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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Sofia Kenin sets up clash with Cori Gauff in Melbourne

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Number 14 seed Sofia Kenin battled past China’s Zhang Shuai 7-5 7-6 (9-7) in a late-night hard-fought match to book her spot in the Australian Open fourth round against Cori Gauff.

 

Kenin reached the third round for the first time at this tournament without dropping a set. The US 21-year-old player fought back from a set point down twice in the opening set. She went down a break early in the second set before taking the tie-break.

Zhang went up a 3-0 lead in the opening set and saved five break points in a hard-fought fifth game.  Kenin broke back with two forehands to draw level, as Zhang was serving for the set. The US player completed the come-back by winning five consecutive games from 2-5 down to win the opening set 7-5.

Both players traded breaks twice in the second set en route to the tie-break. Kenin earned a mini-break on the ninth point before winning the tie-break on the third match point to set up a fourth round match against Cori Gauff, who beat defending champion Naomi Osaka.

“It’s late, but I am happy to have gone through and I am really excited. I was just fighting. There were a lot of close shots, so I needed to step up my game and I am so proud of myself. I was not aware that I was playing Gauff. She is playing really well. She had a great 2019 season. I am going to enjoy the moment right now”, said Kenin.

 

 

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‘Best Match’ Of 2020 Changes Nothing For Ash Barty At Australian Open

The reigning French Open champion explains why she doesn’t consider herself the frontrunner in Melbourne.

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World No.1 Ash Barty has vowed not to get ahead of herself despite producing a dominant display in her latest match at the Australian Open.

 

Barty, who is seeking to become the first home player to win a singles title in Melbourne Park since 1978, dropped just five games during her 6-3, 6-2, win over Elena Rybakina. Who won the Hobart International last week. Despite being tested at times by the 29th seed, Barty prevailed with the help of 28 winners as she broke five times during the 79-minute match.

“I think today was probably my sharpest match that I played. I felt really comfortable moving around the court. I felt like I found the middle of the racquet a lot sooner than my other matches.” Barty commented during her press conference.
“Particularly there were tough, long service games. I was able to get out of them and continue the momentum. I think all in all it was a pretty well-rounded performance.”

The win follows her victories over Lesia Tsurenko and Polona Hercog earlier in the tournament. Barty is now on a seven-match winning streak after winning the Adelaide International last week. Her first ever WTA title on Australian soil.

As the top seed in the women’s draw, the 23-year-old is carrying the burden of expectation on her shoulders. Although the WTA Tour is renowned for its unpredictability with the last 12 major tournaments being won by 10 different players. During that time, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep is the only players to have won multiple trophies. At the Australian Open specifically, the last time the tournament was won by the number one seed was in 2015 by Serena Williams.

It is perhaps for this reason why Barty is remaining coy about her chances over the coming days. After branding her latest victory as the best of 2020 so far, she once again played down the idea of being the favourite to win.

“I’ve said from the very start, for us it’s about coming out here and enjoying it. I’m loving every minute. Trying to do the best I can. That’s all I can ask of myself.” She said.
“There’s a ‘No. 1’ next to my name and that’s about it. I think my family is the same. I’m the same.”

Danger lurks for the Australian in the next round with a rematch against Alison Riske looming. Riske was the player who knocked Barty out of Wimbledon last year. The American 18th seed edged out Julia Goerges in three sets in her third round match.

Barty doesn’t appear to be too traumatised by the loss at the The All England Club. Blaming it on a combination of factors such as tiredness and the quick turnaround from winning her first grand slam title at the French Open. She states that she lost no sleep over the defeat.

Meanwhile, Riske herself admits that she faces a tough task of repeating her Wimbledon heroics.

“It’s going to be a different experience. I’m playing on her home turf. I expect the fans against me, as they should be. It’s going to be a battle. So I’m looking forward to it.” She said.

Should Barty prevail in the next round, she will progress to the last eight of the Australian Open for only the second time in her career.

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Caroline Wozniacki Bids Emotional Farewell To Tennis After Defeat to Jabeur

Caroline Wozniacki gave her last on-court interview and said goodbye to the fans after she lost the last match of her career.

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Caroline Wozniacki (@Reuters on Twitter)

Caroline Wozniacki brought the curtain down on her exceptional tennis career with a tearful farewell on Margaret Court Arena.

 

Appropriately, the Dane’s last professional match was the kind of pulsating three-set battle she is famous for. Ultimately, she lost it 7-5 3-6 7-5 to Ons Jabeur, but the occasion was about so much more than that.

It was a time for Wozniacki to look back at what she achieved and celebrate her triumphs. And, although she was clearly emotional that it was all over, there was no regret in her voice.

“I think it’s only fitting that my last match would be a three-setter, a grinder, and that I would finish my career with a forehand error,” the Dane said in her on-court interview.

“Those are the things that I’ve been working on my whole career, and I guess this was just meant to be.”

Wozniacki continued, “There’s so many things I will remember. Obviously the achievements I had on the court were amazing. The feelings that the fans give us players when we’re out here are really amazing.”

“I will remember the support I’ve had from my family – especially my dad who has coached me all these years.”

“Those are the special memories that I will always cherish. The journey we’ve been on together has been really amazing. It’s been a great ride. I really am happy, but I’m ready for the next chapter (in my life) and I’m excited for what’s to come. You may see me around – off the court.”

Players pay tribute to Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki and her team (@wwnrradio)

During a special tribute, some of the players Wozniacki competed against gave their thoughts on the Dane. Several mentioned that she was a great fighter, while others praised her positive attitude.

Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens summed up many an opponent’s feelings when facing Wozniacki. “Most annoyingly, she just got every ball back – literally every ball,” the American said. “And she had that backhand which was just not fun (to face).”

“I have a lot of really nice memories of her of just being a really genuinely nice person,” added Naomi Osaka.

The last words were left for one of the Dane’s best friends: Serena Williams. “It’s going to be really hard for me to not have Caroline on the tour,” she said. “I’m really happy for her and I know that she’s doing what she wants to do and that’s what it’s all about.”

Wozniacki was then asked how she fought so hard on court but made so many friends on tour.

“When you’re on the court, you’re there to compete and there to win,” the Dane responded. “But when we’re off the court, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all travelling to the same tournaments and I think it makes it a lot more fun if you have friends on tour.”

After her final on-court interview, all that remained was for Wozniacki to say goodbye. Tournament director Craig Tiley gave her a hug and presented her with a koala. Then her dad Piotr lifted her up and carried her across the court.

Finally, the Dane walked around the stadium thanking the fans for their love and support with happy tears in her eyes. She will be remembered very fondly by the tennis community.

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