Slovak Olympic Dreams Diminished! Martin Klizan Withdraws and Dominika Cibulkova Cancels Flight To Rio - UBITENNIS
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Slovak Olympic Dreams Diminished! Martin Klizan Withdraws and Dominika Cibulkova Cancels Flight To Rio

It seems that Slovakia must say ‘goodbye’ to their Olympic dreams and medal ambitions. Slovak No. 1 Martin Klizan has already confirmed his withdrawal, while Cibulkova is flying to Slovakia to consult with her doctor about the participation.

Jakub Bobro

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Martin Klizan, the recent winner of the ATP 500 tournament in Hamburg, has made the decision to not come to Rio. As the main reason he stated Zika fears, as many other tennis players before him.

“I am not exactly sure what are the medical consequences of Zika. Repellents should supposedly protect you, and we are supposed to wear long sleeved t-shirt, which isn’t ideal. I don’t believe that the situation in Rio will be alright. I am cautious about my health, especially when I am returning from a long break. I don’t plan to get ill now. It just worries me. The conditions in Rio aren’t what we Europeans are used to,” said Klizan in an interview for Czech website, Tennis Arena.

Other than receiving a lot of criticism and even death threats from some “fans”, Klizan was criticized for his withdrawal by Karol Kucera. The former World No. 6. has openly criticized Klizan in a Facebook status, giving him a lecture about representation and other issues.

The World No. 30 Martin Klizan was also supposed to play doubles, receiving an ITF Final Qualification Place to play alongside with Andrej Martin. Martin, who last week reached an Umag final and broke the Top 100, was not long in jeopardy about his Olympic chances. ITF almost immediately granted the Final Qualification Place to him and a doubles specialist Igor Zelenay. The Slovak Tennis Federation also requested a Final Qualification Place in singles for Andrej Martin, who is currently 5th in the waiting list for the Olympic glory.

The other Slovakian player with Olympic doubts is world No.10 Cibulkova. Speaking shortly after her 2-6 0-6 loss to Eugenie Bouchard, Cibulkova has admitted that she is currently struggling with ongoing health problems.

“[Bouchard] played very well, so she won. However I have had health problems since the tournament in Stanford. I was supposed to fly to Rio from here, but I am not fit, so I have to go back to Slovakia, where I will visit my doctor, to find out what’s going on. I hope that I will be alright to play the Olympics, but it doesn’t look too well.”

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Belinda Bencic stuns Simona Halep to set up semifinal against Elina Svitolina in Dubai

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Unseeded player Belinda Bencic rallied from one set down to claim a 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over former world number 1 and 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep securing her spot in her ssecond semifinal of the season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where she will face Elina Svitolina, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3.

The Swiss player has reached her first Premier-level semifinal since her run to the St. Petersburg final in 2016 and has scored her first back-to-back wins against top 10 since Tokyo 2015 after saving six match points in her win over Aryna Sabalenka yesterday.

Halep hit eight aces to build up a 6-4 4-3 lead before dropping nine of the last games of the match.

Bencic got an early break  and held her serve in a four-deuce second game. In the following game Bencic earned her chances for a double break, but Halep held her serve before breaking back to draw level to 2-2. Halep broke serve in the eighth game to open up a 5-3 lead, but she dropped her serve with a double fault, when she was serving for the set. Halep broke back in the 10th game to close out the opening set 6-4 when Bencic netted a forehand.

Bencic went up an early break in the first game of the second set, but Halep broke straight back in the second game to draw level to 1-1. Halep earned a break point at 2-2 and another chance at 3-3, but Bencic won three consecutive games and got a crucial break in the eighth game at 4-4, when Halep sent a backhand long. Bencic hit a service winner, when she was serving for the set in the next game.

Bencic went up a double break to build up a 3-0 lead. Halep pulled one break back and held her serve to close the gap to 2-3. Bencic broke again in the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead, but had to save three break points before sealing the win on her third match point.

“It feels great. I am just really happy to be back. I knew it was still in me even after the injuries. You cannot just come back like this and play right away. Otherwise, it would not show how good tennis is. Players are playing two, three years at this level. They are playing semifinals, finals. You cannot just expect to be back after the injury and play like this. I had no problem with being in the shadow. Actually it felt really good, playing 25ks where there is no one there, just you. There is no stream. There is just a live ticker. You can play free. There is no expectation, no attention. It felt good. I did not even take the protected ranking. I started in the lower tournaments. I tried to build my confidence up”,said Bencic.

Bencic set up a semifinal against 2017 and 2018 Dubai champion Elina Svitolina, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3 after 78 minutes. The first set went on serve in the first five games, before Svitolina rallied from 30-40 down to break serve on her second opportunity at the fourth deuce for 4-2 in a seven-minute game. The Ukrainian player sealed the first set with a double break in the eighth game after just over half an hour.

