Belinda Bencic Claims Dubai Title With First Win Over Kvitova - UBITENNIS
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Belinda Bencic Claims Dubai Title With First Win Over Kvitova

Belinda Bencic beat Petra Kvitova for the first time to earn her second WTA Premier 5 title in Dubai.

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Belinda Bencic (@HopmanCup on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic won the second WTA Premier 5 title of her career by beating Petra Kvitova 6-3 1-6 6-2 in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

 

The Swiss, 21, has performed brilliantly this week. She beat top ten players in four consecutive rounds: Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Kvitova.

And this win, her first over Kvitova, ends an unhappy sequence of three straight-sets losses against the Czech.

This week’s run has strong echoes of the last title Bencic won in 2015, when she beat Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Halep en route to glory in Toronto.

“It’s been an amazing tournament for me,” Bencic said in her on-court interview. “I tried to get as many balls back as possible to today to put pressure on Kvitova and I’m so happy that I continued (to do that).”

The Swiss player’s success in Dubai was particularly impressive from a physical point of view, as she won four consecutive three-set matches to earn the trophy.

“I feel great actually,” she said. “My head got me through. After this tournament, I will be very tired and I will take some rest. We worked a lot on my fitness so maybe that was the secret.”

Bencic also paid tribute to her father, Ivan, who is also her coach. “He gets more nervous than me,” she said. “He is amazing and he is always here for me. So is my mum, who is home watching.”

Strong start sets Bencic up for famous win

Petra Kvitova (@AustralianOpen on Twitter)

Bencic made a fantastic start to the match. She broke Kvitova to love in the opening game and served well to open up a 3-1 lead.

She then earned another break by taking charge of the points on the Czech’s serve. However, she quickly surrendered it with a poor service game.

Ultimately that lapse did not matter for the Swiss, as she held to lead 5-3 and then broke Kvitova for a third time in the set to clinch it 6-3.

Somewhat surprisingly, Bencic’s level dropped massively in the second set, and Kvitova took full advantage to hit a succession of trademark winners from both sides.

The Czech broke the Swiss in the first and third games to race into a 4-0 lead, and then hit three consecutive winners to earn another break in game seven.

But to her immense credit, Bencic did not let that poor set bother her. She remained rock-solid on serve in the decider, and this enabled her to put pressure on Kvitova by getting back as many as balls as she could when the Czech was serving.

The plan worked superbly, as the tired-looking World No.4 made a string of errors to surrender her serve twice and allow the Swiss player to establish a commanding 5-2 lead.

Although Kvitova fought hard when Bencic was serving for the match, the 21-year-old once again demonstrated her composure as she saved two break points to restore the score to deuce.

The Swiss player then took her second match point when Kvitova hit a backhand long. She shook her fists excitedly and let out a roar of delight. Bencic is now well and truly back in the big time.

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Sorana Cirstea Makes Winning Start To French Open After Seeking Help From Djokovic’s Coach

The Grand Slam winning mentor was seen in the crowd watching Cirstea play her first round match in Paris.

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Image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros

Heading into her 14th French Open main draw Sorona Cristea decided to take a shot and ask for advice from one former Grand Slam champion.

 

The 32-year-old Romanian has endured a mixed results on the clay this year with a run to the semifinals of the Istanbul Open followed by three straight first round losses on the Tour. It has been a frustrating past few weeks for the Tour veteran who is currently ranked 27th in the world. Just six spots below her career-high.

Seeking further guidance for her French Open bid, Cirstea approached Goran Ivanisevic for help. The former Wimbledon champion who now works as coach of the men’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic. To her delight, he agreed to give her some pointers.

He came to one of my practices two days ago. Basically, I just asked for his help and I was lucky enough to get an hour of his time,” Cirstea told reporters.
“I talked with him a little bit about what’s going through my head and just tennis. It was a very, very pleasant hour.”

Ivanisevic was seen courtside watching Cirstea play her first round match at Roland Garros on Sunday morning. The 26th seed defeated Germany’s Tatjana Maria 6-3, 6-3, in just over an hour. Hitting a total of 34 winners against 26 unforced errors.

