Maria Sharapova Admits Changes Are Needed After Madrid Defeat - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Admits Changes Are Needed After Madrid Defeat

The former world No.1 is targeting improvements in her game ahead of the French Open

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Maria Sharapova (zimbio.com)

MADRID: Maria Sharapova’s encouraging return to the European clay has hit a snag after she crashed out of the Madrid Open to Kiki Bertens.

 

The former world No.1 faded away as the match progressed to go out 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, to the world No.20. Having 21 winners fired past her and getting broken seven times. Resulting in her opponent progressing to her first Premier Mandatory semi-final.

“I look at these types of matches, I see a lot of things I should be better at, I should improve on. I think it’s a combination of taking the positives, but also being a little tough on yourself and expecting a little bit more from yourself.” Sharapova said during her press conference. “That’s the only way to improve. You can’t keep giving yourself a pat on the back.”

There are positives for the Russian this week. Madrid is the first tournament where she has claimed three consecutive wins since Shenzhen at the start of the year. Earlier this week she has got the better of Mihaela Buzărnescu, Irina Camelia Begu and Kristina Mladenovic. A run that is set to elevate her back into the world’s top 40 for the first time since returning from her doping suspension.

Now back under the guidance of Swedish coach Thomas Hogstedt once again, the five-time grand slam champion is eyeing further improvement heading into the French Open. Pointing out that she needs to make adjustments to her movement and speed in matches.

“I thought I just should have made those smaller adjustments with my feet, moving back.” Sharapova explained.
“I was just a little slow on that. Just a little hesitant. Some of those opportunities. Keep improving the return. A much better week on that for me this week. But I think there’s a lot more work I can do on that.”

As issues continue with her tennis, there is better news concerning her fitness. Earlier this year, Sharapova was blighted by a left forearm injury. On top of that, she was also advised by doctors to temporarily suspend flying in March after doctors discovered an ‘air pocket’ in her lung. For now, both of those issues are in the past.

“It’s so nice to play when you can hold the racquet in your left hand, when you’re not worried about other things, when you can just play tennis. It’s a really nice feeling. That doesn’t happen all the time. That’s just part of the sport, as well.”

Sharapova will play in Rome next week in what will be her final tournament before the French Open.

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Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber reach the second round in Bad Homburg

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Former Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber won their first-round matches over qualifiers at the inaugural edition of the Bad Homburg Open. 

 

Kvitova came back from one set down to beat Katarzyna Piter 4-6 6-1 6-4 in nearly two hours. Kvitova fought back from an early break down in the final set. The Czech player was playing her first match since suffering an ankle injury three weeks ago. 

Kvitova hit ten aces, but she dropped serve three times. Piter earned a break point in the seventh game with a lob winner and converted her chance to take a 4-3 lead. The Polish player did not face another break point. 

Kvitova broke twice in the second and sixth game to win the second set 6-1. Piter earned an early break to take a 2-0 lead in the third set after a series of forehand errors from Kvitova. Kvitova broke three times in the next five games to take a 4-3 lead. The Czech player earned a match point at 5-3. Piter saved it to hold serve. Kvitova hit double faults on her next two match points at 5-4. 

Kvitova hit her tenth ace on her fourth match point to seal the win setting up a second round match against Ann Li. 

“I felt kind of a mix of emotions. I was pretty to be back on the grass. On the other hand, I thought I was probably going to play a little bit better. It was my third hit after my injury, so i probably expected a little bit more from myself, so I probably expected a little bit more from myself than I really showed today. In the end I won, so that’s a pretty good result. I found a few games where I really played good grass tennis, and that’s what I will have to take with me”, said Kvitova.

Angelique Kerber cruised past Ekaterina Yashina 6-1 6-1. The three-time Grand Slam champion broke twice in the first set and three times in the second set. “It’s a great feeling to win the first match, especially here in Bad Homburg, which is a really special tournament fot me. To play in front of the home crowd, it’s always something I am looking forward to and really excited about”, said Kerber.

