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.
Ash Barty Eases Into Madrid Final
Number 1 seed Ashleigh Barty beat Paula Badosa 6-4 6-3 to reach her fourth final of the 2021 season at the Madrid Mutua Open after winning three titles at the Yarra Valley Classic, Miami and Stuttgart.
The first set went on serve in the first nine games. Barty earned two break points in the 10th game with a lob and loose forehands from Badosa. Badosa saved two set points with winners, but Barty converted her third chance after a double fault from Badosa to close out the first set 6-4.
After an early trade of breaks, Barty earned her second break after a double fault from Badosa in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. The Aussie star saved three break points in the fifth game and held serve for 4-1 with a dropshot. Barty dropped just two more points on serve to close out the second set 6-3.
Barty has extended her red clay winning streak to 16 consecutive matches and her win-loss record to 25-3 this season.
Barty has clinched her 16th consecutive win on red clay. The Australian player avenged her recent defeat against Badosa in the quarter finals in Charleston.
“It was important for me to get that early break back in the second set and keep my nose in front, almost force her to come up with something that was going to be a really high level to be at a high level to be able to get back into the match. I have learnt a lot about clay, without a doubt. I promise you, I am still counting down to the grass court season. It’s one of the my favourite times of the year. I think the memories and the learnings now that we are getting from the red clay has been really cool, to be able to challenge myself in different ways”, said Barty.
Ash Barty Battles Past Petra Kvitova In Madrid
Ash Barty is into the semi-finals of Madrid for the first time after defeating Petra Kvitova.
The world number one needed three sets and just under two hours to beat the three time Madrid champion.
Ashleigh Barty is into the semi finals of the Mutua Madrid Open after beating the number nine seed and three time champion Petra Kvitova in three sets 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted just under two hours.
The world number one hit 15 winners, served six aces while her Czech opponent his 44 unforced errors in the loss. It was the Aussie who got off to the best possible start holding her opening service game and earning three chances to break in the following service game.
“I started off particularly well, Petra (Kvitova) struggled to find the court a little bit and gave me some cheap points, In the second she served particularly well and I feel like she made a lot more first serves so it was important for me to try and manufacture a break early in the third just to break some momentum and try to find my way back in”
She would break the number nine seed with a sublime return winner to take an early 2-0 lead before the Czech tried to get back into the set earning a break chance of her very own the next game but it was immediately saved with a big serve and Barty held serve.
The world number one continued to dominate the first set earning two more chances to go up a double break which she would convert and would serve out the set in 25 minutes.
The second set is where the Czech number nine seed bounced back and after holding the opening service game broke to take an early lead before the Aussie tried to get the break back but was denied and Kvitova saved three breakpoints.
She would serve out the second set to force a third and deciding set and once again that’s where the number one responded earning the first break of the third set.
The number nine seed had a chance to back on serve but the Aussie would save the break opportunity with a gutsy second serve ace but the resilient Czech stayed in the match and got the break back to go back on serve at 3-2.
Unfortunately for her the Aussie pushed hard once again for the crucial break in the match and would convert on her third attempt and that break was enough for her to serve out the match.
She will next face Paula Bodosa who earlier in the day became the first Spanish women to reach the semifinals at the Madrid Open after upsetting the number eight seed Belinda Bencic and she told Ubitennis what the experience will be like playing in a stadium with fans who will be cheering against her.
“It doesn’t bother me, I’ve played matches in Australia where I’ve had them on my side but it’s a different element, it’s exciting to be able to play in front of a crowd, were grateful this week that we got people to be able to enjoy it with us and enjoy the matches and she’s had an exceptional week, having played her a couple of weeks ago there were things from that match that I learned and we try and take those into account tomorrow as best we can and go out there and try to execute”
Ash Barty Explains How Rise In Tennis Has Affected Her Life
The world No.1 outlines how tennis has impacted her as a person following her latest win in Madrid.
With prize money earnings exceeding more than $18 million Ash Barty says she still sticks to the same ‘10 or 15’ t-shirts over the past five years and rotates between them.
The former French Open champion is currently the highest ranked player in women’s tennis and has won 11 WTA titles so far in his career. Including two this year in Miami and Melbourne. However, the Australian has insisted her rise in the sport hasn’t changed her as a person. Instead she describes it as more of a learning experience.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have many experiences over the last two or three years in my growth and development as a tennis player,” she said following her third round win at the Madrid Open.
“My experiences as a tennis player haven’t changed me as a person. They’ve certainly helped me grow and develop and become a better person, but they certainly haven’t changed any of my true values or anything that I live by. Whether it’s 1 or 100, as a person I couldn’t care less how the tennis works out.”
Despite her success, the Australian stresses that she is no different to everybody else. Last season Barty missed a major of the Tour due to travelling concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since returning to action in February, she has won 22 out of 25 matches played and is currently on a 14-match winning streak when it comes to playing on the red clay.
“I’m not a massive person to go out shopping,” she admits. “I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl. I’ve had the same 10 or 15 T-shirts for five years. I rotate through. Sometimes I’ll go out on a limb and get a different colour that’s not gray, black or white.”
Taking to the court in Madrid this week, the Jaguar logo is placed in the centre of Barty’s dress. She has been endorsed by the company since late 2018 and even drives their F-Pace SUV back in Australia. Although she has recently gained a Porsche after winning the Stuttgart Open in Germany. Is there a temptation to change car brands in the future?
“I don’t know. I love my Jag, that’s all I’m going to say,” she commented. “It was obviously a very cool gift. The tournament in Stuttgart has been doing it for a long time. Porsche has been a great sponsor for them. But I love my Jag.”
On the court in Madrid Barty faces a potentially tricky encounter in the quarter-finals against Petra Kvitova who has already won the tournament on three previous occasions which is more than any other female player. She has won four out of their five most recent meetings on the Tour but still trails their head-to-head 4-5.
“I love to play Petra. She brings out the best in me,” Barty stated. “I just said to Tyz (coach Craig Tyzzer) that we’re going to be counting in Roman numerals the amount of times we’ve played. It’s another challenge, another test. She’s won this tournament multiple times, loves the conditions here. It’s a fresh challenge for me.”
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