Johanna Konta will drop to No.44 in the world rankings after a disappointing 6-3 6-4 defeat to Dominika Cibulkova in the second round of Wimbledon 2018.
The British number one reached the semi-final last year in thrilling fashion, but she was unable to produce the form she showed during that run.
Konta did not play particularly badly. She hit 10 aces, got 61% of her first serves in and won 74% of points behind them. She also defended quite well against the aggressive play of Cibulkova.
However, the Slovakian simply did everything a little better than the Brit. She dominated on serve – she won 41 of the 52 points played on it – and she hit 14 winners and made just six unforced errors.
Cibulkova also won 39% of the points on Konta’s serve, which was crucial as it enabled her to break the Brit once in each set and win 6-3 6-4.
Ostapenko, Kasatkina and Osaka impress at Wimbledon
After three days of big shocks in the women’s draw at Wimbledon 2018, most of the seeds in action stepped up and delivered when it mattered on day four.
Jelena Ostapenko produced an impressive display to brush Kirsten Flipkens aside 6-1 6-3 in just 55 minutes. She won 83% of points behind her first serve, hit 19 winners and made just 14 unforced errors. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko, who beat Sofia Kenin 6-4 6-1, in round three.
Angelique Kerber recovered after losing the first set to American qualifier Claire Liu to come through 3-6 6-2 6-4. She will now play Naomi Osaka in what could be a very entertaining third-round clash.
The World No.18 dealt superbly with an encouraging performance from Katie Boulter. The Brit performed well and made just six unforced errors, but the Japanese player raised her game to play even better and win 6-3 6-4.
Daria Kasatkina demonstrated all her skills during her comfortable 6-2 6-3 victory over Yulia Putintseva. She can now look forward to an intriguing third-round encounter with Ashleigh Barty, who withstood a strong challenge from Eugenie Bouchard to win 6-4 7-5.
Elise Mertens breezed past Sachia Vickery 6-1 6-3 to set up a meeting with Cibulkova and Barbora Strycova beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-4 to earn a match with Julia Goerges.
Daria Gavrilova got the better of Sam Stosur 6-4 6-1 in the all-Australian clash. She now faces a tough task against Petra Kvitova’s conqueror Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who continued her excellent form with a 6-0 6-4 demolition of Taylor Townsend.
Bencic fights hard to earn big win
Away from the seeded players, there was an encouraging win for Belinda Bencic. The Swiss player, who was ranked World No.7 in February 2016 before she suffered a series of injuries, battled to a 1-6 7-6(10) 6-2 win over Alison Riske to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time since the US Open in 2016.
“I’m not really sure what turned it around,” Bencic said. “I guess (there were) some key moments where I just stayed in the match and not let her go to, like, 1-3 in the second set. I just really tried to fight till the end.”
Bencic will now play 27th seed Carla Suarez-Navarro, who emphatically beat fellow Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1 6-4.
Aryna Sabalenka Explains Reason Behind Recent Breakthrough On The Clay
The 25-year-old has proclaimed that she is no longer scared of the surface.
Aryna Sabalenka believes her notable improvement on the clay has been achieved due to a change in how she approaches the surface mentally.
The Belarusian lifted the biggest title of her career to date on the surface at the Madrid Open on Saturday. In the final she rallied to a three-set win over world No.1 Ash Barty to avenge her loss to the Australian in Stuttgart a couple weeks earlier. She has now won ten out of 11 matches played on the clay so far this year which is more than she has won during each of her three previous seasons. Prior to 2020 she has only reached the final of a WTA event on the dirt once.
Speaking to reporters following her triumph in Madrid, the 23-year-old says she had been ‘overthinking’ about playing on the surface until this season. Instead she has taken a more relaxed approach which seems to have done wonders to her game.
“I would say before I was thinking too much about the clay court, that this is a surface not for me, that it’s really tough to play on with long rallies,” she said.
“This year I kind of relaxed and just played my game. I worked a lot on the movement, so I prepared myself really well.’
It has to be noted that conditions in Madrid also favour the big hitters such as Sabalenka. Due to Madrid’s high altitude the ball travels faster than other tournaments in Rome and Paris.
“My focus is just on my game, that I have to stay aggressive, that I have to move well on the clay court, make sure I can hit these shots really clean, heavy shots,” Sabalenka explained.
“Something has changed in my mind for the clay court for this year. I’m not really scared of this surface any more.”
It remains to be seen if the breakthrough will do any wonders for Sabalenka in the Grand Slams. At the French Open she has only managed to claim back-to-back wins in one out of three appearances. Reaching the third round in Paris last year. Despite being ranked continuously in the world’s top 20 since August 2018, she has only managed to reach the fourth round of a major twice so far in her career.
Nevertheless, things are going in the right direction for Sabalenka who will rise to a ranking high of fourth in the world on Monday. She is also a top-five doubles player on the Tour as well.
“That’s unbelievable. That’s crazy,” she commented on her rise to No.4. “I’m really happy with this improvement. There are still a lot of things to improve.’
“I’m not really focusing on the ranking. I’m focusing more on my game” Sabalenka added.
