Belinda Bencic Continues Win Streak By Beating Pliskova - UBITENNIS
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Belinda Bencic Continues Win Streak By Beating Pliskova

Belinda Bencic marched on into the semi-final of the BNP Paribas Open with a hard-fought three-set win over Karolina Pliskova.

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Belinda Bencic (@BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic extended her extraordinary win streak to 12 matches with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova in the Indian Wells quarter-final.

 

The Swiss, 22, has now defeated six top-ten players in that time, and has her eyes on a second consecutive title after her triumph in Dubai.

“It feels amazing and I cannot believe that I have beaten Pliskova today,” Bencic said in her on-court interview. “I just try my best – I’m not thinking about the victory or anything else during the match.”

She continued, “I try not to think about who is on the other side of the court. The pressure is not on me against top-ten players. They have the pressure so I can just play.”

Pliskova handed Bencic the early initiative when she made three consecutive forehand errors to hand her two break points in game three. The Swiss player seized the opportunity with a backhand winner following a second serve to 2-1 up.

The next two games could hardly have been more different. After a serene hold from Bencic, Pliskova made two double faults to raise her opponent’s hopes of another break.

Thankfully for the Czech, she recovered her composure just in time and produced two big serves to secure the hold.

After a pep-talk from her coach, Pliskova attacked the Bencic serve in the next game, and it nearly yielded a break when she established a 15-40 advantage.

However, the Swiss seemed determined to stay ahead, and she sent down three excellent serves and an ace to save both break points and close out the game.

Bencic moved 5-3 ahead with another comfortable hold. Then she capitalised on a flurry of errors from Pliskova with a precise forehand winner that sealed another break and with it the set.

Pliskova fights back

Karolina Pliskova (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

The pattern of the match changed significantly in the second set. Pliskova found her rhythm and started returning much better. This enabled her to earn two breaks and move into a 3-0 lead.

Bencic re-focused and almost got one of the breaks back during a lengthy fourth game, but the World No.5 dug in and saved three break points with her trademark combination of big serves and powerful groundstrokes.

Even though she was now 4-0 down, the Swiss player did not give up on the set. She battled to a hold and then profited from a series of wild errors from Pliskova that gifted her a break to love.

Bencic then held to love and almost won her fourth consecutive game when she created two more opportunities to break in game eight.

Had she got the break, it would probably have heralded the end of the match. But Pliskova produced an ace when she needed it most and then hit a backhand that was too hot for the Swiss to handle.

However, the Czech’s struggles on serve were far from over. When she was serving to level the match, she saved one break point and could only watch and admire as Bencic hit four brilliant groundstrokes to save four set points. Unfortunately for the Swiss, she netted a backhand on the fifth set point.

Bencic steps up in the decider

Belinda Bencic (@BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Both players started the decider in confident fashion and the first three games passed without any major incidents.

By contrast, the fourth game was crazy. Bencic played a superb, aggressive point to earn a break point. Pliskova saved it with a ferocious backhand followed by a well-controlled.

Then the game went back and forth to deuce as the Czech had four chances to finish it and the Swiss had three more chances to break before the World No.5 eventually held.

Along the way, there was some terrific tennis for the crowd to enjoy. Pliskova hit a series of stunning winners and Bencic demonstrated just how good she is at dragging an opponent all over the court with her clever varieties and accurate groundstrokes.

The match then settled down as if nothing had happened. Both players held to love before Bencic secured another comfortable hold to lead 4-3.

After missing so many chances to break in previous games, the World No.23 finally made the decisive breakthrough in game eight.

First, she hit a crisp backhand winner down the line. Then Pliskova made three unforced errors in a row to surrender her serve.

Just like in the previous round against Naomi Osaka, Bencic was clinical when serving for the match. She drew a couple of errors from the Czech with smart play, guided a volley into the open court and then clinched the win with an unreturnable serve.

