Ashleigh Barty cruises past Maria Sharapova in Cincinnati - UBITENNIS
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Ashleigh Barty cruises past Maria Sharapova in Cincinnati

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This year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty cruised past Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-1 after 1 hour and 27 minutes in her opening match at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. 

 

Barty lost in the opening round to Sofia Kenin at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in her first match since Wimbledon and dropped from the world number 1 spot.

Barty rallied from a break down in the first set and cruised through to a straight set win after 1 hour and 27 minutes.

The Australian player saved six of the seven break points and broke serve four times.

Sharapova fended off two break points in the second game and took a 2-1 lead when Barty made a double fault in the third game. Barty broke back in the sixth game after a forehand error from Sharapova to draw level to 3-3.

Barty broke serve after a loose forehand from Sharapova in the ninth game and served out the first set 6-4 after 45 minutes.

Barty held serve at love in the first game of the second game and broke serve with a forehand crosscourt winner in the second game. The Australian player fended off four break points in a marathon third game to race out to a 3-0 lead.

Barty hit a lob winner to claim another break, as he was returning at 4-1 and saved a break point in the sixth game when Sharapova netted a backhand before closing out the match with a service winner.

The young Aussie player scored her second win over her Russian rival this year. Last January Barty came back from one set down in her 4-6 6-1 6-4 win to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open.

“It was certainly no panic sessions after last week. I knew I was a little bit underdone going into Toronto and certainly had no worries or concerns there. I feel like I have been striking the ball really well over the last seven or eight days. I found my groove a little bit more. It was just going out there trying to execute playing against one of the best competitors in the world and making sure I had to be there present and ready for every single point”, said Barty.  

Simona Halep battled past Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6 7-5 6-4 after 2 hours and 2 minutes. Alexandrova saved four break points in the fourth game before breaking serve at love in the next game with a backhand down the line. Alexandrova broke again for the second time to close out the first set 6-2. The Russian player went up a break to take a 2-0 lead. Halep broke back in the next game and rallied from 4-5 down by winning 12 of the next 14 points to seal the second set 7-5. Both players traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games of the third set. Halep reeled off 12 of the final 15 points from 3-4 to win the third set 6-4.

Elina Svitolina cruised past Elise Mertens 6-4 6-1 in 71 minutes to score her third win in four head-to-head matches against the Belgian player. The Ukrainian player converted four of her eight break points and saved two break points she faced. Svitolina sealed the first set with a break in the fifth game of the first set and never faced a break point. She broke three times in a row to close out the second ste 6-1.

Sofia Kenin saved all five break points and earned four break points to claim a 6-4 6-1 win over Zarina Diyas. Kenin reeled off nine of the ten points from 3-4 down to clinch the win.

Donna Vekic edged past Victoria Azarenka 6-2 7-5 after 1 hour and 23 minutes. Azarenka rallied from 6-2 4-2 down to keep pace with Vekic. The Croatian player reeled off 12 of the next 16 points to reach the round of 16.

Karolina Pliskova converted five of the nine break point chances to cruise past Yafan Wang 6-1 6-3 in 71 minutes.

Anett Kontaveit edged past Polish teenager Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-6 (7-2). The Estonian player earned a late break in the first set and fought back from 3-5 down before clinching the tie-break 7-2.

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens came back from one set down to beat Yulia Putintseva 2-6 6-4 6-3 after 2 hours and 7 minutes. Putintseva went up a break to take a 2-1 lead, but Stephens broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to take a 4-2 lead. Putintseva broke straight back in the seventh game, but Stephens broke for the third time in the eighth game and sealed the win on her first match point.

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French Open Finalist Marketa Vondrousova Undergoes Surgery

It is a premature end to what has been a breakthrough season for the Czech.

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Czech rising star Marketa Vondrousova will miss the rest of the season after undergoing an operation on her left wrist.

 

The 20-year-old made the announcement on her Instagram account where she uploaded a picture of herself after undergoing the procedure. Vondrousova hasn’t played a match on the tour since Wimbledon, where she first sustained the injury. According to Czech media, she received treatment at the same facility which Petra Kvitova attended following a knife attack that severely injured her playing hand.

“For two months I tried to treat my wrist conservatively and tried everything possible. Unfortunately, nothing led to a significant improvement. That is why I decided on this solution, which should relieve me of my pain for good,” Vondrousova said is a statement issued by her team.
“Unfortunately for me, 2019 ended earlier than I wanted. I can’t wait to play back on the courts without pain anymore, she added.

The premature end draws the curtain on what has been a breakthrough season for Vondrousova. At the French Open she defeated Petra Martic and Johanna Konta en route to the final. Becoming the youngest player to do so at the tournament since Ana Ivanovic back in 2007. She was denied the title by Ash Barty, who prevailed in straight sets.

Yet to win a title, Vondrousova has managed to remain consistent on the tour by reaching the quarter-finals or better at six consecutive tournaments between February and June. Including the final of the Budapest Open. During that time, she managed to score two wins over Simona Halep. The highest ranked player she has defeated so far in her career.

