Maria Sharapova Knocked Out By Garcia In Stuttgart - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Knocked Out By Garcia In Stuttgart

Maria Sharapova lost her fourth straight match as Caroline Garcia fought back to beat the Russian 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in Stuttgart.

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Maria Sharapova suffered her fourth straight loss on the WTA tour as Caroline Garcia produced a stirring comeback to beat the Russian 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in Stuttgart.

 

Defeat in the first round means Sharapova will drop outside the World’s Top 50 after she reached Roberta Vinci, Ekaterina Makarova and Anett Kontaveit en route to the semi-final in 2017.

It was a strange loss, too, as the Russian won more points than Garcia (109 to 104), hit more winners (39 to 25) and more aces (17 to 6) but somehow ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline.

Ultimately it came down to who played the big points better. And although this is an area Sharapova historically excels in, today it was the Frenchwoman who stepped up and produced her best when it really mattered.

The two-time French Open champion served superbly in the opening set. She lost just five points during five of the most comfortable holds of her career and got the solitary break she needed in the second game.

Garcia responds superbly

Garcia made sure the second set was entirely different. She attacked Sharapova’s second serve and went toe-to-toe with the Russian throughout.

The Frenchwoman broke to lead 4-2, but the former World No.1 hit back straight away and almost won three games in a row. However, Garcia expertly saved two break points in game nine.

Perhaps inevitably, this very close set was decided by a tie-break. And the World No.7 looked set to win it comfortably when she raced into a 6-3 lead.

Sharapova then fought back to 6-all and sensed a chance to seal a straight-sets victory. But Garcia snuffed out her hopes with a big serve and a precise backhand winner to take it 8-6.

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The decider was also close and it was still hard to predict what would happen at 4-all. The Frenchwoman stepped up and provided the answer by punishing some weak serving from the Russian. After securing the break, she clung on to her serve to seal the win.

Garcia delighted to win

It was Garcia’s first-ever victory over Sharapova and she celebrated gleefully. She lost to the Russian at the French Open in 2011, Doha in 2013, Brisbane in 2014 and Madrid in 2015.

“It was a very close match, as I expected,” said Garcia in her on-court interview. “I know she’s a fighter, so until the end it will be very difficult.”

“I was a little bit more aggressive today and I returned a little bit better and finally I can say, after seven years, that I beat her.”

Garcia believes her consistency helped her win today. She said, “Sometimes you react to the ball when it comes fast and you hit harder but sometimes you have to think a little bit more and play with more accuracy and that’s what I did well in the last couple of games.”

The Frenchwoman was asked what it was like playing Sharapova for the first time at Roland Garros in 2011 when she was just 17.

She said, “She really plays every single point 100%. So even when I was up, I got a bit stressed. It was my first match on a big court and she had the experience with her, so then I didn’t win any more games. It was not a very good experience for me, so it’s definitely a very important win today.”

Goerges stunned by Vondrousova

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Julia Goerges produced one of her worst performances of 2018 as she was hammered 6-2 6-2 by World No.73 Marketa Vondrousova.

In front of an increasingly stunned home crowd, the German seemed unable to defend her second serve and failed to earn a break point in the match.

This enabled talented youngster Vondrousova, 18, to break Goerges twice in each set and wrap up a remarkably simple victory in just 68 minutes. She will play Elina Svitolina in round two.

 

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Elina Svitolina Cast Doubt Over Playing Tournaments Without Points

Ukraine’s top tennis player says she still has many questions concerning the upcoming resumption of the WTA Tour.

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Elina Svitolina (@TennisChannel on Twitter)

Elina Svitolina has hinted that she may decide not to play in certain tournaments if they are unable to offer any ranking points due to the restrictions that will be in place.

 

The world No.5 has cautiously welcomed the upcoming return of competitive tennis, which will resume at the start of August in Italy. Since March all events have been either suspended or cancelled due to the worldwide health crises. Svitolina’s last played at the Monterey Open in Mexico where she defeated Marie Bouzkova to win her 14th WTA title.

