Angelique Kerber leads star-studded field at the Brisbane International - UBITENNIS
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Angelique Kerber leads star-studded field at the Brisbane International

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World Number 1 player Angelique Kerber will start her 2017 season at the WTA Premier in Brisbane. Serena and Venus Williams have opted to open their 2017 campaign at the WTA International in Auckland.

 

The WTA Premier in Brisbane will feature a star-studded line-up with five of the top-eight players, who took part in the WTA Finals in Singapore. This year’s Australian Open and US Open Angelique Kerber will lead a prestigious field which also includes this year’s WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova, 2015 and 2016 US Open finalist and twice Fed Cup champion Karolina Pliskova, 2016 Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza, 2016 Kremlin Cup finalist and former Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, Carla Suarez Navarro, Elina Svitolina, this year’s WTA Elite Trophy finalist and semifinalist in Tokyo and Beijing, Elena Vesnina, this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist, Olympic doubles gold medallist and WTA Doubles champion with Ekaterina Makarova, 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur, Roberta Vinci, this year’s US Open quarter finalist, who recently announced her intention to continue her career in 2017, Olympic singles gold medallist Monica Puig, Zhang Shuhai and Eugenie Bouchard. Last January Kerber lost the Brisbane final against Victoria Azarenka by 6-3 6-1 but bounced back by winning her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open beating Serena Williams.

A total of six Grand Slam champions in both the ATP and WTA Tournaments will headline the Brisbane International. The men’s field will be highlighted by 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, 2016 US Open champion Stan Wawrinka, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori and Roland Garros semifinalist Dominic Thiem.

“Brisbane fans are in for a thrilling week of entertainment with the confirmation of our best field yet signing on for 2017”, said Brisbane International Tournament Director Geoff Quinlan.

Serena and Venus Williams will kick off their season at the ASB Classic in Auckland in New Zealand against a very competitive field, which features defending champion Sloane Stephens, 2015 Auckland runner-up Caroline Wozniacki, 2015 Roland Garros Lucie Safarova and former world number 1 and 2014 Auckland champion Ana Ivanovic. Serena Williams will play at an International Tournament for the first time since Bastad 2015, where she withdrew after just one match. Her sister Venus beat Wozniacki to lift the Auckland Trophy in 2015. Stephens started her 2016 season on a high note winning in the Auckland final over Julia Goerges after beating Wozniacki in the semifinals.

Agnieszka Radwanska will defend her title at the Shenzhen Open, which features 2014 champion Simona Halep, Johanna Konta, the first British player to reach the top-10 since 1983 and Timea Bacsinszky. Last January Radwanska did not drop a single set in the whole week and beat Alison Riske in the final.

Petra Kvitova, this year’s WTA Elite Trophy champion in Zhuhai, and Belinda Bencic will open their season at the Hopman Cup. Bencic will team up with Roger Federer, who will make his eagerly-awaited come-back after being sidelined from injury since the Wimbledon semifinal last July.

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Lorenzo Sonego continues his winning streak with a victory over Barnabe Zapata Miralles in Sofia

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Lorenzo Sonego beat Barnabe Zapata Miralles 6-3 6-4 after 1 hour and 19 minutes to reach the second round at the Sofia Open. Sonego won 86% of his first serve points. 

 

Sonego broke serve in the second game at 30, but he missed a double break point in the third game. The Italian player dropped just three points in his next three service games to close out the first set 6-3.  

Sonego broke serve in the ninth game at love, as Zapata Miralles made a double fault. He made a double fault and a forehand error at 5-4, but he won four consecutive points to close out the second set on his first match point. 

Last week Sonego won his title in Metz without dropping a set. 

Sonego will face Danish Next Gen player Holger Rune in the second round. 

“I am really happy because today I was really aggressive on court. I played so well. I did my best thing today. I am really happy for that. Zapata is a big wall. He served really well, but I started so good today, with good variation. The key was my performance on serve, and to be aggressive on serve”, said Sonego. 

Lorenzo Musetti battled past Alexander Lazarov 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (10-8) 6-2 after 2 hours and 42 minutes. 

The first set went on serve with no break points. Lazarov earned his mini-break at 4-2 to win the tie-break 7-5. Musetti saved two break points at 4-4. The Italian player wasted a set point at 5-4 on Lazarov’s serve and dropped his serve in the next game. Lazarov earned his chance to close out the match at 6-5, but he was broken at 30. Musetti went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Lazarov  won four consecutive points to take a 5-4 lead. Lazarov had the chance to close the match, but he dropped two points on serve.  Musetti sealed the tie-break on his fourth set point. 

Musetti earned two breaks and held his next service games to win the third set 6-2. 

Ilya Ivashka upset Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 (7-3) after 1 hour and 52 minutes to reach the quarter finals. Ivashka saved all seven break points he faced. Dimitrov saved two match points in the second set forcing the match to the tie-break. Ivashka earned two mini-breaks to take a 7-3 lead. 

Ivashka will face either Sonego or Rune in the quarter final. 

“It was a very tough match and I am very happy that I got the victory at the end. It is very hard to play against Grigor, especially at his home”, said Ivashka.  

Fernando Vedasco edged past Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 to set up a second round match against Alexander Vukic. 

Jan Lennard Struff came back from a set down to beat Dusan Lajovic 4-6 6-3 6-2. 

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Botic Van de Zandschulp beats Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Tel Aviv

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Botic Van de Zandschulp cruised past Joao Sousa 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. Van de Zandschulp won 83% of his first serve points and hit 28 winners to Sousa’s six. 

 

The Dutchman will face Liam Broady, who Serbian wild-card Hamad Medjedovic 7-5 6-3. 

Tomas Martin Etchevery edged past 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev 6-2 6-7 (0-7) 6-4  scoring the biggest win of his career. 

Arthur Rinderknech came back from one set down to beat Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3. Rinderknech set up a second round against third seed Diego Schwartzman. 

Emil Ruusuvuori broke serve five times in his 6-3 6-2 win over J.J Wolf. 

Sebastian Korda beat Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Maxime Cressy. Novak Djokovic is the top seed of the Tel Aviv tournament, which returns for the first time since 2021.

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