Simona Halep Plays Down Australian Open Chances Following Surprise Sydney Exit - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Plays Down Australian Open Chances Following Surprise Sydney Exit

The French Open champion admits that she is yet to find her top form heading into the first grand slam of 2019.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision

World No.1 Simona Halep has suffered a setback in her preparations for the Australian Open after crashing out of her first match at the Sydney International on Wednesday.

 

Halep, who was playing her first competitive match since the China Open in September, crashed out 6-4, 6-4, to Australia’s Ashleigh Barty. A player who she had defeated on two previous occasions. The Romanian was broken four times as she hit 22 unforced errors to nine winners.

During both sets, Halep crumbled during the business ends. In the opener, the French Open champion was broken whilst serving 4-5 down. Then in the second set, Halep held a 4-3 advantage before losing four consecutive games to be knocked out of the tournament. Making it the first time she has lost her opening match of a season since 2014.

“I think it was a great match after almost four months since I played one full match, US Open. I think I played a good level of tennis. I had no inspiration in some important points,” Halep said afterwards.
“She played really well. Her slice was great today, so she deserved to win this match.
“But also I was very close to winning. I had so many chances to break her and to take advantage, but I couldn’t. I can feel that I don’t have the rhythm yet.”

The past few months have been a turbulent one for the Romanian, who ended her 2018 season early due to a back injury. Opting instead to have a longer off-season break. Looking ahead to the Australian Open, Halep has openly admitted that she has no expectations at the upcoming grand slam despite being the No.1 seed. Last year she finished runner-up in Melbourne to Caroline Wozniacki. An early loss this time round could put her No.1 ranking in jeopardy.

“I took a longer break because I needed it. Also mentally, also physically.” She said.
“So I have no expectations (in Melbourne). That’s what I always say because I cannot expect myself to be at the highest level in this moment, because I didn’t play matches.
“But tennis is good, so I have just to believe in myself more.”

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Halep embarks upon the Australian swing without a main coach following the departure of Darren Cahill. Cahill announced in December that he wanted to take a break in order to spend more time with his family. Halep is yet to replace him, but remains confident that the situation will not have a negative impact on her performance on the tour.

“The situation is that for the next three to four months, I don’t want to take the coach … I go with the flow and I see how it works,” Halep recently told wtatennis.com.
“He (Cahill) took the decision because of family and family always comes first. I wasn’t disappointed or upset, I fully understood. We have a very good relationship.”

As Halep looks ahead to Melbourne, Barty now has a shot of becoming the first Australian woman to win the Sydney title since Alicia Molik in 2005. In the quarter-finals she will play either Elise Mertens or Anett Kontaveit.

“I finally learnt my lesson,” Barty said of her win over Halep.
“She gave me a belting in Montreal. I learnt a little bit more in Cincinnati, but today I knuckled down and really thought about it and really gave myself a chance.
“The biggest thing, I believed that I could I win. We’re both out here on the same court. Just very happy I was able to come out and execute.
“I felt like it was really clean, considering the conditions. It was very swirly down at court level so I figure if I’m going to play ‘Sim’ at any time, it’s her first match and in conditions like this.
“So I was very happy I was able to make the most of it. Yeah, extremely pleased.”

Elsewhere in the tournament, Timea Bacsinszky outlasted Sam Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, in a marathon encounter. The Swiss player was at one point and set and a break down against Stosur, but rallied back to secure the win.

WTA

Amanda Anisimova Enters Winners Circle In Bogota After Edging Out Sharma

Amanda Anisimova edged out Astra Sharma to win her maiden WTA title.

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Amanda Anisimova (@mnaEN - Twitter)

17 year-old Amanda Anisimova won her first ever WTA title after edging past Astra Sharma 4-6 6-4 6-1 in Bogota. 

 

The American, who has been tipped for big things in Tennis, battled back from a set and a break down to win her first WTA title in Bogota.

It means that Anisimova is the youngest American to win a WTA title since Serena Williams in 1999 and is destined for many more titles in the future.

Meanwhile in Lugano another 17 year-old Iga Swiatek just fell short of her first title as she lost to Polona Hercog 6-3 3-6 6-3.

The match saw a nervous start as both players were going for their first title of their career. After the first five break points where converted, Sharma was the first one to hold for a 4-2 lead.

Eventually the American held herself before both women broke each other again in a very messy first set. The Australian held at the end of the set as she secured the opening set.

It was a positive start from Sharma, who was looking to do the double in Bogota after winning the doubles title with Zoe Hives yesterday.

A reassured Sharma took a 3-2 lead, breaking twice, and it was looking increasingly likely that she would be the one to claim her first singles title.