Yet to outline her calendar for the remainder of 2020, the 25-year-old says she still has many questions regarding the resumption of the sport. This year’s US Open will be taking place behind closed doors with players being kept in what essentially is being described as a ‘bubble.’ They will also be undergoing COVID-19 testing throughout. Serena Williams has confirmed her intention to play in New York, however, rivals Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova are both undecided.

“It’s great that everything is coming back, of course, but there are a lot of questions. I think that it’s not just me,” Svitolina said during an interview with btu.org.ua. “At the moment, the conditions that we are offered are not ideal, because there will be many tests, plus isolation, it’s not clear what will happen with the points, with the money … It’s very difficult to say something.’
“If there are no points in a tournament, I don’t know if it makes sense to go and play, because the conditions are enough If you need to spend so much time in isolation, this also plays a big role.”
“I know that there will be more meetings, that this will be decided in the coming weeks.”

The WTA has yet to publish what the ranking point system will be like for the rest of the year and if there will be any changes. On Saturday Spanish newspaper Marca reported that the Palermo Open, which is set to be the first WTA event to get underway when the Tour resumes, is contemplating not issuing points.

Tournament director Oliviero Palma has confirmed that $225,000 in prize money will be awarded and they are hoping to welcome a limited crowd of roughly 500 people to the event in line with local rules. However, he has not commented on the possibility of not awarding any points.

“We believe that around 500 spectators can be present in the stands, divided between the two stands . At the entrance, the fans will have to go through a thermoscanner (to check their temperature),” Sky Italian quoted Palma as saying.

In regards to the US Open, Svitolina says she is confident that the event will be held in the safest possible way. Although it is unclear if she will be playing there or not. Last year she reached the semifinals of the Grand Slam before falling in straight sets to Williams.

“I believe that the conditions are still quite stringent. For example, according to the rule, if you get sick or you have any symptoms, then you can be removed from any round and isolated for 14 days,” she said.
“Some points that are still not known exactly how they will go are quite difficult for all players. I think that they will do everything the best for us. We will watch in the near future how everything goes. I hope that everything will turn out and we will slowly return.”

When and where Svitolina will return to action remains unclear, but she has already returned back to training. Over the coming weeks she will also play in a series of exhibition matches before the Tour starts again.

“I’m already starting to slowly get back into shape, I will play several exhibition matches: in Switzerland in a couple of weeks, also in Berlin . I’ll prepare, it’s good that there are such exhibition tournaments. They are small, there are 8-10 people participating, so the risk is less, everything is done without spectators. For me, these are good intermediate tournaments that now give me motivation to train and prepare.” She concluded.

Svitolina started 2020 by winning 11 out of 17 matches played. She is currently just 10 points adrift of Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the world rankings.

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Madison Keys ‘Looking Forward’ To Tennis Return Ahead Of Charleston Exhibition

Madison Keys is happy tennis is returning ahead of next week’s team exhibition in Charleston.

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Madison Keys is looking forward to the return of competitive tennis as she competes in an exhibition event in Charleston. 

 

The defending Volvo Car Open champion will play for the first time since the Australian Open next week when she competes in an exhibition event in Charleston.

Speaking to Journalists in a Zoom call, Keys is delighted that tennis is making its return, “Being able to have some of these tournaments back on the calendar has been really great even just for my mentality, just because I know I’m working for something,” Keys told wtatennis.com.

“I love that I not only get to work towards Charleston, but to be able to use this as momentum into getting back into matches and getting back into competing. I think all of us are super happy and lucky that we’re going to be able to do this.”

The American’s last match was a third round defeat at the Australian Open to Maria Sakkari but will start her preparations for August’s US Open next week.

Keys will captain Team Kindness against Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ Team Peace in a five day event that begins on Tuesday.

The two captains will get to choose seven other players to join their teams, with the following players also competing next week: Sofia Kenin, Sloane Stephens, Victoria Azarenka, Amanda Anisimova, Monica Puig, Ajla Tomljanovic, Danielle Collins, Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers, Genie Bouchard, Jennifer Brady, Leylah Fernandez, Emma Navarro and Caroline Dolehide.

Next week’s event will see a number of difference to a normal tennis event, with players calling their own lines as well as only one official being used, socially distancing applying for the players that are not participating, players holding their own towels and drinks and also no fans and media attending the event.

