Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova Make Winning Starts To 2018 In Shenzhen - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova Make Winning Starts To 2018 In Shenzhen

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Simona Halep (zimbio)

World number one Simona Halep and former grand slam champion Maria Sharapova made successful starts to their 2018 campaign after thrashing Nicole Gibbs and Mihaela Buzarnescu respectively to make the second round in Shenzhen.

Heading into her first round match, current world number one Simona Halep was heading into the 2018 season with some fine form, having just won the Hua Hin exhibition and playing some sensational tennis at the end of the 2017 season.

However Halep knows that if she doesn’t start winning more trophies, then this form may count for nothing on a fierce WTA circuit. However against Nicole Gibbs, she showed us the fierce tennis that we all know she is capable of as she only dropped five games against the American en route to the second round.

The Romanian only lost four points on her first serve as she broke the World number 110 four times as she booked her place into the second round of the Shenzhen Open.

Halep revealed after the match how much she enjoyed competitive action again, “It was a good match, I started with a victory, which means a lot to me. I look forward to the next matches and hopefully I can get better and better.”

Halep will have to be on top form again as she takes on Ying-Ying Duan in the second round, who is only 19 places above Nicole Gibbs in the world rankings.

The Year of Sharapova?

Maria Sharapova (zimbio)

However Halep wasn’t the only player on top form today, as the woman who beat her at the US Open last August, Maria Sharapova, produced a clinic to overcome Halep’s compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu.

The multiple time grand slam champion hit 18 winners as she only lost three games to the tame Buzarnescu in a 6-0 6-3 demolition job.

Next for Sharapova is 2017 runner-up Alison Riske and the Russian knows the threat that awaits her in the second round, “She beat a crowd favourite yesterday (Wang Qiang), So I know I have a tough match ahead, but I just want to keep playing better, and keep improving no matter who is across the net.”

Sharapova set a real marker at the start of the season and knows that if she can compete for grand slams with the current crop of players like Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko.

However consistency is crucial for Sharapova who lacked that in the sharp end of the 2017 season.

Here are the rest of the results from Day 2 of the Shenzhen Open:

Danka Kovinic def Maria Sakkari 4-6 6-2 6-3

Ekaterina Alexandrova def Stefanie Voegele 6-2 6-3

Timea Babos def Xiyu Wang 6-1 6-1

Zarina Diyas def Pauline Parmentier 6-3 6-4

Shuai Zhang def Anna Blinkova 6-3 6-4

Yafan Wang def Jasmine Paolini 6-0 6-4

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Jelena Ostapenko beats Greer Minnen to reach the second round at Eastbourne

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Number 6 seed Jelena Ostapenko beat Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 after 1 hour and 29 minutes to secure a spot in the second round at the Rothesay international in Eastbourne. 

Ostapenko won the Eastbourne title in 2021 and reached the 2022 final before losing to Petra Kvitova. 

Minnen led by a break three times and served for the set at 5-4 and 6-5 but Ostapenko pulled back on serve each time. 

Ostapenko fired a backhand crosscourt winner to earn three set points at 6-3 in the tie-break. The Latvian player converted his first chance with a forehand return winner. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the second set. Ostapenko earned a second break in the third game, but she took an off court medical time-out after a fall at 3-1 in the second set. 

Ostapenko recovered by winning four consecutive games with two breaks to win the second set 6-1. 

“Grass is a great surface, but sometimes it can be slippery and really tricky. So I took the medical time-out just to make sure I am fine”, said Ostapenko.  

 “I think the surface suits me really well. The first I played on grass, I was like: ‘How can we play tennis on this surface ? I don’t understand what’s happening here, but then every year was better and better”, said Ostapenko. 

British wild card Harriet Dart battled past former Wimbledon quarter finalist Marie Bouzhkova 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 after 3 hours and 29 minutes in the third-longest match on the WTA Tour this year. 

Bouzhkova broke twice in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead, but Dart won six of the next seven games with three breaks of serve to win the first set 7-5. 

Dart fought back from 1-4 down to force a tie-break with two breaks of serve in the sixth and eighth games. The British player never held a match point in the second set. Bouzhkova converted her fourth set point to seal the tie-break 9-7 after a 88-minute second set. 

After a trade of breaks at the start of the third set, Dart earned a decisive break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. The British wild card saved a break point at 4-3 en route to the win. 

Dart was scheduled to face 2022 Wimbeldon champion Elena Rybakina, but the Kazakh player withdrew from the tournament on Monday due to a change of schedule. Dart will face wild card Sofia Kenin, who won the Australian Open title and reached the final at Roland Garros in 2020.  

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(VIDEO) What A Weekend For Italian Tennis!

Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta looks back on this week’s action on the ATP Tour.

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Jannik Sinner – ATP Halle 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

It has been a memorable Sunday for Italian tennis with the country winning two titles on the ATP Tour. 

In Halle, world No.1 Jannik Sinner claimed his first trophy on the grass with a hard-fought two-set win over Hubert Hurkacz. There was also success in the doubles tournament with top seeds Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori winning the title. Meanwhile, in London, Lorenzo Musetti was unable to make it a hatrick of wins for his country after losing in the final of the Cinch Championships to Tommy Paul.  

So how much can be read into these wins and should we be expecting similar results at Wimbledon which begins a week tomorrow? 

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Jannik Sinner reaches the first grass final of his career in Halle

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Jannik Sinner overcame Zhang Zhizhen 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to reach the first final of his career on grass at the Terra Wortmann in Halle. Sinner achieved his best result on this surface when he reached the semifinal at Wimbledon in 2023. 

Sinner will face a final against his friend Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in the first semifinal. The Italian player converted his only break point in the ninth game and fended off the only break point he faced at 5-6 in the second set with a forehand winner, one of his winners of the match. 

The Italian player earned an early mini-break to take a 2-0 lead. Zhang Zhizhen pulled the mini-break back. Sinner earned two mini-breaks in the fourth and eighth points to win the tie-break 7-3. Sinner won the first of the four tie-breaks he played this week.

Sinner finished the match in straight sets after clinching three consecutive three-set wins at the start of his campaign at this year’s edition of the Terra Wortmann in Halle. 

The world number 1 player won three titles on hard court at the Australian Open, Rotterdam and Miami this year. 

“It means a lot. I had four tough matches to go to the final. It was a good match today. Definitely more rallies than yesterday. And that’s definitely what I needed today. I am happy and let’s see what’s coming tomorrow”, said Sinner.  

Earlier this week Zhang Zhizhen had previously beaten Danil Medvedev in the second round and came back from 2-5 down to beat Christopher Eubanks in the quarter finals. 

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