Simona Halep Crashes Out In Rome - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Crashes Out In Rome

Simona Halep suffered a shock early loss in Rome when she was defeated in three sets by Marketa Vondrousova, while Madison Keys also lost.

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Simona Halep (@MutuaMadridOpen on Twitter)

Simona Halep’s frustrating year continued with a surprising 2-6 7-5 6-3 loss to Marketa Vondrousova at the Italian Open.

 

The Romanian, 27, has lost two WTA Premier finals in 2019 – in Doha and Madrid – and she lost to Serena Williams in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Halep was also defeated by Vondrousova at Indian Wells, which could have made today’s loss even more difficult to accept. However, she seemed quite relaxed about it in her press conference.

“It’s been a little bit tough because we had to stay here till late yesterday,” the Romanian said. “But it was the same for everybody so I cannot complain about that. I just couldn’t win today.”

She continued, “Actually, I have extra days off, which is good, so I will enjoy the rest of the days here and try to be ready for the French Open.”

The World No.2 played well in the opening set. She got the better of the Czech in all the big moments and saved all four of the break points she faced. Crucially, Halep was also clinical when she got the chance to break Vondrousova. She seized two out of three break points to win the set 6-2.

Vondrousova finds a way to beat Halep again

But the World No.44 began to disrupt the Romanian’s rhythm with her variety in the next two sets – much like she did at Indian Wells.

Vondrousova used the drop shot particularly well. When Halep was trading with her from the baseline, she picked her moments to employ the stroke perfectly and ended up with 14 drop shot winners as a result.

The Czech also held her nerve superbly as the tight second set came down to one game right at the end when she led 6-5. She put Halep under pressure and took her second break point to level the match.

In the decider, the Romanian appeared to be struggling with a leg injury. This ruined the contest somewhat, but Vondrousova was undeterred as she clinically closed out the set 6-3.

The Czech will face Daria Kasatkina in round three after the Russian overcame Katerina Siniakova 2-6 6-4 6-1.

Keys suffers shock loss

Madison Keys (@VolvoCarOpen on Twitter)

Madison Keys followed Halep out of the exit door after shock 6-7(2) 6-3 6-4 loss to compatriot Sofia Kenin. The American, 24, won her first clay-court tournament in Charleston last month. However, she has struggled to reproduce that form since.

She was not the only American who had a bad day. Sloane Stephens, the 2018 French Open finalist, lost 6-7(3) 6-4 6-1 to Johanna Konta.

It was an excellent performance from the Brit, who is starting to look more comfortable on clay since her recent run to the final in Rabat. She will face Venus Williams next.

Amid all that seeded carnage, four of the most prominent WTA players survived. Garbine Muguruza outlasted Danielle Collins 6-4 4-6 6-2. Madrid Open champion Kiki Bertens edged out rising star Amanda Anisimova 6-2 4-6 7-5. Naomi Osaka beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-3. And Petra Kvitova demolished Yulia Putintseva 6-0 6-1.

Kristina Mladenovic also continued her recent resurgence with an impressive 6-2 2-6 6-1 win over the in-form Belinda Bencic.

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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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