Kiki Bertens Continues Her Dominance Over Sabalenka To Set Pliskova Clash - UBITENNIS
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Kiki Bertens Continues Her Dominance Over Sabalenka To Set Pliskova Clash

Kiki Bertens will play Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals at Eastbourne after she beat Aryna Sabalenka for the fourth time in a row.

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Kiki Bertens (@sportlive2017 on Twitter)

Kiki Bertens maintained her 100% record against Aryna Sabalenka by outlasting her 6-4 3-6 6-4 to book her place in the semi-finals of the Nature Valley International.

 

The Dutchwoman, 27, was victorious in all three of her previous meetings with the Belarussian. However, this was their first meeting on grass, and the World No.4 knew it would be a difficult match.

“I think it was a really good fight,” Bertens said. “It’s always tough to play her, because you get some winners and then some errors. But I think in the first set I played really well. I think it was my best match on the grass so far.”

The Dutchwoman believes her style of play helps her deal with the challenges posed by Sabalenka. “I have never lost against her so far,” she said. “I like it when someone’s playing powerful, and then I can just use the slice a little bit more. I don’t have to generate so much power myself.”

“I think today I had the right balance between where I could hit the slice and where I could play a little bit more aggressively.”

Bertens won the tight first set because she saved two break points and took one of the two chances she created on Sabalenka’s serve.

The Belarussian roared back in the second set. She attacked the World No.4’s second serve and broke her twice to take it 6-3.

Then the decider could have gone either way. It was neck and neck until the last two points when Sabalenka made unforced errors at exactly the wrong time to hand Bertens a final and the match.

Bertens improving on grass

The Dutchwoman is happy with the progression in her performances on grass. “Today I was really happy with the way I played. I feel better every match I play and my level is going up.”

She also believes she is beginning to cope better with the pressure of expectation. “They’re tough, but they’re also a good thing to have. I think at the moment I’m dealing pretty well with them.”

“In the past, I was struggling with it more, like when I made the semis in Paris a few years ago. At that time, I was really struggling with all the attention and the expectations.”

“But right now I feel like it’s going well, even if next week it can be over, so I’m just trying and enjoy it, stay in the moment and do whatever you can.”

Bertens to face Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova (@BBCTennis on Twitter)

That kind of positive thinking will be needed in Bertens’ last four match against Karolina Pliskova. The Czech demolished Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-0 in just 54 minutes today and she is in red-hot form.

“It seems to me that she didn’t really see any way to beat me,” Pliskova said. “It’s tough because I can hold my serve more easily than other players and save break points with it.”

“Opponents try to do too much (against me). And I don’t mind this type of game because (it usually means) there a lot of mistakes from them.”

Despite the ease of her win today, Pliskova is wary of Bertens because the Dutchwoman beat her at Wimbledon last year.

“It’s going to be tough,” the Czech said. “(Last year) she was just too solid, too good for me. I started to play better in the second set, but it was too late.”

Pliskova is hoping the conditions will help her tomorrow. “I think she doesn’t like the wind much, so if it’s windy I think it’s better for me.”

The World No.3 described the challenges Bertens provides. “She can serve well,” she said. “She can also hit big and hit some slices.”

“I will need to be patient, because she definitely won’t make as many mistakes as Alexandrova. But I will have more time (to play my shots).”

Pliskova is much happier with her form on grass this year than she was in 2018. “I feel like I’m playing better this year,” she said. “I wasn’t playing well at these tournaments last year at all.”

“And at Wimbledon I was almost gone in the second round and then in the third round, and then I really was gone in the fourth round.”

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Simona Halep Beats Erractic Anisimova To Reach Wimbledon Semis

The former world No.1 dropped six games against her opponent who produced a series of costly errors.

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Simona Halep has stormed into the last four at Wimbledon after producing a comprehensive win over Amanda Anisimova. 

 

The 2019 champion survived a last-minute resurgence from her rival to prevail 6-2, 6-4, over the American on the Center court. Halep was able to dictate the play throughout with the use of her aggressive shot-making in a match that resembled their meeting in Bad Homburg just two weeks ago. It is the first time she has reached the last four of a major since the 2020 Australian Open.

It’s great to be back in the semi-finals. I am very emotional right now because it means a lot,” said Halep. 
“I played a tough opponent today who could crush the ball in the end and I didn’t know what to do. I just believe in myself. I believed until the end that I could win.”

The 16th seed hit fewer winners than her rival (11-13) but the most telling factor was the unforced error count. Halep’s tally of six was more than four times less than that of Anisimova (28).

Out of the active players on the WTA Tour, Halep is only the third to reach a fifth Wimbledon quarter-final after both of the Williams sisters. Taking on Anisimova, the Romanian got off to a blistering start by breaking just three games into their clash. Producing some powerful ball-striking Halep forced her rival to commit back-to-back forehand errors which granted her the early break. Two games later the lead was extended further after yet more Anisimova errors moved the former champion to 4-1. She took the opener after exactly 30 minutes of play with the help of a serve down the line Anisimova returned.

It was a case of deja vu in the second set with Halep’s game simply overwhelming her error-stricken opponent who looked growingly lost on the court. Anisimova continuously looked towards her entourage out of frustration. It eventually all got too much for the world No.25 who began to cry during a changeover after going down 1-4 once again. 

Halep’s only struggle in the match occurred when she was tasked with serving it out. With Anisimova hitting more freely and with nothing to lose, suddenly she was the aggressor and retrieved one of the breaks to gradually close her deficit to 4-5.  Prompting a big cheer from the crowd. 

After going through a period where 13 out of 16 points played went to her opponent, Halep eventually held her nerve to clinch victory. 

“I am definitely playing my best tennis (since winning the 2019 Wimbledon title),” she said.
“Last year I struggled a lot and now I am just trying to build my confidence back. My tennis here and all I need to do now is to start to believe in myself.”

Halep is yet to drop a set at Wimbledon after five matches played. 

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 

 

The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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