Serena Williams Gets Off To A Flyer With ‘Solid’ Win In Auckland - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Gets Off To A Flyer With ‘Solid’ Win In Auckland

The former world No.1 reflects on her latest victory in New Zealand.

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Serena Williams (@RogersCup on Twitter)

Serena Williams’ quest for her first WTA title since becoming a mother has got off to a strong start at the ASB Classic in New Zealand On Tuesday.

 

Playing in Auckland for only the second time in her career, the top seed required exactly 70 minutes to see off Camila Giorgi 6-3, 6-2. Extending her head-to-head record against the Italian to 6-0. During their latest match, Williams fired eight aces and won 74% of her service points overall. Recording her second win at the tournament in as many days following her triumph in the doubles on Monday with Caroline Wozniacki.

“I thought it was solid,” Williams commented on her latest win.
“Technically the second match of the year, I’ve had a long time off tournament play and match play, so I thought I did pretty good. It’s a great start to build on.”
“I definitely think the doubles helped me a lot, especially with my serve. I served pretty decent, considering the conditions. So it’s really been helpful.” She later added.

Prior to this week, the 38-year-old hadn’t played a singles match on the WTA Tour since her loss to Bianca Andreescu in the final of the US Open back in September. Whilst her score against Giorgi looks straightforward, the America admits that it wasn’t that simple.

“It’s definitely not easy,” she said.
“It’s always hard to play first match early in the season.”

Later this month will mark the third anniversary of when Williams won her last title of any sort at the Australian Open. Since then, she has become a mother and reached the final of a further four grand slam events. In 2020 she will be aiming to claim her 24th major title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.

On the verge of creating more history in the sport, the former world No.1 is taking it all in her stride. Vowing not to get too far ahead of herself.

“I’m just taking it a day at a time,” she stated. “I’m just happy to be competing, and I really want to enjoy this year and this tournament, and have fun.”

Williams will play compatriot Christine McHale in the second round.

Elsewhere at the tournament, Wozniacki thrashed New Zealand wild card Paige Hourigan 6-1, 6-0. Producing a dominant display that saw her win 52 out of the 66 points played in the match. Auckland is one of the last tournaments the Dane will play before retiring from the sport later this month.

“I think it was a good start to the tournament. I think I played pretty well.” Said Wozniacki, who will face Lauren Davis next.

Second seed Petra Martic overcame a stern scare in her opening match against lucky loser Usue Maitane Arconada. The world No.15 hit back from a set down to defeat the American 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, after more than two-and-a-half hours of play. The draw has open for Martic following the exit of sixth seed Rebecca Peterson. She will not play a seeded player until at least the semi-finals if she gets that far.

Finally, defending champion Julia Goerges kicked-off her title defence with a 6-1, 7-6(4), win over Belgium’s Greet Minnen.

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Aryna Sabalenka comes back from a set down to beat Zheng Saisai on a windy day in Doha

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Aryna Sabalenka came back from a set down and a break down in the third set to beat unseeded Chinese player Zheng Saisai 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 after 2 hours and 21 minutes on a windy day at the Qatar Total Open in Doha. Sabalenka took a re-match against Zheng, who won their first head-to-head match in San José last August.

 

Zheng saved three break points in her first service game. After a trade of breaks in the fifth and sixth games, Zheng came back from 40-0 down to break serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead after saving six game points. Zheng held serve for 5-3 before breaking serve for the third time in the ninth game, as Sabalenka made her sixth double fault.

Sabalenka broke serve in the third game at 30 to take a 2-1 lead. Zheng broke straight back after a backhand pass followed by a volley error from Sabalenka.

Sabalenka saved a break point in the sixth game with a service winner. Both players held serve in the next eight consecutive games to force the second set to the tie-break. Sabalenka raced out to a 3-0 lead with two volley winners and sealed the tie-break 7-2 with a croscourt backhand forcing the match to the third set.

Zheng earned the first break of the third set with a backhand winner down the line in the first game. Sabalenka broke back in a four-deuce sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Sabalenka reeled off 15 of the final 16 points to win the final three games with a break in the eighth game. The Belarusian player sealed the win with an ace setting up a semifinal against either Belinda Bencic or Svetlana Kuznetsova.

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Petra Kvitova edges Jelena Ostapenko in three sets to secure her spot in Doha quarter finals

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Petra Kvitova edged past Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 4-6 6-1 in two hours on a windy day in the Qatar Total Open in Doha. The Czech player advanced to the quarter finals for the fifth time in her six appearances at the Doha tournament.

 

Kvitova and Ostapenko were level at 3-3 in their six head-to-head matches. Ostapenko beat her Czech rival in their most recent clash in Miami 2018.

Ostapenko earned a break point after two double faults at the start of the opening set and converted her chance as Kvitova silced wide.

Kvitova broke back in the fourth game and held serve to take a 3-2 lead. The Czech player broke for the second time on the fifth deuce in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead after two double faults from Ostapenko. Kvitova won her fourth consecutive game from 2-2 with a break at love to win the first set 6-2.

Ostapenko saved three consecutive points from 0-40 down to hold her serve in the second game. A series of four consecutive games followed in the next games. Ostapenko broke in the ninth game for 5-4 earning a chance to serve for the set, but Kvitova broke straight back to draw level to 5-5. Ostapenko broke at love in the 11th game before closing out the second set 6-4 to force the match to the third set.

Kvitova raced out to a 4-0 lead, as she dropped four points. She saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game at deuce. The former Wimbledon champion sealed in her next service game to set up a second round match against either Karolina Pliskova or ons Jabeur.

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Dayana Yastremska upsets Sofia Kenin in Doha

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Dayana Yastremska edged this year’s Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-3 7-6 after 1 hour and 35 minutes. Yastremska hit 13 aces and saved four of the six break point chances she faced.

 

Yastremska saved a break point with two service winners, as she was serving at 1-1. The Ukrainian player earned a break point at love in the fourth game with a return winner to take a 3-1 lead. Yastremska consolidated the break with an ace for 4-1 and wrapped up the first set with another unreturned serve at 5-3.

Kenin got an early break to open up a 3-0 lead with a service winner. Yastremska held at 15 before breaking back with a return winner. The Ukrainian teenager hit a backhand down the line winner to draw level to 3-3. Yastremska earned another break in the seventh game and won four consecutive games. Kenin broke back, as Yastremska double faulted while she was serving for the win at 5-4. Both players held serve in the 11th and 12th games to set up a tie-break.

Yastremska earned a mini-break to take a 4-1 lead and earned four match points at 6-2. She converted her third chance to set up a third round match against 2020 Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza.

Kenin beat Anastasija Sevastova in her first match since her triumph at the Australian Open, but she lost to Jelena Ostapenko at the Fed Cup Qualifier. The US player lost to Elena Rybakina in Dubai and to Dayana Yastremska in Doha.

“It’s really frustrating. Obviously coming off of Melbourne where I felt I was playing the best tennis of my life coming down to playing, not the worst tennis, but not playing the tennis I want to be playing. Yastremska played really well. I just feel like I can’t find my game, I am not playing the way to be playing, so it’s pretty frustrating right now. Credits to her, she played well with some good shots at those moments. She just played better at important at important moments and I just made too many unforced errors”, said Kenin.

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