Sloane Stephens and Elena Vesnina To Face-Off In The Charleston Final - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens and Elena Vesnina To Face-Off In The Charleston Final

The final of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, South Carolina will be played by the 7th seeded American, Sloane Stephens, and the Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina.

Jakub Bobro

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Sloane Stephens advanced to the final by retirement. The much anticipated match between Angelique Kerber and Sloane Stephens was decimated by Kerber’s viral illness, which caused her not to play her best tennis, and eventually to retire from the match at 6-1 3-0 ret.

 

“I just thought I’m going out to play a match,” Stephens said. “I just thought it was going to be a battle. And unfortunately she wasn’t feeling well. But I mean it’s understandable, it happens. I wish her well. I hope she gets better soon because I know they have Fed Cup coming up next week. That’s all you can really do in that sort of situation.”

Kerber seemed to be in a really good form, winning her last two matches 6-2 6-3 against first Kucova, and then Begu. Things got really unlucky for Kerber, the viral illness taking her out of Charleston will cause her drop to No. 3 in the rankings, and putting her Fed Cup appearance in jeopardy.

“When I was warming up this morning, I felt a little bit like something is wrong,” she said. “But I was thinking that when I’m going on court, the energy will come back and I will feeling okay. And it starts in the first few games in the first set that I was feeling that, yeah, something is not good.”

Stephens’ opponent will be the World No. 85, Elena Vesnina. The Russian is having a dream run in Charleston as a qualifier, gunning for her 3rd WTA Singles title. The live rankings monitor Vesnina as No. 51 right now, meaning that she will raise by 34 places in the rankings. If Vesnina manages to win the tournament, Vesnina will be at No. 39. In the semifinals, she pulled off the upset over the 5th seed Sara Errani 6-4 4-6 6-2 in 2 hours and 21 minutes. Vesnina won 8 out of 11 close games, which was definitely a factor in defeating Errani. Vesnina’s highest ranking is No. 21, but the shoulder injury which she suffered at the 2014 US Open was a major setback to her career, but now she seems to be getting back to her past heights.

“It took a while for me to recover after that,” said Vesnina, who is from Russia. “I was struggling with confidence, I was losing some points, I was dropping in the ranking, I was not winning matches. And it was really difficult to come up. I’m really happy that I actually doing well now, and I’m not actually looking at my ranking that much. I’m just looking at my game. That’s, I think, the most important thing.”

The head-to-head is in favor of the lower-ranked Russian, winning the only meeting so far between them in Hobart 2013. Vesnina seems to be in incredible form, losing only 1 set in her 7 matches here. All that said, Stephens is still the odds-on favorite, and will be less fatigued than Vesnina, having to play only 10 games, compared to a three set drama.

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‘Hurt More Than My Injury’ – Alize Cornet’s Potential Last French Open Marred By Crowd Booing

Cornet’s French Open campaign has ended in very unfortunate circumstances.

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Alizé Cornet - Australian Open 2022 (foto Twitter @AustralianOpen)

Alize Cornet says the reception she got from some members of the crowd during her third round match at the French Open was unfair and she is unsure if she will return to the tournament in 12 months time.

 

The world No.40 struggled with an abductor injury throughout her match with China’s Zheng Qinwen which she was forced to retire from whilst trailing 0-6, 0-3. Cornet later revealed that she sustained an abductor tear during her second round meeting with Jelena Ostapenko two days ago and contemplated pulling out of Saturday’s match.

“I couldn’t move around on the court and I knew it before I came on to the court, but I decided to try because that’s how I am,” she said during her press conference.
“I always try my luck right to the end, but maybe I shouldn’t have played and not taken the risk of making things worse.”

It was clear how disappointed the 32-year-old was with some of those who were watching from the stands. Saying the crowd of the tournament always surprises her but not always in good way. The situation she found herself in was a stark contrast to her match two days ago where she received a standing ovation on Philippe Chatrier following her three-set triumph over Ostapenko.

