Simona Halep Gains Momentum In Her Beloved Madrid Despite Pesky Cold - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Gains Momentum In Her Beloved Madrid Despite Pesky Cold

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Simona Halep ( photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

MADRID: It is a bit like a love story when it comes to Simona Halep and the Madrid Open.

 

The reigning French Open champion is one of only four women to have recorded 20 or more wins in the tournament. She is also only the second woman to have won back-to-back Madrid titles after Serena Williams.

On Tuesday Halep continued her love affair in the Spanish capital with a rollercoaster 7-5, 6-1, win over Johanna Konta. Their first tour meeting since 2017. Konta entered the match fresh in confidence after reaching the final of the Marrakech Open on Sunday. Initially, it was that confidence that proved problematic for the former world No.1. Halep initially struggled to break the brick wall defensive play of her opponent as she trailed 2-4.

Despite the setback, a gutsy Halep battled back into contention with the help of some misses from the Brit. With little to separate the two throughout the opener, Halep eventually prevailed on the 60th minute. After missing four set points, she triumphed on her fifth with the help of a Konta backhand drifting wide.

Snatching the lead, Halep’s momentum gained rapidly as her opponent faded away in the second. Winning 15 points in a row to race through the second set in half the time it took her to triumph in the first. Overall, she won 62% of her service points and saved six out of the eight break points she faced.

“I feel good every time when I come to Madrid and I’m happy to be back and winning matches.” Halep said during her press conference. “It’s a special place for me. Many friends are coming. Ilie Nastase was there today, Nadia Comaneci, many others. It’s nice to play in front of them and when you feel like home, you can play better. So that’s why here I can play one of my best games.”

Madrid is the first test for Halep on the clay this season. It is a later than scheduled start due to a hip injury, which she has since recovered from. However, she has fallen victim to illness. A relatable situation Rafael Nadal also finds himself in.

“I have no pain anymore. I had a rest at home.” The Romanian assured. “When I arrived here, I got a cold and I’m not 100 percent. But, as it looks, it doesn’t affect my game that much. Just that recovery is more difficult. ‘
“I’m here to give everything I have and I have no expectations for this week.”

Whilst declaring that she has ‘no expectations,’ the 27-year-old must fancy her chances. Besides her record at the venue, there has been no clear frontrunner on the tour. In fact, five months into 2019 and Petra Kvitova is the only player to have won multiple grand slam titles.

“It’s a good thing for tennis and for the spectators as well,” Halep explains. “It’s more exciting to see many champions. Tennis is open now and everyone has the chance to win and to be there, to be in the top.”

Whilst relishing in the unpredictability of the tour, Halep will be hoping that no surprises occur in her next match. Awaiting her will be Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova. Somebody who reached the doubles finals of the Prague Open on clay and stunned Kiki Bertens earlier this year.

“It’s a big challenge always when I play with someone that I never played before. So I just want to see what I have to do against her. But the main thing is to focus on myself, on my game, and if I feel it, then I have a better chance.” The world No.2 previewed.

Halep will play her third round match on Wednesday.

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Jannik Sinner reaches the quarter final at the ATP Challenger in Ortisei

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Just five days after winning the ATP Next Gen title in Milan Italian 18-year-old rising star Jannik Sinner returned to the court to play at the Sparkasse Challenger in Ortisei in Val Gardena, less than two hours from his hometown of San Candido in the Italian region of Sudtyol.

 

Sinner started his tournament in Ortisei with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 win over Lucas Miedler and continued his campaign with a 6-3 6-4 win over his compatriot Roberto Marcora in a sold-out night session to qualify for the quarter finals.

Sinner broke Marcora in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 with an ace after rallying from 0-30 down in the ninth game. Sinner broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead in the second set and never looked back in his next service games to seal the win. Sinner will face Federico Gaio, who beat world number 172 Danilo Petrovic 6-4 6-4.

Sinner became the youngest winner ever in the ATP Challenger circuit last February in Bergamo. He won his second Challenger title in Lexington last summer. He has improved his ranking by 600 points to a career-high of number 96 in the ATP Ranking.