Vondrousova is currently ranked 22nd in the world. She ends the season with a win-loss record of 29-9.

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‘Relaxed’ Su-Wei Hsieh Saves Match Point To Oust Muguruza In Osaka

Su-Wei Hsieh saved match point to eliminate Garbine Muguruza from the premier-level tournament in Osaka.

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Su-Wei Hsieh (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

Su-Wei Hsieh was in a relaxed mood as she saved match point to edge out Garbine Muguruza 3-6 7-6(1) 6-1 in Osaka. 

 

The Wimbledon doubles champion claimed her second straight win over the Spaniard having saved match point in the contest.

After winning a tight second set, Hsieh cruised through the deciding set to secure a spot in the second round against Elise Mertens.

Even though this final part of the season can prove quite tiring, Hsieh is approaching in a more relaxed manner, “I know that anything can happen because this is almost the end of the year,” Hsieh said to the press after the win.

“I just want to be more relaxed, going more to my game. Sometimes I lose a little bit of rhythm at the beginning, so I just need to play more games to get the rhythm.

“In the second set, I felt a little bit more rhythm, and more stable myself, my personal style. It helped me a lot to get into the match and to get more game.”

As for Muguruza, this loss would have hurt her confidence a lot having not won a WTA match since June and her ranking slowly falling by the week.

Next for Hsieh will be US Open doubles champion Elise Mertens, where they have split their opening two meetings which came last season.

In other results today there were comfortable wins for Madison Keys and US Open quarter-finalist Donna Vekic over Daria Kasatkina and Caroline Garcia respectively.

Here is the second round line-up, which matches will be played across Wednesday and Thursday:

Naomi Osaka (1) v Viktoriya Tomova – Wednesday

Varvara Flink v Yulia Putintseva – Thursday

Sloane Stephens (3) v Camila Giorgi – Thursday

Su-Wei Hsieh v Elise Mertens (9) – Wednesday

Madison Keys (5) v Zarina Diyas – Wednesday

Nicole Gibbs v Angelique Kerber (4) – Wednesday

Donna Vekic (7) v Misaki Doi – Thursday

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Kiki Bertens (2) – Thursday

 

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Despite New WTA Guidelines, Could Kim Clijsters’ Return Be Marred By Aberration?

Kim Clijsters will not have any restriction in the number of wildcards she receives. But she also deserves more in her upcoming third stint on the Tour

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Kim Clijsters, 2010 US Open, US Open
Photo Credit: WTA Tennis/Getty

By the time, Kim Clijsters makes her return to professional tennis in 2020, around eight years will have passed since her second retirement from the WTA Tour. In this near-about octet of years, there have been several changes on the Tour, especially for those women attempting a return post maternity. But where does the 36-year-old stand amid these alterations?

 

The Belgian was one of the earlier trendsetters – of this decade – to resume her professional activity after becoming a mother for the first time. In 2009, when she returned during the American hard-court summer, the subject never gained as much traction as it did when Williams returned to the game, in 2018 after her pregnancy hiatus in 2017.

Clijsters’ win at the US Open that year – the first for an unseeded player – stifled the mushrooming of any possible avenues of such ranking tweaks back then. Over the next couple of years, as Clijsters ascended in the rankings boosted by her performances, including re-attaining her career-high of no. 1, the topic became moot.

Now, after all these years, in spite of the WTA bringing in modifications to its rules – by way of provision of special ranking to women re-joining the Tour after motherhood, among other factors – Clijsters’ continues to remain an outlying scenario. The obvious reason for this is the lapsing of time of the four-time Major champion’s returning to pro tennis. According to the new rules, a player who is out of the Tour on account of pregnancy must make a comeback within three years after her child’s birth, at most.

Her previous successes and titles ensure Clijsters will never lack for wildcards from tournaments, as per the WTA regulations. However, the question stemming here is should an exception be made for the former world no. 1 vis-à-vis the special ranking while overlooking the passing of years?

When announcing her imminent return to the Pro Tour on the WTA Insider podcast, Clijsters mentioned about challenging herself. “I don’t feel like I want to prove something. I think for me it’s the challenge…,” she said.

“The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women’s sports in the world. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I’m saying, ‘OK, let’s try this’.”

Clijsters’ path to trying this while taking it on as a challenge need not come at a cost of her being immediately pushed off the deep end in terms of encountering a higher-seeded opponent. The present state of the WTA would make it for an interesting match-up – whenever it happens – but it would also be akin to defeating the purpose underlining her return, regardless of how confident the 2011 Australian Open champion is with her timing.

The norms, too, could be nudged into further relooking easing them towards a player’s preference in ascertaining her post-childbirth return instead of clubbing them, at large. After all, as significant as Williams’ laurels were to usher in changes, Clijsters’ stunner yet again proves the variety that exists in women’s decision-making.

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