“What is amazing that people dared to boo me on the court when I had to abandon the match. And it was because I was in pain. But sometimes the French audience surprises me and not always in the right direction,” she said.
“It hurt more than my injury itself. It was just a handful of people in the stadium so maybe they made a lot of noise. But it’s really too much when you see everything I’ve been giving on the court for so many years. I think it would have been far easier for me not to come on to the court, not to put myself, make myself vulnerable with this injury.”

Cornet was making her 61st consecutive appearance in a Grand Slam main draw which is the joint-second longest streak on the WTA Tour along with Francesca Schiavone. This year is her 18th appearance at Roland Garros alone. She made her French Open debut back in 2005.

As to how much longer she may continue playing for, Cornet remains coy about her future intentions in the sport. At the start of this season she said she was contemplating retirement.

“I don’t know. Just on the spot it’s very difficult to say,” Cornet replied when asked if she will play the French Open next year.

Cornet has been ranked as high as 11th in the world and has won six WTA titles during her career.

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Iga Swiatek Passes On chance To Attend Champions League Final To Focus On French Open Bid

The world No.1 explains why she decided against attending one of football’s most talked about matches after recording her 31st Tour win in a row at Roland Garros.

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Photo by Roberto Dell'Olivo

There are two mega sporting events taking place in Paris on Saturday which have attracted thousands of people from around the world. As well as the prestigious French Open, nearby the Stade de France will host the Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

 

On the day the two sports collided, Iga Swiatek continued her dominant run at Roland Garros with a 6-3, 7-5, win over Danka Kovinic. Despite the straightforward scoreline, the top seed endured her toughest test yet at the Grand Slam. After clinching the opener with relative ease and then opening up a 4-2 lead in the second, Swiatek came unstuck for the first time as she dropped serve twice in a row. In her previous two matches, she was only broken once. Despite the blip the Pole managed to bounce back to seal victory.

I felt like she used my power in some moments so I had to adjust a little bit more to what she was playing, and for sure played a little bit smarter,” Swiatek said of Kovinic.
“I changed the tactics in second set a little bit to play less risky but then I made some mistakes. I lost my breaks. I’m not perfectly happy with that, but overall I’m happy with the performance, and that I came back in the second set.”

The 20-year-old has now won 31 matches in a row, which is the longest streak on the WTA Tour since 2013 when Serena Williams claimed 34 straight wins. Even more impressive for the Pole is that she has won 48 out of the past 49 sets played.

From my point of view I don’t really mind the streak. I’m just playing my tennis. I gained so many points this season already that I try to look at it from that perspective that I actually have nothing to lose here,” she said.
“I had many tight matches in Stuttgart…Rome. It’s not that I forgot how to play these kinds of sets. So it’s okay.”

Immediately after her win over Kovinic, Swiatek made reference to the big football final by writing ‘Real Madrid or Liverpool??’ on the camera lens. There is roughly a distance of around 15km between Roland Garros and the Stade de France where thousands will be gathering tonight but not all of them have tickets.

However, Swiatek found herself in a different scenario. Admitting that she is yet to watch a football match ‘at a really good level,’ she had the opportunity to attend but opted against doing so. Saying she wants to maintain her focus on the French Open where she is seeking her second major title.

“I really wanted (to go). It was actually possible for me but I’m not that sure yet if it’s going to interfere with my rhythm and the tournament,” Swiatek explains.
“So I talked with my team about it yesterday that maybe in like two, three years, I’m going to be able to go in like some exciting events during (Grand Slams) and I’m still going to be able to focus. But for now it’s still pretty tricky for me, so I decided it’s better to keep the routines.”

Swiatek will play China’s Zheng Qinwen in the fourth round who was leading Alize Cornet 6-0, 3-0, in her match before the Frenchwoman was forced to retire. Qinwen, who reached the semi-finals of the girls tournament back in 2019, is through to the last 16 of a major for the first time in her career.

So far in her career, Swiatek has won 17 out of 19 matches played at the French Open.

