Ash Barty Hopes To Avoid Kvitova Heartbreak After Erratic Fourth Round Win At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Hopes To Avoid Kvitova Heartbreak After Erratic Fourth Round Win At Australian Open

It was a tough day at the office for Barty, who has a shot at revenge in the next round against a two-time grand slam champion.

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Ash Barty overcame a stern test to progress to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for only the second time in her career.

 

The top seed produced glimmers of both her best and worst form throughout her 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, win over America’s Alison Riske. The player who knocked out of the Wimbledon Championships last year. Barty looked at times tentative on the court, but found another gear in her play when required. Improving her head-to-head record against Riske to 2-1.

“I just had to hang in there. It was very tough from the different ends (of the court) playing very differently.” Barty said during her on-court interview.
“I just had to hang in there and try to give myself a chance.”

Throughout her latest clash against the world No.19, Barty’s quest for consistency vanished at times. Best illustrated by the match statistics, which saw her hit 20 winners to 34 unforced errors. Another issue for Barty was her second serve, where she won just seven out of 24 points. Reflecting on her performance, the 23-year-old admitted that she struggled with the windy conditions in Melbourne.

“It’s (the wind) exceptionally hard on you when the ball is from one end of the court. On the other you can’t really feel it.” She explained.
“When it’s behind you, you have to think really smart and try to use it.”

At the start of the match Barty went off guns blazing with the help of a combination of both powerful shot-making and slice. During the opening set, the crowd favourite broke twice en route to taking a 6-3 lead in just 35 minutes. However, Riske refused to go down without a fight. Capitalising on some costly mistakes from the French Open champion, she raced through the second set with ease to draw level. Silencing the animated crowd on the Rod Laver Arena.

With a place in the last eight of a grand slam at stake, the cat and mouse chase continued into the decider. Once again Barty looked to be in control of proceedings as she raced to a 4-1 lead with the help of two love service games. Still, it was not enough to down her opponents spirits. Once again Riske fought back with the help of a three-game streak to draw level.

Despite the scares, Barty still managed to find a way to score victory. With Riske serving to stay in the match, the 29-year-old produced a duo of fatal errors. At 30-30 a backhand error elevated the top seed to her first match point. Then a double fault brought an anticlimactic ending to the encounter to send Barty through.

In the last eight it will be a case of deja vu for the world No.1. She will take on Petra Kvitova, who knocked her out of the tournament at the same stage last year. However, since then Barty has beaten the Czech three times on the tour.

“I love Petra but lets hope she doesn’t break my heart on Tuesday.” She said.
“It’s been an incredible year for me the last 12 months. I’m just excited that I get another opportunity in the quarter-final of a grand slam. You don’t get those every week.”

The mutual respect between the two players was also echoed by Kvitova, who defeated Maria Sakkari on Sunday. She was runner-up in Melbourne last year to Naomi Osaka.

“Ash we have obviously played many times. We played here last year in the quarters. I like her. She’s a great person.” Said Kvitova.
“Whatever will happen will happen. One of us will go through. It will be a tough match, for sure. I try my best, and we’ll see how that goes.”

Barty is bidding to become the first home player to win a singles title at the Australian Open since 1978.

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Simona Halep Casts Doubt On Planned Resumption Of Tennis This Summer

The world No.2 sees a silver lining to what is currently a bleak situation in the world due to covid-19.

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Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has admitted that she doesn’t believe that professional tour will resume during the early part of the summer.

 

There has been no tournaments since the last week of February due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest tennis victim of the virus was Wimbledon, who was forced to scrap their event for the first time since 1945. Shortly after Wimbledon’s announcement, the ATP and WTA issued a joint-statement in which they said no more events will be played until at least July 13th. Although Halep fears that the suspension will be extended further in the coming weeks.

“In my opinion it’s going to be longer than July.” She told Eurosport’s Tennis Legends vodcast. “We hope for US Open but it’s not sure because New York is struggling now. I don’t really know how it’s going to be after being off tournaments for so many months. We’ve never been in this situation so I think it’s going to be new to everybody. And I will struggle for sure. I will struggle to get back to the rhythm.”

At present the United States Tennis Association (USTA) has insisted that they are pressing ahead with plans to host the US Open on the schedule dates of August 24th – September 13th. Although the Billie Jean Tennis Center, which is the venue of the New York major, has been transformed into a temporary 350-bed hospital to treat those with covid-19.

“At this time the USTA still plans to host the US Open as scheduled, and we continue to hone plans to stage the tournament.” The USTA said in a statement issued on April 1st.
“The USTA is carefully monitoring the rapidly-changing environment surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, and is preparing for all contingencies.
“We also rely on the USTA’s Medical Advisory Group as well as governmental and security officials to ensure that we have the broadest understanding of this fluid situation.
“In all instances, all decisions made by the USTA regarding the US Open will be made with the health and well-being of our players, fans, and all others involved in the tournament.”

At the time the suspension began with the cancellation of Indian Wells, Halep was already sidelined from the tour due to injury. The two-time grand slam champion has been suffering from a foot injury, which she appears to have now recovered. Currently in lockdown in her home country of Romania, the 28-year-old is pressing ahead with her training routine as well as she can.

“Everything is closed but you are able to run outdoors. So, I am doing the running and the training outside, from the bloc. And then in the house I work on my core and my other exercises. So, every day I am working and I feel fit yes.” Halep said of her current training.
“It’s the longest period that I haven’t touched a racket. Not the ball, the racket – since Dubai. And I want to keep it that way for one more month.” She added.

