WTA Round-Up: Naomi Osaka Among Big Winners In Brisbane As Top Names Crash Out Of Shenzhen - UBITENNIS
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WTA Round-Up: Naomi Osaka Among Big Winners In Brisbane As Top Names Crash Out Of Shenzhen

It was a day of mixed emotions for the stars of the women’s tour on Tuesday.

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World No.3 Naomi Osaka was issued with a stern test during her opening match at the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

 

The two-time grand slam champion was pushed to her limits during her two-hour win over Greece’s Maria Sakkari. Osaka, who is the third seed in the tournament, recovered from a 0-2 deficit in the deciding set to prevail 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3. Claiming her third victory against the world No.23 in their four meetings on the tour.

“I knew going into it that it was going to be a really hard match,” wtatennis.com quote Osaka as saying during her on-court interview. “I think in the second set, I was just complaining a lot in the tie-breaker. I was just trying to calm down and stay positive.”

Osaka, who is now under the guidance of coach Wim Fissette, achieved the latest victory with the help of a solid service display. Hitting 16 aces past Sakkari and being broken just once. A much needed confidence boost for the Australian Open champion who ended her 2019 season with a shoulder injury.

“I’m really happy with how I served,” Osaka said during her press conference. “I had to retire from my last match [in 2019] because of my shoulder thing, so I wasn’t really sure how I was going to serve today, but I was told I hit 16 aces, so that’s pretty good for me.
“Yeah, I think I served well. Return could be better, but it’s not anything that is so extreme that I’m nitpicking at it right now.
“I think I learned a lot during the match as the match went on, so hopefully that skill kind of hones during this entire tournament.”

Sofia Kenin will be the next test for the 22-year-old, who currently has five WTA titles to her name. The world No.14 enjoyed a slightly easier route into the last 16 after disposing of Anastasija Sevastova 7-6(1), 6-4, on Monday.

2011 champion Petra Kvitova endured a roller coaster start to her campaign. After dropping the opener, she went on to win 12 out of the last 13 games to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 6-1, 6-0.

“I’m really happy that I stayed positive and came back to win,” Kvitova said during her on-court interview.
“It’s always tough playing Anastasia. She is a great hitter, moves very well and has a great serve. So it is always tough.” She added.

Kvitova will next play Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova, who knocked former US Open champion Sloane Stephens out of the tournament. Earlier today Stephens hit out at organizers over the scheduling of women’s matches.

Also making their way into the next round is Madison Keys. Who dropped only five games during her 6-3, 6-2, win over Marie Bouzkova.

Chaos in China
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Meanwhile, in Asia there was a duo of shock losses at the Shenzhen Open. Second seed and defending champion Aryna Sabalenka could only win eight games during her 6-4, 6-4, loss to Kristyna Pliskova. Ending her hopes of winning a fifth WTA title on Chinese soil this week.

“She’s playing so fast, so I had to be ready from the first point. My serve was there, which is always important, so I’m happy that I won,” wtatennis.com quoted Pliskova as saying after the match.
“I’m happy because I reached the quarterfinals here two years ago, so I’m happy to be back there and looking to see if I can do more.”

Pliskova will take on former top 30 player Kateryna Bondarenko in the quarter-finals. The Ukranian knocked out eighth seed Zhang Shuai in straight sets.

Joining Sabalenka on the casualty list is Belinda Bencic. The only top 10 player participating in this year’s event. The Swiss world No.8 was knocked out of the tournament by Anna Blinkova who recorded her first ever win over a top 10 player. Blinkova produced 12 aces during her 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, win. Setting herself up for a clash with Zarina Diyas in the next round.

“It was a great performance from me today,” said the world No.58. “I prepared very carefully and I’m happy that I played good tennis. I was thinking to just fight for every point. I’m feeling really good and I’m so happy.”

Finally, there was better fortunes for Elise Mertens, who saw off Chinese wild card Wang Xiyu 6-4, 6-3.

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Ash Barty Eases Into Madrid Final

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Number 1 seed Ashleigh Barty beat Paula Badosa 6-4 6-3 to reach her fourth final of the 2021 season at the Madrid Mutua Open after winning three titles at the Yarra Valley Classic, Miami and Stuttgart.

 

The first set went on serve in the first nine games. Barty earned two break points in the 10th game with a lob and loose forehands from Badosa. Badosa saved two set points with winners, but Barty converted her third chance after a double fault from Badosa to close out the first set 6-4. 

After an early trade of breaks, Barty earned her second break after a double fault from Badosa in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. The Aussie star saved three break points in the fifth game and held serve for 4-1 with a dropshot. Barty dropped just two more points on serve to close out the second set 6-3. 

Barty has extended her red clay winning streak to 16 consecutive matches and her win-loss record to 25-3 this season. 

