Simona Halep Fights Back To Win Following Scare At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Fights Back To Win Following Scare At Australian Open

It was a case of sweet revenge for the Romanian.



World No.1 Simona Halep overcame a severe scare at the Australian Open to defeat Nemesis Kaia Kanepi 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2, in her opening match on the Margaret Court Arena.


The first round clash in Melbourne was a sense of deja vu for both women. Just four months ago, they clashed in the first round of the US Open. On that occasion Kanepi prevailed in straight sets. Halep looked on course to suffering the same fate in Melbourne, but produced a gutsy display to fight back from a set and a break down in what was a roller coaster encounter. Illustrated by Halep’s winner-error ratio of 25-16, compared to Knepi’s 50-62.

“I don’t want to remember that match because it was a tough one.” Halep joked about her previous US Open loss.
“It was a great atmosphere and it was a pleasure to come back here (to Melbourne) and win the match”
“I knew what I had to do to play against her, I knew that she is a very tough opponent. I had to be strong on my legs and believe that I could win the match.”

During what was a highly competitive first set, both players demonstrated their fighting spirit. Kanepi’s all or nothing shot-making was being matched by some sublime defensive play by Halep. Nevertheless, it was the Estonian that piled the pressure onto the world No.1. Leading by 6-5, Kanepi rallied her way to two set point opportunities, but failed to capitalize. However, the aggressive playing world No.71 dominated the tiebreaker to race to a 6-2 advantage. The 7-6 lead was then secured with the help of a delicate drop shot.

Breaking once more during the early stages of set number two, it appeared as if Kanepi would cruise towards the finish line. However, a tentative service game which concluded with a double fault enabled Halep to break back and revive her chances.

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The turn in events played into the hands of a determined Halep, who was forced to battle hard. Leading 5-4, she pounced on the Kanepi serve. Working her way to three set point opportunities before being denied by her opponent. It was on her fourth chance that Halep prevailed with the help of a backhand from her opponent landing beyond the baseline.

With a place in the second round at stake, both women refused to budge early on in the decider. It wasn’t until the sixth game where Halep got the breakthrough she desired. Kanepi, who began to be bothered by a blister on her left hand, hit two consecutive unforced errors from her forehand side that resulted in the top seed breaking for 3-2. From then on, the match was a foregone conclusion. Moving to a game away from victory, Halep clinched the win with the help of another mistake from across the court.

“It was good from me tonight and I’m really happy that I will play in the second round.” The world No.1 evaluated.

Scoring her 17th main draw win at the grand slam since making her debut back in 2011, Halep said she was feeling ‘confident’ as a result of her latest triumph. The world No.1 was yet to win a match this year going into the tournament and was hampered by a back injury towards the end of 2018.

“A lot of confidence because it is not easy to play against Kaia. Definitely the next round will be tough, but I look forward to getting back on court to try my best.” She commented when asked what she took from the match.

Halep will take on America’s Sofia Kenin in the second round. The 19-year-old defeated Veronika Kudermetova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, in her opening match.


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



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?



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



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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