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Simona Halep: Opponents Are Motivated Against Me

Simona Halep talked about opponents raising their level against her, Petkovic’s injury and an unfamiliar court.

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Simona Halep is getting used to facing stern challenges in Grand Slam matches because opponents tend to produce their best tennis when they play her.

The most remarkable example of this came at this year’s Australian Open when Lauren Davis pushed Halep all the way to 15-13 in the decider.

And for a time during today’s match with Andrea Petkovic it looked like the Romanian might have a very tough match on her hands as the German matched her shot for shot.

“It always happens the same,” Halep said with a smile in her press conference. “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I think they are motivated when they get on court with me.”

“I was in that situation when I was younger and I was playing with the No. 1 in the world. You don’t feel pressure; you don’t feel that you have anything to lose.”

“So you go there and just give your best. It’s good that I have opponents playing at the highest level, because I stay motivated, focused, and I don’t become relaxed on court.”

Petkovic injury ends match as a contest

There were five breaks during a first set that lasted almost an hour as Petkovic forced Halep to find her best tennis to win it 7-5.

However, any chance of a close second set rapidly disappeared after the German hurt her knee. She had treatment and continued but she was clearly unable to move well and lost the set 6-0.

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“I saw actually when she hurt herself,” said Halep. “But I didn’t think about her injury. I just kept playing.”

She continued, “I was happy with the performance, and I feel sorry for her that she got injured.”

Halep forced to adjust to new surroundings

Halep’s match with Petkovic was surprisingly placed on Court 18, and the Romanian explained that it provided her with some unfamiliar challenges.

“Today was a little bit different,” said the World No.1. ““Because the court is pretty small, and I felt that all the people were on court with me.”

“So it was tough to adjust myself – coming from Chatrier it’s a bit difficult. But I just needed a few games and then I think I played okay. I think I played well.”

However, Halep insisted she was not bothered by the scheduling. “I’m here to play anywhere,” she said. “I have no problems. Of course it was different, but no excuses.”

“I just tried to find myself on that court. I practiced there last week, so all good.”

The Romanian will now play Elise Mertens in the last 16 after the Belgian thrashed Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-1, and she is happy with how she is performing.

“I play better and better day by day,” Halep said. “Today I really felt the ball, and the game also, and the way that I finished pretty strong gave me confidence. It was my best match here at this tournament.”

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Jelena Ostapenko beats Greer Minnen to reach the second round at Eastbourne

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Number 6 seed Jelena Ostapenko beat Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 after 1 hour and 29 minutes to secure a spot in the second round at the Rothesay international in Eastbourne. 

Ostapenko won the Eastbourne title in 2021 and reached the 2022 final before losing to Petra Kvitova. 

Minnen led by a break three times and served for the set at 5-4 and 6-5 but Ostapenko pulled back on serve each time. 

Ostapenko fired a backhand crosscourt winner to earn three set points at 6-3 in the tie-break. The Latvian player converted his first chance with a forehand return winner. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the second set. Ostapenko earned a second break in the third game, but she took an off court medical time-out after a fall at 3-1 in the second set. 

Ostapenko recovered by winning four consecutive games with two breaks to win the second set 6-1. 

“Grass is a great surface, but sometimes it can be slippery and really tricky. So I took the medical time-out just to make sure I am fine”, said Ostapenko.  

 “I think the surface suits me really well. The first I played on grass, I was like: ‘How can we play tennis on this surface ? I don’t understand what’s happening here, but then every year was better and better”, said Ostapenko. 

British wild card Harriet Dart battled past former Wimbledon quarter finalist Marie Bouzhkova 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 after 3 hours and 29 minutes in the third-longest match on the WTA Tour this year. 

Bouzhkova broke twice in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead, but Dart won six of the next seven games with three breaks of serve to win the first set 7-5. 

Dart fought back from 1-4 down to force a tie-break with two breaks of serve in the sixth and eighth games. The British player never held a match point in the second set. Bouzhkova converted her fourth set point to seal the tie-break 9-7 after a 88-minute second set. 

After a trade of breaks at the start of the third set, Dart earned a decisive break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. The British wild card saved a break point at 4-3 en route to the win. 

Dart was scheduled to face 2022 Wimbeldon champion Elena Rybakina, but the Kazakh player withdrew from the tournament on Monday due to a change of schedule. Dart will face wild card Sofia Kenin, who won the Australian Open title and reached the final at Roland Garros in 2020.  

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(VIDEO) What A Weekend For Italian Tennis!

Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta looks back on this week’s action on the ATP Tour.

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Jannik Sinner – ATP Halle 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

It has been a memorable Sunday for Italian tennis with the country winning two titles on the ATP Tour. 

In Halle, world No.1 Jannik Sinner claimed his first trophy on the grass with a hard-fought two-set win over Hubert Hurkacz. There was also success in the doubles tournament with top seeds Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori winning the title. Meanwhile, in London, Lorenzo Musetti was unable to make it a hatrick of wins for his country after losing in the final of the Cinch Championships to Tommy Paul.  

So how much can be read into these wins and should we be expecting similar results at Wimbledon which begins a week tomorrow? 

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Jannik Sinner reaches the first grass final of his career in Halle

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Jannik Sinner overcame Zhang Zhizhen 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to reach the first final of his career on grass at the Terra Wortmann in Halle. Sinner achieved his best result on this surface when he reached the semifinal at Wimbledon in 2023. 

Sinner will face a final against his friend Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in the first semifinal. The Italian player converted his only break point in the ninth game and fended off the only break point he faced at 5-6 in the second set with a forehand winner, one of his winners of the match. 

The Italian player earned an early mini-break to take a 2-0 lead. Zhang Zhizhen pulled the mini-break back. Sinner earned two mini-breaks in the fourth and eighth points to win the tie-break 7-3. Sinner won the first of the four tie-breaks he played this week.

Sinner finished the match in straight sets after clinching three consecutive three-set wins at the start of his campaign at this year’s edition of the Terra Wortmann in Halle. 

The world number 1 player won three titles on hard court at the Australian Open, Rotterdam and Miami this year. 

“It means a lot. I had four tough matches to go to the final. It was a good match today. Definitely more rallies than yesterday. And that’s definitely what I needed today. I am happy and let’s see what’s coming tomorrow”, said Sinner.  

Earlier this week Zhang Zhizhen had previously beaten Danil Medvedev in the second round and came back from 2-5 down to beat Christopher Eubanks in the quarter finals. 

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