Petra Kvitova Ends Halep’s Reign At No.1 With Win Over Barty At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Petra Kvitova Ends Halep’s Reign At No.1 With Win Over Barty At Australian Open

The world No.6 has roared her way into the semi-finals at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2012.

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Petra Kvitova is in contention of claiming the world No.1 ranking on Monday after downing home favourite Ashleigh Barty 6-1, 6-4, in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

 

The world No.6 produced a dominant display against her 22-year-old rival, who previously took a break from tennis to embark upon a cricket career before returning. The Czech went out guns blazing from the onset as she fired 25 winners past Barty and won 67% of her service points. Overcoming a late surge from Barty to seal a place in the last four of a major for the first time since the 2014 Wimbledon Championships.

“It was a great match.” Kvitova said afterwards. “I started very well, I served well, I took the first break and I think from that moment I had the upper hand.’
“In the second (set) she came back. Didn’t give me anything for free and I had to fight until the end.”

Kvitova had previously never lost to her Australian rival coming into the match after claiming all of their three previous meetings. She continued that dominance during what was a one-sided opening set. The two-time Wimbledon champion blasted the ball around the court as she roared to a 6-1 lead in just 28 minutes. Silencing the usually loud crowd on the Rod Laver Arena by winning 30 out of the 47 points played.

Despite her early dominance, Kvitova remained cautious of the threat she faced. Less than two weeks ago, she edged Barty out in a three-set epic at the Sydney International. Barty had a duo of chances to break the Kvitova serve in set number two, but came up short. On her first attempt at 1-0 in the Australian’s favour, Kvitova slammed a 170 km/h ace down the line to save break point and level 1-1. Two games later it was with the help of a another speedy serve that set her up for a forehand winner that denied Barty.

Kvitova’s resilience behind her serve eventually wore down her opponent. A forehand shot from her opponent landed beyond the baseline to hand her the break and a chance to serve the match out at 6-1, 5-4. Tasked with booking a place in the last four at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2012, Kvitova cruised to victory. Sealing it with the help of another Barty mis-hit.

“She has a great slice backhand and can really mix it up. I needed to be very low to hit it (the ball) as I could to not really give her a chance to play her game. That’s what I tried.” Kvitova said about the tactics she used against Barty.

Awaiting the 28-year-old is the semi-finals will be underdog Danielle Collins. A player who had never won a grand slam main draw match prior to this tournament. It will be the second meeting between the two this year after Brisbane. On that occasion Kvitova prevailed 6-7(6) 7-6(6) 6-3, during what was a marathon first round encounter.

“It was over three hours, but hopefully it will be less here (in Melbourne).” Kvitova joked. “She doesn’t have the experience, but on the other hand, she is fearless and plays very aggressively.
“I remember the match from Brisbane, it was really up and down. I need to play better this time.”

As a result of the win, Simona Halep will lose her world No.1 ranking on Monday. A position she has held continuously for almost 11 months. Kvitova has a shot at claiming the top spot along with Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova. In Kvitova’s case, she needs to finish at least one round ahead of Osaka to reach top spot. On top of that, if she faces either Svitolina or Pliskova in the final, she will need to win the title. The Czech has been ranked as high as two in the world before.

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Former Tennis Star Reveals 2016 Retirement Was Linked To 18-Month Ban

The former world No.66 says she was suspended from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player following one of her matches.

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Ekaterina Bychkova (image via Wikicommons)

A top 100 player who stunned Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of the 2005 US Open when she was the defending champion has made a shock revelation about the reason why she retired from the sport.

 

Ekaterina Bychkova, who peaked at a ranking high of 66th in her career, was a familiar face on the women’s Tour that played in 15 Grand Slam main draws between 2005-2011. During her career, she won 10 ITF singles titles and five in the doubles. She hung up her racket in 2016 after playing one qualifying match in St Petersburg but the decision to retire wasn’t entirely her choice.

In a recent interview Bychkova revealed for the first time she was slammed with a 18-month suspension from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player. The incident took place following her match against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova at an ITF $100,000 event in Nanjing, China.

“In the third set Kuchova began to suffer from convulsions (cramps). But according to the rules, you cannot call a doctor for convulsions and you cannot lie on the court for five minutes. However, she lay on the court for several minutes, then the supervisor came, who said that it was not a seizure, which means that a break was needed. He clearly sympathized with her,” she said during an interview with website Bookmaker Ratings.
“Kuchova returned to the match and immediately began to serve powerfully, kick the ball and move well. She was released psychologically, but on the contrary, I was shackled.”

A furious Bychkova ended up losing the first round match 7-5, 6-7(1), 3-6, to Kucova who is currently ranked 149th in the world. Although the incident between the two players didn’t take place on the court. It occurred later on that day when they crossed paths again.

“I was asked to take a walk for 20-30 minutes. Suddenly this beauty floats past me, cheerful. I broke down and started a fight,” she said.
“Two days later, the supervisor announced to me that our fight was on camera. It was a hostel on the court grounds, not an official hotel, and in fact the fight did not take place on the territory of the tournament.”

Reflecting on her actions, which was caught on CCTV, the Russian says they were in no way justifiable and she regrets how she reacted. Not only did she end up with a 18-month ban from the sport, she was also fined $3,150.

