With End Of Season Goal Achieved, Karolina Pliskova Targets Stress-Free Asian Swing - UBITENNIS
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With End Of Season Goal Achieved, Karolina Pliskova Targets Stress-Free Asian Swing

The world No.2 finds herself in a different situation compared to that of 12 months ago.

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The last quarter of the tennis season is usually a time where the world’s top players are fighting it out to secure a place at the extravagant WTA Finals. However, Karolina Pliskova is one of the lucky ones who has already sealed a spot in the event.

 

The 27-year-old enters the Asian swing of the tour with a win-loss record of 49-13 (including the Fed Cup) this year. During that period, she has won titles in Brisbane, Rome, Eastbourne and Zhengzhou. Making it her best-ever season on the WTA Tour in terms of trophies won. In the majors her best run was to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Technically, Pliskova could not win another match for the rest of the year and still play at the WTA Finals, which has moved to the Chinese city of Shenzhen for the first time. However, she has no intention of doing that. She is seeded second in this week’s Wuhan Open. A tournament where she has reached the quarter-finals in two out of the past four years.

“I think the pressure kind of helped me to stay close and play just good tennis because I won the title in Tokyo because I kind of had to, because otherwise I would not qualify.” wtatennis.com quoted the world No.2 as saying.
“So let’s see without the pressure if I can do also good or maybe better than last year. Last year actually these two tournaments were quite tough for me. I didn’t play well. Of course, I feel totally relaxed now. There is nothing I would be stressed about. Shenzhen was my goal, and I’m there.”

Leading up to Wuhan, Pliskova stopped off in Korea. Playing in the doubles tournament alongside her twin sister Kristyna. A former world No.4 junior player who is yet to crack the top 50 on the professional tour. It was at the event where Pliskova also acted as a coach for Kristyna in the singles competition where she lost in the second round.

“It was quite fun. Korea was nice. I won there, I think five or six years ago.” She said. “I hadn’t gone back since I won. It was nice just to be there a couple of days. My father was there with Kristyna. I did this coaching, so at least I did something different. It didn’t help much.”

Pliskova will not have an easy start to her Wuhan campaign on Tuesday. Awaiting her will be Amanda Anisimova, who reached the semi-finals of the French Open in June. Anisimova edged out Sam Stosur in the first round in what was her first competitive match since the death of her father.

“I’m really happy to be back… I’m just focusing on having fun this tournament. I really don’t have any expectations for myself,” the 18-year-old told reporters on Monday.

Only once this year has Pliskova lost her opening match at a tournament. That was back in April at the Stuttgart Open in Germany.

Grand Slam

Garbine Muguruza Maintains Strong Start To Season At The Australian Open

Garbine Muguruza advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a hard-fought three-set win over Alja Tomljanovic.

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Garbine Muguruza (@TheFirstServeAU)

Garbine Muguruza beat Alja Tomljanovic 6-3 3-6 6-3 in a fascinating duel to earn a place in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open.

 

It is a result that enables the Spaniard, 26, to maintain her encouraging start to the new season. She won three matches in Shenzhen and two in Hobart. Then she beat Shelby Rogers in three sets in the first round at Melbourne Park.

All these wins are significant for Muguruza because of her struggles in 2019. Between the end of the French Open in June and the end of her season in September, the two-time Grand Slam champion only won one match.

During that three-month dry spell, the Spaniard parted with long-time coach Sam Sumyk and did some work with Spanish Fed Cup captain Anabel Medina Garrigues.

However, that arrangement did not last long. Muguruza announced in November that Conchita Martinez would become her coach again in 2020. Martinez famously guided the younger Spaniard to Wimbledon glory in 2017.

So far, the Muguruza-Martinez partnership is paying off. The Spaniard has re-discovered her assurance on court and she looks much calmer than she did for most of 2019.

Muguruza deals well with Tomljanovic

In the match against Tomljanovic, the former World No.1 had the right approach. She played a solid first set while the Australian was a little wayward and won it 6-3.

Then Muguruza’s form dipped and she lost the second set. But, crucially, she did not seem to be too bothered by this setback.

Instead, the Spaniard simply focused on the decider and produced her best tennis of the match to overcome an undeniably talented opponent who also played a good set.

“It was a tough battle,” Muguruza said in her on-court interview. “I think Alja played very well so I had to level up my game and stay in the fight until the last moment.”

The Spaniard continued, “I’m very excited to work with Conchita again. I’ve known her since I was 14 so we understand each other very well.”

Muguruza will take on either Elina Svitolina or Lauren Davis in the last 32.

Bencic passes Ostapenko test

Players often say that they struggle to find any kind of rhythm against Jelena Ostapenko because she tries to hit virtually every ball for a winner.

Given this, it will come as no great surprise to anyone that the Latvian employed that exact approach against Belinda Bencic in their second-round match.

While Ostapenko was going for everything, the Swiss player at the other end did everything she could to stay in contention at all times. If the Latvian pulled ahead, Bencic tried to make her play extra shots. If the World No.6 faced break points, she tried to hit aces so that her opponent had no chance of hitting a winner.

On this occasion, Bencic did not play particularly well, and she did not execute a particularly high percentage of the shots she attempted. However, she did enough to win a rollercoaster first set that included seven breaks 7-5. Then she recovered well from 2-5 in the second set to win it by the same score as the first.

