Belinda Bencic Earns First Grand Slam Semi-Final With Win Over Vekic - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

Belinda Bencic Earns First Grand Slam Semi-Final With Win Over Vekic

Belinda Bencic beat her good friend Donna Vekic in straight sets to advance to her first-ever Grand Slam semi-final at US Open 2019.

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Belinda Bencic (@WeAreTennis on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic advanced to her first Grand Slam semi-final thanks to a 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Donna Vekic at US Open 2019.

 

It is a huge moment in the career of the talented Swiss. She has won three Premier titles and boasts an impressive 22-19 win-loss record against top ten players, so this feels like the natural next step.

However, the job is not done for Bencic. She has a great chance to go even further at Flushing Meadows this year. She will play another talented young star in the last four, either Bianca Andreescu or Elise Mertens, and she will believe she can win. If she does, who knows what will happen in a Grand Slam final?

“I really like the challenge (of big matches),” Bencic said in her on-court interview. “I think some players are a bit afraid of the big courts, but it gives me more motivation. I dreamed of this when I was a little kid, and now that I’m here I’m really enjoying it – especially playing in a stadium like this in front of a crowd like this.”

The Swiss player thinks that her injury struggles have actually helped her. “The tough times helped me see tennis from a different perspective,” she said. “Sometimes you take it for granted when you are successful, and you have the pressure.”

“But when you can’t play, you miss it so much. My perspective changed, and I’m enjoying my tennis so much now.”

Bencic edges tight opening set

Donna Vekic (@standardsport on Twitter)

The first set against Vekic was a tense affair. Neither player produced their best tennis and neither managed to trouble cause their opponent many problems on serve in the first eight games.

Consequently, the score moved along to 4-4 at the stage with no clear indications about which way the match was going to go.

Then it sparked into life. From 40-15 up on her serve, Bencic missed an easy forehand and was forced into another error by an excellent return from the Croatian.

It got worse for the Swiss. She served a double fault and then hit a wayward backhand to gift Vekic the first break of the match.

Bencic was livid. She shouted and gestured to her father in the stands and it seemed like all the momentum was with the Croatian.

However, the Swiss did what all frustrated players need to do. She channelled her anger into her tennis. First, she hit a powerful cross-court forehand winner. Then she benefitted from a Vekic double fault that made it 15-30.

At 30-all, Bencic hit another forehand winner. Then she seized the break with a deep backhand return that tied the Croatian in knots.

After that disappointment, Vekic seemed a little flat for the rest of the set. She did well to save a set point on her serve in game twelve. But she handed the Swiss the initiative midway through the resulting tie-break with a sloppy backhand, and the World No.12 clinically closed out the set.

Bencic gets better as the match goes on

Belinda Bencic (@KRMGtulsa on Twitter)

In the second set, Bencic looked more assured. She got a couple of holds on the board at 2-2. Then she tarted to put pressure on the Croatian’s serve.

Vekic saved two break points in game five to stay in the contest. Then the Swiss player quickly knocked her out of it. She won 12 of the next 14 points to earn three consecutive games in a short space of time and move one game away from victory at 5-3.

When the Croatian served to try and keep the match alive, it was clear that she was now facing a player full of confidence, as Bencic came up with a series of classy groundstrokes to earn two chances to finish the match.

However, Vekic seemed determined to make her work for it. She hit three brilliant forehands to move from match points down to game point up. The Swiss responded by dragging her all around the court to bring it back to deuce, and then the Croatian made two errors to hand Bencic the last two points she needed to seal the win.

The World No.12 looked understandably delighted. She put her hands over her face and smiled in apparent disbelief, then she gathered herself and walked to the net to embrace her friend.

“After very tough times, we were both in the quarter-final of a Grand Slam,” Bencic said. “We were both very happy, and I think we are professional enough to be friends off the court and do our work on the court.”

It has been a great tournament for Vekic and she will rightly feel very proud of what she has achieved. However, it has been an even better fortnight so far for Bencic, and it could get even better from here.

Grand Slam

French Open Chief Hoping To Ease COVID-19 Related Restrictions In Coming Weeks

Former world No.4 Guy Forget says he hopes to learn from the controversy caused by the recently cancelled Adria Tour.

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The man in charge of organising this year’s French Open has said he is optimistic that there will be more flexibility in the restrictions placed upon his event as it nears its launch.

 

Guy Forget has told Reuters News Agency that he believes the clay-court major will be nowhere as strict as the US Open, which will take place a couple weeks prior. The US Open is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and players will be subjected to various measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Including regular temperature checks and being limited to how many members of their team they can bring with them. It comes as parts of America reports a rapid rise in cases of the virus.

However, Forget believes that the COVID-19 restrictions set to be implemented in New York will not apply to his tournament because the current situation in his country is not as bad. According to the BBC, more than 29,000 people have died from COVID-19 in France compared to an estimated 132,000 in America.

“Luckily things are a bit more flexible in Europe and in France, especially,” Forget told Reuters. “Hopefully, what we’re going to announce will probably be even more flexible than what we did.”

Despite Forget’s optimism, there is also a lot of caution given recent events that have happened in the sport. The Adria Tour, which was founded by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, was cancelled after an outbreak of the virus among players. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive, as well as some coaching staff. The event was criticised for a lack of social distancing with players attending parties, however it all took place in accordance with local government rules. Meanwhile, at the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atalanta Frances Tiafoe withdrew due to testing positive for the virus, but the event continued.

“Maybe some people were overconfident there,” Forget commented on the Adria Tour.
“Luckily no one got hurt really bad but even a few cases is too much and we want to avoid that as much as we can.
“We want to reassure everyone that having people getting ill will be terrible for us. Let’s be really careful, really cautious.”

