Angelique Kerber To Target French Open Title In 2019, Says Former Fed Cup Captain - UBITENNIS
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Angelique Kerber To Target French Open Title In 2019, Says Former Fed Cup Captain

After a roller coaster end to 2018, the world No.2 is hoping for success on the clay next year.

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Former world No.1 Angelique Kerber has set her sights on adding to her grand slam title collection by triumphing at Roland Garros next year, according Barbara Rittner.

Rittner, who was the captain of the German Fed Cup team for 13 years, has told newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau that it is Kerber’s ‘big wish’ to triumph at the clay court major. Even though it is statistically her worst performing grand slam with a 61% win rate. Kerber is yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals at the French Open, but it is the only major she hasn’t won. Earlier this year she defeated Serena Williams in straight sets to win the Wimbledon title. She also won the Australian and US Open titles during 2016.

“Her big wish is to win the French Open as well. I would rather trust her to defend her title at Wimbledon.” Said Rittner. “She should set up a smart tournament calendar and concentrate on the Grand Slams.”

30-year-old Kerber has experienced a lacklustre 2018 season. Following on from her success at Wimbledon, the German only managed to win back-to-back matches at two out of six tournaments. Failing to reach the quarter-finals at all six. Rittner believes Kerber’s dip in form was partly due to how she scheduled her tournaments and recovery time.

“Angie had too short of period between the grass and the hard court season.” She said. “If you miss a few percent today, it’s hard. This was also seen at the WTA finals in Singapore, where almost all the matches went to three sets. The world’s top is extremely dense.”

The world No.2 is currently in the process of searching for a new coach. Just a few days before the start of the WTA Finals, she announced the sudden split with coach Wim Fissette. Fissette is now working with Victoria Azarenka. It has been claimed by one source that Fissette already agreed to work with Azarenka whilst still working with Kerber. Although this hasn’t been confirmed officially.

“We decide to not work together anymore. We had different views for the next steps.” She commented about the split last month.

Kerber ends 2018 winning 46 out of 65 matches played on the tour this season. Outside of the grand slams, she won the Sydney International title in January.

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Simona Halep Sheds Light On Potential New Coach To Replace Darren Cahill

The world No.1 has been spotted with a Belgian mentor at the Australian Open, who recently halted his partnership with another player on the ATP Tour.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Simona Halep has confirmed that she is ‘talking’ with a Thierry Van Cleemput about the possibility of him joining her team in the future.

The two were spotted together at Melbourne Park on Monday whilst Halep was warming up for her match against Serena Williams, which she lost in three sets. Cleemput was also present at her fourth round match and sat a row behind her player’s box. Halep is currently without a coach after she split with Darren Cahill during the off-season. Cahill announced a 12-month break from coaching in order to spend more time with his family.

“We are talking, but he is not my coach officially, so we will see.” Halep said during her press conference.

Van Cleemput has worked as a coach since 1993 and has guided some of the best male players in his home country. Spending stints with Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis. He was also the assistant team captain of the Belgian Davis Cup team between 2002-2005. Up until last week Cleemput had been working with David Goffin, but they have separated on ‘mutual grounds.’ A decision Halep has stated that she had no impact on.

“I have nothing to do with their split. I like him as a coach. I like him as a person.” She said.
“We haven’t decided anything yet. We just have to know each other better. We are just talking.”

Halep confirmed that she spoke with Cleemput after he had split with Goffin.  Although she remained coy when asked if she was the one who approached him first.

Reflecting back on her Australian Open campaign, the world No.1 says she is contempt with her performance. Prior to her loss to Williams, she scored wins over Kaia Kanepi, Sofia Kenin and Venus Williams. Prior to Melbourne, she hadn’t won a match since August after ending her 2018 season early due to a back injury.

“I haven’t been prepared for the highest level in tennis, but I did not play bad, so I’m happy about the way that it’s been going this tournament, and I take only the positives.” She said. “I had great matches. I had the toughest draw, but it was nice.”

As a result of her loss, Halep faces the possibility of losing her No.1 ranking next week. She has held the top spot since February 2018.

