Angelique Kerber Clinches The US Open Title In New York Classic - UBITENNIS
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Angelique Kerber Clinches The US Open Title In New York Classic

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Angelique Kerber has won her first US Open title after outlasting tenth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, in a titanic two-hour clash in New York.

Many expected a classic meeting between the two players, who have played each other in tournament finals in their three previous meetings since 2015. It was an expectation that both players triumphantly lived up to with just seven points separating the two throughout the entire match, which was played in the 23,700 capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Playing in her third major final of 2016, Kerber swiftly settled into the match against her more inexperienced opponent. During the first game, Pliskova’s nerves and misfortunes played into the hands of the second seed. A duo of double faults combined with a forehand into the net gifted Kerber her first break point of the match. She converted with ease after a stroke of bad luck hit her opponent with the stings of her racket breaking.

Pliskova’s nervy start failed to taint what was an outstanding opening set of tennis with both players wowing the audience. As Kerber valiantly battle to maintain the lead, fending off a trio of break points, her focus in the match failed to wobble unlike her straight sets loss to the Czech in their previous encounter. Running around the court and playing aggressively, the 28-year-old had an answer to every question that was asked of her.

The high intensity and tenacity that Kerber played with soon rewarded her after a Pliskova double fault handed her a set point. It was an unworthy way to get the opportunity considering her opponents sharp and spirited performance in the opening set. Nevertheless, Kerber seized her chance when another lengthy rally between the two concluded with her hitting a winning forehand down the line.

Edging herself on by shouting words of encouragement in German, Kerber maintained her brick wall defence beyond the first set. Facing the prospect of being broken at the start of the second, she rallied back by hitting shots deep and into the corner of the court. It was a pattern that continued over the next couple of games with Pliskova’s heavy hitting moving her into a seemingly dominant position before the new world No.1 hit back to restore control.

The breakthrough for the Czech finally occurred in the seventh game when a lob shot landed in, gifting Pliskova her first break of the match to lead 4-3. After trying for so long, the tenth seed finally dismantled Kerber’s serve as she moved to a game away from clinching the second set, thanks to some successful heavy hitting. The task of serving the set out proved no problem for the 24-year-old as an ace followed by a Kerber shot landing out took the match into a decider.

As six games stood in the way of both players winning their maiden US Open title, it was a rejuvenated Pliskova that struck first. After coming from behind through the majority of the encounter, a deep return forced Kerber to hit the ball out to break for a 2-1 lead in the decider. The advantage was short lived after back-to-back unforced errors from the Czech resuscitated Kerber’s titles hopes as she broke back to level 3-3.

As the match approached the closing stages, there was still no reduction is the high standard of tennis set by both players. Holding to love, Kerber moved to a game away from victory to mount the pressure on Pliskova. It was a position that was too much for the Czech as a backhand into the net resulted in three championship points. The title was then secured after a forehand from her opponents was blasted outside of the court.

The enormity of the occasion drew Kerber to tears with the realisation of what she has achieved coming apparent. Not only is she the first German winner since Steffi Graf in 1996, she has also extended her lead at the top of the rankings.

“It’s just amazing, I’ve won my second grand slam within one year.” An emotional Kerber said during her trophy ceremony.
“This is the best year in my career. It is incredible because to play here (New York) is where everything started in 2011 and now I’m standing here five years later with the trophy. It means so much to me.”

Going a break down in the deciding set, Kerber said that her mentality helped her to claw her way back into the match.

“I was trying to stay in the moment, trying to play my game, be more aggressive. I was just trying to enjoy playing the final.” She said.

Kerber’s triumph still doesn’t take anything away from her final opponent, who produced 40 winners in her first grand slam final. Speaking after her defeat, Pliskova is looking on the positive side of her tournament performance.

“ I definitely found out that I can play my best tennis on the biggest stages against the top players.” Pliskova said.
“Even though I couldn’t get the win, I’m really proud of myself, I was really happy with the way I was playing the last two weeks and hopefully there will be many more finals to come.” She later added.

As a result of her run to the title, Kerber exits the event with a prize money fund of $3,50,000.