[Also published at womenssporthub.com]

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Serena Williams Named Most Stylish Athlete Of 2019 As She Brushes Off Critics

The 37-year-old says she ‘doesn’t care’ about what people think about what she wears.

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23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams has been awarded with another accolade in her record-breaking career.

 

The 37-year-old has come top in this year’s Most Fashionable list by Sports Illustrated in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers In America. The honour recognizes athletes who have stood out from the crowd with what they wear. Those who make the shortlist are selected by a panel of stylists, fashion editors and executives and other influencers across the sports and fashion industries.

“My whole career has been really about tennis and fashion. I always try to make a statement when I walk out on the court—to be bold and to be unique and to kind of transcend. I always try to send the message of just being confident and being fierce.” Williams told Sports Illustrated.

Williams has made headlines on the court for the outfits she wears. After wearing a catsuit at last year’s French Open, she opted for a more straightforward design in this year’s tournament. Wearing a zebra-striped outfit decorated with the words ‘mother, champion, queen, goddess’ in French. It was designed by Virgil Abloh, who was named in Time’s 100 most influential people in the world back in 2018. At Wimbledon, the Nike tick on her all-white clothing was made up of 34 Swarovski ® crystals to mark the last time she won the title at the age of 34.

The fashion sense of the American wasn’t a hit with everybody. Her catsuit triggered criticism from the head of the French Tennis Federation. Bernard Giudicelli told France’s Tennis Magazine in 2017 ‘I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place.’ Williams later played down those comments.

“People always have things to say when you’re wearing fashion. It could be good things. It could be bad things. I don’t care what people say. I’m like just so past it—you could say whatever you want to say.” She said.
“Honestly, you’re allowed to have your opinion. My life is far too complicated to worry about people that want to say mean things. I have a daughter, I have a family, I have a career. I have too much to worry about.”

Williams recently finished runner-up at Wimbledon after losing to Simona Halep in the final. She is set to play at both the Rogers Cup in Canada and Cincinnati Open before the next grand slam tournament.

Note: video embedded from si.com.

 

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Grand Slam

US Open Set To Bypass Age Eligibility Policy To Hand Cori Gauff Wildcard

The New York Grand Slam has confirmed that they will likely bend the rules in order for the teenage star to play in the main draw.

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Cori Gauff was the talk of Wimbledon and now the US Open have said they are willing to make an exception to their own policy in order for the teenager to play in the main draw of their tournament.

 

The 15-year-old American stunned the women’s tour with her run at the All England Club. Becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to successfully come through three rounds of qualifying. Then in the main draw Gauff knocked-out five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round. She also scored wins over Polona Hercog and Magdalena Rabrikova to reach the fourth round. Becoming the youngest player to reach the second week of a major since Jennifer Capriati at the 1991 Wimbledon championships. Gauff’s run was eventually ended by Simona Halep, who went on to win the title.

Now ranked 141st in the world, the rising star is currently limited to how many tournaments she can play in accordance with the WTA’s age-eligibility rule. A policy put in place to prevent early burnout for players. It is a rule that is also followed by the United States Tennis Association, who runs the US Open.

At present Gauff isn’t eligible for any more wild cards in 2019 after already using her three allotted ones. Doing so in the Miami Open, French Open qualifiers and Wimbledon qualifiers. Chris Widmaier, who is the director of communications for the USTA, has told The New York Post that he expects Gauff to receive a pass for the upcoming grand slam. Confirming that it is likely that she will be given a special exemption from the policy.

“We would expect to see Coco in the main draw of the US Open,’’ said Widmaier. “She certainly won the hearts of tennis fans in our country with her Wimbledon performance. It’s not every day an athlete of her age becomes water-cooler talk.‘’

The WTA has also said that they will not stand in the way of the USTA if they wish to bend the rules. Under the Rule Gauff is allowed to play a maximum of 10 tournaments between her 15th and 16th birthdays. Plus one of the two year-end tournaments if she qualifies and the Fed Cup.

