Karolina Pliskova Conquers Kerber To Claim Second Eastbourne Title - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Conquers Kerber To Claim Second Eastbourne Title

Karolina Pliskova maintained her superb form with a comfortable straight sets victory over Kerber in the Nature Valley International final.

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Karolina Pliskova (@the_LTA on Twitter)

Karolina Pliskova produced a sparkling performance to beat Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-4 and win the Nature Valley International for the second time in three years.

 

The Czech, who did not drop a set all week, beat Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in the final in 2017 and she is delighted to have repeated that feat against the German this year.

“I think this week was perfect,” Pliskova said. “I really enjoyed every day here and every day was kind of similar, because I was just rolling through and playing well every day.”

“Sometimes at a tournament you have a day where you just cannot put anything in and everything is against you. But somehow this week it didn’t come, which is a positive. Maybe the nerves are saved for Wimbledon, because there (matches) can be long.”

Pliskova improves her grass court game

While the facts are meaningful for World No.3 (this is her third title of 2019, her third title on grass and her 14th WTA title overall), her performances are potentially even more significant.

The Czech, 27, has played brilliant grass-court tennis this week. She has served superbly, she has consistently hit her trademark groundstrokes hard and deep and she has finished off points clinically at the net. Perhaps most tellingly of all, Pliskova has also made good use of the slice.

“I think I served well and cleverly used the slice wide which worked,” the Czech said. “Normally you’re never going hit 20 aces against Angie, but you just need to step after the serve and be aggressive. That’s what I did. That’s why I think I was holding my serve quite easily.”

She continued, “Obviously (my coach Conchita Martinez) played a lot of slices in her life. We practiced the slice a little bit more before grass because it can be quite effective, especially to change the rhythm.”

An improved slice could help Pliskova enormously at Wimbledon. She is in the opposite half of the draw to the nightmare quarter that features Kerber, Ashleigh Barty, Serena Williams, so she has a great chance to go for the title.

“I will take the positives (into Wimbledon) but I won’t be thinking that everything is going to be as easy as this week, because I’ve never had a week like this before,” the Czech said. “I didn’t lose that many games and I felt like everything went quite smoothly.”

Pliskova dominates from start to finish

Karolina Pliskova (@BBCTennis on Twitter)

Pliskova started the Eastbourne final very confidently. She unleashed a series of devastating groundstrokes that left Kerber floundering behind the baseline and soon established a 4-0 lead.

The German rallied to earn a break back and avoid total embarrassment in the opening set. However, the Czech restored her two-break advantage with two huge forehands and a well-judged slice and then held to clinch the set 6-1.

At the beginning of the second set, Kerber made a couple of costly errors to go a break down immediately. Pliskova then produced an exhibition of exemplary serving to rack up three easy holds and move 4-2 ahead.

The match almost ended rapidly after that, as the Czech had three chances to break in game seven. Kerber saved the first with a forehand winner and the second by forcing an error from the World No.3.

It looked like she might have lost it on the third break point. However, Hawkeye revealed that the German’s forehand winner had clipped the back of the line. She seemed buoyed by this reprieve and she played two excellent points to secure the hold.

In the next game, Pliskova responded to going 15-30 behind by hitting a backhand winner that landed on the sideline. She then beat Kerber in a battle of groundstrokes that only just cleared the net, before sealing the hold with an unreturnable serve. When she won the last point, the Czech let out a roar of delight. She clearly wanted to avoid a third set.

After Kerber held in game nine, Pliskova hit three big serves and a forehand winner to earn two match points. The German saved one with a forehand winner, but the Czech seized the second with a classy cross-court backhand.

Kerber reflects on Eastbourne and looks ahead to Wimbledon

“I think she played a perfect match,” Kerber said. “She played really well the whole week. I was trying to find my game, but she served well and she didn’t give me the chance to find my rhythm.”

“But I will try to take the positive things from the last two weeks before going to Wimbledon now.”

She continued, “It is always a challenge to play against Pliskova. Of course, there are a few things that I can change, that I can do better the next time. So, if I have the chance to play against her on grass again, I will try to be ready.”

Kerber also talked about what it would be like walking into Wimbledon as the defending champion. “I’m really looking forward to doing this,” she said. “Maybe I will take a picture of my name on the wall.”

“It is a special tournament, especially for me, and it’s a traditional tournament. So it will be nice to be back.”

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Bronx Open Tuesday Recap: Camila Giorgi And Andrea Petkovic Clash In Thriller

Four of the eight second round singles matches were decided on Tuesday.

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NEW YORK: Andrea Petkovic would start play on the main stadium court for the second consecutive day. Coming off a nice win on Monday over Wimbledon quarterfinalist Shuai Zhang, she faced another formidable opponent today in Camila Giorgi. The 27-year-old was herself a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last year, but came into this event with a losing record in 2019. At one point this season, she went on a seven-match losing streak. Giorgi’s go-for-broke groundstroke approach can challenge almost anyone when it’s working, but can give away matches without much resistance when it’s misfiring.

