Kiki Bertens Triumphs In Russia As Yastremska Topples Tomljanovic In Thailand - UBITENNIS
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Kiki Bertens Triumphs In Russia As Yastremska Topples Tomljanovic In Thailand

Both women overcame some stern resistance from their opponents to win their first title of 2019.

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Second seed Kiki Bertens has become the first Dutch player to win the St Petersburg Open after downing Donna Vekic 7-6(2), 6-4, in the final on Sunday.

Bertens, who won her first WTA title back in 2012, had never previously reached the final of a Russian event prior to this week. Her route to Sunday’s clash saw her dropped only one set in four matches played. Scoring back-to-back wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Aryna Sabalenka. Meanwhile, Vekic’s route saw her stun Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals followed by a win over veteran player Vera Zvonareva.

Despite being ranked 22 places higher than her opponent, Bertens was under pressure early on in the match. A double break in Vekic’s advantage resulted in the Croat racing to a 5-2 lead. Despite the blip, Bertens clawed her way back to level 5-5, before taking the opening set into a tiebreaker. She then went on to race through the tiebreak, which she closed out with the help of a carefully placed serve down the middle of the court.

The roller-coaster battle continued in the second set with changes in momentum taking place. Bertens managed to open up a set and a 3-1 lead, before having her serve broken once again. The pivotal moment for the world No.8 occurred at 4-4. Nearing towards the finish line, she broke for a 5-4 advantage with the help of a costly double fault from across the court. Serving for the match, Bertens clinched victory with a backhand shot that clipped the top of the net before landing on Vekic’s side.

“I remember in my mind the last time I was playing Donna I had match-points, too, and then I lost the match. So I was really focused there and I am happy I managed to finish it in that game.” Bertens said afterwards.
“It is great to be here (in St Petersburg). It was a great week.”

Bertens fired eight aces past Vekic and converted four out of her five break point opportunities. Both women produced 33 unforced errors, but the second seed produced 27 winners compared to her opponents tally of 16. The result extends Vekic’s title drought, which dates back to June 2017.

“Congrats to Kiki and your team. You were too good for me today,” said Vekic. “I’m really looking forward to playing doubles with you in Indian Wells.
“Sorry, (coach) Torben (Beltz) we are going to have to wait a little bit longer for that first title, but at least the finals are getting bigger.”

Bertens now has 10 WTA titles to her name. St Petersburg is the first indoor tournament she has won on the tour at the age of 27.

Yastremska fights back from the brink

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At the Thailand Open in Hua Hin, 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska staged an emphatic final set comeback to win her second WTA trophy. Taking on Australia’s Anja Tomljanovic, Yastremska rallied back from 2-5 down in the decider to prevail 6–2, 2–6, 7–6(3).

After racing through the opening set in just 35 minutes, the Ukrainian started to fade as the match progressed. A game away from defeat, Yastremska took a medical time out in what proved to be a turning point. Upon the resumption of the match, the teenager was freely moving around the court as she claimed four consecutive games to revive her chances. Raising questions about if she deliberately used a tactical time out.

Weathering the storm, Yastremska went on to prevail in the tiebreaker. A Tomljanovic backhand into the net rewarded her with three championship points. She converted her first with the help of a blistering forehand cross-court winner.

“The match was really tough for me,” wtatennis.com quoted Yastremska as saying following the match. “The first set I played maximum, and the second set, I felt that I can’t play like that, like how I played the first set, and I didn’t know what’s going on. I tried my best, and I tried to do the same things I was doing in the first set, but it’s just feelings like you’re empty, completely empty. I don’t know how to describe that.”
“But in the third set, when I was losing 5-2, I remembered one thing, which happened before this tournament, and it really helped me to go through and take extra power, and finish with a win.”

Despite her young age, Yastremska has won two out of her past five tournaments on the tour. Her first triumph was at the Hong Kong Open where she didn’t drop a set on route to her maiden title.

When the WTA rankings are updated on Monday, Yastremska will rise to a ranking high of 34th.

ATP

Dominic Thiem Extends Unbeaten Run As Ferrer Says Farewell To The Argentina Open

There were mixed emotions for players at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem (image via @sportsvision)

Top seed Dominic Thiem has made a winning start to the Argentina Open after triumphing in what was his first competitive match for a month.

The Roland Garros finalist has been absent from the tour in recent weeks after retiring from the Australian Open due to illness. During his absence, Thiem underwent a series of tests to establish the root of his problem and has been cleared to return to the tour.

Taking on Germany’s Maximilian Marterer in his opening match on Thursday, the Austrian powered his way to a 6-4, 6-4, victory. Converting four out of his eight break point opportunities. However, there is still room for improvement for Thiem, who only managed to win 48% of the points behind his second serve. The victory is his 10th consecutive at the tournament in Buenos Aires.

“I like the conditions here. I was able to develop a good performance to win it.” Thiem said afterwards.

This week the world No.8 is being mentored by Nicolas Massu. A former top 10 players who is best known for winning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. It is understood that the partnership is set to last only a week, however, Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung have suggested that it could be extended if proven successful.

