Karolina Pliskova Reigns Over Kontaveit To Reach Stuttgart Final - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Reigns Over Kontaveit To Reach Stuttgart Final

Karolina Pliskova won 36 of 41 points on serve as she eased to victory over Anett Kontaveit in the semi-finals in Stuttgart.

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Karolina Pliskova produced a totally dominant display to beat Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-2 at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and set up an intriguing final against Coco Vandeweghe.

Big servers have ruled the courts in Stuttgart this week, so it is no surprise to see the Czech reach this stage as she is the most prolific server on the WTA tour.

“It’s an indoor tournament and it’s pretty fast clay, so I think the serve is really the key of the game here,” Pliskova said in her on-court interview. “I know (Vandeweghe) can serve well on every surface, same as me, so it’s going to be a very tough battle.”

Although Vandeweghe was impressive on serve in the opening semi-final, Pliskova was even better in this match. She won a remarkable 96% of points on her first serve and 73% behind her second. She also never faced a break point.

Considering the standard of play she produced towards the end of the match, Pliskova made a slow start as she struggled to put Kontaveit under any real pressure.

The Estonian got herself in trouble in the fifth by making two double faults to give the Czech three break points. However, she dug in and saved all three by serving well and hitting deep.

But Kontaveit’s resistance did not last long. She hit a forehand long to give Pliskova another break point chance in game nine. And this time the Estonian could not save it as she sprayed a forehand wide.

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Incredibly, the World No.6 won every point in her next five service games. This run of flawlessness consisted of the hold that sealed the first set as well as the entire second set.

Pliskova’s golden set on serve

Such dominance on serve enabled Pliskova to be very aggressive when she was returning. She unleashed a series of powerful strikes to break for a 2-1 lead.

The Czech then hit two winners and an unreturnable forehand to come back from 40-0 behind and set up another break in game seven.

Pliskova finished the match with a flourish. She cracked two forehand winners – her 20th and 21st of the match – and an ace as she held to love.

“I think we both started a little bit nervously,” Pliskova reflected in her on-court interview. “I’m just happy that I got into it. My serve was there – that’s always the key with my game.”

The Czech continued, “I was happy that I found my rhythm in the second set. I started to feel the game a little bit better and that’s why the score was easy.”

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

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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