Barty Edges Anisimova In Roller Coaster Match To Reach Maiden Major Final - UBITENNIS
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Barty Edges Anisimova In Roller Coaster Match To Reach Maiden Major Final

Ashleigh Barty squandered a 5-0 lead in first set but came back to win in a decider. It is her first final in a Grand Slam tournament

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What a good show for 20 Euros! Due to the washout on Wednesday, Roland Garros women’s semifinals have been confined to Court Suzanne Lenglen and Simonne Mathieu for the viewing pleasure of ground ticket holders. The match between Ahsleigh Barty and Amanda Anisimova on Lenglen was a synopsis of everything good women’s tennis can offer: great shotmaking, power, finesse and a lot of drama. Barty ended up getting the win of this topsy-turvy event after recovering a one set and 0-3 deficit.

 

The start was a dream for Barty: focused, hitting the ball like it happens only in heaven, the Aussie took full advantage of the teenage jitters by Anisimova to run away in the score: 16 points to 1 in nine minutes for a 4-0 lead, 20-3 for the 5-0 in 14 minutes.
After two set points canceled to avoid a bagel in a bliss of 15 minutes, Anisimova benefited from a curious hiccup by Barty: while running after a drop shot, her right foot got stuck in the wet clay during a slide attempt, causing her to stumble and put the integrity of her ankle in some danger. That simple episode broke the magic of an unable-to-miss Barty who saw a few of her shots miss the court by a whisker and conceded one of the two breaks of advantage back.

That’s when a new match started: striking the ball with newly found vigor, Anisimova started leading the rallies with her brilliant cross-court drives to come back, game after game, until she was in a position to serve for the set at 6-5 having won six games in a row. No set-points, however, came for her in that game, as she allowed her opponent back to 6-6 with some shaky unforced errors that cost her a break and a warning for a smashed racquet.
The subsequent tie-break was dominated by errors and nerves: an elusive 4-2 lead by Barty turned into a 7-4 win by Anisimova in 46 minutes.

As the first raindrops of the afternoon started falling from an ominously black sky, Barty found herself with the daunting task to overcome the thought of having lost a set where she was leading 5-0 40-15. The price to pay was a 17-point streak by Anisimova that sent the teenager up 3-0 in the second set in less than 10 minutes. But as an ant starting to rebuild its nest after it has been thumped over by a giant, Barty started to string her slices together again, with deeper trajectories and a more consistent top spin forehands to provoke the errors that eventually came from Anisimova. Six games in a row, and after 73 minutes the match was squared at one set all.

Barty held the first game of the decider in a 10-minute 14-point game filled with great shots and an almost tearful Anisimova, who managed to get an early break two games later through a masterful use of her backhand drop-shot. But her lead was short-lived: as strengthening rain and wind were hitting Court Suzanne Lenglen (Storm Marcus was arriving in Paris with forecasted gusts of up to 120 km/h), Barty broke back immediately with a splendid cross-court forehand and went on to win four games in a row for a 5-2 lead. Anisimova refused defeat at first as she recovered from 0-40 deficit erasing three match points, but Barty promptly held her serve at 15 in the following game to close the match 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 after one hours, 53 minutes.

Barty reaches her first Grand Slam final, improving her record for the year to 32-6 and will face on Saturday teenager Marketa Vondrousova, whom she has beaten twice in two previous matches.

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Grand Slam Winner Francesca Schiavone Returns To Tennis As Coach For Top 25 Star

The former world No.4 is teaming up with a old rival of hers on the Tour.

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Francesca Schiavone will be returning to women’s tennis next week but as a coach for the 21st best player in the world, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

 

The 2014 French Open champion has agreed to start working with Croatia’s Petra Martic who she will be mentoring throughout the entire clay swing. It is understood that their first tournament together will be at the Istanbul Open which will start next Monday. Matic has been ranked as high as 14th in the world and reached the quarter-finals of the French Open back in 2019.

It is not the first time Schiavone has taken on a coaching role after previously collaborating with Caroline Wozniacki during 2019. That also occurred during the clay swing of the Tour. Since then the Italian has experienced her own personal battle after being diagnosed with cancer shortly after her stint with Wozniacki. She has since beaten the illness and even written a book detailing her memoirs.

“I was supposed to do something different, but then I got sick and that year (2019) was very difficult,” Schiavone told wtatennis.com last year. “In that moment, I had some projects I had to totally change. I couldn’t fly, go anywhere to see people. It changed everything. Once I started feeling better, COVID happened. Every project went in a different way.”

The 40-year-old has previously crossed paths with Martic on the Tour as a player. In 2016 she beat the Croat in the semi-finals of the Rio Open en route to the trophy. Rio was the second last title she ever won on the WTA Tour. They have also played against each other in doubles at the 2010 US Open and the 2012 Italian Open.

