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Halle’s Last 8 Club



Roger Federer (zimbio.com)

Winning a Grand Slam tournament title of any sort confers prestige. It places a player in a unique and very special group. It goes without saying that the achievement is career defining.


For those who never realize the ultimate dream, there is another, often overlooked, accomplishment that once it is realized, is cherished. Reaching the quarterfinals at a major provides automatic membership into a very prestigious organization – the Last 8 Club.

Though the Gerry Weber Open is an ATP Tour 500 series tournament and not a Grand Slam, reaching the quarterfinals in Halle, Germany is significant. In the event’s previous twenty-four tournaments, those who have joined the Last 8 Club are most certainly, among the game’s best players.

The members of this year’s Last 8 Club offer a captivating mix of “something old, something new”. Going a descriptive step further, it would be fair to say it is a veteran and youth collage, with a touch of surprise adding to the feature.

Roger Federer, the No. 1 seed, has won Halle eight times and been a finalist on three other occasions. With such an illustrious record, it is not surprising in the least, that he is the Last 8 Club appearance leader for the 2017 members. What is astounding is that he has played the tournament 14 times and has earned a place in the quarters on every occasion. In fact, his worst performances on the lawns at the Gerry Weber Open took place in both 2000 and ’01 when he dropped quarterfinal decisions to Michael Chang of the US and Patrick Rafter of Australia, respectively.

Florian Mayer, the 2016 champion who is unseeded in Halle just a year later, has competed nine times in the event. Impressively, the German’s has reached the quarterfinals six times. Alexander Zverev, the No. 4 seed, lost to Mayer in the all-German title round a year ago, in three sets. He has played Halle twice and achieved the Last 8 Club once previously. Unseeded Richard Gasquet of France has had four Gerry Weber Open adventures. Other than reaching the semifinals in 2010, he has never visited the quarters.

Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, the No. 7 seed, had never before participated in the tournament. Making the quarterfinals in his first go in Halle substantiates his prominence as an ATP performer. Karen Khachanov of Russia, who is another unseeded player, highlighted his first Halle appearance by playing his way into his first quarterfinal.

In 2016, Andrey Rublev of Russia was defeated in the first round. Given a wild card in this year’s edition of Halle, he has justified the “free pass” into the main draw by claiming his inaugural quarterfinal position.

For many, the performance by veteran Robin Haase of the Netherlands defines what makes the Gerry Weber Open a storybook event. His six previous showings were, at best, forgettable. In two of them, he was unable to advance beyond the qualifying. In 2014, he won his only GWO match then, lost in the second round. Now, three years later, Haase has put on a show by reaching the quarterfinals and becoming a Last 8 Club member.

The Last 8 Club is not a group where a membership can be bought. Hard work, skill and practice are the only price of admission.



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Petra Kvitova Edges Ash Barty To Set Sabalenka Clash In Doha

Petra Kvitova reached her second Doha final with a three set victory over Ashleigh Barty



Petra Kvitova (@Dohastadiumplus - Twitter)

Petra Kvitova edged out world number one Ash Barty 6-4 2-6 6-4 to reach the Doha final, where she will face Aryna Sabalenka. 


In one of the most fiercely contested rivalries on the WTA tour right now, Petra Kvitova edged out the world number one in three sets to book her place in Saturday’s final.

Three breaks of serve occurred to start the match as Kvitova managed to gain the early advantage with some big-hitting and tight angles.

Although Barty had her chances to break in the eighth game, the Czech Republican managed to hold on and claim the opening set.

However the world number one struck back in the second set as she raised her level as she caused Kvitova problems with her slices.

Two breaks of serve in the fourth and eight games secured the second set as she levelled the match at one set all.

Both players started the deciding set by cruising to service holds as Barty was looking for a fifth consecutive victory over the world number 11.

After exchanging breaks of serve in the middle of the set, Kvitova took control as she broke the Australian for a fourth time for the match as she gained a 4-3 advantage.

Despite some tremendous pressure from Barty, the Czech Republican held on to seal a 1 hour and 52 minute win to reach her second Doha final.

An inspired performance from Kvitova means she will go for her 28th career title tomorrow when she faces Aryna Sabalenka in tomorrow’s final.

The Belarusian reached the final by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets in the other semi-final. Tomorrow’s final will take place at 6pm local time.

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Ahsleigh Barty overcomes Garbine Muguruza to reach the semifinals in Doha



Ashleigh Barty fought back from losing the second set to beat Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 after 1 hour and 51 minutes at the Qatar Total Open on Centre Court in Doha.


Barty and Muguruza were level at 1-1 in their two previous head-to-head matches, which went to the third set.

Barty received a walkover into the quarter final as Elena Rybakina pulled out injured after reaching two consecutive Premier-level finals in St. Petersburg and Dubai.

Barty broke twice in the second and sixth games and did not face a break point to win the first set 6-1.

Muguruza earned the first break of the second set in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Barty broke straight back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4 to force the second set to the tie-break. Muguruza raced out to a 5-0 lead. Barty came back by winning four of the next five games, but Muguruza clinched the second set on their second set point.

Barty saved a break point in the first game of the third set and opened up a 5-2 lead after a streak of three consecutive breaks. The Australian player came back from 15-40 down in the last game and forced a backhand into the net from Muguruza on return to earn a match point and sealed the win with a break, as Muguruza sent her forehand wide.  Barty sets up a semifinal against Petra Kvitova in a re-match of the Australian Open quarter finals.

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Novak Djokovic reaches the semifinal in Dubai for the ninth time in his career



Novak Djokovic cruised past Karen Khachanov 6-2 6-2 in one hour and six minutes to reach the semifinal at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament for the ninth time in his career.


Djokovic dropped 13 points in eight service game and converted on five of his nine break points. He dropped his serve only once in the first set.

Djokovic held serve with a drop shot winner in the third game and broke serve at love with a forehand return down the line winner in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The 2020 Australian Open champion held his serve with a drop shot winner in the third game and broke serve at love with a return down the line winner.

Djokovic held serve at love with a volley winner to consolidate the break. The Serbian player went up a double break earning his chance to serve for the set, as Khachanov netted a backhand in the sixth game. Khachanov pulled one break back after a forehand error from Djokovic, as the Serb failed to convert a set point in the next game. Djokovic got another break in the eighth game to clinch the opening set 6-2 on his third set point in 32 minutes, as Khachanov hit a backhand into the net.

Khachanov fended off a break point in the second game of the second set before Djokovic earned a break at love in the fourth game with a lob. Djokovic sealed the second set with another break at 5-2.

“I don’t know if I am playing the best tennis of my career. That’s a big statement, but I am feeling and playing well.  I like the conditions, but in windy conditions it’s not easy to serve and find rhythm. I know it wasn’t Karen’s day, but I think I played a very solid match. I am trying to be in the present and execute my game plan”, said Djokovic.

Djokovic set up a semifinal against Gael Monfils, who won the all-French clash against Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-3 after 73 minutes. Monfils broke serve twice in the fifth and ninth games to win the first set 6-3 and went up a 5-1 lead with two breaks. Gasquet pulled back one of the two breaks, as Monfils was serving for the match at 5-1. Monfils served out the win on his first match point.

Monfils is seeking his third title of the year after winning two consecutive tournaments in Montpellier and Rotterdam.

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