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Maria Sharapova loses to Russian qualifier at Wimbledon

Maria Sharapova went out of Wimbledon in the first round for the first time in her career as she lost to Vitalia Diatchenko.

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Maria Sharapova became the latest high-profile casualty of the Wimbledon first round when she lost 6-7(3) 7-6(3) 6-4 to compatriot Vitalia Diatchenko.

 

The 2004 champion has not played since she reached the French Open quarter-final a month ago and she did not look match-sharp.

However, Sharapova has always been a competitor and she battled her way to 6-6 in the first set before taking it on the tie-break.

The older Russian then played aggressively to open up a 5-2 lead in the second set. Then things started to go wrong for her, as she allowed Diatchenko to break back and then lost the second tie-break of the match.

Two hours and 20 minutes into the match, the decider began. And eight games and four breaks later, the players still could not be separated.

The World No.132 held to lead 5-4 and force Sharapova to serve to stay in the contest. She could not manage it, and fatigue seemed to get the better of her as she hit a double fault on match point.

Garcia loses to Bencic at Wimbledon

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Caroline Garcia, the sixth seed, also made an early exit from the All England Club after suffering a 7-6(2) 6-3 defeat at the hands of Belinda Bencic.

It is not a particularly surprising loss when you consider that, in February 2016, the Swiss player was the World No.7. Since then suffered a series of injuries, but she has worked her way back up to 56 in the rankings.

And Bencic showed all the poise she displayed in her initial rise to prominence to overcome an out-of-sorts Garcia in relatively comfortable fashion.

The only other seed who went out of in the Ladies’ Singles on day two was Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She lost 6-4 4-6 6-3 by Su-Wei Hsieh.

Halep, Kerber and Ostapenko advance

Many seeds progressed with ease. French Open champion and World No.1 Simona Halep brushed aside Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-4. Meanwhile, 11th seed Angelique Kerber beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-3.

12th seed Jelena Ostapenko took out Katy Dunne 6-3 7-6. 17th seed Ashleigh Barty beat Stefanie Voegele 7-5 6-3. And 15th seed Elise Mertens took out Danielle Collins 6-3 6-2.

The two exciting young finalists from Indian Wells also advanced. 14th seed Daria Kasatkina eased past Jana Fett 6-2 7-5 and 18th seed. And Naomi Osaka swatted aside Monica Niculescu 6-4 6-1.

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Venus Williams Shuts Down Season After French Open Exit

The American veteran ends 2020 with just one recorded win on the WTA Tour in eight tournaments played.

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Former world No.1 Venus Williams says she will not play another tournament this year after crashing out of the French Open.

 

The 40-year-old slumped to a 6-4, 6-4, loss against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová who is currently ranked almost 100 places lower than her in the WTA rankings. Williams struggled to find consistency in her serve throughout and was unusually broken six times in a row between the first and second sets. A former finalist back in 2002 it is the third year in a row where the American has fallen at the first hurdle in Paris.

It’s been a very long year of quarantine. Now I’ll get to rest. So I’m looking forward to that,” Williams told reporters.

Williams will be eager to forget 2020 and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic which caused the sport to pause for months earlier this year. On the Tour she played in eight tournaments with her sole victory being against Victoria Azarenka at the Top Seed Open last month. Making it by far her worst season on the Tour. When asked if she plans to play anywhere else after the French Open, Williams stated that she has no intentions to do so.

“I’m going home from here. I’m done. If there is somewhere to play, I won’t be there,” she said.
“Being separated from the people you love probably is the challenging part (of 2020). Obviously not being able to be on tour is also a challenge and not having the fans is pretty rough, also.”

Despite a dip in results in recent times, the five-time Grand Slam champion says she isn’t ready to hang up her racket just yet. Williams is currently the second oldest player to have a WTA ranking and oldest to be inside the top 400. When she made her French Open debut in 1997 Schmiedlová was only two-years-old.

