Venus Williams Upset In San Jose; Azarenka Retires In Agony - UBITENNIS
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Venus Williams Upset In San Jose; Azarenka Retires In Agony

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Venus Williams was surprisingly knocked out by a rising Greek player in the San Jose quarterfinals on Friday, but Victoria Azarenka’s withdrawal caused a similarly large ripple in the draw.

 

Azarenka, the two-time grand slam champion still seeking her top form after a custody battle, retired from her match against Danielle Collins midway through the second set after a medical timeout, during which she appeared to struggle with both leg and abdominal problems. Collins was given a 6-7, 3-0 victory.

The Belarussian appeared to first struggle with a knee issue in the first game of the second set, but continued playing with her movement relatively unimpeded. On a break point at 0-2, however, she could barely play, then called for the trainer.

She was subsequently examined by both the trainer and doctor, receiving a medical evaluation in addition to treatment. An agonized Azarenka cried at times during the treatment and appeared in excruciating pain; she officially retired at the conclusion of the timeout.

Azarenka had played a decent if inconsistent match up until that point, failing to serve out the first set on two occasions but leading the tiebreak throughout.

Williams, meanwhile, lost early leads in both sets en route to a 6-4, 7-6 loss to 23-year-old Maria Sakkari. The Greek player, 15 years Williams’ junior, rocketed forehands to every corner of the court in coming back from early holes, then redoubled her efforts late in both sets en route to 21 winners.

The legendary American had found her best form midway through the second set, and two Sakkari forehands into the net allowed Williams to serve at 5-4. But the No. 3 seed lost her serve at love, and she found the doubles alley and net far more than the other side of the court in the tiebreak. Ultimately, Williams tallied 43 unforced errors and won barely half of points on her first serve.

Fittingly, Sakkari converted her second match point with a powerful, high bouncing forehand that Williams could not reach.

“My game is getting better and better,” said Sakkari, who has not yet dropped a set and lost just one game to No. 8 seed Timea Babos on Thursday. “She’s one of my idols; one of the players I grew up watching.”

No. 4 seed Elise Mertens put in a strong performance of her own, defeating Johanna Konta 7-6, 6-3. The Briton had a sterling start, losing just one point in her opening four service games, but lost her serve at love while serving for the first set. That kickstarted Mertens’ hot streak in which she won 11 of the last 15 games.

The Belgian won Konta’s first two service games in the second set, then played aggressively near the net to convert her first match point. She will play No. 5 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu, a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Ajla Tomljanovic, on Saturday.

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Madison Keys sets up an all-American semifinal against Sofia Kenin in Cincinnati

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Madison Keys hit 32 winners and never dropped her serve in her 6-2 6-3 win over Venus Williams in 77 minutes in an all-American quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach her first semifinal since winning the Volvo Car Open title in Charleston.

 

Keys broke three times and faced just two break points in the match. She earned her first break in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, as Venus made three double faults. Keys went up a double break at 15 to seal the first set 6-3.

Williams saved four break points to hold her serve in the fourth game for 2-2, after hitting her first winner of the match, but Keys sealed the win with her only break in the eighth game of the second set and a hold at love setting up an all-American semifinal clash against Sofia Kenin

“It was nice to see against a really aggressive player like Venus being able to defend as well as I did. Overall, I am pretty happy with almost everything I did tonight. I am happy with how well I served. She is a very good returner, and being able to have fairly straightforward service games was my favourite part. The biggest thing, after having a couple of tough losses in the last tournaments I have played, being able to bounce back, and especially after my first round here, being able to get that win and then just building on that”,said Keys.

 

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Svetlana Kuznetsova completes her come-back by reaching the semifinal in Cincinnati

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Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova came back from one set down to beat Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to secure her spot in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Kuznetsova, who was sidelined by a knee injury in the first half of the season, bounced back last week when she reached the third round at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. She beat Anastasija Sevastova, Dayana Yastremska and Sloane Stephens en route to the semifinal.

Kuznetsova hit 30 winners and broke three times to close out the match after 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Pliskova converted her only break point at love in the second game to win the opening set 6-3.

Pliskova saved three break points to hold serve at deuce in the fourth game before breaking serve at 15 to take a 4-3 lead. Kuznetsova broke back at 15 in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Kuznetsova earned four set points and converted her first chance to seal the tie-break 7-2.

Kuznetsova went up a break at love in the third game of the decisive set to take a 2-1 lead. Both Pliskova and Kuznetsova saved two break points in the fifth and sixth games. Kuznetsova sealed the win with a double break in the ninth game.

The Russian player set up a semifinal against 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty, who came back from one set down to beat Maria Sakkari 5-7 6-2 6-0.

 

 

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Madison Keys Finally Finds Her Footing After Tough Few Weeks

Can the former top 10 player return to peak form in time for the US Open?

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Madison Keys (@VolvoCarOpen on Twitter)

Entering into this week’s Western and Southern Open a single win would have been a much needed boost for Madison Keys ahead of the final grand slam of the season.

 

Keys, a former grand slam finalist herself, has been unable to shine on the women’s tour since reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open. In her past three tournaments, she has won one out of four matches played. To make it worse, two out of those three losses were to player’s ranked outside the top 100.

Fortunately for Keys her lull on the tour has ended this week in Cincinnati. An event where she made her debut back in 2012 at the age of 17. In the first round she saw off former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza in three sets before brushing aside Daria Kasatkina. However, her most impressive victory took place on Thursday. Taking on Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, Keys held her nerve to prevail 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, after just over two hours of play. Her first win over a top five player since Angelique Kerber at the same tournament 12 months ago.

“She’s been No. 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to, you know, ever give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before, you know, I could actually take a deep breath.” Keys said following her latest win.
“I think I just kind of trusted myself a little bit, and I didn’t really hold back on any of my shots. I think I made a couple of bad misses, but at the same time I think I did a lot of really good things.”

The triumphs come as Keys and her rivals tune up their game ahead of the US Open. Where the 24-year-old will be defending a wealth of points after reaching the semi-finals there last year. Flushing Meadows is a place of fond memories for former finalist Keys and statistically her most successful grand slam. Winning 19 out of 26 matches played in New York so far in her career.

“It feels a little bit better, a little less stressed. Ask me again in a week and I will be just as stressed.” She commented about her preparation for the upcoming major.
“In order to find that level right before a slam, obviously feels good, but especially after having some tough weeks, being able to kind of put it all together makes me feel a little bit better going into the US Open.”

Growing in confidence once again, Keys takes on tour veteran Venus Williams next. Their head-to-head is currently tied at 2-2, however, they haven’t played each other since 2016. A win would move the American into her first tour semi-final since April when she won the Volvo Open in Charleston.

“But again, she’s obviously playing some really good tennis in order to beat Kiki and then Vekic and all that. I’m going to have to see what she’s been doing well.” Keys previewed about her clash with Williams.

The quarter-final clash between the two will take place on Friday evening not before 19:00 local time. Keys is one of four seeded players remaining in the draw.

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