Bianca Andreescu continued her fairytale run in Indian Wells with a remarkable 6-3 2-6 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina in a thrilling semi-final.
The Canadian, 18, beat Dominika Cibulkova, Wang Qiang and Garbine Muguruza on her way to the semi-final, and she never looked daunted by the challenge of facing the Ukrainian.
“This is so incredible,” Andreescu said in her on-court interview. “This past week has been a dream come true. (I have loved) playing in front of amazing crowds like you guys.”
She continued, “Today I just believed in myself. I’ve watched these top players so many times on TV so it’s really incredible to play against them – and win!”
In the first three games of the match, Andreescu simply hit the ball as hard as she could and Svitolina absorbed the power and re-directed the ball sensibly.
This led to numerous errors from the Canadian and enabled the Ukrainian to move into a 3-0 lead.
However, Andreescu gathered herself at the changeover and came out with a different plan. She continued to hit the ball powerfully but the direction of her shots was far more intelligent.
The teenager also mixed things up. She sliced the ball at times, hit cross-court when she had previously gone down the line and came into the net occasionally.
She also dictated the play, and Svitolina simply could not handle her dramatic improvement. Consequently, Andreescu reeled off seven consecutive games to take the first set 6-3 and go 1-0 up in the second set.
Svitolina takes her chances to hit back
Perhaps inevitably, the Canadian could not sustain the same level forever. She made a string of errors to drop her serve to love and enable the Ukrainian to gain a foothold in the match.
Svitolina took advantage of this lull from Andreescu with a steady hold to move 2-1 ahead. That scoreline gave the World No.6 a platform to attack the Canadian in game four, and she did this to good effect to earn two break points.
Andreescu saved one and Svitolina wasted the other, but the game was not over yet. The Ukrainian got the better of a pulsating rally to earn another break point, and the Canadian netted a backhand to surrender her serve.
Svitolina made a couple of sloppy errors in the next game to gift Andreescu two break points. However, she re-focused, saved them both and went on to hold serve for a 4-1 lead.
Both players faced a few difficulties in their next service games, but both safely negotiated them to move the score on to 5-2 in the Ukrainian’s favour.
By this stage, it seemed like Svitolina knew how to deal with the type of shots Andreescu likes to play. She repeatedly read the Canadian’s intentions in game eight, and this enabled her to hit winners on the big points and break the teenager to clinch the set.
Andreescu starts the decider impressively but Svitolina fights back
Svitolina made a few poor decisions in the opening game of the decider. Andreescu pounced on these. She stepped inside the court and hit winners to break the Ukrainian. The Canadian then consolidated her advantage with a comfortable hold.
However, the World No.6 has experienced most situations in her eight years on the senior tour, and she did not panic. She played a series of smart points to hold serve, and then put pressure on the teenager by forcing a break point.
Andreescu saved it in trademark aggressive style. She then unleashed a string of big groundstrokes to secure an important hold and stay two games ahead at 3-1.
Svitolina responded superbly again. She played four commanding points to hold serve to love. She then put massive pressure on the Canadian’s serve by getting everything back and was rewarded with three break points.
The Ukrainian narrowly missed with a backhand down the line on the first. She then netted a backhand return on the second. But she took the third by drawing another error from Andreescu’s racket to level the score.
Andreescu pounces when Svitolina falters
At 30-30 in game seven, Svitolina made an unforced error. It cost her dearly, as the Canadian crunched a forehand winner to seize her second break of the set.
The World No.6 earned three break-back points by targeting Andreescu’s weaker forehand side. However, she missed a volley on the first one and the teenager saved the next two emphatically. She then won the next two points to move within one game of another big win in her young career.
In game nine, Svitolina eased to a 40-15 lead. However, the Ukrainian made two consecutive unforced errors to give the teenager a chance of a break.
Andreescu hit a powerful winner to earn match point, but just missed with another attempted put-away that would have ended proceedings. She kept going for her shots during the rest of the game, but Svitolina eventually held.
The Canadian made a couple of sloppy errors to fall 15-30 behind on her serve. She then advanced to the net on the next point and could only watch as the Ukrainian guided the ball past her.
