Madison Keys reached her third quarter-final in Charleston after producing a commanding performance to beat Camila Giorgi 6-4 6-3.
The win ends a run of three straight losses for the American and it is her best showing at an event since she reached the same stage at the Australian Open.
“I’m really happy to get some back-to-back matches in and looking forward to more,” Keys said in her on-court interview.
The 2017 US Open finalist made an excellent start to the match as she raced into a 5-1 lead. Then Giorgi found some rhythm. Having struggled to cope with the American’s consistency from the back of the court, the Italian responded in the only way she knows: by being very aggressive.
It worked for a while as Giorgi started to hit winners and dragged the score back to 5-4 in Keys’ favour. This prompted the American to summon her coach Lindsay Davenport.
The three-time Grand Slam champion encouraged Keys to ensure she moved as well as possible and make Giorgi play extra balls when the Italian served in the next game.
The World No.14 clearly listened as she drew two errors from Giorgi, hit a precise forehand winner to make it 0-40 and then sealed the break and the set with an excellent forehand pass.
Set two went comfortably with serve for the opening three games before an error-strewn game from the Italian handed Keys a break and a 3-1 lead.
The American also made a lot of errors in the next game but, unlike her opponent, she managed to hang onto her serve. This proved to be crucial, as Keys hit four aces and a stunning forehand winner en route to two easy holds to polish off an easy victory.
The 7th seed will now play fellow American Bernarda Pera in the last eight after the World No.101 edged out Sara Errani 6-3 2-6 6-4.
“I’m really happy with how today went,” said Keys in her on-court interview. “I thought Camila played really well and I’m just really happy with the win.”
The American talked about what it was like facing Giorgi. She said, “I think the biggest thing is just weathering the storm. She’s going to hit some amazing shots, and it was really just me trying to get one more ball in.”
Kasatkina to face Goerges in last eight
In the other half of the draw, defending champion Daria Kasatkina hammered Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2 6-1 in just 65 minutes to book her place in the last eight.
The Russian, who was the runner-up at Indian Wells, hit 13 winners and earned six breaks of serve as she dominated her Romanian opponent from start to finish.
After the win, Kasatkina said she is “more mature” than she was when she won the title last year. That increased maturity has showed in the Russian’s tennis in 2018 as she has already reached two finals and a semi-final at Premier events.
Kasatkina, 20, will play Julia Goerges in the quarter-finals after the German beat Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka 7-6(4) 6-3.
The Japanese player started stronger and opened up a 4-2 lead in the first set. However, Goerges used all the weapons in her game to break back and restore parity.
She drew an error with a clever sliced backhand and defended outstandingly to outlast Osaka and make it 0-30. Then the German produced a stunning combination to set up three break points. She hit a venomous forehand return out wide before slicing a vicious backhand across court that the Japanese could only clip into the net.
Osaka did superbly to save all three, but Goerges did not give up. She hit two massive groundstrokes – one on each side – that were too hot for the World No.21 to handle to win the next points and clinch the break she needed.
After another break apiece and three love holds, the German won a tie-break littered with errors to take the first set. However, the second set was much more comfortable for Goerges as, with the exception of one poor game, she dominated on serve to win it 6-3.
“Today proved again that I’ve developed in the right direction because a few years ago I might not have won a match like this,” Goerges said in her on-court interview. “I managed to find a way (to win) against probably one of the hottest players on tour right now.”
Elina Svitolina Not Giving Up On Grand Slam Dreams
The 25-year-old tennis star speaks out about her chances of winning a major title in the future.
Ukraine’s top player Elina Svitolina is hoping that she can one day emulate the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep by using her experience on the WTA Tour to guide her to Grand Slam success.
The world No.5 says the openness of the women’s tour makes her believe that she can still win a major title. Since 2018 seven different women have won Grand Slam titles with Halep and Naomi Osaka being the one players to have won multiple trophies within that period. As for 25-year-old Svitolina, she is yet to contest a major final. Although she did reach the semifinals of Wimbledon and the US Open last year.
