Mirjana Lucic-Baroni stuns Karolina Pliskova for Australian Open semi-final place - UBITENNIS
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Mirjana Lucic-Baroni stuns Karolina Pliskova for Australian Open semi-final place

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Lucic-Baroni last reached a grand slam semi-final in 1999, when she lost to Steffi Graf at Wimbledon (Zimbio.com)

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni continued her stunning tournament, matching her career best run at a grand slam tournament by reaching the finals by defeating fifth seed Karolina Pliskova 64 36 64. The Croatian returned from a medical timeout to win twelve of the final thirteen points to reach her first grand slam semi-final since Wimbledon in 1999.

 

Lucic Baroni barely played between 2004 and 2008 after suffering personal problems that affected her life and career.

Lucic-Baroni had beaten Agnieszka Radwanska in the early rounds but few would have backed her to defeat the in-form Pliskova, who has made giant strides in the last twelve months.

Pliskova survived an early deuce scare on serve at love-one before racing into a three-one lead. She would win just one of the next eight games though, as Lucic-Baroni rolled back the years to take control of the opening set.

Lucic-Baroni set up three set points at four-five when she started the game with two magnificent backhand winners, both angled cross-court drives that passed Pliskova. The rattled fifth seed then missed with her own backhand to bring up love-forty. Lucic-Baroni missed long on her first shot, but then Pliskova followed suit to hand the Croatian a stunning set lead

The Croatian was dominant on serve through most of the set, winning more than three-quarters of points behind her first serve, and exactly half of her second serve points.

Lucic-Baroni held again to start the second, before a forehand cross-court, and a wide backhand cross-court winner brought up two immediate break points. Unlike the first set, Pliskova was unable to fend off the early pressure, meekly firing long with a forehand to hand the veteran Croatian the early second set break.

The thirty-four year-old perhaps understandably got tight, missing with three balls into the net in the next game and Pliskova immediately returned to serve. Before she could attempt to level on the second set scoreboard though, Pliskova received a three-minute timeout to treat blisters that had developed on Pliskova’s right foot.

Pliskova eventually held after a deuce game, and then broke when a vicious barrage of ground strokes saw the Croatian break down on the backhand side. The fifth seed then hit a rich vein of form, breaking twice to end the set six-three.

Four breaks of serve in the first six games of the deciding set saw the momentum swing one way and then the other. It was again Pliskova who hit top form at a crucial time, recovering from one-three to lead four-three on serve.

Lucic-Baroni was the next to call for a medical timeout, leaving court for assessment and then treatment. She returned to play a superb service game to stop Pliskova’s momentum, holding serve in just one minute and one second.

The injury break really seemed to help, with a superb start to her next return game also, two deep returns getting her to love-thirty. Two unforced errors from Pliskova then ensured Lucic-Baroni would serve for a place in the semi-finals, having won eight straight points since returning from the injury timeout.

Lucic-Baroni – ” I can’t believe this, this is crazy, I can’t believe I am in semi-finals again, I feel a little bit in shock right now. I could never dream about being here again (breaks down in tears) I know this means a lot to every player to reach the semi-finals but I will never ever forget this, just to think that I was this strong and that it was worth fighting for. It was impossible to serve from that side, the glasses do nothing but I just felt extreme calm and I just went after my shots. It’s really tough, I’m going to do my best to recover.

Regardless of the result that she earns in the semi-finals or further, the story of Lucic-Baroni at the 2017 Australian Open is surely the story to be remembered from the women’s draw.

Lucic-Baroni’s story hasn’t finished yet at this tournament, with the next chapter featuring her in a semi-final against Serena Williams or Johanna Konta.

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Simona Halep Beats Erractic Anisimova To Reach Wimbledon Semis

The former world No.1 dropped six games against her opponent who produced a series of costly errors.

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Simona Halep has stormed into the last four at Wimbledon after producing a comprehensive win over Amanda Anisimova. 

 

The 2019 champion survived a last-minute resurgence from her rival to prevail 6-2, 6-4, over the American on the Center court. Halep was able to dictate the play throughout with the use of her aggressive shot-making in a match that resembled their meeting in Bad Homburg just two weeks ago. It is the first time she has reached the last four of a major since the 2020 Australian Open.

It’s great to be back in the semi-finals. I am very emotional right now because it means a lot,” said Halep. 
“I played a tough opponent today who could crush the ball in the end and I didn’t know what to do. I just believe in myself. I believed until the end that I could win.”

The 16th seed hit fewer winners than her rival (11-13) but the most telling factor was the unforced error count. Halep’s tally of six was more than four times less than that of Anisimova (28).

Out of the active players on the WTA Tour, Halep is only the third to reach a fifth Wimbledon quarter-final after both of the Williams sisters. Taking on Anisimova, the Romanian got off to a blistering start by breaking just three games into their clash. Producing some powerful ball-striking Halep forced her rival to commit back-to-back forehand errors which granted her the early break. Two games later the lead was extended further after yet more Anisimova errors moved the former champion to 4-1. She took the opener after exactly 30 minutes of play with the help of a serve down the line Anisimova returned.

It was a case of deja vu in the second set with Halep’s game simply overwhelming her error-stricken opponent who looked growingly lost on the court. Anisimova continuously looked towards her entourage out of frustration. It eventually all got too much for the world No.25 who began to cry during a changeover after going down 1-4 once again. 

Halep’s only struggle in the match occurred when she was tasked with serving it out. With Anisimova hitting more freely and with nothing to lose, suddenly she was the aggressor and retrieved one of the breaks to gradually close her deficit to 4-5.  Prompting a big cheer from the crowd. 

After going through a period where 13 out of 16 points played went to her opponent, Halep eventually held her nerve to clinch victory. 

“I am definitely playing my best tennis (since winning the 2019 Wimbledon title),” she said.
“Last year I struggled a lot and now I am just trying to build my confidence back. My tennis here and all I need to do now is to start to believe in myself.”

Halep is yet to drop a set at Wimbledon after five matches played. 

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 

 

The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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