Karolina Pliskova Stuns Two-Time Champion Halep In Madrid - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Stuns Two-Time Champion Halep In Madrid

A shock has occurred in the women’s draw at the Madrid Open!

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Karolina Pliskova (zimbio.com)

MADRID: Simona Halep’s reign at the Madrid Open has come to an end following an inspired performance from Czech sixth seed Karolina Pliskova.

 

Playing in the quarter-final of the event for then first time in her career, Pliskova dismantled Halep’s game to surge to a 6-4, 6-3, win in just 69 minutes.  The impressive performance, which has reduced Pliskova’s losing head-to-head record against Halep to 2-6, featured 20 winners to 16 unforced errors.

“I never really thought I can beat her, but this time somehow today I felt like I will have for sure chances. Even during the warm-up I felt so good today.” Said Pliskova.
“In the game overall I think I didn’t change much. I just was serving little bit different, more clever, not only the speed, but just to get the percentage, sometimes mix it up the speed, the kick which was quite working, just holding my serves. She started pretty strong, the beginning of the match, but I got quickly back.”

Exchanging breaks early on, it was sixth seed Pliskova who became the dominant forced in the match. Utilizing her powerful serve to move Halep around the court and dictate the rallies. Recovering from a 0-2 deficit, Pliskova capitalized on her opponent’s costly errors. At 3-3, she secured another break in her favor after a baseline rally concluded with a Halep backhand smashing into the net. Pliskova continued to pounce on the two-time champion, but missed out of two chances to seal the opening set 6-3. Nevertheless, she prevailed a game later after capitalizing on Halep’s 16th mistake in the match.

The relentless display from the 26-year-old continued into the second set. Displaying both power and skills with her shot-making. Meanwhile, Halep was left looking for answers as she grew more and more frustrated on the court. Hitting her leg with her hand after some shots. Once again, it was a Halep error that elevated Pliskova to a dominant position as she eased to a set and a break lead.

Closing in on a place in the last four of the tournament, Pliskova’s defensive skills proved too much for her rival. Halep’s coach, Darren Cahill, tried to urge her on during one of the breaks with words of encouragement. Still, it wasn’t enough to deny a solid Pliskova. Who sealed the win with a return that painted the baseline and forced Halep to return the ball into the net.

“I’m still surprised with my results on clay, especially about this streak what I have from Stuttgart here.” She reflected about her recent surge on the tour .”My draw was pretty tough.”
“Very pleased that I can, you know, get that far in this tournament. I always said I felt like conditions on this tournament can be good for me, but I never really played well. This time I think was perfect.”

Awaiting the Czech in the last four will be either Petra Kvitova or Daria Kasatkina. A challenge she is ready to tackle.

“Both of them, whoever wins, it’s going to be tough because both are having great year.” She explained, “Dasha (Kasatkina), even Petra. She played some finals, maybe some titles for sure. For sure a tough, tough semi.”

As a result of her latest win in Madrid, Pliskova now has the chance to go back into the top five in the WTA rankings. To do so, she needs Caroline Garcia to not win the title. She could rise as high as fourth if she reaches at least the final and her French rival doesn’t win the trophy.

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Karolina Pliskova hires Sascha Bajin as new coach

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Former world number 1 player Karolina Pliskova has hired German coach Sasha Bajin for the upcoming 2021 season. The Czech player has split up with Daniel Vallverdu. 

 

Under the guidance of Vallverdu Pliskova has not won a single title in 2020 but she reached her second final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, the tournament she won in 2019 beating Johanna Konta. This year she was forced to withdraw from the Rome final against Simona Halep due to an injury problem. 

Pliskova successfully defended her 2019 title in Brisbane and lost to Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the Australian Open and was defeated by Elena Rybakina in the quarter finals in Dubai. She lost to Ons Jabeur in Doha. In her first tournament after the suspension due to the pandemic Pliskova was beaten by Veronika Kudemertova in the second round at the Western and Southern Open in New York. At the US Open Karolina was knocked out by Caroline Garcia in the second round. 

The Czech star lost in the first round in Ostrava after winning the first set. 

Bajin parted his ways with Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska in 2020. The Ukrainian player was not happy after Bajin praised Naomi Osaka, who beat Yastremska at the US Open. 

Pliskova introduced her new coaching team to her fans on Twitter. 

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WTA will change the names of tournament categories

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The WTA will change the names of its tournament categories to be in line with ATP, according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca. 

 

The Premier Mandatory tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing) and Premier 5 tournaments (Doha, Rome, Rogers Cup in Canada, Cincinnati and Wuhan) will shift to 1000s. Premier tournaments will be renamed 500 tournaments under the new system. International events will change to 250 events. $125Ks will be renamed as 125-events. 

Points given to the winners might not be the same as the event level unlike the ATP tournaments. The WTA currently awards 1000 points, 900 points and 470 points.The WTA tournament in Madrid will extend by three days. It will be a 11-day event. 

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Elise Mertens sets up Linz final against her doubles partner Aryna Sabalenka

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Number 2 seed and two-time US Open quarter finalist Elise Mertens came back from one set down in her 2-6 6-1 7-5 win over number 4 Ekaterina Aleksandrova 2-6 6-1 7-5 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach the final at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. Mertens will face Aryna Sabalenka, who beat Barbora Krejikova 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the second semifinal.

 

Mertens reached the Prague Open final, the Western and Southern Open semifinals and the US Open in a successful post-covid season. Aleksandrova beat 2020 Roland Garros Nadia Podorska 6-2 6-1 in the quarter finals. 

The Russian player won the Shenzhen Open and reached the St. Petersburg semifinal. She did not drop a set en route to the semifinals. 

The Belgian player was beaten by Aleksandrova 6-4 6-2 in their only previous clash on grass at the s’Hertogenbosch Open. 

Aleksandrova earned two breaks and served out the first set 6-2 on her first chance. Mertens went up a 4-0 lead with a double break and sealed the second set, when Aleksandrova made a backhand error. Mertens converted her fourth break point in the eighth game to seal the third set, when Aleksandrova made a backhand error. 

Mertens set up a final clash against her doubles partner Aryna Sabalenka, who battled past former Doubles world number 1 Barbora Krejikova 7-5 4-6 6-3. Sabalenka ended the year in the top 10 for the first time in her career. With a win in the final against Mertens Sabalenka would tie Simona Halep for most titles won this year. Sabalenka clinched two WTA titles earlier this season in Doha and Ostrava. The Belarusian player has not dropped a set in her three mathces this week against Jasmine Paolini, Stefanie Voegele and Oceane Dodin. 

Sabalenka and Krejikova traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games of the opening set. Sabalenka sealed the first set 7-5. Sabalenka earned an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Kreijikova broke back in the third game. The Czech player sealed the second set with a break at love in the ninth game to win the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the third set. Both players saved a break point in the first seven games. Krejikova came back from 0-40 down in the eighth game but Sabalenka converted her fourth break point at deuce to win the third set 6-3 on her first match point. 

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