British Women's Charge At The US Open Falters As Konta And Watson Fall At The First Hurdle - UBITENNIS
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British Women’s Charge At The US Open Falters As Konta And Watson Fall At The First Hurdle

Joshua Coase

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Johanna Konta

British number one Johanna Konta became the heaviest casualty on day one at the US Open as she was outclassed by Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic.

 

The world number 78 recovered from two breaks down in the opening set to give world number seven Konta a scare before the Brit managed to edge over the line in set number one. The level of tennis which the Serb had produced in flashes midway through the first set resurfaced in the final three games of the second and through much of the decider as one break in each set was enough to get Krunic over the line.

This win marks just the second top 10 win of her career and afterwards the Serb was delighted with the level of tennis she had produced. She said: “I feel amazing obviously. I’m happy with the way I played and with the way I fought. She’s an awesome player so I had to be at my best from the first point.”

Meanwhile, Heather Watson also left Flushing Meadows much earlier than she would have liked after losing in the first round at the US Open for the seventh year in a row. The British number two succumbed to world number 46 Alize Cornet this time around in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.

Konta’s collapse paves the way for Krunic’s headline making win

Konta asserted her dominance early on in the contest, breaking her opponent in the third game with a backhand return of serve winner up the line following a double fault and forehand unforced error from her Serbian opponent.

The British number one was seemingly cruising towards taking the opening set after securing a double break to take a 4-1 lead, but Krunic began to raise her level. The Serb secured one of the breaks back with some brave hitting, taking on a backhand down the line to leave Konta flat footed as it clipped the top of the tape on its way to being a winner. With Konta’s lead now reduced to just one game nerves got the better of the Brit as a couple of double faults and rushed points left the Brit facing two more break points. The recent Wimbledon semi-finalist saved the first with a trademark backhand down the line winner, but that weapon let her down on the following point as the Serb levelled the score at four games all.

With momentum on her side it came as a big surprise that Krunic’s level suddenly dropped dramatically, with a double fault and poor unforced errors leaving her 0-40 down. Konta took full advantage and broke her opponent to love before closing out the set in a far more comfortable service game than her two prior ones to take the first set 6-4.

Konta had opportunities to stamp her authority on the match early in the second set but was unable to capitalise on two break point chances in Krunic’s opening service game, or another chance in the third game. Those missed opportunities came back to bite the Brit and helped the Serb grow in confidence with her game.

The seventh seed came through a marathon game on serve to level up at 3-3 but only won one point thereafter as Krunic took complete control. Konta’s groundstrokes became erratic and she failed to make returns of serve back onto court as two holds to love helped the Serb take the set 6-3 to force a decider out on Grandstand.

Having played one of her worst sets of tennis in her year to date Konta struggled to regroup early in the final set as a double fault left her down a break at 2-1. With the prospect of securing the biggest win in her career since defeating then world number four Petra Kvitova in New York in 2014, the moment looked to get a bit too much for the Serb. Krunic was brave and did well to stave off three break points, but her opponent was not to be denied at the fourth time of asking as the seventh seed ripped a cross court backhand winner to get back on even terms.

The Serb did not fade away despite losing her advantage and broke once more to pile the pressure on Konta, who had reached the fourth round here the past two years. There was to be no comeback from the world number seven this time around as Krunic wrapped up victory in two hours and 16 minutes 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Watson’s woes in New York continue

Watson was always going to be facing a stern test against an opponent ranked 28 places above her in the WTA World Rankings and could not have got off to worse start, dropping serve in the opening game of the match.

The Brit had half a chance to break back in the sixth game up 0-30 and at deuce on her opponent’s serve, but Cornet, once ranked as high as 11 in the world, dug deep and kept Watson frustrated as she clung on to her break advantage.

Serving to stay in the match, Watson saved three set points in the ninth game with a couple of unreturned serves and a backhand down the line winner. The Brit then had half a chance to break back at 15-30, but the Frenchwoman hung tough as she had done throughout the match so far to seal the set 6-4.

There was to be no Big Apple dreaming for the Brit as Watson found no great joy in the second set either. Despite hanging in with her opponent up to four games all, the Brit’s game collapsed at a crucial time. The British number two squandered several game points, hitting a double fault to let one slip by before a few errors resulted in her serve being broken leaving Cornet to serve for the match.

The Frenchwoman looked solid from the baseline throughout the match and used that to full advantage, closing out the set and the match to complete a 6-4, 6-4 victory after one hour and 36 minutes of match play out on Court 4.

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Seven Top 10 Seeds Fail To Reach Third Round Of Women’s Draw In French Open First

The series of high-profile exits has set a new milestone but for the wrong reasons.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

The first five days of this year’s French Open have been tough going for some of the world’s best players on the women’s Tour.

 

A series of shock early losses has opened up parts of the women’s draw with 14 out of the last 32 players remaining in the tournament being unseeded. Former champions Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova fell in the first round, as well as fellow top 10 seeds Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit. Then in the second round Maria Sakkari (No.4), Karolina Pliskova (No.8) and Danielle Collins (No.9) all crashed out.

Heading into the third round seven top 10 seeds have already been knocked out of the French Open which is a new record for Roland Garros. The tournament has featured draws including 10 or more seeds since 1978.

