Serena Williams A Couple Steps Slower Than Normal But Can Still Win Wimbledon, Says Evert - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams A Couple Steps Slower Than Normal But Can Still Win Wimbledon, Says Evert

The former world No.1 has been tipped to win the grand slam title as long as she is at least ‘80% fit.’

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Serena Williams (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Chris Evert believes Serena Williams remains a contender ‘to win anything’ on the women’s tour ahead of the Wimbledon Championships.

The 37-year-old will be bidding to win her 23rd grand slam title at the All England Club and her first since becoming a mother. Williams hasn’t played a match since losing in the third round of the French Open. So far this season, the American has played in five tournaments. Winning nine out of 12 matches contested.

Williams enters the grand slam with a question mark over her current form. She had previously indicated that she might play a warm-up event on the grass prior to Wimbledon, but didn’t do so. Something Evert believes could go against her in the coming weeks.

“I think it would have helped, for sure, just so she can gauge where she is on the grass and what she needs to work on.” Evert told reporters at an ESPN press event.
“Even if she would have lost in the second round or quarters, Serena is the type of player that learns a lot from her losses. She can make those adjustments.”

Since starting her comeback last year, Williams is yet to win a title. Although she did reach back-to-back major finals in 2018 at both Wimbledon and the US Open. Losing to Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka. However, she is yet to reach the quarter-final stage at any event outside of the grand slams during that period.

“The one difference that I see in Serena is since she’s come back, she’s been one or two steps slower than normal. I think that’s a little bit of fitness.” Evert explained.
“I think it’s a little bit of match play. I think it’s a little bit of confidence.”

Whilst the previous dominance by the American player has gone, the threat she poses to her rivals is still there. She is already a seven-time Wimbledon champion and only Martina Navratilova have won more singles titles than her at the tournament in the Open Era. Overall, she has won 92 out of 103 main draw matches played at Wimbledon since 1998.

“On the grass, we also can’t forget that’s her best surface. That’s a surface that her game, with the power, with the free points on the serves, she’s the most effective on the grass. I have a feeling she’s been practicing hard, and I never think you can count her out.” The 64-year-old said of Williams.
“As long as she’s playing, she’s going to be a threat to win anything. But it’s just now there’s more things that can go wrong, I suppose, like more days where she might not have it and other days where players won’t give in as easily. So that just makes it more difficult.” She added.

As to how fit Williams needs to be to win the title, Evert believes she ‘doesn’t need to be 100%.’ Putting the figure down to an estimated 80%.

The draw for Wimbledon will take place on Friday with the tournament getting underway on Monday.

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Novak Djokovic edges Tallon Griekspoor to reach the semifinals in Geneva

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Novak Djokovic saved four set points in the opening set to edge Tallon Griekspoor 7-5 6-1 in 1 hour and 17 minutes reaching the semifinals at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday on Wednesday by winning his 1100 match on the ATP Tour. 

Griekspoor saved an early break point on Djokovic’s serve in the ninth game of the first set. Djokovic fended off four set points, as he was serving at 4-5 0-40. The top-seed held serve with an ace and a first serve.  Djokovic broke serve in the 11th game with two deuce points to take a 6-5 lead. Djokovic held serve to love to seal  the first set. 

Djokovic won seven consecutive games  to build up a 4-0 lead with two breaks of serve. Griekspoor got back on the board by hold serve in the fifth game for 1-4. Djokovic won the final eight points and broke for the third time to seal the second set 6-1. 

Djokovic set up a semifinal match against Tomas Machac, who beat US rising star Alex Michelsen 6-3 7-6 (7-2). 

Djokovic beat Machac in a third-set tie-break in Dubai last February. 

“I thought the first set could have gone his way easily because he was a better player for most of the first set. We could have been having a completely different direction of the match if he converted those set points. I was lucky to find some really good serves and from that moment onwards really played some good solid tennis. I was lucky to find some really good serves and from that moment onwards I really played some good tennis. The way I played the second set was really good. I want to thank everybody again for the support and presence today on a colde day”, said Djokovic. 