“I was very surprised to see him because I know he’s very busy with Novak,” she continued. “He was very, very kind to be there and I was happy to see him there.’
“He’s just been giving me a few tips and tricks from a Grand Slam champion, and as a coach of No. 1, and someone that has so much experience. I’m very grateful and very lucky to have the chance to spend that hour on court with him.”

This year’s French Open is the 53rd Grand Slam Cirstea has played in. She has reached six WTA finals, winning the 2008 Tashkent Open and 2021 Istanbul Open. Against top 10 players she has recorded a total of 16 wins to date.

Reflecting on her development as a player, the Romanian believes a change in perspective has enabled her to enjoy more success on the Tour in recent years. Cristea has been continuously ranked in the world’s top 100 since September 2019.

“When I was younger, I was taking the losses a bit much, they were hurting a bit too much, where now I am much more relaxed, much more at peace,” she explains.
“You cannot change what happened last week, so why bother? Try to learn and then just go forward with the positive mindset.”

Cirstea will play Sloane Stephens in the second round of Roland Garros. Stephens, who is unseeded in the draw, battled back from a set down to defeat Germany’s Jule Niemeier 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

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Former Finalist Marketa Vondrousova To Miss French Open Following Surgery

The Olympic silver medallist will miss a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Czech world No.35 Marketa Vondrousova has pulled out of next week’s French Open after undergoing what she describes as a ‘small surgery.’

 

Vondrousova, who reached the final at Roland Garros back in 2019, underwent a procedure on her left wrist after experiencing recurring pain. She decided to do so following a medical consultation and will be soon going through rehab. It will be the first Grand Slam event she has missed since the 2019 US Open which she also withdrew from due to a wrist injury.

“The last few weeks were not easy, I have been experiencing recurring pain in my wrist,” Vondrousova wrote in an Instagram post published on Monday. “After seeing a couple of doctors I decided to get this small surgery done to be able to play pain-free.”
“Staying positive through the recovery and can’t wait to be back on the court soon,”
she added.

The 22-year-old last played on Tour at the Stuttgart Open where she lost in the first round to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. So far this season she has achieved a win-loss record of 13-5 with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships as a qualifier. Vondrousova also reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and defeated Emma Raducanu in the Billie Jean Cup.

A former junior world No.1, Vondrousova has been ranked as high as 14th in the world. So far in her career, she has won just one WTA title which was back in 2017 at the Lugano Open in Switzerland. However, she has reached the final at another four events with the last being at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has scored a total of six wins over top 10 players.

Another player in doubt for the French Open is defending champion Barbora Krejcikova who hasn’t played a match on the Tour since February. The world No.2 has been sidelined from action due to an elbow injury but remains on the entry list for the Grand Slam which will begin on Sunday.

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday.

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Announces Pregnancy

Tennis’ power couple are set to become parents later this year.

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Former world No.3 Elina Svitoliva has announced that she is expecting a baby girl in October on social media.

 

The 27-year-old made the announcement on Sunday morning with a picture of her and her husband, French tennis star Gael Monfils. Known by some as the sports ‘power couple,’ the two tied the knot last July in Geneva ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games after first going public about their relationship in 2019. They even have their own Instagram account called ‘g.e.m.s. life’ which has more than 139,000 followers.

“With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October,” the couple wrote on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina/status/1525778313918177280

Svitolina hadn’t played on the Tour since losing to Heather Watson at the Miami Open in March after deciding to take time away from the sport due to events happening in her home country. Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine earlier this year which has claimed thousands of lives. Svitolina is one of the sport’s most outspoken players regarding the conflict. She has previously spoken out against the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes from Wimbledon by arguing that they should be allowed to participate if they condemn the actions of their home countries.

We don’t want them banned completely,” Svitolina told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.”

Prior to announcing her pregnancy, Svitolina has achieved a win-loss record of 5-8 on the Tour this season with her best runs being to the third round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals of a WTA event in Monterrey.

During her career, the Ukrainian has won 16 WTA titles and reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams during 2019.

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