Karolina Pliskova lifts her fourth title of the season in Zhengzhou - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova lifts her fourth title of the season in Zhengzhou

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Number 1 seed Karolina Pliskova cruised past number 7 seed Petra Martic 6-3 6-2 after 1 hour and 36 minutes in the final of the Zhengzhou Open, an inaugural WTA Premier tournament. The final was postponed by six hours after torrential rain.

 

Pliskova came back from 0-2 in the first set by winning 12 of the next 15 games to win her fourth title this season after Brisbane, Rome and Eastbourne. The Czech player is the fifth top seed to win a tournament this season after Aryna Sabalenka in Shenzhen, Alison Van Uytvanck in Budapest, Caroline Garcia in Nottingham and Anastasjia Sevastova in Jurmala.

Pliskova took a re-match against Martic, who beat the Czech player in four of their previous five head-to-head matches and won their third round clash at Roland Garros.

Pliskova saved two of her three break points and converted four of her eight break points.

Martic earned an early break with a forehand return winner to open up a 2-0 lead in the first set. As the match resumed after a rain delay Martic did not convert a double break point. Pliskova broke back in the fourth game with a forehand winner to draw level to 2-2.

Pliskova saved a break point chance in the seventh game with a forehand down the line. The Czech player broke serve in the eighth game, when Martic made a forehand error and sealed the first set 6-3 with a service winner.

Pliskova dropped only six points on her first serve in the second set and broke serve in the third game when Martic sent a backhand slice wide. The former world number 1 player held her serve with an ace before breaking for the second time in the fifth game. She hit four winners to seal the win, as she was serving for the match at 5-2.

“I think I played good matches. Of course, not all the matches were perfect, the week never can be really perfect because it’s so many days and so many things can be just different every day. I beat tough players, which I maybe lost to a couple of times before. I think that was the biggest plus of this week, especially with Petra. These wins are always important. It doesn’t matter where you play, which tournament you play, but it’s always important. To get the trophy is always special. It does not matter really which tournament or how big the tournament is, it’s always good”, said Pliskova.  

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Dominic Thiem and Jannik Sinner grab the headlines in Vienna

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Dominic Thiem beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 7-6 (7-2) to reach the second round at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

 

Thiem rallied from 0-40 down to break Tsonga in the seventh game of the first set and held his next service games to win the opening set 6-4. Tsonga saved four break points in the first, third and ninth games of the second set, which came down to the tie-break. Thiem pulled away to win the tie-break 7-2. Thiem did not face a break point and won 80% of his first serve points.

Thiem will face Fernando Verdasco, who came back from one set down to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 6.2 6-1

Italian Next Gen star Jannik Sinner beat Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-4 in his ninth career ATP match setting up a second round match against either Gael Monfils or Dennis Novak. Sinner beat Monfils last week in Antwerp en route to becoming the youngest ATP semifinalist since Borna Coric at the 2014 Swiss Indoors in Basel.

Sinner earned his first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The Italian 18-year-old player saved three break points at 4-2, but he held his serve. Sinner sealed the opening set 6-3 on his first set point.

Sinner got the decisive break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held his final two service games to seal the second set 6-3.

Hyeon Chung fought off a late come-back from Milos Raonic to take a confidence-boosting 6-4 7-5 win in 1 hour and 44 minutes. Chung set up a second-round match against either Andrey Rublev or Felix Auger Aliassime.

Chung broke serve in the opening game of each set. The Asian player built up a 4-2 lead in the second set, but Raonic came back by winning three consecutive games. Raonic did not convert a set point at 5-4 on Chung’s serve, when Chung hit a forehand winner. Chung reeled off 10 of the next 14 points.

 

 

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Taylor Fritz upsets Alexander Zverev in Basel first round

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Taylor Fritz upset last year’s Alexander Zverev 7-6 6-4 after 1 hour and 24 minutes in the first round of the Swiss Indoor Open at the St. Jakobshalle in Basel.

