Marcos Baghdatis Lands First Coaching Role With Top 10 Player - UBITENNIS
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Marcos Baghdatis Lands First Coaching Role With Top 10 Player

The recently retired tennis player has become the new mentor to one of the stars of women’s tennis.

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Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis is set to return to the tour five months after stepping away from the sport as a coach to the world No.6 player on the WTA Tour.

 

The Cypriot has been appointed to the team of Elina Svitolina with immediate effect. In his new role Baghdatis will be working alongside Svitolina’s current coach Andrew Bettles in what will be his first ever role as a mentor on the professional tour.

“I am so glad to announce the next chapter of my life and look forward to coaching a great athlete and super tennis player, No.6 ranked WTA player Elina Svitolina, working alongside Andre Bettles! I want to thank Elina for putting her trust in me. Let’s do this! Bring it on 2020,” he said on Twitter.

During his career, Baghdatis won four ATP titles and peaked at a high of eighth in the world rankings. Finishing each year inside the world’s top 100 between 2005-2016. He officially retired from tennis during Wimbledon at the age of 34.

Svitolina will be hoping that her new appointment sends her in the right direction following what has been a mixed year. The Ukranian won 39 out of 61 matches played in 2019 and reached the semi-finals of two grand slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the US Open). However, she has failed to win any WTA titles. Making it the first season she has done so since 2012.

“I’m very excited to announce this news and I’m confident his strong experience will add value to my game.” Svitolina wrote on Instagram.
“With such a great coaching team, I have set high objectives for 2020.”

Svitolina will kick-off her 2020 campaign in Australia at the Brisbane International. As well as bidding to win her first grand slam title, the 25-year-old will be hoping to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Grand Slam

Simona Halep Destroys Kontaveit With Sublime Display To Clinch Semi-Final Spot

Simona Halep moved a step closer to a third Grand Slam title with a dominant win over 28th seed Anett Kontaveit.

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Simona Halep (@AustralianOpen on Twitter)

Simona Halep put on a masterclass on Rod Laver Arena as she dismantled Anett Kontaveit 6-1 6-1 to seal her place in the semi-finals of the 2020 Australian Open.

 

The Romanian, 28, looks to be in exceptional form as she chases her third Grand Slam title. She is yet to drop a set at the event and, naturally, she is hoping to continue in the same vein.

“I’m really happy that I can play my best tennis,” Halep said in her on-court interview. “For the first time in my life, I did my off-season away from home so I could focus on what I had to do. I had no days off and I’ve started the year very well. I’m feeling much stronger than I did before.”

The Romanian also paid tribute to her coach Darren Cahill. “He’s been very important since I met him four or five years ago,” she said. “We’ve worked hard on my attitude and my game and today I’m a better person and a better player, so I really want to thank him for the help he gave me. He’s a great person and he understands me so that makes the job easier.”

Halep’s game plan against big hitters like the Estonian is very simple, but much harder to execute. She makes them hit as many shots as possible (preferably from difficult positions) because this increases the chances that they will make errors. To do this, the Romanian needs speed, flexibility immense skill and variety of shot, and the ability to make smart decisions during rallies.

Halep has all these things in her arsenal. At her best, she combines them to make life extremely difficult for her opponents. If they play well, she beats them narrowly. If they play poorly, she thrashes them.

Halep applies pressure early on

In the Romanian’s quarter-final against Kontaveit, she looked focused from first minute to last. And she cranked up the pressure in just the third game.

During it, the Estonian hit some high-quality winners. However, she also made several errors to repeatedly return the score to deuce. Eventually, she cracked, and made an error on break point.

Two games later, the World No.31 saved three break points to recover from 0-40 down. Unfortunately for her, Halep was not discouraged. She outlasted Kontaveit in a 14-shot rally to seize the fourth break point of the game and extend her lead to 4-1.

Some players would relax a little at this stage. Some days, Halep might even do that. But not this time. She relentlessly closed out the first set (with a hold and another break) without giving the Estonian an inch.

Halep reaches new heights

Simona Halep (@rolandgarros on Twitter)

Extraordinarily, the standard of play from the two-time Grand Slam champion seemed to increase at the start of the second set. She came up with some brilliant shots as she raced into a 3-0 lead to extend her run of games to nine.

At that point, Kontaveit looked disconsolate. She made two wayward errors as she dropped her serve for the fifth time in a row.

The Estonian tried her best to make something happen in the next game. During one remarkable point, she hammered the ball as hard as she could to try and get it past her opponent. Maddeningly for Kontaveit’s supporters, Halep retrieved it every time and eventually won the point thanks to a let-cord. Minutes later, the score was 5-0.

The World No.31 finally stopped the rot after losing 11 games on the spin. But it hardly mattered. The Romanian held her serve easily to seal one of the most convincing wins of her whole career.

Halep recalls 2018 Final

In the last four, Halep will face either Garbine Muguruza or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. If she wins that encounter, she will contest an Australian Open final for the second time in three years.

“(My previous final) wasn’t negative at all,” the Romanian said in her on-court interview. “It hurt a lot because I lost 6-4 in the third. I had 4-3 and serve but I couldn’t finish the match. Maybe I was too nervous at that moment. But now I have more experience. That match helped me to win the two Grand Slams that I have already. Maybe I’m on my way to the third one. But it’s very far still, so I just want to focus on my next match.”