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Jessica Pegula Pulls Out of French Open But Alcaraz, Sinner Raring To Go

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JESSICA PEGULA OF THE UNITED STATES - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

Jessica Pegula says she wants to be ‘super safe’ with her recovery after deciding to withdraw from next week’s French Open. 

The world No.5 hasn’t played a Tour-level match since April due to ongoing injury issues. It will be the first time she has missed a major event since the 2020 Wimbledon Championships. She reached the third round of the French Open 12 months ago and the quarter-finals the year before that. 

Pegula now plans to return to action during the grass swing leading up to Wimbledon which will get underway on July 1st. She is expected to play in lead-up events to the tournament but it is unclear as to which ones. 

I’m just about back to practising normal (haven’t had any issues for weeks) but played it super safe with recovery and return to play,” Pegula wrote on Instagram.
“If I had another five to seven days I would have been there 100%. So I will definitely be back for a full grass season and the rest of the summer and grinding out the rest of the year.”

So far this season Pegula has reached three WTA semi-finals in Adelaide, San Diego and Charleston. However, she has only beaten one top 20 player which was Emma Navarro at the Miami Open. 

Alcaraz, Sinner set to return

In the men’s draw two players who have also been troubled by injury issues in recent weeks are on course to play at Roland Garros. Carlos Alcaraz has been forced to miss two out of the last three Masters 1000 events due to a forearm injury, as well as the Barcelona Open. The 21-year-old told the Press Association on Tuesday that he hopes to get back on track despite a lack of match play. 

“I don’t have hours on the court and I think on clay you need to be a lot of hours on the court just to get the rhythm, to get how to move,” he said.
“Tennis players when they are a lot of time off the court with no competition, you lose the competitive part a little bit and you need to play matches, play tournaments to get the rhythm for the big tournaments.
“Missing the three tournaments on clay, really important ones, and not playing points, sets or matches before, it’s going to be difficult, but I have time to practise with the top players, I have time to play sets and practice matches, and I think it’ll be really helpful for me just to be ready for Roland Garros.”

Alcaraz is already in Paris training and recently had a hitting session with  Luca van Assche.

Another player also working hard on the practice courts is the world No.3 Jannik Sinner who recently pulled out of the Italian Open due to a hip injury. The Australian Open champion recently stated that he would not play in Paris if he didn’t feel fit enough to do so. However, he appears to be fit again after having a training session with Kei Nishikori. 

Siner is in contention of claiming the No.1 spot. A milestone that has never been achieved by an Italian male player in the Open Era. 

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday with action getting underway on Sunday.

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Novak Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday with a win over Yannick Hanfmann in Geneva

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Novak Djokovic beat unseeded player Yannik Hanfmann 6-3 6-3 on his 37th birthday to reach the quarter finals at the Geneva Open. Djokovic became just the third player in the Open Era to win 1100 tour-level matches. 

“That really touched me. I am really happy to win on this special day. The key was the birthday. The birthday probably would not be the same if I did not win the match, but it’s nice to be here for the first time at this tournament, with my family coming here to support as well”, said Djokovic. 

Djokovic earned three break points in the sixth game. The world number 1 player missed consecutive break points, but he converted his third chance with a forehand to take a 4-2 lead. 

Djokovic fended off two break points consolidating the break with a hold for 5-2. The Serbian player hit a forehand drop-shot winner to earn a set point. Hanfmann hit a drop-shot winner to force the game to deuce. Hanfmann earned a break point with a crosscourt winner. Djokovic saved it before earning another break point when Hanfman hit a backhand into the net. 

Djokovic sent a forehand down the line wide to face the fourth break point of the game and the sixth overall. Djokovic hit a backhand winner down the line to force the game to the deuce. Djokovic wasted a set point and had to fend off four break points before the match was interrupted by rain. 

After the match resumed, Djokovic saved a seventh break point and hit consecutive aces to serve out the first set. 

Hanfmann converted his 10th break point to open up a 2-0 lead in the second set. The German player held serve at love to open up a 3-0 lead. Djokovic broke back for 2-3 when Hanfmann sailed a drive. 

Djokovic won four consecutive games breaking serve when Hanfmann hit the net with a backhand. Djokovic sealed the win on his second match point, when Hanfmann hit his running forehand into the net. 

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