Garbine Muguruza fends off three match points to edge Anastasia Sevastova in the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai - UBITENNIS
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Garbine Muguruza fends off three match points to edge Anastasia Sevastova in the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai



Number 7 seed Garbine Muguruza fended off three match points to edge number 2 seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 7-6 (7-1) in the final match of the Camelia Group reaching the semifinals at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai.

Both Muguruza and Sevastova had beaten Zhang Shuai in their opening matches of the Camelia Group and their head-to-head clash was a decisive knock-out match.

Sevastova converted her second break point in the fourth game to build up a 4-1 lead. Muguruza broke back in the seventh game on her third opportunity and held her serve to win her third consecutive game to draw level to 4-4 after saving two break points. Sevastova held her serve at 15 to stop a losing streak of three consecutive games for 5-4. At 5-6 Muguruza held her serve after a 20-point 12th game forcing the set to the tie-break. Sevastova took the 7-4 edge in the tie-break.

Muguruza bounced back by breaking twice in the second set to race out to a 5-0 lead. Sevastova pulled one break back at 15 in the seventh game for 2-5, but Muguruza broke for the third time to seal the second set 6-2.

Sevastova earned an early break at the start of the decisive set to take a 2-0 lead. Muguruza reeled off three consecutive games for 3-2 with a break- back in the fourth game. Sevastova converted her third break back in the ninth game to take  5-4 edge, earning her chance to serve for the match. The Latvian player brought up three match points. Muguruza saved the third match point with a winner down the line before breaking serve to draw level to 5-5. Sevastova did not convert a break point in the 11th game, but she held serve to force the decisive set to the tie-break. Muguruza dominated the tie-break and sealed the win with a down-the line winner.

Muguruza has extended her win-loss record to 3-1 in her head-to-head matches after beating the Latvian player in Beijing 2016 and at the 2017 Australian Open.

 “The matches are the ones that really count. It’s long, it’s difficult. You have match points against you. You don’t lose courage. You don’t lose your enthusiasm. And it worked well. There were just a few points difference. I was coming in with great shots, she was coming with better shots. Sometimes I was winning the points, sometimes she was just playing incredible”, said Muguruza.

Wang Qiang came back from one set down to beat Madison Keys 1-6 6-3 6-1, but this win was not enough for the Chinese player to win the Azalea Group and get through to the semifinal. Keys finished first in the Azalea Group after pushing the match to the third set. She needed to win a set to reach her fourth semifinal of the year. The US player will take on Muguruza in the semifinal.

Keys went up a double break to build up a 5-0 lead. Wang saved a break point to avoid a bagel in the first set before holding serve for 1-5 after three deuces. Keys fired her first ace to bring up three set points. She sealed the set on her first chance with a forehand crosscourt passing winner.

Keys went up a set and a break, when Wang netted her backhand in the third game of the second set. The Chinese broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2, when Keys misfired on her forehand.

Keys broke serve at love in the fifth game, but Wang came back from 0-40 down on return to break straight back for 3-3. Wang held serve with her backhand to take a 4-3 lead stopping a streak of four consecutive breaks. Wang broke for the third time in a row to open up a 5-3 lead earning a chance to serve for the set. Keys saved a break point with a forehand winner down the line, but Wang converted her second chance, when Keys sent her forehand return long.

Wang started the third set with a break at love, before saving two break points to open up a 2-0 lead. The home player went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead. Keys held her serve at 30 to get her first game in the fifth game. Wang saved two points to hold serve for 5-1 before closing out the match with two winning service returns in a row to score her ninth top 20 win in 2018.

Caroline Garcia beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 6-4. Despite the straight-set win Garcia did not reach the semifinal, because she needed to drop less than seven games to advance from the round-robin stage in the Orchid Group.

Garcia earned the only break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The French player saved three break points to close out the first set with a hold of serve in the 10th game. Garcia went up a set and a break in the opening game of the second set. Sabalenka broke back at deuce in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Garcia earned another break in the fifth game for 3-2. Sabalenka held serve to win the eighth game, when she was trailing 4-6 3-5, sending Keys to the semifinal.

 “I wanted to win today, but I was not really thinking about qualifying for the semifinal. I am happy with the win today. It was a good match. I played Aryna twice already this year and I lost both times in three-set battle”, said Garcia.

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Angelique Kerber and Bianca Andreescu could meet again in Miami



Last year’s Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber could meet 18-year-old Indian Canadian rising star Bianca Andreescu in the third round at the Miami Open at the Hard Rock Stadium in a possible re-match of last Sunday’s Indian Wells final. Andreescu beat Kerber 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the Californian desert.

Kerber and Andreescu have been drawn in the top quarter of the draw and one of these players could meet Naomi Osaka in a blockbuster quarter final.

Andreescu claimed her maiden title in the Californian desert beating her German rival in three sets. Kerber praised Andreescu for her aggressive tennis in the Indian Wells final.