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Carlos Alcaraz Sweeps Away Korda At French Open

Carlos Alcaraz avenges his loss to the American in Montecarlo by prevailing in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 6-2, and displaying an impressive repertoire of shots and tactical choices

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Carlos Alcaraz - Roland Garros 2022 (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

When Sebastian Korda stunned Carlos Alcaraz in the first round of the Montecarlo Open, just six weeks ago, the Spaniard’s rise was even hinted to have come to a slowdown and some eyebrows and doubts were raised on his effective proficiency on clay.

 

A very short time elapsed before Alcaraz brushed them away with his back-to-back victories in Barcelona and Madrid, beating along his way Nadal; Djokovic, and Tsitsipas, the most dominant players on clay over the last two seasons.    

In his rematch with the only player who had defeated him on clay this year Carlos Alcaraz showed no hesitation from the start, breaking in the third game, holding serve comfortably, earning and missing a second break point for a 4-1 lead. Though Alcaraz gave the impression of being dominating, pounding winners from any position and with any shot, Korda didn’t lose further ground, stayed within reach, and from the eighth game he moved to a more aggressive position for returning serve and started threatening, despite still missing. First set destiny was unaltered: the Spaniard took it 6-4. 

In the second set players were battling point to point. Korda, ever more aggressive on the Spaniards serve, clasped two break points in the fourth game, but wasn’t able to convert. He squandered his second break point with an avoidable unforced error and Alcaraz rushed on to hold. 

Alcaraz seemed capable of coping with any situation. Accepting the duel with Korda’s aggressive returns, he was looking to take over the rallies from the third or fifth shot. But his opponent was not retreating an inch. The quality of the match was rising and peaked in a blissful top quality fifth game. Alcaraz sliced a sublime backhand passing shot into the feet of a net-blitzing Korda, which won him the point; soon after he placed a millimetric lob.  The American responded with a swinging backhand down the line, a backhand overhead, a winning forehand down the other line. In turn, a counter dropshot by Alcaraz which fell a few inches after the net, was a final prelude to the break, which he grabbed with an aggressive forehand down the line. Like in the first set, Korda didn’t let him widen the gap, but neither could he recover. 

At 5-3, When Korda missed a forehand drop shot and conceded set point on his serve, it all seemed over. But he battled on. saving not one but five set points. With excellent serves and baseline variations he succeeded in making up for the unforced errors which were coming mainly off his forehand, elicited by Alcaraz suddenly choosing to hit deep and lifted balls.

Serving for the set, Alcaraz chose to charge into the net, preventing any aggressive move by Korda. And it was some panache: he dug a stop volley out of a mole hole, served and volleyed from both sides, closed the set 6-4 on his second set point when Korda overhit a frustrated return on second serve almost into the stands. 

In the first game of the third, Korda saved two break points and held. Still clenching his fist, still hitting his flowing backhands down the line. An opportunity even opened up for him in the third game, when Alcaraz suddenly fell into a few too many unforced errors and the American earned break points. On the first, he attempted a dropshot, a brave and right tactical choice, with Alcaraz far behind the baseline. But the ball didn’t crawl over the net. The Spaniard assertively saw to erasing the other two break points. Disappointment crept in this time and Korda lowered his shields and lost his next two service games. 

Alcaraz was cruising away, impressive in his capacity to execute any shot. Able to turn defence into aggression, to get back into rallies with interlocutory creations, to compel his opponent to face increasing complexities. Serving for the match he delighted the public with a sliced back hand winner which whizzed down the line. A cracking backhand down the line on the stretch was his final flourish.

“It’s amazing to play in such a great atmosphere. I think the people enjoyed the match and I’m glad to play in front of such a good crowd,” Alcaraz said afterwards. “In the early matches, I’m trying to have fun out there. I love playing tennis and playing on these courts, so I’m enjoying every second.”

The nineteen-year old from Murcia is the youngest player to reach the fourth round in Roland Garros since Djokovic in 2006. On Wednesday, he survived a match point against countryman Ramos-Vinolas.

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