Kerber Ends Vinci's Run, Moves Closer to no.1 - UBITENNIS
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Kerber Ends Vinci’s Run, Moves Closer to no.1

Roberta Vinci could resist Kerber only one set, but eventually gave way to her stronger opponent. The German is not two wins away from overtaking Serena Williams and take no.1 ranking spot

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There was no repeat this year of Roberta Vinci’s 2015 extraordinary run to the final. The Italian n.8 seed was defeated in straight set on Tuesday morning on Arthur Ashe Stadium by n.2 Angelique Kerber, who had beaten her in two of their previous four meetings and who, by reaching the semifinals, is keeping intact her chances to clinch the n.1 spot in the WTA ranking at the end of this tournament.

 

Started under a low and cloudy New York sky (the roof had been closed most of the morning but it was decided to play the match outdoor just a few minutes before the noon start) the first set saw Vinci go up a break three times, including one on 5-4 when she served for the first set. She got to 30-30 and then lost a 16-shot rally with a forehand sailing long before missing a slice backhand on break point to concede the 5-5. That was the beginning of a 9-game streak for Kerber, who after closing the first set by 7-5 in 54 minutes with a break to love, breezed through the second set in just 24 minutes dropping just 10 points, half of which when the match was already secured.

Vinci had been able to offer strenuous resistance in the first set despite playing with a tendinitis at her left Achilles tendon, and injury she has been fighting since the Rio Olympics. During this tournament she has not trained for more than 45 minutes at a time, and the day before this quarterfinal she was only able to play for 15 minutes without barely running at all. However, her slice backhand directed to Kerber’s forehand was enough to create enough hesitation in the German to break her three times. However, every time she broke, she immediately conceded the break back on the following game, never managing to create some space between herself and her opponent. A very unusual end of the set saw Vinci being called a foot-fault on second serve on the first set point at 5-6 0-40. “I was very angry at myself – said Vinci to the Italian press after the match – because that is totally my fault. The serve is a shot that depends entirely on you, and I did not pay enough attention to the position of my feet. If they called a foot-fault, I must have done it”.

Vinci will now drop seven places in the WTA ranking on Monday, not having been able to defend the final from 2015. However, given her precarious health conditions at the beginning of the tournament, she said it was “almost a miracle” to have reached the quarterfinals. At the end of the 2015 season, Vinci hinted that this would be her last year on tour, but after the end of her US Open campaign she refused to answer questions regarding her future, saying that no decision has been taken yet. “I will get to the end of the season – said the Italian – and see what my heart tells me”.

Kerber is now just two matches away from becoming world no.1 and she remember her first Grand Slam quarterfinal five years ago in 2011 when she defeated Flavia Pennetta. “Yeah, I think [my game and my mindset have] changed a little bit. For me, I’m going out on Arthur Ashe, on the stadium, and playing against top player, as well. I have I think right now more confidence to going out there. I’m not thinking about quarters, semis, or whatever. I’m just going there to playing a good match and to win the match. I know that I can beat everybody, and this is what gives me also a lot of confidence and motivation for going out there and playing with a lot of emotion”.

She will face Wozniacki or Sevastova in the semifinals to advance to her third Grand Slam final of the year, after winning at the Australian Open in January and losing to Serena Williams in Wimbledon last July.

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Epic Dubai Triumph Fuels Belief And Motivation For Simona Halep

The world No.2 reacts to the latest milestone achieved in her career.

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On Saturday Simona Halep survived a marathon encounter at the Dubai Tennis Championships to become only the sixth active player to win 20 on more WTA titles on the tour.

 

The two-time grand slam champion, who was the top seed in the tournament, required almost two-and-a-half hours to see off the in-form Elena Rybakina 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5). A player who has reached the final in four out of her five tournaments played so far in 2020. The clash was far from easy for the Romanian, who trailed 1-3 in the decider and failed to serve the match out when leading 6-5 before eventually prevailing in the tiebreak. Earning her first WTA trophy since lifting the Wimbledon trophy last July.

“It feels great that I could win it,” Halep said. “Actually, it was amazing. She fought till the end. She didn’t give up any balls. It was really tough mentally. The pressure was very high. But I wanted it badly, so that’s why I fought till the end.”

Besides Rybakina, the 28-year-old also scored wins over Jennifer Brady, Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur in the tournament. Out of those matches, Halep’s only straight sets win was over Brady in the semi-finals.

