Garbine Muguruza Stuns Halep To End Spain’s 22-Year Wait For A Women’s Australian Open Finalist - UBITENNIS
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Garbine Muguruza Stuns Halep To End Spain’s 22-Year Wait For A Women’s Australian Open Finalist

The two-time grand slam champion produced a gutsy display to send the world No.3 packing in Melbourne Park.

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Garbine Muguruza is through to her first grand slam final in almost three years after ousting third seed Simona Halep in a thrilling encounter at the Australian Open.

 

Muguruza, who is unseeded in Melbourne Park this year for the first time since 2014, overcame some stern resistance from across the court to prevail 7-6(8), 7-5. Sending her into her first grand slam final since Wimbledon 2017 and her first ever on Australian soil. The encounter saw Muguruza hit 39 winners to 44 unforced errors as she saved 10 out of the 13 break point she faced. Extending her winning head-to-head record against Halep to 4-2.

“I was thinking keep going and at some point I will have an opportunity. I knew it would be a hard match facing Simona. So it was just about hanging in there and fighting with all the energy that I had.” Muguruza said during her on-court interview.

Despite being separated by 29 places in the WTA rankings, there was little disparity between the two players throughout a roller-coaster opening set. In what was a battle of the former world No.1s, Muguruza was able to tame Halep’s attacking play with her own powerful shot-making. The Spaniard first struck in the seventh game of the match after a backhand drive volley granted her the first break for a 4-3 lead. In control, Muguruza’s first attempt to close the set out was unsuccessful after a tentative service game enabled a fired up Halep to break back and eventually level at 5-5. It was then Mugurza’s turn to have the pressure as she fended off a duo of set points en route to a tiebreak.

Continuing the trend of momentum changes, both players had their opportunities to clinch the opener during the tiebreak. First, it was the Spaniard who had both a 3-0 advantage and two set points in her favour that she was unable to capitalise on.  Then Halep also had her chances, but failed to convert them. Eventually, it would be Muguruza who would prevail. Leading 9-8, she eventually snatched the first set with the help of a failed cross-court forehand shot from her rival crashing into the net. Much to the annoyance of the Romanian who smash her racket shortly after.

The cat and mouse chase continued into the second frame, but this time it was Halep who initially looked the better of the two. Breaking twice in a row to eventually open up a 4-2 lead before moving to a game away from forcing the match into a decider. However, Muguruza refused to buckle in the blistering Melbourne heat. Staging yet another comeback, she drew level at 5-5 with the help of a Halep shot drifting beyond the baseline. Back in contention, Muguruza then nudged ahead 6-5 before working her way to two match point opportunities. She failed in her first attempt, but victory was secured on her second after another Halep shot failed to go over the net.

“You start (the Australian Open) day-by-day and that what I was doing. Each match at a time.” Said the world No.32.
“I’m very excited to be in the final. It’s a long way to come and I have one more match on Saturday.”

Awaiting the 26-year-old next will be American rising star Sofia Kenin. Who stunned top seed Ash Barty earlier in the day to reach her first ever grand slam final. Muguruza lost to  the world No.14 in three sets (6-0, 2-6, 6-2) last year at the China Open. That was the only previous tour meeting between the two.

“I’ve played Garbine in Beijing. It was a tough match. She’s playing some really good tennis right now. She’s had some great wins. She’s not easy. She’s really aggressive.” Kenin previewed.

Muguruza is just the third Spanish woman to reach the Australian Open final in history and the first since 1998. When her current coach Conchita Martinez lost to Martina Hingis in the title match. Should she win the trophy on Sunday, she would become the first female player from her country to ever do so.

As a result of her run to the final, Muguruza will rise to at least 16th in the world rankings. Her highest position since March.

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The ATP reveals the nominees for the 2021 Awards

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The ATP has revealed the nominees for the 2021 Awards for all players categories: Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship of the Year and for the Coach of the Year. 

 

Casper Ruud and his father Christian (a former world number 39 player) have picked up a total of three nominees. Ruud won five ATP Tour titles in Geneva, Baastad, Gstaad, Kitzbuhel and San Diego and is a candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. Christian is one of five nominees for the Coach of the Year Award together with Craig Broyntom (Hubert Hurkacz), Gilles Cervara (Danil Medvedev), Juan Carlos Ferrero (Carlos Alcaraz) and Facundo Lugones (Cameron Norrie). 

Carlos Alcaraz, Aslan Karatsev and Cameron Norrie are the nominees for the Most Improved Player Award. 

Felix Auger Aliassime, 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and Frances Tiafoe and Ruud are the candidates for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. Nadal won the Sportsmanship Award. 

Thanasi Kokkinakis, Mackenzie McDonald, Andy Murray and Jack Sock have been shortlisted for the Comeback player of the Year Award. 

