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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Belinda Bencic stuns Simona Halep to set up semifinal against Elina Svitolina in Dubai

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Unseeded player Belinda Bencic rallied from one set down to claim a 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over former world number 1 and 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep securing her spot in her ssecond semifinal of the season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where she will face Elina Svitolina, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3.

The Swiss player has reached her first Premier-level semifinal since her run to the St. Petersburg final in 2016 and has scored her first back-to-back wins against top 10 since Tokyo 2015 after saving six match points in her win over Aryna Sabalenka yesterday.

Halep hit eight aces to build up a 6-4 4-3 lead before dropping nine of the last games of the match.

Bencic got an early break  and held her serve in a four-deuce second game. In the following game Bencic earned her chances for a double break, but Halep held her serve before breaking back to draw level to 2-2. Halep broke serve in the eighth game to open up a 5-3 lead, but she dropped her serve with a double fault, when she was serving for the set. Halep broke back in the 10th game to close out the opening set 6-4 when Bencic netted a forehand.

Bencic went up an early break in the first game of the second set, but Halep broke straight back in the second game to draw level to 1-1. Halep earned a break point at 2-2 and another chance at 3-3, but Bencic won three consecutive games and got a crucial break in the eighth game at 4-4, when Halep sent a backhand long. Bencic hit a service winner, when she was serving for the set in the next game.

Bencic went up a double break to build up a 3-0 lead. Halep pulled one break back and held her serve to close the gap to 2-3. Bencic broke again in the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead, but had to save three break points before sealing the win on her third match point.

“It feels great. I am just really happy to be back. I knew it was still in me even after the injuries. You cannot just come back like this and play right away. Otherwise, it would not show how good tennis is. Players are playing two, three years at this level. They are playing semifinals, finals. You cannot just expect to be back after the injury and play like this. I had no problem with being in the shadow. Actually it felt really good, playing 25ks where there is no one there, just you. There is no stream. There is just a live ticker. You can play free. There is no expectation, no attention. It felt good. I did not even take the protected ranking. I started in the lower tournaments. I tried to build my confidence up”,said Bencic.

Bencic set up a semifinal against 2017 and 2018 Dubai champion Elina Svitolina, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3 after 78 minutes. The first set went on serve in the first five games, before Svitolina rallied from 30-40 down to break serve on her second opportunity at the fourth deuce for 4-2 in a seven-minute game. The Ukrainian player sealed the first set with a double break in the eighth game after just over half an hour.

Suarez Navarro converted her second break point chance in the first game and held her serve at deuce after saving a break point to take a 2-0 lead. Svitolina broke back on her second chance in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Suarez Navarro rallied from 15-40 down to break serve at the third deuce for 3-2, but Svitolina reeled off the final four games with two consecutive breaks in the sixth and eighth games and closed out the second set 6-3 on her fourth match point with a forehand winner.

“I am going to give everything to play my best tennis. This matters the most for me. I have been working on this for a long time. I want to just focus on what I have to do my next match. The semifinal is going to be another tough one. It’s important to take a match at a time, not to look so much ahead”, said Svitolina.

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Hsieh-Su-Wei fights back from 1-5 down to upset Karolina Pliskova in Dubai

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Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-Wei came back from 1-5 down in the third set by winning the final six games to upset 2015 Dubai finalist and number 4 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4 1-6 7-5 reaching the semifinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Only one break point was held by either player until 3-3. Pliskova held serve in the seventh game for 4-3, before she came back from 0-40 down to earn a break point after two double faults from Hsieh.

Hsieh saved the break point with a backhand winner. Pliskova brought up two more break points in the eighth game, but Hsieh saved both chances to hold serve for 4-4.

Hsieh broke serve at love with a a backhand winner in the ninth game and held her serve at love 6-4.

Pliskova broke early in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead and held a hard-fought service game at deuce for 4-1. The Chinese Taipei player got a double break in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead. The Czech player earned a set point with an ace and converted it with a backhand winner down the line to win the set 6-1 sending the match to the third set.

