Former world No.1 Serena Williams has battled her way into her 11th Wimbledon semi-final after coming from behind to defeat Camila Giorgi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, at The All England Club on Tuesday.
Playing in only her fourth WTA tournament of the year, the American was forced to draw upon her experience thanks to some emphatic play from her rival. 26-year-old Giorgi was participating in her first grand slam quarter-final, seven years after she made her debut at the tournament. A stark contrast to Williams, who was appearing in her 48th.
“Every time I play Giorgi, she always plays at that level. But I’ve noticed that she plays at that level against everybody. That’s pretty impressive, she always plays like that, no matter who she plays.“ Williams told The BBC.
“I knew going in that it was not going to be an easy match.”
Heading into Tuesday’s clash, Williams had a perfect 3-0 lead against the Italian and had never dropped a set against her. This all changed thanks to some gutsy tennis produced by the underdog. During the sixth game, Giorgi battled to a duo of break points with the help of a Williams forehand slamming into the net. Failing to convert her first, she triumphed on her second chance after a deep shot forced an error from the 23-time grand slam champion. Moving her to a 4-2 lead. Williams continued to battle as she worked her way to a trio of break points in the following game, but was denied by some stunning play from Giorgi. The impressive mental toughness of the Italian rewarded her after 36 minutes of play when a Williams forehand landed out to grant her the first set.
Facing her biggest test in what was only her 13th match since returning to the tour in April, Williams’ decibel level increased as she fought back. Continuing with her trademark aggressive play, the 25th seed finally drew blood from Giorgi. Hitting a forehand that painted the tramlines to break for a 3-1 lead midway through set number two. That sole break was enough of a margin to allow the 36-year-old to level the match. Doing so with the help of a 109 mph serve down the centre of the court that was returned out.
Closing in on a place in the last four, the seven-time champion continued to weather the storm. Hitting a winning backhand passing shot to break at the start of the decider. Spurring herself on with outbursts of ‘come on,’ the match favourite still had to contend with some spirited play from the Italian. Whose only WTA title occurred on the grass back in 2015 at the Rasmalan Open. Still, it had little impact on the outcome as Williams sealed victory with the help of a love service game.
“I feel good. I feel like I did better today. I had to.” said the 25th seed, who hit 24 winners to nine unforced errors.
“ This is only my fourth tournament back so I don’t feel pressure. I don’t feel I have to win this. I don’t feel I have to lose this. I’m just here, to be here and prove that I am back.
“I still have a long way to be where I was.” She added.
Two wins away from equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slam titles, Williams will play Julia Goerges in the semifinals. Goerges defeated Kiki Bertens 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, earlier in the day. At this year’s French Open, Williams dismissed the German in straight sets.
Tributes Start To Pour In For Caroline Wozniacki Ahead Of Australian Open Farewell
The 29-year-old is making her final preparations ahead of her last grand slam appearance.
The Australian Open has been a tournament of many happy memories for former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.
During her 2008 debut, she won back-to-back grand slam matches for the first time in her career en route to the fourth round at the age of 17. Three years later she reached the semi-finals before losing to Li Na. However, the most special moment in Wozniacki’s career didn’t take place until 2018 when she finally claimed her first ever grand slam title. A perfect way to hit back at the many who criticised her in the past for being a world No.1 without a major title of any sort.
It is for these reasons why Melbourne Park is the perfect venue for the Dane to say goodbye to the sport. The upcoming Australian Open will be her 51st appearance in a grand slam main draw and the last tournament she plays before officially retiring.
“There’s been a lot of thoughts. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, for a while. I just looked at my life, at my career, everything else, and I just had a look inside of myself, and it felt right. It felt like the right time for many reasons.” Wozniacki told reporters on Saturday.
“I’m out here, and I love the sport, I love everything that it’s given me, I love being out there and competing, but I’m ready to start a new chapter in my life.”
During her career, the Dane has won 30 WTA titles and spent 71 weeks as world No.1. She insists that her decision to walk away from the sport at the age of 29 is not connected to her health. In 2019 Wozniacki was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. An auto-immune condition that affects a person’s joints.
Life on the tour hasn’t always been plain-sailing for a player who has also endured her injury issues. However, Wozniacki is confident that she will have no ill feelings regarding her decision in the future.
“I’m leaving with no regrets at all because I’ve worked so hard my whole life, my whole career. I’ve given it literally everything that I have to reach where I got.” She stated.
“I can look back at my career and say I’m very proud of everything that I’ve achieved, very proud of the ups and the downs. But especially to be able to just continually push myself to be a better player, I feel like I’ve given a lot to the sport that I can be very proud of.”
The upcoming departure is one that will gap in the women’s game, according to some of her closest rivals. Two out of Karolina Pliskova’s three WTA titles won during the 2017 was due to wins over Wozniacki in the final. The Czech said she was ‘very sad’ to see her opponent stepping away from the tour.
