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

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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.

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French Tennis Star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Shares His Experiences With Racism

The grand slam finalist opens up about what it for like being the only ‘half-breed’ in his school as well as other problems he has experianced.

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Former top 10 player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has become the latest sporting figure to speak out about his personal struggles with racism in the wake of mass protests gripping America.

 

Dozens of cities in the north American country have been placed under overnight curfews following violent demonstrations that have resulted in various injuries and looting. The outcry started when an unarmed black man called George Floyd died whilst being arrested. Video footage showed that a police officer was leaning on his neck which resulted in him dying from asphyxia, according to a private post-mortem paid by his family.

The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the world with various top names speaking out against the use of disappropriate force against minority groups. Speaking about the situation, Tsonga said that racism is a problem everywhere before sharing some of his own personal experiences.

“This type of behaviour that we see frequently in the United States, but that’s on another scale, is repeated continuously throughout the world, is unbearable for me,” he told radio station France Info.
“Such an event removes the consciences of everything and shows how necessary a change is.’
“The non-acceptance of the difference and racism, as well as other issues, such as sexuality, religion or sexual orientation, continue to be used as an excuse to commit atrocities.”

Growing up the 35-year-old said he was singled out as a youngster for being a half cast. His mother is white and father is black. The problems he encountered took place both during and outside of school. Tsonga was born in the French town of Le Mans, which is famous for its annual 24-hour Motor sport race.

“Since I was a child I have had to regularly experience racial discrimination and inappropriate comments,” he said.
“I was the only half-breed in my elementary school, so you can imagine what was happening.’
“All of them were nicknames, insults, I had to bear that when I was a teenager I was continually stopped on the street asking for my papers, people who met me covered their bag as if they was afraid I was going to steal from them and they wouldn’t even let me pass in some places when I went with my friends.”

Whilst nowadays France has grown to be a much more tolerant country like many others, incidents such as the one involving Floyd proves that there is still much more needed to be done. As for Tsonga, he hopes his son Sugar, who was born in 2017, will not go through the same as him.

“There are still a lot of people who make offensive comments without realizing it because discrimination is so ingrained that for many it is not even so. But there are words that can hurt a lot. I have had a hard time finding my place and my identity; I just hope that my son doesn’t feel like a stranger wherever you go,” he concluded.

Tsonga is the last Frenchman to contest a grand slam final at the 2008 Australian Open. So far in his career he has won 18 ATP titles and peaked at a ranking high of fifth back in 2012.

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Juan Martin Del Potro Splits From Coach

The tennis star has announced a big change to his team.

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Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is on the hunt for a new coach after agreeing to end his collaboration with Sebastian Prieto to continue focus on his rehabilitation from injury.

 

Del Potro has been working alongside Prieto since 2017 and achieved a series of career milestones under his guidance. Including winning his maiden Masters 1000 title at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open and reaching a ranking high of third in August that same year. Their decision has been made to allow Prieto to focus all of his attention on Juan Londero. Another Argentine player who is currently ranked 62nd in the world.

“I want to share that I have agreed with Sebastian Prieto to end our partnership, so that he can work with Juan Londero, while I continue my rehab process,” Del Potro said on Twitter.
“I’m very thankful to Piper for all of these years together. He is a great coach and even a better person. All the best!”

45-year-old Prieto is a former ATP player who peaked at a ranking high of 22nd in the doubles. During his career, he won 10 Tour titles with all of those occurring on the clay. He also reached the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles tournament at the 2003 French Open.

It is currently unknown as to who will be taking over as Del Potro’s new coach. The former grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since last June due to a serious knee injury. At the Fever-Tree Championships in London, he fractured his right kneecap and was forced to undergo surgery to repair it. The second time he had to undergo that procedure within as many years after also suffering a similar injury at the 2018 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Del Potro is currently undergoing rehabilitation and it is unclear as to when he will be able to return to the Tour again. All professional tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled until at least July 31st due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although both the US Open and French Open are hoping to go ahead as planned.

So far in his career, the 31-year-old has won 22 ATP titles and earned almost $26 million in prize money. Earning more money than any other player from his country in the history of the sport.

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Novak Djokovic On Why He Didn’t Post Details Of Lockdown Training

The Serbian tennis star has shed some light on his recent training routines as he outlines plans for a Balkan tennis tour.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic has been training almost daily since the world of tennis came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic but opted to keep his activities out of the limelight to avoid any potential backlash from fellow players.

 

The ATP Tour has been suspended since March due to the Pandemic with officials hoping to restart the sport in some capacity during the summer ahead of the US Open. Nevertheless Djokovic, who started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row, has been able to continue practicing in Marbella. He and his family were staying in a house located next to a tennis court.

Speaking with Serbian reports on Monday, the 17-time grand slam champion admitted that he didn’t want to ‘anger’ others by posting updates on social media of him training. Showing that he has been able to stay active more than other players during the lockdown.

“I had the opportunity to train almost every day during coronavirus because we stayed in a house next to a tennis court. I played a lot of tennis on a hard surface, but I didn’t upload anything on the net so as not to anger other players,” he told The Telegraf.
“I started recently on clay, I had two training sessions here, I feel good physically. I was quite active, I followed my program. Of course, the intensity decreases because I was not preparing for tournaments.”

https://twitter.com/DavisCup/status/1264885745916968960

With uncertainty surrounding when the Tour may start again, numerous countries have created their own domestic tournaments. In Djokovic’s case, he is the founder of his own event that will be played across the Balkan region. The Adria Tour is set to take place between June and July with three top 20 players set to participate. Besides Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov are also taking part.

“I started the whole idea of ​​the project and I communicate every day with TSS (Serbian Tennis Federation) and the company that organizes all this,” said Djokovic.
“The current international competitions, ITF and ATP will not happen before the first of August, and even that is uncertain. Afterwards, I will have time again if things resume on a hard surface in America, because I will have a month to prepare for the continuation of the season.”

Should it all go to plan, the clay-court tournament is set to be played in Belgrade (Serbia), Zadar (Croatia), Montenegro and Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Although it has been confirmed that the locations of the Bosnian and Montenegrin events are still not fully confirmed with the possibility of Sarajevo hosting one leg of the tour. Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Prior to the Tour suspension, Djokovic was unbeaten in 2020. He started the season by winning three consecutive titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships. Those triumphs enabled him to earn prize money of $4,410,541. He also earned just over $70,000 from playing doubles so far this year.

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