Caroline Wozniacki Survives Sevastova Test And Reaches Rome Quarter-Final - UBITENNIS
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Caroline Wozniacki Survives Sevastova Test And Reaches Rome Quarter-Final

Caroline Wozniacki came through a tough test as she beat Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 5-7 6-3 to set up a quarter-final with Anett Kontaveit.

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Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the quarter-final of the Italian Open for the second time in her career thanks to a hard fought 6-2 5-7 6-3 victory over Anastasija Sevastova.

 

The World No.2, who revealed earlier today that she struggles with allergies at the Foro Italico venue, reached the semi-final stage in 2011 but has failed to repeat that feat ever since.

Maybe this year will be different for Wozniacki. She started brilliantly against Sevastova and dominated the opening set with great movement and excellent shot-making.

The tricky Latvian raised her game in the second set and, after trading two breaks apiece with the Dane, she earned a crucial third break in game eleven to take the match into a decider.

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Any final set against Wozniacki is always likely to be difficult because of the Dane’s exceptional fitness. And so it proved, as the World No.2 ran her Latvian opponent ragged to win it 6-3.

It was a high-quality encounter throughout and Wozniacki had to produce some of her best-ever clay-court tennis to come through it. She hit a clutch of stunning drop shots that we probably would not see from her on another surface.

On the other hand, Sevastova is known for her varieties and she made use of her full range of shots. From 5-5 in the second set, she hit a succession of unerringly accurate winners as she won 8 out of 10 points to ensure the match went the distance.

Wozniacki’s reward for coming through this testing encounter is a last-eight clash with Anett Kontaveit. In round three, the Estonian beat Venus Williams for the second consecutive week and she will almost certainly make life difficult for the Dane.

Sharapova progresses

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In the other half of the draw, Maria Sharapova marched on to a quarter-final showdown with Jelena Ostapenko by easing past Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-4.

The Australian was back on court less than 15 hours after defeating Garbine Muguruza in a three-hour epic. And she struggled to cope with the Russian’s powerful ball-striking early on as she went 4-1 down.

Gavrilova got into the match in game six by forcing Sharapova to battle for over 11 minutes to hold serve. She then earned her first break of the match in game eight, only to lose her serve (again) and the set immediately afterwards.

In truth, neither player served well and it got even worse in that regard in the second set. Gavrilova, who failed to win a single point on her second serve, lost serve four times and Sharapova, whose first-serve percentage was just 56%, dropped serve on three occasions.

Fittingly, the five-time Grand Slam Champion wrapped up victory with a break in the tenth game to reach her second successive Premier quarter-final.

Sharapova feels good on court

“I like the way I’m competing,” Sharapova said in her press conference. “I like the way I feel out there and I think that’s really important. It’s an inner feeling, sometimes maybe not something you can put into words.”

“But I just like the attitude I am playing with,” she continued. “I might have physical limitations going deep in the tournament. That’s normal for all players. We have to handle it the best that we can, playing back to back.

“But I like the intensity that I’m bringing. I like that, no matter the small ups and downs that I’ve had, I’m still able to deliver and be aggressive. I like that attitude – I think that’s the most important thing that’s come out of these matches.”

Impressive Garcia marches on

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There was much better serving on display in another of the last-16 matches in Rome. Caroline Garcia had a first serve percentage of 75% and won 78% of points behind those serves as she beat Sloane Stephens 6-1 7-6(7).

The Frenchwoman has reached two successive semi-finals during a superb clay season so far, and she looked in total control as she blazed her way to the first set in just 26 minutes.

Stephens knuckled down and fought for every point during an infinitely tighter second set. However, it was Garcia who held her nerve in the tie-break to wrap up a straight-sets win and book a last-eight meeting with Simona Halep.

[Also published on womenssporthub.com]

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Kristina Mladenovic Dropped By Coach After Six Months

The 26-year-old reacts to the unexpected departure of her mentor.

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Former top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic has suffered an off-court blow following the departure of her coach Sascha Bajin.

 

The 26-year-old had been working with Bajin since April and has made steady progress on the tour by rising more than 20 places to back inside the world’s top 40. Last Month Mladenovic reached the semi-finals of the Zhengzhou Open, in what was one of her best runs on the WTA Tour this year. During 2019 she has also recorded four wins over top 10 players, including Naomi Osaka when she was No.1 in the world.

It is understood that the departure of Bajin was on his own terms and not of a mutual agreement. Bajin is the former hitting partner of Serena Williams (2008-2015) and help guide Osaka to her two grand slam titles prior to his departure in February. In 2018 he was awarded the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year Award.

“I’m very disappointed about Sasha’s decision not to continue our relationship next season, I enjoyed our work, we had some great wins and I truly felt my game was on the rise again.” Mladenovic wrote on Twitter.
“I think that there was a lot more to achieve together, but I can’t change his opinion and decision. On my side, I am proud of my year and progress and I will keep working hard and build strong to be even better in 2020.”

