Maria Sharapova Produces Superb Comeback To Beat Cibulkova - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Produces Superb Comeback To Beat Cibulkova

Maria Sharapova fought back from a set down to beat Dominika Cibulkova 3-6 6-4 6-2 and book a third round meeting with Daria Gavrilova.

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Maria Sharapova’s encouraging clay form continued as she came back from a set down to beat Dominika Cibulkova 3-6 6-4 6-2 at the Italian Open.

 

The Russian, who beat Irina-Camelia Begu and Kristina Mladenovic en route to the Madrid quarter-final last week, will move up to at least World No.39 when the new rankings are released next Monday.

Sharapova is starting to show the kind of form that kept her in the top ten for much of her career before her well-publicised ban.

And she responded superbly after playing poorly during the first set, which she lost due to a solitary break for Cibulkova in the second game.

After seven games went with serve in the second set, there was a spell of three pivotal games which ultimately decided the match.

Sharapova won the first thanks to some huge ball-striking, although it took her four break points to do it because Cibulkova determinedly saved three.

The Slovakian then won the second by playing a perfect return game to break the Russian to love.

But Sharapova did not let it bother her. She demonstrated her champion qualities to immediately break Cibulkova again and level the match.

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The five-time Grand Slam champion knew the importance of her next service game, and she let out a loud cry of ‘come on!’ after saving two break points during a gutsy hold.

She then gathered even more momentum by breaking Cibulkova to go 2-0 up, and never looked back thereafter. After three comfortable holds, she broke the Slovakian to love in the tenth game to seal an excellent win.

“I was really happy at the end of today’s match,” Sharapova said in her press conference. “I thought there were a lot of good things to take away from it.”

“(I was pleased with) the competitiveness against a player that I thought competed and played really well and played some of her best tennis for a long stretch of time.”

“That was a really good compliment, in a sense. I don’t think she’s been producing that type of tennis in the last few months. And to come out today and to play that way – I expect that from a lot of players. And I thought I delivered quite well. So that makes me happy.”

The Russian’s last-16 opponent will be Daria Gavrilova after the Australian ground out an extraordinary 5-7 6-2 7-6(6) win over Garbine Muguruza in a marathon match that lasted three hours and 11 minutes.

After the day session overran by nearly two hours, the players were unable to begin until 10.50pm. Given this, the World No.3 looked understandably grumpy at times and did not produce anything like her best tennis.

However, Muguruza looked like she had found a way to win when she opened up a 4-0 lead in the decider. But Gavrilova refused to give in and fought her way back to 4-4, and then saved two match points before sealing victory in the tie-break.

Venus and Kerber survive

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Grand Slam champions Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber both dug deep to earn important wins at the Foro Italico.

Venus had to break to stay in the match when opponent Elena Vesnina was serving for it at 5-4 in the decider. And she produced her best tennis when it mattered most to gain a 6-2 4-6 7-5 victory.

Kerber worked even harder for her win over Begu. The Romanian comfortably won the first set 6-3 in 34 minutes and looked set to cause an upset.

But the German refused to give in. She battled to 7-5 scorelines in both of the next two sets, each lasting over an hour, to struggle through to a meeting with Karolina Pliskova’s conqueror Maria Sakkari in round three.

Elsewhere in Rome, Caroline Wozniacki eased to a 6-1 6-4 victory over Alison Van Uytvanck to set up a third round meeting with Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-4 6-4.

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Why Ash Barty Isn’t Staying At The Olympic Village In Tokyo

The two-time Grand Slam champion has opted to stay at an alternate venue heading into the Games.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Ash Barty will prepare for her debut at the Olympic Games by staying at a base located outside of the athletes village as part of her ‘performance plan.’

 

The world No.1 heads into Tokyo as one of the favourites for gold following her triumph at Wimbledon where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final. She is one of six top 10 players set to play in the women’s singles tournament which will start on Saturday.

Leading up to the Games, the head of the Australian Olympic delegation has told reporters that Barty’s decision not to stay in the village will enhance her gold medal chances. In previous Games athletes have stayed outside of the villages but this year it is more challenging to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fans are banned from attending the event amid fears of the virus spreading if they do so.

“Ash is staying elsewhere,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman told the Australian Associated Press.
“We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it’s just what works best for them.
“Something I’ve always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.
“In terms of her performance plan, it’s best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that.”

The exact location of Barty’s base has not been disclosed but it is near to the village where she was said to have visited and had a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.

She is staying in an Australian environment where she can still easily access the village,” Chesterman stated.

The 25-year-old is bidding to become only the second Australian in history to win a medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. The first was Alicia Molik who claimed a bronze medal back in 2004.

During a recent interview with The ITF, Barty said playing at the event is a dream come true for her as she describes representing her country as the ‘highest honour.’

“Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine as a kid, I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told the ITF.
“For an Aussie it’s the best thing you can do and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You’re playing to represent your nation. You’re playing to make people proud and that’s not just with results it’s with your attitude.”

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Bianca Andreescu pulls out of Tokyo Olympics

The world number five has officially pulled out of the Olympics in Tokyo stating reasons due to the ongoing pandemic situation.

