Elina Svitolina Ends Osaka’s Winning Run - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina Ends Osaka’s Winning Run

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Elina Svitolina produced a superb performance to beat Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-2 in the second round of the Miami Open.

 

It was the Japanese player’s first defeat in nine matches, but after a run to glory in the desert that included wins over Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep and a first-round win over Serena Williams in Miami, she can be very proud of what she has achieved.

For Svitolina, this convincing win was an ideal demonstration of the progress she has made in the last 18 months. In that time, the Ukrainian has won seven WTA titles (including five at premier level) and risen from 18 to 4 in the world rankings.

And Svitolina showed exactly why she holds that lofty position in the rankings with a dominant display on stadium court. She won a tight first set by breaking Osaka in game seven, and then raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set before finally winning it 6-2.

One of the ways the Ukrainian achieved victory was by consistently outmanoeuvring Osaka and creating opportunities to hit a raft of typically precise winners. She also kept unforced errors to a minimum to ensure she made life as difficult as possible for the Japanese.

Furthermore, Svitolina served well throughout. She hit five aces, had a first serve percentage of 74% and won 78% of points behind it, and saved five of six break points faced.

And to top off an excellent all-round showing, the Ukrainian underlined her status as one of the best returners in the women’s game by earning nine break points against Osaka’s serve and taking four of them.

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“I’ve always known that she can produce a great game,” said Svitolina in her press conference. “We’ve played quite a bit now. I knew that I would have to always be on my toes and be ready for her strong shots and strong serve.”

Svitolina continued, “She can take the game in her hands. I was just trying not to give her any opportunities. I think I was playing pretty solid, serving good. This was the key for today, as well as making it physical.”

The Ukrainian was asked what it was like facing such a tough opponent in her first match at a tournament. She said, “I was like, okay, this is going to be challenging. For a second round, normally you don’t get these kinds of matches.”

Svitolina continued, “It was actually quite exciting. I like to go into tournaments with a little bit of stress. Then you’re straight into the matches. Of course, this kind of player was a little bit too much because, after winning Indian Wells, she was pretty confident. I’m very happy with the way I handled this match today and the way I was playing.”

In her press conference, Osaka described the World No.4 as “one of the most consistent players”. When Svitolina was asked to explain what makes her so consistent, she said, “All my career, growing up, my parents were always telling me that I have to take one step at a time and not rush things. This is the key I think for me.”

She continued, “Even when I have tough times, I just try to break it down into small pieces, take one step, and then move forward. I don’t put so much pressure on myself. It’s life, and it’s the process of learning, as well. Every week you have a chance to play well.”

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Kvitova overcomes Sabalenka

Svitolina will be joined in round three by Petra Kvitova after the Czech withstood a strong challenge from Aryna Sabalenka to win 7-5 3-6 6-3.

The first set was frantic and could have gone either way. The Belarussian broke Kvitova’s serve three times but the two-time Grand Slam champion managed four breaks to edge it.

Sabalenka possesses massive groundstrokes on both wings and she was going for everything most of the time. In the second set her approach paid off as she broke the Czech twice and stormed to a 5-1 lead before eventually taking it 6-3.

Kvitova drew on all her experience to hold serve throughout the decider. She earned the one break she needed in the sixth game and held her nerve for the rest of the set to seal victory.

Elsewhere in Miami, Donna Vekic earned an impressive 6-3 6-7(4) 6-1 win over 24th seed Elena Vesnina, Ashleigh Barty eased to a 6-0 7-6(0) triumph over Claire Liu and Daria Gavrilova beat Andrea Petkovic 7-6(3) 6-4.

 

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Fiona Ferro beats Camila Giorgi to set up final against Anett Kontaveit

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France’s Fiona Ferro came back from one set down to beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 2-6 6-2 7-5 reaching her first final of the season at the Ladies Open in Palermo. Ferro sets up a final against Anett Kontaveit, who beat top seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4. 

 

Giorgi broke twice in a row to open up a 4-0 lead and saved three break points before holding serve for 5-0. Ferro pulled one break back, when Giorgi was serving for the first set. Giorgi sealed the opening set 6-2 with her third break in the eighth game. 

