Karolina Pliskova And Belinda Bencic Join Mass Exodus Of Seeds At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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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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Wimbledon Daily Preview: The Ladies’ Semifinals

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Ons Jabeur during her quarterfinal victory on Tuesday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Thursday’s ladies’ singles semifinals are full of inspiring storylines, featuring the 2019 champion alongside three debutantes at this stage of a Major.  Simona Halep is on a 12-match win streak at The Championships, and is yet to drop a set this fortnight.  Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina had previously only reached the quarterfinals at a Slam, and have made history by becoming the first players from their countries to reach a Slam semifinal.  And remarkably, 34-year-old mother-of-two Tatjana Maria had never been beyond the third round at a Major, and was on a nine-match losing streak at Slams prior to this fortnight. 

 

Also on Thursday, the gentlemen’s doubles semifinals will be played, as well as the mixed doubles championship match.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Tatjana Maria – 1:30pm on Centre Court

These are two good friends who describe each other as frequent barbecue buddies.  They also possess two of the sport’s most eclectic styles, with plenty of slices mixed with surges of power.  But in this matchup, Jabeur is clearly the favorite.  Ons has become the No.2 player in the world, with an outstanding record of 35-9 this season.  She was a quarterfinalist here a year ago, and is an undefeated 10-0 on grass in 2022, and 20-2 on this surface since last year.

Maria missed the first six months of the 2021 season due to giving birth to her second child.  She came into this year ranked 284th in the world, yet she’s accumulated 36 match wins at all levels.  As a qualifier, she won a WTA title on clay this past April in Bogota.  And despite her lack of results at Majors, with a career record of 12-34 in main draws, Tatjana has fought her way into her first Slam semifinal, with four three-set victories.  In three of those matches, she came back from a set down.  And she also won three of them by a third-set score of 7-5, even saving two match points against Jelena Ostapenko.

They’ve only played once at tour-level, with Maria prevailing in straight sets five years ago in Linz.  But in 2022, Jabeur is the far more accomplished player, especially at Majors.  And her all-court skills outmatch those of Tatjana.  As long as Ons does not succumb to the pressure of being a strong favorite in her first Slam semifinal, Jabeur should comfortably advance to Saturday’s championship match.


Simona Halep (16) vs. Elena Rybakina (17) – Second on Centre Court

Halep has been on a tear in her last few matches.  On Monday, she allowed fourth-seeded Paula Badosa only three games.  On Wednesday, Amanda Anisimova was only able to win six.  However, both of those opponents already had previous poor results against Simona, as their games do not match up well with that of the two-time Major champion.  The same cannot be said for Rybakina.

While Halep leads their head-to-head 2-1, their last two encounters have been extremely right.  Two years ago in Dubai, Simona required a third-set tiebreak to survive.  And at last year’s US Open, she prevailed 6-3 in the third.  The big difference between the set Rybakina won in New York, and the two sets she lost, was her winner-to-error ratio.  In the set she won, those numbers were equal.  In the sets she lost, she struck nearly twice as many unforced errors as winners.

While reducing her error count will be key for Rybakina, so will continuing to serve well.  In her last two rounds alone, Elena as struck 21 aces and only one double fault.  Rybakina leads the WTA ace count this season, though Halep remains of the sport’s best returners.  And Simona’s serve has improved significantly over the last few seasons.

Experience may be the key factor on Thursday, which is obviously a huge advantage for Halep.  This is her ninth Major semifinal, and her third at Wimbledon, while this Rybakina’s first at any Slam.  Also Centre Court itself will be new territory for Elena, who has never played on this court in her career.  And based on Halep’s current form, the 2019 champion should be favored to return to the final.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk (2) vs. Matthew Ebden and Sam Stosur – Skupski and Krawczyk are the defending champions, while Ebden and Stosur were finalists at last year’s Australian Open.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (1) vs. Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell (14) – Ram and Salisbury and two-time Major champions as a team.  Ebden and Purcell were finalists at this year’s Australian Open.  That’s the event where these teams last met, with the Australians prevailing in the semifinals.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (6) – Mektic and Pavic are the defending champions, while Cabal and Farah won this event in 2019.  Cabal Farah are 2-0 against Mektic and Pavic this season.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Grand Slam