 

Zverev earned a break point chance in the third game of the opening set, but Fritz saved it with an ace. Both players stayed neck and neck until the tie-break, where Zverev went up a 4-1 lead. Fritz clawed his way back by winning his next two points on serve. Zverev saved a set point at 5-6 and earned his own set point, when Taylor missed a forehand. Fritz drew level to 7-7 with a smash winner. The Californian player got another mini-break before sealing the opening set with an ace after 49 minutes.

Zverev did not convert his last break point chance in the second game of the second set when he netted his return. Fritz got his only break of the match in the third game to take a 2-1 lead after a loose forehand from Zverev.

Fritz never looked back in his next service games to clinch his 29th win of the season.

Fritz, who lost eight of the last matches after reaching the final at the Los Cabos last August, hit 37 winners to 27 unforced errors. The young US player earned the only break of the entire match.

“I played really solid, so it feels good to get that win, instead of him getting me for the third time in a row. I got out there today and the sliders on my serve were working well”, said Fritz.

Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in a hard-fought match. The Greek Next Gen star won his only break of the first set in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3.

Tsitsipas earned another break in the fifth game of the second set to take a 3-2 lead. Ramos Vinolas broke straight back in the next game to draw level to 3-3. The Spanish player saved two match points at 4-6 in the tie-break. Tsitsipas forced Ramos Vinolas to a forehand error before closing out the match after 1 hour and 44 minutes.

“I knew it was going to be a difficult battle out there. He fought hard and gave me a hard time out there, but I am satisfied and happy that this match did not go longer or to three sets. The players that make it into ATP 500 tournaments are all playing well, so I expect every match to be difficult. You have to fight for everything”,said Tsitsipas.

 US giant Reilly Opelka battled past Chilean Christian Garin 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (12-10) after a match with no breaks of serve. Opelka fended off set points at 6-7 and 8-9 in the tie-break of the second set before sealing the win on his fourth match point. Opelka will face either David Goffin or Marin Cilic.

Fabio Fognini cruised past Next Gen Australian player Alexey Popyrin 6-2 6-4 boosting his chance to qualify for the ATP Finals in London. Fognini is currently ranked number 11 in the ATP Race to London with 2235 points.

“Tennis has started to change again with these young guys, who are amazing on their first and second serves”, said Fognini.

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Stan Wawrinka Explains ATP Cup Absence And Olympics Situation Ahead Of Basel

Stan Wawrinka has explained why his Olympic dream is in doubt as he prepares to start his campaign in Basel.

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Stan Wawrinka (@usopen - Twitter)

Stan Wawrinka has explained why he is absent from the ATP Cup line-up as he begins his campaign in Basel on Wednesday. 

 

The three-time grand slam champion enters his home tournament in Basel having lost a three set final to a resurgent Andy Murray in Antwerp.

Despite the loss Wawrinka has been on a momentum swing himself having reached the US Open and Roland Garros quarter-finals this season.

Although this year has been a success, the Swiss’ 2020 calendar remains a mystery having been absent from Switzerland’s team for the ATP Cup next year.

Speaking to puntodebreak.com, Wawrinka explained his decision to not participate in the cup competition in January as well as questions over his Olympic eligibility, “I have a contract with the Doha tournament, which takes place at the same time as the ATP Cup,” Wawrinka explained.

“I would like to play it (Olympics). The desire is there, but now I have to adjust my calendar for 2020 with my team. I don’t know what criteria are required to get a Wild Card.” 

The 34 year-old is not the only one requiring a wildcard to enter the Olympics with Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori amongst others relying on the same rule.

Meanwhile Wawrinka is preparing for his first match in Basel, where he doesn’t have the best record having never reached the final.

A first round match against Pablo Cuevas awaits on Wednesday and he admitted his tension when performing in front of a home crowd,“In Basel I have always been a little tense, too hesitant,” he admitted.

“Correcting that and winning my first round match against Pablo Cuevas on Wednesday depends on me. It is not the tournament that suits my style of play and that is why, although I have played some good matches here, I do not have such a good performance.”

If Wawrinka wants to reach his maiden Swiss Indoors final, he will potentially have to go through Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

That dream last eight match is a long way away though as Wawrinka will have to go through Pablo Cuevas and the winner of Frances Tiafoe against Dan Evans.

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