Andreescu dug deep to save both break points. She then earned two more match points, which Svitolina saved with gutsy winners. However, the Ukrainian could not keep up these heroics, and on the Canadian’s fourth match point, the World No.6 netted a backhand. What a win for the teenager.
[Also published on womenssporthub.com]
12th time Lucky: 30-Year-Old Heather Watson Breaks New Ground At Wimbledon
The British veteran has brought delight to home fans at The All England Club.
Heather Watson says she has no words to explain her feelings after securing a place in the last 16 at Wimbledon for the first time in her career.
Reaching the third round was nothing new for the Brit after she had done so on three previous occasions at The All England Club. After winning just two games against Agnieszka Radwanska in 2012, she suffered narrow defeats to Serena Williams in 2015 and then Victoria Azarenka two years later. No matter what she tried, it appeared that reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon was too much for Watson.
However, this year was her golden opportunity with her section seeing seeds Belinda Bencic and Beatriz Haddad Maia losing in the first round. Watson’s third round opponent was Kaja Juvan. Coincidentally another player who hasn’t gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon in her career.
Cheered on by the Court One crowd, Watson prevailed 7-6(6), 6-2, after coming through some tricky moments. She was a break down in the first set and then in the second she stormed to a 5-0 lead before nerves started to play havoc. After dropping two games in a row, Watson battled through a 10-minute service game before prevailing on her first match point with a winning volley at the net.
“It wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a bit of drama at the end. Wow! What an atmosphere,” said Watson.
“There is nowhere I would rather play. You lot (the crowd) got me over the line. I thought she was playing her best tennis at the end.’
“I know I am not speechless as I am blabbing on but I don’t know what to say.”
This year’s Wimbledon is Watson’s 43rd Grand Slam appearance. Heading into the event she has had far from ideal preparation after stuffing an injury scare with her hamstring. Whilst some might have written off her chances of producing a deep run, she never gave up her own belief.
“I wouldn’t still be playing if I thought that ship had sailed,” she stated in her press conference.
“I’ve been in the third round quite a few times here at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. I was just sort of waiting for it to happen. I waited long enough,’
“I’m really happy to be into the second week of a Grand Slam for singles finally.”
To get to this position, it has been a bumpy ride for Watson this week with her earlier matches in the tournament being hampered by rain delays and night-time suspensions due to poor visibility.
“This is the first time I get to enjoy this win because in my first two matches I was just constantly in focus mode,” she reflected.
“I feel like this win’s very different to the others, not just because I’ve reached one of my goals but because I have a bit of time for it to sink in.”
Awaiting Watson in the last 16 will be Germany’s Jule Niemeier who recorded her first win over a top 10 player earlier in the tournament by defeating Anett Kontaveit. Should she win she will follow in the footsteps of Johanna Konta who is the last British woman to reach a Wimbledon quarter-final back in 2019.
“She’s a really good player, a great talent. When I played her (in Monterrey) she was outside the top hundred. I remember saying to my team, `This girl will be top hundred in no time,” Watson said of her next opponent.
“It will be a tough match. She’s one for the future. I’m going to go home and do my homework.”
Erratic Iga Swiatek Struggles Past Lucky Loser To Reach Wimbledon Third Round
In what was a roller-coaster encounter, the top seed was far from her best but still managed to maintain her unbeaten streak.
World No.1 Iga Swiatek heads into the last 32 at Wimbledon with plenty to think about producing a mixed performance during her 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, win over Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.
The reigning French Open champion endured patchy periods of play throughout her latest match at The All England Club. Prompting her to shake her head and make occasional glares towards her teams in the stands. Her winner count of 31 was almost canceled out by 30 unforced errors as she broke four times in the match.
“I think she used all the advantages that she could. I feel that she was using the wind better than me,” said Swiatek. “She played a really great match.’
“I’m pretty happy that I could fight back and have another chance to play here (at Wimbledon).”
Seeking her 37th win in a row, Swiatek found it tough going ealy on against Kerkhove. A Dutch world No.138 who only managed to enter the main draw with the help of a lucky loser position and was yet to play a top 10 player in his career. The Pole struggled to find her footing on the surface as she leaked a series of costly unforced errors. That resulted in her getting broken twice in a row and falling behind 2-4.
