Karolina Pliskova Narrowly Avoids Defeat To Save No.1 Ranking At The US Open - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Narrowly Avoids Defeat To Save No.1 Ranking At The US Open

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Karolina Pliskova (zimbio.com)

Karolina Pliskova managed to avoid a shock defeat with the help of her trusted serve after battling past American qualifier Nicole Gibbs 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, in the second round of the US Open.

 

In what was a far from perfect match for the 2016 US Open runner-up, Pliskova’s experience and serve managed to give her the crucial edge in the match. In the deciding set, she only lost four points on her serve throughout to extend her reign at the top of the WTA rankings.

“It was definitely a tough match. I think I needed this kind of match to go through, especially in this tournament where I am defending points from (last years) final. I’m happy with my win obviously, but my game was not the best today.” She told Eurosport.

Entering the draw was two very different players. World No.1 Pliskova was playing her maiden grand slam at the top seed and was seeking to make up for her early exit at the Wimbledon championships. In contrast, world No.127 Gibbs had nothing to lose. The American, who is yet to break the world’s top 50, came through three rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw.

On paper the match was Plaikova’s for the taking, but in reality it was a far from simple task. The Czech appeared flustered on the Arthur Ashe stadium with a series of flat-hitting shots. In contrast, Gibbs was playing tennis at a higher level than her ranking suggests. A total of 14 winners compared to four unforced errors guided the underdog to the first set.

Alarm bells of an upset start to rang louder as the top seed continued struggling with her form. She kept fighting to keep within contention, but showed no visible signs of emotion on the court. Pliskova’s breakthrough occurred with the help of her faltering opponent. Leading the second set 4-3 on serve, a forehand from Gibbs smashed into the net. Rewarding the world No.1 her first break of the match and resuscitating her chances.

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Even when in the lead, questions over Pliskova continued to mount. Moments before serving for the second set, she was seen with her face again the wall of the court, taking deep breaths. Evidently she was struggling, but manage to force proceedings into a decider with the help of an unforced error from her rival on set point.

It wasn’t just her place in Flushing Meadows at stake for Pliskova, it was also her position at No.1. A loss would have dethroned her from the top. Going into the final set, both players continued battling. Five games went by without either player securing a breakthrough before a colossal change of momentum towards the favor of the top seed. Gibbs’ inexperience proved fatal after three consecutive unforced errors gifted Pliskova the break to move ahead 4-3. That sole 60-second blip by the American decided the outcome of the match. Serving for a place in the third round, Pliskova raced to 40-0 before securing the win the help of Gibbs’ 28th unforced error of the match.

“I think in the second set I improved a little bit. I started to serve much better, I hit some aces and some free points from the serve, which was much needed.” The Czech evaluated about her second round performance. “I think she was playing really aggressive from the baseline. I didn’t have many chances to play my game, but I am just happy that I could close it with my serve.”

The pressure

Progressing into the last 32 of a grand slam for the third time this season, Pliskova talked about the pressure she is currently experiencing. It might be expected that it is all to do with her being the top seed, but according to the Czech it is something else.

“I don’t think I feel the pressure because of my seeding, but more because I am defending points from last year. I really want to stay in the place where I am now (number one) and I think it is quite difficult. There is so many players playing for this position.”

At the start of the US Open, eight women was in contention of claiming the No.1 ranking.

Pliskova will next play either 27th seed Zhang Shuai or Japan’s Risa Ozaki.

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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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