Serena Williams Eases Into Quarterfinals, Overtakes Federer With Most Slam Wins; Karolina Pliskova Outlasts Venus Williams - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Eases Into Quarterfinals, Overtakes Federer With Most Slam Wins; Karolina Pliskova Outlasts Venus Williams

Karolina Pliskova continues her 9 match win streak past Venus Williams in a marathon match 4-6 6-4 7-6(3). Her possible semifinal opponent, Serena Williams defeated Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-2 6-3.

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World No. 1 Serena Williams was obviously coming into the match as a huge favorite against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, and she kept that role throughout the match. Although Shvedova pulled the American into some long games on her serve, there was never a feeling that she could make any real damage. Williams took an early break for 2-0, and took another break to win the first set 6-2 in 35 minutes. The second set took also 35 minutes, but Shvedova asserted more dominance on serve, so there was only one break for Serena. Despite the shoulder concerns before the start of the tournament, Williams didn’t lose more than 2 points on any of her service games today, and continued her unique streak of no service games dropped during the tournament. However this should be taken with a grain of salt, since Williams has not faced any seeded players, and wasn’t truly tested yet. This might change as Serena’s next opponent is one of the best returners on tour, 5th seed Simona Halep.

‘I can’t believe it, I’ve never served this consistently. When I serve, I just don’t think about it and do it.’ said Serena about her service game streak.

With this match, Serena Williams won 308 matches in grand slams, thus replacing Roger Federer at No. 1 ‘I don’t know who’ll end up on top, but I do hope we both keep playing’

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Pliskova is probably in the best form of her life. In her past 2 tournaments, US Open and Cincinnati, she only dropped two sets, one to Venus here, and one to Muguruza. Venus didn’t have that good of a lead up, losing 2nd round in Montreal and 1st round at the Olympics.

Williams took the early break in the match for 2-0, and later had a 5-1 lead. She twice failed to serve out, at 5-2 and 5-4, but then Pliskova gave Venus a 0:40 lead, which was too attractive to pass. Williams got an early lead in the second set as well, this time 3-1. She couldn’t keep it for long, as Pliskova kept gaining momentum with a quick re-break and just kept going, winning the set 6-4.

Pliskova did take the lead of 3-1 in the deciding set, but had to fight break points in every other game. Williams finally broke back to 4-4 and set up the match for an exciting conclusion. First match point came for Williams at 4-5 on Pliskova’s serve, but the Czech player saved the match point and the match went on. Pliskova then got her hands on 3 match points at serve, but with the crowd roaring Venus saved all 3, won the game, and headed the match to a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Williams put out some very aggressive, low percentage shots, which in the end cost her the tiebreak. Pliskova served well, put balls back, and that was enough for her to win the tiebreak 7-3 after 2 hours and 26 minutes.

When Pliskova was asked, how does she deal with the crowd of 23,000 people cheering against her she replied: “At least I had my serve. So at least something was on my side. I played pretty good point. I was just thinking, I have to go, I have to put everything into this point. And, yeah, I made it.”

The Czech was also asked about improvements in her game: “I think I improved my return a lot. So I’m trying to going into every second serve. But with her it’s tough because she’s having such a good serve, even the first one, even the second. So sometimes it’s tough. But I’m trying to go and be the one who is dictating the rally first.”

These were the thoughts of Venus Williams, this time, on the losing side: “We both competed really well. Of course I’d like to come out on top of that match. Just kept fighting till the end, but I don’t know, she had a little more luck today. I had a few too many errors in the tiebreaker.”

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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