Sloane Stephens Books Wozniacki Showdown In Toronto - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens Books Wozniacki Showdown In Toronto

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/Sloane Stephens (zimbio.com)

By Giovanni Vianello

 

Sloane Stephens saved three match points before defeating Lucie Safarova 6-2, 1-6, 7-5, to reach the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

The head-to-head was in the advantage of the Czech player, who led 2-0, having won at Wimbledon in 2015 and Dubai in 2014. Safarova is currently ranked No.41 in the world.  In contrast Stephens, who has endured a long injury period and returned to the tour just in this year’s Wimbledon, has fallen down to the 934th in the world.

After two games in which nothing relevant happens, the match comes alive and Stephens breaks Safarova, reaching a 2-1. The American player confirms the break and finds another one in the fifth game, going up 4-1. Safarova looks powerless at this start of the match (the stats say that the Stephen’s forehand reaches 120 km/h as an average, compared to the Safarova’s 90 km/h). At this point of the match Stephens plays a bad game, by having a low percentage of first serve and some too ambitious accelerations, so Safarova gains a break back. Nevertheless, two consecutive games for Stephens follow, with the American that at first breaks her opponent and then holds serve to win the first set by 6-2.

The second set was a complete domination by the Czech player. In this set two games with no break points occur at the beginning, then Safarova wins 5 consecutive games and tightens her grip on the second set winning it by 6-1. This result was a consequence of a lack of concentration by Stephens, who made plenty of unforced errors.

With all to play for, the decider was a roller coaster encounter. Stephens at first gains a 3-1 lead, then Safarova catches back her opponent at 3 all. In the ninth game the American loses her serve and so the Czech can serve for the match. The tenth game decides the match but, surprisingly, in advantage of Stephens, who cancels three match-points at the end of the game, which lasted a quarter of an hour. Safarova seems to disappear from the court after that and a 8-2 streak of points in advantage of Stephens seals the match for the American.

“Last week I was just hoping to win a match at some point and beat someone. So I would say I turned it around pretty quickly, so I can be proud of that.” Stephens said during her press conference.
“Obviously I’m just really happy to be back on the court at this point and winning matches and beating some good players.”

Wozniacki awaits

In the next round, the former Australian Open semifinalist will play Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane booked her place in the last four by stunning top seed Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4, in a marathon encounter.

“I thought she started off really strongly and she was attacking and playing really, really well,” said Wozniacki. “After that, I feel like I stepped a little bit closer to the line just to try and take away a little bit of time. I once I kind of got on a roll, I started serving better.
“I just tried to stay steady, tried to take the ball on the rise and try to stay aggressive when I could and keep my serves aggressive too.”

Despite spending 67 weeks at the top of the WTA rankings, it is the first time the Dane has defeated a world No.1 player at the age of 27. Heading into the semi-finals, Wozniacki leads Stephens 5-1 in their head to head.

The other half of the quarter-finals have been delayed until Saturday. Garbine Muguruza was leading Elina Svitolina 6-4, before the poor weather struck. Meanwhile, Simona Halep is yet to start her match against Caroline Garcia.

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Tereza Martincova and Belinda Bencic reach the quarter final in Ostrava

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Czech wildcard Tereza Martincova upset Roland Garros Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6) after 2 hours and 19 minutes to advance to the quarter finals at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Martincova claimed her third top 20 win of her career and reached her second quarter final on home soil this season after finishing fourth in Prague. 

Pavlyuchenkova earned the first break to take a 4-3 lead and served for the first set in the 10th game, but she never reached a set point. The Russian player came just two points away from winning the first set at 5-4 30-15, but Martincova won four consecutive points before winning the tie-break 7-5. 

Martincova dropped just eight points in the first six games of the second set. The Czech player fended off two break points to consolidate her lead for 2-0. She raced out to a 7-6 (7-5) 5-1 lead, but Pavlyuchenkova saved two match points to hold serve forcing Martincova to serve for the match. Martincova dropped four consecutive points. Pavlyuchenkova got another break, when Martincova was serving for the match for the third time at 6-5. Martincova went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Pavlyuchenkova drew level to 4-4 before saving a third match point. Martincova won the final two points to claim the tie-break 8-6. 

