Simona Halep Downs Kenin In Australian Open Epic To Reach Third Round - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Downs Kenin In Australian Open Epic To Reach Third Round

The Top seed was pushed to her limits as she battled from a back down in the decider during a roller coaster encounter in Melbourne Park.

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World No.1 Simona Halep has survived a massive scare at the Australian Open after outlasting Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, in the second round.

 

Seeking her second grand slam title in Melbourne, it was expected that Halep could experience a stern test against the American. Kenin defeated two top 10 players in 2018 and won her first WTA title last week at the Hobart International. That prediction came true as a frustrated Halep battled back from the brink whilst picking up a minor leg injury during the second set of the match. Although the issue wasn’t severe enough for her to request a medical time out.

“I have no idea how I won this match tonight.” Halep said during her on court interview. “It is so tough to explain what happened on court. It was very tough work, she is an amazing player. It was really difficult to stay there for every ball. To run so much.”

In what was a perfect start for the top seed, Halep capitalized on a nervous service game from her 20-year-old opponent to break right away. Rallying through the 34-minute opening set, Halep was rarely troubled by Kenin as she dropped just six points behind her own serve. Boasting a 5-3 stronghold, Halep broke once more when a Kenin backhand slammed into the net that rewarded her the set.

It appeared as if the reigning French Open champion would cruise into the third round as she extended her lead to 6-3, 3-1, until she encountered a blip. A resilient Kenin refused to go down without a fight. Unexpectedly taking three straight games against a faltering Halep in what was the start of a fierce comeback.

Facing continuous pressure from Kenin, Halep continued to battle on the Rod Laver Arena. Matching her game-by-game. Unfortunately for the top seed, Kenin refused to buckle. Hitting shots that drew praise from the Melbourne crowd. Exchanging breaks midway through the tiebreaker, Kenin  eventually got the breakthrough she wanted. A stunning backhand winner down the line awarded her the chance to take the match into a decider. She was able to seize upon the opportunity after a 13-shot rally finished with a Halep error.

Continuing to engage in some gut-busting rallies, it appeared as if it would be the underdog who would grab the shock win. Kenin’s sublime defensive play frustrated Halep as she broke for a 4-2. If that wasn’t bad enough for the Romanian, she began to keep touching the back of her left leg with an expression of pain on her face. Sending alarm bells ringing in her camp.

“I got a little bit injured in the second set. I just fought because I wanted to win and come back to play.” She explained afterwards.

Despite the scare, Halep managed to prevail. A nerve-stricken service game from Kenin allowed her to break back as she claimed four games in a row to secure the marathon win. Doing so with the help of a speedy serve down the centre of the court on match point.

In the next round Halep will take on Venus Williams. A player who she has defeated the past two times they have met on the tour.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova completes her come-back by reaching the semifinal in Cincinnati

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Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova came back from one set down to beat Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to secure her spot in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Kuznetsova, who was sidelined by a knee injury in the first half of the season, bounced back last week when she reached the third round at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. She beat Anastasija Sevastova, Dayana Yastremska and Sloane Stephens en route to the semifinal.

Kuznetsova hit 30 winners and broke three times to close out the match after 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Pliskova converted her only break point at love in the second game to win the opening set 6-3.

Pliskova saved three break points to hold serve at deuce in the fourth game before breaking serve at 15 to take a 4-3 lead. Kuznetsova broke back at 15 in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Kuznetsova earned four set points and converted her first chance to seal the tie-break 7-2.

Kuznetsova went up a break at love in the third game of the decisive set to take a 2-1 lead. Both Pliskova and Kuznetsova saved two break points in the fifth and sixth games. Kuznetsova sealed the win with a double break in the ninth game.

The Russian player set up a semifinal against 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty, who came back from one set down to beat Maria Sakkari 5-7 6-2 6-0.

 

 

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Madison Keys Finally Finds Her Footing After Tough Few Weeks

Can the former top 10 player return to peak form in time for the US Open?