The shortlist for the Newcomer of the Year Award includes Sebastian Baez, Jenson Brooksby, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Hugo Gaston and Brandon Nakashima. 

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Serbia tops Kazakhstan to set up Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia

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Serbia set up a semifinal against Croatia in the Davis Cup by Rakuten as world number 1 Novak Djokovic led his team to a comeback win over Kazakhstan. 

 

Mikhail Kukushkin gave Kazakhstan a 1-0 lead with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 7-6 (13-11) win over Miomir Kecmanovic in the first singles match.  

Djokovic sent the Davis Cup quarter final match into a deciding doubles match after cruising past Alexander Bublik 6-3 6-4. The Serbian star scored his 17th consecutive singles win in a Davis Cup match. 

The Wimbledon champion returned to the court to team up with Nikola Cacic in their 6-2 2-6 6-3 win over Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov. 

Kukushkin beats Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (13-11)

World number 182 Michail Kukushkin saved four match points to beat Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (13-11) in 3 hours and 16 minutes after an entertaining quarter final match at the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Madrid to give Kazakhstan a 1-0 lead over Serbia. Kukushkin fought back from 2-5 down in the deciding set and saved four match points before converting his fifth match point to win the tie-break of the third set 13-11. 

Kecmanovic earned an early break in the first game to take a 2-0 lead. Kukushkin pulled back on serve immediately to draw level to 2-2. Both players went on serve in their next service games en route to the tie-break. Kukushkin earned a mini-break to take a 2-1 lead. Kecmanovic pulled back on serve for 4-5, but Kukushkin earned his second mini-break to claim the tie-break 7-5. 

Kukushkin took an early 3-1 lead with a break in the fourth game of the second set. Kecmanovic pulled back on serve in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. The Serbian player converted his fifth set point on Kukushkin’s serve in the tenth game to seal the second set 6-4. 

Kecmanovic opened up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Kukushkin saved five five break points in the fourth game to avoid falling down 0-4. When Kecmanovic was serving for the match at 5-3, he dropped serve after wasting two match points. 

Kecmanovic was the first to earn match point in the tie-break but he hit a forehand long at 6-5. The Serbian player fended off four match points but Kukushkin converted his fifth match point to seal the breaker 13-11. 

Djokovic beats Bublik 6-3 6-4

Djokovic earned two break points with a forehand at 2-1. Bublik saved the first chance with an ace. Djokovic converted his second break point after Bublik made a drop shot error. Djokovic held his next service games to close out the first set 6-3. 

Djokovic went up a 2-1 lead with a break in the third game of the second set. The 20-time Grand Slam champion won close to 90% of his first service points to open up a 4-2 lead. He held his service game to love to take a 5-3 lead. Bublik held his serve fo 4-5 in the ninth game, but Djokovic served out the win on his second match point. 

“The Davis Cup is a team competition. It’s completely diffferent than any other competition”, said Djokovic. 

Serbia beats Kazakhstan 6-2 2-6 6-3

Djokovic and Cacic broke twice in the fifth and seventh games to win the opening set 6-2. 

Golubev and Nedovyesov converted their fourth break point in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. The Kazakh team sealed the second set 6-2 with a double break in the eighth game. 

Djokovic and Cacic earned two breaks in the fifth and ninth games to win the third set 6-3. 

“I am proud of the fighting spirit. We dropped off in the second set, but we bounced back and held our nerves. I am proud of Nikola and of my team”, said Djokovic. 

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Rafael Nadal To Skip ATP Cup Ahead Of Australian Open

Where will the former world No.1 play his first tournament of 2022?

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WASHINGTON, USA - August 4: Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center on August 4, 2021 in Washington, USA (Photo by Peter Staples)

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will not be starting his season at the ATP Cup in Australia, according to a leading sports newspaper.

 

Marca has reported that the former world No.1 has opted to not play in the team event which is set to get underway on January 1st. Nadal is currently on the comeback from a foot injury and hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since August. Next month he will return to action in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship which is an exhibition event.

“I am very happy to be back at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal said in a video released earlier this week. “I hope to see you soon there.”

It is understood that due to his off-season schedule Nadal has chosen to pass on the team event but it is unclear as to what or if he will play in any other events leading up to the Australian Open which will begin on January 17th. Besides the ATP Cup, four ATP 250 events will be staged in the lead up to the Grand Slam.

The 35-year-old isn’t the only top Spanish name set to miss the ATP Cup. It has also been reported that rising star Carlos Alcaraz and Marcel Granollerswill not be playing as they intend to arrive in Australia at a later date. Instead the team will be headed by Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta. Unlike the Davis Cup, the ATP Cup offers both ranking points and prize money to players.

Nadal has won 24 out of 29 matches played on the Tour this year before ending his season due to injury. He won the Italian Masters and Barcelona Open to increase his career ATP title tally to 88. In the majors he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the French Open.

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