Venus Williams Edges Past Mertens In Rome Epic - UBITENNIS
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Venus Williams Edges Past Mertens In Rome Epic

Venus Williams beat Elise Mertens in a marathon three-set match in Rome despite missing out on eight match points.

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Venus Williams overcame Elise Mertens 7-5 3-6 7-6(4) in a marathon first-round match in Rome that lasted three hours and five minutes.

The American, had not played since March and at times the rustiness showed in her game, but it is a testament to her winning mentality that she came through it despite missing a remarkable eight match points.

It looked like it would be easier for Venus when she took control of the deciding set and stormed into a 5-2 lead.

She then established a 40-15 advantage on serve and it seemed certain that the match would be over seconds later. However, the American faltered and Mertens stepped up and saved both match points.

Unsurprisingly, Venus soon had another chance to finish it. But she could not take that one either, and the game got more extraordinary after that.

Venus earned three more match points (taking her total to six) and Mertens had three break points before she finally took her fourth to keep the match going.

The Belgian kept the pressure on the World No.50 by holding serve to make it 5-4. This meant the American had one more chance to serve for the match.

The drama continued. Venus earned two more match points and Mertens saved them both. Then the World No.20 earned one break point and took it to level the set – incredibly – at 5-5.

Briefly, it appeared as though the American would win the set 7-5 when she broke to lead 6-5. However, the Belgian quickly snuffed out that possibility by breaking to love.

Compared to the chaos of the set up to that point, the tie-break seemed routine as Venus took it 7-4. Understandably, she looked very relieved that she had won.

Venus and Mertens share first two sets

The first set was very tight. Venus made a good start and got an early break. Then her level dipped and Mertens broke straight back to make it 2-2.

That exchange of breaks set the pattern for the rest of a rollercoaster set. The American broke to lead 4-2 and the Belgian dragged it back to 4-4. Then Mertens broke to earn a chance to serve for the set, only for Venus to deny her breaking straight back.

The World No.50 built on that break with a hold to put the pressure on the Belgian at 6-5. Unfortunately for Mertens, she succumbed to that pressure with two double faults and a sloppy error to hand Venus a set-sealing break.

Venus looked confident at the beginning of the second set and she raced through her first three service games.

However, despite carving out four break point opportunities during that time, the American failed to take any of them. It ended up costing her, as Mertens broke her in the seventh game to lead for the first time in the set.

The Belgian consolidated that break with a love hold which opened a 5-3 lead. She then capitalised on an error-strewn ninth game from Venus to break again and seal the set. A remarkable decider followed.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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