Maria Sharapova Dumps Defending Champion Wozniacki Out Of Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Dumps Defending Champion Wozniacki Out Of Australian Open

The 31-year-old has progressed to the second week of the tournament for the first time since 2016.

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Maria Sharapova has knocked reigning champion Caroline Wozniacki out of the Australian Open following a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, victory in the third round.

 

Sharapova, who last won the Melbourne title back in 2008, produced a fierce and erratic display against her opponent. Highlighted by the 37 winners and 46 unforced errors from the five-time grand slam champion. Blighted by a shoulder injury in recent months, the win is Sharapova’s first against a top 10 player since Jelena Ostapenko at the US Open.

“I though the level was quite high. I knew I was going to get a tough match. She (Wozniacki) is the defending champion of this event. It is no secret that she loves this arena.” Sharapova said during her on-court interview.
“I haven’t played many matches in the last year, especially against top players. These are the types of matches I train for. It’s really rewarding to win that last point.”

Heading into the third round, neither player had lost their serve in the tournament. As both players engaged in some brutal rallies on the Rod Laver Arena, the trend of no breaks ended three games into the match. Back-to-back Sharapova forehand errors gifted Wozniacki the early break for a 3-1 lead. Despite the setback, Sharapova came roaring back to level 4-4. Illustrating the level of tennis that had previously taken her all the way to world No.1.

Continuing to gain momentum, Sharapova went on to break the Dane for a second time to have an opportunity to serve for the opening set. Doing so with the help of a mistimed Wozniacki backhand smashing into the net. Fighting for the 6-4 lead, Sharapova achieved her objective on her third set point after smashing a clean forehand winner down the line.

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A erratic patch of play from Sharapova that featured an array of errors rewarded Wozniacki three consecutive games at the start of set number two. However, she was  unable to capitalize on her advantage as Sharapova rallied back to 3-3 with the help of some deep and heavy hitting. Unlike the first set, Wozniacki continued to press and benefit from the mounting mistakes from her opponent  as she forced the match into a decider. Much to the frustration of her opponent.

Despite the setback, Sharapova refused to be denied the chance of reaching the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time since 2016. Seven games into the decisive set, she got the breakthrough she has been long after. Slamming another forehand winner to break for 4-3. Prompting an animated Sharapova to scream ‘come on’ out of excitement. From that moment on, a disappointed Wozniacki looked defeated on the court. Enabling Sharapova to battle towards the finish line.

“The experience is priceless, but you still have to work for it. The girl on the other side is just as much as experienced.” Said Sharapova, who now leads Wozniacki 7-4 in their head-to-head.

Awaiting Sharapova in the fourth round will be home favourite Ashleigh Barty. The 15th seed has progressed to the last 16 of the tournament for the first time in her career after downing Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-1.

“It’s another opportunity for me to go out and test myself against the world’s best.” Barty said ahead of the next round.
“It’s just an opportunity for me to go and test myself against the best.”

Barty has already won seven out of the eight matches she has played this year. Finishing runner-up to Karolina Pliskova in Sydney last week. It will be the second time they have played each other on the tour.

“I think her story is phenomenal. She loves playing here.” Sharapova said of her next opponent. “She did extremely well in Sydney, but just overall has been so consistent.”

Anisimova overpowers Sabalenka

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Elsewhere in the draw, 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka has crashed out after being outplayed by an inspired Amanda Anisimova. The 17-year-old American fired 21 winners and won 80% of her first service to stroll to a 6-3, 6-2, win in just over an hour. Prior to this tournament, the teenager had never won a main draw grand slam match in her career.

“This is an unreal feeling. I can’t believe this is happening right now. I was expecting a really tough match, she is a great player. I really  can’t believe I got through this round.” She said afterwards.
“I’m feeling out here that I’m playing some good tennis.”

Anisimova is currently at a ranking high of 87th in the world. As a junior, she won the 2017 US Open girls’ title before making a successful transition to the professional tour a year later. Last September she reached her first WTA final at the Japan Open.

Reflecting on her run, the American is hoping to emulate her idol Sharapova by winning a grand slam at a young age. Former world No.1 Sharapova was the last teenager to win a major title at the 2006 US Open.

“Maria is someone I looked up to so much. I still look up to her to this day. She’s an amazing athlete and a great person too. I’d definitely want to be the second to win a Slam as a teenager, for sure.” She said in tribute to the Russia.

Anisimova is the youngest player to reach the fourth round of a grand slam since Tamira Paszek in 2007. She is also the youngest American to reach the milestone since Serena Williams at the 1998 French Open.

 

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Leylah Fernandez Overcomes Pavlyuchenkova To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round

It was a tough day at the office for the US Open runner-up.

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Leylah Fernandez (Darren Carroll/USTA)

Leylah Fernandez pulled off one of her famous comebacks in the Californian desert beating the number nine seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 41 minutes.

 

The Canadian hit 24 winners in the win while the Russian hit 46 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth before Fernandez was able to pull through in the end.

“What I am most proud of is the way that I fought and honestly today wasn’t my best performance,” Fernandez said afterwards. “But I fought for every point and I was trying to figure things out. I was proud I was able to find a way to get back in the match and get the win”.

