Johanna Konta Prevails In ‘Sauna-Like’ Conditions To Book Muguruza Showdown At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Johanna Konta Prevails In ‘Sauna-Like’ Conditions To Book Muguruza Showdown At Australian Open

It was a case of sweet revenge for the world No.38 at Melbourne Park.

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British No.1 Johanna Konta required almost three hours to get through her opening match at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

 

The 2016 semi-finalist battled past home player Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 7-6 (10-7), in the blistering conditions at Melbourne Park. Konta, who is unseeded in the draw, fired 16 aces and 47 winners past her opponent. However, she could only convert one out of her nine break point opportunities against Tomljanovic.

“I’m feeling a little shaky on the legs, it’s hot out here, very humid. I’m looking forward to getting inside and starting the recovery process.” Konta told British Eurosport afterwards.
“I am really happy to have come through that. She played some incredible tennis and sometimes I had to hang tough there.”

Besides some stiff resistance from across the court, Konta had to also contend with the weather with temperatures expected to peak at 33C in the city. Despite being born in Sydney, the world No.38 admitted that she found it tough to deal with the conditions.

“When the wind stops, it’s like you’re in a steam room more than anything.” She said.
“You try to put it at the back of your mind as much as possible. Everyone is going through the same thing.”

The win is a case of sweet revenge for Konta. Earlier in the month she suffered a straight sets loss to the Australian in Brisbane.

Following a turbulent second half of 2018, the 27-year-old is hoping to get back on track in the near future. Konta has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of the past 10 tournaments since August. During that time, she opted to enlist the help of new coach Dimitri Zavialoff.

Awaiting the Brit in the second round will be two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza dropped only five games during her 6-2, 6-3, win over China’s Zheng Saisai. Hitting 23 winners to 18 unforced errors and breaking Saisai’s serve four times in the match.

Pliskova through

Elsewhere in the draw, former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova made a winning start. The Czech seventh seed dismissed Karolina Muchova, 6-3, 6-2. Pliskova, who recently won the Brisbane International, is bidding to reach the quarter-final stage in Melbourne for the third consecutive time. She will take on America’s Madison Brengle next.

“I think I started really well today,” Pliskova said during her on-court interview. “I was feeling great, even in the warm-up!”
“”After the off-season, everyone’s looking forward to these tournaments in Australia. I’m always happy here; I don’t know why, but I always play good tennis here, and the atmosphere is always really great. I’m always happy to come back.” She added.

There was bitter disappointment for world No.10 Daria Kasatkina. The Russian lost 12 consecutive games as she crashed out 6-3, 6-0, to Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky. Her error-stricken performance featured nine double faults and 24 unforced errors.

Carla Suarez Navarro, Anastasija Sevastova and Camila Giorgi also progressed into the second round.

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Former Tennis Star Reveals 2016 Retirement Was Linked To 18-Month Ban

The former world No.66 says she was suspended from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player following one of her matches.

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Ekaterina Bychkova (image via Wikicommons)

A top 100 player who stunned Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of the 2005 US Open when she was the defending champion has made a shock revelation about the reason why she retired from the sport.

 

Ekaterina Bychkova, who peaked at a ranking high of 66th in her career, was a familiar face on the women’s Tour that played in 15 Grand Slam main draws between 2005-2011. During her career, she won 10 ITF singles titles and five in the doubles. She hung up her racket in 2016 after playing one qualifying match in St Petersburg but the decision to retire wasn’t entirely her choice.

In a recent interview Bychkova revealed for the first time she was slammed with a 18-month suspension from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player. The incident took place following her match against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova at an ITF $100,000 event in Nanjing, China.

“In the third set Kuchova began to suffer from convulsions (cramps). But according to the rules, you cannot call a doctor for convulsions and you cannot lie on the court for five minutes. However, she lay on the court for several minutes, then the supervisor came, who said that it was not a seizure, which means that a break was needed. He clearly sympathized with her,” she said during an interview with website Bookmaker Ratings.
“Kuchova returned to the match and immediately began to serve powerfully, kick the ball and move well. She was released psychologically, but on the contrary, I was shackled.”

A furious Bychkova ended up losing the first round match 7-5, 6-7(1), 3-6, to Kucova who is currently ranked 149th in the world. Although the incident between the two players didn’t take place on the court. It occurred later on that day when they crossed paths again.