Speaking to tennis website BTU, Svitolina says the diverse range of major winners is a confidence boost for her. Saying the key aspect for her to potentially succeed is maintaining a high level of physical and mental health throughout a two-week period at a Grand Slam.
“In recent years, we see that tennis players had different paths to victory. Someone won right away as soon as they announced themselves on the tour. Others patiently gained experience to finally win the major, for example, Simone Halep and Caroline Wozniacki. Different paths are also due to different styles of play,” she explained.
“It gives me hope and energy to work hard so that one day I can take this chance. The key point for me is to keep my best level for two weeks. This requires a lot of effort, both psychological and physical. Everything should work at the same time. And you need to add a little luck.”
Svitolina is yet to fully commit to playing at the next major event, which will be the US Open in August. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament will be taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and strict measures are in place with players being kept in what is described as a ‘bubble.’ Although some have reservations about playing in New York amid a rising number of Coronavirus cases in the country. On Friday health officials reported 66,528 new cases.
Prior to the US Open, the women’s Tour will officially restart on August 3rd at the Palermo Open in Italy. Although Svitolina says there are many ‘unanswered questions’ about returning to competitive tennis and the potential travel restrictions she may encounter.
“They (the WTA) organize video conferences every week, sometimes they invite ITF or USTA representatives, since the US Open is now in the centre of discussions,” she said.
“So, they inform us. But, I think, it all depends on local authorities. As we can see, the rules vary from country to country, changes occur every week. There are still many unanswered questions.”
Svitolina started 2020 by winning 11 out of 17 matches played before the sport was suspended due to the pandemic. At her most recent tournament in Monterrey, she won her 14th title by dropping only one set in five matches played.
Svitolina’s Grand Slams record
|Year||Australian Open||Roland Garros||Wimbledon||US Open|
Dayana Yastremska Labels Controversial Twitter Photo A ‘Misunderstanding’
The world No.25 has been forced to delete photos from her social media accounts after a gesture to support anti-racism backfired.
Ukrainian Tennis star Dayana Yastremska has been forced to remove a photo from social media and issue a statement after she was accused of being racially insensitive.
The 20-year-old tennis star attracted criticism on Thursday after uploading a photo of herself in different poses with the phrase ‘equality’ assigned to it. However, the images were controversial as they show Yastremska as half white and half back. Black facing, which is where a non-black person darker their skins to represent the race, has recently been under the spotlight in the wake of the Black Live Matter movement. Some episodes from TV shows such as The Mighty Boosh, Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen have been removed from online platforms due to the black facing of characters.
In the aftermath of posting the photo, two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka commented on Instagram ‘Girl I know you didn’t just do blackface,’ with a skull emoji. Osaka, who has a Japanese mother and Haitian father, has spoken publicly about her support for the Black Live Matter movement. Yastremska responded to the comment with a prayer emoji.
Yastremska removed her photos from Twitter and Instagram soon after she received backlash online, however, she insists that she never meant to cause any offence. Posting a statement on Twitter, the world No.25 apologize to those who she offended. Although she insists that her photo has been ‘misunderstood’ and she doesn’t consider it to be a ‘black face.’
“Earlier today I posted pictures that I thought would spread a message of equality. It clearly did not and has been misunderstood,” she wrote on Twitter yesterday.
“I have been warned about the negative impact but I did not — and still don’t — consider it a ‘black face’.
“I did not intend to caricature but to share my feelings about the current situation: we should all be treated as equal.
“I am so disappointed my message has been corrupted. I sincerely apologise to all the people I have offended.”
Former Wimbledon junior finalist Yastremska has won three WTA titles so far in her career and has earned more than $1.8 million in prize money. In January she reached a ranking high of 21st.