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Ons Jabeur claims her first WTA title in Birmingham

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Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur clinched the first WTA title of her career with a 7-5 6-4 win over Daria Kasatkina at the Viking Classic in Birmingham. 

 

Jabeur became the first Arab player to win a WTA Tour title. The Tunisian player had lost her previous two finals to Kasatkina in Moscow 2018 and to Astra Sharma n Charleston in 2021. Jabeur is tied for most match wins on the WTA Tour along with world number 1 Ashleigh Barty. 

Jabeur converted five of her ten break points against Kasatkina, who has claimed two WTA titles earlier this season. 

Jabeur earned her second break at 3-3 in the first set with a dropshot and a lob. Jabeur earned three set points at 5-3, but Kasatkina forced errors from Jabeur to hold serve. The Russian player forced Jabeur to serve for the set at 5-4. Jabeur dropped her serve, but broke serve once more to take a 6-5 lead with a dropshot return winner. Jabeur served out the first set with a backhand winner down the line. 

Jabeur broke twice in the second set to race out to a 4-0 lead. Kasatkina saved a break point and held serve with an ace for 1-4. The Russian player pulled one break back to claw her way back to 3-4 with groundstroke winners. Jabeur earned her first match point at 5-4 and hit a forehand to force an error from Kastakina closing out the match. 

“I knew I had to go for it, I had to win this title to at least breathe, and give an example. There are not a lot of Tunisian or Arabic players playing, so I hope this could, and I want to see more Arabic players and Tunisians playing with me on Tour. The last time we played was in Moscow and I was crying, it was a great battle ”, said Jabeur.Marie Bouzkova and and Lucie Hradecka beat Jabeur and Ellen Perez 6-4 2-6 10-8 in the Match Tie-Break.

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Samsonova Battles Past Bencic To Win Maiden Title In Berlin, Gets Wimbledon Wild Card

The Russian qualifier has stunned the tournament with a run that also seen her defeat Madison Keys and Victoria Azarenka.

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image via https://twitter.com/bett1open

Liudmila Samsonova is the 2021 Bett1 Open champion after pulling off another upset by beating number five seed Belinda Bencic 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 in front of a capacity crowd on Steffi Graff Stadion under hot and humid conditions.

 

The 22-year-old underdog caps off what has been a fairytale run in Germany for the qualifier. Prior to the tournament Samsonova had never beaten a top 20 player in her career or reached a Tour final. Against Bencic she hit 28 winners to 15 unforced errors and won 66% of her service points.

” I was so nervous today even before the match and during the first set so after the first set I took a toilet break and told myself to play a more aggressive game and it worked,” Samsonova said following her triumph.

It was world No.12 Bencic who got off to a fast start by holding serve comfortably and than the following game setting up the first break chance with a return forehand winner before the Russian would double fault twice in a row to give the early break. At 3-0 the Swiss found herself again at double breakpoint and managed to seal the it en route to taking the first set in just 28 minutes.

However, the second set was the total opposite with underdog Samsonova holding serve and breaking the very next game with a powerful forehand winner. Like Bencic in the first set, she turned her lead into a double break and served out the second set.

The Russian carried the momentum into the third and deciding set earning a chance to break in the first game and the world No.12 would double fault to give the break. At 4-2 the world No.106 had a chance to go up a double break but Bencic managed to save it and hold serve before going on the offensive. The Swiss had two chances of her own to go back on serve but the Russian saved all three breakpoints she faced.

At 5-3 the Samsonova had two chances to seal the match and the title on her opponents serve. Bencic saved the first one but the world number 106 would seal the win on the second.

In her post match press conference Samsonova explained how once she levelled the match was able to close it out.

” I was trying to keep my game going and try to be aggressive on my first shot and my serve and on the return and that is what I was focusing on”.

The young Russian now has her sights sets on Wimbledon as she awarded a main draw wild card after the match.

“They just told me that I’m going to have the wildcard for the main draw, so I’m so happy,” she said.

Samsonova is the 10th first-time WTA champion this season.

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