Coco Vandeweghe reached the semi-finals of a grand slam tournament for the first time, as she knocked out seventh seed and defending Roland Garros champion. Garbine Muruguza in straight sets, 64, 60.
The twenty-five year old American came into this match with her previous best results at a grand slam her run to the US Open quarter-finals in 2015, when she lost to Maria Sharapova in three sets. She is also a former Junior US Open champion, having won that title in 2008.
Vandeweghe is ranked at no.35 coming into this week, but signalled that she is fine form by defeating fifteenth seed Roberta Vinci in straight sets in the third round.
Muruguza also suggested some fine form, reaching the quarter-finals without dropping a set. There had been questions over her fitness rather than form pre-tournament, as she retired at the Brisbane International against Alize Cornet despite wins in the same event over Sam Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
To say that Vandeweghe’s win was as a result of a Muguruza injury though, would be a disservice to the American.
The American played a brave first set that saw both women higher in the winners column than the unforced errors column. As such, it required shot-making skills of the highest order to break down the hard-working Muruguza. Despite the closeness of the winners/unforced errors numbers, it was Vandeweghe who was constantly pressing, creating nine break points in the first set, taking only one. One was all that was required though, as Muguruza could only earn one of her own, with Vandeweghe, whose serve is considered one of the strongest on tour, saving the single break point that the Spaniard created.
Instead of tightening in the second set with something to defend against a favoured opponent, the American instead improved, openly hitting a number of winners, and when she was not hitting winners, she was getting the return so deep that Muguruza, well known for excellent defence, just had no answer. Vandeweghe was hitting winners from both wings, but the forehand in particular was proving particularly dominant.
The win is even more of a surprise because Muguruza was so clearly in form, often so far in this tournament there have been indicators in shock results where the favoured player has shown signs of not being at their best beforehand. There was no indication of this from Muguruza, which makes the result all the more surprising.
The win sets up a a meeting for Vandweghe with Venus Williams, in an all American clash. The result ensures that those hoping for an all Williams final can still live in hope, as both sisters remain alive in the draw.
Vandweghe – “I really wasn’t feeling all that great out there, I was really feeling kinda nervous, but yeah i just tried to play my best and play within my self. She finally cracked and the second set was like a freight train, no way to stop it! Well you know I had a conversation and I said I wouldn’t break any rackets in the tournaments and I broke that rule in the second round! It was really quite frustrating to have so many break points, I was really second-guessing on second serve. Last and first time I ever faced Venus was on clay so it will be a very different match. Its really a honour to face Venus. I told her about one time when we were on the same team the first time I tried to get an autograph I couldn’t get one!”
Victoria Azarenka Survives Three-Set Battle With Pegula In Berlin
Azarenka is one of two seeded players left in the draw along with Belinda Bencic.
Victoria Azarenka is into the semifinals of the Bett1 Open after outlasting America’s Jessica Pegula 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
The two-time Australian Open champion won 70% of her first service points and broke Pegula six times en route to the victory. It is only the second time Azarenka has reached the last four of a WTA tournament this season after the Doha Open back in March. This week she is bidding to reach her first Tour final on the grass since 2010 and win her first title on the surface at the age of 31.
“I’m really happy that I made it out, I played really well at the beginning of the match,” said Azarenka. “In the second set she played some good shots and I felt like I slowed down but I was glad I was able to turn it around”.
The number seven seed got off to a great start earning three chances to break in the opening game of the match and getting the early break. At 4-2 she earned the double break when the American produced a poor service game and double faulted on breakpoint. Enabling Azarenka to take the opener in just 26 minutes.
The beginning of the second set was identical to the first with the world No.16 earning three more breakpoints and breaking to take an early lead. However, Pegula fought back to earn three chances to break but Azarenka saved all three and held serve. The set stayed on serve until 4-3 when the American had another chance to break. This time a poor service game from the Belorussian gave up the break of serve.
At 6-5 with Azarenka serving to stay in the middle set Pegula found herself at set point and clinched the set after the world number 16 hit another unforced error.
Into the decider and again just like the first two sets it was the 31 year old who broke in the opening service game of the set but the world number 26 responded by breaking right back the very next game and the next two games followed suit with two breaks of serve.
At 3-3 the Azarenka had three more breakpoints and got the break once again but this time the break was enough for her to serve out the match. After the match Azarenka spoke about losing the momentum in the second set and how she was able to get it back and push through.
