Simona Halep Suffers Injury Blow As Svitolina Downs Former Grand Slam Champion In Wuhan - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Suffers Injury Blow As Svitolina Downs Former Grand Slam Champion In Wuhan

There was mixed fortunes for two top women’s players in China on Wednesday.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has suffered a setback to her chances of reaching the WTA Finals later this year after she was forced to retire from the Wuhan Open on Wednesday.

 

The world No.6 called it quits 10 games into her match against Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina due to a back injury. Halep was initially neck and neck with her opponent as they exchanged a series of breaks before she called a medical time out and then eventually retired from the match.

“It’s lower back. I think it’s more muscle, but I don’t know yet because I haven’t checked it properly,” she said afterwards.

Halep’s withdrawal triggers flashbacks to 12 months ago when the Romanian was forced to end her 2018 season early due to a back problem. Although there is no indication yet that her latest problem is as severe as what she experienced last year. It is the second time Halep has been forced to retire from a match this season. The first took place last month at the Rogers Cup when a leg injury sidelined her from action.

“At 4-4, 0-30 with the backhand, I had a sharp pain,” she explained.
“I don’t know yet, but it looks a little bit different [to the injury I had before], but it’s still the same zone.
“I started to play well this tournament. I’m disappointed it happened again with the back.”

The 27-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches since her triumph over Serena Williams at Wimbledon. Overall, her win-loss record since the grand slam currently stands at 5-4.

Capitalising on Halep’s misfortunes, Rybakina moves into the quarter-finals of a Premier event for the first time in her career. The world No.50 clinched her maiden WTA title earlier this year in Bucharest and more recently reached the final of the Nanchang Open. She will next play either Aryna Sabalenka or Kiki Bertens.

“Of course, I didn’t want to win the match like this,” wtatennis.com quoted Rybakina as saying. “The worst thing that can happen to an athlete is injuries – I wish Simona a speedy recovery and I’m just happy to be in the quarters.”

Svitolina impresses

There was better news for third seed Elina Svitolina in her third round match. The Ukrainian breezed her way past former US Open champion Svetlana Kuztnetsova 6-4, 6-2, in just 76 minutes. Breaking the Russian five times in the match and winning 77% of her first service points. Svitolina also produced 16 winners to 15 unforced errors.

“It was quite up and down in the first set. I think Svetlana came back and played some good tennis. I think at 5-4 it was an important game for me to serve it out.” Svitolina said during her on-court interview.
“Then I was quite comfortable from the baseline to win the match.”
“I think I was serving good today and striking the ball good.” She added.

Kuznetsova is the second grand slam champion to lose to Svitolina this week in China. The first was Garbine Muguruza, who was knocked out of the tournament on Tuesday.

Despite being ranked third in the world, Svitolina is yet to claim a title on the tour this year. Her last appearance in a WTA final was when she won the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. Almost a year ago.

Sviotolina will play either eighth seed Wang Qiang or Alison Riske in the quarter-finals. Should she win her next match, it will be her best run in Wuhan since 2014.

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Simona Halep wins the all Romanian battle in Cluj

Simona Halep is into the second round in Cluj after a dominant performance.

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Simona Halep (@TransylvaniaOpn - Twitter)

The world number 18 and the top seed managed to beat her Romanian counterpart in straight sets.

 

Simona Halep is through round one of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, after beating a fellow Romanian Elena Gabriella Ruse in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes.

The number one seed served six aces and won 83% of her first serve points in a match that seemed one-sided and Halep was pulling amazing shots and winners throughout the entire match.

“It’s not easy to face a Romanian in the first round of a Romanian tournament but I was very focused and concentrated on what I have to do and I didn’t really think of who I would play, I just wanted to play my game and I felt great on court today.”

It was actually the world 85 with the first breakpoint of the match in the first game but it was denied when Halep stepped up to the service line and fired an ace to save it.

After holding serve the world number 18 started looking for the early lead and she was able to get it after a poor service game from Ruse and after consolidating the break managed to turn it into a double break.

Halep served out the first set in a mere 29 minutes and it was clear she was the better player today.

She continued to ride the momentum into the second set and at 1-1 earned three more chances to break and broke with a stunning return winner that caught Ruse off guard for the 2-1 lead.

