Johanna Konta Defeats Angelique Kerber In Eastbourne To Earn First Win Over A World Number One - UBITENNIS
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Johanna Konta Defeats Angelique Kerber In Eastbourne To Earn First Win Over A World Number One

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Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta secured her first win over a world number one in her career after she defeated Angelique Kerber in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 despite suffering a heavy fall in the closing stages of the match at the Aegon International in Eastbourne.

The Brit reached the semifinals in her home town tournament for the second year in a row and dominated the majority of the match against the German top seed. The fifth seed broke serve three times in the opening set and recovered from a break down in the second to close in on victory.

With Kerber serving to stay in it down 5-4 she had already saved two match points before Konta hit the deck during a rally on the third match point. The British number one hit the court with real force and banged her head in the process as she burst into floods of tears. Thankfully after a nearly 10 minute timeout she was able to calm herself down and with the support of the crowd continue the match. The Brit needed to play just two more points to close out victory in dramatic fashion.

Konta had also come through earlier on in the day on Centre Court against the French Open champion and 10th seed here Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 in a two hours and 18 minutes battle. The Brit came back from a break down in the first set to steal it, but her opponent grew in confidence as the match wore on and looked very good as she wrapped up the second. It was the home hope who made the better start in the decider, going up a break to lead 2-1, but the 20-year-old hit back. Playing in her first tournament since her triumph at Roland Garros, Ostapenko won three games in a row including two breaks of serve to take a 4-2 lead. Fifth seed Konta was not finished yet. Last year’s semifinalist bounced back to win four games in a row, sealing victory on her third match point after staving off two break back points from the dogged and determined Latvian who played her part in an excellent contest.

By contrast, the Brit’s quarterfinal opponent Kerber only needed one hour to see off the qualifier Lara Arruabarrena of Spain 6-2, 6-1 and had plenty of time to rest up for her second match of the day. Despite the physical fitness advantage with less court time and a 2-0 head to head winning record, the world number one was no match for Konta on Thursday evening.

The Brit got off to a perfect start, winning the coin toss and choosing to receive, the fifth seed immediately brought up two break points. Kerber saved the first with a backhand winner before Konta spurned two further chances with backhands into the net. A superb backhand cross court return winner set up a fourth opportunity and this time the British number one capitalised after her opponent netted a forehand.

The world number one was struggling to settle into the match as a 30-0 lead on serve evaporated leaving her facing another break point. The fifth seed missed an aggressive second serve return long to give the German a lifeline early on in this set, but Kerber squandered a chance to hold and netted a tentative forehand to hand a double break to the Brit.

Kerber had a couple of break point chances to get involved in this quarterfinal match, but Konta resisted, saving one with a fearless backhand strike and another with an ace. The fifth seed also had the chance to extend her lead, but the world number one was not to be denied her first game of the match, forcing her opponent to net her forehand to move just one break of serve behind.

A backhand cross court winner from Konta brought up yet another chance to break the German’s serve, but the Brit narrowly missed a cross court forehand attempted winner wide before Kerber held to narrow the gap to just one game.

After a series of service holds Konta landed a crucial strike in the ninth game. With Kerber serving to stay in the set the Brit struck two returns of serve which the top seed could not get back into court before a fifth double fault gave the fifth seed two set points. A forehand error wide from the German was enough to hand it to the British number one 6-3.

Having made 90% of her first serves in in the opening set, a lack of them in the opening game of the second proved to be Konta’s undoing. Kerber began to soft ball the Brit’s forehand and it broke down as a wild error from Brit as she attempted to generate her own pace handed the top seed an immediate break of serve.

That disappointment did not affect the Brit for long as she ripped another backhand return of serve cross court winner to bring up break back point. Konta ensured that she broke the world number one for a fourth time in the match with a well read volley into the open court following an aggressive forehand from the German.

The breaks did not stop there as a couple of unforced errors left Konta dropping serve once again to fall behind in the second set. Kerber hung on to her advantage for a short while but the fifth seed found her way back into the set and moved in front in the scoreline for the first time at 4-3.

Konta looked to strike at the perfect time in the 10th game with the world number one serving to stay in the match. The Brit failed to convert on her first two match points and suffered a nasty fall while in the rally on the third. After a lengthy delay as the trainer assessed her for suspected and concussion and an ankle injury, Konta returned to the court and looked rather unaffected by the on court drama once she had calmed herself down. The world number seven got straight back down to business and ripped a backhand cross court winner to move to a fourth match point. A forehand error into the net from the German secured a straight sets victory for Konta.

Up next for the Brit, Karolina Pliskova after she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-4. It will be a repeat of last year’s semifinal here which the Czech won in three sets.

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Emma Raducanu Among Trio of Grand Slam Winners Handed Miami Open Wild Cards

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has avoided the possibility of having to go through qualifying at the Miami Open after being awarded a wild card for the event on Thursday. 

The 2021 US Open champion is among four players to have received passes into the main draw of the prestigious event, which is classed as a WTA 1000 for the women and as a Masters 1000 for the men. It will be the third straight year that Raducanu has played in Miami but she is yet to win a match there. In 2022 she lost her opening match to Katerina Siniakova before getting beaten by Bianca Andreescu 12 months later. 

Raducanu has won two out of five Tour-level matches played so far this year. Recently her agent, Max Eisenbud, hit back at those who have criticised the tennis star’s results since winning the US Open. Raducanu also missed a chunk of last season due to injury after undergoing wrist and ankle surgery. 

“The girl did everything backward. She skipped every step. She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn’t even know where the player lounge was, she didn’t know where the practice courts were,” Eisenbud told the Served With Andy Roddick podcast.
“I don’t think just being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious.”

Other players to have received wild cards into Miami include Venus Williams, who is a three-time champion at the event but hasn’t won the title since 2001. The 43-year-old hasn’t played on the Tour since August and is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400. 

Carolina Wozniacki completes the line-up of former Grand Slam winners being given wild cards. The Dane was a Miami finalist back in 2017 and has made 12 appearances at the tournament. Earlier this week, she suffered a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, loss to Anna Blinkova in the first round of the San Diego Open. 

As for the men’s tournament, the only confirmed wild card recipient is Kei Nishikori who will be making his first competitive start since July 2023. Recently the injury-stricken Japanese player added Thomas Johansson to his team. 

The Miami Open will get underway on March 17th.

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