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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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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