Aryna Sabalenka Powers Into Wuhan Final With Win Over Barty, Faces Kontaveit Next - UBITENNIS
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Aryna Sabalenka Powers Into Wuhan Final With Win Over Barty, Faces Kontaveit Next

The 20-year-old has become the youngest player to reach the final of the Premier event.

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World No.20 Aryna Sabalenka has reached her third WTA Final of the year after fighting her way past Australia’s Ashleigh Barty 7-6(2), 6-4, at the Wuhan Open.

 

Making her debut in the Chinese Premier event, Sabalenka’s heavy hitting eventually overwhelmed Barty, who was runner-up in Wuhan last year. The performance saw her hit 26 winners to 19 unforced errors as she fired nine aces past the 16th seed. Sabalenka also broke Barty twice in the match.

“I just tried to focus on my game. Try to focus on every point and I think this was the key.” Sabalenka commented about her performance after the match.

In what was their second meeting on the tour this season, Sabalenka initially struggled to solve the clever play produced by her opponent. The blistering shot-making from the Belarusian was tamed by Barty’s selection of slice shots along with serve and volleying throughout. Upsetting her rhythm as the Australian broke on route to a 5-3 lead. Despite the threat, the 20-year-old battled back to level at 5-5 before powering her way through the tiebreaker. Breaking Barty’s serve four times before sealing the opening set with an ace down the centre of the court.

After battling through what was a tense opener, Sabalenka continued to dictate proceedings in Wuhan. Breaking at the start of the second set to surge to a 2-0 to draw the first signs of frustration from her opponent. Who smashed her racket on the top of the net out of anger after missing a shot. Continuing to weather the storm, Sabalenka had all the answers to the questions asked of her. Saving a trio of break points on route to a game away from victory. Serving for a place in the final, the win was then sealed with the help of a Barty backhand smashing into the net.

“I don’t have any expectations on myself.” Sabalenka said about the upcoming final. “I just want to come to the court and enjoy (the match). Show my best.”

Becoming the youngest player to reach the Wuhan final at the age of 20, Sabalenka has now secured her 11th win over a top 20 player this season. Getting revenge over Barty, who she lost to at the start of the year in Australia.

Wang Retirement Sends Kontaveit through

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Awaiting the rising star in the final will be Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit. Kontaveit reached her first premier final after home favourite Wang Qiang was forced to retire due to a leg injury.

The 22-year-old was leading their semi-final clash 6-2, 2-1(30-0) before Wang decided to call it quits due to her left leg. The Chinese player underwent treatment throughout the clash in hope that she would be able to complete the match, but struggled with her movement. Prior to the final game, Wang was in tears during a changeover as she was comforted by her coach. Two points later she retired from the match.

“There was a big crowd supporting her, but I was trying to focus on myself and I thought I did that really well.” Kontaveit said during her on court interview. “I’m so sorry that it has to end this way. I feel so bad for Qiang and I hope she get better.”

Kontaveit started her campaign at the tournament with a three sets win over former US Open champion Sloane Stephens. On route to Saturday’s final she also scored wins against Donna Vekic, Zhang Shuai, Katerina Siniakova and Wang.

“I’m expecting to enjoy it a lot” The world No.27 said about Saturday’s final. “This is my first final in such a big tournament. I’ve done well already (in Wuhan) and I’m excited to be in the final.”

The upcoming match will be the first tour meeting between Sabalenka and Kontaveit.

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Simona Halep Suffers Rare Panic Attack During French Open Loss

The ex-world No.1 has vowed to ‘learn from this episode’ after crashing out of the tournament.

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PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO - SIMONA HALEP OF ROMANIA

Former champion Simona Halep says she ‘lost it’ during her shock second round exit from the French Open on Wednesday.

 

The 19th seed was a set and a break up against Chinese world No.74 Qinwen Zheng before losing 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. In total Halep hit a costly 29 unforced errors against only nine winners and was broken five times overall.

“It was a difficult one. I was playing well at the start. I had a break in the second set, but then something happened. I just lost it.” Halep said during her press conference.
“But she’s (Zheng) playing well and she played a good match in the end.”

During the match Halep sought medical attention and appeared to be far from her best form. In the decider her blood pressure and pulse was checked by a doctor. She later revealed that the source of her issue was a rare panic attack which she says hadn’t really happened to her during any Tour match until now. The Romanian has been playing in the main draw of major events for 12 years.

“I didn’t expect it because it was just a panic attack,” she said.
I didn’t know how to handle it because I don’t have it often. I don’t really know why it happened because I was leading the match. I was playing well.’
“I couldn’t focus. After the match it was pretty tough. But now I’m good. I’ve recovered and I will learn from this episode.”

The 30-year-old concedes her panic attack might have been triggered by her desire to do well at the French Open where she won the title in 2018 and reached the final on two other occasions. Heading into this year’s draw she only played two clay events, reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid and then the second round in Rome.

