Legendary Venus Williams Edges Out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova To Reach 21st Grand Slam Semifinal - UBITENNIS
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Legendary Venus Williams Edges Out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova To Reach 21st Grand Slam Semifinal

13th seed and 7 time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams reached her 21st semifinal after 6-4 7-6(3) battle with 24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Jakub Bobro

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With this win, Venus confirmed that she is a competitor for the title, and not just a player that got lucky with the draw. Of course, facing two qualifiers (Barthel and Voegele), Kateryna Kozlova, and Ying-Ying Duan (None of them in Top 90) in her first four rounds definitely didn’t hurt, and it is a much easier draw than what Pavlyuchenkova had to go through. It was a pretty easy early draw for the Russian, facing her compatriots Evgeniya Rodina and Natalia Vikhlyantseva, and beating them in straight sets. However than things got rough for Pavlyuchenkova as she had to face Elina Svitolina in a really good form, but after a two and a half hour battle, Pavlyuchenkova emerged as a winner. She then went on to upset 8th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in what could almost be called a routine fashion, 6-3 6-3. The scoreline doesn’t lie and the match was incredibly close and could have gone either way, experience in this type of matches really helped Venus gain the edge on “Pavs”.

 

First set brought a total of five breaks, three for Venus, two for Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian was pretty much expected to be broken a lot, since her serve isn’t much of a weapon and her 1st serve percentage was down to 42% in the opening set. The fact that she managed to keep it close was really a testament to Pavlyuchenkova’s returning, and she managed to win 57% of returns after 1st serve, but surprisingly only 29% after 2nd. Venus was still consistent on serve and return, and managed to win 54% of both. The biggest difference was that Williams kept her winner to unforced error ratio on the good side, while Pavlyuchenkova had only 5 winners to 11 unforced errors. Experience is what really helped Venus to get this first set. First she broke back to 4-4, then got to 5-4 with an easy service game, thus putting the pressure on Pavlyuchenkova who didn’t handle it well and was easily broken again. Venus Williams won the first set 6-4.

Second set mostly operated with swings of form from both players. Venus started the set off with a routine service game, but immediately the next game would become one of the most key of the match. It lasted almost ten minutes with Pavlyuchenkova being the winner, denying Venus three break points to take a lead and run away with the match. The Russian used the momentum, and broke in the next game. It was Venus’ turn after the changeover, she broke back to 2-2 and went to 3-2. They kept this pattern going until 4-4, from when they all held until the second set tiebreak. Williams was still showing dominance coming into the tiebreak, not losing a point on her last two service games. Pavlyuchenkova took a 3-1 lead, giving spectators a hope of a third set, but Venus Williams won 6 points in a row and won the second set tiebreak 7-3.

Since it was a straight set win, Venus is coming into the semifinals. This match turned this statistic from a testament to Venus’ cake draw to a really impressive feat. Americans now have the assurance of a finalist at the Australian Open, as Venus Williams will play the incredible unseeded Coco Vandeweghe in the semifinals. If Serena Williams will also win her quarterfinals, this will be the first time that 3 Americans made the Australian Open semifinals since 2001. That was 16 years ago, but Venus Williams is now again one of the players, making a huge statement about her career.

“It’s wonderful to start the year out with this appearance,” said Williams, who hadn’t reached the semifinals here since 2003, the year she lost the final to her sister, Serena. “I want to go further. I’m not happy just with this. But I’m so happy to be in the position to like go further.”

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Svetlana Kuznetsova Wins First Title Since Return From Surgery In Washington

The two-time grand slam champion has returned back to the winners circle following her six-month absence due to injury.

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Former world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova saved four match points to defeat Donna Vekic 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, in the final of the Citi Open in Washington.

 

Kuznetsova, 33, fought back against the aggressive play of her opponent. Saving seven out of the 10 break points she faced in the match. Eventually, it was the experience of the Russian that guided her to the finish line as she hit 34 winners to 36 unforced errors to win her first title on the tour since the 2016 Moscow Open.

“It was a difficult week,” Kuznetsova reflected afterwards. “Tennis is always mental, if you lose or if you win, you always gotta stay focused.”

With both players contesting their first final of the season, it was Vekic who battled through what was a roller-coaster and tense opening set. At first, the seventh seed appeared on course to clinch the opener with ease after breaking Kuznetsova in the fourth game as she raced out to a 4-1 lead. Only to be pegged by the 2014 champion. Serving for the set at 5-3, a forehand error rewarded Kuznetsova the chance to break back. Prior to the following point, the Russian complained about the movement of the crowd just as Vekic was about to serve. Then the Croat hit a double fault with the two players exchanging words at the changeover.

Despite feeling hard done by, Vekic soon restored order in the match. As Kuznetsova served for a chance to level 5-5, she pounced one again as the former world No.2 faltered. Recovering from a 15-40 deficit to seal the opening set with the help of a Kuznetsova double fault on set point.

