Kerber Breezes Into Wimbledon Final - UBITENNIS
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Kerber Breezes Into Wimbledon Final

Too many unforced errors for Ostapenko. Fourth Major final for Angelique Kerber, second at Wimbledon

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The first of the two Ladies’ semifinals was considered the more uncertain of the day, since it was showcasing the two highest seeds left in the draw, both of them former Major champions and with only two ranking places to divide them (Angelique Kerber n.10 and Jelena Ostapenko n.12).

 

Strangely, the two had never met before, but it wasn’t difficult to predict a match with Ostapenko firing blistering groundstrokes from the baseline and Kerber playing her proverbial defensive game returning the balls long enough to drive the Latvian player into an unforced error. However not many people expected such a one-sided end to the match, in which Ostapenko sank under the weight of 36 unforced errors in 18 games (a clean average of 2 errors per game) coupled with 25 more forced errors that made her task impossible.

During the coolest day of this year’s Championships, Ostapenko started the match with the clear intention to take control of the rally on her serve and close the point on her first or second shot. She knew her deep shots push her opponent away from the baseline, therefore in the first few games, she successfully produced a few winning drop-shot on both sides. However, her hopes were short-lived, as errors started mounting and Kerber took control of the match. From 3-3 in the first set, the German player won six games in a row to dig a very deep hole between herself and her opponent. With only 2 unforced error in the first set (against 19 by Ostapenko) and an astonishing 89% first serve percentage, Kerber kept very good control of her service games, cancelling the only break point she conceded in the set (at 2-3) with her first ace of the match.

Kerber broke for 2-0 in the second set thanks to a backhand drop shot and an unforced error by Ostapenko. She served for the match on 5-1 when she probably showed some tension for the first time in the whole afternoon and allowed Ostapenko to attempt a comeback with a 6-point streak that brought the Latvian back into contention. Two games later, serving again for the Wimbledon final at 5-3, she had to face another break point, but Ostapenko netted a backhand return on a second serve, she repeated the same shot on the following point and her final forehand unforced error ended the match after a mere 68 minutes.

I was expecting that she would play like she played from the beginning: really hard, pushing me back – said Kerber after the match – I was trying to remain focused and playing every single point because she started really well. Then I was just trying to find my rhythm and take my chances when I had them. In the second set, it was a little bit at the end; tricky because you never know what’s going on. She can be down, then she is coming stronger back. So I was trying to stay in the moment“.

After a 2017 season that saw a big slump following a magic 2016, Kerber is now confident that her game is back to where it should be and she has surrounded herself of the best possible team:  “I think I changed a few members of my team. I was doing a good pre-season. Also with Wim [Fissette], with fitness coaches, some physios, my whole team, I think they helped me a lot to come back, to really believe in myself again. We have been working together for six months now. I think we are on a good path. But I know that there is still some work to do. But for the moment we are happy how it’s working“.

Jelena Ostapenko met the press over two hours after the end of her semifinal and she had some surprising remarks about Centre Court: “First of all, I think the Centre Court is much slower than the other courts I played before. I think she had really many advantages because of that. My shots were not that effective on such a slow court. But in general, I think she was defending quite well and she was also serving quite well today“.

When it was 5-3, I had a couple of breakpoints, I felt the match could turn the other way – continued Ostapenko – She started already to miss a couple of balls which she didn’t before because she was playing very consistent during the whole match. But then, again, I was rushing too much and hit some unforced errors, which I shouldn’t, of course. Then the match finished“.

After a disappointing French Open, where she was ousted in the first round as defending champion, Jelena feels that she has now regained her confidence back: “At the French Open, obviously, [my confidence] was not there because I had to defend such a big title, and I didn’t play my best at all. But I think every match here I was winning and I was getting my confidence back. Just every match I was playing better and better. Unfortunately today the result is not the one I wanted, but I was still fighting out there“.

On Saturday Kerber will play her fourth Major final: she has won two but her only defeat dates back to Wimbledon 2016 when she lost to Serena Williams.

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Angelique Kerber wins all-German clash against Andrea Petkovic in Stuttgart

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Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber beat her compatriot Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4 to reach the quarter final at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

 

Kerber, who won two consecutive editions of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in 2015 and 2016, earned a break in the first game, but Petkovic broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Petkovic earned two break point chances at 2-1, but Kerber fended them off to hold serve for 2-2.

Kerber won four consecutive games from 2-2 to close out the first set 6-2 with a service winner.

Kerber earned her first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2, but Petkovic broke straight back to draw level to 3-3.

Kerber got the decisive break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead after a double fault from Petkovic. Both players went on serve in the next three games. Kerber served out the win on her fourth match point to reach the fifth quarter final of her career in Stuttgart. Kerber beat Petkovic for the seventh time in their nine head-to-head matches.