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Simona Halep Cliches Third National Bank Open Title With Topsy-Turvy Win Over Haddad Maia

The two-time Grand Slam champion battled with her own consistency on the court en route to her latest title.

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Image via https://twitter.com/NBOtoronto/

Simona Halep overcame a poor start and lacklustre second set performance to oust Beatriz Haddad Maia and win the National Bank Open on Sunday.

 

Halep looked far from her best at times on the court as she battled to a hard-fought 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, win over her Brazilian rival who beat world No.1, Iga Swiatek, earlier in the tournament. During the roller-coaster clash, which lasted more than two hours, she hit a total of 16 winners against 31 unforced errors. The triumph avenged her loss to Haddad Maia two months ago in the final of the Birmingham Classic.

“I’m really exhausted, today has been a tough battle,” Halep said during the trophy presentation.
“I have won in Montreal two times but never here (in Toronto) so today is a special day. I fought really hard because I wanted to win in front of you guys (the crowd).”

Seeking her third title at the tournament in her career, Halep erratically started her latest final. A nightmare opening service game saw the Romanian produce four double faults, as well as a forehand error, to go down a break early on. Paving the way for Haddad Maia to surge to a 3-0 lead. After that blip, Halep soon found her footing on the court as she staged a valiant fight back. Winning six games in a row to clinch the first set. She closed out the opener with a blistering backhand winner to the corner of the court.

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with history-maker Haddad Maia breaking early on yet again. The 26-year-old is the first Brazilian player to reach the final of a WTA 1000 event. However, this time the world No.24 was able to maintain the advantage at the expense of a dramatic lull in form from her opponent. After storming to a four-game winning run, Haddad Maia eased her way to a 5-1 lead. Then serving to level the match, she triumphed with the help of back-to-back forehand errors from Halep.

Historically, the previous 20 finals at the Canadian Open have been won by the player who takes the opener. The last player to break this trend was Martina Hingis back in 2000 against Serena Williams.

Eager to avoid a Hingis-like fightback, Halep held her nerve to prevail during what was a rollercoaster decider. Three straight breaks of serve occurred before the world No.15 managed to hold and move ahead 4-1. Closing in on the title, Halep secured victory on her second championship point after a Haddad Maia forehand slammed into the net.

“Two months ago I wasn’t thinking that I would be lifting this trophy,” said Halep.
“Patrick (her coach) thank you for believing in me and being by my side since two months ago. Hopefully, I made you proud today even if I didn’t play great but I fought. Hopefully, we will have many more titles together.”

There is also a silver lining for runner-up Haddad Maia who will break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday. The Brazilian is currently enjoying a breakthrough season where she has won two Tour titles. She is the first player from her country to reach the final of three or more WTA events within the same year since 1969.

“I want to congratulate Simona and her team. You work very hard to be here and it’s very nice to share a moment like this with you in front of this crowd (in Toronto),” she said.
“Today I pushed myself as much as I could. I didn’t control my emotions very well today but even if I wasn’t playing my best tennis I was trying to fight. That was what I have done since the first round.”

30-year-old Halep has now won 24 titles on the WTA Tour and her ninth at a WTA 1000 event. It is the first time in her career she has managed to win the same tournament for the third time after previously triumphing in 2016 and 2018.

Halep will now rise to sixth in the rankings on Monday which will be her highest position in over a year.

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Canada Daily Preview: Championship Sunday Features Halep/Haddad Maia and Hurkacz/Carreno Busta

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Hubi Hurkacz this week in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

On Sunday in Toronto, Simona Halep plays for her third title at this event.  She faces a surging 26-year-old in Beatriz Haddad Maia, who has already defeated four top 15 players this week, including world No.1 Iga Swiatek.

 

In Montreal, Hubi Hurkacz is vying for his second Masters 1000 title, after winning his first last year in Miami.  In Sunday’s championship match, he plays Pablo Carreno Busta, who at 31-years-old has reached his first Masters 1000 final in his 52nd appearance.


Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:30pm on Centre Court in Toronto

What a season Haddad Maia is having.  She started the year ranked 83rd in the world, but with 43 match wins and three titles at all levels, she will debut inside the top 16 on Monday.  She is the first Brazilian to reach a WTA 1000 singles final.  Beatriz credits her 2022 success to focusing on being more aggressive.  But Halep is a player who has achieved much success by absorbing her opponents’ power and using it against them.  And after a solid yet underwhelming season, Simona says her fire is back this week in Toronto.  This will be her fourth meeting with Haddad Maia, and her third this year.  She leads Beatriz 2-1, though they split their two 2022 encounters.  In a match of this magnitude, which is new territory for Haddad Maia, Halep’s experience and more consistent style make her the favorite to win her third title in Canada.


Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Pablo Carreno Busta – Not Before 4:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Hubi’s path to this final has been a complicated one.  All four of his matches went the distance, and he even had to save a match point against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.  Meanwhile, Pablo had advanced to his first Masters 1000 final rather decisively, only dropping one set to this stage.  Hurkacz and Carreno Busta are 1-1 at tour level, as each earned a hard court victory over the other last year.  Three of the four sets they contested were decided by tiebreaks, which is not surprising given their contrasting styles.  Hubi will look to dictate matters with his serve, while Pablo will look to extend points and force Hurkacz into long baseline rallies.   However, Hubi often doesn’t mind participating in long rallies.  As impressive as Carreno Busta’s level has been this week, Hurkacz has been the better player this season.  Hubi’s serve and powerful groundstrokes make him a slight favorite to win his second Masters 1000 crown.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez – Gauff and Pegula were finalists this year at Roland Garros.  If they win on Sunday, Gauff will become the new world No.1 in doubles, and be the youngest player to do so since Martina Hingis.  Melichar-Martinez and Perez have already defeated three seeded teams this week.

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski (3) vs. Dan Evans and John Peers – Koolhof and Skupski lead the year-to-date doubles rankings, and are playing for their sixth title of the season.  This is only the second event in 2022 for Evans and Peers as a team.  Evans was also a semifinalist this week in singles.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Tour Veteran Pablo Carreno Busta Breaks New Ground At The Age Of 31 In Montreal

The Spaniard is a win away from claiming the biggest title of his career.

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Image via https://twitter.com/ATPTour_ES/

Pablo Carreno Busta has described his upcoming match in the final of the Canadian Masters as one of the most important of his career.

 

The world No.23 will play in his first-ever Masters 1000 final at the age of 31 after ousting Dan Evans 7-5, 6-7 (7), 6-2, in a roller-coaster encounter. After taking the opening set, Carreno Busta recovered from a 0-3 deficit early on in the second. Then in the tiebreaker he worked his way to his first match point but failed to convert, paving way for Evans to draw level. Despite the blip, he managed to secure the win with the help of a four-game winning streak in the decider.

“It was very important to continue fighting all the time. I know that Evans is a great opponent. It’s really tough to play against him. He has a very, very good backhand slice and it is not comfortable playing against him,” Carreno Busta said afterwards.
“I’m happy because it is very important for me and my confidence to be in the final.”

This week is the 52nd time Carreno Busta has played in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Until now, his best performances at these events were reaching the semi-finals of the 2017 Indian Wells Masters and 2018 Miami Open Masters. He is also a two-time semi-finalist at the US Open.

“It’s probably one of the most important matches of my career, fighting for a title, fighting for a Masters 1000 title,” he said.
“Probably this year I didn’t play my best tennis, so it’s very important to be in the final. I will try to do my best to win it.”

Carreno Busta has recorded a win-loss record of 27-17 so far this season and also reached the final of the Barcelona Open before losing to Carlos Alcaraz.

Standing in his way of the title will be Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz who came back from a set down to defeat Casper Ruud 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. It is the second time the world No.10 has reached a Masters 1000 final after winning the Miami title last year.

“Casper was playing really well. He was the better player for the first half of the match. Definitely he was playing better than me. I was just searching to find a way,” said Hurkacz.

When asked about how he managed to turn his fortunes around, the eighth seed said his serve proved vital.

I think just staying aggressive, searching for opportunities, just trying to take every single opportunity to get ahead in the rally and make him uncomfortable. Obviously, my serve helped at the end.” He explained.

Carreno Busta has played Hurkacz twice on the Tour last year with their head-to-head split at 1-1. He won their encounter in Cincinnati before losing in Metz.

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