Petra Kvitova beats Angelique Kerber to cruise through to the semifinal in Sydney - UBITENNIS
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Petra Kvitova beats Angelique Kerber to cruise through to the semifinal in Sydney

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Number 5 seed Petra Kvitova cruised past defending champion Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-1 in one hour and 23 minutes to reach the semifinal at the Sydney International.

The match finished around 11.30pm local time after it was interrupted by rain more times. The match was suspended early in the first set. The two players returned to the court several hours later, but rain started falling again.

Kerber got the first break of the match in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, when Kvitova made a forehand error. The German player earned two chances for a double break in the seventh game, but Kvitova converted her third break-back chance in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4, when Kerber made a forehand error. Kvitova earned a set point on return with a forehand error and broke for the second consecutive time in the 10th game after a forced error to close out the first set 6-4 with her fourth consecutive winning game.

Kerber stopped the losing streak by holding serve in the first game of the second set. Kvitova earned three break points in the fourth game. Kerber saved them, but Kvitova converted her fourth chance with a forehand down the line return winner. In the sixth Kerber fended off three break points from 0-40 down, but Kvitova earned her fourth chance after a double fault. The Czech player got her double break for 5-1 and served out the match at 15 with a service winner in the seventh game setting up a semifinal match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who beat Kvitova at Wimbledon 6-4 4-6 6-0 at Wimbledon last summer.

Kvitova now leads 7-6 in her 13 head-to-head matches. She is bidding to win her second Sydney International title four years after her first triumph in 2015.

 “It was worth the wait to get back on court. The weather has not been great this week and it’s not easy to wait for the matches  when they are interrupted. I am glad I was glad to get back on court and play well. I have a tough opponent tomorrow. I lost to her at Wimbledon, so I am not thinking further than that. I am going step by step”, said Petra Kvitova in the post match interview.

In other matches Sasnovich beat Timea Bacsinszky 6-3 6-3, while Ashleigh Barty followed up her wins over Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko with  a 6-3 6-3 win over last year’s Australian Open semifinalist and number 10 seed Elise Mertens.

Mertens got the first break in the third game for 2-1, but Barty won four consecutive games to open up a 5-2 lead with two breaks in the fourth and sixth games. Barty fended off a break-back point and served out the first set at 30 in the ninth game. Barty earned two break points in the first game of the second set, but Mertens saved them to hold serve. The Australian player got the first break of the second set in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Mertens broke straight back in the sixth game, but Barty reeled off the final three games with two consecutive breaks to seal the second set 6-3 after 1 hour and 17 minutes.

Barty will face Kiki Bertens, who beat Yulia Putintseva 6-2 6-2 in 61 minutes. Bertens dropped just eight points on serve and never faced a break point. The Dutch player converted four of her five break points.

“It was important to try and get ahead in games today. Elise is a great front runner I knew I had to try and take control of those first two or three points in games to give myself a chance. One sloppy game from me on serve in the second set was probably the only blemish”, said Barty.  

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WATCH: Fans Fight Over Aryna Sabalenka’s Headband Before Security Takes Item Away

Watch the moment two tennis fans lose it over a headband!

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It is traditional for a player to celebrate their victory by throwing some of their unwanted items into the crowd. However, at the Australian Open Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka got more than she bargained for.

The 11th seed moved into the third round of the tournament on Wednesday following a 6-3, 6-4, win over Great Britain’s Katie Boulter. Recording her seventh win of the season. Shortly after her victory, she threw her headband into the crowd at the Melbourne Arena. Inadvertently creating a tug of war between two stubborn tennis fans. Resulting in them both being escorted off the premises!

https://twitter.com/JeddZetzer/status/1085438472863633408

Following the both bizarre and funny showdown between the two spectators, many are wondering who the winner was. Ironically, it was neither. According to Sporting News, security escorted both women away and then took the item from them as they couldn’t agree as to who should get it.

I guess you can’t win them all!

The two ladies involved in the tussle (image via https://twitter.com/standardsport)

 

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Kiki Bertens knocked out by Pavlyuchenkova

Pavlyuchenkova earned a big win over 9th seed Bertens, while Sasnovich also stunned 20th seed Kontaveit.

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Kiki Bertens became the highest seeded casualty in the women’s draw so far when she lost an entertaining three-set encounter 3-6 6-3 6-3 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The Dutchwoman, 27, had her best-ever year on the WTA tour in 2018. She won three titles, including the Premier 5 event in Cincinnati, but she will not back up those successes with a good run in Melbourne.

In the first set, Bertens looked comfortable as she broke Pavlyuchenkova twice to establish a 5-1 lead. However, the Russian gained a foothold in the match when she earned her first break in the seventh game.

Pavlyuchenkova built on that momentum in the second set when she went 3-0 up thanks to an early break. And she continued to serve impressively to level the match at one-set all.

The decider was more unpredictable. The Russian broke in the first game, but her Dutch opponent responded with an immediate break back.

However, Pavlyuchenkova’s groundstrokes looked in excellent working order by this stage and she used them to great effect to break Bertens twice more in the fifth and ninth games to take the set 6-3 and clinch a superb win.

“I’m really happy with the win and the way I played today,” the Russian said in her post-match interview. “She is a very tough opponent so that is a great win for me.”

Sasnovich shocks Kontaveit

Pavlyuchenkova’s opponent in round three will be another seed-killer after Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat 20th seed Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-3.

The Belarussian claimed a headline-grabbing win over Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon last year and she is in scintillating form so far in 2019.

Sasnovich, 24, reached the quarter-final in Brisbane and the semi-final in Sydney and she has carried that momentum into the Australian Open.

She thrashed former Grand Slam semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-1 in the first round and then beat Kontaveit almost as convincingly.

Stephens, Garcia and Martic advance

Sloane Stephens had no such trouble in her match against Timea Babos. She beat the Hungarian 6-3 6-1 to set up a third round meeting with Petra Martic, who took out Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 7-5.

Caroline Garcia also looks to be in good form. She backed up a first-round victory over qualifier Jessika Ponchet with a 6-3 6-3 win over Australian wildcard Zoe Hives.

 

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Naomi Osaka takes straight set win to cruise through to the second round

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Last year’s US Open champion and number 4 seed Naomi Osaka beat Magda Linette 6-4 6-2 in 58 minutes to cruise through to the second round at the Australian Open.

Osaka avenged her 6-2 3-6 6-3 defeat against Linette, who won their most recent defeat in the second round at Washington last summer.

The US-based Japanese player claimed four breaks of serve and hit 30 winners to just 16 unforced errors.

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games to draw level to 2-2. Osaka earned her second consecutive break in the fifth game to take  a 3-2 lead and held three consecutive service games at love to close out the opening set 6-4. The Japanese player held his service games in his service games and got two breaks in the third and seventh games to close out the second set 6-2.

Osaka won 24 of her 25 points behind her first serve and fired six aces.

The 21-year-old Japanese player will take on Tamara Zidansek, who stunned Daria Gavrilova 7-5 6-3 in her debut at the Australian Open.

“I had a lot of fun. It’s not often that I get to play a night match at Rod Laver. For me it was the first time. I did not feel nervous either, which was a bit unexpected. I thought that I would, being that it’s the first match. I just felt like I had a lot of fun today. For me it was more a test. I was testing myself on how well I can move”,said Osaka.

This year’s Brisbane International champion Karolina Pliskova broke serve four times and dropped her serve twice to cruise past her compatriot Karolina Muchova 6-3 6-2.

Elina Svitolina dropped just three games in her 6-1 6-2 win over Viktorija Golubic with five breaks of serve.

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