Julia Goerges is excited about her upcoming quarter-final clash with defending champion Petra Kvitova after producing an excellent performance to beat Ashleigh Barty 7-6(6) 6-3 at the Nature Valley Classic.
“I wanted to play Kvitova,” Goerges said. “I had a tough match today, and I knew I would probably face her if I got through this one.”
“I’m happy to play her in my first tournament on grass – I think there’s no better preparation for Eastbourne and Wimbledon.”
The World No.13 continued, “It’s been always a tough challenge playing her, but I think it’s great that I can accept this challenge and put up a big battle, see where I’m at and try to win it.”
Goerges finds a way on grass
The German, 29, has historically struggled on grass despite possessing a game that appears suited to it. Incredibly, she failed to win a match on the surface between 2012 and 2017.
However, Goerges turned her fortunes around in Mallorca last year when she reached the final, and looked assured during her opening round win over Maria Sakkari.
“I’m very pleased with the way I’m playing on grass,” the German said. “Before last year I hadn’t won a match in five years on grass and people were telling me they don’t understand why because I have a good game for it.”
She continued, “So we brought David Prinosil into the team last year to help me understand the grass court game because he was very successful on grass and somehow it clicked.”
“When I was practising in Halle last week, I started really enjoying it and having fun on grass.”
Goerges explained that sometimes it is hard to deal with the unpredictable bounces on grass court, but she is starting to accept that tennis on this surface is like that.
“I got a little bit frustrated in the years before, but now I understand what my weapons are on grass,” the German said. “Last year I figured out the way I want to play on grass and how I can be very dangerous, and now I’m starting to have fun on the grass.”
Goerges hangs tough to beat Barty
A clash with Barty looked like a tough proposition for the fifth seed, and so it proved during a marathon first set that lasted 64 minutes.
Both players served well and the first six games passed without any major incidents. Goerges then broke, only for the Australian to battle her way to an immediate break back.
Barty looked like she would go on and win the first set after that, as she had two set points in each of the German’s next two service games.
However, Goerges saved them all with good serving and explosive hitting to force a tie-break.
In the tie-break, the German slipped 6-3 and again looked poised to lose the set. But she dug deep and won the next five points to go a set up in the most unlikely fashion.
After her great escape, Goerges looked confident in the second set. She only dropped four points on serve and took her first opportunity to break. It proved to be all she needed as she won the set 6-3.
“Somehow I stayed in the first set,” Goerges said. “I was a break up, and then had a lot of game points to go up 5-3 but didn’t make it.”
“Then Barty started to get more confidence on my service games and my first serve percentage started to drop a bit.”
The German continued, “Somehow I managed to save those set points with good play and at the end I was pretty lucky with a net cord.”
“Staying there waiting for your opportunities like I did doesn’t mean you win every set when you are seven set points down, but it gave me a chance and I think it was the key to the match.”
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova sees off Angelique Kerber to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open
Anastasya Pavlyudchenkova battled past Angelique Kerber 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 after 2 hours and 37 minutes to reach her sixth Grand Slam quarter final.
Pavlyuchenkova earned her first break with a volley and raced out to a 5-2 lead with a double break with a backhand return. Kerber came back by winning four consecutive games to take a 6-5 lead. Pavlyuchenkova hit seven consecutive winners from 3-5 to take a 3-0 in the tie-break. Kerber won seven of the next nine points from 0-3 down and sealed her first set point with a backhand winner.
Kerber saved two set points at 4-5 and another one at 5-6 in the second set. Pavlyuchenkova closed out the second set on her fifth set point with a return winner.
Pavlyuchenkova went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead. Kerber pulled back one of the two breaks with a forehand crosscourt. Pavlyuchenkova earned her third break of the decisive set to open up a 5-2 lead and closed out the match with her fourth ace setting up a quarter final against Garbine Muguruza, who beat Kiki Bertens 6-3 6-3.
“I was there pretty much every point, I mean, I tried to. That always paid off, or at least that gives some sort of confidence. Sometimes there were some moments or matches where I did not feel my best or I did not play my best, but I was still there”, said Pavlyuchenkova.
Anett Kontaveit came back from one set down to beat Polish teenager Iga Switek 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 7-5 becoming the first player from Estonia to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Kontaveit will face Simona Halep in the quarter final.
Garbine Muguruza Doesn’t Care About Her Ranking As Australian Open Run Continues
The Spanish star has now achieved her best grand slam run in almost two years at Melbourne Park.
After experiencing a roller coaster 2019 on the tour, Garbine Muguruza looks to be back on track at the Australian Open following her latest triumph.
The former world No.1 extended her winning run in Melbourne on Monday with a 6-3, 6-3, win over ninth seed Kiki Bertens. Making it the second top 10 player she has defeated in the tournament after Elina Svitolina. In her latest clash, the Spaniard was broken at the start of both sets, but managed to turn her fortunes around with the help of a dominant display behind her first serve. Where she won 28 out of 31 points. Muguruza also hit 19 winners to 18 unforced errors.
“I feel good in this tournament. I’m super concentrated on every single match, especially because I started the tournament so-so. I feel like my body’s getting healthier.” Said Muguruza.
“It’s a Grand Slam, we are all very concentrated here. For me, it’s one of the tournaments that motivates me the most.”