WTA’s Restart Efforts Overshadowed By Likely Cancellation Of All Chinese Tournaments
Big blow dealt to the WTA calendar as Chinese Authorities cancel all international events in China for 2020, including the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
After many weeks of relative silence, the WTA had a very eventful day on Thursday releasing its revised mechanism for the calculation of the WTA Ranking and confirming some changes to its calendar. However, the organization managing the women’s pro tour had to face some terrible news coming from Asia, where the General Administration of Sport of China in an unexpected move decided to wipe away all international sports events in China, casting an ominous shadow over some of the most lucrative tournaments in the WTA calendar.
After the ATP announced on Monday a new ranking system based on results obtained in the last 22 months (from March 2019 to December 2020), the WTA unveiled a substantially similar system that allows players to maintain the points obtained in 2019 if they are unable or unwilling to participate to the corresponding tournament in 2020 or if they achieve a worse result in this year’s event. The only significant difference with the ATP’s new ranking system consists of allowing players to count only the best 16 results achieved in the considered 22-month window, while the men’s tour allows to count up to 18 results.
“In order to balance fairness and flexibility for all players, the WTA Rankings will generally follow the ‘Better of 2019 and 2020’ point model, in alignment with the ATP Tour,” the WTA said in a statement. “In reaching this decision, various elements were considered including the provisional 2020 revised calendar, various travel restrictions, varying levels of player comfort of traveling to compete, as well as the elimination of player commitment requirements for the remainder of 2020.”
Furthermore, the WTA announced two addition to its provisional 2020 calendar that sees professional tournaments resume on 3rd August with the Palermo Ladies Open in Palermo, Italy. In fact, on the week of 10th August there will be one new event on clay in Europe and one on hard courts in the USA: they will be the Prague Open in Prague, Czech Republic and the Bluegrass Orthopaedics in Lexington, Kentucky.
The former event was originally planned to take place in the spring and was tentatively included in an earlier draft of the new calendar, but then almost immediately dropped. The latter tournament replaces the WTA International Citi Open, due to take place in Washington, D.C. at the same time as the ATP 500 event.
“After an exhaustive effort collaborating with all of our stakeholders over many months, we committed to hosting the WTA tournament as part of our event in August so that we could provide playing opportunities for WTA players and continue to showdown women’s tennis to our community – said the Citi Open in a statement posted on their social media accounts – However, given the unique circumstances and requirements this year, we understand and support Octagon [that owns the rights to the event] and the WTA’s decision to hold the tournament as a completely separate event in 2020. We wish them and the local organizers in Lexington, Kentucky all the best for a safe and successful tournament. We still plan to present women’s tennis during this year’s Citi Open and look forward to hosting the women’s tournament in Washington, D. C. next year and long into the future”.
But the mood at the WTA Offices in St. Petersburg, Florida changed quickly when a press release coming from the Chinese press agency Xinhua announced a decision by the General Administration of Sport of China to cancel all international events due to be held in China in 2020, with the only exception of test events for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games. This seems to include all tennis tournaments planned for the months of September and October, in particular the WTA Premier 5 in Wuhan, the WTA Premier Mandatory in Beijing and above all the WTA Championships in Shenzhen, as well as the ATP Masters 1000 Shanghai Rolex Masters.
General Administration of Sports published guiding principles of resuming sports. Highlight: technically no international sports event is allowed to be hosted in China except the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic test matches. Asian Champions League? The 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying? pic.twitter.com/y4Q0yazVBP
— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) July 9, 2020
The WTA relies on the year-end WTA Championships for more than 60 percent of its annual turnover, and overall is extremely dependent on the revenues generated by its Chinese swing during the Fall. The lack of official comments from the WTA Headquarters seems to suggest the announcement came out of the blue and no contingency plan is presently in place to limit the effect of a complete cancellation of the Chinese tournaments.
At this late stage, it appears problematic to replace those big events with other tournaments in other locations around the world, not only for the difficulty to source a sufficient number of high-paying sponsors, but also due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has led many countries to place heavy restrictions to international travel.
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