“I will not stress myself about this. I just go home, I will rest, and I will watch tennis. I am also curious who is going to win (the Australian Open).” She concluded about the situation.

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares reach the doubles quarter final after saving three match points

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares fended off three match points to take a come-from-behind win over Kevin Krawietz and Nikola Mektic by the scoreline of 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 7-5 after 2 hours and nine minutes in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The British and Brazilian doubles team, who won the Australian Open doubles title in 2016, reached the quarter final, where they will face former Nitto ATP Finals Henri Kontinen and Jonathan Peers (Murray’s former partner) in the quarter finals.

Murray and Soares fought back from losing the first set by breaking serve in the second set and at the end of the end of the third set.

Murray and Soares reeled off five consecutive points to draw level to 5-5, as they were serving at 4-5 0-40, and won the final two games to seal their spot in the quarter final. Murray and Soares won 82 % of their first serve points.

Murray and Soares have reached the quarter final for the fifth time in their last nine Grand Slam tournaments.

Murray also reached the third round of the mixed doubles tournament. The Scottish player teamed up Bethanie Mattek Sands claimed a 6-4 6-4 win over Robert Lindsted and Kristina Mladenovic.

Reigning French Open doubles champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut came back from one set down to beat US Rajev Ram and Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 setting up a quarter final clash against US legends Mike and Bob Bryan. Salisbury and Ram opened up a 5-2 lead in the tie-break of the second set, but they dropped five consecutive points to lose the second set.

Lukasz Kubot and Horacio Zeballos converted four of their eight break points in their 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Australian wildcards Blake Ellis and Alexei Popyrin setting up a quarter final match against either Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey or Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow.

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Karolina Pliskova Thrashes Muguruza To Reach Australian Open Quarters

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Karolina Pliskova has continued her unbeaten start to 2019 with an emphatic 6-3, 6-1, win over two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open.

The Czech seventh seed recovered from a tentative start to the match to dominate proceeding on the Margaret Court Arena. In what was a battle of former world No.1 players, Pliskova produced a near-perfect performance. Hitting just three unforced errors during the 60-minute clash, compared to Muguruza’s tally of 20. Furthermore, she converted five out of her seven break point opportunities and blasted 23 winners past the Spaniard.

“I feel better with every match that I play here. It’s my first time on Margaret Court (this year) and I’m happy I got the win.” Pliskova said afterwards.
“I think I played well. Obviously the first set was important. We had some very close games. At the beginning we were both a bit nervous. It’s a bit windy, so the conditions are a bit tricky sometimes.”

It was the conditions that proved to be too problematic for Muguruza, who hasn’t won four consecutive matches on the tour for eight months. Since winning the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, Muguruza has only managed to reach the last eight of a major in one out of six attempts (French Open 2018).

“It was a very tough match. I was expecting it.” Muguruza said in her press conference. “Pliskova, you have to put a lot of intensity with her. She makes you be on every single ball. I struggled a little bit with the heat or the conditions. I don’t know. I felt it was a little bit heavy today.”

Pliskova now finds herself on a nine-match winning streak following her triumph at the Brisbane International earlier in the month. Her longest winning streak since May. During the off-season, she added Conchita Martinez to her team. A former Australian Open finalist back in 1998, who had previously worked alongside Muguruza on the tour. Also included in Pliskova’s team is former doubles specialist Rennae Stubbs.

“A lot of positive things.” Pliskova replied when asked what Martinez brings. “So far everything is working. I cannot be happier to have this team by me and everything is working well.”

Set to play in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the third consecutive year in a row, the 26-year-old faces a potentially tricky task. Awaiting her will be either top seed Simona Halep or 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams. Two players who she has a losing head-to-head record against.

“I know both of them. I have played both of them already. It is going to be definitely tough.” She previewed.
“Simona is world No.1 and it is always tough to play her. And Serena I think she is in great shape this tournament. So we will see.”

Pliskova is bidding to reach the last four of a grand slam for only the third time in her career this week.

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