Ekaterina Makarova beats Roberta Vinci in Eastbourne - UBITENNIS
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Ekaterina Makarova beats Roberta Vinci in Eastbourne

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Ekaterina Makarova beat Roberta Vinci 6-4 4-6 6-3 in two hours and 18 minutes in the second round at the WTA International in Eastbourne.

 

Makarova got a double break to open up a 3-0 lead. Vinci recovered both breaks to draw level to 3-3. At 4-3 Vinci won the eighth game as Makarova made a double fault. Makarova broke serve in the ninth game as Vinci hit his forehand into the net. Vinci broke serve in the 10th game to love as Makarova made another unforced error to close out the first set 6-4 in 61 minutes.

Makarova started the second set with a double break in the first and third games to open up a 4-0 lead. Vinci failed to convert three consecutive break points in the eighth game before saving a match point in the next game. Vinci earned a break point in the 10th game but Makarova saved it with her backhand before closing out the 45-minute second set 6-4 as Vinci hit her forehand into the net.

Makarova raced out to a 4-0 lead for the third consecutive set with a double break in the first and third games. Vinci got one of the two breaks back in the sixth game to claw her way back to 3-4 but Makarova held her service game in the 8th game before breaking to love in the next game to close out the 42-minute third set 6-3

Former Eastbourne champion Agnieszka Radwanska was leading 6-4 2-1 as Mirjana Lucic Baroni was forced to retire from the match with gastrointestinal illness. Radwanska will take on 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard for a spot in the quarter final. The young Canadian player swept aside Irina Camelia Begu 6-3 6-1.

Radwanska won the Eastbourne title in 2008 and lost in the final to Belinda Bencic in last year’s final.

Twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Timea Babos 6-4 7-6 (7-5) to set up a third round match against either Lesla Tsurenko or Johanna Konta. At 4-4 Babos faced two break points after two loose groundstrokes. Kvitova got the break in the ninth game for 5-4 but was forced to save a couple of break points as she was serving for the set. The second set started with a trade of breaks in the first two games. Both players went on serve until the tie-break. Kvitova hit a backhand down into the corner to close out the tie-break 7-5.

“It wasn’t easy today. She was serving really well and it was very difficult to break her. I had to wait for my chances”, said Kvitova.

Andrea Petkovic beat Sara Errani 6-1 3-6 6-4 in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Petkovic got a double break in the second and fourth games to win the first set 6-1. Errani broke serve in the second game of the second set but Petkovic broke straight back in the third game. In a trade of three consecutive games Errani broke in the fourth game. The Italian held her service game before breaking again to 15 in the sixth game. Petkovic got one of the breaks back at deuce in the seventh game for 2-5 and held her service game in the next game but Errani served out for the second set to 30 to force the match to the decider.

Errani In the third set Errani raced out to a 3-0 40-15 lead with a double break but the German got both breaks back to draw level to 3-3. Errani broke serve again to take a 4-3 lead but Petkovic won three consecutive games with two breaks in the eighth and tenth games to seal the the third set 6-4

Kristina Mladenovic beat Timea Bacsinszky 6-1 7-5. Kateryna Bondarenko fought back from a set down to upset Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6 6-4 7-5.

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Pliskova And Konta Advance To Rome Final

Johanna Konta edged world n.4 Kiki Bertens while Karolina Pliskova scored a straight-set victory against Maria Sakkari

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Johanna Konta in Rome during the 2019 Internazionali BNL d'Italia (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

After a washout on Wednesday and a double duty day on Thursday, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia were bracing for another wet afternoon on Saturday. Eventually, the very cold spell of Italian spring that has so far marred the 2019 Italian Open decided to spare the Foro Italico on the first day of the final weekend and allowed the two women’s singles semifinals to take place with only one very short interruption.

 

In the first match, 28-year-old Brit Johanna Konta came back from one set down and only two points away from defeat to overcome Mutua Madrid Open champion and world n.4 Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. The Dutch woman seemed to be in control of the match after she swooped the first set winning the last three games in a row (from 4-5 to 7-5) imposing her offensive and defensive game over a nervous and tentative Konta, who also failed to consolidate an initial break in the second set by losing her serve for the third time in a row. However, as the match progressed Konta started shaking off her initial jitters and held her subsequent service game with authority. At 4-5 30-30, a shanked smash pinched the line and the following forehand volley winner sealed the 5-5, signing a progressive decline in Berten’s sharpness and aggressiveness. “I think everything was hard today to ignore – said Bertens in the post-match press conference – the court was really slippery, so it’s tough to move on. Especially I like it when it’s not so slippery so I can move a little bit better. With the wind, it was really tough. She played really smart with the dropshots. She did a good job in there. I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy. But, yeah, it was not there”.

At her first final on clay and at her first final in a Premier Five/Premier Mandatory tournament after her triumph in Miami in 2017, Konta describer her effort on court as a “continuous adjustment, a continuous openness to figure it out within the match. I stayed very open in trying to find a solution in each point […] after I lost the first set, I didn’t do much wrong. It was a very good set of tennis. Equally the second set, as well. There wasn’t anybody putting a bad foot out of line. In the third, I definitely felt that I was able to maintain my level a bit better than her. I think that gave me the upper hand in stringing some more points together”.