“I’m sure she’s going to be missed. I think she’s a great person and a great player, too.” Said Pliskova.
“I think she played very good tennis and very good to watch, too. Also in the practice, she always tried hard. Always in the matches, I think it was always great quality against her.”
Simona Halep was the player who Wozniacki beat to win the 2018 Australian Open. The Romanian echoed similar sentiments to Pliskova when speaking out about her.
“She’s a very nice person. We (my team) actually got used to seeing her every day in the tournaments on tour, for sure.” Said Halep.
“She’s going to be missed. Also, I’m sure she has many good things ahead. She will be happy.”
Petra Kvitova played down the idea that Wozniacki’s retirement is premature. The two have locked horns 15 times on the tour at events including the WTA Finals, 2016 Olympic Games Wimbledon. However, they have never got to face off against each other in a final.
“She looks very happy, so I hope that she going to be happy when she stop playing tennis as well. I just wish her the best.” She said.
Wozniacki, who is unseeded in the draw, will start her Australian Open campaign on Monday. In the first round she plays America’s Kristie Ahn.
Elena Rybakina claims the second title of her career in Hobart
Kazakh 20-year-old player Elena Rybakina beat China’s Shuai Zhang 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 at the Hobart International after 1 hour and 33 minutes to claim her first title of the 2020 season and the second of her career after Bucharest in 2019. Rybakina played her second consecutive final one week after losing to Ekaterina Alexandrova in Shenzhen. Rybakina converted all her three break points and dropped her serve once.
Rybakina earned an early break to race out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set and won her first 11 service points to open up a 4-1 lead. Zhang rallied from 0-40 down at 4-2 and broke back. Rybakina saved a break point at 5-5 with a forehand winner.
Both players stayed neck and neck until 6-6 and the first set came down to the tie-break. Zhang earned a set point at 6-5 with a backhand winner down the line, but Rybakina fended it off with a crosscourt backhand. Zhang saved Rybakina’s first set point at 7-6 with a wide return.
Rybakina got her second set point at 7-7 on her serve, as Zhang misfired on a wide backhand. The Kazakh player sealed the first set, as Zhang hit her return long.
Both players held on serve until 3-3 without facing any break points. Rybakina converted the first break point in the seventh game of the second set with a backhand down the line winner and held her serve with a down the line winner to open up a 5-3 lead. Rybakina won her fourth consecutive game on her first match point.
“I started very well, then I lost concentration for a few games, but I managed to come back and win the opening set. It was not easy. It was a bit windy. I played much better in the second set. Last week in Shenzhen my opponent played really good, and it was a tough match. Today I was just more focused, because it’s the second time in the final, and of course I wanted to win so much. I was focused 100 %”, said Rybakina.
Ashleigh Barty clinches the eighth title of her career in Adelaide
Ashleigh Barty beat unseeded player Dayana Yastremska 6-2 7-5 after 1 and 25 minutes to win the eighth title of her career and her first on Australian soil.
Barty became the first Australian player to win a title on home soil since Jarmila Wolfe at Hobart in 2011. The top seed reached two consecutive finals in Sydney, finishing runner-up to Angelique Kerber in 2018 and to Petra Kvitova in 2019. Barty has become the first Australian player to win an Australian tournament at WTA Premier level since Alicia Molik in Sydney in 2005.
Barty had already beaten Yastremska in Miami last year en route to winning the WTA Premier Mandatory title last year. The Australian player dropped 17 points in 10 service games and saved two of the three break point chances.
Yastremska held serve at love in the first game of the opening set. Barty broke serve at love in the third game after a forehand drive-volley error from Yastremska. Barty held her serve to consolidate the break for 3-1. He did not convert a break point in the fifth game, but she hit a service winner to open up a 4-2 lead.
Barty earned another break to race out to a 5-2 lead following a forehand error from Yastremska and held serve at love with a service winner to close out the first set 6-2 after 30 minutes.
Barty broke serve again at the start of the second set, when Yastremska hit her backhand long. Yastremska got the break back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2.
In the second set Yastremska hit a backhand down the line winner in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The 19-year-old Ukrainian player held serve in the seventh game and earned a break point chance in the eighth game, but Barty fended it off with a forced error. The 2019 Roland Garros champion saved another break point chance after a loose backhand from Yastremska. Yastremska saved a break point with a down the T line serve, but Barty got the decisive break at love at 5-5 and won the last ten points with three winners to close out the match to the delight of the home fans.
“This is incredible. A great start to the year. I definitely feel the love out there, I love playing in Australia. I love playing at home. It’s been incredible for my team to enjoy this week. It was nice to get the ball rolling this week. I can’t wait to get started in Melbourne on Monday”, said Barty.
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