Margarita Gasparyan believes she can beat more of the best in the world after she recorded an impressive 6-3 3-6 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.
The Russian, 24, played some excellent tennis at times during the match and she is confident that her style can cause problems for other high-ranked players in the future.
“I’m really happy that I won today because it was a really important victory,” Gasparyan said. “I played against a really great player and I think I’m playing really well.”
It was the Russian’s second win over a top ten player after she beat Kiki Bertens in a tight three-set match in Linz in October last year, and she is definitely starting to understand what is required to be successful in these high-profile encounters.
“With very victory like this you feel more confident in yourself,” Gasparyan said. “You just feel like you can beat more and more of this kind of player.”
Gasparyan back to her best after lengthy injury lay-off
In many ways, it is remarkable that the Russian is even still playing tennis after she endured a long spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.
It took three surgeries to repair the damage. However, while it has taken Gasparyan a long time to feel like she is back to her best, she is convinced she is there now.
“It was really, really tough (to come back from the injury),” the World No.62 said. “I was away a long time, almost two years, but I’m happy that I’m here now and I can compete.”
She continued, “Now (I’m established again) I have different goals and I just want to win as many matches as I can. I was 41 in the world. But now I want to be higher. So I just want to work hard and then I hope I will achieve my goals.”
Gasparyan feels comfortable on grass
Due to her injury, Gasparyan had only played six grass court matches on the WTA tour before this year. However, that inexperience on the surface has barely hampered her at all and she believes it is because grass suits her game.
“I enjoy grass more than clay court,” the Russian said with a smile. “The rallies are faster and it suits my aggressive game.”
She continued, “I haven’t played a lot of tournaments on grass, but even now after some years away I’m feeling really good, so it’s not like I have to play a lot of tournaments to feel nice on the grass.”
Gasparyan is also encouraged by the way she handled the key moments against Svitolina. “I was confident (at those times) because I like the shots that I’m hitting and my ball is going deep.”
The Russian’s next task will be tricky one against either Ekaterina Alexandrova or French Open quarter-finalist Petra Martic. But her confidence is high and she will feel good about her chances whoever she faces.
“It was crazy” – Kaia Kanepi Ousts Australian Open Second Seed Aryna Sabalenka In An Epic
The Estonian is through to the last eight at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career.
World number 115 Kaia Kanepi produced one of the shocks of the tournament to send Aryna Sabalenka crashing out.
The 36-year-old Estonian saw three match points come and go but prevailed in the super tie-break to seal it; 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (10-7).
Through to the quarter finals for the first time in her career, she will face Poland’s Iga Świątek. The 2020 French Open champion saw off Sorana Cîrstea in three sets.
The first set saw power tennis from both players out on Margaret Court Arena.
Kanepi held serve right up till 5-5, when Sabalenka turned the screw.
The Belarussian was pushed to deuce on her own service game but did enough to edge ahead.
She then applied enough pressure, opening up three break-points and only needing one, took the first set 7-5.
But the veteran Estonian roared back in the second set, nailing a huge break of serve to go 1-0 ahead.
Kanepi secured the double break, soon steaming ahead at 4-0 and eventually pocketed the set 6-2.
The 23-year-old from Minsk was beginning to look jaded in the deciding set, as Kanepi took an immediate break of serve.
She soon went 4-2 ahead but Sabalenka fought back for 4-4, as the set went back on serve.
Kanepi got the decisive break to move 5-4 ahead and serve for the match.
Nerves got to the Estonian, however, as Sabalenka saved four match points.
Three times at deuce, and on her third break point, Sabalenka levelled the set for 5-5.
Both players held serve, under enormous pressure, to send the match to a super tie-break.
Kanepi surged into a 5-2 lead but Sabalenka played clutch to level at 5-5.
It was soon 7-7, but the pressure got to Sabalenka, and Kanepi won three straight points to win the biggest match of her career.
Kanepi said she was shocked to have won. “Actually, I thought I was going to lose it after the match points I had on my serve.”
“It was really difficult to come back. I don’t know how I managed to do it.
“I was really tight. My hand was shaking when I started serving. I didn’t make any first serves in, and that added to the pressure. It was crazy.”
Iga Swiatek Edges Past Resilient Cirstea For Maiden Australian Open Quarter-Final
Iga Swiatek is into her first Australian Open Quarter-Final after a tough win over Sorana Cirstea.
Iga Swiatek edged past Sorana Cirstea 5-7 6-3 6-3 in 2 and a half hours to reach her first Australian Open Quarter-Final.
The former Roland Garros champion survived a mammoth match against a powerful Cirstea to reach the last eight in Melbourne for the first time.
Swiatek was emotional after the match as she revealed the stress was bigger than her previous matches.
