Angelique Kerber Survives Madrid Thriller As Pliskova Falls - UBITENNIS
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Angelique Kerber Survives Madrid Thriller As Pliskova Falls

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Angelique Kerber (zimbio.com)

MADRID: World No.2 Angelique Kerber has avoided a shock exit at the Madrid Open by overcoming underdog Katerina Sinikova 6-2, 1-6, 7-5, in the second round of the Madrid Open.

 

Gracing her presence on the Manolo Santana stadium in the unforgiving Spanish heat, it appeared as if Kerber would experience a one-sided triumph. Clinching the opening set after 27 minutes of play, the top seed then had a golden chance to break at the start of the second set. Failing to secure the breakthrough, Sinikova responded with some heavy-hitting of her own to silence Kerber’s camp and level at a set apiece.

Facing the verge of another shock loss, Kerber’s missed opportunities seemed destined to haunt her. Failing to convert a trio of break points, Kerber got broke in the following game to trail 5-3 in the decider. With alarm bells ringing in her camp, fears of another disappointing loss increased. Still, it was Kerber’s experience that prevailed as she clinched four consecutive games, to book a potential third round showdown against Maria Sharapova.

” I think it was from my side a really up-and-down match. I played really good in the first set, then in the second set the first few games at the beginning of the second set, it was really close.” Reflected Kerber.
“Then she (Sinikova) started playing better. I mean, she started to moving good, bring a lot of balls back. I did, yeah, too many mistakes in the second set. In the third set, I was just trying to finding my game back.”

Coming through the three-set epic, Kerber remains quietly positive about her progression on the clay. Last year she suffered three consecutive losses in outdoor tournaments on the clay.

“I think this clay season, this year is a little bit different. I played just one match in Stuttgart. I had more time to get ready on the clay court season outdoors.” She said.
“Maybe this year the clay court season will be a little bit different than last year, but it can be just better.”

Following her win in Madrid, Kerber has returned to the top of the WTA rankings and will become the official world No.1 next Monday.

Pliskova to lower expectations

Karolina Pliskova has been left re-evaluating her clay-court campaign after crashing out 6-3, 6-3, to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova. The world No.3 failed to capitalize on six break-point chances throughout the match, paving way for Sevastova to grab only her second win over a top-10 player.

“Every loss is frustrating. But I just have to move forward. I don’t think was that bad for the score. One break in each set. So it could have been different.” The bitterly disappointed Czech said following her loss.

Monday’s shock exit continues Pliskova’s troublesome start to the clay swing of the tour. After three tournaments played on the surface, she has only managed to win one match. It is a sharp contrast to her run on hard courts, which has already seen her lift titles in Brisbane and Doha this season.

“I think right now finally I can change my expectations. I had them quite high. Right now I think I’m not going to expect anything more on clay.” Said Pliskova.
“I still have two tournaments. I’m just going to see how it goes there, try to prepare obviously for Paris.”
“Well, I still believe I have a chance. Somehow I have to find my shape.”

Sevastova will play either 15th seed Barbora Strycova or Lucie Safarova in the next round.

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. 

 

The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012. 

“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw. 
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”

Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week. 

“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.

There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open. 

Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20. 

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Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook. 

 

The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury. 

Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open. 

“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.

“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”

Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them. 

“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”

This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16. 

“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.

Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients. 

“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.

This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open. 

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Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion

Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.

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Simona Halep (@NewsCentralTV - Twitter)

Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.

However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.

Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.

This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.

https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep/status/1570370209504198656

Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.

Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:

Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion

Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet

Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko

Qatar: R1 l. Garcia

Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek

Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur

Rome: R2 l. Collins

Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng

Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia

Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu

Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina

Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya

Toronto: Champion

Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew

US Open: R1 l. Snigur

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