Sabalenka will be seeded seventh at the upcoming Italian Open where she has a bye in the first round. Her opening match will be against either Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo or Italy’s Camila Giorgi.
Sabalenka Wins 10th Career Title In Madrid
Aryna Sabalenka won her 10th career title in Madrid with a three set win over Ash Barty.
The Belarusian beat the world number one in three sets to claim the title in the Spanish capital.
Aryna Sabalenka is your Mutua Madrid Open champion after beating the world number one and Aussie Ash Barty in three sets 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 hitting 34 winners and serving nine aces in the win.
“I’m really happy with the win, it was a crazy match and I’m really happy and it feels amazing right now”
The Belarusian got off to the best possible start holding her opening service game and going right to work on getting the early break which she did the following at the second time of asking with solid return forehand winner.
The Aussie looked out of sorts and in 25 minutes the number five seed had blitzed through the first set and won it not losing a game.
The world number one was determined to stay in the match and had four chances to break in the very first game of the second set and did at the fourth time of asking to take an early 1-0 lead.
At 2-1 the number five seed earned two chances to get the break back and go back on serve and she did just that with one of her powerful forehand winners.
The very next game the Belarusian struggled on serve and gave the world number one another chance to break after a double fault and she would break again.
That break was enough for the Aussie to take the second set and force a deciding third set for the title.
The first three games went with serve and at 2-1 it was the Aussie once again with two chances to break after another double fault but the number five dug in once again and managed to save both breakpoints and hold serve.
At 4-4 it was the Belarusian turn to apply pressure on the world number one and she earned three breakpoints and she would get the crucial break with a stunning return winner.
She would serve out the match to extract revenge on her Aussie opponent for beating her the previous week in Stuttgart and on Monday will be the new world number four.
After the match in her post match press conference Sabalenka told Ubitennis how she was able to overcome the adversity of losing the second set.
“That is why she is number one, she is always trying to find a way and she did it really well in the second set, the first set was a really quick one and I was surprised and in the second set she started using the slice more and moving better and was a little bit more aggressive, it was a great level during the entire match and I am really happy that I could finish it with a win”
Sabalenka will now travel to Rome to play in the Italian Open and as of Monday will be the new world number four when the new rankings are posted which is a career-high.
Five Takeaways From Men’s And Women’s Rome Draws
Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu all return to Rome next week.
Here are five things to take away from Men’s and Women’s singles draw from Rome.
Next week is the start of the next stop on the road to Roland Garros as the ATP and WTA tour heads to Rome next week.
The Italian capital will host a star-studded line-up as Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep look to defend their titles.
With another week of stacked ATP and WTA draws here, let us take a look at the five key points to take from this week’s draws:
- Nadal Set For Zverev Rematch
Rafael Nadal could have a rematch with Alexander Zverev again in Rome next week as has already faced a mixed start to the clay court season. A quarter-final defeat to Andrey Rublev in Monaco was followed by a Barcelona title before losing to Zverev in the Madrid quarter-finals this week. It looks set to be another week where Nadal could face the tall German, whom he has lost on three consecutive occasions to. Before Nadal can get to Zverev, Nadal may have to overcome Jannik Sinner and Casper Ruud, two rising stars who are capable on this surface.
- Serena Handed Good Draw On Tennis Return
Next week will see Serena Williams return to a tennis court for the first time since her Australian Open semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka. Having had her physical struggles since the end of last season, Serena now competes in a limited schedule but will be keen to boost her Roland Garros chances next week in Rome. The 23-time grand slam champion could face Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in her first match before Belinda Bencic stands in her way of a rematch with Osaka in the last eight.
- Djokovic Looks To Avenge Recent Clay Losses
After winning the Australian Open in January, Novak Djokovic would have wanted a better clay-court season than he has had after being knocked out by Dan Evans in the third round in Monaco and an epic semi-final loss to Aslan Karatsev in Belgrade. After taking Madrid off, Djokovic looks to build momentum and may have to face Dan Evans again this week in his first match. The likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Stefanos Tsitsipas await Djokovic en route to the last four where Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev will wait for the Serb.
- The Barty Party Looks To Roll On
Ash Barty is silencing the critics week by week and proving why she deserves her world number one ranking after winning Miami, Stuttgart and reaching the final in Madrid. In two of those three tournaments mentioned Barty would have played Aryna Sabalenka in the final. Although that won’t be happening in the final, she could face the Belarusian in the quarter-finals in Italy as a fairly comfortable draw has presented itself for the Australian. Barty’s first opponent will be either Martina Trevisan or Yaroslava Shvedova.
- Bianca Andreescu Returns
After suffering an injury in the Miami final and testing positive for COVID-19 in Madrid, Bianca Andreescu looks to finally settle into a clay-court season as she returns in Rome. The tricky Canadian will start off against Anastasija Sevastova or Jil Teichmann before facing Petra Kvitova. If Andreescu can negotiate the first two rounds then a dream match with Simona Halep could await in the last eight. As for Halep her Rome campaign could start against Angelique Kerber.
Here is the full ATP and WTA draw:
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