Simona Halep Downplays Roland Garros Chances Before Arriving In Paris - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Downplays Roland Garros Chances Before Arriving In Paris

Simona Halep is looking for her second consecutive title at the French Open but admits it won’t be easy.

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Simona Halep (@AusOpen - Twitter)

Defending champion Simona Halep has downplayed her chances of winning Roland Garros this year ahead of her arrival in Paris. 

 

The Romanian is on her way to Paris after having a few days of rest in her home country and heads into the second grand slam of the year having reached the final in Madrid.

Despite losing her first match in Rome as well as injuring her leg, Halep arrives as one of the favourites given her superior clay court record.

But before arriving in Paris, Halep has acknowledged that her title defence will be tough in an interview with the Romanian Journal, “I did not say I am or I am not favourite. I believe I have to go there and do my best,” Halep said at the Henri Coanda Airport.

“If I win matches, it’s good. For me, most important is that I am OK and I am going there. At Roland Garros every day counts, whatever we may say. One has to win tough matches to reach the second week.”

In order to defend her title Halep will need to fight off challenges from the likes of Kiki Bertens, Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber.

However Halep is looking to use the positive memories from last year to get her across the finishing line in 2019, “I am leaving for Roland Garros very glad, another year has passed and I am last year’s champion. I am glad I am going there. Paris is my favourite city and I am looking forward to get there,” she explained.

“These are special moments and will remain special, it was for the first time and it is my favourite tournament. Clay is a surface I like to play on. It’s faster there, one can slip, but every year things are different.”

The world number three will look for a favourable draw, when it is released on Thursday evening as she looks to go back-to-back and make more history for her country.

Grand Slam

Julia Goerges Knocks Out 13th Seed Petra Martic At Australian Open 2020

Petra Martic became only the second WTA top 20 player to be knocked out of the 2020 Australian Open when she lost a tough three-set match to Julia Goerges.

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If Petra Martic looked at the 2020 Australian Open draw and felt a sense of dread when she saw that she would probably face Julia Goerges in the second round, that would be entirely understandable.

 

The German, 31, is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous unseeded players at Melbourne Park this year. She possesses a huge serve and a brutal forehand. She has won seven WTA titles, appeared in ten other finals, and was once ranked World No.9. And she was seeded the last two times she participated in the first Grand Slam of the year.

To make matters worse for Martic, Goerges beat her in straight sets just seven months ago when then played at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.

When you add all these ingredients together, you get the perfect recipe for an early exit from the 13th seed.

Ultimately, that is exactly what happened. But you would not have guessed it was going to during the first set, as Goerges made way too many unforced errors against a player as consistent as Martic.

Consequently, the German lost it 6-4. There was only one break of serve, but it came at a crucial time – the ninth game – and the Croatian then held easily to clinch the set.

Goerges keeps the faith

Despite this setback, Goerges never lost faith in her approach. She continued to attack – as she always does – but she also managed to cut down on the number of errors she made.

Unsurprisingly, this improvement yielded positive results for the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist. She hit eight winners (and made just five unforced errors) as she opened a 5-2 lead.

However, Goerges almost wasted her hard work. She made two unforced errors when she was serving for the set at 5-3 and suddenly found herself facing three break points. Fortunately for the German, she produced one winner and Martic made two errors to bring the score back to deuce. Then Goerges won the next two points to seal the set.

The third set was a strange affair. The German looked in control when she broke early and established a 4-2 lead.

However, she played an awful service game to allow the Croatian to break back and level the score at 4-4. Then she failed to convert two break points in the next game and Martic capitalised to move ahead.

To her great credit, Goerges remained resolute. She battled to a hold. Then she hit some sparkling winners and outlasted the 13th seed in a few long rallies to get the decisive break in game eleven. Finally, she hit three superb winners as she held to love to complete a hard-fought triumph.

Osaka glides into round three

Naomi Osaka continued her serene progress through the draw with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Zheng Saisai in the Margaret Court Arena.

Although she will be happy with the win, the defending champion will be keen to serve better in the next round. She was broken three times by the Chinese player and only won 57% of all the points played on her serve.

Osaka could face Coco Gauff in the last 32 for the second Grand Slam in a row. The American sensation takes on Sorana Cirstea in the second round later today.

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Sofia Kenin became the first player to make it through to the third round. She completed a 6-1 6-3 thrashing of American youngster Ann Li in just 57 minutes.

The 14th seed will now line up against Zhang Shuai in the third round. The experienced Chinese player beat American qualifier Catherine McNally 6-2 6-4.

