Karolina Pliskova sets up fourth round match against Garbine Muguruza in Melbourne - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova sets up fourth round match against Garbine Muguruza in Melbourne

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Former world number 1 player and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova came through a tough three-set match against 27th seed Camila Giorgi by the scoreline of 6-4 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 11 minutes.

 

Giorgi converted all her three break points and stayed neck and neck with Pliskova until the end of the match, but the Czech player converted five of her 16 break points to advance to the second week in Melbourne for the third year in a row.

Pliskova has extended her winning record in her six head-to-head matches against Giorgi to 5-1.

Pliskova has won her third three-set match against her Italian rival following wins in the 2014 Linz final and in the 2017 Cincinnati third round match. Giorgi went down 0-40 in the fifth game to face three break points. The Italian player saved the first break point with her second serve, but Pliskova got her only break of the first set on her second chance to take a 3-2 lead, when Giorgi made a double fault. Pliskova did not face any break points in her next service games and held her serve at 15 to clinch the first set 6-4.

Giorgi won 12 of the first 15 points to build up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game. She held her service games at love for 3-0. Pliskova broke back in the fifth game with a volley to claw her way back to 2-3. Giorgi got another break in the sixth game at deuce for 4-2 and saved two break back points at deuce in a nine-minute game. Pliskova converted her third break point chance at deuce. Giorgi came back from 15-40 down by winning four consecutive games to break serve for 5-3 to earn her chance to serve for the set. Giorgi closed out the second set 6-3 on her third set point at deuce after saving another break point.

The first three games of the decisive set went on serve before Giorgi saved three break points at 1-2. Pliskova converted her fourth break point after six deuces. Pliskova dropped four points on serve in the decider and sealed the win 6-3 on her fourth match point with her double break in the eighth game, when Giorgi sent her forehand long.

“It’s giving me special confidence. If you are winning matches, it does not matter how you win, just that you are winning those matches, close matches. It’s not always going to be like 6-1 6-2. Some players are difficult for me. Sometimes I just have ups and downs”, said Pliskova.

Pliskova’s next rival in the fourth round is two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza, who recovered from her late-night match against Johanna Konta to beat Swiss player Timea Bacsinszky 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 after one hour and 54 minutes.

Garbine Muguruza advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open for the fourth time in her career. She achieved the best best result of her career in 2017, when she qualified for the quarter final after two fourth-round appearances in 2014 and 2015.

Muguruza and Bacsinszky met for the sixth time in their careers. The Spaniard scored the first of her four consecutive wins over the Lausanne player with her 6-4 3-6 6-0 win in the third round at 2015 Roland Garros. Bacsinszky stopped the losing streak by winning her only head-to-head clash against Muguruza in the first round in Madrid in 2017.

Muguruza showed that she had fully recovered from her match against Johanna Konta, which started at 12.30 (the latest ever match) and ended at 3.12 am.

Bacsinszky, who moved up from world number 745 to number 145 in just five months following hand surgery, got an early break with a half-volley. Bacsinsky broke back at 30 in the second game. Muguruza converted her fourth break point in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead but Bacsinszky pulled the break back for the second time at deuce to draw level to 4-4.

Muguruza earned a set point on Bacsinszy’s serve at 6-5, but Bacsinszky saved it with a backhand winner to set up a tie-break.

Muguruza built up a 5-2 lead in the tie-break and wrapped up the first set with a service winner.

The second set looked to be a close match after an early trade of breaks, but Muguruza broke serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 before holding serve for 4-2 after a three-deuce sixth game. Muguruza won eight of the final eleven points to earn two match points. Bacsinszky fended off the second match point with her backhand winner, but Muguruza sealed the win on her third chance with her backhand.

“She has a very unique style of game, very smart, very talented. We played four or five times already. All of matches were very difficult. I know I was going to have to fight a lot to get it. So it counts a lot, this one. After the late match against Johanna Konta, I went back to sleep around 5, so it’s very messed up. I will not forget to play tennis in a few hours. I didn’t play. I woke up late. I prioritized. Rest a little bit, work with my physio, just get a little bit of distance, recover for today, because I knew it was going to be a battle”, said Muguruza.   

 

 

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‘This kid Was Depressed’ – Naomi Osaka Opens Up About Personal Struggles

It has been a rough ride for the two-time grand slam champion in recent months.

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Naomi Osaka (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision

World No.1 Naomi Osaka has shed light on the drawbacks she experienced from her rapid rise to fame following her opening win at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Germany.

