Elina Svitolina edges Daria Kasatkina to continue her title defence in Rome - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina edges Daria Kasatkina to continue her title defence in Rome

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Reigning Rome champion Elina Svitolina came back from a bagel loss in the first set to beat 14th seed Daria Kasatkina 0-6 6-3 6-2 after 1 hour and 36 minutes.

 

Kasatkina cruised through to a bagel win in the first set after just 20 minutes but she dropped her serve three times in both the second and the third sets. Kasatkina converted five of the seven break points she created and served at 73% but she dropped 35 of the points of the points in the final two points.

Svitolina won just seven points in the first set. Both players created three break points in the second set, but Svitolina reeled off the final four games to win the second set 6-3 to force the match to the third set.

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games of the third set, but Svitolina reeled off the final five games of the match to reach his sixth quarter final this year.

Last year’s Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko came back from one set down to beat Johanna Konta 2-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 13 minutes The 20-year-old Latvian player has reached the quarter final in Rome for the first time in her third appearance at this tournament. Ostapenko clinched her first win over Konta after two defeats last year in the Fed Cup and in the third round in Eastbourne.

Konta, who celebrated her 27th birthday today, broke twice in the first and fifth games to win the first set 6-2. Ostapenko got just one break in the fourth game and dropped just five points in the last four service games to clinch the second set forcing the match to the third set.

Konta faced five break points in the first three service games of the decider. Ostapenko got an early break in the first game. The Latvian player was solid on serve until the eighth game, when she had to fend off a break point at 4-3. Ostapenko held serve in the 10th game to seal the win securing her spor in the quarter final against either Daria Gavrilova or Maria Sharapova. Ostapenko hit 36 winners to 28 unforced errors.

Anett Kontaveit beat Venus Williams 6-2 7-6 (7-3) in one hour and 19 minutes to clinch her second consecutive win over the US legend one week after scoring a 2-6 6-3 6-2 victory at the Caja Magica in Madrid. The Estonian player has reached the Rome quarter finals for the second consecutive year.

Kontaveit converted her second break point with a backhand crosscourt in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Williams earned a break point in the sixth game, but Kontaveit saved it with a backhand winner down the line. The Estonian player earned a double break point with a backhand down the line and converted it, when Williams made a double fault.

Williams got an early break in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. Kontaveit broke back in the fifth game with consecutive return winners to claw her way back to 2-3. The next seven games went on serve without a single break point en route to a tie-break. Kontaveit won one of the longest rallies of the match with a backhand down the line. She hit three service winners and backhand return winner to race out to a 6-0 lead. Williams saved the first two match points, but Kontaveit sealed the win on her third opportunity to secure her spot in the quarter final, where she will face either Caroline Wozniacki or Anastasija Sevastova.

Simona Halep reached her seventh quarter final in eight tournaments this season, when Madison Keys was forced to withdraw from the match due to a rib injury. The Romanian player will face either 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens or Caroline Garcia in the quarter final.

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Karolina Pliskova Faces Race Against Time To Be Fit For French Open

The Czech has less than a week to recover from a thigh problem before the next Grand Slam gets underway.

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Karolina Pliskova (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

World No.4 Karolina Pliskova says she is ‘hopeful’’ that she will be ready in time to play at the French Open after suffering a setback in her preparations on Monday.

 

The Czech tennis star was forced to retire during her clash with Simona Halep in the final of the Italian Open after falling behind 0-6, 1-2. During the match she wore tape on her left thigh and also has work done on her back during a medical time out. However, Pliskova said afterwards that the issue was her thigh and playing a series of matches within a short period.

“I think it’s a combination of just playing every day and tough matches. Of course I played some two-set matches, but it’s still clay, which I was coming to play on quite fast from the hard court’s. There is a lot of sliding and running,” said Pliskova.

Due to the Tour being stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year players are playing a more compact schedule with two Grand Slams taking place within a month. Only 14 days separates the last day of the US Open from the first day of the French Open.

Despite her injury, 28-year-old Pliskova is optimistic that she will be able to play at Roland Garros with her first match possibly taking place on Sunday. She is a former semi-finalist in Paris back in 2017 but has lost in the third round two consecutive times since then. Overall her main draw record at the tournament stands at 11 wins against eight losses.

I hope to be ready, there is a week so I think that’s plenty of time,” she said.
“I know I might play on Sunday in Paris but there are a couple days which I hope is gonna help a lot.
“I really want to be100% ready because if I want to go far in a Grand Slam. It’s going to be, like, two weeks of tennis, which I’m not sure today I can do. I just need to see what the doctors say,”

One of Pliskova’s biggest rivals at the major will be former champion Halep who has won back-to-back clay court titles within the past month. The Romanian is now in a 14-match winning streak and has reached the quarter-finals of better at every single tournament she has played in so far this year. The Czech believes her rival is the key contenders to lift the French Open trophy this year.

