Victoria Azarenka Cruises Into San Jose Quarterfinals - UBITENNIS
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Victoria Azarenka Cruises Into San Jose Quarterfinals

After the expected clash with Garbiñe Muguruza was called off, Azarenka lost just one game against a lucky loser.

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Aided by top seed Garbiñe Muguruza’s withdrawal earlier in the day, onetime world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka eased past lucky loser Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-0 to reach the final eight in the American west.

 

Azarenka played a steady match on her racket and took full advantage of horrendous serving from Blinkova: She didn’t hold serve once and won barely a third of points on her racket. The Russian double faulted six times, while Azarenka hit an understated 14 winners in just 57 minutes of play.

Disappointingly for the tournament, the featured evening match turned into a 6-1, 6-0 blowout for the second consecutive night. Importantly for Azarenka, however, she rebounded from her first round victory, a two-plus hour slog in which she rarely displayed her best form, with a dominating performance against a 19-year-old opponent added to the draw hours before the match.

“I actually prepared to play against (Muguruza). I was really looking forward to that,” Azarenka said on-court. “I’m obviously disappointed for her because it’s never easy to see another player getting hurt.

“I didn’t know my opponent today and I was actually just thinking about it, I was really impressed with her attitude,” she added. “The score was really one-sided but she tried to fight for every point.”

Elsewhere, Johanna Konta backed up her shocking rout of Serena Williams on Tuesday with a straightforward 6-1, 6-4 win over Sofia Kenin. The win gave Konta, ranked 48th in the world, her first premier-level quarterfinal since January, and it continued a run of strong play in the Bay Area for the 2016 champion.

Konta consistently outpaced her American opponent, winning 72 percent of first serve points, hitting nine aces and saving the only two break points she faced. Konta had 20 winners to 13 unforced errors, in contrast to Kenin’s underwater mark of 16 winners and 19 contrasting errors.

The 19-year-old, however, lost the match primarily on second serves. She won a relatively unsurprising 39 percent of points on her second serve, while Konta took 17 of 24 points on hers.

Konta held off a late charge from a rapidly improving Kenin in the final stages of the second set, setting up a last eight clash with No. 4 seed Elise Mertens.

The Belgian needed only 64 minutes to dispatch American wild card Ashley Kratzer 6-2, 6-0 in her first match in San Jose. Mertens won an impenetrable 88 percent of first serve points and faced 10 break points while winning 17 of 22 points on Kratzer’s second serve.

Azarenka, meanwhile, will play Danielle Collins, who outlasted Vera Lapko 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 in a section now without any seeded players. Two crowd favorites who received first round byes, Madison Keys and Venus Williams, will begin play on Thursday.

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WTA Bronx: Camila Giorgi Set For Title Showdown With Magda Linette

Camila Giorgi has twice survived a third set tiebreak this week, and saved four match points just yesterday, but can she claim the title?

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In Friday’s semifinals, Giorgi faced the top seed and world No.18 Qiang Wang.  This match would see a ton of service breaks, with each set consisting of five or more.  They would split the first two sets by identical scores of 6-4. In the third, the 27-year-old from China served for the match at 5-4, and would hold a match point, but Giorgi would save it and break for 5-5.  Camila’s firepower allows her to dictate play more often than not, and she’s continually lifted her game at the right moments this week.

 

Giorgi would then garner a match point of her own on Wang’s serve at 6-5, but also failed to convert.  In the deciding tiebreak, Qiang gained the early mini-break on the first point with a backhand winner down the line.  But Camila would punish an extremely soft second serve and get the breaker right back on serve. Wang then took advantage of a Giorgi forehand clipping the net, giving her extra time to rip a forehand and regain the mini-break.  They switched sides with Wang leading 4-2.

A few Giorgi errors gave Wang three more match points 6-3, with two of them on Qiang’s serve.  But Wang’s forehand misfired on both of the match points on her serve, and then Giorgi would put away a backhand volley to level things at 6-6.  Camila would again strike some deep and powerful groundies when she needed them, granting herself a match point at 7-6 on Wang’s serve. And Wang would sail a backhand beyond the baseline, sending the 27-year-old Italian into tomorrow’s final in dramatic fashion.

It’s the second final in four weeks for Giorgi, who was stunned in the Washington final by a first-time WTA champion, Jessica Pegula.  Camila saw her ranking fall outside the top 50 last month when her Wimbledon quarterfinalist points from 2018 dropped off her 52-week tally, but she’ll return to the top 50 with today’s win.  In her career, Giorgi is 2-5 in WTA tournament finals, with her most recent title coming last October at the Linz Open.

On Saturday in the first Bronx Open singles final, she’ll face another 27-year-old in Magda Linette of Poland.  This is only Linette’s second WTA-level final in her career, with the last coming four years ago in Tokyo. She lost in that final to Yanina Wickmayer, so a win today would give Magda her first career singles title.  Linette had to qualify to get into this draw, meaning this will be her seventh match in nine days. On Friday, she ousted Katerina Siniakova in straight sets, a day after surviving a third set tiebreak of her own in the quarterfinals against Karolina Muchova.

As much tennis as Linette has played in the Bronx, she may be the fresher of the two finalists.  Giorgi’s semifinal was played later in the day on Friday, and lasted nearly three hours. In their only previous meeting, Giorgi prevailed in three sets, on a hard court in Linette’s home country four years ago.