Visibly rattled on the court, Swiatek’s consistency level was far from that which has taken her to winning six consecutive titles within the past four months. Part of that explanation is the fact that she had only ever played nine Tour-level grass-court matches in her career heading into the second round at SW19.
Fortunately for the world No.1 she was let back into the set at the expense of a lackluster service game from her rival which featured two doubles faults. A four-game winning streak saw her turn the match round. On her first set point she prevailed after a Kerkhove backhand crashed into the net.
Swiatek continued to have difficulty pulling away from her rival in the second frame. Kerkhove has only managed to win two Tour-level matches this year with one of those being in the first round of Wimbledon. The underdog continued to exceed expectations by breaking midway through to nudge ahead 4-3. Doing so with a return that brushed the top of the net before landing on the other side. That was enough for Kerkhove to unexpectedly take the match into a decider.
Facing the prospect of losing to a player outside the top 100 for the first time since April 2021, Switek regained some much needed momentum with a clean forehand winner down the line which enabled her to break for a 3-1 lead. Battling her way towards the finish line she sealed victory with a the help of a forehand error from Kerkhove.
“It’s really special to me but what I’m out there I’m not thinking about that. I’m just trying to play my best tennis possible on the grass.,” she said of her winning streak.
“I’m happy it’s 37 and I’m going to do my best to get even more.“
The next test for Swiatek will be a clash with France’s Alize cornet who beat Claire Lu 6-3, 6-3. It is only the second time she has made the last 32 in 12 appearances at the Grand Slam.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be really exciting,” Swiatek commented. “The third round, the people who are there deserved to be there. I hope it is going to be a really good fight.”
Swiatek is only the second woman to win 37 matches in a row since 1990 after Martina Hingis.
Two-Time Champion Petra Kvitova, Badosa Back Wimbledon’s All-White Policy Amid Concerns
It is one of the most traditional policies in tennis but should the all-white rule be adjusted to take into account issues experienced by female players?
Petra Kvitova has come out in support of Wimbledon’s policy requiring all players to wear white whilst competing at the championships.
The Czech, who won the title in 2011 and 2014, has spoken in favor of the rule despite some other female players expressing their concerns due to health reasons. Unlike other Grand Slams, Wimbledon has one of the strictest policies in the sport when it comes to clothing. All players participating must wear nearly all-white attire or risk facing a fine if they do not. The policy can be traced back to the Victorian era when at the time it was considered that wearing white showed less sweat. Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious traditions which makes Wimbledon unique.
However, there have been calls by some for changes to be made. Especially for the female players who potentially face the awkward situation of wearing white whilst on their period. In a recent interview with The Times, Canadian Player Rebecca Marino said such a situation is her ‘worst fear.’ Heather Watson and former player Renee Stubbs have also spoken out.
“I know it’s not really comfortable for girls playing in white when they have periods,” Kvitova commented following her 6-1, 7-6(5), win over Ana Bogdan.
“On the other hand, I think that we (as players) can manage it somehow, as well. We do have a lot of options about it, as well. It’s very unusual that you get it (your period) during the match. It can happen, of course.”
Spanish fourth seed Paula Badosa, who will play Kvitova in the third round, was another player to speak about the uniform rule following her comprehensive 6-3, 6-2, win over Irina Bara in the second round on Thursday. It is the third major in a row where she has reached the last 32.
“I think it’s nice and it’s traditional. It’s always different. I think grass courts, as well, it’s a different part of the season. It’s nice like that, I think, to play like this. One or two weeks per year, it’s always nice and unique.” She commented.
This year there has been a small adjustment made to the policy with players allowed to wear blue and yellow ribbons in support of Ukraine.
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Tim Van Rijthoven Goes From Injury Woes To Wimbledon Sensation
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Djokovic, Kerber, Alcaraz Face Seeded Opposition
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REPORT: Rafael Nadal And Wife Mery Expecting First Child
Alexander Zverev Issues Injury Update Following French Open Retirement
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