Martincova set up a quarter final match against Maria Sakkari, who beat last week’s Luxembourg finalist Jelena Ostapenko. 

This year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic cruised to a 6-2 6-3 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo in just 88 minutes. Bencic claimed her 15th win in her last 18 matches. Bencic broke six times and reeled off eight consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set to cruise through to a a straight-set win. Sorribes Tormo saved a break point to win her first game for 1-4 and pulled one break back in the sixth game, but Bencic sealed the win with her third break in the ninth game. “I think I prepared well for this match tactically, and also mentally, because it’s very tough. You have to win the point many times against her, especially on this surface, where it’s very slow. I am happy that I stayed disciplined for the whole match”, said Bencic. 

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Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Indian Wells, Unclear If She Will Play Again This Year

There is no official word but it looking increasingly likly that the world No.8 might have pulled the plug on her 2021 season.

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka has officially withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells just weeks after saying she will take a break from the sport due to personal reasons.

 

The former world No.1 hadn’t played a match since her loss to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open. Speaking to reporters in New York, Osaka said she didn’t know when she would play another match on the Tour. Earlier this year she opened up about her mental health struggles after revealing she has been suffering from social anxiety and depression. Osaka also took time away from the sport during the summer after pulling out of the French Open before deciding to skip Wimbledon.

“This is very hard to articulate. Basically I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry,” she said following her loss to Fernandez.
“I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while. How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.”

Osaka’s withdrawal from Indian Wells was confirmed by the tournament who published an announcement on social media. Although they didn’t specify what reason she used to withdraw from the tournament which is one of the biggest events outside of the Grand Slams in terms of ranking points and prize money on offer.

It was Indian Wells where Osaka won her first prestigious title back in 2018 after defeating Daria Kasatkina in straight sets. The following year she was the top seed in the draw but lost to Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

There has been no official comment from Osaka or her team about Indian Wells and if she will play again this season. Although it looks increasingly unlikely. She is in with a chance of qualifying for the WTA Finals in November but even if she does make the cut it is unclear if she will attend the event which has been relocated from China to Mexico.

This year Indian Wells will get underway on October 4th which is more than six months later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Simona Halep Ends Six-Year Collaboration With Coach Cahill

One of the longest coaching partnerships on the WTA Tour has come to an end.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep is on the lookout for a new coach after unexpectedly announcing her split from Darren Cahill on Wednesday.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has been working with the Australian mentor for most of the time since 2015. There was a brief period where Cahill stepped away from his duties to spend more time with his family before later returning. Under his guidance, the Romanian reached the top of the world rankings and featured in the final of three major tournaments, winning two of those.

“After six wonderful years working together, Darren Cahill and I have decided that it’s time to end our working relationship,” Halep wrote on social media. “Thank you D for everything, for making me a better tennis player and a better person.”

55-year-old Cahill is a former player himself who has also worked with a series of top players prior to Halep. In the past, he has coached both Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi to world No.1 at different stages of their careers. Doubles specialist Horia Tecău reportedly told Romanian TV that it was rumoured Cahill received an annual salary in the region of one million euros during his time with Halep. Although this has not been verified.

The announcement comes a week after Halep married Macedonian businessman Toni Iuruc. One of those who attended the event was Illie Nastase who was one of the world’s best tennis players during the 1970s, winning both the French Open and US Open.

I didn’t know anything about Simona’s intention to break up with Darren Cahill. It took me a little by surprise. But Simona Halep has proven she knows what she’s doing. As I did not know, I do not see what I could comment. But there is no question of collaborating (with her),” Nastase told playsport.ro.
I didn’t talk to her about this or to anyone else in her entourage… I think only Simona knows who her future coach will be. I trust her choices.”

So far in 2021 Halep has achieved a win-loss record of 15-7 during what has been a rollercoaster season. An Achilles injury forced her to miss both the French Open and Wimbledon, as well as the Tokyo Olympics. Since returning to the Tour from her injury she has won back-to-back matches in one out of three tournaments played. Reaching the fourth round of the US Open.

There has been no official word on who may replace Cahill as Halep’s coach.

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