Caroline Garcia beats Simona Halep to win Premier Mandatory tournament in Beijing - UBITENNIS
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Caroline Garcia beats Simona Halep to win Premier Mandatory tournament in Beijing

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Caroline Garcia edged past World number 1 Simona Halep 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a tight final under the closed roof on a rainy day at the Premier Mandatory in Beijing. With this win Garcia overtakes Johanna Konta in eighth place in the WTA Race to Singapore and is close to qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore. This means that Konta will need to reach the final in Moscow to keep her chance alive to qualify for the season-ending tournament.

 

Halep won their previous two head-to-head matches against Garcia in the Round of 16 in Sydney (6-4 2-6 6-1) and in the quarter final in Toronto (6-4 6-2) but the French player has made a big improvement in the recent weeks and reached two consecutive finals in Wuhan and Beijing. Thanks to her final in the Chinese capital Garcia will make her debut in the top 10 on Monday becoming the first French woman to be ranked inside the top 10 since Marion Bartoli.

Halep started the match with an inside-out forehand return winner in the opening game. Garcia broke straight back at 30, as Halep made a double fault. Garcia held her serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. In the fifth game Halep missed a forehand return at 30-30 and Garcia held her serve to take a 3-2 after a long baseline rally.

Halep saved a break point in the sixth game with a big second serve to hold her serve at deuce for 3-3. In the eighth game Halep built a 40-15 lead but Garcia got to deuce with two return winners off her second serve. Garcia missed her second serve into the net to give Halep a game point before hitting a backhand return on her second serve long allowing Halep to hold serve and tie 4-4. Halep fought back from 0-40 to force the ninth game to deuce but Garcia held her serve for 5-4 at deuce, as Halep hit her backhand into the netcord. Garcia earned the crucial break at 30 by converting her first set point after a tight 44-minute first set. Halep lost her first set since her first round match against Alison Riske.

In the first set Garcia converted two of her four break points and hit 8 winners to 13 unforced errors, while Halep had a -7 ratio (4 winners to 11 unforced errors).

There were no break points in the first games of the second set. In the opening game Halep hit a forehand return to take a 15-30 lead but Garcia fought back to to game to game point with a forehand down the line winner before holding with a good first serve.

In the third game Garcia went up 40-0 but Halep rallied to 40-30 by winning the next two points. Garcia held serve for 2-1, as Halep hit a forehand down the line wide.

Garcia avoided a possible break point attempt from Halep and held her serve at 30 in the fifth game with an unreturnable serve out wide for 3-2. Halep held serve to 30 winning a backhand to backhand rally. At 3-3 Garcia went down 0-40 after three consecutive unforced errors and was forced to save nine break points in a very long ninth game before earning a game point in the seventh game. She converted it as Halep hit her backhand into the net to take a 4-3 lead in a marathon 12-point game. Halep held serve to love to tie 4-4.

Garcia held serve in the ninth game at 30 for 5-4. Halep had a strong hold to win her service game at 15 for 5-5, as she was serving to stay in the match. Garcia held at 30 to take a 6-5 lead. Halep held to force the set to the tie-break.

In the tie-break Halep hit an ace to draw level to 1-1 but Garcia got the mini-break, as the Romanian player hit a backhand into the net. Garcia backed up the mini-break to open up a 3-1 lead with a strong volley and pulled away to 4-1 as Halep missed a backhand return. Halep clawed her way back to 3-4 with a forehand passing shot. Garcia earned a championship point at 6-3 after two unforced errors from Halep and converted it on her first attempt after 1 hour and 52 minutes to crown a dream two-week campaign on Chinese soil with two back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing.

Garcia has become the first player to win the two big tournaments in consecutive weeks and the first player since Victoria Azarenka since the Indian Wells-Miami double to clinch two back-to-back titles.

Halep converted just one of her ten break points, including nine in the seventh game of the second set.

“It was incredible. I did not expect to win two titles when I arrived in China. I want to congratulate with Simona for achieving her feat to become world number 1. I have no secrets for my success. I have always believed in myself and I worked hard. Two tournaments in a row is difficult to believe. It was a pleasure to be for two weeks in China. It is always difficult at the end of the season because we are all tired but it’s always nice to come here and meet new fans. I will come back as I have a great memory. I just want to enjoy this moment and I will come back to defend my title. It will be another competition but I will ready to fight for it”. said Garcia after the match during the award ceremony.