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Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic beat Coco Gauff and Catherine McNally to reach the semifinal in the Australian Open doubles tournament

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Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic saw off Coco Gauff and Catherine McNally 6-2 6-4 to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open doubles tournament in Melbourne.

 

Babos and Mladenovic broke serve in the opening game at love. They reeled off the first ten points of the match and went up a double break before closing out the first set 6-2.

Babos and Mladenovic broke serve at love in the third game of the second set. They missed a match point on Gauff and McNally’s serve at 5-3 before converting on their fourth opportunity on their serve.

Babos and Mladenovic set up a semifinal match against sisters Chan Hao-Ching and Latisha Chan from China Taipei, who beat reigning US Open doubles champions Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (9-7) 6-2.

The Chan sisters fended off four break points at 4-4 in the opening set en route to the tie-break. The Chinese Taipei sisters earned the only mini-break to win the tie-break 9-7.

The Asian pair earned a double break to race out to a 3-0 lead. Mertens and Sabalenka pulled one of the two breaks back, but Chan Hao-Chin and Latisha Chan broke again in the seventh game and closed it out on their first match point.

Top seeds Hsieh-Su Wei and Barbora Strycova cruised past Jennifer Brady and Caroline Dolehide 6-2 6-2 setting up a semifinal match against Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, who came back from one set down to beat Gabriela Dabrowski and Jelena Ostapenko 3-6 6-2 6-3.

Dabrowski and Ostapenko earned an early break to open up a 3-0 lead. Krejcikova and Siniakova broke back in the seventh game for 3-4, but Dabrowski and Ostapenko got the second break to seal the opening set 6-3.

Krejcikova and Siniakova fended off the only break point they faced and broke twice to win the second set 6-2. After a trade of breaks in the third and fourth games Krejicikova and Siniakova earned the decisive break in the eighth game to win the third set.

 

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Ash Barty Dodges The Pressure To End Her Country’s 36-Year Wait At Australian Open

The world No.1 has achieved a new milestone at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

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World No.1 Ash Barty continues to play down the hype surrounding her as she moves to just two wins away from claiming the Australian Open title.

 

The top seed is through to the semi-finals of the tournament after edging out two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kviotva 7-6(6), 6-2. The same player who knocked her out of the Melbourne grand slam 12 months ago. In their latest clash, Barty used variations of her defensive skills and slice to seal victory. Hitting 20 winners and winning 60% of her service points against the Czech player.

“I love testing myself against Petra,” Barty said in her post-match press conference. “She has this way of bringing out the very best in me. She came at me with all guns blazing. That first set could have gone either way. It was really important to try and get my nose ahead when I could. It was nice to save a set point and get a roll on early in the second set with a couple of quick breaks.”

It is the fourth time in a row that the 23-year-old has got the better of Kvitova on the tour. She has won eight out of the past nine sets they have played against each other. A big turnaround for the Australian, who was once trailing their head-to-head 1-3.

“She’s a great mover. She can mix it up the game.” Said Kvitova. “I think she is really improving every month.”

Barty’s win has also written a bit of history at the Melbourne major. She is the first Australian woman to reach the semi-final stage of the tournament since Wendy Turnbull back in 1984. This year she is bidding to become the first Australian to win the title since Chris O’Neil back in 1978.

With more milestones at stake, inevitably the pressure will intensify on the reigning French Open champion. However Barty is determined not to pay too much attention to what others are saying about her. She is one of only two top 10 players remaining in the draw. The other is Simona Halep, who will play her quarter-final match on Wednesday.

“At times you can’t avoid the fact that your mind wonders a little bit. I think that’s natural for everyone. It just happens. We’re all human, but for me it is about bringing it back to my game and my focus for as best as I can.” Barty said during an interview with Eurosport’s Game, Schett and Mats.
“I don’t read the newspapers. I flicked through it this morning to read a little bit about the cricket, a few of the other sports. But when I see my face I flick that page pretty quickly. I see enough of me, I don’t need to see any more.”

Kenin awaits

Standing in her way of a place in the final of the tournament is Sofia Kenin. Who is through to the last four of a major for the first time at the age of 21. 14th seed Kenin, who was born in Russia, defeated Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-4. Prior to this year, she had never gone beyond the fourth round of a major tournament.

“I played her a few times, know her game pretty well.” Kenin said of Barty.
“It’s going to be a good match. I’m excited. Of course, she’s playing at her home, so it’s a little bit different. I made a lot of new fans. Hopefully I’ll get some support, have a good match.”

The American rising star believes her career started to surge at the French Open last year where she defeated her idol Serena Williams in the third round. Since that win, she has won two WTA titles and recorded four wins over top 10 players. Including a three-set triumph over Barty at the Canadian Open last August.

“I feel like that was the first time I experienced getting to the second week,” she reflected.
“Obviously it felt really different. It’s so much different.
“But, yeah, I feel like that match really changed things. I obviously saw that I can play on this level, I could play with the best. Of course, it just happens to be Serena, my idol.
“I feel like after that, things took off.”

Despite being separated by 14 places in the WTA rankings, Barty acknowledges the threat she faces in the next round. Although she does lead their head-to-head 4-1 overall.

“She’s an exceptional competitor as well. Loves to put herself out there, test herself on the biggest stages. I have played her a number of times now, with some results going both ways.” The Australian previewed.
“She has a great knack of controlling the court from the centre of the court and being that first-strike player. It’s going to be important for me to try and nullify that if I can.”

The semi-final clash will take place on Thursday.

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