Konta will face in the final n.4 seed Karolina Pliskova, who during the late afternoon match defeated Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4. Sakkari started the match extremely well taking an early 4-2 lead, but could not continue to produce the same level of tennis in the second part of the set and was surpassed by her better ranked opponent. “Your intensity just dropped by one percent – said Sakkari’s coach Tom Hill during an on-court coaching session at the end of the first set – that’s the only difference between the first games and the last in this first set”.

During the second set, Pliskova was always ahead in the score, and despite she was the player more under pressure on her serve during the first half of the set, she eventually managed to break her opponent to love on 5-4 closing the match after one hour, 27 minutes. “I’m super happy for this result because I don’t feel I have been playing my best tennis – said Pliskova after the match – coming into this week I felt I would probably win one match, possibly two, I’m very confident for Paris now”.

The head-to-head between Pliskova and Konta see the Czech having won four of the previous five matches at WTA level, plus further two at ITF level. The only win for Konta came in Beijing in 2016, when the Brit reached her first Premier Mandatory final.

 

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Johanna Konta Reaches Biggest Semi-Final Since 2017

Johanna Konta advanced to her first semi-final in Rome by beating Vondrousova in three sets, while Pliskova beat Azarenka.

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Johanna Konta (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Johanna Konta will contest the biggest match of her career since Wimbledon 2017 when she takes on Kiki Bertens in the semi-final of the Italian Open.

 

The Brit, who is celebrating her 28th birthday today, looked in excellent form during her 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory over rising star Marketa Vondrousova and she fully deserves her place in the last four.

Konta’s win seems even more impressive when you consider the two players the Czech, 19, beat to reach the quarter-final stage: Simona Halep and Daria Kasatkina.

With those scalps under her belt, Vondrousova would surely have fancied her chances against the Brit. However, that confidence quickly eroded after the World No.42 controlled the opening set.

Konta made a great start. She hit a series of deep backhands which pushed the Czech back as she almost got an immediate break.

Although Vondrousova held on, the Brit then earned three more chances in game three. She took the second to move into a 2-1 lead.

Konta dominated her service games to maintain her advantage for the rest of the set, and then broke the Czech again in game nine to clinch it.

To Vondrousova’s credit, she fought back well in the second set and eventually won it 6-3. However, the Brit knew what to do in the decider. She stepped into the court and attacked anything short. This enabled her to win six games in a row and seal her spot in the semi-final.

Azarenka’s impressive run comes to an end

Karolina Pliskova (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

It has been a brilliant week in Rome for Victoria Azarenka, but her participation in the singles event is now over after a 6-7(5) 6-2 6-2 loss to Karolina Pliskova.

The Belarussian, 29, impressed during her three-set win over another top ten player – Elina Svitolina – in the second round, but she could not repeat the feat against the World No.7.

For Pliskova, the match against Azarenka represented a significant hurdle to negotiate. But she responded superbly to losing the first set by raising her game considerably to win the next two.

“Azarenka was playing good tennis today. She wasn’t missing much,” the Czech said in her press conference.

She continued, “It was a little bit windy, so I didn’t feel at my best in the first set. I don’t think my level was that bad, but I was too passive. To begin with, I wanted to kill myself after that set. Then I calmed down a bit and went for my shots a little bit more, which paid off.”

Pliskova’s reward will be a semi-final against either Maria Sakkari or Kristina Mladenovic. If it is the Greek, it will bring back memories of their encounter last year when the Czech famously lost her temper and damaged the umpire’s chair.

“I haven’t played Sakkari since Rome last year, so I think everybody is going to be waiting for this match – even me,” the World No.7 said. “The rematch has almost happened in a couple of tournaments recently, but she always lost before. I think she was scared to face me!”

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Kiki Bertens receives a walkover into the semifinal, as Naomi Osaka withdraws from the quarter final due to a right hand injury

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Last week’s Madrid Mutua Open champion Kiki Bertens overcame 2015 Rome finalist Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 1-6 6-3 after 1 hour and 49 minutes to extend her winning streak to eight consecutive matches.

 

A rain wash-out on Wednesday forced Bertens to postpone her Rome campaign until Thursday and play two matches to advance to the quarter final.

Bertens overcame Amanda Anisimova 6-2 4-6 7-5 after being just two points from defeat in her first Thursday match before surviving another three-set battle against Carla Suarez Navarro.

Bertens went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead and held on her service games to seal the opening set on her fourth set point.

Suarez Navarro broke serve twice to clinch the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the third set.

Bertens broke twice in a row to race out to a 4-0 lead in the  decisive set. Suarez Navarro pulled one of the two breaks back. Bertens held on her next service games to seal the win to secure her spot in the quarter final.

“It was only fight today that got me through. It wasn’t the best tennis, but sometimes that happens where you just have to find a way. Luckily I found it. I got to hit yesterday morning because I was first on, so at 9 AM, I warmed up until 9.30, when I thought that maybe we will be able to go on court, but it did not happen. I was on site from 8 AM to 6 PM, so it was a long day, but for everyone. This morning I saw the schedule for 10 AM, so the alarm went off at 6.30. Not my best morning. After the first match, I felt more mentally fatigued, but a long second match, you feel it physically”, said Bertens.

The Dutch player has received a walkover into the semifinal after her quarter final rival Naomi Osaka was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a right hand injury. Osaka also had to pull out of the Stuttgart Open because of an abdominal problem, but she reached the biggest clay quarter final of her career in Madrid, where she served for the match, but she lost to Belinda Bencic 3-6 6-2 7-5.

 

 

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