Madison Keys produced a clinical display to see off Jelena Ostapenko 7-5 6-2 and advance to the quarter-final in Charleston for the fourth time in her career.
The American, 24, has endured a difficult start to the year. After reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, she suffered second-round losses in Indian Wells and Miami.
Despite these setbacks, she came up with some good tennis at times during her battling three-set win over Tatjana Maria in round two.
The court time from that testing encounter served Keys well when she slipped 3-1 behind after a good start from Ostapenko.
As errors crept into the Latvian’s game, the American took full advantage to win four games in a row and turn the scoreline on its head.
At that point, the set was seemingly over. But then Keys faltered and Ostapenko was back in at 5-4.
Two holds later, the American called for her coach. She was clearly concerned that the set would slip away from her.
But she need not have worried. Ostapenko served poorly in game twelve and made it far too easy for Keys to break her to love and claim the opening set.
Keys impresses in second set
In the second set, the American was rock solid. She served well and won 67% of the points behind it, which meant she did not face a single break point.
To begin with, the Latvian also performed well on serve as she held twice. However, everything changed in the sixth game of the set when Ostapenko made three consecutive errors to hand Keys three break points.
She saved the first with a superb drop shot and the second with a good serve. But the American seized the third with a deep backhand that the Latvian could not get back.
Ostapenko fought hard to stay in the match in the next game. She took Keys to deuce, but the World No.18 held firm to move into a 5-2 lead.
The American then finished off the match in style. From 15-15, she slammed a forehand winner down the line, ended a beautifully-constructed point with a volley and then unleashed an unstoppable inside-out cross-court forehand to conclude proceedings.
“My serve was there when I needed it in big moments,” Keys said in her on-court interview. “I also started points off well when I was returning too so there were very few times when I wasn’t in control of a point.”
The American could face one of her compatriots – top seed Sloane Stephens – in the last eight. However, the World No.8 will have to come through a very tricky encounter with Alja Tomljanovic to set up a meeting with Keys.
Wozniacki reaches first quarter-final of 2019
Caroline Wozniacki has had a difficult time recently. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the latter part of last season and she missed tournaments in Doha and Dubai in February with a viral illness.
Given these struggles, the Dane is bound to be pleased with her week in Charleston so far. She thrashed Laura Siegemund 6-2 6-2 and backed up that win today with a typically dogged 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu. Wozniacki will now play Maria Sakkari in the last eight.
Elsewhere in Miami, Monica Puig upset No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 7-5 to set up a quarter-final clash with Danielle Collins, who beat Kaia Kanepi 7-6(1) 6-1.
Pliskova And Konta Advance To Rome Final
Johanna Konta edged world n.4 Kiki Bertens while Karolina Pliskova scored a straight-set victory against Maria Sakkari
After a washout on Wednesday and a double duty day on Thursday, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia were bracing for another wet afternoon on Saturday. Eventually, the very cold spell of Italian spring that has so far marred the 2019 Italian Open decided to spare the Foro Italico on the first day of the final weekend and allowed the two women’s singles semifinals to take place with only one very short interruption.
In the first match, 28-year-old Brit Johanna Konta came back from one set down and only two points away from defeat to overcome Mutua Madrid Open champion and world n.4 Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. The Dutch woman seemed to be in control of the match after she swooped the first set winning the last three games in a row (from 4-5 to 7-5) imposing her offensive and defensive game over a nervous and tentative Konta, who also failed to consolidate an initial break in the second set by losing her serve for the third time in a row. However, as the match progressed Konta started shaking off her initial jitters and held her subsequent service game with authority. At 4-5 30-30, a shanked smash pinched the line and the following forehand volley winner sealed the 5-5, signing a progressive decline in Berten’s sharpness and aggressiveness. “I think everything was hard today to ignore – said Bertens in the post-match press conference – the court was really slippery, so it’s tough to move on. Especially I like it when it’s not so slippery so I can move a little bit better. With the wind, it was really tough. She played really smart with the dropshots. She did a good job in there. I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy. But, yeah, it was not there”.