“I knew that I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets over all these years,” Sakkari said following her exit.
“At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament.”

Jabeur was tipped by some as a serious contender for the title this year before losing her opening match to an inspired Magda Linette. Prior to the tournament, she boasted a 17-3 record on the clay this year, winning the Madrid Open title and reaching the final of two other events (Charleston and Rome).

“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it’s difficult to take that one in,” she said. ”But that’s what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court.’
“Maybe it was a good thing to lose. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”

In recent years the French Open women’s tournament has been full of unpredictability. The past three editions being won by players who didn’t hold a major title of any sort (in singles) coming into the draw.

One player who has managed to buckle the trend of inconsistency is world No.1 Iga Swiatek who has won 30 matches in a row. The fourth longest streak on the WTA Tour since 2000 after both of the Williams sisters and Justine Henin. Swiatek is also the first player to win 13 or more matches in a row whilst at the top of the rankings since Serena Williams back in 2015.

“I was saying from the beginning that for sure I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to lose a match, and it’s pretty normal,” Swiatek said following her 6-0, 6-2, triumph over Alison Riske.
“I have been losing matches in tennis for a long time. For sure the things we (my team) are doing right now are pretty extraordinary but I know in tennis that only one person wins in the end.’
“I will be okay with that. For sure it’s not fun to lose, but I think it wouldn’t be different than any other loss that I had, you know, in my career.”

Other top 10 seeds remaining in this year’s draw are Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, in the men’s draw all top 12 seeds have reached the third round for the first time since 2009.

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Simona Halep Suffers Rare Panic Attack During French Open Loss

The ex-world No.1 has vowed to ‘learn from this episode’ after crashing out of the tournament.

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PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO - SIMONA HALEP OF ROMANIA

Former champion Simona Halep says she ‘lost it’ during her shock second round exit from the French Open on Wednesday.

 

The 19th seed was a set and a break up against Chinese world No.74 Qinwen Zheng before losing 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. In total Halep hit a costly 29 unforced errors against only nine winners and was broken five times overall.

“It was a difficult one. I was playing well at the start. I had a break in the second set, but then something happened. I just lost it.” Halep said during her press conference.
“But she’s (Zheng) playing well and she played a good match in the end.”

During the match Halep sought medical attention and appeared to be far from her best form. In the decider her blood pressure and pulse was checked by a doctor. She later revealed that the source of her issue was a rare panic attack which she says hadn’t really happened to her during any Tour match until now. The Romanian has been playing in the main draw of major events for 12 years.

“I didn’t expect it because it was just a panic attack,” she said.
I didn’t know how to handle it because I don’t have it often. I don’t really know why it happened because I was leading the match. I was playing well.’
“I couldn’t focus. After the match it was pretty tough. But now I’m good. I’ve recovered and I will learn from this episode.”

The 30-year-old concedes her panic attack might have been triggered by her desire to do well at the French Open where she won the title in 2018 and reached the final on two other occasions. Heading into this year’s draw she only played two clay events, reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid and then the second round in Rome.

“I didn’t feel better during the match. If I would have felt better, I would have started to play a little bit better,” she states.
“I couldn’t manage it and I don’t have many words about it. I just have to accept it and take it.’
“It’s part of the process, and I’m already looking forward to being better in that case if it’s going to happen, but I hope not.”

This year is Halep’s earliest exit from the French Open since 2013 when she lost in the first round.

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‘Great Things Are Going To Happen’ – Maria Sakkari Finds Silver Lining In Shock French Open Loss

The world No.3 insists that she is ‘feeling good’ after being knocked out of the Grand Slam.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Maria Sakkari says she is confident she is heading in the right direction despite suffering her earliest loss at the French Open since 2019.

 

The fourth seed, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros 12 months ago, was ousted 7-6(5), 7-6(4), by Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova. A former top 20 player who reached the last four of the Australian Open in 2021 before suffering from injury issues. Sakkari produced a costly 37 unforced errors which cancelled out the 31 winners she produced during the second round encounter.

She played an amazing match. She always plays extremely well in Grand Slams and today she was the better player, so I have to give it to her,” Sakkari of Muchova said during her press conference.
It’s disappointing for sure because it (the French Open) is still my favourite tournament and I’m sad.” She added.

Sakkari’s defeat concludes what has been a roller-coaster clay court swing for the Greek. In Stuttgart she was forced to retire during her opening match due to a gastroenteral illness. At the Madrid Open she crashed out in the second round to Daria Kasatkina before losing in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open to Ons Jabeur.

However, the 26-year-old believes there are positives which can be drawn from her latest match in the French capital.

“I found myself again in the court. I’m feeling good. I’m fighting. I’m enjoying my time on the court so I think that great things are going to happen soon,” she states.

Historically Sakkari has enjoyed mixed fortunes when it comes to playing in major tournaments. Last year at the Grand Slams she made two semi-final appearances, as well as losing in the second round at Wimbledon and the first round of the Australian Open.

“I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets, and so many upsets all these years. At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament,” she reflected.
“It’s very disappointing because I really wanted to do well again but I’m sure that I have a few more years left in my career.”

As for Muchova she is through to the last 32 in Paris for the second year in a row. Awaiting her next will be 27th seed Amanda Anisimova who defeated Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1, in her second round match.

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