Johanna Konta Reaches Biggest Semi-Final Since 2017 - UBITENNIS
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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.

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Johanna Konta (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

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

Karolina Pliskova (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

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!”

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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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