At her first final on clay and at her first final in a Premier Five/Premier Mandatory tournament after her triumph in Miami in 2017, Konta describer her effort on court as a “continuous adjustment, a continuous openness to figure it out within the match. I stayed very open in trying to find a solution in each point […] after I lost the first set, I didn’t do much wrong. It was a very good set of tennis. Equally the second set, as well. There wasn’t anybody putting a bad foot out of line. In the third, I definitely felt that I was able to maintain my level a bit better than her. I think that gave me the upper hand in stringing some more points together”.
Konta will face in the final n.4 seed Karolina Pliskova, who during the late afternoon match defeated Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4. Sakkari started the match extremely well taking an early 4-2 lead, but could not continue to produce the same level of tennis in the second part of the set and was surpassed by her better ranked opponent. “Your intensity just dropped by one percent – said Sakkari’s coach Tom Hill during an on-court coaching session at the end of the first set – that’s the only difference between the first games and the last in this first set”.
During the second set, Pliskova was always ahead in the score, and despite she was the player more under pressure on her serve during the first half of the set, she eventually managed to break her opponent to love on 5-4 closing the match after one hour, 27 minutes. “I’m super happy for this result because I don’t feel I have been playing my best tennis – said Pliskova after the match – coming into this week I felt I would probably win one match, possibly two, I’m very confident for Paris now”.
The head-to-head between Pliskova and Konta see the Czech having won four of the previous five matches at WTA level, plus further two at ITF level. The only win for Konta came in Beijing in 2016, when the Brit reached her first Premier Mandatory final.
Johanna Konta Reaches Biggest Semi-Final Since 2017
Johanna Konta advanced to her first semi-final in Rome by beating Vondrousova in three sets, while Pliskova beat Azarenka.
Johanna Konta will contest the biggest match of her career since Wimbledon 2017 when she takes on Kiki Bertens in the semi-final of the Italian Open.
The Brit, who is celebrating her 28th birthday today, looked in excellent form during her 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory over rising star Marketa Vondrousova and she fully deserves her place in the last four.
Konta’s win seems even more impressive when you consider the two players the Czech, 19, beat to reach the quarter-final stage: Simona Halep and Daria Kasatkina.
With those scalps under her belt, Vondrousova would surely have fancied her chances against the Brit. However, that confidence quickly eroded after the World No.42 controlled the opening set.
Konta made a great start. She hit a series of deep backhands which pushed the Czech back as she almost got an immediate break.
Although Vondrousova held on, the Brit then earned three more chances in game three. She took the second to move into a 2-1 lead.
Konta dominated her service games to maintain her advantage for the rest of the set, and then broke the Czech again in game nine to clinch it.
To Vondrousova’s credit, she fought back well in the second set and eventually won it 6-3. However, the Brit knew what to do in the decider. She stepped into the court and attacked anything short. This enabled her to win six games in a row and seal her spot in the semi-final.
Azarenka’s impressive run comes to an end
It has been a brilliant week in Rome for Victoria Azarenka, but her participation in the singles event is now over after a 6-7(5) 6-2 6-2 loss to Karolina Pliskova.
The Belarussian, 29, impressed during her three-set win over another top ten player – Elina Svitolina – in the second round, but she could not repeat the feat against the World No.7.
For Pliskova, the match against Azarenka represented a significant hurdle to negotiate. But she responded superbly to losing the first set by raising her game considerably to win the next two.
“Azarenka was playing good tennis today. She wasn’t missing much,” the Czech said in her press conference.
She continued, “It was a little bit windy, so I didn’t feel at my best in the first set. I don’t think my level was that bad, but I was too passive. To begin with, I wanted to kill myself after that set. Then I calmed down a bit and went for my shots a little bit more, which paid off.”
Pliskova’s reward will be a semi-final against either Maria Sakkari or Kristina Mladenovic. If it is the Greek, it will bring back memories of their encounter last year when the Czech famously lost her temper and damaged the umpire’s chair.
