Donna Vekic Bounces Back To Win The Aegon Open With Victory Over Johanna Konta - UBITENNIS
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Donna Vekic Bounces Back To Win The Aegon Open With Victory Over Johanna Konta

Joshua Coase

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Donna Vekic

Donna Vekic celebrated winning her first WTA grass court title and the second of her career overall after she came back from a set down to stun top seed and British hope Johanna Konta 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-5 at the Aegon Open in Nottingham.

 

The 20-year-old was closer to the Brit than the scoreline suggests in the first set and managed to turn game points into conversions in the second which helped her get over the disappointment of missing out on three set points during the set to take it on a tiebreak. Vekic broke immediately in the final set but the world number eight came back midway through to make it anybody’s title to win at five games all. It was at that point which the Croat raised her level to new heights which Konta was unable to reach and as a result she sealed victory and lifted the Elena Baltacha Trophy for the first time.

It was Konta who was victorious in the only previous meeting between the two players on the hard courts in Cincinnati last year, with the Brit winning comfortably 6-2, 6-3. Heading into the final Konta was yet to drop a set and came through against Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 7-5 in her semifinal. Vekic came through in far tougher circumstances in a two hours and 48 minutes battle with fifth seed Lucie Safarova 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(4), which stood her in good stead in the latter stages of the final on Sunday.

Konta looked as though she meant business from the start and made a real statement as she broke Vekic to love in the opening game of the match. The Brit’s run was halted slightly when under pressure at 30-30 in the next game but she came through unscathed to make the perfect start.

The top seed had the chance to extend her lead in the fifth game with two break opportunities, but it was the 20-year-old who came through the long tough battle to keep her first set hopes alive. That hold looked to be crucial as Vekic set herself up for two break back points but she missed the first with a wide forehand before Konta hit an ace before holding to stay in front.

The world number eight regained her form that she had shown at the start of the match to break her opponent once again and played an emasculate service game to close it out. The Brit hit an ace and three unreturned serves to hold to love and seal the first set 6-2 after 37 minutes.

Konta had a couple of opportunities to take full control of the final with break points in the third game but was unable to capitalise and it proved costly. Vekic began to outhit the Brit when she was able to return her serve into play and that allowed her to break the top seed for the first time in the match to take a 3-1 lead.

The world number eight had the opportunity to break back immediately following a double fault from the Croat, which was saved, but another double fault from the 20-year-old gifted her opponent a way back into the set.

Play continued to go with serve, but the top seed came under pressure down set point in the 10th game. Konta was able to save it and survive by saving another two in the 12th game following unforced errors from Vekic to force a tiebreak.

There was nothing to split the two in the breaker at 3-3, but it was the 20-year-old who broke away with some excellent serving under the circumstances to take control and win the tiebreak by seven points to three. That was the first set which top seed had lost in the entire tournament.

With the momentum behind her Vekic continued to play aggressively and really take Konta’s time away. The world number 70 crushed three forehand winners in a row to break the Brit in the opening game of the final set to take the lead in the final for the first time.

Vekic maintained her advantage up until the sixth game when the Brit forced the Croat into making errors to bring up two break back points. The top seed only need the one chance and proceeded to hold to love to move 4-3 in front.

Aside from the blip in the sixth game Vekic was most impressive on serve, continuing to hold comfortably to pile the pressure back on the top seed. The 20-year-old held to love in the 10th game and earned two break points on the Konta serve. The world number eight saved the first but could not prevent her opponent from taking the second as she closed in on victory.

When serving for the title Vekic watched her lead move from 30-0 to 30-30, but the 20-year-old held her nerve to win her first WTA title in three years in two hours and 29 minutes.

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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz becomes the youngest ever champion at ATP Tour level since Kei Nishikori in 2008

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Carlos Alcaraz beat Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2 in the final of the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag becoming the youngest ever champion at ATP Tour level since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach in 2008 and the youngest Spanish ATP Tour champion since RafaelNadal in Sopot 2004. 

 

Alcaraz earned his first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead with an inside-in forehand winner and he never looked back by holding his next service games. The Spanish teenager broke serve in the third game as Gasquet made a double fault. Alcaraz converted his third break point in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Gasquet earned three break points but he was not able to convert them. 

“I had a lot of good moments in this tournament. I beat five great tennis players. I think that I grew up a lot in this tournament and  I keep a lot of experience from this tournament. It’s going to be useful for the future”, said Alcaraz. 

Gasquet was aiming to win his first ATP Tour title since s’Hertogenbosch in 2018. 

“It was tough for me to play with his full intensity. I had a tough match yesterday. It was tough, and especially with a guy like Carlos, who is playing really fast with a lot of energy and spin. He is playing unbeievable. He is only 18 and of course he had a great future and Ijust could not play at his level and his intensity”, said Gasquet. 

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