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Madison Keys (@VolvoCarOpen on Twitter)

Entering into this week’s Western and Southern Open a single win would have been a much needed boost for Madison Keys ahead of the final grand slam of the season.

 

Keys, a former grand slam finalist herself, has been unable to shine on the women’s tour since reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open. In her past three tournaments, she has won one out of four matches played. To make it worse, two out of those three losses were to player’s ranked outside the top 100.

Fortunately for Keys her lull on the tour has ended this week in Cincinnati. An event where she made her debut back in 2012 at the age of 17. In the first round she saw off former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza in three sets before brushing aside Daria Kasatkina. However, her most impressive victory took place on Thursday. Taking on Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, Keys held her nerve to prevail 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, after just over two hours of play. Her first win over a top five player since Angelique Kerber at the same tournament 12 months ago.

“She’s been No. 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to, you know, ever give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before, you know, I could actually take a deep breath.” Keys said following her latest win.
“I think I just kind of trusted myself a little bit, and I didn’t really hold back on any of my shots. I think I made a couple of bad misses, but at the same time I think I did a lot of really good things.”

The triumphs come as Keys and her rivals tune up their game ahead of the US Open. Where the 24-year-old will be defending a wealth of points after reaching the semi-finals there last year. Flushing Meadows is a place of fond memories for former finalist Keys and statistically her most successful grand slam. Winning 19 out of 26 matches played in New York so far in her career.

“It feels a little bit better, a little less stressed. Ask me again in a week and I will be just as stressed.” She commented about her preparation for the upcoming major.
“In order to find that level right before a slam, obviously feels good, but especially after having some tough weeks, being able to kind of put it all together makes me feel a little bit better going into the US Open.”

Growing in confidence once again, Keys takes on tour veteran Venus Williams next. Their head-to-head is currently tied at 2-2, however, they haven’t played each other since 2016. A win would move the American into her first tour semi-final since April when she won the Volvo Open in Charleston.

“But again, she’s obviously playing some really good tennis in order to beat Kiki and then Vekic and all that. I’m going to have to see what she’s been doing well.” Keys previewed about her clash with Williams.

The quarter-final clash between the two will take place on Friday evening not before 19:00 local time. Keys is one of four seeded players remaining in the draw.

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Madison Keys battles past Simona Halep to reach the quarter final in Cincinnati

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Madison Keys beat this year’s Wimbledon champion Simona Halep 6-1 3-6 7-5 to advance to the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati for the second consecutive year.

 

Madison Keys stopped a five-match losing streak against Simona Halep after a thrilling three-set match scoring her first win over the Romanian player in five years.

After beating Halep in their first head-to-head match in 2014, Keys lost five consecutive matches against her Romanian rival, including four in 2016. They met for the first time since the 2016 WTA Finals, where Halep beat Keys 6-2 6-4 in a round-robin match.

Keys never faced a break point and dropped just eight points in four service games and reeled off nine of the eleven points on Halep’s first serve to cruise through to a 6-1 win in 20 minutes.

In the second set Halep dropped her serve twice, but she converted three of the ten break points. The Romanian player held her serve at love for the first time in the match to win the second set sending the match to the third set.

Keys went up a 3-0 lead in the decider and earned four break points for 4-0. Halep converted her fifth break points at deuce and held serve at love to draw level to 3-3. Keys did not convert a match point at 5-4, but she sealed the win by breaking serve with a forehand winner in the 12th game at deuce to the delight of the home crowd.

“I think I played really smart tonight. Obviously I played a really good first set, and I don’t think she played her best tennis in the first set. I think the third set we played a pretty high level of tennis. I think it was the first time that I played a little bit more within myself and didn’t try to do too much too soon. She has been number 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before I could take a deep breath. I am really happy after losing my lead in the third set, I was able to get back. It definitely reminds me that when I am in the right mindset and playing some good tennis, I can compete with anyone”, said Keys.

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