 

In January the 21-year-old became the first Asian player in history to top the tennis rankings after winning the Australian Open. Her second grand slam title in a row. However, since Osaka’s Melbourne triumph she has experienced some lacklustre results on the tour. Winning back-to-back matches in one out of three tournaments played. On top of that, Osaka also split with coach Sascha Bajin, who now works alongside Kristina Mladenovic, and hired Jermaine Jenkins.

The sudden rise of fame has elevated Osaka to the limelight and turned her into one of the most sought after tennis players in terms of sponsorships. Highlighted by her recent deal with Nike. However, it hasn’t all been a fairy tale for the Japanese player.

“I am really grateful for everyone that has been really positive towards me. It was really rough the last couple of months. The kid was depressed out there.” Osaka said following her win over Hsieh Su-wei in Stuttgart.
“If there is one positive thing that I can say about myself, it is that I learn quickly.”
“Definitely I’ve put a lot on pressure on myself and found it hard to deal with in the first few tournaments.”

Osaka’s troubles have been more mental than physical on the court. It was at the Dubai Tennis Championships, where the world saw how vulnerable the rising star is as she cried following a shock loss in the first round. Detailing how she has struggled to get use to being in the spotlight.

“The worst has been the expectation I put on myself, but I think we are good now.” She commented about life as world No.1.

To put into perspective the rise of introverted Osaka, she went from outside the top 40 without a title to a two-time grand slam champion and Asia’s first ever No.1 within a 12-month period. She is the first player to follow up on her maiden major win by claiming another since Jennifer Capriati back in 2001.

Now seemingly back on track mentally, Osaka will be hoping to extend her stronghold on the tour throughout the European clay-court season. She has just 200 points to defend during that period, compared to 2900 points for Simona Halep. Halep is currently the closest person to her in the WTA rankings.

“I set goals, but they are like short term.” She explains. “It’s not like winning the whole tournament. Of course I think about that. Now I’m just having fun, which is the mentality I had before I was number one. Hopefully it will go well.”

The next test in Stuttgart for the top seed will be Croatia’s Donna Vekic. Vekic has already defeated two top 10 players this season – Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens. Osaka leads their head-to-head 1-0.

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Rafael Nadal Defeats Emotional Ferrer To Reach Last Eight In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal ended David Ferrer’s time in Barcelona with a 6-3 6-3 win to move into the last eight.

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Rafael Nadal (@rolandgarros - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal was too good for an emotional David Ferrer after a 6-3 6-3 win sealed the 11 time champion’s place in the Barcelona quarter-finals.

 

After a sluggish start, Nadal raced into a 6-3 6-3 win over Ferrer in what was a rain-delayed match in Barcelona to reach the last eight.

The match was Ferrer’s last in Barcelona as he will say goodbye to tennis in Madrid in a couple of weeks time after over 15 years on tour.

As for Nadal he will face the winner of Jan-Lennard Struff’s match with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

It was a slow start from the defending champion to begin with as he was failing to adapt to the slightly heavier conditions.

The world number 155 failed to convert his two break points though as he stayed with Nadal with some great court coverage and groundstrokes.

However Nadal’s power and angles were eventually too much for the grinding Ferrer as he finally earned the break in sixth game for a 4-2 lead.

A much better perspective and attitude from the 17 time grand slam champion helped him charge through the match, especially in the first set.

After the first rain delay, Nadal served out the opening set to give himself the early advantage in this third round match.

It was more of the same from Nadal in the second set as he controlled the baseline for an early break. However that didn’t last long as Ferrer continued to fight on and a sloppy game from Nadal handed the break back to the veteran.

The 37 year-old continued to show why his level of tennis can still match up to anyone on the tour as he stunned Nadal with some brilliant point construction.

But there was to be no epic comeback from the former Roland Garros finalist as two more breaks from Nadal sealed his place in the quarter-finals.

It was an emotional moment Ferrer, who played his last match in Barcelona, as he prepares to retire in a couple of weeks time in Madrid.

However for Nadal he noticed the improvement in level after a poor performance in the previous round, “Big difference. It was a tough match in all ways yesterday. Today was a different energy, a different motivation. In general terms, for me, I needed to play with a different attitude to make a step forward, and that’s what I did today.”

The world number two will now play Jan-Lennard Struff or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last eight.

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Tennis Has A Justin Gimelstob Problem

Once tipped to be the chief of men’s tennis, Gimelstob’s future in the sport looks to be coming to an end following his latest and most shocking controversy.

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Justin Gimelstob (image via awfulannouncing.com)

Once again in the coming weeks men’s tennis will be dominated by off-court politics in an all too familiar trend occurring this season.