At 4-2, the top seed managed to go up a double break with another amazing passing shot and she served out the match and after the match in her post-match press conference, she spoke about pulling off those amazing shots on breakpoints.

“When I have a chance to do it I always do because I love these kinda shots and today it was a great one so it made me very happy.”

Halep will next face the Russian Varvara Gracheva in the next round after she beat the German Andrea Petkovic in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Tuesday night.

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Anett Kontaveit overpowers Krunic in Cluj-Napoca

Anett Kontaveit took a step towards the WTA Finals with a straight sets win in Cluj today.

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Anett Kontaveit (@TransylvaniaOpn - Twitter)

The number two seed only needed two sets and 70 minutes to beat her Serbian opponent.

 

Anett Kontaveit is through to the second round of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, beating the Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 10 minutes.

The world number 14 served two aces and won 69% of the points on her first serve in a match where she seemed to outhit her opponent using her powerful groundstrokes.

“The match was close and it was only break in the first set and I thought I was playing pretty well and winning a lot of points on my first serve but I actually think she served well and it wasn’t an easy match and the second set got really close”.

The Estonian had the better start to the match holding serve in her opening game and putting pressure on the Serb right away earning two chances to break serve and got the early break to take a 2-0 lead.

That one break was enough for Kontaveitt to serve out the first set and take it 6-3.

The second set was a more competitive affair and it stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Tallinn, Estonia native was able to break the Serb at love to take a 3-2 lead and she was able to consolidate the break.

It stayed on serve until 4-3 when the world number 44 fought back and was able to break the Estonian serve and the set went back on serve. Once again both players did a good job holding serve until 5-5 when Kontaveit got the crucial break of serve and served out the match.

After the match in her post-match press conference, Kontaveit spoke about how she was feeling energy-wise after such a short turnaround time from winning the title in Moscow last week.

” I feel like the energy has dropped a little bit but I did manage to bring some of the energy today and still be active and be aggressive.”

Kontaveit will now face Alison Van Uytvanck in her next match after the Belgian beat Danka Kovinic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day.

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Emma Raducanu battles back to beat Hercog in Cluj

Emma Raducanu won her first match on the WTA tour after beating Polona Hercog in Cluj.

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Emma Raducanu (@usopen - Twitter)

The US Open champion was pushed to the limit in a three-set win over her Slovenian opponent.

 

Emma Raducanu is through to round two at the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca after beating the Slovenian Polona Hercog in three sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in a match that lasted two hours and 27 minutes.

The Brit served four aces and won 75% of her first serve points in a match that went back and forth for all three sets and had a rollercoaster feel to it and it was the first time at tour-level Raducanu played a three-set match.

“I feel really happy to have won that match it was actually very difficult and I wasn’t playing my best tennis but Polona (Hercog) is a great opponent and she is really experienced so I really had to fight hard to pull that one through.”

After holding serve in the opening service game of the match the world number 23 put pressure on Hercog’s serve right away and in a game that lasted 10 minutes, it took the Brit six break points before she was able to get the first break of serve of the match.

It stayed on serve until 4-2 when the world number 124 struck back and managed to get the break back to go back on serve and at 4-4 got the crucial break needed to serve out the first set.

The second set stayed on serve with the 18-year-old getting the first chance to break at 2-1 but Hercog saved all three break points she faced and at 4-4 it was the Slovenian applying pressure and looking for the break.

Raducanu was able to save it and hold serve and at 6-5, she found herself at set point as she managed to win it to force a third and deciding set.

Winning the second set seemed to give the Britt a boost and the motivation to keep fighting and she managed to get the early break to take a 2-0 lead and at 3-0 broke again to go up a double break.

The next game she found herself at match point but the world number 124 was able to save it and the next game Raducanu serve out the match. In her post-match press conference, she spoke about what the key was to turn the match around.

“It feels like a huge win for me and it’s my first WTA tour win which makes me very happy and I think the key was to stay mentally composed and I knew myself I wasn’t playing very well so I just needed to keep going one point at a time and I am really proud of myself how I fought today.”

Raducanu will face a Romanian in her next match on Thursday in Ana Bogden who beat the Serb Ivana Jorovic on Monday and this will be their first-ever meeting.

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