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Simona Halep Plays Down Injury Fears Following Australian Open Falls

Is the two-time grand slam champion facing the prospect of playing another grand slam tournament with an injury cloud looming over her head?

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Simona Halep (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Fourth seed Simona Halep has said there is ‘nothing dangerous’ about her wrist after she awkwardly landed on it during her first round match at the Australian Open.

 

The reigning Wimbledon champion suffered a couple of falls throughout her at times tricky 7-6(5), 6-1, win over America’s Jennifer Brady. The person who stunned world No.1 Ash Barty in Brisbane earlier this year. During the first set it appeared as if the two-time grand slam champion hurt her right wrist following a fall. In the immediate aftermath, she had heavy strapping put on it.

It is not the first time Halep has suffered an early injury scare at the tournament. Two years ago, she rolled her ankle during her first round match. That was the same year where she reached the final of the tournament for the first time.

“A little bit sore, but nothing dangerous at this moment. So I will see tomorrow morning after I wake up.” Halep commented on her wrist.
“I don’t know why in the first round I always fall down. Maybe it’s a good sign. Let’s hope for that.” She added.

Despite the scare, the 28-year-old managed to secure a place in round two with the help of a dominant 27-minute second from from her. Producing 20 winners and winning 65% of her service points. Making it her 20th main draw match win at the Australian Open since 2011.

“I had just to push her back as much as possible, to make her run, playing a little bit both sides. I served pretty okay. And after that very tough set, in the second set I’ve been more relaxed. I’ve been a little bit more aggressive. I tried to finish some points, which I did.” She commented on her latest performance.

As one of a group of former grand slam champions in the women’s draw, Halep is among the favourites to lift the Melbourne title. Although she dismisses the theory that her previous triumphs place her on a stronger footing for her current tournament. On the women’s tour the last 12 major tournaments have been won by 10 different players. During that period Halep and Naomi Osaka are the only to have won multiple titles.

“It’s just a big, huge thing that I could win Wimbledon. For myself, it’s huge. But normally in life, it’s the same.” She explained.
“I had confidence before Wimbledon because I won the (2018) French Open, I won so many titles. So I don’t stay related to one tournament about the confidence. The confidence is coming with the matches. I feel good on the court now.”

Halep will play British qualifier Harriet Dart in the next round. The world No.173 scored a marathon 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) win over Japan’s Misaki Doi.

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Maria Sharapova Fuels Retirement Speculation After Australian Open Exit

Is this the biggest hint yet that the Russian will be walking away from the sport this year?

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Maria Sharapova has admitted that she is unsure if she will play in the Australian Open again following her first round loss in Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

 

Sharapova, who received a wild card into the main draw, fell 6-3, 6-4, to Croatian world No.20 Donna Vekic. Still on the comeback from a shoulder injury that hampered her 2019 season, the former world No.1 failed to capitalise on a 4-1 lead in the second set after dropping six consecutive games to crash out. Furthermore, Sharapova also produced almost twice as many errors compared to Vekic with 31 against 17.

“If I’m looking at that part of the match, it’s a combination of she definitely stepped up on those points, played well, played big, deep, and a little bit of making the wrong choices.” Sharapova reflected during her press conference.

Losing in the first round of Melbourne for the first time since 2010, speculation is mounting about Sharapova’s future in the world of tennis. When questioned by reporters, she said she ‘doesn’t know’ what will happen in 12 months time when asked if she will be returning to Australia. It was at the Australian Open where she played her first grand slam main draw match back in 2003 at the age of 15.

“I don’t know. I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankfully to Craig (Tiley) and the team allowing me to be part of this event.” She said.
“It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time.”

The comment comes after what was a troublesome 2019 season. Due to injury issues, Sharapova only managed to play in eight tournaments in which she won eight matches. The five-time grand slam champion has now dropped to 144th in the world rankings. Her lowest position since starting her return from a doping ban back in 2017.

Whilst there is no immediate indication of a retirement from the sport, it is unclear as to what Sharapova’s plans are over the coming months. She is currently trained on the tour by prestigious Italian coach Riccardo Piatti. A partnership she intends to continue. Although she is unsure if she will be able to get in shape to play the tournaments she wants to.

“I would like to. I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to.” Sharapova told reporters.

Should this year’s Australian Open be the last one for Sharapova, she exits with 15 main draw appearances. The 2008 champion has won 58 matches in what is her most successful grand slam tournament in terms of match wins to date.

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