Heather Watson Stuns Pavlyuchenkova And Strycova To Reach Eastbourne Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Heather Watson Stuns Pavlyuchenkova And Strycova To Reach Eastbourne Semifinals

Joshua Coase

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Heather Watson defeated two players ranked over 100 places higher than her in the WTA world rankings in one day, finishing with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 win over Barbora Strycova to reach the semifinals at the Aegon International in Eastbourne.

 

The British number three came through a topsy turvy quarterfinal match in two hours, recovering from a break down in the final set to see off Strycova to become the second Brit to reach the last four.

World number 23 Strycova led their head to head 3-1 and won their last meeting, which came on the grass in Birmingham last year 7-5, 6-4, but it was to be Watson’s day here by the seaside in Eastbourne.

Watson booked her place in the last eight after securing another highly credible victory over a seeded opponent. 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was her latest victim, with the British number three winning 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 24 minutes out on Court 4. Her quarterfinal opponent, also unseeded at the Aegon International, Strycova, defeated lucky loser Lauren Davis 7-5, 6-2 to set up this early evening clash on Court 1.

The British number three got off to a fast start and was supported by a packed out crowd. Watson secured a break of serve in the fourth game of the match with an excellent backhand winner down the line and swiftly established a 4-1 lead, with the Brit dictating the early exchanges.

The Czech struggled to make an impact in the match or make her opponent feel uncomfortable out on court in any way as Watson struck a cross court forehand winner to set up break point. The Brit duly took the opportunity with another effective short cross court forehand and secured a double break. Watson had no trouble closing it out, holding to love to secure the first set in emphatic style to close in on a semifinal place.

The opening game of the second set was a tussle and the longest of the match so far. Strycova staved off two break points but then squandered two chances to hold of her own. Watson had another chance to secure a break and make it six games in a row, but the Czech clung on and held serve to try and curb the Brit’s momentum.

Having saved those break points, the world number 23 grew in confidence and broke Watson in the next game, swiftly establishing a 3-0 lead to leave the Brit contemplating those missed opportunities in the first game of this set.

The match completely turned around and became The complete opposite of the first, with Strycova racing into a 5-1 lead. The Czech brought up two set points but Watson remained focussed, saving both to keep her hopes of a straight sets win alive. A forehand down the line winner brought up break point but a netted volley let the chance slip by. After a slight blip the world number 23 regrouped to make for a remarkable turnaround as she took the second set 6-1.

Watson’s hopes of a second semifinal on home soil of the year and a first on the WTA Tour faded fast as Strycova broke the Brit once again in the third game of the final set. The Czech held on to lead to close in on victory up 4-2.

It was at that moment when the Brit bounced back and got the crowd renegagaed. Watson claimed four games in a row, closing with a forehand cross court passing shot winner to continue her best run at a WTA Tour level tournament this year.

Watson will face Caroline Wozniacki in the first semifinal of the day on Friday after the Dane recovered from a set and a double break down to see off second seed Simona Halep 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 in another terrific battle.

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic win their fourth ATP Masters 1000 doubles title

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Defending champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic battled past John Isner and Diego Schwartzman 6-2 6-7 (6-7) 12-10 to claim their fourth ATP Masters 1000 doubles title together at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Mektic and Pavic broke twice to win a one-sided opening set 6-2. Both teams went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break of the second set. The Croatians earned a championship point at 6-5 in the tie-break, but Schwartzman hit a pair of forehand winners to force a Match Tie-Break. 

Both teams did not convert match points before Mektic and Pavic won the final two points to seal the Match Tie-Break 11-9. 

Isner became the first player to reach three Masters 1000 doubles finals with three different players in the same year. The US player won two consecutive Sunshine Double trophies in Indian Wells with Jack Sock and the Miami Open with Hubert Hurkacz.  Mektic and Pavic won nine ATP Tour titles last year and finished the 2021 season as the world number 1 team in the ATP Doubles Rannking. They had not won a title so far in 2022 before the Rome tournament, but they showed their form this week, as they dropped just one set during the tournament. The Croatian Doubles team beat Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in the semifinal on Saturday.

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Announces Pregnancy

Tennis’ power couple are set to become parents later this year.

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Former world No.3 Elina Svitoliva has announced that she is expecting a baby girl in October on social media.

 

The 27-year-old made the announcement on Sunday morning with a picture of her and her husband, French tennis star Gael Monfils. Known by some as the sports ‘power couple,’ the two tied the knot last July in Geneva ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games after first going public about their relationship in 2019. They even have their own Instagram account called ‘g.e.m.s. life’ which has more than 139,000 followers.

“With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October,” the couple wrote on Twitter.

Svitolina hadn’t played on the Tour since losing to Heather Watson at the Miami Open in March after deciding to take time away from the sport due to events happening in her home country. Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine earlier this year which has claimed thousands of lives. Svitolina is one of the sport’s most outspoken players regarding the conflict. She has previously spoken out against the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes from Wimbledon by arguing that they should be allowed to participate if they condemn the actions of their home countries.

We don’t want them banned completely,” Svitolina told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.”

Prior to announcing her pregnancy, Svitolina has achieved a win-loss record of 5-8 on the Tour this season with her best runs being to the third round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals of a WTA event in Monterrey.

During her career, the Ukrainian has won 16 WTA titles and reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams during 2019.

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