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World No.1 Ash Barty Impresses At Golf Club Championship

The 24-year-old is still winning trophies but this time it isn’t in tennis.

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After deciding to pull the plug on her season due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic Ash Barty has once again illustrated that tennis is not the only sport she can excel in.

 

The world No.1 has won the Brookwater Golf Club women’s champion on Sunday with a seven and five triumph in the match play final. Following in the footsteps of her father Robert who once represented Australia as an amateur golfer. Although Barty is playing down the significance of her latest sporting win.

It’s not a big deal,” she told the Australian Associated Press.

It is not the first time Barty’s golfing abilities have impressed. During a promotional event last December ahead of the Presidents Cup she earned praise from Tiger Woods after hitting wedge to a makeshift green on the Yarra River. After that shot Woods commented ‘she’s got a great swing, are you kidding me?’ Barty’s boyfriend, Garry Kissick, is also a PGA trainee professional at Brookwater. The place where they first met back in 2016.

Louis Dobbelaar, who won the men’s competition at Brookwater, believes Barty has what it takes to become a professional in the sport should she wish. The 24-year-old is also an avid cricketer and played professionally between 2014-2015 during a break from tennis. Playing in the Women’s Big Bash League Barty enjoyed stints with teams Brisbane Heat and Queensland Fire.

She’s got all the tools if she wants to pursue it. If she put her mind to it, I’m sure she could,” he told the AAP.
“I’ve seen quite a lot of golfers come from different sports and she’s the one that stands out the most – by far actually. Her ball-striking’s really good. She just gets that naturally from tennis, the hand-eye stuff.”

Barty hasn’t played a match on the WTA Tour since the Qatar Open back in February where she reached the semi-finals. She will not be defending her title at the French Open next week due to concerns related to the pandemic. Besides worldwide travel, she has been unable to train with her coach due to local restrictions.

The Australian has made more than $17.5M in prize money so far in her career.

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Garbine Muguruza Routs Konta In Rome

Garbine Muguruza confidently dispatched Johanna Konta 6-4 6-1 to set up a mouth-watering fourth-round clash with Victoria Azarenka in Rome.

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Garbine Muguruza confidently dispatched Johanna Konta 6-4 6-1 to set up a mouth-watering fourth-round clash with Victoria Azarenka in Rome.

 

It was a surprisingly comfortable win for the Spaniard, 26, against an opponent she has found troublesome in the past. Muguruza and Konta have each won two of their previous matches, and all four of those encounters were lengthy three-set affairs.

During the first eight games of this match, it looked like it might go a similar way. The opening exchanges were closely-fought and both players produced high-quality tennis and served well for the most part.

On occasion, Muguruza and Konta got themselves into trouble by making errors and falling 0-30 or 0-40 behind on their own serves. However, they always responded well and executed high-quality points to turn those games around.

Eventually, the whole set came down to one game. When Muguruza led 5-4, Konta again slipped 0-40 behind on serve. The Brit managed to save one break point, but the Spaniard took control of the next point and forced an error to seize the first break of the match.

Muguruza storms to victory

After Muguruza confidently held at the start of the second set, Konta missed a tricky high volley that would have secured the second game. Then she gave away the break with a double fault and an unforced error.

The next game turned out to be the most important of the match. The Brit hassled and harried the Spaniard and earned three break points. But the two-time Grand Slam champion held firm. She delivered big first serves when she needed them most to save all three and go on to secure the hold.

After that, the match ended quite quickly. Konta held to reduce the deficit to 3-1. Then Muguruza served and rallied superbly to win three games in a row and clinch an impressively comprehensive victory.

The Spaniard will face Azarenka in the last 16. The Belarussian was locked in a fascinating battle with Daria Kasatkina when the Russian took a nasty fall in the first tie-break and was forced to retire due to an ankle injury. Touchingly, Azarenka helped Kasatkina to her chair and comforted her after the accident.

Halep sees off Yastremska

Simona Halep (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Simona Halep advanced to a fourth-round clash with Yulia Putintseva in Rome courtesy of a 7-5 6-4 win over Dayana Yastremska.

