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

Joshua Coase

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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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Who were the best players never to win a Grand Slam title ?

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The ESPN.com website made a survey with top tennis experts to come up with a list of the best players, who were never able to win a Grand Slam title.

 

The list of candidates to join this list are Dominic Thiem (two time Roland Garros champion and 2019 Australian Open runner-up), Milos Raonic (Wimbledon finalist in 2016), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2008 Australian Open finalist) and Kei Nishikori (2014 US Open finalist).

The popular ESPN.com sports website restricts the survey to players, who have already retired from tennis.

The eight contenders are ranked alphabetically.

Guillermo Coria reached a career-high of world number 3. At Grand Slam level the Argentinian player reached the French Open final, two US Open quarter finals and won titles in Hamburg and Monte-Carlo. He was nicknamed the “Wizard” (the Magician) of red dirt.

“He was called the “King of Clay before Rafa. He was lightning fast, and he is still considered one of the best returners ever”, said tennis ESPN analyst Sam Gore.

Coria lost to Gaston Gaudio in the final of the 2004 French Open. The Argentine player served for the match twice and did not convert on two match points. He had a 31-match winning streak on clay between 2003 and 2004 and reached six of the eightclay-court Masters Series finals.

Nikolay Davydenko reached four Grand Slam semifinals (two each at the French and the US Opens and won three Masters series titles (Paris Bercy 2006, Miami 2008 and Shanghai 209) and the ATP Finals in London 2009. The Ukrainian player beat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro at the 2009 ATP Finals in London to win the biggest title of his career. He was one of the most consistent players on the Tour and played 99 matches on the ATP Tour in 2006 and reached the quarter finals or better at 8 of 12 Grand Slam tournaments starting with the 2005 Australian Open. He lost to Roger Federer four times in a row in one quarter final and in three semifinals at Grand Slam tournaments.

David Ferrer reached the French Open final 2013 finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal and quarter finals or better 17 times. He is the second best Spanish player with 27 titles behind his friend Rafael Nadal, who beat David 26 times in their 32 head-to-head matches.

“Ferrer gets it for his longevity and maximization of potential. Nobody in our body has squeezed their sponge like David, at least not for a very long time”, said Todd Matin, Chef Executive Officer of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Todd Martin reached two Grand Slam finals (Australian Open in 1994 and the US Open in 1999) and four other semifinals. At the 1999 US Open Martin produced a come-back win against Greg Rusedski in the fourth round after midnight en route to reaching the final.

In the 1996 Wimbledon semifinals Martin let slip a 5-1 lead slip away against Malivai Washington, who won the decisive fifth set 10-8. Washington then lost to Richard Kraijcek in the final.

Miroslav Mecir reached two Grand Slam finals at the 1986 US Open and at the 1989 Australian Open and the semifinals at the French Open, Wimbledon and at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. Mecir beat Wilander in the 1988 Wimbledon quarter finals. This was the only Grand Slam defeat for Wilander that year. Mecir was nicknamed the Big Cat.

“He was a great mover, especially for a man of his size. He could play on every surface”, said Mecir.

Argentina’s David Nalbandian reached the Wimbledon final in 2002 in just his second year on the ATP Tour and four other Grand Slam semifinals. He won the 2005 ATP Finals title with a win over Roger Federer after 8-6 in the fifth set.

“He had wonderful technique off both sides, a massive talent who had great feel, an excellent serve, and knew when to use the drop-shot”, said Tennis Commentator Annabel Croft.

Marcelo Rios reached the 1998 Australian Open final and three more Grand Slam quarter finals. He won the 1998 Grand Slam Cup. The Chilean player was the only world number 1 player, who never won a Grand Slam title and the first South American player to reach the world number 1 spot.

“Rios is the most talented player that I have seen first hand who did no twin a major. I watched him make so many players uncomfortable. He did it without playing outside himself or his abilities”, said Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone.  

Robin Soderling reached the final at Roland Garros in 2009 and 2010 and won the 2010 Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy. He was the first player to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros ending the Spaniard’s 31-match French Open winning streak. The Swedish player was forced to retire from professional tennis at the age of 31 after contracting a bout of mononucleosis. Soderling won titles on every surface but grass.

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Organisers still hope to stage Rome Masters next September

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The organisers of the Internazionali d’Italia still hope to stage their tournament later this year. They sent an email to ticket holders saying they are hopeful of holding their tournament next September. This is a good sign that shows their willingness to continue their tradition after a difficult year for Italy, one of the worst hit countries by the global coronavirus pandemic.

 

“Dear friends, as you may have already read in the media, in the middle of June ATP and WTA, the two associations that manage the world tennis calendar, should communicate when and with which program the International circuit of 2020 will restart. The hypotesis at the moment is that the Internazionali BNL d’Italia can take place in September, but we must wait for the ceratinty, linked to the extraordinary situation of the Coronavirus. We therefore hope to be able to give you more information on the tournament and on the use of the tickets purchased by you as soon as possible. We hope like you to be able to return to play, to participate and to cheer for our favourite players”.

Rafael Nadal won nine editions of the Rome Masters in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2018 and 2019. Last year the Spanish legend beat Novak Djokovic 6-0 4-6 6-1. The King of Clay beat Novak Djokovic in three finals in 2009, 2012 and 2019 and Roger Federer in 2006 and 2013. Djovovic won four titles in the Italian city in 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2015. Alexander Zverev won the first Masters 1000 title of his career beating Djokovic.

On the women’s side Karolina Pliskova won the Premier 5 tournament beating Joanna Konta. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova were the most successuful players in the last decade. Williams won three titles in the Italian capital in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Sharapova triumphed in 2011, 2012 and 2015. Elina Svitolina beat Simona Halep in two consecutive finals in 2017 and 2018.

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Fabio Fognini celebrates his 33nd birthday

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Fabio Fognini celebrates his 33rd birthday today at home with his wife Flavia Pennetta (US Open champion in 2015) and his two children Federico and Farah.

 

The second best Italian player talked with Italian tennis journalist Federica Cocchi in an interview to Sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport about his family life during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In this difficult period I am enjoying my life at home with my children. I was not used to staying for a long time at home. Farah was born on 23 December. I see her grow. I spend a lot of time with Federico. We are playing golf and watching Tom and Jerry on television. I am the first to fall asleep”, said Fognini.

 Fognini talked to Novak Djokovic in a Live Instagram chat. Novak celebrated his 33rd birthday two days before Fognini.

“He was born 48 hours before me. We had a good chat together. We have known each other since we were 14 years old. We were kids. I already knew that he would become a great player. He had a strong character. I think that he has more chances to win bid tournaments than Federer and Nadal, but Federer is the most beautiful player to watch”.

He spent the lockdown period in his native town Arma di Taggia where he started training again.

Fognini won nine ATP titles (eight on clay and one on hard court) and clinched his first Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo last year.

“I miss tournaments. I train one or two hours a day. It’s very difficult to remained focused without goals. We thought we would have been unvincible, but we are nothing when we face Nature”, said Fognini.

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