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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French Open Finalist Marketa Vondrousova Undergoes Surgery

It is a premature end to what has been a breakthrough season for the Czech.

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Czech rising star Marketa Vondrousova will miss the rest of the season after undergoing an operation on her left wrist.

 

The 20-year-old made the announcement on her Instagram account where she uploaded a picture of herself after undergoing the procedure. Vondrousova hasn’t played a match on the tour since Wimbledon, where she first sustained the injury. According to Czech media, she received treatment at the same facility which Petra Kvitova attended following a knife attack that severely injured her playing hand.

“For two months I tried to treat my wrist conservatively and tried everything possible. Unfortunately, nothing led to a significant improvement. That is why I decided on this solution, which should relieve me of my pain for good,” Vondrousova said is a statement issued by her team.
“Unfortunately for me, 2019 ended earlier than I wanted. I can’t wait to play back on the courts without pain anymore, she added.

The premature end draws the curtain on what has been a breakthrough season for Vondrousova. At the French Open she defeated Petra Martic and Johanna Konta en route to the final. Becoming the youngest player to do so at the tournament since Ana Ivanovic back in 2007. She was denied the title by Ash Barty, who prevailed in straight sets.

Yet to win a title, Vondrousova has managed to remain consistent on the tour by reaching the quarter-finals or better at six consecutive tournaments between February and June. Including the final of the Budapest Open. During that time, she managed to score two wins over Simona Halep. The highest ranked player she has defeated so far in her career.

Vondrousova is currently ranked 22nd in the world. She ends the season with a win-loss record of 29-9.

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‘Relaxed’ Su-Wei Hsieh Saves Match Point To Oust Muguruza In Osaka

Su-Wei Hsieh saved match point to eliminate Garbine Muguruza from the premier-level tournament in Osaka.

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Su-Wei Hsieh (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

Su-Wei Hsieh was in a relaxed mood as she saved match point to edge out Garbine Muguruza 3-6 7-6(1) 6-1 in Osaka. 

 

The Wimbledon doubles champion claimed her second straight win over the Spaniard having saved match point in the contest.

After winning a tight second set, Hsieh cruised through the deciding set to secure a spot in the second round against Elise Mertens.

Even though this final part of the season can prove quite tiring, Hsieh is approaching in a more relaxed manner, “I know that anything can happen because this is almost the end of the year,” Hsieh said to the press after the win.

“I just want to be more relaxed, going more to my game. Sometimes I lose a little bit of rhythm at the beginning, so I just need to play more games to get the rhythm.

“In the second set, I felt a little bit more rhythm, and more stable myself, my personal style. It helped me a lot to get into the match and to get more game.”

As for Muguruza, this loss would have hurt her confidence a lot having not won a WTA match since June and her ranking slowly falling by the week.

Next for Hsieh will be US Open doubles champion Elise Mertens, where they have split their opening two meetings which came last season.

In other results today there were comfortable wins for Madison Keys and US Open quarter-finalist Donna Vekic over Daria Kasatkina and Caroline Garcia respectively.

Here is the second round line-up, which matches will be played across Wednesday and Thursday:

Naomi Osaka (1) v Viktoriya Tomova – Wednesday

Varvara Flink v Yulia Putintseva – Thursday

Sloane Stephens (3) v Camila Giorgi – Thursday

Su-Wei Hsieh v Elise Mertens (9) – Wednesday

Madison Keys (5) v Zarina Diyas – Wednesday

Nicole Gibbs v Angelique Kerber (4) – Wednesday

Donna Vekic (7) v Misaki Doi – Thursday

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Kiki Bertens (2) – Thursday

 

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Despite New WTA Guidelines, Could Kim Clijsters’ Return Be Marred By Aberration?

Kim Clijsters will not have any restriction in the number of wildcards she receives. But she also deserves more in her upcoming third stint on the Tour

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Kim Clijsters, 2010 US Open, US Open
Photo Credit: WTA Tennis/Getty

By the time, Kim Clijsters makes her return to professional tennis in 2020, around eight years will have passed since her second retirement from the WTA Tour. In this near-about octet of years, there have been several changes on the Tour, especially for those women attempting a return post maternity. But where does the 36-year-old stand amid these alterations?

 

The Belgian was one of the earlier trendsetters – of this decade – to resume her professional activity after becoming a mother for the first time. In 2009, when she returned during the American hard-court summer, the subject never gained as much traction as it did when Williams returned to the game, in 2018 after her pregnancy hiatus in 2017.

Clijsters’ win at the US Open that year – the first for an unseeded player – stifled the mushrooming of any possible avenues of such ranking tweaks back then. Over the next couple of years, as Clijsters ascended in the rankings boosted by her performances, including re-attaining her career-high of no. 1, the topic became moot.

Now, after all these years, in spite of the WTA bringing in modifications to its rules – by way of provision of special ranking to women re-joining the Tour after motherhood, among other factors – Clijsters’ continues to remain an outlying scenario. The obvious reason for this is the lapsing of time of the four-time Major champion’s returning to pro tennis. According to the new rules, a player who is out of the Tour on account of pregnancy must make a comeback within three years after her child’s birth, at most.

Her previous successes and titles ensure Clijsters will never lack for wildcards from tournaments, as per the WTA regulations. However, the question stemming here is should an exception be made for the former world no. 1 vis-à-vis the special ranking while overlooking the passing of years?

When announcing her imminent return to the Pro Tour on the WTA Insider podcast, Clijsters mentioned about challenging herself. “I don’t feel like I want to prove something. I think for me it’s the challenge…,” she said.

“The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women’s sports in the world. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I’m saying, ‘OK, let’s try this’.”

Clijsters’ path to trying this while taking it on as a challenge need not come at a cost of her being immediately pushed off the deep end in terms of encountering a higher-seeded opponent. The present state of the WTA would make it for an interesting match-up – whenever it happens – but it would also be akin to defeating the purpose underlining her return, regardless of how confident the 2011 Australian Open champion is with her timing.

The norms, too, could be nudged into further relooking easing them towards a player’s preference in ascertaining her post-childbirth return instead of clubbing them, at large. After all, as significant as Williams’ laurels were to usher in changes, Clijsters’ stunner yet again proves the variety that exists in women’s decision-making.

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