Last month Halep made a donation of medical equipment to hospitals in Bucharest to help them in their fight against the virus. In Romania there have been more than 3000 cases of covid-19 with at least 116 deaths, according to government figures.

In the midst of the crises, the former world No.1 does see a silver lining. The prospect of having to wait another year to defend the Wimbledon title has added some fuel to the fire for Halep and her team.

“I am now the defending Champion for two years. So, I have to live with that for one more year so that’s a good thing again. I am excited that I will be able to play the first match on Tuesday I think on Center Court. So, I really want to make this experience. It’s going to be great for sure.” She concluded.

Before the tour was halted, Halep started 2020 by winning 10 out of 12 matches played. In February she won her 20th WTA title at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova is ready to play in November if the season is extended

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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova said that she would be ready to play in November and December, if the season is extended once the WTA circuit resumes after the long suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The season may be extended to November to make up for the events, which were called off due to Covid-19.

Pavlyuchenkova opened her 2020 season with early defeats against Petra Kvitova in the first round in Brisbane and Ashleigh Barty in the second round in Adelaide. The Russian player produced a major upset when she beat Karolina Pliskova in the third round at the Australian Open, scoring her first win in seven head-to-head matches over the former world number 1 player. She came back from a set down to beat Angelique Kerber reaching the sixth Grand Slam quarter final of her career. In the quarter final Pavlyuchenkova lost to former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza. She recently split with 53-year-old French coach Sam Sumyk.

Pavlyuchenkova is a former world number 1 player and won two junior Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and at the US Open in 2006. She lifted twelve singles titles and five doubles titles on the WTA Tour.

“If it is necessary to play in December, I will be ready. In any case it is necessary to change to change this calendar where we play without stopping from January to November. We have announced a resumption date but there is no agreement. Everything can change. It does not look like as an offseason at all as some say because the only thing that I can do is to motivate myself physically and hit the ball because I am lucky that I have a court not far from home. Some people can’t even do all that”, said Pavlyuchenkova to TennisActu Website.

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Tour Suspension A ‘Dire And Bleak’ Situation For Players, Warns Johanna Konta

The world No.14 also comments on the decision to move the French Open to September.

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British No.1 Johanna Konta admits that any system put into place to financially support players in the wake of the tour suspension will only have a ‘minimal’ effect.

 

Tennis is currently at a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic with doubts cast over when play will resume again. As a consequence, many players are looking into alternative ways to generate an income. Unlike team sports where athletes have a contract, those in the world of tennis are essentially self-employed. Meaning they will only earn money in the sport if they play at tournaments. Although the top players have the luxury of endorsements to also support them.

Weighing in on the situation, Konta has described it as ‘fire and bleak.’ She is one out of 90 female players to have made more than $100,000 in prize money this year before the tour was suspended. Her current earnings for the season stands at $105,703.

“The reality is that there is no tennis player earning any money right now; all the tennis players have taken a 100 per cent salary cut,” Konta told The Evening Standard.
“Everyone is trying to find the best way possible to stand by a team and support the people you work with and feel close to while not bankrupting yourself.
“[A support system] is being worked on right now, but the reality is that even if it is possible – and let’s hope it is – it’s going to be very minimal.
“It’s a very bleak and dire situation especially for the lower ranked players.”

In light of the financial concerns, world No.371 Sofia Shapatava recently set up an online petition on change.org calling for support from the ITF, WTA and ATP. More than 1300 people have signed the petition.

“I started the petition to help tennis players to be heard by ITF, after I talked to many of the people I know and about their plans for the next three months, I realised that some people won’t even be able to have food,” Shapatava told the AFP News Agency.
“My problem is that my sport will die as it is, it will die, because players who are ranked lower then 150th in the world will not be able to play.”

In comparison to Konta, Georgian player Shapatava has made $2,896 so far this season. That works out as 0.09% of what prize money leader Sofia Kenin has made ($3,012,043). Kenin is one of four players to earn more than a million in 2020 on the women’s tour. The other are Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Ash Barty.

The WTA have said they are looking into the possibility of extending this year’s calendar is order to provide players with more earning opportunities when the sport resumes.

French open approach disappointing

Konta has also criticised the French Tennis Federation (FFT) over their management of the French Open. Officials at the FFT recently announced that the major would be delayed until September due to the Covid-19 outbreak. A move that caught many off guard, including some governing bodies. Konta reached the semi-finals of the French Open last year after previously losing in the first round four times in a row.

“It’s a really sad situation and it’s very disappointing for them to release their decision in the way that they did,” she said.
“It’s not the act itself, but the manner which was disappointing to everybody in the tennis community. It’s left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths.”

Lionel Maltés is the economic director of the FFT. He has defended their approach to the situation by saying the organisation had no choice but to act. Arguing that their (the FFT) first priority is French tennis. The controversy surrounding the date change is that it will take place a week after the US Open ends. Leaving players with little chance to prepare for the switch of surfaces.

“The decision was not made overnight, it was far from an outburst. We had been clear for some time that it was going to be impossible to play the tournament on the established dates and we knew we had to do something.” Maltés recently told French newspaper L’Equipe.
“There was no hint of conversation collective with the other Grand Slams so we did the only thing we had to do for French tennis. Don’t doubt that Wimbledon and US Open would have made the same decision if they could. In fact, other tournaments have backed us up by saying they understood us and that if they had been in our position, they would have done the same.
“We were aware that we would be highly criticized for this, but the safeguard of French tennis is above all,” he added.

The French Open was scheduled to run from 24 May to 7 June. Officials are now hoping that the tournament will start on September 20th.

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