However none of these regulations affects Keys as she admitted to missing the thrill of competing, “Now we’re all like, please put me on a center court, break point down in the third, because I would love to have that feeling again,” Keys said.

“I think we all really just take for granted how much we love competing. And even those days where you lose, you get to go out and compete and you get to play a sport that you love, and I don’t think we’re ever going to forget that.”

Here is the schedule for next week’s event, which will be shown on the Tennis Channel for those in America:

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Bianca Andreescu Commits To Title Defence At US Open As Others Play The Waiting Game

The Canadian believes the USTA has come up with ‘the best plan’ to ensure player safety at the major event.

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World No.6 Bianca Andreescu has confirmed that she intends to play at the US Open amid concerns that some of her rivals may choose to skip the event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Andreescu is the defending champion at Flushing Meadows after defeating Serena Williams in the final last year. Becoming the first Canadian player in history to win a Grand Slam title at singles level. Taking to Twitter, the 20-year-old said she plans to make the most of tennis resuming later this year. On Wednesday the revised provisional schedule for 2020 was published with competitive tennis set to start during the first week of August in Palermo, Italy.

“The US Open will always hold a very special place in my heart. Arthur Ashe is where I won my first grand slam title and I treasure so many unforgettable moments at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Since then, we’ve seen sports, and the world as we know it, come to a halt due to the spread of COVID-19,” Andreescu wrote.
“I can’t stress enough that the health and safety of, not only the players, but of all those involved in making tennis happen again this season is, and has always been, of the utmost importance.”

It has been more than seven months since Andreescu last played a match on the Tour after missing the start of this season due to a knee injury. She was due to return to action at the Credit One Bank International in Charleston. An exhibition tournament set to feature some of the best players in North America. However, tournament organisers have announced she has withdrawn from competition. Although it is believed that her decision was due to logistics and is not a physical issue.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s US Open will not have any qualifying rounds and the size of the doubles draw has been cut. Players will be subject to testing throughout their stay in New York in which they will essentially be kept in a ‘bubble.’ Also this year, the Western and Southern Open have been relocated to Flushing meadows and will take place prior to the Grand Slam. Both events will take place behind closed doors.

“I have no doubt that the USTA has come up with the best plan to ensure our safety as we look to the return of tennis in 2020. The decision, I know was not made lightly and I completely support and understand every players personal opinions on the matter and their comfort level traveling near and far to compete on the world’s biggest stage,” Andreescu said.
“Returning to life as we once knew it is no longer an option but, I plan to make the most of the opportunity to get back on the court, re-connect with players and friends and hopefully bring tennis back to the millions of fans across the globe safely.”

Others still on the fence

Despite Andreescu’s confidence in the event, others are sticking to the cautious side. World No.2 Simona Halep, who is the reigning Wimbledon champion, has previously cast doubt on her travelling to New York this year. It had been originally reported that the Romanian plans to play tournaments in just Europe, but a spokesperson from her team has since said that no final decision has been made yet.

“Given the conditions outlined in the US Open this morning, as of today I do not currently plan to play in NYC,” Halep said in a press release issued to Christopher Clarey from The New York Times.
“However, as we know, this situation is fluid and the conditions may change and improve before the entry deadline in July.’
“I would like to underline that my decision is not set in stone.” She added.

Another top women’s name yet to make her final decision is Petra Kvitova. The Czech says she is hoping that the current health situation in the American city improved in the coming week to make her final decision ‘easier.’ Since making her grand slam main draw debut in 2008, Kvitova has never missed the US Open.

“I would like to congratulate the U.S. Open on their hard work and vision in getting to this point and for putting player safety at the centre of their plans,” she told Reuters via e-mail.
“Hopefully the COVID-19 numbers and conditions around travel restrictions continue to improve in order to make the decision to play an easy one.”

On the other hand, Serena Williams has declared that she would be playing at the tournament. Doing so by recording a video statement that was played during the USTA’s virtual press conference yesterday. The American will be bidding to win a record-equalling 24th major title and become the first woman ever to have won a Grand Slam in four different decades.

“I really cannot wait to return in New York and play the US Open 2020,” the six-time champion said. “I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe. It’s going to be exciting.”

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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