Serena Williams Topples World No.1 Halep To Reach Australian Open Quarters - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Topples World No.1 Halep To Reach Australian Open Quarters

The former world No.1 moves to three wins away from equalling Margaret Court’s all-time grand slam title record.

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16th seed Serena Williams has fired a warning shot to the rest of the draw at the Australian Open after downing world No.1 Simona Halep 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, in the fourth round.

 

Gunning after a record-equalling 24th grand slam title in Melbourne, the 37-year-old went off guns blazing before engaging in an almighty tug of war with her opponent. The pair lit up the Rod Laver Arena with a series of gut-busting baseline rallies that featured numerous angle shots. Williams prevailed with the help of nine aces and 44 winners to progress to the last eight in Melbourne for the 12th time in her career.

“It was a really intense match and there were some incredible points. But, you know, I love playing tennis and I love being out here (on court).” Williams said during her on-court interview.
“It’s really cool to be back out here and playing on this court.”

The highly anticipated clash between two of the top players on the women’s tour turned out to be a Williams annihilation at first. The power of the 23-time grand slam champion overwhelmed Halep as she roared through the first set in just 20 minutes. Making the world No.1 look extremely ordinary. After dropping her opening service game, Williams went on to win six games in a row. Hitting the ball deep towards the baseline and using angle shots to move her opponent around the court. The clinical first set was closed out with a 177 km/h ace out wide from Williams.

Following her comprehensive start, Williams soon encountered some stiff resistance from Halep in set number two. Drawing applause from the Melbourne crowd who were cheering for a competitive match. The Romanian began to capitalize on errors made from across the court as she matched Williams game-by-game.

The resurgence of the top seed eventually rewarded her as she tamed Williams’ aggressiveness on the court. Boasting a 5-4 lead in the second, a double-handed backhand down the line granted Halep break point and the chance to take proceedings into a decider. She was able to seize the moment with the help of a Williams error on the following point. Prompting a mini celebration by Halep.

With a place in the quarter-finals at stake, both women illustrated their highest level of tennis throughout the decider. Williams’ lightning shots was muzzled by some emphatic play from Halep. Six games into the deciding set, Williams fended off a trio of break points during a marathon service game to keep her chances alive. A game later, she secured the break for 4-3 with the help of a Halep forehand slamming into the net. That break was enough as the American rallied towards the finish line. Sealing the win on her first match point after a Halep forehand drifted long.

“I really needed to elevate my game. She’s (Halep) the number one player in the world and there’s a reason why. She’s just a great player.” The 37-year-old reflected about her performance.
“In order to stay out there I had to play a little like I knew I could and I did. I think that was the difference.”

Williams’ reward is a showdown with Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday. The Czech seventh seed crushed Garbine Muguruza in her fourth round match earlier in the day. It will be the fourth meeting between the two with Williams leading their head-to-head 2-1.

“If Serena is playing at her best, then it’s tough because she can serve, put a lot of pressure on her returns, but she can also miss. So we will see.” Pliskova commented about the upcoming match.

The win is Williams’ first over a world No.1 player since Victoria Azarenka at the 2013 Brisbane International.

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Kiki Bertens, Aryna Sabalenka Victorious On Opening Day Of Elite Trophy

The higher ranked players have made a solid start at the penultimate tournament of the 2019 WTA season.

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Kiki Bertens (@MutuaMadridOpen on Twitter)

Top seed Kiki Bertens has kicked-off her campaign at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai with a roller coaster straight sets win over Donna Vekic.

 

Bertens, who hasn’t won a title on the tour since the Madrid Open in May, overcame some testing moments to see off her opponent 7-6(5), 6-2. Extending her head-to-head record against Vekic to 4-3. The Dutch No.1 dropped her serve once in each set on route to victory. Winning 74% of her first service points and converting four out of her seven break point opportunities.

“The first set was really close. We were both fighting for the first set. I think Donna was a little bit injured, but in the second set, I was just trying to get my best from every point and I did that really well.” Bertens said during her on-court interview.

The latest clash between the two was a tale of two halves. To begin, it was Vekic who got off to a better start as she broke right away before the world No.10 clawed her way back to draw level midway through the opener. With little to separate the two, Bertens seized her chance in the tiebreak. Tied at 5-5, she broke the Vekic serve with the help of a clean backhand passing shot for a chance to serve the set out. An opportunity she converted with the help of a forehand error from her opponent.