Vekic continued to fight with the help of her of some rapid shock-making. Fending off a break point to nudge ahead 4-3 in the second set. Although Kuznetsova refused to go away. Saving two match points, it was in the tiebreaker where the Russian managed to turn her fortunes around. Vekic missed out on another two chances to win the match, allowing Kuznetsova to nudge ahead 8-7. She was then able to force proceedings into a decider after a Vekic forehand slammed into the net.

Kuznetsova’s resilience eventually wore her opponent down, who was close to tears after the match. Vekic admitted afterwards that she was dealing with leg pain and took a medical time out just before the start of the final set.

A double break in Kuznetsova’s favor in the decider guided her to a 5-0 lead. Enough of a cushion to enable her to close out the match after two-and-a-half hours of play to win her second Washington title.

“I know I’ve been a little bit lucky today,” she said.
“There’s something going on with Washington. I never lose here. I played two times and I won both.”

The victory comes after what has been a testing first half of the year for Kuznetsova. Left wrist surgery forced her to miss six months of the tour. Meaning that she didn’t start the 2018 season until March. Prior to the Citi Open, she had only won four matches in 10 tournaments played. Making her latest triumph even more special.

“Those times I had after the surgery, I had difficulties everywhere — personal, working different things. I switched coaches. I had lots of issues,” Kuznetsova explained. “But still, I rise again, and it’s really good for me.”

As a result of her latest win, Kuznetsova has risen 41 places in 87th in the world. Meanwhile, Vekic has jumped seven places to 37th.

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Davis Cup Reforms Face Late Opposition As Vote Looms

The proposed Davis Cup reforms have received strong criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe ahead of this month’s vote.

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David Haggerty (zimbio.com)

The upcoming Davis Cup reform vote has received some strong opposition and criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe. 

 

The vote is set to take place on the 16th of August, where federations will vote to change the 118 year old format to a one week season finale at the end of the year. The proposed move by Kosmos, has received fierce criticism and will need a two-thirds majority in order for it to be approved.

However with the vote just two weeks away Tennis Australia has been among the federations to oppose these reforms and have pushed this even further as they have wrote a letter expressing their discontent at the idea. The letter has been signed by the likes of John Newcombe, current Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.

The letter raises the following concerns, “We have written and spoken to the ITF President for several months now requesting clarity on the proposal from Kosmos, but this has not been forthcoming,” explained the letter, which is even signed by former ITF president Brian Tobin.

“Very large numbers are being referenced, but there is not enough detail to give us confidence this proposal will genuinely deliver enough additional value to players and the nations to offset the loss of home and away camaraderie and all the local marketing, facility investment and player development benefit that comes with those ties. In the absence of such important information, we have no choice other than to vote against the proposed amendments.”

However Tennis Australia isn’t the only federation to be against this move as Tennis Europe, who represent more than 50 member nations have also expressed their concern at the idea, “I am particularly concerned that there is hardly any information received from the ITF regarding bank guarantees for the proposed US$120 million per year which would be the $3 billion deal over 25 years, according to the original proposal,” President Vladimir Dimitriev explained in a separate letter.

“I have not yet seen a final and feasible explanation on how the business model or the governance structure will be either.”

The ITF do have the backing of Germany and France ahead of the move though with the AGM meeting set to take place in Orlando, Florida between the 13th and 16th of August.

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Serena Williams Withdraws From Montreal Due To Personal Reasons

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week due to personal reasons.

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Serena Williams (zimbio.com)

Former world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week as she deals with some personal issues. 

 

The American suffered the worst defeat of her career last week when she lost 6-1 6-0 to Johanna Konta in San Jose. The 23 grand slam champion clearly wasn’t at her best and it now turns out that she had personal problems to deal with as this is the reason for her withdrawal in Montreal next week.

The recent Wimbledon finalist also felt that she could not play Montreal and Cincinnati in back to back weeks as she continues her comeback from pregnancy. The tournament director, Eugene Lapierre, admits that he is disappointed but still recognises the high quality field that is left, “Of course, we are disappointed that Serena will not be joining us, Fans were very much looking forward to seeing her in action,” explained Eugene.

“But beyond the disappointment, the tournament, as a whole, remains a high-level competition. The entire Top 10 is here, along with 22 of the Top 25. There are exciting matches in store from the outset.”

The American was set to play in Canada for the first time since 2015 before withdrawing today. The 23 time grand slam champion has played five events since returning from pregnancy and the results have been mixed as you can see below:

Indian Wells – Third Round

Miami – First Round

Roland Garros – Fourth Round

Wimbledon – Final

San Jose – First Round

Tatjana Maria will now replace Serena Williams in the main draw and the German faces Alize Cornet in the first round.

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