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.

 

WTA

Madison Keys Collects Cincinnati Trophy With Battling Win Over Kuznetsova

Madison Keys capped an outstanding week by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets to take home the Cincinnati title.

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Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

Madison Keys claimed the biggest title of her career by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5 7-6(5) in the Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati.

 

It was an amazing week for the American, particularly as she had only won one match in the last two months leading up the event.

The World No.18 referenced this lack of form when she thanked her team for their help and said to them, “If you told me a week ago this was where I would be, I would have laughed in your face.”

Conditions were slower for the final than they had been in previous rounds due to the high levels of humidity in the air, and Keys struggled to adjust initially. She dropped her serve in the opening game and fell 3-1 behind.

However, the American gradually began to adapt. She almost broke in game six, held off three break points in game seven and then eventually got the break she needed in game ten thanks to intelligent point construction and typically ferocious hitting.

With her confidence restored, Keys held easily to move 6-5 ahead. She then capitalised on some weak serving from Kuznetsova to break again and clinch the opening set.

Keys fights back again in the second set

Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

To the Russian’s credit, she responded well to her disappointment. She manoeuvred the American around the court and drew several errors from her racket to open up a 3-1 lead once again.

Keys did not panic. She hit a series of trademark winners during three excellent service games that enabled her to stay in touch with Kuznetsova at 5-4.

Unfortunately for the Russian, she seemed just as nervous when she served for the second set as she had been in the first. She did not make many first serves or put the American under much pressure with her groundstrokes. This produced a predictable result: another break of serve for the World No.18.

Keys survived a break point on her serve to make it 6-5. Then Kuznetsova steadied herself to hold comfortably and avoid losing four games in a row as she did in the opener.

After five routine points in the tie-break, the American earned a mini-break to go 4-2 up. She hit a deep backhand and the Russian could do nothing more than hit it into the net.

Keys maintained her two-point advantage to set up two championship points at 6-4. On the second, she sealed glory with a powerful serve that Kuznetsova found too hot to handle.

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Grand Slam

Carlos Ramos Won’t Umpire Serena Williams’ US Open Matches Following Infamous Clash

They two will be kept apart, but will it be enough to stop people talking about their previous confrontation?

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23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos will be kept apart during the US Open following their high-profile spat at the tournament 12 months ago.

 

During the final of the US Open last year, controversy erupted when Ramos issued Williams with a violation for receiving coaching from the stands. Something which is prohibited in grand slam tennis. A livid Williams denied any wrongdoing immediately after. Suggesting the decision was sexist before calling the official a ‘liar’ and a ‘thief.’ In total, Williams was hit with three violations that resulted in a game penalty.

Stacy Allaster, who is the president of the USTA, has confirmed that Ramos will not be allowed to officiate Williams or her sister’s Venus’ matches during the grand slam. Saying that she didn’t want to cause a ‘distraction.’ This decision is said to be applied only to the 2019 tournament.

“We don’t need to go there,” Allaster told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “There are more than 900 matches here over the three weeks, and there are lots of matches for Carlos to do.”
“We want to be focused on the competition and want to go forward,” she added.

Ramos, who is from Portugal, was never found guilty of doing anything wrong during the match. The International Tennis Federation issued a statement shortly after the incident. In it, they said that Ramos ‘undertook his duties as an official, according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.’

Regardless of the move by the USTA to try and stay clear of the Williams-Ramos incident, it is set to be thrown back into the media spotlight in the coming days. Sports network ESPN will air a documentary called “Serena vs. The Umpire” on Sunday for the first time. It will be narrated by Pulitzer Prize winner Don Van Natta, Jr.

“We’re exploring stories that are unresolved and have layers to them, and that’s certainly the case with what happened at last year’s US Open women’s final,” said John Dahl, Vice President and Executive Producer, ESPN Special Projects and Original Content. “With this and subsequent stories, viewers will follow along with Don on his deep dive for truth.”

The TV program is set to include Patrick Mouratoglou, who is the coach of Williams. Pam Shriver and Chris Evert are also set to feature.

The US Open will get underway on August 26th.

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WTA

Madison Keys Marches Into Cincinnati Final With Win Over Kenin

Madison Keys set up a intriguing final against Svetlana Kuznetsova with an excellent straight-sets win over Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals.

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Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

Madison Keys advanced to her ninth career final with an impressive 7-5 6-4 win over Sofia Kenin at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

The American, 24, has endured a patchy year on the WTA tour. But she found a rich vein of form in the early rounds to defeat Garbine Muguruza, Daria Kasatkina and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.

And by the time Keys set about dispatching Venus Williams in straight sets in the quarter-final, she looked full of confidence.

The World No.18 started in similar fashion against Kenin. She dominated her first two service games and broke the younger American in the fourth game to establish a 3-1 lead. She then held off a couple of break points in game five to increase her advantage to 4-1.

But Kenin is a fighter and she had no intention of giving up on the set. She broke Keys in game nine to make it 5-4 and then saved two break points to level the score.

The older American did not panic. She held serve comfortably and then hit a couple of excellent winners to break the 20-year-old for the second time in the set and take it 7-5.

Keys triumphs in close second set

There were a few momentum swings in the second set. Keys held to love in the first game but dropped her serve during a sloppy third game. Kenin then consolidated the break with a comfortable hold.

In response, the World No.18 fired down three aces as she held serve to love in just 42 seconds. She then unleashed a stream of winners to break the younger American and level the score at 3-3.

Both women played superb return games as they traded breaks to move the score along to 4-4. Then Keys unleashed a series of ferocious groundstrokes to repel a break point and hold for 5-4.

After an intense conversation with her father at the changeover, Kenin looked a bit subdued in game ten. She sent down a weak second serve on the second point which was punished by a backhand winner from the World No.18.

The 20-year-old made a double-fault to slip 15-30 behind. Then she came into the net and could only watch and admire as Keys guided a sublime backhand pass into the opposite service box for a winner that set up two match points.

The World No.18 did not have to wait long to celebrate victory, as an unforced error from Kenin on the next point sealed her win.

Keys will play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. The Russian continued her impressive week with an eye-catching 6-2 6-4 win over World No.2 Ashleigh Barty.

“I’m very happy to be in the final,” the American said. “Sveta has been playing incredibly well. She is a craftier player with a little bit of everything. It will be a pretty difficult match but I’m looking forward to it.”

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