Elise Mertens eases past Viktoria Kuzmova to reach the quarter final in - UBITENNIS
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Elise Mertens eases past Viktoria Kuzmova to reach the quarter final in

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Two-time Hobart champion Elise Mertens eased past Viktoria Kuzmova 6-1 6-0 after a two-hour delay due to rain to advance to the quarter final at the Hobart International. The Belgian player, who won two consecutive editions of the Hobart tournament in 2017 and 2018, has improved his winning streak to 14-0 at this event.

 

Mertens broke twice in a row to win the first set 6-1 and three times to cruise to a bagel second set, but the match featured four hard-fought games which went to deuce. Kuzmova earned two break points, but Mertens saved them after three deuces in a hard-fought opening set. The former Australian Open semifinalist won 78 % of his first service points and reeled off five consecutive games to win the first set. Mertens got an early break in the first game of the second set. The Belgian broke twice in a row in the third and fifth games and held his three service games and sealed the win with a second serve on his first match point to reach her second consecutive quarter final this year one week after Shenzhen.

Mertens will face either former Hobart winner Heather Watson or Fiona Ferro in the quarter final.

“No match is easy, and the score was maybe a bit different than the game scores. There were a lot of 40-alls. I did well on the break points and on my big serving points. I had to relax my mind during the day. Sometimes the rain comes and you have to wait a bit and I think I managed that well”, said Mertens.

 

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Grand Slam

Karolina Pliskova And Belinda Bencic Join Mass Exodus Of Seeds At Australian Open

The list of upsets in the women’s draw at the Australian Open grew ever longer as Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic lost.

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Karolina Pliskova (@tribundergi on Twitter)

It was all going so well for the seeded players in the Women’s Singles at the 2020 Australian Open. 21 of them made it through to the last 32. And, for the first time since 2007, that contingent included all of the top ten.

 

Then the third round began on day five and all hell broke loose. First, 8th seed Serena Williams lost to Wang Qiang. Then 10th seed Madison Keys was defeated by Maria Sakkari. And, as if that was not already enough for one day, 3rd seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka was knocked out by Coco Gauff.

It is now day six, and 2nd seed Karolina Pliskova and 6th seed Belinda Bencic have joined the list of high-profile casualties in round three due to losses to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anett Kontaveit respectively.

The Czech, 27, competed very strongly with her Russian opponent throughout. She matched her in almost every department, and both sets of the match went to a tie-break.

However, Pavlyuchenkova outgunned Pliskova in both tie-breaks with some impressive ball-striking as she hit a series of winners to earn a 7-6(4) 7-6(3) victory over the 2nd seed.

Bencic has a day to forget

Bencic experienced something of a waking nightmare. She made ten unforced errors and won just ten points as she lost the first set 6-0 to Kontaveit in just 21 minutes.

The second set started in a similar fashion. The Swiss lost the first three games and faced the embarrassing prospect of joining the list of players who have suffered a 6-0 6-0 loss in a Grand Slam if she did not get her act together.

Then Bencic finally won a game to make it 3-1. After that, she competed much better with the Estonian for the remainder of the match. But of course, by then it was much too late. Kontaveit completed a dominant 6-0 6-1 win in 49 minutes.

Donna Vekic was due to meet the Swiss in the fourth round if both players made it that far. Ultimately, neither did, as the Croatian also sustained a surprising loss when she went down 7-5 6-3 to 18-year-old rising star Iga Swiatek.

The defeats of Pliskova and Bencic mean that five of the top ten have now departed from the draw at the last-32 stage. 5th seed Elina Svitolina and 9th seed Kiki Bertens play this evening. Will they survive or will they join the ever-growing list of top players that have suffered unexpected exits?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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