Karolina Pliskova Stunned By Sakkari - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Stunned By Sakkari

Karolina Pliskova loses 3-6 6-3 7-5 to Maria Sakkari in a huge upset in the second round of the Italian Open, while Halep thrashes Osaka.

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Karolina Pliskova suffered a shock loss in the second round of the Italian Open as she was beaten 3-6 6-3 7-5 by World No.42 Maria Sakkari.

 

The World No.5 was in excellent form coming into the match. She won the Stuttgart title and reached the semi-final in Madrid. She also made it to the semi-final in Brisbane and four other quarter-finals earlier in the year.

However, the Czech failed to live up to her billing in Rome. She took the opening set 6-3 but struggled to impose her game on Sakkari in the rest of the match.

The Greek, 22, fought back and took the match all the way to 5-all and deuce in the decider. At that point, Pliskova put away a smash which clearly hit the line.

Unfortunately for the Czech, the line judge called it out and the umpire refused to overrule the call. Pliskova argued, became understandably distracted and eventually lost her serve to fall 6-5 behind.

After Sakkari held serve comfortably to clinch the biggest win of her career, Pliskova’s rage boiled over. She shook hands with her blameless opponent and then hacked a chunk out of the umpire’s chair with her racket after refusing to shake her hand.

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It was a sad end to an enthralling encounter, and the World No.5 will almost certainly face some kind of disciplinary action for the incident. However, it would never have happened if the court had hawk-eye.

Despite the disappointing finale, Sakkari will be delighted with her first-ever win over a player in the world’s top five.

The Greek had looked in danger of being blown away when she went 5-1 down in the opener. But she rallied to get one break back before the set was over and then used that momentum to turn the match around.

During her comeback, Sakkari broke Pliskova five times, which is an impressive feat considering the Czech is one of the best servers on the WTA tour.

The World No.42 can now look forward to a last-16 clash with either Angelique Kerber or Irina-Camelia Begu.

Halep teaches Osaka a clay-court lesson

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While Pliskova had a horrible time, Simona Halep’s match could hardly have gone any better. She saved four break points in her opening service game and then stepped up to produce a near-perfect clay-court performance against Naomi Osaka.

The World No.1 was thrashed 6-3 6-0 by the Japanese at the semi-final stage in Indian Wells, but this time it was her turn to dish out the punishment.

The Romanian showed exactly why she is the best WTA performer on clay with a breathtaking display of footwork and shot-making as she hammered Osaka 6-1 6-0.

“In Melbourne I played against (Osaka), and it was also a very good match for me,” said Halep in her press conference.

“Then in Indian Wells, I don’t know what happened in that match. I couldn’t play my best tennis, and she played with confidence there.”

“I was just motivated (today), remembering that match. And I was focused that I have to play as I planned before. And it was a good tactic.”

Halep’s next challenge could be an intriguing one against Madison Keys after the American came through a tight encounter with in-form Donna Vekic 7-6(4) 7-6(0).

The World No.14 reached the Rome final in 2016 and has the power to hit through the Romanian, but she will need to be at her very best to stand a chance if Halep plays like she did against Osaka.

Garcia, Kasatkina and Konta progress

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Elsewhere at the Foro Italico, Caroline Garcia continued her impressive form with a routine 6-3 6-4 win over Timea Babos, while the equally on-song Daria Kasatkina dispatched Danielle Collins 6-2 6-3.

Garcia will now face Sloane Stephens after the American battled to a 6-0 5-7 6-4 win over Kaia Kanepi, while Kasatkina will take on Elina Svitolina.

In the second quarter of the draw, Johanna Konta reached the last-16 of the Italian Open for the third year in succession with 6-0 6-4 victory over Hsieh Su-Wei.

The Briton lost to the World No.49 from Taipei in the first round of the French Open last year, but she found her a much easier opponent this time around.

WTA

Madison Keys Collects Cincinnati Trophy With Battling Win Over Kuznetsova

Madison Keys capped an outstanding week by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets to take home the Cincinnati title.

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Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

Madison Keys claimed the biggest title of her career by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5 7-6(5) in the Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati.

 

It was an amazing week for the American, particularly as she had only won one match in the last two months leading up the event.

The World No.18 referenced this lack of form when she thanked her team for their help and said to them, “If you told me a week ago this was where I would be, I would have laughed in your face.”

Conditions were slower for the final than they had been in previous rounds due to the high levels of humidity in the air, and Keys struggled to adjust initially. She dropped her serve in the opening game and fell 3-1 behind.

However, the American gradually began to adapt. She almost broke in game six, held off three break points in game seven and then eventually got the break she needed in game ten thanks to intelligent point construction and typically ferocious hitting.

With her confidence restored, Keys held easily to move 6-5 ahead. She then capitalised on some weak serving from Kuznetsova to break again and clinch the opening set.

Keys fights back again in the second set

Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

To the Russian’s credit, she responded well to her disappointment. She manoeuvred the American around the court and drew several errors from her racket to open up a 3-1 lead once again.

Keys did not panic. She hit a series of trademark winners during three excellent service games that enabled her to stay in touch with Kuznetsova at 5-4.