Pliskova went up in the third game of the third set with a drop-shot winner to build up a 3-0 lead. The Czech player held her service games to cruise through to a 5-1 lead. Hsieh pulled the break back with a forehand on the break point in the seventh game for 2-5.

Hsieh broke at love in the 10th game to get back on serve to 5-5 and held her serve at love to take a 6-5 lead. She earned her second match point with a backhand down the line and converted it to seal the win, when Pliskova sent her backhand wide. Hsieh scored two back-to-back wins over two top-10 players in two consecutive days.

“The second set was slowing down a bit, so it’s not a good sign. I still make some mistakes, but I am glad I keep trying. Finally it works, so I survive”, said Hsieh.

Hsieh set up a semifinal match against number 2 seed Petra Kvitova, who beat Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4 6-0.

Hsieh Su Wei will face 2013 finalist and number 2 seed Petra Kvitova, who cruised past Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4 6-0 following up her hard-fought wins over Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady.

Kvitova saved three of the four break points she faced. The double Wimbledon champion and 2019 Australian Open finalist earned an early break in the second game with a deep return and saved a break point in the next game to hold on her service game for 3-0. Kuzmova broke back in the fifth game, when Kvitova sent her backhand long, and backed it up with a hold of serve for 3-3. Kvitova broke serve at love in the ninth game, when Kuzmova was serving to stay in the set. Kvitova held a tough service game with an ace and a service game before breaking three times in a row to take a bagel win in the second set.

“I am pleased. I did not give Kuzmova any time to do her job, maybe turn the match on her way. Hsieh is definitely a tough and tricky opponent. I played her in Sydney in a really tough match. It will be probably some rallies tomorrow. I need to be ready for every shot what she is going to bring to the game”,said Kvitova.

 

 

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Alison Van Uytvanck and Anastasia Potapova reach the quarter final in Budapest

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Number 1 seed and defending champion Alison Van Uytvanck beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5 7-5 in just under two hours in a hard-fought first round match to reach the quarter final at the Hungarian Ladies Open in Budapest.

Zvonareva broke back in the eighth game of the first set to draw level to 4-4, but Van Uytvanck broke again to take a 6-5 lead, when Zvonareva sent a forehand wide. The Belgian player served out the first set in the 12th game.

Van Uytvanck got an immediate break in the second game of the second set and held a double break points for 3-0 and three more chances for 3-1 but Zvonareva held her serve and broke back with a backhand return to draw level to 2-2.

 Van Uytvanck went down 2-5 in the second set after losing five consecutive games. The Belgian player saved two set points at 3-5 and won the last five games to close out the match in straight sets with her fifth ace of the match setting up a match against 17-year-old qualifier Iga Swiatek.

Russian 17-year-old rising star Anastasia Potapova beat number 6 seed Andrea Petkovic 6-2 7-5. The teenager saved five of the eight break points she faced and broke six times.

Potapova broke three times in the opening set, but she wasted a match point at 5-4 in the second set to drop her serve, when Petkovic hit a forehand. The young Russian player broke again in the 11th game and served out at 30 on her second match point.

“When I was 10 years, I was watching Petkovic play the quarter finals in all the big tournaments. She was in idol of my grandmother”, said Potapova.

Pauline Parmentier beat Tereza Smitkova 6-1 7-5 in one hour and 24 minutes. Parmentier cruised through to winning the first set with three breaks. Smitkova saved three match points in the tenth game before Parmentier got the break in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead.

Sorana Cristea beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-3 6-3 after one hour and 23 minutes. The Romanian player fended off seven of the nine break points she faced.

Ekaterina Aleksandrova came back from one set down to beat 39-yera-old qualifier Greta Arn 4-6 6-1 6-4.

Twenty-year-old Marketa Vondrousova cruised through to a bagel win in the first set before battling through in the second set in her 6-0 7-6 (8-6) win over Georgina Garcia Perez.

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