The Romanian, 28, looks to be such a calm figure on court these days. And she did not seem bothered at all when the Ukrainian went 3-0 up after a blistering start to the match.

Halep responded by working her way into the match and capitalising whenever Yastremska made errors. The Romanian hit a backhand winner to break back. Then she played a series of intelligent points to claim the crucial break in the eleventh game and secure the set.

The Ukrainian made the worst possible start to the second set. She made a series of errors and dropped serve twice in a row to give herself a mountain to climb. Yastremska managed to get one of the breaks back immediately after that but Halep gave nothing else away and eventually closed out the set.

The Romanian will play Putintseva in the last 16. The Kazakhstani overcame talented young compatriot Elena Rybakina 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2 in a pulsating first-ever meeting.

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Garbine Muguruza Edges Gauff In Exciting Rome Showdown

Garbine Muguruza held off a strong challenge from Coco Gauff to win a riveting second-round match 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3 at the Italian Open in Rome.

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Garbine Muguruza held off a strong challenge from Coco Gauff to win a riveting second-round match 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3 at the Italian Open in Rome.

 

The Spaniard, 26, rediscovered some of her best form to reach the Australian Open final in January. And she produced arguably her strongest performance since the restart to overcome the precocious 16-year-old.

There was very little to separate the two players in the opening set. Both Muguruza and Gauff were sporadically excellent. Each hit superb winners at times. But they balanced this out by making sloppy errors.

Consequently, neither player was able to break away. When the American broke in game four, the Spaniard responded immediately to rein her in.

Even though most of the games were closely-contested in the rest of the set, there were no breaks. Therefore, the only way to decide who would take the lead was a tie-break.

It was Muguruza who rose to the occasion. She produced one of the most impressive six-point sequences you are ever likely to see. First, the Spaniard hit a forehand winner that landed on the baseline. Then she hit a huge unreturnable serve followed by an ace. Next, she forced an error from Gauff with a deep backhand. And at 6-3 up, she clinched the set in style with another ace.

Gauff fights back

Gauff approached the second set with steely determination. She did not give anything away and gradually cranked up the pressure on Muguruza.

In game three, the American’s efforts were rewarded. She earned two break points and seized the second with a precise passing shot back behind the Spaniard.

Unlike in the first set, Gauff then held serve to move 3-1 ahead. And the pressure of being behind had an effect on Muguruza. She made a couple of errors to give the American three chances to gain a double break.

The Spaniard dug in and saved the first two. But she was unable to prevent Gauff from taking the third with a powerful backhand followed by a forehand winner.

Cori Gauff (@ChannelNewsAsia on Twitter)

Muguruza was in no mood to let the second set slip away. She hit a brilliant lob and a stunning forehand winner to earn two break points in game six.

Although the American saved them both, the Spaniard soon earned two more. And she eventually took her fourth break point of the game courtesy of a double fault from Gauff.

Muguruza held comfortably to reduce the deficit to 4-3. However, she did not manage to retrieve the second break, as the American held to move 5-3 ahead. Gauff then profited from a sloppy service game from the Spaniard to clinch the set.

Muguruza stays strong as errors cost Gauff dearly

When Gauff broke to establish a 2-0 lead at the start of the decider, it looked like she was on course for a famous win over the two-time Grand Slam champion.

However, the American wasted her opportunity. She made three consecutive double faults to gift Muguruza three break points. And the Spaniard took the third to break back immediately.

After a steady hold from Muguruza, Gauff made two more double faults in game six. Once again, the Spaniard capitalised. She then held again to open up a 4-2 lead.

The American found her range on serve to reduce the deficit. But the end came quickly for her. Muguruza withstood everything Gauff threw at her during a hold that put her 5-3 up.

The Spaniard then went on the attack. She drove the American back behind the baseline and then hit a forehand winner. Then she forced a couple of errors to make it 0-40. At that stage, Gauff was completely demoralised. She hit a forehand into the net to surrender the match to Muguruza.

In the next round, the World No.17 may get a chance to resume a fascinating rivalry. All four of her meetings with Johanna Konta have gone to three sets. So if the Brit can beat qualifier Irina-Camelia Begu, it could lead to another entertaining encounter.

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