Donna Vekic Defeats Lucie Safarova In Marathon Match To Reach Aegon Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Donna Vekic Defeats Lucie Safarova In Marathon Match To Reach Aegon Open Final

Joshua Coase



Donna Vekic

Donna Vekic reached her first WTA final of the season and her second on grass in her career after she came through a long match against fifth seed Lucie Safarova 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(4) in two hours and 48 minutes at the Aegon Open in Nottingham.


The 20-year-old recovered from a break down in the first set and prevented her opponent from serving it out to pinch it on a tiebreak before the Czech responded to force a deciding set. Both players had their chances to break, particularly Vekic, but the Croat had to wait until the nail biting final set tiebreak to secure victory in her toughest match of the season so far.

This was the players first meeting and both had gone through differing routes to reach this stage. Fifth seed Safarova had to come through three matches which went the distance, first over Grace Min, then she saved two match points to defeat Hsieh Su-Wei in a final set tiebreak before seeing off Tsvetana Pironkova in a terrific quarterfinal 6-3, 0-6, 6-4. Vekic cruised through to her first WTA Tour semifinal of the year without dropping a set, defeating sixth seed Shelby Rogers in the first round before comfortably dismissing Julia Boserup and Maria Sakkari.

20-year-old Vekic had the first break point opportunities with three chances, but the Czech, who had dealt with a lot of adversity in matches so far this week, stayed tough and held to stay with her opponent. Safarova only needed the one chance to take advantage after a double fault in the seventh game from Vekic left her break point down. A fiercely struck return of serve from the fifth seed was enough to move ahead in the set.

A double fault threatened to stop Safarova’s momentum as she fell break point down, but an ace down the tee snuffed out the chance, much to Vekic’s frustration. When serving for the set a double fault from Safarova left her facing two break points and despite saving the first the Croat was not to be denied at the second time of asking as she levelled at five games all.

Vekic had a set point in the twelfth game but went long with her return of serve before the fifth seed forced a tiebreak. Safarova gained an immediate mini break but the Croat won both of the next two points against the serve before firing down two aces to take a commanding 4-1 lead. The Czech hit back to level the score only for the 20-year-old to break away once more, finishing with an unreturned serve on her second set point to seal the breaker by seven points to five.

Safarova has been used to going to three sets in Nottingham this week and would have to do the same again if she wanted to make the final. She began her journey back into the match by breaking Vekic in the fourth game, closing with a forehand cross court winner before holding to love to swiftly establish a 4-1 lead.

The following game saw Vekic recover from 0-40 down to hold to keep her second set hopes alive but the Czech made sure the match went the distance with a comfortable hold to love at 5-3 with an ace to finish to seal the set.

In the deciding set the 20-year-old faced further pressure but managed to halt her opponent’s momentum by saving a break point. It was then Safarova’s turn to face a break point in the fourth game but she was also up to the task, firing down a big serve which went unreturned.

The pressure on serve continued for the Czech in her next service game where she had to face yet more break points. The fifth seed saved the first with backhand winner but was rather fortunate to save the second after her ball, which appeared to go long was originally called out, but then corrected by the umpire. Vekic was distraught with the decision but with no hawk-eye there was nothing that she could do as Safarova held to level at three games all.

Both players continued to play a high standard of tennis in very warm conditions at the Nottingham Tennis Centre and with nothing to separate them they found themselves in a final set tiebreak. Vekic secured the early mini break at 2-1 but squandered it immediately. At 4-4 the 20-year-old stepped up her game and raised her level to breakaway after a backhand went wide from Safarova to give her opponent two match points. Vekic only needed the one chance and sealed the best win of her season to set up a clash with Britain’s Johanna Konta in Sunday’s final.

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Alexander Zverev reaches the fourth round at Roland Garros for the fifth consecutive year




Alexander Zverev edged past Brandon Nakashima 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought match on Court Suzanne Lenglen to reach the fourth round for the fifth consecutive year at Roland Garros. 


Zverev had reached the quarter finals in 2018 and 2019 and the semifinals in 2021. 

Zverev had saved a match point and came back from two sets down to beat Sebastian Baez in the second round. 

The match between Zverev and Nakashima featured just three breaks of serve, including a trade of breaks in the third set. Zverev fended off two break points in each of the first two sets. 

Zverev broke in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead with a backhand winner and held serve to take a two-set lead. Zverev earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Nakashima broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Seven of the 12 points went against serve in the tie-break. Zverev came back from 2-4 down in the tie-break and closed out the tie-break 7-5 with a backhand winner after 2 hours and 48 minutes.

“I think I raised my level today. I prefer this compared to the second round thriller. This is much better for me. I don’t lose too much hair. I can still grow old”, said Zverev. 

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Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.




Francisco Cabral - Image via

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation. 


Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune. 

However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing. 

“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”

Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face. 

“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said. 

25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match. 

Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th. 

Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków. 

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Seven Top 10 Seeds Fail To Reach Third Round Of Women’s Draw In French Open First

The series of high-profile exits has set a new milestone but for the wrong reasons.




Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

The first five days of this year’s French Open have been tough going for some of the world’s best players on the women’s Tour.


A series of shock early losses has opened up parts of the women’s draw with 14 out of the last 32 players remaining in the tournament being unseeded. Former champions Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova fell in the first round, as well as fellow top 10 seeds Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit. Then in the second round Maria Sakkari (No.4), Karolina Pliskova (No.8) and Danielle Collins (No.9) all crashed out.

Heading into the third round seven top 10 seeds have already been knocked out of the French Open which is a new record for Roland Garros. The tournament has featured draws including 10 or more seeds since 1978.

“I knew that I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets over all these years,” Sakkari said following her exit.
“At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament.”

Jabeur was tipped by some as a serious contender for the title this year before losing her opening match to an inspired Magda Linette. Prior to the tournament, she boasted a 17-3 record on the clay this year, winning the Madrid Open title and reaching the final of two other events (Charleston and Rome).

“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it’s difficult to take that one in,” she said. ”But that’s what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court.’
“Maybe it was a good thing to lose. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”

In recent years the French Open women’s tournament has been full of unpredictability. The past three editions being won by players who didn’t hold a major title of any sort (in singles) coming into the draw.

One player who has managed to buckle the trend of inconsistency is world No.1 Iga Swiatek who has won 30 matches in a row. The fourth longest streak on the WTA Tour since 2000 after both of the Williams sisters and Justine Henin. Swiatek is also the first player to win 13 or more matches in a row whilst at the top of the rankings since Serena Williams back in 2015.

“I was saying from the beginning that for sure I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to lose a match, and it’s pretty normal,” Swiatek said following her 6-0, 6-2, triumph over Alison Riske.
“I have been losing matches in tennis for a long time. For sure the things we (my team) are doing right now are pretty extraordinary but I know in tennis that only one person wins in the end.’
“I will be okay with that. For sure it’s not fun to lose, but I think it wouldn’t be different than any other loss that I had, you know, in my career.”

Other top 10 seeds remaining in this year’s draw are Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, in the men’s draw all top 12 seeds have reached the third round for the first time since 2009.

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