Italian wild card Lorenzo Musetti swept aside Bernabé Zapata Miralles 6-4 6-0 setting up a quarter final match against Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, who beat his compatriot Dennis Novak in the tie-break of the third set 3-6 6-3 7-6 (8-6).

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Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek end the season with a win over Rain Klaasen and Michael Venus

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Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek beat Jonas Bjorkman Group winners Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the doubles tournament at the ATP Finals in London ending their season with a win.

 

Klaasen and Venus got the first break of the match in the fifth game, but they were broken back in the eighth game, as they failed to serve out for the first set.

Dodig and Polasek earned a chance to close out the first set in the 10th game. Klaasen and Venus fended off two set points to force a tie-break. Klaasen and Venus took a 4-3 lead, but Dodig and Polasek reeled off four points to seal the tie-break 7-4.

Dodig and Polasek earned an early break at the start of the second set and held on their serve to claim the win.

“I think we had amazing season. We played 11 tournaments together and now we are here in London. To close the season with a win here is a great feeling. We are looking forward to next year”,said Dodig.

 “It’s awesome to win here. The atmosphere throughout the week has been great. It’s been an unbelievable journey. I am really happy we can finish the season with a win here. There is no better feeling”, said Polasek.  

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Matteo Berrettini Scores Historic Win Before Exit From ATP Finals

The 23-year-old ends his breakthrough season on the ATP Tour with another milestone in his career.

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LONDON: Matteo Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to win a match at the ATP Finals after defeating Dominic Thiem on Thursday afternoon.

 

The world No.8 managed to dismantle the game of his rival, who was far from his best at times, with the help of his blistering serve to seal the 7-6(3), 6-3, victory. Ending Thiem’s streak of four consecutive wins over top 10 players, including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earlier this week. In total Berrettini hit 30 winners to 21 unforced errors and converted both of his break point opportunities.

“I’ve always had great fights against him. I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set when I lost my serve because I didn’t play a great game.” Berrettini said afterward.
“I’m really happy with my performance because I am not feeling great physically.” He added.

The downside to the round-robin format of the event is that some matches end up being irrelevant with this being one of them. Regardless of the outcome, Thiem has already qualified for the semi-finals and Berrettini is on his way out. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old Italian was playing for pride at The O2 Arena.

A close start to the match saw neither playing managing to gain any momentum during the first eight games. Then inconsistencies in Thiem’s game started to haunt him. Berrettini’s ability to hit the ball deep into the court forced his rival to make a series of errors as he broke for a 5-4 lead. However, it was his turn to stumble behind his serve as Thiem broke back to level with relative ease.

Despite neither player capitalizing on their advantages, the tiebreaker was a one-sided encounter. Three Thiem unforced errors, as well as a winning Berrettini slice, saw him go behind 0-4 in the blink of an eye. Creating enough of a margin for Berrettini to seal the first set with the help of a 134 mph ace.

Thiem clearly looked flat on the court compared to two days ago when he downed Djokovic, however, nothing should be taken away from Berrettini. Who kept focus and stuck to his game plan throughout the match. A backhand passing shot, followed by a crosscourt winner enabled him to break once again midway through the second set. Easing towards victory after just 76 minutes play, Berrettini closed the match out with a delicate drop shot.

“I’m really proud of myself, but also for my team, my family and my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season.” He reflected on his year.
“I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season to be here (in London). I hope to come back next year, but now I just want to say thanks to those guys (his team). Without them, it couldn’t be possible.”
“I’m happy to finish with a win.“

Despite the loss, Thiem will finish at the top of the Bjorg Born Group. He will play the runner-up of the other group in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Whilst Berrettini’s ATP season is over, he can’t rest yet. Next week he will be in Madrid playing for his country in the Davis Cup along with many other of his fellow players.

“There is one more event. I have to rest a little bit and then I think I deserve a holiday.” He declared.

Berrettini ends 2019 with 43 wins on the ATP Tour in what is a career best. He started the year ranked 54th in the world and didn’t make his top 10 debut until last month.

Italian men in the ATP Finals

-C. Barazzutti in 1978 – 0 wins and 3 loses
-A. Panatta in 1975 – 0 wins and 3 losses
-M. Barrettini in 2019 – 1 win and 2 losses

 

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