Caroline Wozniacki outlasts Kerber in Doha thriller - UBITENNIS
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Caroline Wozniacki outlasts Kerber in Doha thriller

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Caroline Wozniacki survived a tough test at the quarter-final stage in Doha as she beat close friend Angelique Kerber 7-6 1-6 6-3 in an outstanding match.

The Dane was gracious in victory as she recognised how well her opponent had played. When she was asked during her on-court interview how much fitness affected the outcome, Wozniacki said, ‘Ange is in such great shape as well, so I knew going into the third set it would be an even playing field.’

The World No.1 continued, ‘I got a little bit lucky and I think we both played really well in big periods of the match. I’m sure she’ll have a great year going forward and I’m just happy to have won today.’

Kerber made the stronger start to the match and earned the first break of the opening set in the third game when she stretched to hit a brilliant forehand winner down the line. That shot established the standard for what followed, as the remainder of the set was lit up by a succession of high-quality rallies that typically ended with one woman producing a winner.

Kerber managed to maintain her break advantage until game ten, when a backhand winner from Wozniacki and an error from the German provided the Dane with two break points. She clinched the break at the first attempt in stunning style with an inch-perfect forehand winner down the line.

Kerber responded by thundering an unreturnable cross-court forehand to take the score to 0-40 in game eleven. But Wozniacki neutralised the threat superbly, sending down two winners and an ace to level, before hitting a forehand a winner to clinch the game. The German then held serve to take the set to a tie-break.

Wozniacki got the first mini-break with a fantastic cross-court backhand winner, and then clinically won both points on her serve to go 4-1 up. Kerber got a mini-break back by forcing the Dane into an error, but the World No.1 wrested back the advantage by reading a drop shot from the German and firing a forehand winner down the line. And an error from Kerber sealed the set for Wozniacki.

As she had in the opener, Kerber made the first move in the second set. In game three, a missed smash and a double fault from Wozniacki gifted the German two break points, and she forced an error from the Dane to take it at the first attempt.

The World No.9 dialled up the pressure on Wozniacki in game six and the Dane succumbed to it by making a succession of errors to hand Kerber a double-break. The German then wasted no time in levelling the match at one-set-all by holding to love. It took her just 24 minutes to win it 6-1.

Wozniacki was all over the place in the opening game of the third set, making three errors to gift Kerber an immediate break to love. But she snapped out of her malaise in the next game, cranking up the aggression to hit a succession of powerful winners and unreturnable shots. The result was an immediate break back which checked the German’s momentum.

The players exchanged comfortable holds until the eighth game went to deuce. Both hit eye-catching volley winners which drew plenty of applause, before Kerber hit a forehand long to gift Wozniacki a break point. The World No.1 accepted it gleefully by drilling a cross-court forehand winner to take a 5-3 lead.

Wozniacki successfully served for the match with the help of her 45th and 46th winners – one on her forehand side and the other with her backhand. The result means she holds onto the No.1 ranking for another day.

However, when the Dane was asked about it in her on-court interview, she said holding onto top spot was not on her mind. Wozniacki said, ‘Honestly, not really. My goal is just to be enjoying the game, having fun out there and staying healthy. I’ve achieved it and it’s something I’m very proud of, but right now I’m really not thinking about the ranking.’

Haleps wins then has to pull out

Simona Halep ended Cici Bellis’ excellent run in Doha with a comfortable 6-0 6-4 but withdrew from the tournament later in the day, citing one of the two injuries she suffered at the Australian Open – plantar fasciitis in her right foot – as the reason.

‘I am surprised that I could play three matches and to win them. I felt pain every day, so it was not easy to manage it,’ Halep told wtatennis.com. ‘I didn’t have much time to recover before this tournament, but today was too much, and I decided to stop.’ The Romanian hopes to return at Indian Wells.

Retirement also cut short the clash between Petra Kvitova and Julia Goerges. The Czech was leading 6-4 2-1 when the German pulled out due to a left hip injury. The two-time Wimbledon champion will now play the World No.1 in the semi-final tomorrow.

Garbine Muguruza was due to play Halep in the semi-final after coming out on top in an entertaining clash against the ever-improving Caroline Garcia 6-3 1-6 6-4. She now receives a walkover into the final, where she will await the winner of Wozniacki v Kvitova.

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Caroline Wozniacki’s Father Criticises WTA For Lack Of Help For Mothers On Tour

Caroline Wozniacki was not given a wildcard for Rome or Roland Garros.

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Piotr Wozniacki has labelled the WTA as ‘amateur’ for their treatment of mothers on tour as he claims that Caroline Wozniacki should have had more wildcards.

The former Australian Open champion has played ten events since she announced her comeback last year.

Wozniacki has recovered her ranking to 117 in the world and her comeback has resulted in a fourth round appearance at the US Open as well as a quarter-final result at Indian Wells.

However the Dane has not been successful in gaining wildcards recently with both Rome and Roland Garros not offering Wozniacki one.

It’s a decision that Wozniacki’s father, Piotr, has not been happy with as he explained with Sport.PL, “The WTA believes that it is operating in an amateur fashion in the world of the largest professional women’s sport of all sports in the world. They sign contracts with the players and the players are obliged to do certain things under these contracts. And what do they get? Nothing, really nothing!” Piotr was quoted by tennisuptodate as saying.