“I was asked to take a walk for 20-30 minutes. Suddenly this beauty floats past me, cheerful. I broke down and started a fight,” she said.
“Two days later, the supervisor announced to me that our fight was on camera. It was a hostel on the court grounds, not an official hotel, and in fact the fight did not take place on the territory of the tournament.”

Reflecting on her actions, which was caught on CCTV, the Russian says they were in no way justifiable and she regrets how she reacted. Not only did she end up with a 18-month ban from the sport, she was also fined $3,150.

At the time Bychkova said she had the option to appeal the decision but opted not to do so because she didn’t want to go through the process of hiring lawyers and travelling to London for an ITF hearing. Claiming that the fight didn’t actually occur on the tournament site but at a hostel located on the surrounding grounds. She also said her decision to not to appeal was because she was ‘tired of tennis.’

Now at the age of 35 she has decided to give playing professional tennis another go. This week she played her first match in five years at an ITF event in Moscow where she lost in the first round to world No.611 Anastasia Tikhonova.

There has been no public comment from Kucova regarding Bychkova’s account of what happened in China.

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Aljaz Bedene rallies from one set down to beat Jannik Sinner in Montpellier

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Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene came back from one set down to beat 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to reach the second round at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Sinner was hindered by a back injury in the final stages of the match. 

 

Bedene entered the match with a 2-1 lead in his head-to-head matches against Sinner, but the Italian 19-year-old player won their most recent clash at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne en route to the second title of his career.  

Sinner earned his only break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 and held his next service games to close out the opening set 6-3 with a forehand down the line. 

Sinner went down 0-40 in the fourth game of the second set on serve, but he saved three consecutive break points. Bedene converted his fourth break point at deuce, as Sinner made an error at the net. Sinner forced the next game to deuce, but Bedene held his serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Bedene closed out the second set 6-2 with his double break at 15.

Sinner saved a break point and held serve after two deuces in the second game. The Italian player wasted two break points in the third and fifth games. 

Sinner earned an erly mini-break, but Bedene got back on serve immediately. Bedene opened up a 4-2 lead with two more mini-breaks in the tie-break before Sinner received a medical time-out to a lower back injury. Bedene earned two more mini-breaks to close out the match after 2 hours and 39 minutes. 

Bedene becomes the first player outside the top 10 to defeat Sinner indoors in a year. Sinner entered the match on a 10-match indoor winning streak against players outside the top 10, which dated back to the quarter final defeat against Pablo Carreno Busta in Rotterdam. 

“In the first set Sinner was the better player. Afterwards, I became more aggressive and was making less mistakes. I think that decided it. On the important points I was there. I didn’t lose my focus”, said Bedene. 

Bedene set up a second round match against Egor Gerasimov, who beat Andy Murray 7-6 (10-8) 6-1on Tuesday evening. 

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina converted six of his fifteen break points to overcome Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-2 setting up a second round match against Hubert Hurkacz. 

French qualifier Gregoire Barrere broke twice in each set and won 65 % of his second service points to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-4. 

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Marin Cilic beats Taro Daniel to reach the quarter final at the Singapore Open

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Former US Open champion and world number 3 Marin Cilic won 82% of his first-serve points and and fended off three of the four break points he faced to claim a 7-5 6-4 win over Taro Daniel after 1 hour and 40 minutes at the Singapore Tennis Open. 

 

Cilic converted his second break point at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Daniel broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Cilic earned his second break in the 11th game and served out the first set at love in the 10th game. Cilic earned the only break in the 10th game to seal the second set 6-4. 

Cilic set up a quarter final match against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, who came back from one set down to beat Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 4-6 6-3 6-4. 

Fourth seed Alexander Bublik fired 10 aces to beat Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek 6-3 6-2. Bublik will take on Yoshihito Nishioka, who won 62 % of hsi second serve points to claim a 6-4 6-2 win over Maxime Cressy. 

Australia’s Alexei Popyrin overcame Adrian Andreev 6-1 5-7 6-3. Popyrin earned two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Andreev sealed the second set 7-5 with his only break in the 12th game. Poppyrin broke twice in the fifth and ninth games to close out the third set 6-3.  

Italy’s Roberto Marcora broke once in each set to upset former top 10 player Ernest Gulbis 7-5 6-4 setting up a second round match against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Matthew Ebden edged Yuki Bhambri 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to secure his spot in the second round where he will face second round match against second seed John Millman.

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