 

Following on from the decision to remove Chris Kermode from his position, the focus is now on Justin Gimelstob. A man once tipped to take on Kermode’s position as CEO of the ATP. Earlier this week the 42-year-old pleaded ‘no contest’ to an assault charge against one of his former friends. A plea where somebody accepts the charges without accepting or admitting guilt. As a consequence, Gimelstob was handed with a 60-day community service and a three-year probation.

“Justin Gimelstob pled no contest to the charge filed against him and the Judge, after evaluating the evidence, exercised his discretion and reduced the charge to a misdemeanor,” said his legal team in a statement.
“Justin did this to move on with his professional life and focus on his family.”

The incident occurred last Halloween when Gimelstob approached Randall Kaplan and hit him a reported 50 times, according to a restraining order issued last year. The incident took place in front of Kaplan’s pregnant wife, who film some of the incident, and his two-year-old daughter. Prosecutors said that the stress of the attack caused Kaplan’s wife to have a miscarriage.

“Thankfully my husband survived, but our unborn child did not,” Madison Kaplan said. “My doctors said everything had looked perfect with the pregnancy before the attack. The only reason they could see causing the miscarriage was the stress from the attack. Justin might not have gotten his wish in killing Randy, but he did kill a tiny innocent little baby girl.”

The Rome vote

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Gimelstob is currently one of three player representatives currently serving on the ATP Board and represents the Americas region. They are elected by the Players council and play an instrumental role in decision making. Such as voting for the removal of Kermode.

The fact Gimelstob remains in his current position is one that has drawn concern from some. The All England Club confirmed on Tuesday that he has been banned from the Wimbledon legends event as well as sitting in the Royal Box. The Telegraph has also reported that officials are pondering whether to remove his credentials all together.

It will be the Player’s council decision if Gimelstob should maintain his current position or not. They will gather in Rome next month to have a vote on his future. Among the member’s is John Isner, who has Gimelstob as an ‘unpaid advisor‘ on his team. The world No.10 has previously described him as a ‘’a misunderstood character.’

“The decision was taken to let the judicial process run its course before any judgement was made on his future, so with that process complete this is now a subject for review by the board and/or the player council.” The ATP said in a statement.
“As a related matter, the election for the role of the next Americas player representative on the ATP board – the position currently held by Gimelstob – will take place as scheduled on Tuesday, 14 May, in Rome.”

Despite his work and dedication to tennis, the idea of voting to keep Gimelstob in his role seems illogical. Prior to his assault charge, he has been embroiled in a series of controversies. Speaking about former player Anna Kournikova in 2008 he once said ‘She’s a bitch. Hate’s a very strong word. I just despise her to the maximum level just below hate.’ He later apologised for that comment. In 2010 he also was briefly suspended from the Tennis Channel concerning comments he made about then president Barack Obama.

A return to The Tennis Channel?

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Besides his role at the ATP, Gimelstob has been a prominent figure and valuable commentator for The Tennis Channel. He took a leave of absence from the network in November due to the legal proceedings. Now he has received his sentence, it is unclear as to what will happen next.

“We are sure that Justin is pleased that this matter has been resolved. Since he took his leave of absence from Tennis Channel in November 2018, we have been waiting for the legal system to run its course. Now that this is behind him, we will have internal meetings among our executives — and meetings with Justin — to discuss his future with Tennis Channel.” The Tennis Channel said in a statement.

According to Deadline the situation is complicated due to the close relationship between the former player and Ken Solomon, who is the president of the Tennis Channel. Speaking to The New York Times Solomon said ‘We are here and ready to discuss the situation with Justin whenever appropriate, and will decide at that time.’

Despite the seemingly calm approach from the president of the network, some people within The Tennis Channel are questioning the situation.

“There is a feeling here that it would be shocking if he comes back and works for the Tennis Channel,” one source told Deadspin. “But at the same time, this guy is super powerful and has been at Tennis Channel since it started, so he has a very close relationship with [Tennis Channel president] Ken Solomon. They go way back.”

At one point in his post-playing career, Gimelstob was regarded as one of the most powerful men in tennis. His resume includes commentator, coach, ATP board member and owner of a television production company. Now his stronghold within the sport is rapidly loosening. Any decision by the ATP to keep him on their powerful board will be one condemned for years to come. Despite all he has done for the sport.

It is for this reason why at the upcoming Italian Open only half of the attention will be on the court’s. The other half will be on how the Player’s Council handles this situation. Another new headache for president Novak Djokovic and his fellow members.

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