Lucie Safarova beats Dominika Cibulkova to set up Miami quarter final against Caroline Wozniacki - UBITENNIS
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Lucie Safarova beats Dominika Cibulkova to set up Miami quarter final against Caroline Wozniacki

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Lucie Safarova beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 at the Miami Open WTA Premier Mandatory to secure her spot in the quarter final, where she will face Caroline Wozniacki.

 

Cibulkova led 5-2 in her previous seven head-to-head matches against Safarova. In the first set both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games to draw level to 4-4. Cibulkova held serve putting pressure on Safarova, who served to stay in the first set at 4-5. Safarova held serve at 30 with her fourth ace. Safarova broke serve in the 11th game for 6-5 earning a chance to serve out for the first set. Cibulkova broke back to force the set to the tie-break. Cibulkova got the first mini-break but dropped her serve with a double fault. Safarova got two mini-breaks to earn two set points at 6-4. The Czech player did not convert the first set point, as she made her third double fault but sealed the set on her second opportunity after 54 minutes.

Cibulkova did not convert three break points in the first game of the second set. Safarova went up a set and a break to race out to a 3-0 lead after winning 11 of her next 13 points. She earned a double break to race out a 4-0 lead after a nine-deuce fourth game which featured 22 points. Cibulkova got one break back to trail 1-4 but Safarova closed out on her second match point with a forehand winner after 1 hour and 49 minutes to qualify for her first quarter final of a Premier Mandatory since Madrid 2015. Safarova has scored her first win against a top 10 player since beating Angelique Kerber at the 2015 WTA Finals in Singapore.

“It was a great match and I am really excited to be for the first time here in the quarter final. I knew I had to come out really strong and play fast and not let Dominika play her game. She puts a lot of balls back and she is a very big fighter so I had to be really sharp and strong, which I was. I am really happy it worked out. Winning today means a lot. It feels great to be here again with the best players, being able to beat them means my level is there again”, said Safarova.

Safarova will face Wozniacki, who advanced to the quarter final as Muguruza retired from the match after losing the tie-break of the first set.

Karolina Pliskova beat Barbora Strykova 6-1 6-4 in an all-Czech third round match to reach the quarter final at this tournament for the second time in her career. The two Fed Cup teammates met just twice in their careers. Pliskova won their first head-to-head match in Dubai 2015, while Strykova won their most recent match in Birmingham in 2016.

Pliskova got an early break in the fourth game with a forehand return winner. This year’s Brisbane and Doha champion won 11 straight points and went up a double break in the sixth game with another forehand to race out to a 5-1 lead and served out for the first set to love at 6-1 after 23 minutes. Pliskova dropped just one point in four service games in the opening set, as she made a double fault

The second set started with a trade of breaks. Pliskova saved two game points on Strykova’s serve to break serve in the first game at deuce with a down the line forehand winner. Strykova broke straight back to 30 in the second game as Pliskova made a backhand error. Strykova held serve to take the lead for the first time in the match. Pliskova broke twice in the fifth game to love and again in the seventh game at deuce. As Pliskova was serving for the match at 5-2, Strykova got one break back with a forehand winner. Strykova held serve to love in the ninth game to claw her back into the second set to 4-5. Strykova took a 15-40 lead in the 10th game, as Pliskova was serving for the match. Pliskova saved three break points to close out the final game at deuce on her second opportunity.

Pliskova has reached her fifth quarter final of the season. She has not made it to the quarter final only in one tournament at Dubai where she lost to Kristina Mladenovic one week after her second title of the second in Doha.

Pliskova has clinched her 22nd win to just three losses of the season (she has the best record on the WTA tour this season). The Czech player will face either Mirjana Lucic Baroni or Bethanie Mattek Sands. Lucic Baroni beat Pliskova in three sets in the quarter finals of this year’s Australian Open. Pliskova leads 2-1 against Mattek Sands, altheough they have not clashed since 2014.

