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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Elena Rybakina and Belinda Bencic take hard-fought wins to reach the third round in Doha

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Elena Rybakina saved a match point to beat Alison Van Uytvanck 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-8) to secure a hard-fought 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-8) win over Alison Van Uytvanck on his fifth match point after 2 hours and 21 minutes at the Qatar Total Open in Doha.

 

Both players went on serve in the first ten games with no breaks, before Van Uytvank earned her first break in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5.

Rybakina broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the second set 6-2 forcing the match to the third set. Van Uytvanck converted her third break point in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Rybakina broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Rybakina earned two match points at 5-4. Van Uytvanck saved two match points on her serve in the 10th game. Rybakina did not convert a match point after a double fault. Van Uytvanck failed to convert her own match point, before Rybakina won the final three points to advance to the third round, where she will face 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty.

Barty beat Rybakina in the third round at last January’s Australian Open.

Belinda Bencic recovered from missing a match point to beat Veronika Kudemertova 6-4 4-6 7-6 (8-6) after 2 hours and 38 minutes. Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games. Bencic wrapped up the first set with a break in the 10th game.

Kudemertova earned an early break in the second set. Bencic pulled the break back on her third opportunity in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Kudemertova won the final two games with a break in the ninth game to seal the second set 6-4.

Bencic went down a break in the third game of the decider, but she broke back in the eight game to draw level to 4-4 and earned a match point in the 10th game. Kudemertova saved it and earned four break points on Bencic’s serve. Bencic saved them and forced the third set to the tie-break. Bencic won three consecutive points from 3-3 to earn three match points. The Swiss player closed it out on her third match point setting up a third round match against Yulia Putintseva.

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Elena Rybakina scores her 20th match of the season in Doha

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Elena Rybakina came back one set down to beat Sorana Cristea 3-6 6-3 6-1 to score her 20th match win of the season at the Qatar Total Open just two days after losing to Simona Halep in Dubai.

 

Rybakina has improved her seasonal record to 20 wins to 4 defeats this season. The Kazakh player won the Hobart International and reached three finals in Shenzhen, St. Petersburg and Dubai.

Rybakina went down a break in the opening game, but she broke straight back to draw level to 2-2. Cristea broke twice in the fifth and ninth games to win the opening set 6-3. Rybakina broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Cristea broke back in the sixth game at deuce to draw level to 3-3. Cristea broke straight back at deuce to draw level to 3-3. Rybakina won the final three games with two consecutive games to win the second set 6-3. Rybakina won the first nine points of the third set including a break in the second game and got the break with a backhand return in the sixth game before serving out the win to secure her spot in the second round.

“I still have energy. I am just fighting in every match. Hopefully I can can keep making finals and finally win another. It’s my first time here, and it’s a really nice place. Hopefully I will have time to walk around, but I am enjoying Doha so far”, said Rybakina.

US teenager Amanda Anisimova cruised past last year’s semifinalist Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 to reach the third round at the Qatar Total Open in Doha.

 

Anisimova hit 27 winners to 31 unforced errors and fended off all three break points she faced.

 

Anisimova scored her top 10 win since last  year’s Roland Garros, where she beat Simona Halep en route to her first Grand Slam semifinal.

 

Anisimova saved two break points in the third game of the first set. The US player earned the only break of the first set and held on her serve to seal the opening set on her second set point.

 

Anisimova converted her fourth break point at deuce to take a 3-2 lead. Svitolina earned two game points as she served to stay in the match, but Anisimova won three consecutive points to clinch the second set with her second break.

 

Anisimova will face either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

 

“I think the most important thing was just staying focused and clearing my head, just not putting too much pressure on myself and just trying to enjoy. I love playing here. I love this stadium and the crowd is great. I am glad I get to see everyone again in the next round”,said Ansimova.

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Epic Dubai Triumph Fuels Belief And Motivation For Simona Halep

The world No.2 reacts to the latest milestone achieved in her career.

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On Saturday Simona Halep survived a marathon encounter at the Dubai Tennis Championships to become only the sixth active player to win 20 on more WTA titles on the tour.

 

The two-time grand slam champion, who was the top seed in the tournament, required almost two-and-a-half hours to see off the in-form Elena Rybakina 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5). A player who has reached the final in four out of her five tournaments played so far in 2020. The clash was far from easy for the Romanian, who trailed 1-3 in the decider and failed to serve the match out when leading 6-5 before eventually prevailing in the tiebreak. Earning her first WTA trophy since lifting the Wimbledon trophy last July.

“It feels great that I could win it,” Halep said. “Actually, it was amazing. She fought till the end. She didn’t give up any balls. It was really tough mentally. The pressure was very high. But I wanted it badly, so that’s why I fought till the end.”

Besides Rybakina, the 28-year-old also scored wins over Jennifer Brady, Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur in the tournament. Out of those matches, Halep’s only straight sets win was over Brady in the semi-finals.

It is the second time Halep has won the Dubai crown after 2015. She believes her latest triumph reiterates why she still belongs at the top of the women’s game. Prior to this week, she also reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and quarter-finals in Adelaide.

“I’ve done a lot of results, many results these six, seven years,” said Halep. “I’m staying here in the top 5, top 10, which is not easy. I’m proud of my job. Also, this tournament gives me confidence that I’m still there.”

Whilst she has only won two titles over the past 16 months, it is the consistency of the former world No.1 that has enabled her to be in the world’s top 10 for so long. To date she has spent 317 weeks consecutive weeks in the top 10 since January 2014. The 10th longest streak in the history of the WTA Tour.

“I always had in my mind that I had to be consistent. I didn’t like the way you win a tournament and then don’t do anything for a few months. I like to build my power and consistency every week.” She explained.
“Since I met Darren (Cahill) I was told that we had to look at the big picture and not just this week.’
“This makes me more proud than winning titles because if you’re able to be there means that you have everything power, strong mental, physical also, very strong.” She added.

There will be no Middle East double for Halep this year after she withdrew from the upcoming Doha Open. A Premier 5 event that will feature six top 10 players in the draw this year. Halep was runner-up in the tournament last year to Elise Mertens.

“It’s a decision I took before the match … I started this tournament a little bit injured with my foot.” Halep stated.

The only active players to have won more WTA titles than Halep are Serena and Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova.

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