After holding serve in her opening service game the world number 28 started putting the pressure right away on the Russian by getting two early break points but failed to convert.

At 3-3, it was Fernandez facing the pressure on her serve and the world number 13 had four looks at a breakpoint. On the fourth the Canadian cracked and double-faulted for the first break of serve of the match.

The Russian lead didn’t last long as the Canadian responded right away in the following game and the next four games went with breaks of serve as both players were struggling to hold serve.

Pavlyuchenkova eventually served for the set at 6-5 and was able to serve it out to take a 7-5 lead.

Pavlyuchenkova carried the momentum into the second set and broke Fernandez’s serve in the first game of the set but at 2-1 got broken once again and the set went back on serve.

It stayed on serve until 4-3 when Fernandez managed to get the crucial break of serve and that was enough for her to serve out the second set.

The first four games of the third set went on serve and at 2-2 again it was the Montreal native earning a breakpoint and breaking once again and despite facing pressure from the Russian was able to serve out the match.

After the match in her on-court interview, Fernandez was asked about all the support she has been getting recently and what it means to her to play on such a big stage.

“I got goosebumps,’ she said. “I was super excited to play here in Indian Wells for the first time and to play in a stadium where so many legends played who fought and won so it’s an honor to be here. I can’t wait to play my next match”.

Fernandez will next face the American Shelby Rogers in the round of 16 on Tuesday after she beat the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-0, 6-2.

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Bianca Andreescu Begins Indian Wells Title Defense With Rollercoaster win

The Canadian began her title defense from 2019 with a three-set win over her American opponent.

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Reigning Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu is into the third round after a epic two-hour and 48 battle with Alison Riske which she eventually won 7-6, 5-7, 6-2.

 

” I’m very happy to be back and I felt all the emotions coming back here to Indian Wells, especially stepping on this court and it honestly feels awesome”. Said Andreescu.

The Toronto native fired 30 winners in a match that went back and forth in the last match on Stadium court.

The first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Canadian with the first two chances of the match to break and she was able to get the first break of serve in the match but failed to consolidate and Riske broke back the following game.

Andreescu had another chance at 3-3 but was snuffed by the world number 51 and the first set was decided by a tiebreaker. In that breaker, the number 16 seed jumped out to a 4-2 lead which was enough to take the first set.

After holding in her opening service game the Canadian had three chances for an early break in the second set but the American was able to save all three and held serve.

At 2-1, the world number 21 had two more chances and with a return winner on double break point she took a 3-1 lead and this time was able to consolidate the break and hold serve.

At 4-2, the world number 51 attempted a comeback and after earning two breakpoints of her own broke back to put the set back on serve but at 5-4 the Canadian had two match points but the American saved both.

At 5-5, Riske had two more breakpoints and managed to get the crucial break of serve and serve out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

The number 16 seed was keen on getting the early lead in the third set and she did just that to take a 2-0 lead and at 4-1 managed to turn her break into a double break and served out the match.

After the match in her on-court interview, Andreescu was asked what had happened in the second set and how she was able to respond in the third set.

” She played very well, I honestly had no idea what happened and she picked up her level while I kinda stayed the same,” she said. “Then I had to refocus for the third set and I had to change my tactics a little bit and it helped”.

Andreescu is now lifetime 8-0 in Indian Wells dating back to 2019 when she won and is still the current defending champion. She will take that record into her next match where she will face Anett Kontaveit.

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Aryna Sabalenka Out Of Indian Wells After Positive COVID Test

Sabalenka is the latest player to be ruled out of a tournament after testing positive for the virus.

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Aryna Sabalenka returns a shot during a Women's Doubles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka says she is ‘looking OK’ after confirming she has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

The Belarussian was set to be the top seed at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells which will get underway next week after Ash Barty withdrew from the draw. It is not known as to if Sabalenka is currently experiencing any symptoms at present or when exactly she tested positive for the virus. She hasn’t played on the Tour since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last month.

Unfortunately I’ve tested positive at Indian Wells and won’t be able to compete,” Sabalenka wrote in an Instagram story.
“I’ve started my isolation and I’ll be staying here until I’m cleared by the doctors and health officials.
“So far I’m looking OK but really sad to not be able to play this year.”

It is unclear if the 23-year-old has received a COVID vaccination after she previously expressed caution over receiving one. During the Miami Open in March Sabalenka told reporters she was concerned about how quickly the vaccine has been produced and the effects it might have on her body.

“So far I don’t really trust it. It’s tough to say, but I don’t really want mine yet, actually, and I don’t want my family have it,” she said. “I will think about this. I mean, if I will have to do it, then of course I have to do it, because our life is a travel life and I think we are the ones who actually should make it. But I will see.”

In recent months tennis’ governing bodies have been urging their players to get vaccinated but some such as Sabalenka are still hesitant. On the other hand, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has previously called for the vaccine to be made mandatory on the Tour.

So far this season Sabalenka has achieved a win-loss record of 42-14 and has reached the semi-finals at her two most recent Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the US Open). She has won two titles in Abu Dhabi at the start of the season and then Madrid in May. Sabalenka also reached the final of another tournament in Stuttgart.

Replacing Sabalenka as the top seed in Indian Wells will be Karolina Pliskova who is a two-time semi-finalist in the tournament.

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