Ferro earned an early break in the first game of the second set and held her serve after saving two break points to open up a 2-0 lead. Ferro went up a double break in the fifth game to race out to a 4-1 lead, but Giorgi got one break back for 2-4. Ferro broke again in the seventh game and served out the second set 6-2. 

Giorgi dropped her serve in the third game of the second set and saved a break point in the fifth game. Giorgi broke back in the 10th game, as Ferro was serving for the match at 5-4. Ferro broke serve in the 11th game and served out the win on her second match point. 

Giorgi was aiming to become the first Italian player to reach the final in Palermo since Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci battled for the title in 2013. Ferro is unbeaten in all her four post-lockdown matches on the WTA Tour.

Ferro beat an Italian opponent for the second evening in a row one day after her win over Sara Errani. 

“I would have never won those matches two years ago. I used to focus on my opponent when she was playing aggressive, and I did not find solutions. Today I am very happy to be through because I managed to focus more on my game and not on my emotions”, said Ferro.

“I have no regrets. I felt in good shape and I tried to play my own game. The break in the third set made the difference”, said Giorgi.

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Anett Kontaveit beats Petra Martic to reach the final in Palermo

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World number 22 Anett Kontaveit from Estonia upset number 1 seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4 to reach the final at the Ladies Open in Palermo. 

 

Martic has scored her third win in her seven matches against top 20 players after beating Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina. 

Kontaveit avenged her defeat against Martic in their only previous match played in Dubai last February before the lockdown. 

Kontaveit had to fight to hold her serve in the first game of the opening set at deuce and took control of the match by breaking in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Martic won only 56% on her first serve in the opening set. Kontaveit came back from 0-30 down to hold serve in the seventh game before breaking for the second time in the eighth game to win the first set 6-2. 

Martic earned an early break in the first game of the second set at deuce, but Kontaveit broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The Estonian player saved a break point before holding serve to take a 2-1 lead. Kontaveit saved five of the six break points she faced. Kontaveit broke for the second time in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Martic held serve at 2-5 down before breaking serve at 15 in the ninth game to claw her way back to 4-5. The Croatian player received a medical time-out before Kontaveit for the third time in the tenth game at love to close out the second set 6-4. 

Kontaveit will chase her second title in tomorrow’s final three years after winning in S’Hertogenbosch in 2017.

“I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I am happy to be in the final”, said Kontaveit. 

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Camila Giorgi battles past Dayana Yastremska in late-night clash in Palermo

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Italy’s Camila Giorgi battled past number 7 seed Dayana Yastremska 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 after 2 hours and 52 minutes to secure her spot in the semifinal at the Ladies Open in Palermo. 

 

Giorgi fended off two match points in the second set before completing her come-back in a late-night epic clash which ended at nearly 1.30 a.m. local time. Giorgi set up a semifinal against French player Fiona Ferro, who beat another Italian player Sara Errani.

Both players traded breaks in the first and fourth games of the opening set to draw level to 3-3. Giorgi saved three break points in the seventh game, but Yastremska converted her fourth chance with a service return to take a 4-3 lead. 

Yastremska served for the first set at 5-4, but Giorgi earned a break point, when the Ukrainian player made a double fault. Giorgi missed two groundstrokes and Yastremska earned a set point. Giorgi fended off four set points, but she was not able to reach a break point. Yastremska hit an ace to earn he fifth set point and converted it after Giorgi sent a forehand wide. 

The second set started with two trades of break en route to 3-3. Yastremska broke serve, as Giorgi sent a forehand wide on the third break point. Yastremska earned her first match point with an ace at 5-4. She earned a second opportunity with a forehand winner. Giorgi saved them with her powerful returns before breaking serve to draw level to 5-5. The Italian player raced out to a 4-0 lead in the tie-break and hit a backhand winner down the line to pull away to 6-3. Yastremska saved the first two set points, but Giorgi sealed the second set on her third opportunity. 

In the third set Yastremska earned two break points at 3-2, but Giorgi held serve to draw level to 3-3. Giorgi broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 and held serve in the eighth game for 5-3. Giorgi earned a match point, when Yastremska netted a groundstroke, and converted it, when her return forced a wide error. 

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