Elina Svitolina fends off Caroline Wozniacki for fifth title of 2017 at Rogers Cup in Toronto - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina fends off Caroline Wozniacki for fifth title of 2017 at Rogers Cup in Toronto

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Fifth seed Elina Svitolina has continued her career-best 2017 season, claiming her fifth title at the Rogers Cup in Toronto with a 6-4, 6-0 win over former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

 

The remarkable year of Elina Svitolina continued to roll on, as the world number five claimed a tour-best fifth title of 2017 at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. It was a match of polar opposite story lines for Svitolina and Wozniacki, as the Ukrainian moved to 5-0 in finals in 2017 with her 6-4, 6-0 victory over sixth-seed Wozniacki, while the Dane’s nightmare performances in championship matches continued as she fell to a horrendous 0-6 record in title matches in 2017.

Besides the prestigious WTA Premier 5 title on the line in Canada, both players are still in the running to become world number one following next week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, but with Svitolina’s third Premier 5 of 2017, she moves ahead of Wozniacki in that battle for the top spot.

“I need some time still to really realize, because I had so many matches for the last two days and it’s been really, really tough physically,” said Svitolina. “Today was very hot, so I’ve been really struggling. I’m just very happy that it’s finished – and with a title, it’s even more special.”

“It’s amazing that I achieved this, but I try to take one tournament at a time, to not think so much about all the past titles,” said a jubilant world number five. “Of course it brings me confidence, I have the experience from those finals, but I try to take it as a new challenge and always look forward to it.” 

Elina Svitolina hits a forehand at the Rogers Cup in Toronto/Zimbio/Vaughn Ridley

In the opening set, it was a narrow battle between both, as the opening four games were split. with Svitolina and Wozniacki holding to begin the match before exchanging breaks of serve for 2-all. After the pair both held for 3-all, it was the fifth seed who began to take the driver’s seat as she broke Wozniacki for 4-3. Despite being broken back with a poor service game, the Ukrainian played a pitch-perfect return game the following time, as she broke the former world number one at love to go up 5-4. Looking to serve out the opening set, it was Svitolina who held her nerve, taking the first set 6-4 on her second time of asking.

The second set was another example of a polar opposite on display in Toronto, as Svitolina went on a run, white-washing Wozniacki in the second. The Ukrainian fifth seed set the tone early on in the second set, breaking the former world number one on her first time of asking, a seemingly deflating game for the Dane. Svitolina, having already won this season in Dubai and Rome, kept up her relentless play, consolidating the break only to secure another to go up 3-0 and a double break. The 22-year-old Ukrainian saved the only break point she faced the entire second set before seemingly putting the final nail in Wozniacki’s coffin to go up 5-0 and give herself the chance to serve for the title in Toronto. Svitolina closed out the title in impressive fashion, claiming the title on her second time of asking and wrapping up a strong performance 6-4, 6-0 to take her fifth title of 2017.

Following the match in her post-match press conference, Svitolina said, “I was very, very tired after the first game of first set, and I knew that I need to give everything because Caroline doesn’t miss much. You have to work really hard to get unforced error from her,” said the Ukrainian. “I just decided I’m going to just play every ball and just leave everything on court.” 

“That’s why, emotionally I was relieved when I won the first set, and then was playing better and better in the second. I really couldn’t believe that it all finished and I’m holding the trophy,” commented Svitolina.

“Today, I was going to into the match and I was thinking, ‘Okay, this is not the final.’ Just try to think that this is a quarterfinal, because we could play with Caroline [in a] quarterfinal, semifinal,” said the fifth seed. “The one we played in Dubai I was under big pressure. It was the first time that I was entering top 10. That win was just amazing…but I got the experience from that match because she’s very tough player.”

“You need to have a clear mind and clear plan what you do on court, so I learned little bit more from that match and it really definitely helped me today to manage my nerves and be calm on the important moments,” concluded Svitolina.

Elina Svitolina kisses the Rogers Cup trophy in Toronto/Zimbio/Vaughn Ridley

As for Caroline Wozniacki, the former world number one was visibly disappointed to have lost her sixth final in 2017, but still trying to take the positives out of the successful week in Toronto.

“It was a tough day. She played well. She mixed up the pace and made it uncomfortable for me out there,” said Wozniacki. “Today, probably I could have used some more pace, but she played really smart today and used my pace to her advantage.”

