Karolina Pliskova Dazzles To Beat Halep And Reach Shenzhen Semis - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Dazzles To Beat Halep And Reach Shenzhen Semis

Karolina Pliskova raised her game when it mattered to claim victory over Halep and earn a semi-final clash with Barty at the 2019 WTA Finals.

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Karolina Pliskova (@sports_en on Twitter)

Karolina Pliskova produced an excellent performance to beat Simona Halep 6-0 2-6 6-4 and set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Ashleigh Barty at the 2019 WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

The Czech, 27, was defeated in the last four at the season-ending event in 2017 and 2018, so she will be hoping to go further this year. It will be a tall order to beat the World No.1 but she can do it.

After all, Pliskova passed a tough test in her winner-takes-all encounter with the Romanian. She had lost seven of their 11 previous meetings. But today she came out with purpose and started the match in stunning style. She hit 11 winners and completely dominated all six games of the first set as she wrapped it up 6-0 in just 21 minutes.

Understandably, Halep felt like she needed some guidance after that. She called on her coach Darren Cahill and he instructed her to operate further behind the baseline and make the Czech work harder to win points.

That approach worked brilliantly in the second set. The two-time Grand Slam champion broke Pliskova immediately and quickly opened up a 2-0 lead.

Surprisingly, the Czech won two games in a row to seemingly re-assert control on proceedings. However, Halep was not fazed. She raised her game again and won the next four games by manoeuvring the World No.2 all over the court with some superb tennis to level the match at one-set-all.

Pliskova edges rollercoaster decider

Simona Halep (@Femei_din_sport on Twitter)

The quality dropped in the final set. Halep won the first two games but then lost her cool after missing her chance to win the third game. She then gifted Pliskova a break to love and lost a tight fifth game.

Darren Cahill came on talk to the Romanian again, and what he said astonished the commentators and probably a lot of viewers too. He told Halep her behaviour in the last three games was a ‘disgrace’ and instructed to sort out her attitude for the rest of the set.

Unsurprisingly, the World No.5 seemed a bit shell-shocked by her coach’s outburst. She quickly lost the two games to leave herself in all sorts of trouble.

Halep recovered to bring the score back to 5-4. But Pliskova hammered a couple of huge winners to break the Romanian for the seventh time in the match and claim victory.

“We have so many good matches,” the Czech said in her on-court interview. “Every time it’s kind of close. She has a better record against me, but I was kind of positive (going into it). I think I played some good matches here and some good tennis.”

She continued, “Today was a little bit tricky and I’m happy that I found my way through. I never stopped fighting and believing.”

Svitolina maintains her perfect record in Shenzhen

Elina Svitolina (@lessportsplus on Twitter)

There was far less at stake in the other match in Shenzhen today. Elina Svitolina had already booked her semi-final place after two straight-sets wins, while Sofia Kenin had no chance to qualify for the last four because she only had the opportunity to play one match after she replaced the injured Bianca Andreescu.

Despite this, both players seemed determined to win. They put on a great show for an appreciative crowd during a closely-fought two-set encounter that lasted over two hours. The Ukrainian eventually won 7-5 7-6(10).

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

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After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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