“After the first set I did my best to come back and but Bianca played good, especially in the third set. When she had her chances, she just went for it, putting the balls into the court. She deserved to win in the end, playing the whole tournament well. I know that I had to play my best tennis, although I was not able to take my chances, something she did. Her level was high already in Auckland, starting the year with the final and carrying that form here”, said Kerber.

At Indian Wells Kerber beat Yulia Putintseva, Natalya Vikhlyantseva, Aryna Sabalenka, Venus Williams and Belinda Bencic to advance to the 29th final of her career. Despite the defeat Kerber has remained positive about her successful week at Indian Wells and is confident ahead of her next tournament in Miami.

“For me the positive thing is that I played in the final, something I did not expect two weeks ago. That’s why I am happy about this tournament and that gives me a lot of confidence. In a few days we have another tournament and we all start again from zero. I was trying not to look too much on her side but she played well. Miami is the new chapter for all of us. There are different conditions and rivals and we willin the new venue. I am looking forward to going there”, said Kerber.


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Sloane Stephens out to defend her title at the Miami Open



Reigning US Open and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep, fresh Indian Wells winner Bianca Andreescu, 23-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams and 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber are in the spotlight at the Miami Open Main Draw.  

Naomi Osaka leads the top half of the draw, which also features three Grand Slam champions; Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki. Osaka won the first title of her career at Indian Wells in 2018 and beat Serena Williams in her opening match of last year’s edition of the Miami Open before losing to Elina Svitolina.

In this year’s edition of the Miami Open Osaka will open her campaign against a qualifier and could take on Hsieh-Su-Wei in the third round in a possible re-match of this year’s Australian Open third round match. In Melbourne the Japanese player came back from a set down to beat Hsieh-Su-Wei 5-7 6-4 6-1. Last week Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic in straight sets in Indian Wells.

Osaka could face either Caroline Wozniacki or Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round and is on collision course for a possible quarter final clash against either Angelique Kerber or Aryna Sabalenka.

Defending champion Sloane Stephens lead the bottom half of the draw. The 2017 US Open champion has had a season of ups and downs with a record of 5 wins and 5 losses and lost in her opening round of Indian Wells against Stefanie Voegele, but the US player should not be underestimated. Last year she entered the Miami tournament with a negative 3-4 win-loss record and won her maiden Miami title. She continued her successful 2018 season with three finals at Roland Garros, Montreal and at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Stephens will start her defence against either Budapest champion Alyson Van Uytvanck or Ons Jabeur and could meet Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the third round and is on collision course for a possible quarter final against either Karolina Pliskova or Jelena Ostapenko (in a possible re-match of last year’s final). Pliskova could meet 2019 Dubai champion and Indian Wells semifinalist Belinda Bencic in the third round in a potential re-match of this year’s Indian Wells match.

Simona Halep leads the bottom half of the draw. The Romanian player will open her Miami campaign against Johanna Larsson an dcould meet either Daria Kasatkina in the third round or Lesla Tsurenko before a potential quarter final against either Serena Williams or last year’s WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina.

This year’s Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova has been drawn in the top half of the draw and will play against either Maria Sakkari or last year’s Moscow champion Olga Danilovic in her opening match before a possible third-round clash against Donna Vekic.

Fresh Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu will make her Miami Open debut against Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu. The winner of this match could clash against 20-year-old US player Sofia Kenin, who beat Andreescu in the recent Acapulco semifinal. Andreescu could face Kerber in the third round in a potential re-match of last Sunday’s Indian Wells final.

In one of the most interesting first round matches former Miami champion Victoria Azarenka will face 2016 WTA Finals champion Dominica Cibulkova, who reached the semifinal in Miami in 2014.

Mari Osaka, the elder sister of Naomi Osaka, was awarded a wild card for the 2019 Miami Open and will make her first appearance in a main draw and will play against Whitney Osuigwe.

There is no clear favourites in Miami after a very unpredictable start to the season in the first three months with 13 different champions in the first 13 WTA tournaments of the year. Three players aged 21 or younger Naomi Osaka, Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu won the biggest titles this season lifting the trophies respectively at the Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells.

The Miami Open will be held for the first time in the Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the American Football team Miami Dolphins.

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Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka beat Barbora Krejikova and Katerina Siniakova to clinch their maiden title in Indian Wells



Unseeded doubles team formed by Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka cruised past top seeds and 2018 Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions Barbora Krejikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-2 to lift their maiden title at the BNP Paribas WTA Premier Mandatory at Indian Wells.

Mertens and Sabalenka took a re-match against Krejikova and Siniakova, who won their previous head-to-head match in the third round at the 2019 Australian Open.

After both players traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games Mertens and Sabalenka got another break in the eighth game and held their service game at 15 to seal the first set 6-3 with three consecutive winning games.

Mertens and Sabalenka broke twice in the fifth and seventh games and saved all six break points they faced to close out the second set 6-2.

“I think that was on our mind, but not really the result. We were there as one team, as it came out great. In Australia we still had to figure out, first time together and already playing three sets against those top seeds. I felt there is really potential in a doubles team”,said Mertens.

“I think we were playing quick and don’t really give opponents time to do opponents”,said Sabalenka.

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