“I haven’t played Sakkari since Rome last year, so I think everybody is going to be waiting for this match – even me,” the World No.7 said. “The rematch has almost happened in a couple of tournaments recently, but she always lost before. I think she was scared to face me!”
Kiki Bertens receives a walkover into the semifinal, as Naomi Osaka withdraws from the quarter final due to a right hand injury
Last week’s Madrid Mutua Open champion Kiki Bertens overcame 2015 Rome finalist Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 1-6 6-3 after 1 hour and 49 minutes to extend her winning streak to eight consecutive matches.
A rain wash-out on Wednesday forced Bertens to postpone her Rome campaign until Thursday and play two matches to advance to the quarter final.
Bertens overcame Amanda Anisimova 6-2 4-6 7-5 after being just two points from defeat in her first Thursday match before surviving another three-set battle against Carla Suarez Navarro.
Bertens went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead and held on her service games to seal the opening set on her fourth set point.
Suarez Navarro broke serve twice to clinch the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the third set.
Bertens broke twice in a row to race out to a 4-0 lead in the decisive set. Suarez Navarro pulled one of the two breaks back. Bertens held on her next service games to seal the win to secure her spot in the quarter final.
“It was only fight today that got me through. It wasn’t the best tennis, but sometimes that happens where you just have to find a way. Luckily I found it. I got to hit yesterday morning because I was first on, so at 9 AM, I warmed up until 9.30, when I thought that maybe we will be able to go on court, but it did not happen. I was on site from 8 AM to 6 PM, so it was a long day, but for everyone. This morning I saw the schedule for 10 AM, so the alarm went off at 6.30. Not my best morning. After the first match, I felt more mentally fatigued, but a long second match, you feel it physically”, said Bertens.
The Dutch player has received a walkover into the semifinal after her quarter final rival Naomi Osaka was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a right hand injury. Osaka also had to pull out of the Stuttgart Open because of an abdominal problem, but she reached the biggest clay quarter final of her career in Madrid, where she served for the match, but she lost to Belinda Bencic 3-6 6-2 7-5.
Naomi Osaka Faces Four Threats In Fight To Maintain No.1 Position At French Open
Alexander Zverev edged past Hugo Dellien to reach the semifinal in Geneva
Controversial ITF Ranking System To Be Scrapped Following Player Backlash
Nikoloz Basilashvili sets up Lyon semifinal against Felix Auger Aliassime
Grand Slams Champions Stand In The Way Of Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina At French Open
Nick Kyrgios Says ‘Cringeworthy’ Djokovic Will Never Be As Great As Federer, Blasts Nadal
Rafael Nadal ‘Tired’ Of Accusations Concerning Gender Inequality In Tennis
Former Junior Champion Tommy Paul Secures French Open Wild Card
Fognini And Panatta: History Repeats Itself
EXCLUSIVE: Jelena Ostapenko’s Fight For Form
VIDEO: Rafael Nadal, Karolina Pliskova Conqueror Rome
VIDEO: Novak Djokovic To Lock Horns With Nadal In Rome
(VIDEO) Another Act Of The Nick Kyrgios Show
Roger Federer Explains What His Motto In Life Is During Q&A Video For Barilla
(VIDEO) Serena Williams Narrates New Nike Advert Celebrating Female Athletes
Focus3 days ago
Simona Halep Downplays Roland Garros Chances Before Arriving In Paris
Hot Topics2 days ago
From Navratilova To Nadal: Tennis Legends And Coaches Pick Their French Open Favourites
Hot Topics3 days ago
“Who Likes Clay?” – Nick Kyrgios Aims Dig At French Open
ATP2 days ago
Alexander Zverev cruises past Ernests Gulbis to reach the quarter final in Geneva
Focus2 days ago
Denis Shapovalov Gains Momentum In Lyon Ahead Of Roland Garros Challenge
ATP2 days ago
Felix Auger Aliassime reaches the quarter final in Lyon
ATP1 day ago
Damir Dzumhur knocks out Stan Wawrinka in Geneva
Hot Topics21 hours ago
‘A Ball Mark Got More Attention’ – Argentinian Whistleblower Slams Corruption In Tennis