Ash Barty Finishes Day One Top Of Red Group After Cruising Past Wounded Bencic - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Finishes Day One Top Of Red Group After Cruising Past Wounded Bencic

Ash Barty finishes day one at the top of the Red Group at the WTA Finals after a three set win over Belinda Bencic.

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Ash Barty (@FoxSportsAUS - Twitter)

World number one Ash Barty finishes day one at the top of the Red Group after a 5-7 6-1 6-2 win over Belinda Bencic. 

 

After losing the first set, the Roland Garros champion only lost three games as she secured top position in the Red Group after the first day at the WTA Finals.

There was not much Bencic could do after suffering a foot injury in the second set which hampered her movement and increased Barty’s confidence.

In the other match of the day, Naomi Osaka won her opening match by edging out Petra Kvitová 7-6(1) 4-6 6-4 in an Australian Open final rematch.

Having been in the doubles event at the WTA Finals before, Barty started the match confidently as she looked to end an incredible season in the best fashion possible.

On the other side of the net, Bencic showed her early nerves having never been at the WTA Finals in her career before and fended off an early break point.

It was a comfortable opening set for both with Barty using a good variety of serves to open up the angles while Bencic showed authority with her impressive power.

The difference though proved to be the top seed’s lack of first serves as she was once again struggling with the ball toss.

This was all that Bencic needed as she forced the errors from the slice backhand of Barty to secure the break for a 6-5 lead.

An ace secured the first set for the world number 7 in 50 minutes as Barty now needed to respond.

Respond is exactly what Barty managed to do as the 23 year-old played much better taking up a more aggressive court position on return.

An early 3-0 lead was created as Bencic was now struggling with her movement and looked to be in serious trouble as the momentum had swung away from her.

Just like Bencic did in the first set, an ace secured the set for Barty as she levelled the match at one set all.

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Despite a lengthy medical time-out as well as a confident start, Bencic was unable to take enough risks to win the match.

A lucky net cord sealed the first break at 2-1 and things just managed to get better for the Australian as she then managed to get the double break.

The match ended with a 10th ace of the match from the world number one as she ended day one at the top of the Red Group.

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A great performance which saw her take the momentum from the Asian swing into the WTA Finals as Bencic looks to heal that foot in-time for a second match.

Next Barty will play Naomi Osaka on Tuesday after securing her first win at the WTA Finals of her career with a 7-6(1) 4-6 6-4 win over Petra Kvitová.

The Japanese star hit 12 aces as she looks to end the season with a big title and after the match she was glad to get a win under her belt, “I think just like winning given the circumstances,” Osaka said after her match.

“I’m not one who plays that well in the first round (of tournaments). It was very difficult for me to play against her. I just tried to fight no matter what and I’m very glad that I was able to win.”

As for Kvitová, she will look to avoid elimination when she will play Bencic on Tuesday.

 

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Leylah Fernandez Overcomes Pavlyuchenkova To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round

It was a tough day at the office for the US Open runner-up.

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Leylah Fernandez (Darren Carroll/USTA)

Leylah Fernandez pulled off one of her famous comebacks in the Californian desert beating the number nine seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 41 minutes.

 

The Canadian hit 24 winners in the win while the Russian hit 46 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth before Fernandez was able to pull through in the end.

“What I am most proud of is the way that I fought and honestly today wasn’t my best performance,” Fernandez said afterwards. “But I fought for every point and I was trying to figure things out. I was proud I was able to find a way to get back in the match and get the win”.

After holding serve in her opening service game the world number 28 started putting the pressure right away on the Russian by getting two early break points but failed to convert.

At 3-3, it was Fernandez facing the pressure on her serve and the world number 13 had four looks at a breakpoint. On the fourth the Canadian cracked and double-faulted for the first break of serve of the match.

The Russian lead didn’t last long as the Canadian responded right away in the following game and the next four games went with breaks of serve as both players were struggling to hold serve.

Pavlyuchenkova eventually served for the set at 6-5 and was able to serve it out to take a 7-5 lead.

Pavlyuchenkova carried the momentum into the second set and broke Fernandez’s serve in the first game of the set but at 2-1 got broken once again and the set went back on serve.

It stayed on serve until 4-3 when Fernandez managed to get the crucial break of serve and that was enough for her to serve out the second set.

The first four games of the third set went on serve and at 2-2 again it was the Montreal native earning a breakpoint and breaking once again and despite facing pressure from the Russian was able to serve out the match.