At the time Bychkova said she had the option to appeal the decision but opted not to do so because she didn’t want to go through the process of hiring lawyers and travelling to London for an ITF hearing. Claiming that the fight didn’t actually occur on the tournament site but at a hostel located on the surrounding grounds. She also said her decision to not to appeal was because she was ‘tired of tennis.’

Now at the age of 35 she has decided to give playing professional tennis another go. This week she played her first match in five years at an ITF event in Moscow where she lost in the first round to world No.611 Anastasia Tikhonova.

There has been no public comment from Kucova regarding Bychkova’s account of what happened in China.

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Naomi Osaka Dedicates Latest Grand Slam Win To Those Affected By Hardship

The tennis star has issued a statement to her fans in Japan and around the world following her latest triumph.

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Naomi Osaka hopes her Australian Open victory will help inspire tennis fans around the world as she aims to continue her surge in form on the Tour.

 

The world No.2 clinched her fourth Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park on Saturday after defeating Jennifer Brady in straight sets to clinch her 21st consecutive win on the Tour. At the tournament she also scored wins over former world No.1 players Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams. She is the first woman to have won her first four major finals played since Monica Seles during the 1990s.

In the wake of her latest triumph, the 23-year-old issued a statement through her management company in which she said her win is dedicated to those still recovering from the 2011 Japan earthquake.

“I would like to thank everyone in Japan for their continued warm support,” she said. “Since I heard there was another large quake in Japan recently, I also want to dedicate this win to those whose lives have still yet to be fully put back together following the ravages of the Great East Earthquake and Tsunami.”

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami devastated the country on March 11th with more than 15,000 people being killed. It also caused the worst nuclear accident in Japan’s history after a reactor released radioactive material. Last week a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the same region in what scientists described as an ‘aftershock’ from 10 years ago.

Continuing her tribute to those who have faced difficult times, Osaka has also dedicated her victory to those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s Australian Open took place under strict rules with all players having to go through a 14-day quarantine upon aerial into the country.

“Seeing as we are still contending with the coronavirus on a daily basis, I would like to dedicate this victory to the people around the world who are doing what they can to help us escape its shadow,” she continued in her statement.
“Although there has been a lot of sad news lately regarding the coronavirus and earthquakes, I think that we need to remember the importance of life and have an open heart to help one another in times like these.”

Given her recent dominance on the Tour, Osaka has been backed for even more future glory in the future with Mats Wilander saying she will win at least 10 major titles. Something has only ever been achieved by five women in the Open Era. However, Osaka insists that she will not be thinking too far ahead.

“I like to take things not big-picture. For me, I like to live in the moment,” she explains.
It’s an honour that he said that, of course. But I don’t want to weigh myself down with pressure and expectations.
“I know that the people that I’m playing against are the best players in the world, and, you know, if my time comes to win another Grand Slam, it will come.
“But for right now I can only control what I can control, and that’s working hard and giving myself opportunities.”

Osaka is only the fourth active player to have won a quartet of major titles after the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters.

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Naomi Osaka Downs Brady For Fourth Grand Slam Title

Naomi Osaka won her second Australian Open title with a straight sets win over Jennifer Brady.

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Naomi Osaka (@BJKCup - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka won her fourth grand slam title after a 6-4 6-3 win over Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open final.

 

Osaka was too good for the first time grand slam finalist as she prevailed in a relatively comfortable straight sets win.

The victory means it is her fourth grand slam title, second Australian Open victory and now 21 wins in a row.

It was easy to tell who was the more experienced player under these circumstances as Osaka settled into the match quickly with two aces contributing to a love hold.

As for the American, she needed a bit longer to settle in a grand slam final with a 29% first serve percentage in her first two service games.

That is not going to get it done in a grand slam final as two double faults in the fourth game handed the break to the 2019 champion for a 3-1 lead.

However the American didn’t get to her first grand slam final without a bit of resilience and some nice forehands mixed with some sloppy Osaka play , saw Brady break straight back.

As the forehand gained consistent power and shape, the backhand was also good in attacking situations as she forced the third seed to use some difficult angles from static court positions.

This match turned into an enjoyable contest with Brady hitting some amazing shots to get the Rod Laver Arena crowd into the match.

After a gritty hold from break point down, Osaka used her champion qualities to rally from 40-15 down to break and take the first set 6-4 after an easy forehand into the net from Brady.

The momentum was now firmly with Osaka as she looked more and more confident on return as she continued to use the angles and deep shot-making to force the errors from Brady.

Although the American tried to be aggressive as possible, there was no control when constructing points against a dominant Osaka.

Two breaks of serve in quick and convincing fashion saw a 4-0 lead as a second Australian Open title was in sight.

A mini fight back, saw Brady restore some competitiveness in the contest, with some good serving and controlled aggression from the baseline as the score was reduced to 4-2.

However, unable to take advantage of a half-opportunity in the next game, it wasn’t to be Brady’s day.

Winning two of the next three games, a forehand unforced error from Brady sealed Osaka’s fourth grand slam title and second Australian Open.

It is now 21 victories in a row since the Cincinnati tournament in New York last year.

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