The Pole awaits Aryna Sabalenka or Kaia Kanepi in the last eight.
It was the Romanian who had the more aggressive start as she powered returns past Swiatek and tested the Pole’s defensive skills in the early exchanges.
After a valiant effort from Swiatek, Cirstea eventually broke and gained an early 2-0 lead.
The Pole had to save break point with some big serving and powerful groundstrokes to avoid the double break deficit.
However once Swiatek found her rhythm, she started to anticipate the Romanian’s power plays better and create space on the court for more aggressive tennis of her own.
Cirstea played big tennis on the big points as she save three break points in the fourth game for a crucial 3-1 lead.
Swiatek gained more consistent power and variety as the set went on with the former Roland Garros champion becoming more comfortable on serve.
Eventually the Pole’s mixture of defensive solidity and consistent, regular power earned its rewards as she broke back for 4-4 in the opening set.
However that didn’t intimidate the Romanian, who had already beaten Petra Kvitova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at this tournament, as she continued to pound the winners on return.
Cirstea’s improved aggression especially on the big points continued to pay off as she saved set point in the tenth game to hold before breaking to love to seal a 6-5 lead.
Too many errors from Swiatek who couldn’t match the physical game style of Cirstea as the Romanian closed out the opening set 7-5.
In the second Swiatek and Cirstea traded breaks as the Pole was beginning to play smart tennis and trying to expose the Romanian’s short balls whenever they came.
The Pole’s unique offense took advantage of Cirstea’s relatively conservative second serves and on her third break point broke for a 4-2 lead in a long game.
Despite the consistent power from the Romanian there was no clinical edge to her game in the second set as Swiatek won all the big points to level the match at one set all.
This physical and mental rollercoaster of a match would have plenty more twists and turns yet as both players produced red-hot tennis in the deciding set.
Arguably the game that decided the match was the fourth game where Cirstea used a lot of energy to power past Swiatek’s stubborn defence and push for the break.
Swiatek’s resilience was crucial as she saved four break points to hold for 2-2. The Pole would then break for a 3-2 lead as Cirstea’s serve was not as effective as the opening two sets.
Although Cirstea broke back, Swiatek’s returning was at a higher level and her all-court power saw her reel off two consecutive breaks to love to seal a crucial win.
Tears from Swiatek at the end as relief and emotion was a result of a mentally and physically demanding match that takes her to a first Australian Open quarter-final. After the match the Pole admitted it was a stressful match, “I feel like she was really putting pressure on, returning in front of the baseline she was playing as fast as my serve was. I just had to be on my toes,” the Pole said in her on-court interview.
“I feel that my stress level was higher than the previous. For me a week without crying is not a week!”
Swiatek will now play second seed Aryna Sabalenka or Kaia Kanepi in the last eight on Wednesday.
Victoria Azarenka Cruises Past Svitolina To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
The former champion produced a ruthless display to book her place in the last 16.
Victoria Azarenka is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 15th seed Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-2 in 67 minutes.
Facing a top 20 player at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2016, the world No.25 hit 17 winners and four aces in the win. Azarenka, who is one of only eight active players to have won more than 100 Grand Slam main draw matches, improving her record against Ukrainian players to 16-1.
“I thought I was really well-executing my game plan. I wanted to put as much pressure as I could on her and kind of not let her come into the match,” said Azarenka. “She’s an amazing fighter. I know if I give her a little room, she’s going to get back out there. That was my purpose today, and I think I executed that well.”
It was the number 24 seed with the better start to the match and ashe played aggressively from the word go. Earning three chances to break in the very first game and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. After consolidating the break, Azarenka was hungry for more and she got another chance to go up a double break and broke once again with a stunning forehand winner.
at 4-0, the Belorussian continued to dominate and broke Svitolina’s serve once more this time with a backhand winner down the line before serving out the first set to take it 6-0 in 25 minutes flat.
The first game of the second set was a carbon copy of the opening of the first set with Azarenka breaking once again to take a 1-0 lead and it stayed on serve until 4-2 when the number 24 seed went up a double break to lead 5-2.
The last game was a long affair with the Ukrainian starting to find her game and it went back and forth with the Belorussian looking to seal the win while Svitolina pushed back to stay alive.
It took six match points and saving three break points before Azarenka was able to serve it out and take the win. She will now face Barbora Krejickova who defeated Jelena Ostapenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“The rise of Barbora has been pretty incredible over the last year and a half, basically since COVID. She seems to kind of elevate her game more and more. She has all the good tools to play,” the two-time champion said of her next oponent.
“She can play aggressive, she can mix it up. A very dangerous player. We played once in Ostrava. It was pretty tight match and really good quality.” She added.
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