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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Angelique Kerber wins all-German clash against Andrea Petkovic in Stuttgart

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Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber beat her compatriot Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4 to reach the quarter final at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

 

Kerber, who won two consecutive editions of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in 2015 and 2016, earned a break in the first game, but Petkovic broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Petkovic earned two break point chances at 2-1, but Kerber fended them off to hold serve for 2-2.

Kerber won four consecutive games from 2-2 to close out the first set 6-2 with a service winner.

Kerber earned her first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2, but Petkovic broke straight back to draw level to 3-3.

Kerber got the decisive break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead after a double fault from Petkovic. Both players went on serve in the next three games. Kerber served out the win on her fourth match point to reach the fifth quarter final of her career in Stuttgart. Kerber beat Petkovic for the seventh time in their nine head-to-head matches.

In the quarter final Kerber will face Kiki Bertens, who rallied from one set down to beat Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4.

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Naomi Osaka Retains Number One Ranking With Victory Over Hsieh

Naomi Osaka maintained her grip on the World No.1 ranking with a serene straight-sets victory over Su-Wei Hsieh in Stuttgart.

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Naomi Osaka (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Naomi Osaka ensured she will remain the World No.1 next week with a comfortable 6-4 6-3 win over Su-Wei Hsieh at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

 

The Japanese player, who went to the top of the rankings for the first time when she won the Australian Open in January, can now no longer be overhauled by Petra Kvitova at this event.

Osaka achieved victory over her opponent from Chinese Taipei with a minimum of fuss. She did this by serving well throughout and digging in to survive one tricky service game early in the opening set.

Consequently, the World No.1 only needed to break Hsieh twice in the match. In the first set, she broke in the fifth game. In the second set, she broke to love in the first game.

Osaka nearly earned another break in game three, but the World No.24 hung on to keep the set reasonably competitive.

Although she did not require another break, the Japanese player achieved one anyway in the ninth game of the second set to polish off a routine win in just 86 minutes.

“I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself for the first few tournaments (after becoming World No.1) and that was the hardest thing to deal with,” Osaka said in her on-court interview. “But now I’m really having fun and enjoying myself a lot.”

The Japanese player will take on Donna Vekic in the quarter-finals. The Croatian dispatched Daria Kasatkina 6-1 7-5.

Bertens ousts Bencic to reach last eight

Kiki Bertens (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Kiki Bertens fought back from a set down to beat Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4 and book her place in the quarter-finals.

The Dutchwoman, 27, is one of the best clay court players in the world. She has won five titles on the surface and reached two other finals. However, she has never been past the first round in Stuttgart before this week.

In her encounter with Bencic, Bertens’ serve made all the difference. She hit 20 aces and won an extraordinary 88% of points behind her first serve.

This meant the Swiss player was never able to put any sustained pressure on the World No.7’s serve. She only earned three break points in the whole match.

To her credit, Bencic seized the first two of these to gain the only break of the opening set and then go a break up immediately in the second set.

However, when her level dropped in the second game, Bertens broke straight back. And from that moment on, the Dutchwoman barely allowed the World No.20 to get a racket on any of her first serves.

Consequently, Bertens needed just two breaks of serve from that point on to win the match. She got the first in game eight of the second set and the second in game five of the decider. The World No.7 will now play either Angelique Kerber or Andrea Petkovic in the last eight.

Elsewhere in Stuttgart, Anastasija Sevastova overcame Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash with Petra Kvitova and Anett Kontaveit beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-2.

 

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Anett Kontaveit Takes Down Garcia In Stuttgart

Anett Kontaveit started her clay court campaign in style with a straight-sets win over Caroline Garcia at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

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Anett Kontaveit (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Anett Kontaveit continued her excellent recent form with a 6-4 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

 

It was the ideal start to the clay court season for the Estonian, 23, who produced some of the best tennis of her career in her recent run to the semi-final of the Miami Open.

Despite her form, Kontaveit is under pressure this week in Germany. She has a lot of ranking points to defend after reaching the semi-final last year.

“The beginning was a little bit shaky for me but I love playing here and I really got into it,” the Estonian reflected in her on-court interview after the match.

Kontaveit’s early nerves handed Garcia four break points in her first three service games. However, the Frenchwoman failed to seize any of those opportunities.

She paid dearly for those failures. The Estonian earned a break in the seventh game and then won two service games to love to take the first set 6-4.

Garcia responded well to her disappointment initially. She held to love at the beginning of the second set. She then earned two break points in the next game.

But once again she failed to capitalise on those chances. And once again she was punished, as Kontaveit won her next three service games with ease.

This enabled the Estonian to put massive pressure on the Frenchwoman’s serve. That pressure led to consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games which got Kontaveit over the line by a 6-3 margin in the second set. She will now play either Julia Goerges or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round.

Bencic sets up exciting Bertens clash

Belinda Bencic (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic beat Mandy Minella 6-2 6-4 to book a intriguing second-round meeting with Kiki Bertens.

The Swiss, 22, has lost both of her previous matches against the Dutchwoman, so this encounter will be a good test of how much she has improved since those defeats.

Bencic is enjoying a superb year so far. She won a Premier title in Dubai and reached semi-finals in Indian Wells and Hobart. She also advanced to the quarter-final of her most recent tournament in Charleston.

These results have propelled the Swiss player up from 55 to 20 in the world rankings. She is currently fifth in the Race to Shenzhen.

Bencic will be joined in round two by Victoria Azarenka, who overcame Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-4, Donna Vekic, who earned a 6-1 7-5 win over qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone, and Su-Wei Hsieh, who fought back from a set down to beat Wang Qiang 4-6 6-3 6-4.

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