“I wasn’t really expecting much out of myself when I came into the tournament. Obviously, I haven’t won a match [in Toronto] before, but it was a good week and I beat some great players, and I can really take a lot with me and be proud of that,”  concluded the Danish world number six.

Svitolina and Wozniacki will next move on to the hardcourts of Cincinnati at the Western & Southern Open, where both will have a shot at the number one ranking following a second straight WTA Premier 5 event.

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Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans

The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.

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World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.

 

The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.

Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”

It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.

“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.

Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.

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Simona Halep to face Polona Hercog in the first round in Prague

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Simona Halep will make her come-back to the court next week at the Prague Open. The Prague Open will feature six top 30 players. 

 

Halep will play her first match in six months. It will be her first appearance at the International-level tournament. The 2019 Wimbledon champion claimed her 20th career title in Dubai last February. The Romanian player saved a match point against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the second round and came back from a set down in her win over Elena Rybakina in the final. 

The Main Draw of the Prague Open was released on Saturday. Halep will start her Prague campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog. In the second round the winner of the match between Halep and Hercog will meet either Patricia Maria Tig or Barbora Krejicikova. The other top seeds are Petra Martic, Elise Mertens, Dayana Yastremska and Ekaterina Alexandrova. 

Halep has announced that she will not travel to New York for the US Open. 

“I don’t know yeti f I will go to America. In the current situation, I will not go there !. Health is the most important and no one can judge anybody when they make a personal decision. I wished a lot for the tournaments to start. I am a little stressed out, but I think it will be fine. I took the test and got the negative result yesterday. A Case can appear from anywhere, but I don’t want to think negatively. I want to see the good side and the fact that we can play tournaments. Maybe I wasn’t prepared mentally. Now I am feeling better, so I am 100% convinced that I can play. I am happy to be in Prague and let’s enjoy it”, said Halep. 

In the bottom half of the draw number 2 seed and world number 15 Petra Martic from Croatia will play against Russia’s Varvara Gracheva. Martic lost to Anett Kontaveit in the semifinal in Palermo this week. The winner of the match between Martic and Gracheva will face either Krystina Pliskova or 15-year-old Linda Fruvirtova. 

Number 3 seed Elise Mertens will take on Italy’s Jasmine Paolini. The winner of this match will face either this week’s Palermo semifinalist Camila Giorgi or a qualifier. 

Number 4 seed Dayana Yastremska, who reached the quarter final in Palermo, will meet Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu. The top 30 entries is rounded out by Ekaterina Alexandrova and Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova. 

Barbora Strycova will take on Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round. 

The other top Czech players in the field are Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. 

Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard from Canada will face Veronika Kudemertova from Russia. 

The Prague Open will be held behind closed doors. 

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Fiona Ferro beats Camila Giorgi to set up final against Anett Kontaveit

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France’s Fiona Ferro came back from one set down to beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 2-6 6-2 7-5 reaching her first final of the season at the Ladies Open in Palermo. Ferro sets up a final against Anett Kontaveit, who beat top seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4. 

 

Giorgi broke twice in a row to open up a 4-0 lead and saved three break points before holding serve for 5-0. Ferro pulled one break back, when Giorgi was serving for the first set. Giorgi sealed the opening set 6-2 with her third break in the eighth game. 

Ferro earned an early break in the first game of the second set and held her serve after saving two break points to open up a 2-0 lead. Ferro went up a double break in the fifth game to race out to a 4-1 lead, but Giorgi got one break back for 2-4. Ferro broke again in the seventh game and served out the second set 6-2. 

Giorgi dropped her serve in the third game of the second set and saved a break point in the fifth game. Giorgi broke back in the 10th game, as Ferro was serving for the match at 5-4. Ferro broke serve in the 11th game and served out the win on her second match point. 

Giorgi was aiming to become the first Italian player to reach the final in Palermo since Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci battled for the title in 2013. Ferro is unbeaten in all her four post-lockdown matches on the WTA Tour.

Ferro beat an Italian opponent for the second evening in a row one day after her win over Sara Errani. 

“I would have never won those matches two years ago. I used to focus on my opponent when she was playing aggressive, and I did not find solutions. Today I am very happy to be through because I managed to focus more on my game and not on my emotions”, said Ferro.

“I have no regrets. I felt in good shape and I tried to play my own game. The break in the third set made the difference”, said Giorgi.

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