Karolina Pliskova Scores Back-To-Back Wins To Reach Cincinnati Semis - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Scores Back-To-Back Wins To Reach Cincinnati Semis



Due to the inclement weather that disrupted Thursday’s schedule, the current WTA world No. 1 was forced to play back-to-back matches during Friday’s day session at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. The Czech emerged unscathed and convincingly booked her spot in the semifinals.

Karolina Pliskova (zimbio.com)

By Lorenzo Dellagiovanna

CINCINNATI – Friday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati was a crucial day for Karolina Pliskova’s hopes to remain at the top of the WTA rankings for the rest of the 2017 season. Pliskova, Halep, Svitolina and Wozniacki all entered the event with the possibility to sit on top of the world rankings at the end of the tournament. After the torrential rain that derailed the majority of Thursday’s schedule, the current world No.1 emerged unscathed from back-to-back matches and booked her spot in the semifinals.

Pliskova’s round of 16 match against qualifier Camila Giorgi of Italy started on Thursday evening with the Czech dominating the tournament’s most surprising player and sprinting to a 3-0 lead. When play resumed at 1 PM under a mostly cloudless sky and with temperatures reaching almost 85°F, the match became more balanced with both players hitting the ball beautifully from the back of the court. Pliskova’s easy power was matched by Giorgi’s great anticipation skills in fast baseline rallies delighting the local crowd that gathered on Court 3.

Pliskova primarily focused on winning her service games and capitalizing on the break advantage from the night before. Giorgi’s strategy was clearly based on moving her opponent from side to side, but the Italian couldn’t completely execute her game plan and committed too many unforced errors in the crucial moments of the set, while her Czech opponent remained steady under pressure. Pliskova saved two important break-points with service winners while leading 5-3 and wrapped up the first set 6-3 with impeccable serving stats. Pliskova’s serve proved almost unplayable throughout the set despite the pressure applied by Giorgi standing two feet inside the baseline on the Czech’s second delivery.

In the second set, Giorgi cut down on her unforced errors and managed to hit some spectacular winners that allowed her to stay neck-and-neck with the world No. 1. With Pliskova serving at 4-5, the Italian finally broke the Czech powerhouse with three incredible winners, including two extraordinary cross-court backhands. The second set went to the Italian with the score of 6-4.

The match was virtually decided in the first game of the third set: Giorgi was serving at 30-30 when chair umpire Marija Čičak called a “time violation” on the Italian, which changed the momentum in the Czech’s favor again. Giorgi was visibly distracted and irritated by the umpire’s warning and started missing a few routine backhands that eventually cost her the match.

Pliskova quickly found her range and didn’t allow the Italian to step foot into the match again. The Czech closed the match with an emphatic 6-0 score in the third set.

6-3, 4-6, 6-0 was the final score in Pliskova’s favor.

A couple of hours later, the Czech took the court again against none other than Caroline Wozniacki – a former world No. 1 currently ranked No. 5 – in one of the most anticipated clashes of the women’s tournament. The head-to-head between the two players was clearly in Wozniacki’s favor, with the Dane leading 5-2.  Furthermore, Caroline beat the tall Czech in a titanic quarterfinal clash at the Canadian Open last week.

Pliskova clearly showed that she didn’t want to be involved in long rallies right from the beginning of the match. Wozniacki is one of the best defenders in women’s tennis and her speedy footwork typically allows her to retrieve an incredible amount of balls causing massive problems to power players who rely on aggressive shot-making abilities. Today the Dane didn’t bring her A-game to the table though and Pliskova didn’t show any signs of fatigue from her previous match.

The world No. 1 broke Wozniacki early in the match with aggressive returns and clean down-the-line shots that painted the lines. The Czech jumped to a 4-2 lead and ended up breaking the Dane’s serve for the second time in the set with another incredible return and a beautiful forehand winner. Pliskova then closed the first set 6-2 in exactly 30 minutes with a solid service hold.

Wozniacki seemed unable to match Pliskova’s power and committed a few unusual unforced errors. Early in the second set, the Czech decided to shorten the rallies even more and her strategy proved incredibly successful, hitting a ton of service winners and finishing the point with one-two punches.  Pliskova broke the Wozniacki serve to take a 3-1 lead and never looked back. She capitalized on her early break and closed the second set 6-4 holding her last service game at love.

6-2, 6-4 was the final score in the Czech’s favor.

“I think even the first match helped me to have some rallies today,” The top seed said about playing two matches on the same day.  “Physically (the first match) was not that tough so I was warmed up enough.”

Today’s back-to-back wins were massive for Pliskova, who is not only defending her Cincinnati title, but is also trying to fend off the challengers to her No. 1 ranking. Her victory against Wozniacki could be crucial for the race to No. 1.


Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid



Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon



image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon



image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.


Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.


Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.


Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.


The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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