Belinda Bencic powered past defending champion Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-4 to reach the US Open quarter-finals.
The world number 13 secured her third consecutive win over the Japanese player with a powerful display which included 29 winners.
As a result of Osaka’s disappointing display, she now loses her world number one spot to Ashleigh Barty as she fails to defend her US Open title.
Next for Bencic in the last eight is either Donna Vekic after she battled past Julia Goerges 6-7(5) 7-5 6-3.
Having won their previous two encounters, it was no surprise to see Bencic dominate proceedings early on the match as punched holes through the Osaka defence.
After a nervy start, the defending champion had to dig in deep in the early stages as she prevented falling to a double break deficit.
The world number one then capitalised on some double faults and unforced errors from her Swiss opponent to break back as she started to find her feet in the contest.
Both players then maintained consistency on their serve as Bencic reigned in her power to construct some well-worked points.
In the end it would come down to who would take their opportunities and remain the more consistent, which proved to be Bencic towards the end of the set.
Finding the lines was key for the 13th seed as she maintained good margin on her shots to cause the defending champion major problems.
A hold to 30 after sealing the crucial break gave Bencic the early advantage to take the opening set in 49 minutes.
There was a positive start to both players’ performance in the second set as Bencic continued to expand on her impressive winners count.
Playing under pressure was what Osaka was used to but was now being affected by the Swiss’ aggressive return positioning and groundstrokes.
This proved evident as a break was conceded to love in the fifth game as the defending champion was on the verge of exiting the tournament.
Seeing the trainer did not help the world number one’s troubles as Bencic continued to pound winners past the helpless Japanese star.
There was no stopping Bencic now as another powerful forehand sealed her place in the quarter-finals and ended the defending champion’s reign as US Open champion.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2019
As a result Osaka’s reign as world number one is over and now hands over the heavy responsibility back to Ashleigh Barty.
However take nothing away from Bencic, who hit 29 winners to power her way to the quarter-finals of the US Open and continue her impressive season.
After the match Bencic admitted she was pleased with her performance, “I was so excited to come on the court, the challenge cannot be bigger. Naomi Osaka is a great player and won the US Open last year. I had to be on top of my game and am really pleased with how I played,” Bencic said in her post-match interview.
Next up for Bencic will be Donna Vekic after she saved match point to defeat Julia Goerges in a near three hour battle.
French Open Finalist Marketa Vondrousova Undergoes Surgery
It is a premature end to what has been a breakthrough season for the Czech.
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.
‘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.
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
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
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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