Serena Williams comes back from one set down to beat Belinda Bencic in the Hopman Cup in Perth - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams comes back from one set down to beat Belinda Bencic in the Hopman Cup in Perth

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Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams fought back from a slow start to beat Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-4 6-3 in the second singles match of the Hopman Cup in Perth to keep alive US hopes after their defeat against Greece in Monday’s first tie.

 

Williams played her second singles match since her defeat against Naomi Osaka in the US Open final in New York last September. Yesterday she beat Greek Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-3) 7-2 in her inaugural match. In the first matches Switzerland beat Great Britain, while a Greek team led by Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari beat the USA.

The US legend got an early break to race out to a 4-1 lead but Bencic reeled off five consecutive games to close out the first set 6-4. Williams bounced back in the second set and got the crucial break in the 10th game to win it 6-4 forcing the match to the decisive set after Bencic made three unforced errors. Williams earned an early break to win the third set 6-3.

“It’s a relief. She played really well but I knew that I could play better”, said Williams in the post match interview.

Federer and Bencic win the “battle of legends” mixed doubles match: 

In the eagerly awaited “battle of the legends” mixed doubles match Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic clinched the second win for Switzerland with a 4-2 4-3 victory over Serena Williams and Frances Tiafoe in just 46 minutes. The defending champions from Switzerland broke Tiafoe in the fifth game thanks to a return winner from Bencic. Federer held serve at love to wrap up the opening set a few minutes later. Federer and Bencic fended off a break point in the fourth game of the second set before sealing the tie-break 5-3 after Federer hit a volley. Federer and Willams won a combined 43 Grand Slam titles.

Switzerland will take on Greece in the last match of the round round stage.

“I am kind of sad it’s over. It was so fun to do this at the pinnacle of our careers. The guy is great. He is the greatest of all time. He has a killer serve. I have watched him all the time but I never realised how good it was. Maybe I could get some tips from him later on”, said Serena Williams in the post match interview.

“It was great fun I really enjoyed playing against Serena. I was nervous returning because people talk about her serve so much. I know why they say it now. She has a wonderful serve. She is a great champion. You see how focused she is and I love that about her”, said Federer. 

Fed Cup

Australia Down Belarus In Thriller To End 26-Year Wait For Fed Cup Final

It is joy for the Aussies and heartbreak for Belarus in Brisbane.

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The Australian Fed Cup team (photo via https://twitter.com/FedCup)

The Australian duo of Ashleigh Barty and Sam Stosur has guided their country into the final of the Fed Cup for the first time since 1993 after a dramatic final day of their clash with Belarus.

 

Australia, who last won the team competition back in 1974, was pushed to their limits at the Pat Rafter Arena with the final match of the tie deciding their fate. After day one, they were held at 1-1 by Belarus. A team compromising of two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka and world No.10 Aryna Sabalenka.

Barty gave the home favourites an initial 2-1 advantage after she disposed of Sabalenka 6-2, 6-2. A player who she lost to twice during the second half of the 2018 season. However, Azarenka revived Belarus’ chances immediately with an emphatic 6-1, 6-1, win over tour veteran Stosur. Making it her first victory in the competition since 2016.

With all to play for, it was the doubles match that separated the two. During a roller coaster encounter, Barty and Stosur prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, over their rivals. Breaking twice in the decider on route to securing the overall 3-2 victory.

“It’s just super-exciting now to be in the Fed Cup final,” Stosur told fedcup.com afterwards. “All the girls, we work so hard throughout the year, and we really stick together as a team, Fed Cup weeks or not Fed Cup weeks. We’ve always got each others back, so to be in the Fed Cup final not I think a great reward for both of us, and we’re going to give it our best shot here in November.”

Team captain Alicia Molik has hailed the performance of her team. This year was the first time Australia has contested a semi-final of the competition since 2014. The country ranks third on the all-time list for more trophies won, but have failed to gain success in recent decades.

“It was just an incredible weekend,” Australian captain Molik reflected.
“We hadn’t exactly planned for it to come to the doubles, yet we were prepared. We got to that position, and I was really pleased today with both the outputs of Ash – it was phenomenal tennis out there – and Sam gave it her best.
“You can just see the joy in our faces too – winning that doubles rubber, what it means. We’re now in the final. I’m just so proud.”

In November’s final Australia will play either France or Romania.

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Fed Cup

Yulia Putintseva Saves Three Match Points To Keep Kazakhstan Alive Against Great Britain

Yulia Putintseva once again brought the drama as she saved Kazakhstan from being 2-0 down against Great Britain.