Now she’s won two tournaments on clay, so I think she’s confident enough and she’s done well there,” Pliskova said. “She’s going to be dangerous.
“And she had big success in Paris, so I think she’s going to be one of my favourites to go for the title.”

Pliskova will be the second seed at Roland Garros.

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World No.1 Ash Barty Impresses At Golf Club Championship

The 24-year-old is still winning trophies but this time it isn’t in tennis.

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After deciding to pull the plug on her season due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic Ash Barty has once again illustrated that tennis is not the only sport she can excel in.

 

The world No.1 has won the Brookwater Golf Club women’s champion on Sunday with a seven and five triumph in the match play final. Following in the footsteps of her father Robert who once represented Australia as an amateur golfer. Although Barty is playing down the significance of her latest sporting win.

It’s not a big deal,” she told the Australian Associated Press.

It is not the first time Barty’s golfing abilities have impressed. During a promotional event last December ahead of the Presidents Cup she earned praise from Tiger Woods after hitting wedge to a makeshift green on the Yarra River. After that shot Woods commented ‘she’s got a great swing, are you kidding me?’ Barty’s boyfriend, Garry Kissick, is also a PGA trainee professional at Brookwater. The place where they first met back in 2016.

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Louis Dobbelaar, who won the men’s competition at Brookwater, believes Barty has what it takes to become a professional in the sport should she wish. The 24-year-old is also an avid cricketer and played professionally between 2014-2015 during a break from tennis. Playing in the Women’s Big Bash League Barty enjoyed stints with teams Brisbane Heat and Queensland Fire.

She’s got all the tools if she wants to pursue it. If she put her mind to it, I’m sure she could,” he told the AAP.
“I’ve seen quite a lot of golfers come from different sports and she’s the one that stands out the most – by far actually. Her ball-striking’s really good. She just gets that naturally from tennis, the hand-eye stuff.”

Barty hasn’t played a match on the WTA Tour since the Qatar Open back in February where she reached the semi-finals. She will not be defending her title at the French Open next week due to concerns related to the pandemic. Besides worldwide travel, she has been unable to train with her coach due to local restrictions.

The Australian has made more than $17.5M in prize money so far in her career.

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Maturing Simona Halep Closing In On Rome Milestone

The Romanian is hoping that it will be third time lucky at the Foro Italico this year.

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Simona Halep 2 (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Top seed Simona Halep survived a roller-coaster encounter against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza to progress to the final of the Italian Open on Sunday.

 

The world No.2 required more than two hours to disposed of Muguruza 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, in what was the seventh meeting between the two Grand Slam champions on the WTA Tour. It was a far from straightforward win for the Romanian who lost her serve three consecutive times during the second set. However, she managed to bounce back in the decider with the help of a four-game winning streak as she edged towards victory despite facing some late resistance.

Against Muguruza she’s a very, very difficult player and a good player. It’s always good vibe and a good feeling when I win against her,” Halep told reporters after.
“I know I had so many chances to maybe finish the match a little bit faster and easier, but she doesn’t give up.’
“Credit to her that she fought till the end. I am happy that I was a little bit stronger in the end and I could be more aggressive when I needed to.”

There is still room for improvement for Halep who won only 48% of her service points and converted nine out of her 18 break point opportunities. She also hit 21 winners alongside 22 unforced errors.

The latest victory was the first singles match at this year’s Italian Open to take place in front of fans. Due to a recent decision by the local government, a maximum of 1000 spectators has been allowed to attend the Foro Italico on its last two days. A move that has been hailed by Halep even though she admits that it was her opponent who was getting more cheers.

“It’s been nice to see people in the crowd, even if they were all not supporting me today. They were with Muguruza, but I understand,” she said.
“But I was happy to see them and I felt the energy.”

Halep now moves into her third Rome final where she will have a shot of achieving a unique milestone of winning three major clay events on the WTA Tour along with the French Open and Madrid Open. Something only Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have achieved.

Standing in her way of the title will be the winner of the all-Czech clash between Karolina Pliskova or Markéta Vondroušová. Somewhat of a relief for Halep who lost her two previous finals in Rome to Elina Svitolina.

“I’m not playing her so I have a plus,” she joked.
“It’s a final, so I have to manage it a little bit better than previous years. It’s gonna be a tough match.’
“Now I’m more mature. So let’s hope that I can be better tomorrow and to win it.”

Halep will be playing in her 18th WTA final on the clay and is currently on a 13-match winning streak.

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