“It’s never easy to play against a player I know very well. Everything was fine, going well until 6-1 5-2. I didn’t serve well. I didn’t put any first serves in. She played some good games on her side. I was happy to close it because the end was tricky. She started to slice more. I was a little bit, not really shaking, but the end was a little bit shaky, so I was just happy to get through. Up to that point it was a really high level from my side. I was dictating and she didn’t have much time to play her game, to go to the net and play those slices because I was playing fast from the baseline. Until 6-1 5-2 I am really happy with how I played”, said Pliskova.

Caroline Wozniacki held a one-set lead after winning the first set at the tie-break, when Murguruza was forced to withdraw due to illness. Wozniacki set up a quarter final against Lucie Safarova. The Danish player has won four of her seven head-to-head matches against Safarova, but the Czech player prevailed in their most recent head-to-head match on hard-court in Sydney in 2014.

Muguruza led 3-1 in her head-to-head matches against Wozniacki, but they have not met met since Wimbledon 2015 when Muguruza prevailed 6-4 6-4.

After an early trade of breaks, Wozniacki held serve to love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. In the fourth game Muguruza looked to be cruising to a hold of serve, when she took a 40-0 lead. Wozniacki earned two break points, as Muguruza made two double faults and got the break with a forehand return winner to take a 3-1 with a forehand before holding her serve to 15.

Muguruza bounced back by breaking serve on her fourth break point after a hard-fought 11-minute seventh game.

Muguruza served for the set at 5-4 but Wozniacki broke straight back to draw level to 5-5. Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Muguruza saved a set point, when Wozniacki sent her backhand into the net. Muguruza hit her forehand down the line to force the set to the tie-break. Wozniacki earned the mini-break, as Wozniacki hit her fifth double fault. Wozniacki hit her second ace to race out to a 4-0 lead before earning five set points, as Muguruza made a double fault. Wozniacki closed out on her first set point, as Muguruza made an error. Muguruza called it a day after 75 minutes. This was the third time that Muguruza retired from a match this season.

 

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Last-minute Change Of Plan Key To Petra Kvitova’s Australian Open Surge

The former world No.1 and her mentor believes a decision made earlier this month was a blessing in disguise.

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Petra Kvitova’s winning run at this year’s Australian Open has been aided her the decision to miss one of the lead-up tournaments to the event, according to her coach Jiri Vanek.

 

The two-time Wimbledon champion is through to the quarter-finals in Melbourne after fighting back to defeat Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2, on Sunday. The rollercoaster encounter saw the Czech player drop her serve at the start of the first two sets before she found her footing on the court. Although it was far from perfect performance from Kvitova, who hit a total of 46 unforced errors compared to 33 winners. Furthermore, she was also fragile behind her second serve as she could only win 39% of the points.

“I think from the beginning, there were a lot of nerves out there. I didn’t feel the best. I was just too tight and everything was flying somewhere.” Kvitova reflected during her press conference.
“As the time went on I got used to (the match) and I started to play a little bit better, more free.”
“At the end of the day was about fighting spirit in a way. Even I didn’t play the best, Maria played really great tennis, and it was nice to share court with her.” She added.

Besides taking on Sakkari on the court, Kvitova also had to contend with an animated crowd. The Greek fans were out in full force with numerous cheers and chanting erupting. Although the seventh seed insisted that she was not intimidated by it.

“When I was shaking the hand with the umpire, I told him it was like a soccer match today.” She said.
“It’s nice on one side. On the other side, it’s tennis, and not a Fed Cup (tie).”

Kvitova, who was runner-up to Naomi Osaka in the tournament last year, is through to the quarter-finals in Melbourne for only the fourth time in her career. Prior to Sakkari, she also scored straight sets wins over Paula Badosa, Kateřina Siniaková and Ekaterina Alexandrova earlier in the week.

Assessing Kvitova’s performance so far, coach Vanek believes her recent withdrawal from the Adelaide International was a blessing in disguise.

“This year she has started pretty good the season. In Brisbane she made the semifinal. Lost a close match to Madison (Keys). We decided to take the rest a little bit and prepare her for the Melbourne. So I’m happy for her that it worked pretty well here.” He said.