However Anisimova started to gain confidence off her serve and her movement was looking better as the match went on.

A fix on the timing of the return saw the American break twice more as she took the second set 6-4 to force a decider.

The 17 year-old then took charge of the final set as she mixed up her serving and showed a lot of confidence on the backhand side.

After saving a couple of break points, she held for a 3-0 lead as the Australian was missing simple shots as she had no clear decision making.

Eventually Anisimova remained poised and confident to secure her first ever WTA title and to become the youngest WTA winner since Serena Williams in 1999.

https://twitter.com/WTA/status/1117486116465041408

It was a mixed day for the juniors after Wimbledon Juniors champion Iga Swiatek fell short of her first WTA title after a 6-3 3-6 6-3 defeat to Polona Hercog.

The Slovenian showed more experience and grit to overcome a confident Swiatek to claim her third career WTA title.

This week’s results means now their have been 18 different winners in 18 different tournaments on the WTA tour, which is an unprecedented feat.

 

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WTA

Amanda Anisimova becomes the second US player to reach the final in Bogotà

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US 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova fought back from one set down to beat Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 after 2 hours and 40 minutes at the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogotà.

 

Roland Garros Junior finalist Amanda Anisimova has become the second US player to reach the final in Bogotà and the first since Irina Falconi in 2016. She has reached the second final of her career.

Haddad Maia earned the first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead, but Anisimova broke straight back in the next game. Haddad Maia got another break lead for 3-2. Anisimova brought up five break point chance on Haddad’s next three service games, but the Brazilian player held on her service games to clinch the opening set 6-4.

Anisimova earned six break points, but Haddad Maia saved them setting up a tie-break. Anisimova opened up a 2-0 lead, but Haddad Maia pulled back the mini-break to draw level to 2-2. Anisimova reeled off five consecutive points to seal the tie-break 7-2 sending the match to the third set.

Anisimova went up a double break to open up a 4-1 lead. Haddad Maia got one of the two breaks back, but Anisimova broke again for 5-2, when the Brazilian player made a double fault. Anisimova saved five break points before serving out the match after three deuces.

“She is a great player, and I have never played her before. I was expecting a really tough match, because especially on clay she is really good”, said Anisimova.

Anisimova will face Australia’s Astra Sharma, who beat 2012 Bogotà champion and 2017 and 2018 finalist Lara Arruabarrena 7-5 6-1 after 66 minutes reaching the first final of her career.

The first set went on serve in the first eight games with no break point chances. Arruabarrena earned the first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. Sharma got the break back after saving two set points. Arruabarrena held two game points in the 12th game, but Sharma rallied from 15-40 to break serve for 7-5 after a double break from the Spanish player.

Sharma earned two consecutive breaks in the fourth and sixth games to cruise through to winning the second set 6-1.

“The most important thing this week has been keeping my keeping really good mentally. Staying positive, staying positive, not thinking too much or getting too negative on court. I have just been really solid and consistent, point by point”, said Sharma.

 

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WTA

Iga Swiatek Becomes New Polish Number One At 17 After Reaching Lugano Final

Iga Swiatek will be the new Polish number one on Monday at 17 after reaching the final in Lugano.

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Iga Swiatek (@alex_8163 - Twitter)

Iga Swiatek has become the new polish number one at the age of 17 after reaching the final at the Samsung Open in Lugano. 

 

The fearless Pole is making a name for herself on the tour after reaching the final in Lugano at the age of 17, her first WTA final of her career.

A simply stunning 6-0 6-1 win over Kristyna Pliskova confirmed her place at this year’s main draw of Roland Garros and made sure she overtakes Magda Linette on Monday to become the new Polish number one.

After the win Swiatek said she was quite surprised herself at her form, “I feel great. I’m quite surprised that I’m in the final,” Swiatek said in her on-court interview.

“Because that was my first tournament that I played [directly] in main draw, but I’m really happy that I made it. I was believing in myself, and I hope tomorrow will be a great match also.”

To put into perspective her achievements this week, Swiatek has become the youngest ever Polish player to reach a WTA final, even younger than Agnieszka Radwanska.

After her rapid rise through juniors including winning the Wimbledon title, I don’t think even Iga could have predicted her transition to the WTA tour would be as successful as it has been.

Her variety mixed with precise footwork and movement is the ultimate combination to be a great player on clay as she is proving right now.

But her Wimbledon Girls title last year also proves that she can adapt to all surfaces at such a young age and be successful.

The Pole will play Polona Hercog for her first WTA title after the Slovenian defeated Fiona Ferro 6-4 7-5 to reach the final.

No matter what happens tomorrow though Swiatek has officially arrived on the WTA tour, already making history, and nobody will want to play her at the French Open next month.

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