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.

ATP

Vasek Pospisil survives scare at Citi Open

The Canadian battled back from a set down in what was a tricky opening encounter.

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Vasek Pospisil was pushed to limits by qualifier Emilio Gomez in his opening match at the Citi Open.

The Canadian required three sets to beat the Ecuadorian qualifier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes of play. He hit a total of 10 aces en route to the second round.

 

” It’s always good to get through a tough one and I felt dialed in during the second set,” said Pospisil. “I was a little bit distracted during the first set but I am glad to get match play and getting the win is important so I am happy I got it done”.

The first three games of the opener went on serve and at 2-1 the Canadian had three chances to take an early break but the world number 165 saved all three and held serve. At 3-3, Pospisil played a poor service game and Gomez took full advantage by breaking him at love. That one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The Canadian was determined to stay alive in the second and broke the Ecuadorian early to take a 2-0 lead and managed to turn it into a double break for a commanding 4-0 lead. Gomez got one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the world number 61 would serve out the second set to force a decider.

The third set started with three breaks of serve but it was the Canadian that was finally able to hold serve and consolidate a break. That break was enough for him to serve out the match and complete the comeback.

Pospisil will next face the young American Sebastien Korda in the third round who is the 12th seed this week in the American capital.

” It’s going to be a tough one because he is playing some great tennis this year and he is an up and comer and a great player,” he said of Korda. “I will have to play really well to win that one because he is a dangerous player so I will have to serve well and return well”.

Other results

It was a busy day one at the Citi Open being held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC with some thrilling matches. Kei Nishikori beat Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 and Marcus Giron pulled a three-set comeback against Ilya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

In the battle of the Belorussians, Ilya Ivashka beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile, Jenson Brooksby avenged a loss to the South African Kevin Anderson by beating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi needed three sets to dispatch Yasutka Uchiyama of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, Ricardas Berankis beat the American qualifier Mitchell Kreuger in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, and Daniel Elahi Galan beat another American Tommy Paul in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, in the last match of the day an American favourite, Jack Sock advanced to round two after his Japanese opponent Yoshito Nishioka was forced to retire due to injury during their match.

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ATP

John Isner Wins 16th ATP Title In Atlanta

The 6ft 10 American got revenge on his American opponent for the loss he suffered last week in Los Cabos.

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John Isner has continued his love affair with the Atlanta Open by ousting Brandon Nakashima to win the tournament for a record sixth time.

 

The sixth seed beat the American teenager 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 57 minutes. Firing a total of 21 aces and winning 81% of his first-serve points en route to the victory.

“I think if you count the last two weeks playing singles and doubles I played 12 matches in about 10 or 11 days so I have played a lot which is exactly what I need,” Isner said following his win. “Hopefully I can take this and go forward and build some momentum for tournaments ahead.’
This tournament has meant everything to my career it’s amazing”. He added.

The first set was extremely tight and neither player gave an inch in their respective service games. The opener was decided by a tiebreaker which Isner is accustomed to. Whilst the first set was tight, the tiebreaker was an even tighter affair Isner squeezing out a 10-8 win to take the first set 7-6.

Again the second set was competitive and again neither player got an edge on their return game. It was only at 5-4 that the Dallas, Texas native found himself at triple match point but the world number 115 saved all three.

Nakashima would save a fourth before holding serve and at 6-5, the world number 35 earned a fifth match point. That’s where he closed out the match and sealed the win and the title.

After the match, Isner was asked about his history of playing numerous tiebreakers throughout his career.

” I play a lot of those and it’s a situation I am comfortable in since I have been on tour forever,” he explained. “Honestly I think today (Sunday) I was just a little bit luckier and that’s what It really came down to. It’s amazing to be out here again playing on a Sunday and it was awesome”.

Isner confirmed that he will not be making the trip to Washington, DC for the Citi Open and instead he will take a week off after playing back-to-back tournaments in Los Cabos and Atlanta. He is next scheduled to be in Toronto for the National Bank Open.

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ATP

Casper Ruud Set For Career-High Ranking After Clay Court Hat-Trick

The young Norweigan player is closing in on his top-10 debut following his surge in success on the Tour.

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As some of his peers battle it out in Tokyo at the Olympic Games, Norway’s Casper Ruud has become a dominant force on the European clay.

 

The 22-year-old battled his way to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Pedro Martinez in the final of Kitzbuhel on Saturday to claim his 12th win in a row on the Tour. It is the third consecutive week where Ruud has won a title after also triumphing at the Nordea Open and Swiss Open Gstaad. The surge in success has made him the first man to have won three ATP titles within as many weeks since Andy Murray did so back in 2011.

“I am shaking all over my body. It feels amazing,” Ruud told atptour.com. “I was very nervous at the end, I knew what I was playing for. Three in a row is something special. What a day to play the final, rain on and off all day.
“I’m just very excited and happy that these three weeks are over, and that I won all of them.”

All three tournaments Ruud has won are ATP 250 events but only once did he play a top 50 player. That was Benoit Paire whom he defeated 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, in the quarter-finals at Gstaad. In Kitzbuhel, he defeated Mario Vilella Martínez (No.167), Mikael Ymer (No.99), Arthur Rinderknech (No.91), and Martinez (No.97).

During his clash with Martinez, the match was interrupted by the rain and it didn’t end until 11:30 PM local time.

“It was tough… we know that the weather was a bit shaky so I was prepared [for the delay],” Ruud said. “It was a bit long there in the end. We came back, only played three games, and then we had to stop again. It was a bit annoying, but we had to keep the focus and try your best. It’s the same for the opponent.”

Ruud has now won four ATP titles this season after also triumphing at the Geneva Open back in May. Since the start of the 2020 season, he has won 45 matches on the clay and has defeated three top 10 players – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini.

The Norweigan is now set to rise to a career-ranking high of 12th when the standings are updated on Monday. He will also go up to eighth place in the ATP Race to Turin.

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