(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) The Wimbledon Clash Between Djokovic And Sinner Could Have Been Better

It was an epic five-set clash but imagine how better the match would have been if both were playing well at the same time…

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Hall of Famer Steve Flink and Ubitennis’ Ubaldo Scanagatta analyse the dramatic events that unfolded on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

 

Top seed Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to oust Jannik Sinner in a match of two halves. Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie brought delight to the British fans.

On the other side of the draw, how will Rafael Nadal fair against the in-form Taylor Fritz? The Spaniard recently sidestepped a question about a potential new injury. 

As for the women’s draw, Ons Jabeur made history by becoming the first Arab player to reach a major quarter-final. She will next play 34-year-old mum-of-two Tatjana Maria who had never been beyond the third round of a major until now. 

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The Wimbledon Naughty List: Which Players Have Been Fined And What For?

Ubitennis takes a look at who has been hit with a penalty and more importantly why.

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Nick Kyrgios might be the player everybody’s talking about due to his behavior but few realize that he is one of 19 to be hit with a financial penalty during the first week of Wimbledon.

In fact, more than $75,000 worth of fines has already been issued during the first week of the championships. According to official data, more than three times as many men have committed an offense than women. Although interestingly it is only two female players who have been punished for receiving coaching and nobody in the men’s draw.

Australia’s Kyrgios leads the leaderboard for the biggest fine after what has been a controversial past few days. In his first round match, he argued with the umpire and spat in front of some people in the crowd who he said were ‘disrespecting him.’ Resulting in him being hit with a $10,000 penalty. He later said during his press conference that he was tired of being verbally abused by some fans watching him play.

 

Then on Saturday in a dramatic clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas he argued once again with officials, got a warning for swearing and at one stage called for his opponent to be defaulted for hitting a ball into the stands. 

“Why would I need to apologize? I’m getting fined for it. Because I got — I always get fined. I’m very keen to see what he will get after today.” Kyrgios said following his third round win. 

Kyrgios has been fined another $4000 for his antics and Tsitsipas has to pay $10,000 for his behavior. The relationship between the two took another dramatic turn after the match when the Greek accused his peer of bullying during an explosive press conference

After Kyrgios, America’s Reilly Opelka was docked $5000 for swearing. The value of the fine is an interesting one when three other players have also been fined for the same offense but they only have to pay $3000. The difference could be due to repeated swearing during the match.

The majority of the men’s fInes are for either unsportsmanlike conduct or audible obscenities. The only exception is Benoit Paire who was fined $2500 for equipment abuse.

As for the ladies’ draw, Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko received the biggest fine ($4500) for coaching. Former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza was another player to be published for her actions.

Here is a breakdown of the fines issued between Day 1 and Day 6 of the championships. 

WOMEN

  • Daria Saville AUS (round one) $4000 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE
  • Lesia Tsurenko UKR (round two) $4500 – COACHING
  • Garbine Mugurza ESP (round 2) $3500 – COACHING
  • Harriet Dart GBR (round 2) $4000 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE

MEN

  • Fernando verdasco ESP (round one) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Adrian Mannarino FRA (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Stan Wawrinka SWI (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Yoshihito Nishioka JPA (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Nick Kyrgios AUS (round one) $10,000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Pedro Martinez ESP (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Diego Schwartzman ARG (round one) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Lukas Klein SVK (round one) $3000 –  UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Reilly Opelka USA (round two) $5000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Benoit Paire (round one) $2500 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE
  • Jiri Vesely CZE (round two) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina ESP (round two) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Denis Shapovalov CAN (round 2) £3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Nick Kyrgios (round 3) $4000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (round 3) $10,000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT

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