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.

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Alex De Minaur is getting ready to restart the season

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Alex De Minaur spent the last four months at home in Alicante (Spain) in the country of origin of his mother Ester. The Australian player or Spanish origin is training to make his return to the court next August after the abdominal tear, that sidelined him from Adelaide and the Australian Open. He missed six weeks before Acapulco, where he lost to Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round. De Minaur started the 2020 season with two wins against Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov before losing to Daniel Evans and Rafael Nadal in tight matches at the inaugural edition of the ATP Cup in Australia.

 

De Minaur was not able to leave his house and spend time on the tennis court due to the covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s honestly been one of the toughest moments of my career. We got hit with this pandemic and all of sudden, everything changed in my life. We are used to travelling all over the place, not spending more more than one or two. Three weeks maximum in one place. All of a sudden you are stuck in the same place. You are not allowed to leave, not allowed to hit, train, compete. It was really a big blow”, said De Minaur.

De Minaur is looking to repeat his breakthrough 2019 season, where he won three titles in his hometown Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai and finished runner-up to Roger Federer in Basel and to Jannik Sinner at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. In 2018 he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Next Gen ATP Finals title match in Milan and reached the semifinal in Sydney and the final in Brisbane.

“Every day counts. You don’t realize that at such a young age, but as soon as you start maturing a bit and you have a couple more years of experience, you understand that if you want to be at the top and you want to play against these top guys, you have just got to improve all the time. You can’t be satisfied with your level; you have always got to want to push for more and strive for higher rankings, higher-level matches and hopefully beat higher-ranked opponents. There are always ups and downs in the journey but you just have to keep pushing through. It’s not always going to go your way. Still, if you have the right mentality and you positively look at things, sort of putting yourself in the right direction, that’s the most important thing”, said De Minaur.

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John McEnroe believes that it will be unlikely for Rafael Nadal to play bot the US Open and Roland Garros

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John McEnroe believes that Novak Djokovic is likely to compete at both the US Open and at Roland Garros, provided that he is healthy, but he thinks that Rafael Nadal could skip the US Open.

 

The 2020 ATP season is set to restart next August after a five-month break due to the covid-19 pandemic. The US Open will start on 31st August and end on 13th September. The French Open has been rescheduled from 27th September to 11th October.

“I believe and this is just my feeling, the top players  are going to play both. They have been sitting there and I am assuming most of the top players and some of the younger ones are chomping at the bit to get back out on the court, to compete and see what they have got. You are talking about two of the three majors that remain, that is a huge deal for the players. It has been done before and it won’t affect more than a couple of players. Obviously we presume and hope Novak will be fine and able to compete if he chooses to do so at the US Open”, said McEnroe.  

Rafael Nadal will face the tough challenge to defend both Grand Slam titles at the US Open and Roland Garros and the Masters 1000 trophy in Rome in one month. The Spaniard beat Dominic Thiem in the Roland Garros final becoming the first men’s or women’s player to win a Grand Slam event 12 times (Margaret Court won the Australian Open 11 times). Nadal beat Danil Medvedev in five sets to win his fourth US Open title in New York. According to McEnroe the 19-time Grand Slam champion may take a difficult decision to skip the US Open to focus on his attempt to win the 13th Grand Slam title of his career.

“Rafa is the one you would think that might be a bit tricky for him from hard to clay. That’s not something he likes to do or has done very often. It will be interesting to see if some European players decide not to come over to the USA because of some concerns over renewed outbreaks and it seems as though New York is doing much better. Who knows what is going to happen in the next months. I think it can be done and it sounds as tough they have set it up in a way that is extremely safe and the few people that will be allowed in. I would be surprised if the top players certainly, they have the right not to play, but I would be surprised if they don’t play”, continued McEnroe.

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Australian Open Chief Confident Event Will Take Place In January Amid COVID-19 Jump In Region

Craig Tiley has addressed concerns about the Grand Slam following a new outbreak in Victoria.

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The tournament director of the Australian Open has insisted that plans for next year’s tournament are on track despite a spike in COVID-19 cases around Melbourne.

 

Craig Tiley has stated that the Grand Slam will only take place in the city and there are no backup plans to potentially relocate the event in a worst case scenario. The Australian Open is held annually at Melbourne Park and this year attracted a record attendance of 812,174 people. Although there are concerns about the threat posed by COVID-19 with the Victoria State Government reporting another 66 cases of the virus on Friday. Making it the 17th day the daily infection rate has been in double digits. It is possible that the number could be higher with health minister Jenny Mikakos confirming around 10,000 people have refused to be tested with some claiming the virus to be a ‘conspiracy theory.’

According to ABC News Tiley and his team are planning for six scenarios concerning the Australian Open taking place, including the possibility of holding it behind closed doors. Although he is optimistic that the event and others also set to take place next January will go ahead as planned.

“Nothing has changed for us in terms of our planning,” Tiley told AAP.
“The environment around us has changed, and will continue to change, as we’ve seen with the current spike in Victoria.
“We’re optimistic the additional measures currently in place will be successful — and restrictions will continue to be eased over the coming months.”

The Tournament director has also confirmed that there will be little flexibility concerning the staging of next year’s event. Saying it will only take place in Melbourne and during January if it goes ahead. Although he is keeping a close eye on the two Grand Slams that are set to take place later this season.

“The US Open and the French Open are exploring mandatory testing, varying levels of quarantine and limiting entourages,” he said.
“Of course we are looking at all these options, and more, as part of our scenario planning.
“It’s difficult to predict exactly what will need to be in place as guidelines and protocols are changing week by week, and sometimes even day by day.”

This year’s US Open is set to get underway on August 31st, but will be held behind closed doors for the first time. Meanwhile the French Open, which starts only weeks after the New York major, plans to allow up to 20,000 fans to attend daily. Working out to be roughly 60% of its maximum capacity.

The last time the Australian Open didn’t take place was in 1986 due to a change in its hosting date from December to January. Founded in 1905, it is the youngest out of the four grand slam tournaments.

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