As a result of her latest win, Muguruza is through to the last eight of a major for the first time since the 2018 French Open. It is only the second time she has managed to reach the quarter-final stage in Melbourne and first since 2017.
The surge comes at a time where the 26-year-old is trying to establish her footing on the tour. Unseeded in the draw, she is currently ranked 32nd in the world. 14 places lower than where she was 12 months ago. Not that it bothers her in any way.
“You know what? Who cares about the ranking, honestly. I feel like it’s just a sign of probably the last results. At the end you go out there and you play.” She explained.
“I don’t even know the rankings of the ones I’m playing. I know who they are. I know the matches we’ve had. But it doesn’t affect me so much.’
“Of course, the higher you are, the more beautiful it is. But it’s not that important to me no more after these years.”
Muguruza’s laid back approach to her current position is understandable given the openness of women’s tennis. The past 12 major tournaments have been won by 10 different players. During that period Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep are the only players to win multiple titles. At present there are 16 active grand slam champions playing on the WTA Tour.
The question remains about whether Muguruza has what it takes to go all the way in Melbourne. No Spanish woman has reached the final of the tournament since Conchita Martinez back in 1998, who coincidentally is now coaching Muguruza on the tour.
“She’s very, very aggressive as she was when she was playing her best tennis.” Martinez told reporters about Muguruza’s current form.
“Physically, I see her (playing) very well. She’s getting to the balls early enough. You can see she’s holding her ground really well, accelerating, finishing at the net a lot. That’s always nice to see.’
“Things like that you can see a little bit more and more. So it’s good to see.”
Muguruza will play either Angelique Kerber or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the next round.
Simona Halep Keeps Her Cool To See Off Mertens Challenge
Simona Halep continued her impressive progress through the Australian Open draw with a straight-sets victory over Elise Mertens.
Simona Halep produced a superb performance to beat Elise Mertens 6-4 6-4 and secure her place in the quarter-final of the Australian Open for the fourth time.
The Romanian, 28, reached the final two years ago and lost an epic clash to Caroline Wozniacki. She has not dropped a set so far this year and she is probably quietly confident about her chances of winning the title (particularly with all the high-profile exits) but, as she said in her press conference after the previous round, she is focusing on each match as it comes.
“It’s a great performance by me to reach the quarter-finals again,” Halep said in her on-court interview. “I played against (Mertens) in the final in Doha last year. I was leading a set and 4-2 and then lost the match, so I knew I had to stay focused.”
She continued, “I had to calm myself down. When I get a little bit nervous, I get crazy on court. So I had to stay cool to get the energy from my box.”
Halep makes life difficult for Mertens
Halep’s calmness was a feature of the day. She dealt with most of the challenging moments in a composed manner and never let herself get derailed by a poor shot or a lost service. Consequently, she ended up with outstanding statistics: 21 winners and just eight unforced errors.
These numbers reflect the pattern of the match, which was established early on. Mertens went for her shots and tried to hit as many winners as possible. Meanwhile, Halep defended brilliantly and made sure her opponent had to play plenty of long points.
Each extended rally brought with it an increased risk of the Belgian making an unforced error. And it was a method that worked well, as the Romanian won 15 points with this method in the first five games.
With the help of those 15 unforced errors from Mertens, Halep earned a 3-2 lead thanks to a break in game three. During that game, the Belgian cancelled out her own winners with unforced errors. Despite this, she still managed to save three break points before the Romanian eventually seized the break with an excellent forehand winner.
The World No.17’s aggressive approach eventually paid off in game six. She struck three impressive winners to break Halep and make it 3-3.
Unfortunately for Mertens, the Romanian then demonstrated why she is a two-time Grand Slam champion. She put the setback out of her mind immediately and put the Belgian under all kinds of pressure in game seven.
Then Halep raised her game again and hit two stunning forehand winners to break Mertens easily in game nine. She clenched her fist in celebration, and then re-focused to secure the hold she needed to clinch the set 6-4.
Halep withstands Mertens’ fightback
At the start of the second set, the World No.3 produced some sparkling tennis. She hit a precise forehand winner to seal an immediate break. Then she hit an extraordinary angled backhand winner at full stretch to move 2-0 ahead.
In game three, Mertens was 40-30 ahead. Then Halep hit three consecutive forehand winners to break the Belgian again. At that stage, it looked like she might run away with the set.
However, the World No.17 was not ready to concede defeat just yet. She struck two winners and a powerful forehand to earn three break points. Then the Romanian missed a backhand to confirm the break.
Both players enjoyed a rare love hold to move the score along to 4-2. Then Mertens won a series of long rallies to make it 4-3.
This gave the Belgian a platform to attack Halep’s serve. And she did it to great effect. She drove the Romanian back behind the baseline to win one point. Then she unleashed a huge forehand to earn a break point, followed by a classy volley to seal the break.
Both players contested the next game like their lives depended on it. They engaged in a series of long rallies, and eventually it just came down to which woman held her nerve. Halep eventually took it on her fifth break point when Mertens volleyed just wide.
The Romanian closed the match out clinically. She hit an unreturnable serve, a forehand winner and an ace to move 40-0 up. Then the Belgian missed a backhand and the clash was over.
Halep will now face either Anett Kontaveit or Iga Swiatek in the last eight. She will be the heavy favourite to win whichever player makes it through.
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