For Simona Halep, Having No Expectations Is Key In Madrid - UBITENNIS
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For Simona Halep, Having No Expectations Is Key In Madrid

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Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

MADRID: World No.1 Simona Halep was keen to pour water onto the fire following her latest comprehensive win at the Madrid Open.

 

The Romanian illustrated why she is a two-time champion of the tournament with an emphatic 6-0, 6-3, win over Elise Mertens. A player who recently won back-to-back titles on the clay in Switzerland and Morocco.

Despite the hype surrounding the encounter, in reality it was a one-way show in Halep’s favor. The Romanian dismantled her opponent from the onset, who has been suffering from a bout of Gastroenteritis in recent days. Illustrated by a winner-error ratio of 2-14 from the Belgian in the opening set alone.

In contrast, a more composed Halep stuck to her game plan of hitting deep into the court and moving her rival around. Unfazed by the below-par form of Mertens, she continued to apply the pressure and forcing the errors from her. Eight games went by before Mertens got onto the scoreboard. It wasn’t until the final game of the match where Halep encountered difficulty. Serving for a place in the third round, she squandered four match points before triumphing on her fifth.

“I had to start very strong, the match, and aggressive, which I did. After I played a few games, I felt really good on court.” Halep said in her press conference.
“I think I played well again. Is the second match of the tournament. I have a great feeling. It was a nice match, and I take it like an important one because I played against a girl that won two tournaments on clay so far this year.”

The day-by-day approach

Despite the openness of the WTA Tour, in Madrid Halep is the player to beat for some. She has reached the final in three out of the past four years, winning the title twice. The high altitude of Madrid favors Halep’s heavy-hitting game. Although there are other factors that help her at the tournament.

“I think it’s all about confidence here at this tournament and the pleasure to play. Many friends are coming. My family is here. It’s a feeling like I’m home. Makes me feel more motivated and more relaxed.”

Yet to win a grand slam title, the 26-year-old maintains an easy going outlook for the future. So far this year she has won one trophy at the Shenzhen Open in China. She currently leads the rankings by 1265 points over second placed Caroline Wozniacki.

Despite her current position as the top ranked player, Halep is under no illusion of the threat she faces going into the French Open. Last year the tournament was won by Jelena Ostapenko, who was unseeded in the draw.

“You never know in tennis. You have to take day by day and match by match. At this level, everyone is playing really good tennis, really good level of tennis.” She explained.
“I have just to go there and to be focused, to be motivated to win every match I play, and to wait and see what is going to happen. I don’t want to expect anything. I just want to enjoy and to believe that I have my chance to go through the end.”

Next up in Madrid for the Romanian will be Kristyna Pliskova. A player who defeated Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in straight sets. Halep has won both of their previous meetings.

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Matteo Berrettini reaches the final on his debut at the Queen’s

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Top seed Matteo Berrettini beat Alex De Minaur 6-4 6-4 after 84 minutes to reach the final in his debut at the Queen’s Club in London. 

 

Berrettini has not dropped a set yet at this tournament and beat British players Andy Murray and Daniel Evans earlier this week. 

Berrettini won 89% of his first service points and hit 8 aces. The Italian top ten player broke serve in the third game with a backhand down the line to take a 2-1 lead and did not face any break points in his next service games to win the first set 6-4. 

Berrettini earned three break points in the fifth game of the second set, but De Minaur held serve from 0-40 to take a 3-2 lead. Berrettini saved a break point to draw level to 3-3 before breaking serve to take a 5-4 lead in the ninth game, when De Minaur hit his slice into the net. Berrettini served out the win on his second match point to become the first Italian player to reach the final at the Queens. 

“Making the final was the goal of the week, and now I have one more step. It is a great achievement, especially for the history of this tournament. I am really happy because to beat Alex today, I had to play my best tennis. The mentality is that I always think I can win my service games. I know that I have a big weapon with my serve and first shot. If I sleep too well, it means something is off is off ahead of the final. I have to be nervous and tight a little bit, otherwise the adrenaline does not kick in and it is tougher to play”, said Berrettini. 