After the match in her on-court interview, Fernandez was asked about all the support she has been getting recently and what it means to her to play on such a big stage.

“I got goosebumps,’ she said. “I was super excited to play here in Indian Wells for the first time and to play in a stadium where so many legends played who fought and won so it’s an honor to be here. I can’t wait to play my next match”.

Fernandez will next face the American Shelby Rogers in the round of 16 on Tuesday after she beat the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-0, 6-2.

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Bianca Andreescu Begins Indian Wells Title Defense With Rollercoaster win

The Canadian began her title defense from 2019 with a three-set win over her American opponent.

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Reigning Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu is into the third round after a epic two-hour and 48 battle with Alison Riske which she eventually won 7-6, 5-7, 6-2.

 

” I’m very happy to be back and I felt all the emotions coming back here to Indian Wells, especially stepping on this court and it honestly feels awesome”. Said Andreescu.

The Toronto native fired 30 winners in a match that went back and forth in the last match on Stadium court.

The first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Canadian with the first two chances of the match to break and she was able to get the first break of serve in the match but failed to consolidate and Riske broke back the following game.

Andreescu had another chance at 3-3 but was snuffed by the world number 51 and the first set was decided by a tiebreaker. In that breaker, the number 16 seed jumped out to a 4-2 lead which was enough to take the first set.

After holding in her opening service game the Canadian had three chances for an early break in the second set but the American was able to save all three and held serve.

At 2-1, the world number 21 had two more chances and with a return winner on double break point she took a 3-1 lead and this time was able to consolidate the break and hold serve.

At 4-2, the world number 51 attempted a comeback and after earning two breakpoints of her own broke back to put the set back on serve but at 5-4 the Canadian had two match points but the American saved both.

At 5-5, Riske had two more breakpoints and managed to get the crucial break of serve and serve out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

The number 16 seed was keen on getting the early lead in the third set and she did just that to take a 2-0 lead and at 4-1 managed to turn her break into a double break and served out the match.

After the match in her on-court interview, Andreescu was asked what had happened in the second set and how she was able to respond in the third set.

” She played very well, I honestly had no idea what happened and she picked up her level while I kinda stayed the same,” she said. “Then I had to refocus for the third set and I had to change my tactics a little bit and it helped”.

Andreescu is now lifetime 8-0 in Indian Wells dating back to 2019 when she won and is still the current defending champion. She will take that record into her next match where she will face Anett Kontaveit.

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Aryna Sabalenka Out Of Indian Wells After Positive COVID Test

Sabalenka is the latest player to be ruled out of a tournament after testing positive for the virus.

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Aryna Sabalenka returns a shot during a Women's Doubles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka says she is ‘looking OK’ after confirming she has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

The Belarussian was set to be the top seed at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells which will get underway next week after Ash Barty withdrew from the draw. It is not known as to if Sabalenka is currently experiencing any symptoms at present or when exactly she tested positive for the virus. She hasn’t played on the Tour since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last month.

Unfortunately I’ve tested positive at Indian Wells and won’t be able to compete,” Sabalenka wrote in an Instagram story.
“I’ve started my isolation and I’ll be staying here until I’m cleared by the doctors and health officials.
“So far I’m looking OK but really sad to not be able to play this year.”

It is unclear if the 23-year-old has received a COVID vaccination after she previously expressed caution over receiving one. During the Miami Open in March Sabalenka told reporters she was concerned about how quickly the vaccine has been produced and the effects it might have on her body.

“So far I don’t really trust it. It’s tough to say, but I don’t really want mine yet, actually, and I don’t want my family have it,” she said. “I will think about this. I mean, if I will have to do it, then of course I have to do it, because our life is a travel life and I think we are the ones who actually should make it. But I will see.”

In recent months tennis’ governing bodies have been urging their players to get vaccinated but some such as Sabalenka are still hesitant. On the other hand, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has previously called for the vaccine to be made mandatory on the Tour.

So far this season Sabalenka has achieved a win-loss record of 42-14 and has reached the semi-finals at her two most recent Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the US Open). She has won two titles in Abu Dhabi at the start of the season and then Madrid in May. Sabalenka also reached the final of another tournament in Stuttgart.

Replacing Sabalenka as the top seed in Indian Wells will be Karolina Pliskova who is a two-time semi-finalist in the tournament.

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