“I didn’t feel better during the match. If I would have felt better, I would have started to play a little bit better,” she states.
“I couldn’t manage it and I don’t have many words about it. I just have to accept it and take it.’
“It’s part of the process, and I’m already looking forward to being better in that case if it’s going to happen, but I hope not.”

This year is Halep’s earliest exit from the French Open since 2013 when she lost in the first round.

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‘Great Things Are Going To Happen’ – Maria Sakkari Finds Silver Lining In Shock French Open Loss

The world No.3 insists that she is ‘feeling good’ after being knocked out of the Grand Slam.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Maria Sakkari says she is confident she is heading in the right direction despite suffering her earliest loss at the French Open since 2019.

 

The fourth seed, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros 12 months ago, was ousted 7-6(5), 7-6(4), by Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova. A former top 20 player who reached the last four of the Australian Open in 2021 before suffering from injury issues. Sakkari produced a costly 37 unforced errors which cancelled out the 31 winners she produced during the second round encounter.

She played an amazing match. She always plays extremely well in Grand Slams and today she was the better player, so I have to give it to her,” Sakkari of Muchova said during her press conference.
It’s disappointing for sure because it (the French Open) is still my favourite tournament and I’m sad.” She added.

Sakkari’s defeat concludes what has been a roller-coaster clay court swing for the Greek. In Stuttgart she was forced to retire during her opening match due to a gastroenteral illness. At the Madrid Open she crashed out in the second round to Daria Kasatkina before losing in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open to Ons Jabeur.

However, the 26-year-old believes there are positives which can be drawn from her latest match in the French capital.

“I found myself again in the court. I’m feeling good. I’m fighting. I’m enjoying my time on the court so I think that great things are going to happen soon,” she states.

Historically Sakkari has enjoyed mixed fortunes when it comes to playing in major tournaments. Last year at the Grand Slams she made two semi-final appearances, as well as losing in the second round at Wimbledon and the first round of the Australian Open.

“I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets, and so many upsets all these years. At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament,” she reflected.
“It’s very disappointing because I really wanted to do well again but I’m sure that I have a few more years left in my career.”

As for Muchova she is through to the last 32 in Paris for the second year in a row. Awaiting her next will be 27th seed Amanda Anisimova who defeated Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1, in her second round match.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Fitness Is Improving After Maiden French Open Win

The world No.12 is playing in the main draw of a major for only the fourth time in her career.

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EMMA RADUCANU OF GREAT BRITAIN - PHOTO: ANGEL MARTINEZ / MMO

British No.1 Emma Raducanu says she ‘felt really good’ during her roller-coaster win in the first round of the French Open.

 

The reigning US Open champion was forced to comeback from a set down to oust Czech qualifier Linda Noskova 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-1, after more than two-and-a-half hours of play. Noskova won the French Open girls title 12 months ago. Raducanu was on the verge of suffering a shock loss after going down a break twice during the second set before fighting her way back to force the match into a decider which she won with relative ease.

“It’s definitely a tough match to get through, and I’m really, really happy with the way that I regrouped after losing a set 7-6, which is always tough, having had some chances,” Raducanu said afterwards.
“To fight back, I was really pleased.”

This season is the first time Raducanu has played in the main draw of the French Open as a professional player. She had previously featured in the junior competition four years ago where she lost in the second round to Denmark’s Clara Tauson. She has now played at least one match in all four major events.

Comparing the tournaments, the Brit says the ‘vibes’ she feels are similar to that of what she experienced at the US Open where she made history by becoming the first qualifier to win the title. In New York she won 10 matches in a row without dropping a set.

I think that the French Open, I’d say it gives me similar vibes to the US Open just because of the crowd and just how involved they get. It’s a complete contrast to Wimbledon where it’s dead silent. You can actually hear a pin drop before you serve. It’s incredible,” she explains.
“It definitely took some getting used to, but when I went out there (on court), I was honestly just enjoying it, and I don’t take any of anything personally.
“You can actually say anything to me. So when I was on the court and you get people shouting things it didn’t really affect me at all.”

Noskova is the eighth player Raducanu has managed to defeat on the WTA Tour during what has been a mixed 2022 season so far. Heading into Paris, she has managed to win back-to-back matches in just two out of eight tournaments played. Part of the reason for the lopsided results has been physical issues with a back injury forcing her to retire from the Italian Open earlier this month.

However, the world No.12 is confident that her physical fitness is heading in the right direction. In recent months she has explored various training set ups and has gone through three different coaches. The latest being Torben Beltz who she ended her collaboration with after just five months together.

“I think that it is definitely improving,” she said of her physicality. “One thing that I have been doing in the lead-up for this week and the whole of last week, I was doing a lot in the gym, a lot before practice, after practice, just keeping all the muscles fired up. It’s something I probably haven’t really done before, train through tournaments.’
“I am pretty pleased with how I was out there physically, and I feel really good, to be honest.”

Raducanu, who is seeded 12th in the French Open draw, will take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round.

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