The next challenge for the Czech comes in the shape of either world No.1 Ash Barty or Alison Riske. Two players she has lost to on a hard court during the 2019 season (Barty three times and Riske once). However, her team insists that she is under no pressure to match her run to the final of the event last year.

“The pressure doesn’t change, I don’t think. But we are not talking about it. She’s taking it just match after match and we just looking who is the other opponent, and that’s it.” Vanek stated.

Kvitova is just one out of four top 10 players left in the women’s draw. She is bidding to become the first Czech player to win the Australian Open since Hana Mandlíková In 1987, who represented the former Czechoslovakia.

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Grand Slam

Karolina Pliskova And Belinda Bencic Join Mass Exodus Of Seeds At Australian Open

The list of upsets in the women’s draw at the Australian Open grew ever longer as Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic lost.

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Karolina Pliskova (@tribundergi on Twitter)

It was all going so well for the seeded players in the Women’s Singles at the 2020 Australian Open. 21 of them made it through to the last 32. And, for the first time since 2007, that contingent included all of the top ten.

 

Then the third round began on day five and all hell broke loose. First, 8th seed Serena Williams lost to Wang Qiang. Then 10th seed Madison Keys was defeated by Maria Sakkari. And, as if that was not already enough for one day, 3rd seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka was knocked out by Coco Gauff.

It is now day six, and 2nd seed Karolina Pliskova and 6th seed Belinda Bencic have joined the list of high-profile casualties in round three due to losses to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anett Kontaveit respectively.

The Czech, 27, competed very strongly with her Russian opponent throughout. She matched her in almost every department, and both sets of the match went to a tie-break.

However, Pavlyuchenkova outgunned Pliskova in both tie-breaks with some impressive ball-striking as she hit a series of winners to earn a 7-6(4) 7-6(3) victory over the 2nd seed.

Bencic has a day to forget

Bencic experienced something of a waking nightmare. She made ten unforced errors and won just ten points as she lost the first set 6-0 to Kontaveit in just 21 minutes.

The second set started in a similar fashion. The Swiss lost the first three games and faced the embarrassing prospect of joining the list of players who have suffered a 6-0 6-0 loss in a Grand Slam if she did not get her act together.

Then Bencic finally won a game to make it 3-1. After that, she competed much better with the Estonian for the remainder of the match. But of course, by then it was much too late. Kontaveit completed a dominant 6-0 6-1 win in 49 minutes.

Donna Vekic was due to meet the Swiss in the fourth round if both players made it that far. Ultimately, neither did, as the Croatian also sustained a surprising loss when she went down 7-5 6-3 to 18-year-old rising star Iga Swiatek.

The defeats of Pliskova and Bencic mean that five of the top ten have now departed from the draw at the last-32 stage. 5th seed Elina Svitolina and 9th seed Kiki Bertens play this evening. Will they survive or will they join the ever-growing list of top players that have suffered unexpected exits?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sofia Kenin sets up clash with Cori Gauff in Melbourne

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Number 14 seed Sofia Kenin battled past China’s Zhang Shuai 7-5 7-6 (9-7) in a late-night hard-fought match to book her spot in the Australian Open fourth round against Cori Gauff.

 

Kenin reached the third round for the first time at this tournament without dropping a set. The US 21-year-old player fought back from a set point down twice in the opening set. She went down a break early in the second set before taking the tie-break.

Zhang went up a 3-0 lead in the opening set and saved five break points in a hard-fought fifth game.  Kenin broke back with two forehands to draw level, as Zhang was serving for the set. The US player completed the come-back by winning five consecutive games from 2-5 down to win the opening set 7-5.

Both players traded breaks twice in the second set en route to the tie-break. Kenin earned a mini-break on the ninth point before winning the tie-break on the third match point to set up a fourth round match against Cori Gauff, who beat defending champion Naomi Osaka.

“It’s late, but I am happy to have gone through and I am really excited. I was just fighting. There were a lot of close shots, so I needed to step up my game and I am so proud of myself. I was not aware that I was playing Gauff. She is playing really well. She had a great 2019 season. I am going to enjoy the moment right now”, said Kenin.

 

 

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