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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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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