Simona Halep survived an almighty scare in a ‘crazy match’ to defeat Oceane Dodin 3-6 6-3 7-5 and struggle through to the third round in Miami.
The Romanian, 26, looked out of sorts in the opening set as she tamely surrendered her serve twice to fall 5-3 behind.
Halep raised her level when the Frenchwoman was serving for the opener but Dodin, who had been cracking winners all set, was not to be denied and saved two break points to seal it 6-3.
The World No.1 battled hard in the second set to win it without ever playing as well as she can. She was broken twice but managed to break Dodin on three occasions to earn a 6-3 scoreline.
Set three was like a heavyweight contest, with both players producing their best tennis of the match and not giving anything easy to their opponent.
Twice Dodin broke to go ahead, and twice Halep hit back straightaway to make the score 4-4. It was breathless stuff and a real treat for the Miami crowd.
It was hard to predict who would win at that stage, but when Halep broke to lead 6-5, it finally felt decisive. And so it proved, as the Romanian profited from two unforced errors from Dodin and then hit a cross-court backhand winner and an ace to hold to love and seal victory.
“It was a crazy match,” Halep said in her on-court interview. “This year I’ve had many tough matches, so I’m used to it. I just wanted to stay focused, not give up and in the end I won. I was fighting till the end and this is the most important thing today.”
Halep continued, “It’s tough to play against an opponent like this because she was hitting really strong and you never know where the ball is coming but I just tried to be strong in the legs to return the ball and make her move more. If she was running a little bit more, she had trouble hitting the ball as hard.”
The World No.1 also talked about the challenge of facing Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4 7-6(4), in round three. She said, “(I need to be) more aggressive than today, find some angles, push her back and open the court.”
Pliskova gets first win over Makarova
Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova also endured a tough test to come through 7-5 7-5 against Ekaterina Makarova.
The Czech, who celebrated her 26th birthday on Wednesday, had lost all three of her previous meetings with the Russian and she made a poor start this time around as she lost her opening service game.
However, she gained a foothold in the match by breaking back in game four, before the pair traded breaks to make it 3-3.
It stayed with serve for the next five games, although Makarova had to save three break points in game eight to maintain parity.
But that escape was only a temporary reprieve for the Russian, as Pliskova powered her way to a break in game twelve which earned her the first set.
The second set was even more of a rollercoaster affair. Pliskova saved break points in her first two service games but dropped serve in her third. She then wasted two opportunities to break straight back in game six, before levelling the score with a break in game eight.
Pliskova and Makarova then traded breaks for the second time in the match, before a hold from the Czech took her to 6-5 up with a chance to break for the set again.
As she did in the first set, Pliskova stepped up and performed at the crucial moment to convert her first match point on Makarova’s serve. The win earns her a third-round clash with either Sorana Cirstea or Su-Wei Hsieh.
“The match was pretty close in both sets, so that gives me some extra confidence to continue on at the tournament,” Pliskova told wtatennis.com after the match. “This was one of the toughest draws for me in the opening round, and knowing I beat someone I’d never beaten before, I just feel good about how I played. Hopefully, I can play at this level the next couple of matches, but I think the way I played today was really good.”
Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette
China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player.
The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.
“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying.
Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.
20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina.
Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.
“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”
It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing.
Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open
Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat.
The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory.
Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.
“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added.
Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose
After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open.
The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall.
“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”
Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament.
Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.
Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”
It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.
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