It is a very useful skill to be able to win without playing at your best. Bencic has now done that in both of her matches so far. She will now play either Annet Kontaveit or Sara Sorribes Tormo in the third round.

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Donna Vekic continued her impressive progress at this year’s Australian Open. She hit 38 winners during a comfortable 6-4 6-2 win over Alize Cornet.

 

 

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Coach Of Dayana Yastremska Blasts Wozniacki’s Claim Of Fake Medical Timeout At Australian Open

One of the rising stars of the women’s tour is facing allegations of poor sportsmanship.

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The chief coach of Dayana Yastremska has insisted that the world No.21 had been suffering from a problem with her leg after it was alleged that she deliberate called a medical time out to disrupt her opponent’s momentum.

 

The 23rd seed crashed out of the Australian Open in straight sets on Wednesday to Caroline Wozniacki. Despite having a double break advantage during both of those sets. Towards the end of the match, proceedings were halted when Yastremska sought medical assistance. She called for a trainer whilst trailing 5-7, 4-5. Prompting the former world No.1 to question her motives on the court.

“Obviously she tried to break my rhythm. And at 5-4 I don’t think there is anything wrong. She was running just fine. So that’s a trick that she’s done before, and I knew that it was coming.” Wozniacki commented during her press conference.
“But I was just trying to stay focused. I had match point. I had chances. I didn’t take them. Some of them she played well; some of them I played too passively.’
“In the end I just tried to keep focusing, just keep grinding, keep hanging in there. And I finally made it at 6-5 for me, and that was a nice relief.”

Despite the timeout, it had little impact on the outcome. With the soon-to-be-retired Wozniacki prevailing 7-5, 7-5. A case of sweet revenge for the Dane who lost to Yastremska last year in Cincinnati.

The allegations made against the 19-year-old has prompted a furious response from her coach Sascha Bajin on social media. Bajin is best known for previously guiding Naomi Osaka to both of her grand slam titles and has also previously worked with Kristina Mladenovic.

“Just to shut some people up and end this useless convo. Dayana was really struggling since days with her leg, but since y’all are all doctors and coaches you know better then she herself or our whole team who’s working with her.” He wrote on Twitter.

Historically, Yastremska does have a history of taking late media timeouts during matches. In the final of the Thailand Open last year, she requested a break whilst down 2-5 in the final set of the title match. Upon resumption, she went on to win the title. Meanwhile, Kiki Bertens also previously cast shade on her rival.

“Well, I played her three times and three times it happened, so that’s my answer,” The Dutch player said earlier this month during the Brisbane International.

Yastremska have won three WTA titles so far in her career with two of those triumphs occurring last year. It is the first time she has failed to win back-to-back matches at a grand slam since the French Open.

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Coco Gauff Undeterred By Mouthwatering Australian Open Showdown With Osaka

The rising star looks ahead to her clash with the world No.4.

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Teenage sensation Coco Gauff says she has nothing to lose in her upcoming clash with Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open.

 

Gauff, who is the youngest player in this year’s draw at the age of 15, battled into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday. Taking on Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, the American prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, after more than two hours of play. Coming back from a 0-3 deficit in the deciding set to progress into the last 32 of the tournament on her debut. Gauff has now won six main draw grand slam matches before her 16th birthday.

“I think I was just trying to stay calm mostly and stay positive. I’ve always believed that I can come back regardless of the score.” She commented about her latest win.
“The whole match I knew I needed to be more aggressive. I guess I finally decided to do that even though I wish I decided earlier.’
“I think I kind of felt the momentum changing. I knew I had to keep pressing.”

Tipped to be a future star of the women’s game, Gauff achieved another record with her latest win. She is the first female American player to reach the third round of her first three grand slam tournaments in 30 years. A fete that wasn’t even achieved by the formidable Williams sisters.

The reward for the youngster is a second meeting with two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka, who won the Australian Open title 12 months ago. They first clashed at the US Open last September with the Japanese player dropping only three games against Gauff.

Despite being the underdog in the upcoming match, Gauff has vowed to give it her all. Now familiar with Osaka’s game on the court, the world No.67 believes she will be ‘less nervous’ during their next meeting.

“I think in general my mindset has always been nothing to lose really. Even when in juniors, even though I was ranked pretty high in juniors, I was technically supposed to win. Then I still felt like I had nothing to lose.” She explained.
“I still feel that now. I think my mindset just is I’m going to fight. If I lose, the world is not going to end. I’m going to have another match in maybe a week or so.’
“I think it’s just less pressure to win. I feel like for me, I’m not trying to win so much, but trying to play my best tennis on the court. Winning comes with that if I play good.”

Reflecting on their previous encounter, Gauff paid tribute to her rival. Who consoled her tearful opponent on the court following their match at the Arthur Ashe stadium. A gestured hailed by the teenager as ‘true sportsmanship.’

“I think that’s something if I had a child or something, that’s something I would want my child to see.” She said.
“It just shows what being a competitor really is. You might hate the person on the court, but off the court you love them, not really like hate. But you want to win.’
“Sometimes when we’re on the court, we say things we don’t mean because we have that mentality.”

Gauff will play Osaka on Friday. Osaka beat China’s Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-4, in her second round match earlier in the day.

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