Clinching the lead, the proceedings were interrupted by a medical time out for Vekic. Who underwent some treatment on her lower back. Upon resumption it was a one-way show with Bertens racing to a set and 5-0 lead. Even a wobble at the very end, where she lost two games in a row, failed to deny the top seed victory.

“I think I went for her shots there and hit a few good returns. My concentration was maybe not there, but I am happy that I could close it (the match) out at 5-2.” Bertens commented about the end to the match.

It is the fourth time Bertens has played Vekic this season. She has won three of those encounters.

Earlier in the day Aryna Sabalenka was another player to make a winning start at the tournament. The fifth seed ousted Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4. Sabalenka saved all five of the break points she faced throughout the 89-minute clash and dropped just four points behind her first serve (24/28).

Sabalenka is playing in the Rose Group of the round-robin tournament, which also features Elise Mertens. Meanwhile Bertens heads the Azalea Group with a clash against Dayana Yastremska lurking in the coming days.

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Kristina Mladenovic Dropped By Coach After Six Months

The 26-year-old reacts to the unexpected departure of her mentor.

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Former top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic has suffered an off-court blow following the departure of her coach Sascha Bajin.

 

The 26-year-old had been working with Bajin since April and has made steady progress on the tour by rising more than 20 places to back inside the world’s top 40. Last Month Mladenovic reached the semi-finals of the Zhengzhou Open, in what was one of her best runs on the WTA Tour this year. During 2019 she has also recorded four wins over top 10 players, including Naomi Osaka when she was No.1 in the world.

It is understood that the departure of Bajin was on his own terms and not of a mutual agreement. Bajin is the former hitting partner of Serena Williams (2008-2015) and help guide Osaka to her two grand slam titles prior to his departure in February. In 2018 he was awarded the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year Award.

“I’m very disappointed about Sasha’s decision not to continue our relationship next season, I enjoyed our work, we had some great wins and I truly felt my game was on the rise again.” Mladenovic wrote on Twitter.
“I think that there was a lot more to achieve together, but I can’t change his opinion and decision. On my side, I am proud of my year and progress and I will keep working hard and build strong to be even better in 2020.”

Last week at the Kremlin Cup Mladenovic reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Belinda Bencic. At the tournament she scored wins over seeded players Anastasija Sevastova and Kiki Bertens. Whilst her season has been mixed, the Frenchwoman believes she has the ability to beat the best players in the world.

“When I put together everything on court I can beat anyone.” She told reporters in Moscow.
“And no matter what the season, no matter what ranking, I always have some upsets here and there but now it is really about coming back in the rankings where I was at my highest. And already this year, I am still not satisfied with my ranking but I have a lot of wins against very good players.”

Mladenovic, who is also a top five doubles player that won the French Open title in June, is currently ranked 39th in the world. She is set set to end the season inside the top 50 for the fifth year in a row.

There has been no information released about who may potentially replace Bajin next year.

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Belinda Bencic ‘Happy’ After Qualifying For WTA Finals In Moscow

Belinda Bencic is delighted after not only reaching the Moscow Final and qualifying for the WTA Finals.

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Belinda Bencic (@usopen - Twitter)

Belinda Bencic expressed her happiness after qualifying for the WTA Finals after a 6-3 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic in Moscow. 

 

The world number 10 had to reach the final before this week started to secure her place in the season-ending finale and that’s what has happened after beating Mladenovic in straight sets.

Hitting 24 winners, Bencic powered past her French opponent to seal her spot at the WTA Finals for the first time in her career.

After the win Bencic is relieved to achieve a goal that she had set at the start of the year, “I’m so happy I reached the top eight,” the Swiss admitted to wtatennis.com.

“It was a huge goal for me this season and so last-minute. I was so nervous before the match, but also reaching the final here tomorrow is amazing. I’m so happy.

“It was such a good level from us. We know each other well so that’s why it was very tactical. I just tried to really focus on myself and keep my emotions under control.”

As a result of Bencic’s qualification, the field for the WTA Finals is set, which starts on the 28th of October:

  1. Ashleigh Barty
  2. Karolina Pliskova
  3. Naomi Osaka
  4. Elina Svitolina
  5. Bianca Andreescu
  6. Simona Halep
  7. Petra Kvitová
  8. Belinda Bencic

The first alternate for the season-ending finale will be Serena Williams, with Kiki Bertens being the second alternate in Shenzhen.

As for Bencic, her week in the Russian capital isn’t done yet as she is set to play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Karolina Muchova in tomorrow’s Kremlin Cup.

Should the 22 year-old win tomorrow she will win her second title of the season following on from her victory in Dubai in February.

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