“The US Open, as a Grand Slam, reserves the right to not align with the Age Eligibility Rule and offer a player a Wild Card in excess of her limit per the Age Eligibility Rule,’’ a WTA spokesperson told the NY Post.

A series of players have urged the WTA to make changes to their policy regarding young players in light of Gauff’s rapid rise. One of the most notable is Roger Federer, who is the co-founder of the Team8 management company that represents Gauff.

“I understand the rule completely that they want the young players not to play too much,” he said. “I’ve told the WTA they should loosen up the rules. I loved seeing [Martina] Hingis doing what she did at a young age.”

It is unclear if the WTA will be making any changes in the near future.

The US Open will get underway on August 26th.

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The Women’s Stats Leaders Of Wimbledon 2019

Although Simona Halep won Wimbledon, it was Serena Williams who dominated most of the stats at this year’s tournament.

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Simona Halep (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

As the third grand slam of the year concludes, let’s reflect on who the stats leaders at Wimbledon in the Women’s tournament. 

 

The Women’s tournament once again provided many shocks, unpredictable results, storylines and great champions rising to the top.

But in the end it was Simona Halep who won her second grand slam and first Wimbledon title as she demolished Serena Williams in the final.

As the tournament has now ended let’s break the tournament down and see how the Women’s tournament reflected overall in terms of Quality.

Most Aces

Serena Williams reached another Wimbledon final this year and her serve was the key to reaching the second Saturday as she dominated most of her opponents.

Although Simona Halep may have figured her service patterns, her previous six opponents didn’t as she topped the aces chart.

  1. Serena Williams – 47
  2. Karolina Pliskova – 36
  3. Karolina Muchova – 29
  4. Johanna Konta – 28
  5. Ashleigh Barty – 26

Double Faults

Although both Dayana Yastremska and Alison Riske made the second week of this year’s Wimbledon, both Women topped the double faults tally.

  1. Dayana Yastremska – 26
  2. Alison Riske – 25
  3. Kristina Mladenovic – 19
  4. Kaia Kanepi – 17
  5. Cori Gauff – 15

Fastest Serve (MPH)

Serena once again topped this particular statistic although 15 year-old rising sensation Cori Gauff came close en route to the fourth round.

  1. Serena Williams – 122
  2. Polona Hercog – 120
  3. Cori Gauff – 119
  4. Venus Williams, Petra Martic, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka – 118

Longest Match

Karolina Muchova’s surprise win over Karolina Pliskova was the longest match of the Women’s tournament and the closes to a 12-12 tiebreak.

  1. Karolina Muchova def Karolina Pliskova – 3 hours and 17 minutes
  2. Alison Risek def Ivana Jorovic – 2 hours and 50 minutes
  3. Elise Mertens def Qiang Wang – 2 hours and 49 minutes
  4. Cori Gauff def Polona Hercog – 2 hours and 47 minutes
  5. Monica Puig def Anna Karolina Schmiedlova – 2 hours and 35 minutes

The Most Serve and Volley In Their Game 

One of the reasons why Barbora Strycova made the semi-finals of the singles and became the new doubles world number one, was her ability to serve and volley, which is why she tops this particular chart.

  1. Barbora Strycova – 19% (69/366)
  2. Kirsten Flipkens – 14% (16/118)
  3. Taylor Townsend – 11% (17/153)
  4. Andrea Petkovic – 10% (9/91)
  5. Laura Siegemund – 9% (13/169)

Most Return Winners

Dayana Yastremska and Serena Williams top this stat as they made their opponents pay for any average serves coming their way.

  1. Dayana Yastremska – 25
  2. Serena Williams – 17
  3. Petra Kvitova – 12
  4. Shuai Zhang – 12
  5. Amanda Anisimova, Karolina Pliskova, Karolina Muchova and Alison Riske – 10

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