Magdalena Rybarikova finally solved the riddle of Barbora Strycova as she won 7-6 6-4 to make it through to her second final in Birmingham.
The Slovakian had lost her last three meetings with the Czech – at Wimbledon, Linz and Tokyo – and was surely starting to wonder what she had to do to beat her.
But the World No.19 found the answers to the puzzle today. She fought back from 5-3 down in the opening set and then remained solid in the tie-break while Strycova leaked error after error.
The second set went with serve until the seventh game when Rybarikova produced a poor game to slip 4-3 behind.
However, this seemed to galvanise the Slovakian and she came up with a succession of great shots to break straight back.
After an easy hold, Rybarikova turned on the style to finish the match off. At 30-all, she hit a perfectly-judged lob over Strycova’s head to set up match point. Then the Czech whacked a forehand long and it was all over.
Rybarikova glad to face her friend on grass
“I knew it was going to be difficult because Barbora is such a huge fighter,” Rybarikova said. “But when I won the first set, I really believed I would win.”
“Even when she went a break up (in the second set), I still fought and still believed.”
She continued, “Maybe I’m a little bit more confident when I play her on grass than on clay or hard court, because grass is my favourite surface.”
“(Barbora is) a great player on grass too. She has had great results and she’s super skilful and very talented.”
“But I had nothing to lose. I said to myself, ‘maybe now is the time to beat her’. I knew it was going to be tough – and it was. So I’m very pleased with the way I played.”
Rybarikova and Strycova are close friends, but the Slovakian explained that this does not chance her approach on court.
“We are really good friends,” she said. “But when you go on court, you don’t focus on that. You just focus on yourself and on the game and not killing each other.”
“You don’t do anything bad to each other. So she’s a really good girl and we talked normally after the match, so this is very good. Friendship is quite important on tour.”
Rybarikova: When Kvitova is on fire, you just shake her hand
Rybarikova will face another close friend in the final in the shape of defending champion Petra Kvitova.
“Petra is really one of my best friends on tour,” the Slovakian said. “She’s a really amazing girl. We’ve known each other for so long, so it’s going to be quite funny to play her.”
“Previously we played against each other only in semi-finals or finals, so that’s pretty funny. I only managed to win one.”
She continued, “When Petra’s on fire, you can go shake her hand and say, ‘Okay, I just want to leave from here’. She plays absolutely amazing.”
“So we will see if it’s going to be her day tomorrow. Hopefully she is not going to be on fire. But if she is, then for me it’s a great tournament. I will try my best.”
Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette
China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player.
The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.
“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying.
Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.
20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina.
Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.
“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”
It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing.
Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open
Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat.
The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory.
Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.
“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added.
Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose
After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open.
The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall.
“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”
Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament.
Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.
Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”
It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.
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