 

In the first set, Giorgi would miss way too often. Petkovic was solid on the ground, putting pressure on Giorgi to go for too much and commit errors. Andrea took the first set 6-3 with two breaks thanks to some forceful forehands and a costly double fault from Camila.

The second set started off with more of the same. A deep forehand return from Petkovic would cause another error from Giorgi, giving Andrea a 2-0 lead. But Camila’s aggression would finally begin to pay off, as she broke right back due to some groundie winners, as well as Petkovic’s own costly double fault at deuce. They would trade more breaks as the second set progressed. At 5-5, Giorgi’s offense allowed her to dictate play and draw errors from Petkovic, who was too often on the defensive. Camila would break for 6-5, and Petkovic would slam a ball into the ground and toss her racket. Giorgi would serve out the second set 7-5.

The third set was nothing short of a roller coaster, with eight breaks of serve in this set alone. Despite the crowd being pretty thin on a weekday at this new event, they got rather loud for this battle. After Giorgi broke for 2-1, Petkovic would repeatedly swipe her racket against the court. It slipped out of her hand on the last swipe, almost hitting a ball kid who was rushing to hand Andrea her towel. Petkovic would be the first player to hold their serve in the third, earning her a 4-2 lead with some great scrambling around the court to counter Giorgi’s offense. Camila would break back by pouncing on some Petkovic second serves, and finally get her first hold of the third to even things up at 4-4. Giorgi earned a break point by smoking two forehand winners down the line, but slammed her racket on the ground and got a racket abuse warning of her own after not converting.

At 5-5, there were three extremely close line calls on the baseline. The chair umpire would overrule one particular line judge twice, with Petkovic complaining to the umpire regarding the missed calls. After that discussion, Giorgi would hit two winners to break and serve for the match. Yet Petkovic would bounce right back, prevailing in a few grueling rallies to break for 6-6 and force a deciding tiebreak. But the tiebreak would be all Giorgi. Despite a double fault giving away an early advantage, Camila would hit four winners in the tiebreak, and take it 7-3. In the end, the Italian’s oppressive ground game would prove too much. It was a captivating two-hour-and-forty-minute affair on a hot day in the Bronx.

The next match featured recent Wimbledon semifinalist Barbora Strycova against 24-year-old American Bernarda Pera, who received a wild card to enter this tournament, her first US Open Series event this summer. In the opening round, the left-handed Pera crushed Veronika Kudermetova 6-0, 6-2. Meanwhile Strycova is yet to win a match since Wimbledon last month, as she lost in both qualifying, and as a lucky loser in the main draw, last week in Cincinnati.

Today Strycova took the first set comfortably 6-3, winning two of the nine break points she earned. Pera would break first in the second, thanks to a lob that landed right inside the baseline which Strycova didn’t run for. After a second Pera break, Strycova would outdo Petkovic in today’s racket tossing contest, throwing hers nearly from the baseline all the way to her chair. Pera would claim the second set 6-2.

Bernarda would continue her momentum in the third and break Strycova four more times. Pera was feeling it at this point, with some deep returns and a few more excellent lobs. After going down two early breaks at 3-0, Strycova launched a ball well out of the stadium. The American was just too strong off the ground on this day, and took the third 6-1.

Tuesday’s other two singles matches ended in retirements. Alize Cornet was up 7-6(5), 4-0 when Zhu Lin retired with a leg injury. And Katerina Siniakova claimed the first nine games of the match before Anastasia Potapova retired in their match.

In doubles, the No.1 seeds Sam Stosur and Shuai Zhang were upset by Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu. That leaves the Taiwanese sister team of Hao-Ching Chan and Latisha Chan as the top remaining seeds, as they prevailed today in straight sets over Lyudmyla Kichenok and Galina Voskoboeva.

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Bronx Open Recap: Andrea Petkovic Brings the Fun, While Yulia Putintseva Brings the Drama

For the first time since 2012, the WTA is back in the Bronx, replacing the tournament that previously took place in New Haven, Connecticut.

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NEW YORK: In the first match of the day on Victor Kiam Stadium, Andrea Petkovic took on Shuai Zhang. Petkovic is a former top 10 player, but finds herself ranked 89th in the world with an 8-14 record this season. With that ranking, she’s been forced to play qualifying at many tournaments. Painfully, she’s failed to qualify at six tournaments this year despite winning the first round of qualifying at all of those events. She’s directly into this new, smaller WTA event. But in the opening round faced a tough draw in the fourth seed Zhang, who was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon just last month.

 

In the first set, the players would trade three straight breaks, with Petkovic breaking twice thanks to some penetrating forehands. After serving out the first set, the 31-year-old German would break two more times to open the third, yet Zheng returned the favor to even the second at 3-3. Much like the first set though, a few crucial forehand winners would get Petkovic the break to go up 5-4. All that was left was a Petko hold, followed by a Petko dance, to cap off a satisfying win in straight sets.