It is understood that Schiavone’s latest mission will also see her work with Martic in Madrid, Rome and the French Open. It is unclear as to if the partnership is just for the clay swing or a longer stint. Neither person is yet to publicly comment on their plans but they have been confirmed by multiple Italian media sources.

Schiavone has been ranked as high as 4th in the world. She has won eight WTA titles during her career and played in 70 Grand Slam main draws over a 18-year period.

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Victoria Azarenka Pulls Out Of Stuttgart

The world No.15 has decided to skip her next event but it is for a very good reason.

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Two-time Australian open champion Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from next week’s Porsche Open in Germany to get a COVID-19 vaccination. 

 

The former world No.1 issued a statement on Wednesday confirming that she will not be playing in the tournament as it collides with when she is set to receive her first dose. In recent weeks there has been a debate among players about whether they should have the vaccination given the nature of travelling they do. Both the ATP and WTA have issued statements urging players to do so when they get the opportunity.

“I will unfortunately not be able to compete in Stuttgart at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix next week as I will be receiving my first dosis (sic) of the vaccine at the same time. I wish the tournament all the best, and I do hope to be able to compete again in Stuttgart next year,” Azarenka wrote on Twitter.

Recently the Volvo Open in Charleston, which is a WTA event, became the first on the Tour to offer vaccines to all players participating. It is understood that the tournament and Plantation Pharmacy, a local drugstore, formed an agreement. All players were contacted by email and offered a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccination. It is unclear as to if any other tournaments will do similar initiatives in the future.

Azarenka has played in four tournaments so far this season and won five out of nine matches played on the Tour. Her best run was at the Doha Open where she reached the semi-finals before being forced to pull out due to a back injury. 

Despite the absence of the world No.15, Stuttgart is set to have a world-class field with seven top 10 players participating in the draw. Held at the Porsche-Arena and held on indoor clay, the event has been held in the city since 2006. This year’s edition will be headlined by world No.1 Ash Barty who has already won two titles this season. Simona Halep, Sofia Kenin and defending champion Petra Kvitova are also participating. 

The main draw will get underway on Monday.

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Veronika Kudermetova Finally Has Her Own Trophy

The Russian repeatedly went for winners and had all the answers in the clutch moments of the Charleston final.

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Veronika Kudermetova finally has her name on a WTA Tour 500 tournament championship trophy after winning the Volvo Car Open singles title on Sunday in Charleston, S.C.

 

The slender Russian with a “fighter” mentality is listed right there with the likes of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin,  Martina Hingis, Gabriela Sabatini and many other former greats of the women’s game who have won the long-running tournament that once was named the Family Circle Cup.

No wonder Kudermetova was so happy. In addition to winning her first WTA Tour title, she earned a check worth $68,570 and a sparkling white new Volvo car to use for one year.

NEW VOLVO HITS THE SPOT

“I am most proud I continue to play my game,” the 23-year-old  told the Tennis Channel. “I work every day to be able to put my name on a trophy. I hope I can continue to play like this and win more trophies.”

And maybe more new cars?

“Maybe I give it (the Volvo) to my parents. I think they deserve this car, because they help me a lot, and I think this is for my family.”

RUSSIAN TOO GOOD FOR KOVINIC

The hard-hitting and aggressive Kudermetova was too good for 91st-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro. Despite falling behind in each set, Kudermetova won four of the last five games of the first set and the final five games of a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Kovinic. It took only 96 minutes for the 38th-ranked Kudermetova to reserve her place among the top 30 (at No. 29) in the new  WTA rankings.

In becoming the first VCO champion to not drop a set since Serena Williams in 2012, Kudermetova didn’t just attack the 26-year-old Kovinic’s game, she attacked the clay court.

KUDERMETOVA SERVED WITH A PURPOSE

Kudermetova repeatedly went for winners, and she missed more than her share of shots, but in clutch situations she usually had the answer.

One of the answers was a serve that produced six aces, a little above her average in her first five victories in which she drilled 25 total aces.

That serve also put only 49.2 percent of her first serves into play. Yet, she was broken only once (the fourth game of the match) and faced a total of only two break points in the match.

Kudermetova often got out of trouble by dealing up unreturnable second serves. Kovinic simply couldn’t get a handle on hardly any serve that Kudermetova put into play (she double-faulted only twice).

NEW WTA TOUR 250 EVENT STARTS

After the win, Kudermetova got a quick hug from her coach, Sergey Demekhine. After all, Demekhine is her husband of four years.

Many of the players in the VCO will stick around Charleston to begin play in a WTA Tour 250  tournament that starts on Monday. Tunisa’s Ons Jabeur, who was eliminated by Kovinic in the VCO semifinals, has climbed to 27th in the world and is the top seed in the new tournament.

See James Beck’s Post and Courier columns at postandcourier.com (search on James Beck column). James Beck can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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