Berrettini set up a final against Cameron Norrie, who beat Denis Shapovalov 7-5 6-3 in 94 minutes. Norrie won 76% of his first service points and came back from one set down to become the first British player to reach the final at the Queen’s. 

Shapovalov earned an early break to take a 2-0 lead. Norrie broke back to draw level to 3-3. The British player earned his second break with a backhand passing shot in the 12th game to claim the first set 7-5. 

Norrie did not convert a break point at 3-2, after Shapovalov had treatment on an injury. The British player broke serve in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and served out the second set in the second game to secure his spot in the final. Norrie has reached his third final this year after fiinishing runner-up to Albert Ramos Vinolas at the Estoril Open and to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Lyon. 

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Samsonova Reaches Final in Berlin after Stunning Azarenka

The Russian qualifier beats the Belarusian in straight sets. She will face the fifth seed, Belinda Bencic.

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Liudmila Samsonova in Berlin in 2021 (Credit: @TennisChanneli on Twitter)

Liudmila Samsonova continued her dream run at the Bett1 Open in Berlin, this time beating the world number 16 Victoria Azarenka quite comfortably with a score of 6-4, 6-2 in only an hour and six minutes on Steffi Graff Stadion. “It’s all incredible for me, so new and I am happy and it’s unbelievable for me”.

 

The world number 106 had the better start to the match, earning the first two breakpoints of the match and getting an early 2-0 lead before the Minsk, Belarus native had two chances to go back on serve – the Russian, however, saved both and held serve.

It stayed on serve until 5-3m when the world number 106 had two set points on her opponents serve, but Azarenka would save both and the Russian would serve out the first set.

The second set was a mirror image of the first one, with the 22-year-old getting two more breakpoints and breaking to take an early 1-0 lead which she would later manage to turn into a double break.

At 4-0, the Russian had a chance to break again setting up a breakpoint with a powerful forehand winner, but the Belarusian would save both with two big serves.

At 5-2, Samsonova served out the match to book her spot in Sundays final where she will face the number five seed Belinda Bencic, who earlier in the day booked her spot in the final by beating Alize Cornet in straight sets.

In her post-match press conference, Samsonova gave her thoughts on Sunday’s match against another tough opponent in Bencic.

“I’m sure it’s going to be another tough match because she plays very good on this surface and she’s a good player, so I will try to do my best and focus on my game and we will see.”

This will be the first time Belinda Bencic and Liudmila Samsonova will meet in a WTA match.

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Andrey Rublev reaches his first grass court final in Halle

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Andrey Rublev hit 24 winners in his 6-1 3-6 6-3 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili in 1 hour and 51 minutes to reach his first grass court final at the NOVENTI Open in Halle. 

 

Rublev raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set with two breaks in the second and fourth games after 19 minutes. Basilashvili broke serve in the fifth game of the second set after a forehand error from Rublev to win the second set 6-3. 

Rublev earned a break in the sixth game of the third set, when Basilashvili mis-timed a backhand. Basilashvili rallied from 0-40 at 3-5 to save three break points. Rublev served out the third set 6-3 on his first match point. 

Rublev will try to improve his 4-1 record in his ATP 500 level finals. The Russian player rise to third position in the ATP Race to Turin. He has extended his match record at ATP 500 tournaments since the ATP Tour resumed from the Covid-19 suspension. He has claimed his past four ATP Tour 500 level finals in Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Vienna in 2020 and Rotterdam in 2021. “It’s my first final on grass and in Halle. I think I can play on every surface and I will try my best again tomorrow. I had good opporunities to break Basilashvili in the second set, some quite easy forehands and I stressed a little showing my emotions. I then came back and stayed calm until the last game, but I won”, said Rublev.

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