After missing some critical serves earlier in the first set, Petkovic would say tell the on-court interviewer that her ace on set point was out of frustration. “Sometimes you’ve got to use violence, I guess,” she cheekily said in the post-match interview. Andrea will faYce another recent Wimbledon quarterfinalist in the next round in Camila Giorgi, who comfortably defeated Margarita Gasparyan today in the second match on the Bronx Open’s main court.

The crowd was rather sparse to start the day, not surprising for a new event about an hour outside midtown Manhattan at 10:00am local time on a Monday. However, there were a few vocal Petko fans, who Andrea came over to thank after the match. Contrarily, Yulia Putintseva wouldn’t have quite as much fun on this day.

In the second match of the day on Pershing Square Stadium, Putintseva faced Lin Zhu, a 25-year-old qualifier from China. It all started off well for Yulia, who moved Zhu all around the court with drop shots, lobs, and passes, gaining herself the break in the third game. But it all started to unravel when she attempted to serve out the set at 5-4, as a few close line calls didn’t go Putintseva’s way. She had no recourse as there is no Hawkeye at this tournament, and the chair umpire would not overrule.

After getting broken for 5-5, Yulia would call the trainer to have her right arm and shoulder worked on. She’d earn three break points immediately following the medical timeout, but after failing to capitalize on any of them, Yulia would become even more frustrated. She would complain about another close line call, and regarding the ball kids not retrieving her towel quickly enough. She’d eventually toss her racket against the wall, as well as slam it down on the ground after serving a double fault in the tiebreak. When she went down 5-1 in the tiebreak, she hit a ball in the direction of her coach. Her coach spent much of this time looking down at his nails, especially when she sought his eye contact. Zhu would take the first set tiebreak 7-2.

The second set would see drive Putintseva find even more things to complain about: more close line calls, more ball kid frustration, fans talking in the crowd, and police sirens. She would even mock Zhu’s team for cheering their player on, feeling they were cheering her errors. In between service points, Yulia could be heard saying, “Unbelievable, this tournament is unbelievable.” That was shortly followed by, “God help me.” Putintseva would lose the second set and the match, and immediately gripe to the chair umpire regarding the conditions she had to play under. That may have been both the first and the last match in the Bronx for Putintseva.

In other action on Monday, American CoCo Vandeweghe continued to fight her way back from a foot injury that sidetracked her 2018 season and caused her to miss most of this season as well. Two years ago, she reached the quarters or better at three of the four Majors. Now she finds herself ranked 466th in the world, and received a wild card into this event. Today in just her third match of 2019, she took just three games at the hands of Anna Blinkova. It’s going to be a long road back for CoCo, was just 19 months ago was ranked inside the top 10.

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Madison Keys Collects Cincinnati Trophy With Battling Win Over Kuznetsova

Madison Keys capped an outstanding week by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets to take home the Cincinnati title.

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Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

Madison Keys claimed the biggest title of her career by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5 7-6(5) in the Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati.

 

It was an amazing week for the American, particularly as she had only won one match in the last two months leading up the event.

The World No.18 referenced this lack of form when she thanked her team for their help and said to them, “If you told me a week ago this was where I would be, I would have laughed in your face.”

Conditions were slower for the final than they had been in previous rounds due to the high levels of humidity in the air, and Keys struggled to adjust initially. She dropped her serve in the opening game and fell 3-1 behind.

However, the American gradually began to adapt. She almost broke in game six, held off three break points in game seven and then eventually got the break she needed in game ten thanks to intelligent point construction and typically ferocious hitting.

With her confidence restored, Keys held easily to move 6-5 ahead. She then capitalised on some weak serving from Kuznetsova to break again and clinch the opening set.

Keys fights back again in the second set

Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

To the Russian’s credit, she responded well to her disappointment. She manoeuvred the American around the court and drew several errors from her racket to open up a 3-1 lead once again.

Keys did not panic. She hit a series of trademark winners during three excellent service games that enabled her to stay in touch with Kuznetsova at 5-4.

Unfortunately for the Russian, she seemed just as nervous when she served for the second set as she had been in the first. She did not make many first serves or put the American under much pressure with her groundstrokes. This produced a predictable result: another break of serve for the World No.18.

Keys survived a break point on her serve to make it 6-5. Then Kuznetsova steadied herself to hold comfortably and avoid losing four games in a row as she did in the opener.

After five routine points in the tie-break, the American earned a mini-break to go 4-2 up. She hit a deep backhand and the Russian could do nothing more than hit it into the net.

Keys maintained her two-point advantage to set up two championship points at 6-4. On the second, she sealed glory with a powerful serve that Kuznetsova found too hot to handle.

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