In the quarter-finals Thiem will take on Pablo Cuevas. Cuevas, who has won all six of his ATP titles on the clay, knocked out Portuguese fifth seed Joao Sousa 6-4, 7-5.

“He is one of the best players on the clay.” Said Thiem. “We already played at Roland Garros and a Master 1000, so I’m expecting an open match.”

Thiem is currently tied at 2-2 in his head-to-head with the Uruguayan player.

Farewell continues his goodbye tour

Three-time champion David Ferrer has played his last ever match at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club. The Spaniard, who will officially retire from the tour in May, was edged out in a three set roller coaster against Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Ferrer failed to convert two match points during the second set as he suffered a 3-6, 7-6(9), 6-3 defeat.

“I feel at home because of the love they (the crowd) have for me. Loved.” Ferrer said following his loss.
“Without a doubt. It is very special since I will not step on this court again. What I will miss most is your affection.”

Ferrer is one of only two players in history to have won the tournament three years in a row. The other was Argentine legend Guillermo Vilas during the 1970s. Following his first round win there was a special presentation conducted to honour his career. Attendees to the on-court presentation included Gabriela Sabatini, Martin Jaite, Federico Delbonis, Marc Lopez, Diego Schwartzman, Juan Ignacio Chela, Mariano Zabaleta, Juan Monaco and Gaston Gaudio.

Ferrer’s conqueror Ramos-Vinolas will take on fourth seed Diego Schwartzman next. Schwartzman defeated Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

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ATP

After Slow Start To Season, John Isner Wins First Match Of 2019 At New York Open

There was mixed fortunes for American players at the Nassau Coliseum.

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John Isner at the 2018 ATP Finals (image by Gianni Ciaccia, copyright @Gianni Ciaccia)

Top seed John Isner has returned back to the winner’s circle after defeating Bernard Tomic 7-6(7), 6-4, in the second round of the New York Open.

Isner, who received a bye in the first round of the tournament, dominated on his serve throughout the match. Firing 27 aces past Tomic and dropping just nine points behind his serve. In the opening set the American fended off a trio of set points during the tiebreaker. In total there was only one break of serve in the entire match, but it occurred at the most significant moment. As Tomic served to stay in the match at 4-5 down in the second frame, Isner applied the pressure before triumphing on his sixth match point.

“I definitely served very well,” Isner said after the match. “I was down a set point in the first set and I came up with three aces.
“I’m happy to be in the quarter-finals. Last year I lost my first match here, hopefully I continue to improve.”

The win awards the 33-year-old his first victory of the season. Isner experienced a disappointing start to the year with early tournament losses to Taylor Fritz in Auckland and Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open. However, he has maintained his top 10 position and is currently ranked ninth in the world.

“I had a long time to stew over again not doing well down under,” Isner said. “I didn’t do well in Australia and it’s like I had another offseason. I wasn’t feeling too great after that . . . I was very eager to get out here an play and very happy to win.”

In the quarter-finals the American will take on seventh seed Jordan Thompson. Thompson recovered from a set down to defeat Chris Eubanks 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

In the other half of the draw, Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur has reached the last eight of an ATP tournament for the first time in his career. The 23-year-old stunned last year’s runner-up Steve Johnson 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4). Saving two match points during the closing stages of the match.

“I just knew I had to make returns and obviously the hardest game for him to hold is the last one of the match,” atptour.com quoted Schnur as saying. “I just hung in there and put some pressure on him.”

Schnur will next take on Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzi, who defeated Ryan Harrison.

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Injured Maria Sharapova Withdraws From Indian Wells

The woes continue for the Russian after she pulled out of next month’s Premier Mandatory tournament.

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It is unclear as to when Maria Sharapova will be returning back to the tour after she withdrew from the upcoming BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells due to a shoulder injury.

Organisers of the tournament confirmed Sharapova’s absence in a tweet published on Wednesday. The 31-year-old, who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, last played at the St Petersburg Open. However, at the tournament in her home country she was forced to pull out shortly after winning her opening match.

“I tried to do everything possible to be able to be ready to compete this week, but my right shoulder continues to be an issue for me,” Sharapova said in a statement on January 30th.
“I will meet with my team of doctors over the next few days to evaluate the situation, and I look forward to returning to completion as soon as possible.”

Sharapova has been blighted by shoulder problems throughout her career. In 2018 she ended her season early to recover from a right shoulder injury. Making her comeback at the Shenzhen Open earlier this year, the Russian reached the quarter-finals before retiring in her match against Aryan Sabalenka. Overall, she has played eight matches so far this season and have won six of those.

“The shoulder hasn’t been much of a secret in the past year. That’s been something I have been struggling with and had to shut down the season after the US Open,” Sharapova told reporters at last month’s Australian Open.
“[It’s] still not where I want it to be, still working through some painful days. That’s something that I have had to deal with since I was 21 years old and really at the peak of my career, [which] kind of came unexpected.
“I saw [my doctor] at the beginning of December, and he says it’s a day-by-day pain management situation. It’s definitely been an issue for the majority of last year and going into this year, as well, but it’s something that…I’m still working through.”

Sharapova is a two-time Indian Wells champion and last won the title back in 2013. She will be replaced in the draw by Mona Barthel.

This year’s tournament will get underway on March 4th.

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