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Yulia Putintseva (@bbctennis - Twitter)

Yulia Putintseva saved three match points to defeat Katie Boulter 3-6 6-2 7-6(6) and level the tie for Kazakhstan against Great Britain.

 

In a match where there were injuries, passion and lots of drama, Putintseva saved three match points to level the tie for Kazakhstan.

Despite having a 4-0 lead in the deciding set, Boulter couldn’t close out the match as Great Britain are pegged back heading into the second day.

Earlier in the day Johanna Konta edged out Zarina Diyas 4-6 6-3 6-2 to give the hosts the lead in their World Group II Play-Off tie.

It was a good start from the Brit as she timed the ball to perfection as the Kazakh had no answers in the opening set. Two breaks at the end of the set sealed a positive start for Boulter, who was feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm.

However the second set was a very different story as the Brit struggled with a knee injury as Putintseva took a more aggressive approach to proceedings.

Three games in a row against a cautious Boulter saw the world number 38 force a deciding set, which was sealed by an ace.

The final set saw Boulter time the ball exceptionally well again and overpower forehands with some aggressive forehands.

A 4-0 lead seemingly saw the Brit cruising but back came the controversial Kazakh as she managed to rescue one of the breaks of serve.

In nervy circumstances the world number 86 couldn’t hold her nerve when serving for the match at 5-3 as Putintseva pushed to force a final set tiebreak.

After one match point disappearing in the eleventh game, Boulter remained aggressive to create two more chances to seal the match.

But never count out Putintseva and four points in a row thanks to some gutsy play saw the Kazakh take the match in over two and a half hours as Britain sense an opportunity missed.

It is a gutting loss for Britain, who should have a commanding 2-0 lead but instead have been pegged back at 1-1. The match is level after Johanna Konta edged out Zarina Diyas in the first rubber.

After controversy with the Kazakh’s fans trombone and trumpets, the Brit kept her cool to seal a crucial rubber for the hosts.

Tomorrow Johanna Konta will face Yulia Putintseva, with Katie Boulter, if 100%, playing Zarina Diyas. If the singles are once again split, then a deciding doubles rubber will decide the outcome of the tie.

Great Britain are looking to enter the top two tiers of Women’s Tennis for the first time in 28 years.

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Fed Cup

Impressive Barty Puts Australia Back On Track In Brisbane Against Belarus

Ashleigh Barty produced some high-quality tennis to level the tie for Australia against Belarus in their semi-final.

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Ashleigh Barty (@TennisAustralia - Twitter)

Ashleigh Barty once again produced an impressive performance as she defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-6(2) 6-3 to level the tie for Australia. 

 

The Miami Open champion was impressive in the big moments as she levelled the tie for Australia against Belarus in their World Group semi-final.

Despite Azarenka’s resilience and great returning, the 21 year-old from Brisbane held on to seal the victory in front of her home fans.

Earlier in the day Aryna Sabalenka battled past Sam Stosur 7-5 5-7 6-3 in 2 hours and 51 minutes to give Belarus an early lead.

It was a pressure situation for Barty in heavy conditions as she looked to keep Australia’s hopes of reaching a first Fed Cup final since 1993 alive.

Keeping the unforced errors down and powerful returns was the key for the Belarusian to stay competitive in this contest.

However Azarenka’s serve let her down on occasions which allowed Barty to get back into the match in very heavy conditions in Brisbane.

After two breaks of serve each it was the Australian who played a flawless tiebreak to seal the first set and the home favourite only went from strength to strength.

Another three breaks of serve in the second set sealed the victory and set up a fantastic second day of action in this semi-final.

After the match Australian captain Alicia Molik couldn’t have been any prouder of her team’s efforts, “She backs herself in the big moments,” Molik explained to fedcup.com.

“When the occasion is there she’s prepared to play big…. She shone through at the right moments. I’m happy with where we’re sitting in terms of one win all. I thought Sam was brilliant today. That’s all I could have asked from her, I think she put out a great display.”

The earlier match saw Aryna Sabalenka battle past a gritty Sam Stosur in nearly three hours as she gave the Belarusians the early lead.

This means that day two is set up perfectly as world number nine Ashleigh Barty will face world number ten Aryna Sabalenka in the first match tomorrow.

Daria Gavrilova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich may be brought into the fourth rubber before a doubles rubber will decide who reaches the Fed Cup Final.

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