Agnieszka Radwanska upsets Halep in Miami - UBITENNIS
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Agnieszka Radwanska upsets Halep in Miami

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Agnieszka Radwanska produced an inspired comeback to beat Simona Halep 3-6 6-3 6-2 in the third round of the Miami Open.

It was the Pole’s first win over a top ten player since October 2016 and only the second time she had beaten a world No.1.

Radwanska earned victory by finding her best tennis when she needed it most. After falling a set behind, she became more aggressive and began to construct points in the way she is known for.

The improvements the Pole made enabled her to out-play Halep from the back of the court in the second and third sets and she was understandably delighted with her big win.

“I’m so happy,” said Radwanska in her on-court interview. “She’s been playing great tennis in the last couple of months. A win like this always makes you so happy so I’m very glad I could win that third set.”

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Halep got the better of the early rallies in the match and, despite losing her own serve in game three, broke Radwanska twice to lead 3-1.

Both players upped their game after that. Halep drilled an excellent forehand winner down the line to seal a comfortable hold, before Radwanska replied with an easy hold and some aggressive rallying to break back and get the set back on serve.

It did not stay that way for long. Halep produced a superb backhand winner and outlasted Radwanska in a long rally to earn 15-30 on the Pole’s serve.

The 2012 Wimbledon finalist levelled the score with a deft volley winner, but lost out in a long rally and then gifted the Romanian the break with an unforced error. Halep made it count as she held serve with ease to seal the first set.

Losing the opener seemed to trigger something in Radwanska and she responded superbly. In game two of the second set, she played a near-perfect return game which included a stunning backhand volley that spun back towards the net after it bounced.

That set the tone for the rest of Radwanska’s performance. She sealed a double break with a delightful floated backhand winner that just eluded the Halep’s racket, and then withstood a brief comeback from the Romanian to finish off the set and level the match.

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In the decider, it was Halep’s turn to make a fast start. She broke Radwanska to love in the opening game with the help of an excellent forehand down the line and a spectacular angled backhand winner to finish one of the best rallies of the match.

Both players then registered comfortable holds before the momentum shifted again. The Pole out-rallied the Romanian to earn a 15-40 advantage and sealed the break back with a well-placed forehand pass.

After two intense games in which both Halep and Radwanska tried and failed to take control of the contest by breaking, Radwanska steeled herself and took her game to another level.

At 30-15 up during an easy hold, she played one of the best points of her career. First she drew Halep in with a drop shot, and then she lobbed her. The Romanian retrieved the lob and got it over the net, only to watch in horror as the Pole executed a perfect backhand drop volley.

Radwanska’s improvement seemed to deflate Halep as she made three errors to gift the Pole a break of serve and a 5-3 advantage.

To her credit, the Romanian did not give up as she fought her way to 30-all when Radwanska served for it. But the Pole held firm and forced Halep into a couple of errors to clinch an impressive victory.

Pliskova struggles past Hsieh

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Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova endured a tough test in round three against Su-Wei Hsieh before eventually triumphing 6-4 1-6 7-6(4).

“It was a very tough match for sure,” said Pliskova in her on-court interview. “She has a strange style and there are not many players like this with a lot of slices and a lot of drop shots. It was a very tricky game.”

The Czech continued, “I started very well to go 5-1 up. (But then I made) some mistakes, she was back in the match and the third set was very close.”

Pliskova was also asked what it was like to defend points at an event. She said, “I try to not think about ranking and points but sometimes it’s tough. I came to this tournament to defend semi-finals.”

“I’m just happy that I won two rounds and two very tough matches – Makarova and here. I’m still in the tournament and my journey continues.”

In the other third round match taking place early in the day, Zarina Diyas beat Carina Witthoeft 4-6 7-5 6-0.

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World No.634 Laura Samson Reaches First WTA Quarter-Final At 16

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Laura Samon - image via itftennis.com/ photo credi: Manuel Queimadelos

Laura Samson has become the first player born in 2008 to reach the quarter-finals of a WTA event after producing a surprise win on Tuesday. 

The 16-year-old wildcard stunned second seed Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round at the Prague Open. Her triumph occurred a day after she dropped just two games against Tara Wurth in her opening match. This week is Samson’s Tour debut after playing 10 events on the lower-level ITF circuit. 

“I’m extremely surprised,” she said during her on-court interview after beating Siniakova. “I didn’t go into it as favorite. I’m so proud of myself and I hope I will continue to play like this. As I was going into the second set I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose, I didn’t play good in the first set.’ I’m not really sure when [I thought I could win], I just believed myself in the third set.” 

Samson is the latest Czech player to break through following a sucessful junior career. Last year she won the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title and was runner-up in the French Open singles tournament in June. She is currently No.3 in the ITF junior rankings but has been ranked as high as No.1. 

Earlier this year, Samson decided to change her name on the Tour by dropping the last three letters (ova). The reason why she did so was to avoid getting confused with another player. 

“I first noticed it last year, there was a problem that I was getting strings (the) of Lyudmila Samsonova,” she told tenisovysvet.cz.

“I also talked about it with her and, for example, according to the schedule, she also sometimes thought she was playing, but it was me,” 

“I would have liked the ending -ová, but unfortunately it turned out like this.”

The teenager will next take on world No.248 Oksana Selekhmeteva with the winner of that match progressing to their first WTA semi-final.  21-year-old Selekhmeteva is a former top 10 junior player who came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw. She is a two-time junior Grand Slam champion in doubles. 

There are five seeds remaining in the tournament, including top seed Linda Nosková who will play Germany’s Ella Seidel in her next match. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

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After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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