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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Ons Jabeur Acknowledges Mental Toughness Ahead Of Charleston Semi-Finals

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in her mental game as she heads into her fourth WTA semi-final in Charleston.

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Ons Jabeur (@VolvoCarOpen - Twitter)

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in the mental parts of her game after reaching the Charleston semi-finals.

 

The Tunisian comfortably beat Coco Gauff 6-3 6-3 in 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the last four in Charleston.

It was a dominant performance from the world number 28 who broke on six occasions to set up a semi-final against Danka Kovinic.

However yesterday’s win was also evidence that Jabeur’s mental toughness has improved as in 2020, the Tunisian was 0-5 in quarter-final matches and 0-2 against Gauff having lost in Lexington and Rome to the American teenager.

Speaking after the victory, Jabeur admitted that it was nice to settle those demons last night, “Maybe this year is a revenge year for me,” Jabeur told the WTA website.

“Honestly, mentally-wise I’m much better. I’m getting there. I had my opportunities against her last year. She’s a great player. I know exactly what I’m going to face and I was ready for the battle.

“I’m glad that I’m playing good now. I know that clay is amazing and I gotta say, I have been enjoying sliding a lot lately. It’s the best part of the clay. I like the green clay. It’s different than the red clay but I like it. The bounce is not too high, it’s not too low. It’s a good balance for me.

“I’m just trying to play my game. I’m trying to enjoy after a very tough start to the season. A lot of expectations. I’m really glad I got to prove myself this week and I’m in the semi-finals.”

Jabeur will look to continue her good form in 2020 which saw her climb into the world’s top 30 and end the season with a 27-11 win-loss record.

Saturday will be Jabeur’s fourth WTA career semi-final and her first since 2019 where she reached the last four in Tianjin.

The meeting with Kovinic will be the first WTA Tour meeting of their career although Jabeur won their meeting on the ITF circuit in Budapest in 2018 6-2 6-1.

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Lorenzo Musetti’s Run Ended By Djere In Cagliari

Sonego, Fritz, Basilashvili, join Serb in semi-final line-up.

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Laslo Djere (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Italian teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti’s run at the Sardegna Open was ended by Laslo Djere in an error-strewn match played out in tricky conditions.

 

The 19-year-old, who has looked in supreme form this week and ousted top seed Dan Evans in a second round thriller on Thursday, appeared to run out of steam in the deciding set as the Serb ran out a 6-4 4-6 6-2 winner.

The strong gusts that have blown across the centre court all week at the Cagliari Tennis Club appeared to have saved their best efforts for this encounter, as both men seemed to be affected by the tricky conditions. Djere particularly struggled on his serve, offering up 8 double faults, but he was still able to take control of the final set as his young opponent faded.

Musetti will no doubt still be pleased with his work in Sardinia. He will be one to watch next week as a Wild Card at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he has been drawn against Aslan Karatsev in the first round, with a potential second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, third seed Lorenzo Sonego ensured there would still be an Italian representative in the last four as he came through against Yannick Hanfmann 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3. The German started impressively and had the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was unable to convert. Sonego then recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the ensuing tie break to level proceedings, before going on to seal the win.

In the semi-finals Sonego will have the chance to gain revenge for his defeat in Doha last month to Taylor Fritz. The American second seed came through 6-3 6-4 against an out-of-sorts Aljaz Bedene.

Fritz appeared to be cruising at a set and a break up, with his opponent struggling to make an impact on the gangly American. It left Bedene somewhat uncharacteristically venting his frustration, but this seemed to work for the Slovenian as he was able to break back. It was Bedene’s serve that let him down at a crucial moment, two double faults at 3-3 helping to hand Fritz another crucial, and ultimately decisive, break.

The final semi-final spot was claimed by Nikoloz Basilashvili, who defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 under the floodlights in the final action of the day. Struff has struggled for form so far in 2021 but had looked solid so far this week, and the match-up led to some predictably entertaining rallies. After a tight first two sets, Doha champion Basilashvili was able to take advantage of some Struff errors early in the third, surging to a 3-0 lead. Despite a mini-fightback from the German, Basilashvili clung on to book a Saturday meeting with the unseeded Djere.

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Lorenzo Musetti Blasts ‘Disrespectful’ Evans After Reaching Cagliari Quarter-Finals

Lorenzo Musetti has called Dan Evans disrespectful after reaching the Cagliari quarter-finals.

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Lorenzo Musetti (@atptour - Twitter)

Lorenzo Musetti has hit out at Dan Evans after beating him to reach the last eight in Cagliari.

 

The Italian rising star defeated Evans in a tight contest 6-1 1-6 7-6(8) to reach the quarter-finals in Cagliari.

Musetti saved four match points having been 4-0 and 6-3 down in the final set tiebreak before rallying back to claim victory.

However after the match there was an unusual celebration from the 19 year-old, who threw his racket into the ground.

Clearly frustrated, the Italian made it known after the match that he didn’t appreciate Evans’ attitude, “There are respectful experienced players on the pitch. Others like Evans, they try to use my youth to shoot (win) matches,” Musetti was quoted as saying by TennisHead in his post-match press conference.

“But it’s all experience for me. Evans disrespected me. I don’t want to be treated like a young man. It was really tough. I was 3-6 down in the tiebreak and he was playing good, always going to the net and always aggressive.

“I tried to stay calm and tried to play each point. That is what I did and it worked, so I am really happy and really proud of myself with this win.”

During the match, Evans implemented some unusual return positioning in the second set which is what may have upset the Italian.

However the main thing is Musetti is now into the quarter-finals in Cagliari as he continues his rise among tennis’ elite.

The Italian has already beaten the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov as he has already broken into the top 100.

Musetti will play Laslo Djere of Serbian in the last eight on Friday.

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