive, he has a really good forehand, he’s really good at the net and he is one of the best on tour at the net so as soon as he have chance he go to the net so I was trying to be the first one to hit the ball, I wasn’t really thinking if I am hitting hard or not”

Rublev will now either face Borna Coric or Marton Fucsovics in the final on Sunday afternoon and the winner will be decided tonight in the night session.

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Roger Federer Praises Nemesis Novak Djokovic Ahead Of Return

The world No.5 speaks about his rivalry with the Serbian, as well as his curiosity about playing his first event during what he describes as ‘COVID times.’

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Swiss tennis great Roger Federer believes his rivalry with Novak Djokovic has helped him to become a better player over the years.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has described the world No.1 as ‘one of the greatest’ in the history of the sport during a question and answer session organised by Qatar Tennis on Saturday. Federer has played Djokovic 50 times on the ATP Tour with five of those being in a major final. Including the 2019 Wimbledon Final which Djokovic won after saving two match points. He currently trails their head-to-head 23-27 and lost their most recent clash in the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year.

“I enjoy playing against him. I really feel like we get the best out of each other,” Federer said of Djokovic.
“We have different playing styles, (so) it almost depends on the day, which court we’re playing on and how the matches have been leading up to that match.’
“Against the best players you know you have to bring your best game. Otherwise, it will not be enough. Especially against somebody like Novak who can go into a mode where he is not going to miss (a ball).”

The 39-year-old says one aspect of what makes the Serbian such a formidable force in tennis is the variety of his game and approach to matches. Djokovic clinched his 18th major title last month in Melbourne as he closes in on the Swiss Maestro’s all-time record. Rafael Nadal, who is the other member of the Big Three, also has 20 major titles to his name.

“He can defend very well and be aggressive, he has a very good balance. That’s why he is one of the greatest players ever,” Federer explained.
“It has been a pleasure to play against him and he’s one of the players who have made me a better player. It’s great to have him in the game.”

Since their first Tour clash at the 2006 Monte Carlo Masters that have played each other almost every year with the exception being in 2017.

The comeback

It has been a year since Federer last graced his presence on the ATP Tour due to a right knee injury which required two surgeries in 2020. He will kick-off his comeback at the upcoming Qatar Open which he won a record three times before but the last triumph was back in 2011. The tournament is being run by Karim Alami who coincidentally lost to Federer in the quarter-finals of the 2000 Olympic Games.

“I am very excited to be back. The first time I played was in 2003 and it was a great tournament for me. I got a taste of this region that I didn’t know very well to be honest,’ the world No.5 said.
“I’ve seen the city grow tremendously over the last 15-18 years. It’s a wonderful tournament. I feel like the fans have always been wonderful in Doha as well.”

Besides the challenge of returning back to form, Federer also has to get used to playing during an era dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Various events have been forced to take place without fans or make last-minute adjustments due to the virus.

Qatar is no exception to those events and have tightened up their rules regarding health and safety. Visitors to the WTA Qatar Open, which takes place a week prior to the men’s, are required to use a contact tracing app, undergo temperature checks and wear masks at all times. The number of spectators has been capped at 20% of its normal capacity.

“I’m curious as to how it is going to be because I haven’t played for over a year during these COVID times. But I hope there will still be some sort of atmosphere,” said Federer.

For Federer he believes the key to coping with the new measures is adaptability. Something he says he and his peers have learned over the years.

“I’m preparing myself to be in a bubble in Qatar for the first time in my life and being away from my family. I’m just trying to focus on the mindset and what I can expect. I’m feeling that if I tell myself what to expect then it is easier also getting ready for it,” he continues.
“I think preparing for it and being flexible and I think that we learn quite often as tennis players. You want to be flexible to the weather, to missing a flight, not being able to train or not sleeping well because you have a stomach ache.”

Federer will be the second seed in Doha b behind Dominic Thiem. He will play his first match against either Jeremy Chardy or Dan Evans.

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No Change To Olympic Qualifying Criteria Despite Updated ATP Ranking System

UbiTennis also finds out why women can take part in the Olympics at a younger age than men!

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Tennis at the 2016 Summer Olympics (image via Wiki Comons)

The International Tennis Federation has confirmed to UbiTennis that the qualifying criteria for the Olympic Games will not be adjusted following a recent announcement from the governing body of the men’s Tour.

 

Earlier in the week the ATP announced that they will be using their revised ranking system until the week of August 9th to support players during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the rules a player’s position will take into account tournaments played between March 4 – August 5th 2019. The reason is because all of those events did not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic. Although the ‘Best of’ period from 2019 will only be counted at 50% until 2022. For example, Roger Federer won 1000 points at the 2019 Miami Open and can therefore keep 500 points even though he is not playing the event this year. Furthermore, the same tournament can’t be used twice in the calculations so players will keep either 50% of points from what they earned in 2019 or the full value of this year depending on which one is the highest.

Whilst the move has been made to support those during the pandemic, some critics have argued that it could have a negative impact on players trying to climb the rankings. It is possible that a player who has won a series of matches in recent weeks may not be able to overtake somebody who produced a strong run of results 12 months or so ago.

One event this could affect is the Olympic Games which partly determine a player’s entry based on their rankings, as well as other factors. Although the International Tennis Federation confirms that they will not be making any changes to their system.

“The ITF has no plans to change its current Olympic Qualification System which has been approved by the IOC for the Olympic Tennis Event,” a spokesperson told UbiTennis. “Tour Rankings only form one element of the entry and eligibility requirements for the Olympic Games and have been updated to provide for the disruption to the tournament calendar caused by the pandemic.”

The only adjustment that has been made is that if a player hasn’t met the minimum entry criteria regarding Davis Cup or Fed Cup ties. If any ties they were set to play in was cancelled due to issues related to COVID-19 is classed as a ‘special circumstance.’

One confusing part of the criteria is the minimum age of eligibility. Despite tennis being one of the top sports for equality the rules state that WTA players are eligible to play the games if they have reached the age of 14 by the opening day of the Olympic Tennis event. This is a year younger than their male counterparts.

“These ages have been determined in consultation with the ATP and WTA, respectively,” the ITF explained.
“Age eligibility is an extremely important topic. The WTA has done much research in this area and have an established policy determined by data.”

The Olympic Tennis event will start on July 24th.

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