In the quarter final Kerber will face Kiki Bertens, who rallied from one set down to beat Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4.

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Naomi Osaka Retains Number One Ranking With Victory Over Hsieh

Naomi Osaka maintained her grip on the World No.1 ranking with a serene straight-sets victory over Su-Wei Hsieh in Stuttgart.

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Naomi Osaka (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Naomi Osaka ensured she will remain the World No.1 next week with a comfortable 6-4 6-3 win over Su-Wei Hsieh at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

 

The Japanese player, who went to the top of the rankings for the first time when she won the Australian Open in January, can now no longer be overhauled by Petra Kvitova at this event.

Osaka achieved victory over her opponent from Chinese Taipei with a minimum of fuss. She did this by serving well throughout and digging in to survive one tricky service game early in the opening set.

Consequently, the World No.1 only needed to break Hsieh twice in the match. In the first set, she broke in the fifth game. In the second set, she broke to love in the first game.

Osaka nearly earned another break in game three, but the World No.24 hung on to keep the set reasonably competitive.

Although she did not require another break, the Japanese player achieved one anyway in the ninth game of the second set to polish off a routine win in just 86 minutes.

“I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself for the first few tournaments (after becoming World No.1) and that was the hardest thing to deal with,” Osaka said in her on-court interview. “But now I’m really having fun and enjoying myself a lot.”

The Japanese player will take on Donna Vekic in the quarter-finals. The Croatian dispatched Daria Kasatkina 6-1 7-5.

Bertens ousts Bencic to reach last eight

Kiki Bertens (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Kiki Bertens fought back from a set down to beat Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4 and book her place in the quarter-finals.

The Dutchwoman, 27, is one of the best clay court players in the world. She has won five titles on the surface and reached two other finals. However, she has never been past the first round in Stuttgart before this week.

In her encounter with Bencic, Bertens’ serve made all the difference. She hit 20 aces and won an extraordinary 88% of points behind her first serve.

This meant the Swiss player was never able to put any sustained pressure on the World No.7’s serve. She only earned three break points in the whole match.

To her credit, Bencic seized the first two of these to gain the only break of the opening set and then go a break up immediately in the second set.

However, when her level dropped in the second game, Bertens broke straight back. And from that moment on, the Dutchwoman barely allowed the World No.20 to get a racket on any of her first serves.

Consequently, Bertens needed just two breaks of serve from that point on to win the match. She got the first in game eight of the second set and the second in game five of the decider. The World No.7 will now play either Angelique Kerber or Andrea Petkovic in the last eight.

Elsewhere in Stuttgart, Anastasija Sevastova overcame Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash with Petra Kvitova and Anett Kontaveit beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-2.

 

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Anett Kontaveit Takes Down Garcia In Stuttgart

Anett Kontaveit started her clay court campaign in style with a straight-sets win over Caroline Garcia at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

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Anett Kontaveit (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Anett Kontaveit continued her excellent recent form with a 6-4 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

 

It was the ideal start to the clay court season for the Estonian, 23, who produced some of the best tennis of her career in her recent run to the semi-final of the Miami Open.

Despite her form, Kontaveit is under pressure this week in Germany. She has a lot of ranking points to defend after reaching the semi-final last year.

“The beginning was a little bit shaky for me but I love playing here and I really got into it,” the Estonian reflected in her on-court interview after the match.

Kontaveit’s early nerves handed Garcia four break points in her first three service games. However, the Frenchwoman failed to seize any of those opportunities.

She paid dearly for those failures. The Estonian earned a break in the seventh game and then won two service games to love to take the first set 6-4.

Garcia responded well to her disappointment initially. She held to love at the beginning of the second set. She then earned two break points in the next game.

But once again she failed to capitalise on those chances. And once again she was punished, as Kontaveit won her next three service games with ease.

This enabled the Estonian to put massive pressure on the Frenchwoman’s serve. That pressure led to consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games which got Kontaveit over the line by a 6-3 margin in the second set. She will now play either Julia Goerges or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round.

Bencic sets up exciting Bertens clash

Belinda Bencic (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic beat Mandy Minella 6-2 6-4 to book a intriguing second-round meeting with Kiki Bertens.

The Swiss, 22, has lost both of her previous matches against the Dutchwoman, so this encounter will be a good test of how much she has improved since those defeats.

Bencic is enjoying a superb year so far. She won a Premier title in Dubai and reached semi-finals in Indian Wells and Hobart. She also advanced to the quarter-final of her most recent tournament in Charleston.

These results have propelled the Swiss player up from 55 to 20 in the world rankings. She is currently fifth in the Race to Shenzhen.

Bencic will be joined in round two by Victoria Azarenka, who overcame Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-4, Donna Vekic, who earned a 6-1 7-5 win over qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone, and Su-Wei Hsieh, who fought back from a set down to beat Wang Qiang 4-6 6-3 6-4.

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