Unfortunately for the Russian, she seemed just as nervous when she served for the second set as she had been in the first. She did not make many first serves or put the American under much pressure with her groundstrokes. This produced a predictable result: another break of serve for the World No.18.

Keys survived a break point on her serve to make it 6-5. Then Kuznetsova steadied herself to hold comfortably and avoid losing four games in a row as she did in the opener.

After five routine points in the tie-break, the American earned a mini-break to go 4-2 up. She hit a deep backhand and the Russian could do nothing more than hit it into the net.

Keys maintained her two-point advantage to set up two championship points at 6-4. On the second, she sealed glory with a powerful serve that Kuznetsova found too hot to handle.

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Grand Slam

Carlos Ramos Won’t Umpire Serena Williams’ US Open Matches Following Infamous Clash

They two will be kept apart, but will it be enough to stop people talking about their previous confrontation?

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23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos will be kept apart during the US Open following their high-profile spat at the tournament 12 months ago.

 

During the final of the US Open last year, controversy erupted when Ramos issued Williams with a violation for receiving coaching from the stands. Something which is prohibited in grand slam tennis. A livid Williams denied any wrongdoing immediately after. Suggesting the decision was sexist before calling the official a ‘liar’ and a ‘thief.’ In total, Williams was hit with three violations that resulted in a game penalty.

Stacy Allaster, who is the president of the USTA, has confirmed that Ramos will not be allowed to officiate Williams or her sister’s Venus’ matches during the grand slam. Saying that she didn’t want to cause a ‘distraction.’ This decision is said to be applied only to the 2019 tournament.

“We don’t need to go there,” Allaster told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “There are more than 900 matches here over the three weeks, and there are lots of matches for Carlos to do.”
“We want to be focused on the competition and want to go forward,” she added.

Ramos, who is from Portugal, was never found guilty of doing anything wrong during the match. The International Tennis Federation issued a statement shortly after the incident. In it, they said that Ramos ‘undertook his duties as an official, according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.’

Regardless of the move by the USTA to try and stay clear of the Williams-Ramos incident, it is set to be thrown back into the media spotlight in the coming days. Sports network ESPN will air a documentary called “Serena vs. The Umpire” on Sunday for the first time. It will be narrated by Pulitzer Prize winner Don Van Natta, Jr.

“We’re exploring stories that are unresolved and have layers to them, and that’s certainly the case with what happened at last year’s US Open women’s final,” said John Dahl, Vice President and Executive Producer, ESPN Special Projects and Original Content. “With this and subsequent stories, viewers will follow along with Don on his deep dive for truth.”

The TV program is set to include Patrick Mouratoglou, who is the coach of Williams. Pam Shriver and Chris Evert are also set to feature.

The US Open will get underway on August 26th.

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WTA

Madison Keys Marches Into Cincinnati Final With Win Over Kenin

Madison Keys set up a intriguing final against Svetlana Kuznetsova with an excellent straight-sets win over Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals.

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Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

Madison Keys advanced to her ninth career final with an impressive 7-5 6-4 win over Sofia Kenin at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

The American, 24, has endured a patchy year on the WTA tour. But she found a rich vein of form in the early rounds to defeat Garbine Muguruza, Daria Kasatkina and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.

And by the time Keys set about dispatching Venus Williams in straight sets in the quarter-final, she looked full of confidence.

The World No.18 started in similar fashion against Kenin. She dominated her first two service games and broke the younger American in the fourth game to establish a 3-1 lead. She then held off a couple of break points in game five to increase her advantage to 4-1.

But Kenin is a fighter and she had no intention of giving up on the set. She broke Keys in game nine to make it 5-4 and then saved two break points to level the score.

The older American did not panic. She held serve comfortably and then hit a couple of excellent winners to break the 20-year-old for the second time in the set and take it 7-5.

Keys triumphs in close second set

There were a few momentum swings in the second set. Keys held to love in the first game but dropped her serve during a sloppy third game. Kenin then consolidated the break with a comfortable hold.

In response, the World No.18 fired down three aces as she held serve to love in just 42 seconds. She then unleashed a stream of winners to break the younger American and level the score at 3-3.

Both women played superb return games as they traded breaks to move the score along to 4-4. Then Keys unleashed a series of ferocious groundstrokes to repel a break point and hold for 5-4.

After an intense conversation with her father at the changeover, Kenin looked a bit subdued in game ten. She sent down a weak second serve on the second point which was punished by a backhand winner from the World No.18.

The 20-year-old made a double-fault to slip 15-30 behind. Then she came into the net and could only watch and admire as Keys guided a sublime backhand pass into the opposite service box for a winner that set up two match points.

The World No.18 did not have to wait long to celebrate victory, as an unforced error from Kenin on the next point sealed her win.

Keys will play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. The Russian continued her impressive week with an eye-catching 6-2 6-4 win over World No.2 Ashleigh Barty.

“I’m very happy to be in the final,” the American said. “Sveta has been playing incredibly well. She is a craftier player with a little bit of everything. It will be a pretty difficult match but I’m looking forward to it.”

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