It is the second time Halep has won the Dubai crown after 2015. She believes her latest triumph reiterates why she still belongs at the top of the women’s game. Prior to this week, she also reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and quarter-finals in Adelaide.

“I’ve done a lot of results, many results these six, seven years,” said Halep. “I’m staying here in the top 5, top 10, which is not easy. I’m proud of my job. Also, this tournament gives me confidence that I’m still there.”

Whilst she has only won two titles over the past 16 months, it is the consistency of the former world No.1 that has enabled her to be in the world’s top 10 for so long. To date she has spent 317 weeks consecutive weeks in the top 10 since January 2014. The 10th longest streak in the history of the WTA Tour.

“I always had in my mind that I had to be consistent. I didn’t like the way you win a tournament and then don’t do anything for a few months. I like to build my power and consistency every week.” She explained.
“Since I met Darren (Cahill) I was told that we had to look at the big picture and not just this week.’
“This makes me more proud than winning titles because if you’re able to be there means that you have everything power, strong mental, physical also, very strong.” She added.

There will be no Middle East double for Halep this year after she withdrew from the upcoming Doha Open. A Premier 5 event that will feature six top 10 players in the draw this year. Halep was runner-up in the tournament last year to Elise Mertens.

“It’s a decision I took before the match … I started this tournament a little bit injured with my foot.” Halep stated.

The only active players to have won more WTA titles than Halep are Serena and Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova.

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Novak Djokovic Faces Jaziri Test As Familiar Face Waits For Tsitsipas In Dubai

Novak Djokovic will play his first tournament since capturing his eighth Australian Open title in Dubai this week.

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Novak Djokovic (@usopen - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic will face Malek Jaziri in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Championships this week. 

 

The Serb enters the tournament in Dubai having edged his way to the Australian Open title last month at Melbourne Park.

Full of confidence and energy, Djokovic will play Malek Jaziri in the opening round in Dubai with the Tunisian being a former quarter-finalist here.

Speaking at the draw ceremony, Jaziri feels at home playing in the middle-east, “I feel like I’m playing at home here,” the Tunisian told the Khaleej Times.

“That run a couple years back and I’ve also made the quarters a couple of times, it’s perfect to be back competing here.”

Should Djokovic get through Jaziri in the opening round then Philipp Kohlschreiber or Mohammed Safwat will await in the second round. A last eight showdown with Karen Khachanov could also be on the cards for the Serb.

Not only is Djokovic in singles action this week but he is also teaming up with Marin Cilic in doubles as they face top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

As for the second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, he could face a rematch with Hubert Hurkacz from last year’s event where the Greek won.

Before that match happens in the second round, Stefanos Tsitsipas will have to get past Pablo Carreno Busta while Hurkacz faces the unpredictable Alexander Bublik.

In other headline first round matches, Dan Evans will face 4th seed Fabio Fognini while Marin Cilic will face eighth seed Benoit Paire.

Here is the full draw with play getting under way on Monday:

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Milos Raonic Fights Off Johnson Challenge To Reach Delray Beach Semi-Finals

Milos Raonic fought off a tough test from Steve Johnson to reach the last four in Delray Beach.

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Milos Raonic (@DelrayBeachOpen - Twitter)

Milos Raonic fought off a tough Steve Johnson challenge to reach the Delray Beach Open semi-finals. 

 

The Canadian didn’t play his best tennis in his 7-6(6) 6-3 victory over the American but used his fighting qualities to reach the last four in Florida.

A break of serve each in the opening set saw a tiebreak separate the two men before the former Wimbledon finalist edged to a one set lead.

Then the Canadian took control breaking twice in the second set to seal his spot in the semi-finals of an ATP event for the first time since Stuttgart last year.

After the win, Raonic admitted he didn’t play his best tennis, “You just have to sort of scrap and find a way,” the Canadian told the ATP website.

“I was moving well, I put a lot of returns in. I was doing the things I could control as well as possible. Didn’t serve particularly well, but it was just important to keep fighting. Got a few lucky breaks and made the most of them.”

If Raonic wants to reach the final in Florida then he will have to serve will in his next match against big serving, Reilly Opelka.

The American blasted 16 aces past Soonwoo Kwon in his emphatic 6-3 6-4 victory over the South Korean to reach the last four.

In the tightest quarter-final of the day yesterday, Yoshihito Nishioka edged past promising American talent Brandon Nakishima 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4 in 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Two crucial breaks at the start of the deciding set proved crucial for the Japanese star as he set up a semi-final with Ugo Humbert, who only dropped three games against Frances Tiafoe.

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