” I paid too much attention on the things that I didn’t take opportunities and matches on grass can go fast with one or two breaks and it’s more difficult and hopefully I can stop putting myself into too much trouble”. She said.
Azarenka will next face Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova who stunned Madison Keys in three sets – 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.
Elsewhere, Alize Cornet also continued her amazing run by beating the number six seed Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, and Belinda Bencic booked her spot in the final four beating another Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.
Alize Cornet stuns Bianca Andreescu in Berlin
Andreescu was playing in the main draw of a WTA grass-court tournament for only the second time in her career after Wimbledon 2017.
Alize Cornet’s run at the Bett1 Open in Berlin continues as she managed to upset Bianca Andreescu 7-6(2), 7-5 in two hours and six minutes on Steffi Graff Stadion.
“At the beginning of the match I was feeling very good,” said Cornet. “I played some of my best tennis at the start of the match and I think I felt more comfortable than in the first round. The first match helped get me more comfortable on the surface but it was a huge battle playing a match that lasted over two hours and I am really happy that I got through”.
It was the number three seed who got off to a fast start being the more aggressive player earning two chances to break in the opening service game of the match but failed to convert. The very next game it was Cornet with three chances to take the lead and she did just that and it stayed on serve until 4-2 until Andreescu had a chance to break to go back on serve and she would get the break back.
At 5-4 the world number 63 reached set point but Andreescu managed to save it with one of her big serves and held serve before going back on the offensive. Earning another breakpoint but again couldn’t finish and the set would be decided by a tiebreaker.
Cornet ran away with the breaker jumping out to a 4-1 lead and would win it 7-2 to take the first set 7-6.
She carried the momentum into the second frame and in the first game she set up two breakpoints with a stunning forehand winner and broke to take a 1-0 lead. At 3-1 the world number 63 had a chance to go up a double break and she did just that breaking again to get a 4-1 lead but the Canadian responded right away by breaking right back the very next game.
At 4-3 the Toronto native had a break chance to go back on serve which she converted on to level the set at 4-4 and it stayed on serve for two more games until it Cornet managed to get the crucial break to take a 6-5 lead and serve out the match.
” She’s a really talented player, she plays amazing and she is dangerous on every surface but I think today my experience on grass helped me”. Cornet commented on her opponent.
She will now face either Garbine Muguruza or Elena Rybakina in the quarter-finals.
There were three other second round matches being played on Steffi Graff Stadium. The day started with another upset as Ekaterina Alexandrova beat the number two seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 in only an hour and 30 minutes.
Belinda Bencic, the number five seed, had no issue dispatching the Croat Petra Martic 6-3, 6-4. In the final match of the day, a third upset occurred when Madison Keys beat the top seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets 6-4, 1-6, 5-7.
The action continues on Thursday with four more second round matches featuring the local favourite Angelique Kerber taking on Victoria Azarenka.
Berlin Round-up: Garbine Muguruza Cruises Past Cirstea In Berlin
The number six seed only needed 80 minutes to advance past her Romanian opponent.
Garbine Muguruza started her grass court season on the right foot beating Sorana Cirstea in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 20 minutes on Steffi Graff Stadium.
She will next face Elena Rybakina who was pushed to three sets by the American Shelby Rodgers 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted one hour and 43 minutes.
Angelique Kerber only needed one hour to dispatch the Japanese player Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-1 and after the match she gave her thoughts on what seemed like a comfortable first win on grass for the local favourite.
“It was a really solid match and it’s never easy to play a first match on a grass court, especially against a lefty as well, so I’m really happy about my performance and how I started the grass court season,” She said.
Kerber will now face the daunting task of playing the Belorussian Victoria Azarenka who beat another German Andrea Petkovic in a tough straight sets victory (6-4, 7-6).
In the other results of the day the Croat Petra Martic needed three sets to beat the American qualifier Asia Muhammad 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 to set up a second round match with Belinda Bencic.
In an all American battle Jessica Pegula only played 12 games against Hailey Baptiste who was forced to retire due to injury, Pegula will next face Karolina Pliskova in the next round.
The young Russian Veronika Kudermetova needed three sets to beat the Czech Karolina Muchova in a match that went two hours and 28 minutes 7-6, 5-7, 6-2. She will now face Liudmilla Samsonova who pulled off the only upset of the day by beating Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (6).
Round two begins on Wednesday with four second round matches and will feature Elina Svitolina taking on Ekaterina Alexandrova, as well as Bianca Andreescu facing Alize Cornet.
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