“All wild cards, and there were 8 of them, were given to the Italians. I understand promoting their players, but how can you give the right to play in a tournament of this rank to such girls who should not even think that they could play in a Masters yet?

“Caroline was number one in her ranking. She won a Grand Slam tournament, won the Masters, played in almost 60 finals of their tournaments and won 30. So we are talking about a complete tennis player, someone who did a great job, who certainly increased the popularity of tennis, who earned a lot of money herself, but let them earn money. even much more.

“And it turns out that when someone like Caroline Wozniacki comes back as Caroline Wozniacki and family, she is no longer welcome. We can’t even prepare Caroline’s starting plan! We train, we prepare, and it turns out that there is nothing to do.

“This is happening because today in tennis everything is based only on relationships, on acquaintances, and not on clear rules. The thing is that if we know the organizers or tournament directors, we get a chance to play, but if we don’t know someone somewhere, they don’t want us there.

“Naturally, after the maternity break, my daughter had zero points. It takes a lot of time to start from scratch and reach the top, but we would do it patiently, but how can we do it when you don’t let a girl like that work for it? The rules in tennis today are such that there is no longer a mandatory wild card for someone who was once in the top 20, had a long break and came back.

“This card was really helpful for tennis players coming back after having a baby and for those coming back from serious injuries. And now Caroline, Angelique Kerber or Naomi Osaka are dependent only on someone else’s decisions. Since last year, all wild cards are the property of the tournaments, and the WTA washes its hands of them.”

It’s clear the Wozniacki family is disappointed as the Dane could be set to cancel her comeback next year.

However there is optimism that Wozniacki will receive one at Wimbledon as she has had past success on grass courts.

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In-Form Iga Swiatek Not Taking Anything For Granted Ahead of French Open Title Defence

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Iga Swiatek says she must remain ‘humble’ heading into the French Open despite being a strong favourite for the title.

The world No.1 is on a 12-match winning streak after claiming back-to-back WTA 1000 titles in Madrid and Rome. A milestone that has only previously been achieved by Dinara Safina and Serena Williams. In her latest match, she dropped five games against Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the Italian Open. She now leads the Belarusian world No.2 8-3 in their head-to-head.

“I’m maybe chilled out compared to Madrid after the final because that final was so surreal. It is a little bit different. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m really proud of myself and really happy.” Said Swiatek.
“I’m happy I was so focused and disciplined throughout the tournament. I feel like I’m in the right place.” 

The confidence is high for the Pole heading into Roland Garros which she will be aiming to win for a fourth time since 2020. In the Open Era, only three women have won the French Open four or more times – Justine Henin, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert.

However, Swiatek is not underestimating the work she will be required to put in to claim another major title. She failed to reach the quarter-final stage at her two most recent Grand Slam events, the US Open and French Open. 

“Obviously I am confident. I feel like I’m playing great tennis but that doesn’t change the fact that I just want to stay humble,” she said.
“Grand Slams are different. There’s a different pressure on the court and off the court. Of course I love to come to Paris and be there. It’s a great place for me to be and I really enjoy my time there.
“But these are hard seven matches that you need to win so I don’t take anything for granted.”

The Grand Slams are the holy grail when it comes to ranking points with the champions claiming 2000 points. In the past Swiatek has focused on her tally and ranking but this year she has a somewhat different perspective. 

“I’m less focused on rankings and points compared to last year. I felt like last year I needed to always to chase. Even though I was first, I felt like I had somebody behind my back.” Said Swiatek. 
“But this year, I just feel like I can focus on myself and not think about that because focusing on rankings is never helpful, I would say.
“There are plenty of things to focus on that we need to spend our energy for, that is just a waste of energy to focus on points and rankings.”

The French Open will get underway next Sunday. 

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Iga Swiatek Demolishes Aryna Sabalenka To Seal Third Rome Title

Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title after a dominant victory over Aryna Sabalenka.

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Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title by dominating Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-3 to send a big message of intent ahead of Roland Garros.

The world number one completed the Madrid and Rome double with a sensational performance.

Now Swiatek is the titleholder for the three biggest clay court titles as she will aim to defend her Roland Garros title.

The contest was a rematch from the Madrid final but this was far from the three hour contest that was produced in Spain.

Swiatek raised her level of play while Sabalenka committed way too many unforced errors throughout the contest.

The Pole broke on two occasions to wrap up a comfortable 37 minute set as her forehand was doing a lot of damage.

There was a comeback in the second set from the Australian Open champion as she produced effortless and consistent power, making the second set very competitive.

The world number one was forced to save break points as she just managed to be more stable on big moments.

A more controlled second set from Swiatek was rewarded towards the end of the set as once again Sabalenka crumbled under pressure when it mattered.

Two late breaks of serve completed the Swiatek surge as the Pole enters the second Grand Slam of the season in dominant form.

As for Sabalenka it’s a disappointing performance that she will look to put right at Roland Garros.

Roland Garros starts on the 26th of May where Swiatek is defending champion.

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