At present, the French Tennis Federation plans to allow up to 20,000 people to attend the French Open daily with 10,000 on the final day. Equating to roughly 60% of its maximum capacity which is a figure based on ‘health-related information and the projected guidelines.’ Those attending will be required to wear masks whilst walking around the venue but not when sitting courtside.

“We all see soccer on television, it’s wonderful but something is missing without the crowds,” Forget said about the importance of a crowd.
“We are working closely with the administration, the government, to make sure we can provide some crowd while still following very strict security measures.”

The French Open is set to get underway on September 27th. Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal are the defending champions.

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Grand Slam

Australian Open Chief Confident Event Will Take Place In January Amid COVID-19 Jump In Region

Craig Tiley has addressed concerns about the Grand Slam following a new outbreak in Victoria.

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The tournament director of the Australian Open has insisted that plans for next year’s tournament are on track despite a spike in COVID-19 cases around Melbourne.

 

Craig Tiley has stated that the Grand Slam will only take place in the city and there are no backup plans to potentially relocate the event in a worst case scenario. The Australian Open is held annually at Melbourne Park and this year attracted a record attendance of 812,174 people. Although there are concerns about the threat posed by COVID-19 with the Victoria State Government reporting another 66 cases of the virus on Friday. Making it the 17th day the daily infection rate has been in double digits. It is possible that the number could be higher with health minister Jenny Mikakos confirming around 10,000 people have refused to be tested with some claiming the virus to be a ‘conspiracy theory.’

According to ABC News Tiley and his team are planning for six scenarios concerning the Australian Open taking place, including the possibility of holding it behind closed doors. Although he is optimistic that the event and others also set to take place next January will go ahead as planned.

“Nothing has changed for us in terms of our planning,” Tiley told AAP.
“The environment around us has changed, and will continue to change, as we’ve seen with the current spike in Victoria.
“We’re optimistic the additional measures currently in place will be successful — and restrictions will continue to be eased over the coming months.”

The Tournament director has also confirmed that there will be little flexibility concerning the staging of next year’s event. Saying it will only take place in Melbourne and during January if it goes ahead. Although he is keeping a close eye on the two Grand Slams that are set to take place later this season.

“The US Open and the French Open are exploring mandatory testing, varying levels of quarantine and limiting entourages,” he said.
“Of course we are looking at all these options, and more, as part of our scenario planning.
“It’s difficult to predict exactly what will need to be in place as guidelines and protocols are changing week by week, and sometimes even day by day.”

This year’s US Open is set to get underway on August 31st, but will be held behind closed doors for the first time. Meanwhile the French Open, which starts only weeks after the New York major, plans to allow up to 20,000 fans to attend daily. Working out to be roughly 60% of its maximum capacity.

The last time the Australian Open didn’t take place was in 1986 due to a change in its hosting date from December to January. Founded in 1905, it is the youngest out of the four grand slam tournaments.

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Grand Slam

Patrick Mouratoglou Cast Doubt On US Open Taking Place As Covid-19 Cases Soar

One top health expert has warned American lawmakers that the country could reach 100,000 cases of the virus per day.

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The coach of Serena Williams has said he is unsure ‘if it is a good move’ for the US Open to go ahead amid the ongoing COVID-19 crises.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou told Sky Sports that he believes it is ‘a bit crazy’ for the event to be going ahead as planned. This year’s Grand Slam in New York is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and will be implementing strict measures to deal with the threat of COVID-19. Including regular testing and temperature checks. Players will also be kept essentially in a ‘bubble’ throughout and limited to where they can go. All tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic but the Tour is set to resume in August.

”With what’s happening at the moment in the US, with the number of cases of COVID-19 going higher and higher every day, I don’t think how that can happen,” Mouratoglou told Sky Sports.
“From outside, it looks a bit crazy to try to make it happen. So, I don’t know if it’s a good move.
“I wouldn’t say that if the situation was more stable like it is in Europe, then it’s a different story. But in the US and especially in New York and around New York is… I mean, the number of cases is increasing incredibly. So, I don’t know how reasonable that is to try to make it happen. And I don’t know if last minute the governor of New York will decide to cancel it because of course health first.”

Recently Dr Anthony Fauci, who is a top disease expert, told the United States Senate that he would not be surprised if the country soars to 100,000 cases of the Coronavirus each day. His warning comes as Reuters News Agency reports that there was a rise of more than 47,000 cases on Tuesday. The biggest jump in daily cases since the pandemic started.

As a result of the rise, New York has said that people travelling from 16 different states in America are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the city. According to USA Today this ruling applies to roughly 48% of the entire American population. Due to the uncertain situation, Mouratoglou believes it is still possible the US Open could get cancelled nearer the time.

“I think it’s completely possible that two weeks before he [Andrew Cuomo] decides I mean, considering the situation, this is not reasonable to bring people from all over the world there, mix them together and potentially put them in touch with one of the countries that has the most cases at the moment.” He said.

Some players are yet to clarify their plans for the Grand Slam and if they will be playing. Rafael Nadal, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep are some of those who have previously expressed their concerns. However, former champion and world No.1 Andy Murray says is it a ‘positive’ move for the event to be going ahead as well as the French Open which will follow shortly after.

“Getting the US Open and the French Open played this year is a good thing, I think. It’s positive, I just don’t like the way the French Open went about scheduling their event,” Murray told the BBC. “But we’re going to have to go back to playing at some stage. The most important thing is that the events are safe.”

The US Open is set to get underway on August 31st.

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