“I just stepped off the court. So even though it hasn’t been a ton of tournaments, it’s still been a very long year. I’m not looking forward to it (2021) yet,” she concluded.

Meanwhile, Schmiedlová faces a tough test in the next round when she takes on 10th seed Victoria Azarenka who has defeated five top 20 players in her 15 most recent matches. It will be the first ever Tour meeting between the two.

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Simona Halep Hails ‘Unique’ Birthday Present At French Open

The world No.2 reacts to her opening win at Roland Garros.

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Simona Halep (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Simona Halep has described playing at Roland Garros on her birthday as ‘unique’ after easing into the second round of the tournament on Sunday.

 

The top seed marked turning 29 with a 6-4, 6-0, win over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo after recovering from a lacklustre start. Halep dropped her serve two consecutive times to fall behind 2-4 in the opener before winning 10 games in a row to seal victory. Extending her winning run on the Tour to 15 matches.

It was a really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday. So it’s pretty unique, maybe forever,” Halep said afterwards.
“I cannot celebrate much because I have to stay in the room (due to COVID-19 restrictions), so I will have a bottle of water.”

This year’s French Open is taking place later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was originally scheduled to take place between May and June. Due to the change of dates, players are finding themselves playing in much more trickier conditions in Paris which has raised the alarm bells for some.

Halep, who has won two WTA titles on the clay leading up to Paris, actually produced more unforced errors than Tormo (23-16) but hit more than twice as many winners (23-10). Furthermore, she 69% of her first service points but only 44% of her second while playing under the newly built roof on Court Phillippe-Chartier.

I was very honoured to actually open this roof, to be the first women’s match. It was much better because we could play and the rain didn’t stop us at all,” she said.
“Even if it was a little bit heavy, because of the weather, the conditions were good to play on this rainy day.”

The world No.2 is seeking her second title at Roland Garros after 2018 when she won her first ever Grand Slam trophy. Reflecting on how her game has developed over time, Halep believes she is more mature on the court than what she was 12 months ago. Last year she was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the French Open by Amanda Anisimova.

I think I improved a lot. I’m more mature on the court. I feel very good on court. I’m relaxed. I’m just trying to give my best every time. I don’t give up any points. So I think I changed a lot in the last 12 months.”

Halep will play either compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu or Switzerland’s Jill Tiechmann in the second round. Should she go on to win the title this year she will also reclaim the world No.1 ranking from Ash Barty.

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Fuming Victoria Azarenka Walks Off Court Amid Poor Conditions At French Open

The clay court major has had its first controversy less than an hour after getting underway.

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Victoria Azarenka (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka has voiced her anger at French Open officials as her first round match came to a halt after just three games played.

 

The 10th seed entered the Suzanne Lenglen wearing a coat as the rain fell steadily on what was also a cold and windy day. From the onset both Azarenka and her opponent, Danka Kovinić, struggled on court with the conditions. After three holds of serves Azarenka demanded to speak with the tournament supervisor as the rain got harder but the umpire didn’t stop the match.

“You guys are not playing so you have no idea what the conditions are. I’m down to play whatever but this is getting ridiculous,” she said to tournament official Claire Wood.

Wood, who was waiting for further instruction from the tournament referee, pleaded with Azarenka to wait a bit longer on the court to see if the rain would pass. However the two-time Australian Open champion was having none of it.

“I’m not sitting here because I am going to get frozen. It’s eight degrees, I live in Florida and I am used to hot weather,” she complained.

Continuing to voice her anger, Azarenka then asked Kovinic if she was happy sitting on the court and awaiting further instruction in which the Montenegrin replied ‘no.’ Resulting in both players walking off before they were technically allowed to do so. Although it is unlikely that such an action would result in either of them getting disqualified with the argument being remaining on the court posed an injury risk.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s too cold. What’s the point? We’re sitting here like ducks,” Azarenka said before leaving the court.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s French Open has been moved from the end of May until now. The weather forecast for the coming days consists of intermittent rain showers with Court Phillipe Chartier being the only one to have a roof.

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