The first Bronx Open doubles champions were crowned on Friday, with Darija Jurak and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez defeating Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu in a deciding 10-point tiebreak 10-7.  This is the first title for this team, which was formed just a few weeks ago in Canada.

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Chris Evert On Why Coco Gauff Winning The US Open May Not Be A Good Thing

The former world No.1 speaks out about the teenage tennis prodigy.

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Cori Gauff - Wimbledon 2019 (photo via Twitter, @Wimbledon)

At next week’s US Open, one of the talking points of the women’s draw will be rising star Coco Gauff who will be making her main draw debut at Flushing Meadows.

 

The 15-year-old tennis prodigy grabbed the attention of many during the Wimbledon Championships. It was at the event where she became the youngest player in the Open Era to successfully qualify. Then she stunned former world No.1 Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog en route to the fourth round. Where she lost to eventual champion Simona Halep.

Gauff’s rapid rise in the sport has caught the attention of both her rivals and sponsors. She already has deals with Barilla and New Balance. Amounting to an estimated $1 million, according to Forbes Magazine. Those brands will be hoping for the teenager to make another deep run at the final grand slam of the season. However, one former champion has warned against any potential success.

18-time grand slam champion Chris Evert is concerned that too much is happening to Gauff at a young age. Going as far as saying that success at the major event could be counterproductive. Gauff is currently ranked 141st in the world and is the youngest player in the top 500.

“I don’t know if it’d be necessarily great for her to win the Open.” Evert said during an interview with The New York Post.
“If she continues to play the way she is, have some big wins, still develop her game and be a normal 15-year-old with some semblance of privacy, then that’d be the most successful picture of her.’
“There’s no doubt there is Grand Slam potential in her, after watching her at Wimbledon. But I am very cautious because she is so young and so many things can happen between 15 and 20 (years old), mentally, physically, emotionally.”

Evert was 19 when she won her first major title at the 1974 French Open. In total she contested 34 grand slam finals over a 15-year period.

Earlier this week Gauff made an appearance at the Winston-Salem Open. A men’s tournament that is categorised as an ATP 250 event. She took to the court to play an exhibition match against world No.2 Ash Barty. Gauff edged out the reigning French Open champion 6-4, 2-6, [10-8].

“It was super fun. It’s different to kinda play in an atmosphere like that and not be in a tournament. It was cool to play with Ash and hopefully we can do it again sometime,” Gauff told reporters on Wednesday.
“I’m kind of sad to leave [Winston-Salem] because New York is busy but it was good to get the calm before the storm.”

Gauff will take on Russian world No.76 Anastasia Potapova in the first round of the US Open. There is a chance that she could play defending champion Naomi Osaka in the tournament if they both reach the third round.

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Bronx Open Recap: Siniakova Saves Match Points to Oust the Last American Standing

All four quarterfinals were decided on a busy day in the Bronx.

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The first quarterfinal saw Katerina Siniakova, the No.4 doubles player in the world, face American wild Bernarda Pera. Siniakova advanced to the round of 16 in singles earlier this year at Roland Garros, taking out world No.1 Naomi Osaka in straight sets along the way. Pera upset Wimbledon semifinalist Barbora Strycova here on Tuesday.

 

Both players became frustrated early on with close line calls, as well as a lack of net calls on serves. These players are accustomed to Hawkeye challenges and electronic net calls, but those technologies are not being utilized at this tournament. This has been the root of aggravation for players all week long. In the first set, Siniakova would say to the chair umpire, “We play four games and there’s already five mistakes.” While she couldn’t know this for sure, the lack of technology leaves doubt in players’ minds. It also requires chair umpires to assert themselves more so than is customary nowadays.

Siniakova went up a break in the first and had a point for a double break, but a controversial line call would turn the set around. Pera struck an inside-out forehand extremely tight to the sideline, which was called in, to Siniakova’s dismay. Pera would go on to hold and then break in the next game, evening the set. And some big forehand returns at 5-4 would earn the American a second consecutive break and the set.

From there Pera’s punishing ground game continued to open up, gaining her the early break in the second. But with the set and a break lead, Bernarda’s winners started to turn to errors, allowing Katerina to break right back. Both held their serves for the remainder of the set, setting up a pivotal tiebreak. And these two would slug it out in the breaker, with some long, grueling rallies. A costly Siniakova double fault gave Pera two match points at 6-4, which Katerina saved by forcing the action just enough to goad Pera into making errors. At 6-6, a backhand down-the-line winner granted Siniakova a set point on her serve, which she converted by moving Pera all around the court.

In the third, Siniakova’s superior court coverage would earn her a break and a 3-1 advantage. Katerina would face multiple break points in the next game, but held for 4-1. And unlike Pera, Siniakova would not give back the lead, and took the third set 6-3.

The next quarterfinal was a serving battle, which was refreshing in a week where matches have contained so many breaks of serve. The tenth seed Karolina Muchova and qualifier Magda Linette would play 34 games and two tiebreaks in their three-setter, with only one break in the entire match. The 27-year-old Linette of Poland would not only claim that sole break to give her the second set, but also prevail in the third set tiebreak. She’ll face Siniakova in tomorrow’s semifinals.

In other action, Camila Giorgi just crushed Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-1. The Italian will face the top seed Qiang Wang, who dropped the first set today to Anna Blinkova 6-0, but came back to claim victory in three.

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