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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Simona Halep wins the all Romanian battle in Cluj

Simona Halep is into the second round in Cluj after a dominant performance.

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Simona Halep (@TransylvaniaOpn - Twitter)

The world number 18 and the top seed managed to beat her Romanian counterpart in straight sets.

 

Simona Halep is through round one of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, after beating a fellow Romanian Elena Gabriella Ruse in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes.

The number one seed served six aces and won 83% of her first serve points in a match that seemed one-sided and Halep was pulling amazing shots and winners throughout the entire match.

“It’s not easy to face a Romanian in the first round of a Romanian tournament but I was very focused and concentrated on what I have to do and I didn’t really think of who I would play, I just wanted to play my game and I felt great on court today.”

It was actually the world 85 with the first breakpoint of the match in the first game but it was denied when Halep stepped up to the service line and fired an ace to save it.

After holding serve the world number 18 started looking for the early lead and she was able to get it after a poor service game from Ruse and after consolidating the break managed to turn it into a double break.

Halep served out the first set in a mere 29 minutes and it was clear she was the better player today.

She continued to ride the momentum into the second set and at 1-1 earned three more chances to break and broke with a stunning return winner that caught Ruse off guard for the 2-1 lead.

At 4-2, the top seed managed to go up a double break with another amazing passing shot and she served out the match and after the match in her post-match press conference, she spoke about pulling off those amazing shots on breakpoints.

“When I have a chance to do it I always do because I love these kinda shots and today it was a great one so it made me very happy.”

Halep will next face the Russian Varvara Gracheva in the next round after she beat the German Andrea Petkovic in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Tuesday night.

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Anett Kontaveit overpowers Krunic in Cluj-Napoca

Anett Kontaveit took a step towards the WTA Finals with a straight sets win in Cluj today.

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Anett Kontaveit (@TransylvaniaOpn - Twitter)

The number two seed only needed two sets and 70 minutes to beat her Serbian opponent.

 

Anett Kontaveit is through to the second round of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, beating the Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 10 minutes.

The world number 14 served two aces and won 69% of the points on her first serve in a match where she seemed to outhit her opponent using her powerful groundstrokes.

“The match was close and it was only break in the first set and I thought I was playing pretty well and winning a lot of points on my first serve but I actually think she served well and it wasn’t an easy match and the second set got really close”.

The Estonian had the better start to the match holding serve in her opening game and putting pressure on the Serb right away earning two chances to break serve and got the early break to take a 2-0 lead.

That one break was enough for Kontaveitt to serve out the first set and take it 6-3.

The second set was a more competitive affair and it stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Tallinn, Estonia native was able to break the Serb at love to take a 3-2 lead and she was able to consolidate the break.

It stayed on serve until 4-3 when the world number 44 fought back and was able to break the Estonian serve and the set went back on serve. Once again both players did a good job holding serve until 5-5 when Kontaveit got the crucial break of serve and served out the match.

After the match in her post-match press conference, Kontaveit spoke about how she was feeling energy-wise after such a short turnaround time from winning the title in Moscow last week.

” I feel like the energy has dropped a little bit but I did manage to bring some of the energy today and still be active and be aggressive.”

Kontaveit will now face Alison Van Uytvanck in her next match after the Belgian beat Danka Kovinic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day.

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Emma Raducanu battles back to beat Hercog in Cluj

Emma Raducanu won her first match on the WTA tour after beating Polona Hercog in Cluj.

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Emma Raducanu (@usopen - Twitter)

The US Open champion was pushed to the limit in a three-set win over her Slovenian opponent.

 

Emma Raducanu is through to round two at the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca after beating the Slovenian Polona Hercog in three sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in a match that lasted two hours and 27 minutes.

The Brit served four aces and won 75% of her first serve points in a match that went back and forth for all three sets and had a rollercoaster feel to it and it was the first time at tour-level Raducanu played a three-set match.

“I feel really happy to have won that match it was actually very difficult and I wasn’t playing my best tennis but Polona (Hercog) is a great opponent and she is really experienced so I really had to fight hard to pull that one through.”

After holding serve in the opening service game of the match the world number 23 put pressure on Hercog’s serve right away and in a game that lasted 10 minutes, it took the Brit six break points before she was able to get the first break of serve of the match.

It stayed on serve until 4-2 when the world number 124 struck back and managed to get the break back to go back on serve and at 4-4 got the crucial break needed to serve out the first set.

The second set stayed on serve with the 18-year-old getting the first chance to break at 2-1 but Hercog saved all three break points she faced and at 4-4 it was the Slovenian applying pressure and looking for the break.

Raducanu was able to save it and hold serve and at 6-5, she found herself at set point as she managed to win it to force a third and deciding set.

Winning the second set seemed to give the Britt a boost and the motivation to keep fighting and she managed to get the early break to take a 2-0 lead and at 3-0 broke again to go up a double break.

The next game she found herself at match point but the world number 124 was able to save it and the next game Raducanu serve out the match. In her post-match press conference, she spoke about what the key was to turn the match around.

“It feels like a huge win for me and it’s my first WTA tour win which makes me very happy and I think the key was to stay mentally composed and I knew myself I wasn’t playing very well so I just needed to keep going one point at a time and I am really proud of myself how I fought today.”

Raducanu will face a Romanian in her next match on Thursday in Ana Bogden who beat the Serb Ivana Jorovic on Monday and this will be their first-ever meeting.

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