Suarez Navarro converted her second break point chance in the first game and held her serve at deuce after saving a break point to take a 2-0 lead. Svitolina broke back on her second chance in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Suarez Navarro rallied from 15-40 down to break serve at the third deuce for 3-2, but Svitolina reeled off the final four games with two consecutive breaks in the sixth and eighth games and closed out the second set 6-3 on her fourth match point with a forehand winner.

“I am going to give everything to play my best tennis. This matters the most for me. I have been working on this for a long time. I want to just focus on what I have to do my next match. The semifinal is going to be another tough one. It’s important to take a match at a time, not to look so much ahead”, said Svitolina.

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WTA Coaching Carousel Continues As Daria Kasatkina Splits From Coach

Daria Kasatkina has decided to split with her coach Philippe Dehaes in the latest WTA coaching chaos.

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Daria Kasatkina (@Tennis - Twitter)

Daria Kasatkina is the latest player to split from her coach on the WTA tour as she splits with Belgian Philippe Dehaes. 

The world number 13 decided to split from her coach Philippe Dehaes after a poor start to the 2019 season having only won two matches.

This coaching split is the latest in a whole carousel of changes which has even included the world number one Naomi Osaka splitting from her coach, Sascha Bajin.

In a statement on Instagram Kasatkina expressed her gratitude to Dehaes who lead her to the top ten and won her the Kremlin Cup last year.

However after losing five of her seven matches so far the Russian concluded that it was time to move on “It is with sadness that I am announcing that myself and Philippe Dehaes are parting ways after a very successful partnership,” Kasatkina said.

“I owe Philippe a huge amount for the success I’ve had over the past two years since we started working together but after deciding I need to take control and responsibility for my own tennis, I felt I needed to do this alone and take a break from working with Philippe but as he has a family and children to support, I understand this is not possible for him and it’s best we go our separate way.

“Who knows what the future holds, never say never. I’d just like to go on record as saying thank you again to Philippe, you’ll always mean a lot to me and I wish you the very best. Thanks for everything coach, you will always have a special place in my heart.”

The Belgian coach was known for his motivational on-court coaching timeouts especially his ‘Russian Wall’ comment in Moscow last October.

It will now be interesting where Kasatkina goes from here considering she has final points to defend at Indian Wells in a couple weeks time. 

The tournament in the Californian desert is the next tournament for the Russian, which starts on the 6th of March although Kasatkina won’t play her first match until the 8th of March.

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Hsieh-Su-Wei fights back from 1-5 down to upset Karolina Pliskova in Dubai

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Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-Wei came back from 1-5 down in the third set by winning the final six games to upset 2015 Dubai finalist and number 4 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4 1-6 7-5 reaching the semifinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Only one break point was held by either player until 3-3. Pliskova held serve in the seventh game for 4-3, before she came back from 0-40 down to earn a break point after two double faults from Hsieh.

Hsieh saved the break point with a backhand winner. Pliskova brought up two more break points in the eighth game, but Hsieh saved both chances to hold serve for 4-4.

Hsieh broke serve at love with a a backhand winner in the ninth game and held her serve at love 6-4.

Pliskova broke early in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead and held a hard-fought service game at deuce for 4-1. The Chinese Taipei player got a double break in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead. The Czech player earned a set point with an ace and converted it with a backhand winner down the line to win the set 6-1 sending the match to the third set.

Pliskova went up in the third game of the third set with a drop-shot winner to build up a 3-0 lead. The Czech player held her service games to cruise through to a 5-1 lead. Hsieh pulled the break back with a forehand on the break point in the seventh game for 2-5.

Hsieh broke at love in the 10th game to get back on serve to 5-5 and held her serve at love to take a 6-5 lead. She earned her second match point with a backhand down the line and converted it to seal the win, when Pliskova sent her backhand wide. Hsieh scored two back-to-back wins over two top-10 players in two consecutive days.

“The second set was slowing down a bit, so it’s not a good sign. I still make some mistakes, but I am glad I keep trying. Finally it works, so I survive”, said Hsieh.

Hsieh set up a semifinal match against number 2 seed Petra Kvitova, who beat Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4 6-0.

Hsieh Su Wei will face 2013 finalist and number 2 seed Petra Kvitova, who cruised past Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4 6-0 following up her hard-fought wins over Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady.

Kvitova saved three of the four break points she faced. The double Wimbledon champion and 2019 Australian Open finalist earned an early break in the second game with a deep return and saved a break point in the next game to hold on her service game for 3-0. Kuzmova broke back in the fifth game, when Kvitova sent her backhand long, and backed it up with a hold of serve for 3-3. Kvitova broke serve at love in the ninth game, when Kuzmova was serving to stay in the set. Kvitova held a tough service game with an ace and a service game before breaking three times in a row to take a bagel win in the second set.

“I am pleased. I did not give Kuzmova any time to do her job, maybe turn the match on her way. Hsieh is definitely a tough and tricky opponent. I played her in Sydney in a really tough match. It will be probably some rallies tomorrow. I need to be ready for every shot what she is going to bring to the game”,said Kvitova.

 

 

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