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Bianca Andreescu will not be making the trip to Tokyo to play in the Olympics after withdrawing due to the current pandemic situation.

 

The former US Open champion issued a statement concerning what she describes as a ‘difficult decision.’ Andreescu is the latest top name to pull out of the Olympics. Last week Nick Kyrgios also said he wouldn’t be playing for similar reasons. Due to a a surge of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, the city has gone into a state of emergency which prompted organisers to ban spectators from attending Olympic events in the city. Athletes will be subjected to tough restrictions during their time at the event, as well as regular testing.

” I would like to inform you that I have made the very difficult decision to not play in the Tokyo Olympics later this month,” Andreescu wrote on Instagram. “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris! “

The Canadian hasn’t played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Alize Cornet of France and most recently split with her coach Sylvain Brunneau after a four-year partnership.

Her 2021 season has been up and down starting in Australia where she lost in the second round before making the semifinals at the Phillips Island Trophy event. She then made the final at the Miami Open before taking a fall in the final against Ash Barty and was forced to retire due to injury.

Then the clay-court season came and Andreescu tested positive for Covid. She was forced to miss events in Madrid and Rome, so she headed to Strasbourg for some preparation before the French Open. The world No.5 won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out due to an ab injury. She then lost in the first round of the French Open.

The Canadian moved on to the grass-court season heading to Berlin but again would get upset in the first round by Alize Cornet before winning one round in Eastbourne and losing to Anett Kontaveit.

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The 2021 Wimbledon Leaderboard: Women’s Edition

UbiTennis takes a look at the numbers behind the women’s draw to discover which player stood out when it came to service speed, double faults produced, return winners and other areas.

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Coco Gauff (USA) serves against Elena Vesnina (RUS) in the second round of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 4 Thursday 01/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/David Gray

On Saturday the women’s singles draw at Wimbledon concluded with Ash Barty defeating Karolina Pliskova in three sets to become the first Australian woman to win the title since 1980.

 

The triumph follows what has been a tournament which has seen its fair share of drama. Ranging from Serena Williams’ heartbreaking retirement due to injury to an on-court spat between Jelena Ostapenko and Ajla Tomljanović. For home fans, British wildcard Emma Raducanu stunned the draw by reaching the fourth round in what was only her second WTA event before having to pull out of the event due to breathing difficulties.

It has been an eventful fortnight at The All England Club but what players have excelled at the tournament and in what area? UbiTennis takes a closer look at the best performing players in this year’s draw based on statistical data produced by IBM.

Who produced the most aces?

1. Pliskova – 60
2. Barty – 53
3. Sabalenka – 52
4. Rybakina – 32
5. Gauff – 29
6. Jabeur – 25
=7. Muchova – 22
=7. Keys – 22
=7. Badosa – 22

The player with the most double faults

1. Pliskova – 35
2. Barty – 32
=3. Sabalenka – 26
=3. Badosa – 26
5. Samsonova – 20
=6. Siniakova – 18
=6. Ostapenko – 18
=6. Krejčíková – 18
=9. Raducanu– 17
=9. Kerber – 17

Longest matches

1. kerber def Sorribes Tormo 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 (3 hrs 19)
2. Ahn def Watson 2-6, 7-6(3), 8-6 (3 hrs 3)
3. Golubic def Kudermetova 3-6, 6-1, 11-9 (2 hrs 45)
4. Liu def Doi 2-6, 6-3, 9-7 (2 hrs 42)
5. Brengle def McHale 3-6, 7-5, 10-8 (2 hrs 40)
6. V. Williams def Buzarnescu 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 (2 hrs 37)
7. Begu def Martic 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-3 (2 hrs 34)
8. Krejcikova def Sevastova 7-6(1), 3-6, 7-5 (2 hrs 34)
9. Martic def Gracheva 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3 (2 hrs 29)
10. Boulter def Lao 6-7(6) 6-3, 6-4 (2 hrs 28)

Note: women’s final between Barty and Pliskova was the joint 29th longest match of the tournament

Fastest serve

1. Gauff 125 mph
2. Sabalenka 122 mph
3. Samsonova 121 mph
=4. Giorgi 119 mph
=4. Rybakina 119 mph
6. Mertens 117 mph
=7. Keys 116 mph
=7. Pliskova 116 mph
=9. Barty 115 mph
=9. Badosa 115 mph

Most hawk-eye challenges made

1. Jabeur – 20 (30% success rate)
=2. Sabalenka – 15 (46.7% success rate)
=2. Cirstea – 15 (20% success rate)
=4. Pliskova – 14 (35.7% success rate)
=4. Barty – 14 (35.7% success rate)
=4. Badosa – 14 (0% success rate)
=7. Tomljanovic – 11 (27.3%success rate)
=7. Ostapenko – 11 (27.3% success rate)
=7. Kerber – 11 (27.3% success rate)
10. Raducanu – 10 (20% success rate)

Most return winners

1. Sabalenka – 27
=2. Pliskova – 16
=2. Ostapenko – 16
=2. Jabeur – 16
=5. Samsonova – 13
=5. Keys – 13
=7. Rybakina – 10
=7. Azarenka – 10
9. Kudermetova – 9
10. Kerber – 9

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