Last week at the Kremlin Cup Mladenovic reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Belinda Bencic. At the tournament she scored wins over seeded players Anastasija Sevastova and Kiki Bertens. Whilst her season has been mixed, the Frenchwoman believes she has the ability to beat the best players in the world.

“When I put together everything on court I can beat anyone.” She told reporters in Moscow.
“And no matter what the season, no matter what ranking, I always have some upsets here and there but now it is really about coming back in the rankings where I was at my highest. And already this year, I am still not satisfied with my ranking but I have a lot of wins against very good players.”

Mladenovic, who is also a top five doubles player that won the French Open title in June, is currently ranked 39th in the world. She is set set to end the season inside the top 50 for the fifth year in a row.

There has been no information released about who may potentially replace Bajin next year.

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Kristina Mladenovic reaches her second semifinal of the year in Moscow

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Kristina Mladenovic reached her second semifinal this year at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow with a 6-4 2-6 6-1 win over this year’s St. Petersburg and Madrid Kiki Bertens after 2 hours and 7 minutes.

 

Mladenovic scored her fourth top 10 win after beating Naomi Osaka in Dubai, Ashleigh Barty in Rome and Elina Svitolina in Zhengzhou.

Mladenovic has always played very well on Russian soil winning the only title in her career in St. Petersburg in 2017 and finishing runner-up in the same tournament last year.

In the first set Mladenovic fended off a break point in the fourth game with a serve and volley before holding serve with a backhand volley. The French player broke serve with a forehand down the line in the fifth game.

Mladenovic saved three break points, as she attempted to serve the set out. The French player sealed the first set on her second set point after Bertens missed two passing shots and made her 17th unforced error.

Bertens broke twice to build up a 4-0 lead in the second set. Mladenovic pulled one of the two breaks back with a lob in the fifth game, but Bertens won eight of the next nine points to win the second set 6-2 forcing the match the third set.

Mladenovic earned a break point in a long third game in the decisive set and converted it with a winner. The Frenchwoman earned her triple break with consecutive backhand passes to race out to a 5-0 lead. Mladenovic was not able to serve out the match in the sixth game, but she broke again in the seventh game to seal the third set 6-1.

Mladenovic set up a semifinal against Belinda Bencic, who came back from one set down and saved two set points in the first set to beat Belgian qualifier and world number 120 Kirsten Flipkens 7-6 (10-8) 6-1 after 1 hour and 34 minutes.

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Top Seed Elina Svitolina Ousted On Mixed Day For Top Names In Moscow

The world No.4 has suffered a blow heading into the prestigious WTA Finals later this month.

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Elina Svitolina (@usopen on Twitter)

Elina Svitolina’s hopes of claiming her first title of 2019 this week has come to an abrupt end after she crashed out in the second round of the Kremlin Cup on Thursday.

 

The world No.4, who had a bye in the first round, failed to capitalize on some crucial chances  during her 6-2, 1-6, 7-5, loss to Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova. Who was playing a top five opponent for the first time in her career. In the decider, Svitolina twice broke for an opportunity to close out the match. However, her opponent refused to buckle as she clawed her way back to level 4-4 before going on to break Svitolina as she was serving to stay in the match.

“I think it was a really tough match. We were playing well in the third set, it was very tight. Unfortunately, it didn’t go my way,” Said Svitolina.

Thursday’s loss continues the title drought for the 25-year-old, who is yet to win a trophy this season. Svitolina has won at least one WTA title each year since 2014. If she wants to continue that trend, she will need to win the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen. A tournament where her last triumph occurred.

“I will try to recover and be ready for Shenzhen, the last tournament.” She said. “Definitely, I am very positive about going to defend my title. I am looking forward to it. Hopefully I can be ready and try to give everything I got.”

It is the first time Svitolina has lost her opening match in a tournament since Eastbourne back in July.

Meanwhile, Kudermetova is relishing in another milestone during what is a strong end to her 2019 season. Since the US Open, she has reached the semi-finals in both Hiroshima and Tianjin. In Wuhan she also claimed her first ever Premier title in doubles alongside Duan Yingying.

“My tactical plan was to put pressure, to come to the net, because during the rallies from the baseline I had fewer chances.” Kudermetova commented about her latest win.

There was better news for second seed Kiki Bertens. The Dutch player recovered from a set and a break down to see off Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, after more than two hours of play. Saving eight out of the 13 break points she faced during the process.

“It is important for my body to feel well. In the next match I will try to play as aggressive as today and keep fighting for every ball.” Bertens commented during her on-court interview.

The win boosts Bertens’ hopes of qualifying for Shenzhen, which will get underway later this month.  She can secure her place this week in Moscow if she reaches the final. Bertens’ last WTA final appearance was almost three months ago in Palermo, Italy.

Next for Bertens will be Kristina Mladenovic, who knocked out seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. It is only the second time this season Mladenovic has managed to reach back-to-back quarter-finals on the tour. Last week in Linz she lost in the last eight to Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Five out of the eight seeded players have already crashed out of Moscow. Bertens, Alexandrova and Belinda Bencic are the only seeds that remains.

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