24th Seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Upsets Fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova To Set Up Quarterfinal Clash With Venus Williams - UBITENNIS
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24th Seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Upsets Fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova To Set Up Quarterfinal Clash With Venus Williams

24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is in the best form of her past few years, that she confirmed with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 win over 8th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. Pavlyuchenkova’s opponent will be No. 13 seed and 7-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams. The American defeated qualifier Mona Barthel 6-3 7-5 in the Round of 16.

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From the start, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was looking the stronger and better player, as she went a break up right from the start. At 4-1, “Pavs” struck again, broke to 5-1 and was serving for the set. Svetlana Kuznetsova took one break back, but Pavlyuchenkova didn’t allow a significant comeback. The lower-ranked Russian was serving for the set at 5-3, and on her third set point, she succeeded. Second set started with another early break from Pavlyuchenkova, but Kuznetsova drew it back to 3-3, spicing it up with some drama. “Pavs” took the break for 4-3, but Kuznetsova really fought valiantly in the last game, going through 4 deuces and saving a match point before finally losing after an hour and 10 minutes, 3-6 3-6. With this match, the head-to-head is 5-3 for Kuznetsova, with Pavlyuchenkova winning the last two matches. These were Pavlyuchenkova’s after match comments:

“I take it. I mean, it’s super exciting. I’m so happy. Yeah, I was always wondering why I could never have a good start here in Australia after good pre-season, good off-season, and a lot of practicing,”

“But now it seems like I found a way, and I’m super excited to still be in the second week here.

“I have a lot of memories, because I, yeah, won it twice in juniors and was showing some good tennis, as well, also in the pros, but never achieved something, like, big here.

“It’s one of my favorite Grand Slams. I’m super excited. But I’m also happy now, same time, looking forward to the next one and I want to do even better.”

 

Venus Williams will attempt to stop the streaking Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinals. The 7 time Grand Slam champion has been taking care of business in straight sets, as she was gifted with an incredibly weak draw, not facing an opponent from the Top 95 (Highest Kozlova at #98).Mona Barthel may have had to qualify for this Australian Open, she has a career high of being No. 23 in the world, just returning after a bad year. She is known to be especially dangerous early in the year, but sort of fades back as the season wears on. The German showed form in Melbourne as she dominated the qualifying, and in the main draw defeated Destanee Aiava, Olympic champion Monica Puig and fan favorite Ash Barty. First set brought a surprising amount of breaks for two tall players, but it was Venus who came out on top, winning the first set 6-3. Second set had more stability which was expected between these two players. Barthel was keeping up with Venus, but she got tight at 5-5 and dropped the break. Venus then served the match out after 1 hour and 38 minutes. The American then commented on her opponent suffering from chronic fatigue through 2016:

 “I know what it’s like to be down on your luck, but she knows how to play tennis and she’s experienced,” Williams said.

“We’d played a couple of tough matches before so today I expected to have some competition.”

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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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