Barty has clinched her 16th consecutive win on red clay. The Australian player avenged her recent defeat against Badosa in the quarter finals in Charleston. 

“It was important for me to get that early break back in the second set and keep my nose in front, almost force her to come up with something that was going to be a really high level to be at a high level to be able to get back into the match. I have learnt a lot about clay, without a doubt. I promise you, I am still counting down to the grass court season. It’s one of the my favourite times of the year. I think the memories and the learnings now that we are getting from the red clay has been really cool, to be able to challenge myself in different ways”, said Barty.

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Ash Barty Battles Past Petra Kvitova In Madrid

Ash Barty is into the semi-finals of Madrid for the first time after defeating Petra Kvitova.

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Ash Barty (@MutuaMadridOpen - Twitter)

The world number one needed three sets and just under two hours to beat the three time Madrid champion.

 

Ashleigh Barty is into the semi finals of the Mutua Madrid Open after beating the number nine seed and three time champion Petra Kvitova in three sets 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted just under two hours.

The world number one hit 15 winners, served six aces while her Czech opponent his 44 unforced errors in the loss. It was the Aussie who got off to the best possible start holding her opening service game and earning three chances to break in the following service game.

“I started off particularly well, Petra (Kvitova) struggled to find the court a little bit and gave me some cheap points, In the second she served particularly well and I feel like she made a lot more first serves so it was important for me to try and manufacture a break early in the third just to break some momentum and try to find my way back in”

She would break the number nine seed with a sublime return winner to take an early 2-0 lead before the Czech tried to get back into the set earning a break chance of her very own the next game but it was immediately saved with a big serve and Barty held serve.

The world number one continued to dominate the first set earning two more chances to go up a double break which she would convert and would serve out the set in 25 minutes.

The second set is where the Czech number nine seed bounced back and after holding the opening service game broke to take an early lead before the Aussie tried to get the break back but was denied and Kvitova saved three breakpoints.

She would serve out the second set to force a third and deciding set and once again that’s where the number one responded earning the first break of the third set.

The number nine seed had a chance to back on serve but the Aussie would save the break opportunity with a gutsy second serve ace but the resilient Czech stayed in the match and got the break back to go back on serve at 3-2.

Unfortunately for her the Aussie pushed hard once again for the crucial break in the match and would convert on her third attempt and that break was enough for her to serve out the match.

She will next face Paula Bodosa who earlier in the day became the first Spanish women to reach the semifinals at the Madrid Open after upsetting the number eight seed Belinda Bencic and she told Ubitennis what the experience will be like playing in a stadium with fans who will be cheering against her.

“It doesn’t bother me, I’ve played matches in Australia where I’ve had them on my side but it’s a different element, it’s exciting to be able to play in front of a crowd, were grateful this week that we got people to be able to enjoy it with us and enjoy the matches and she’s had an exceptional week, having played her a couple of weeks ago there were things from that match that I learned and we try and take those into account tomorrow as best we can and go out there and try to execute”

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Ash Barty Explains How Rise In Tennis Has Affected Her Life

The world No.1 outlines how tennis has impacted her as a person following her latest win in Madrid.

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ASHLEIGH BARTY OF AUSTRALIA during Mutua Madrid Open 21(Photo by Diego Souto/MM0)

With prize money earnings exceeding more than $18 million Ash Barty says she still sticks to the same ‘10 or 15’ t-shirts over the past five years and rotates between them.

 

The former French Open champion is currently the highest ranked player in women’s tennis and has won 11 WTA titles so far in his career. Including two this year in Miami and Melbourne. However, the Australian has insisted her rise in the sport hasn’t changed her as a person. Instead she describes it as more of a learning experience.

I’ve been very fortunate to have many experiences over the last two or three years in my growth and development as a tennis player,” she said following her third round win at the Madrid Open.
“My experiences as a tennis player haven’t changed me as a person. They’ve certainly helped me grow and develop and become a better person, but they certainly haven’t changed any of my true values or anything that I live by. Whether it’s 1 or 100, as a person I couldn’t care less how the tennis works out.”

Despite her success, the Australian stresses that she is no different to everybody else. Last season Barty missed a major of the Tour due to travelling concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since returning to action in February, she has won 22 out of 25 matches played and is currently on a 14-match winning streak when it comes to playing on the red clay.

“I’m not a massive person to go out shopping,” she admits. “I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl. I’ve had the same 10 or 15 T-shirts for five years. I rotate through. Sometimes I’ll go out on a limb and get a different colour that’s not gray, black or white.”

Taking to the court in Madrid this week, the Jaguar logo is placed in the centre of Barty’s dress. She has been endorsed by the company since late 2018 and even drives their F-Pace SUV back in Australia. Although she has recently gained a Porsche after winning the Stuttgart Open in Germany. Is there a temptation to change car brands in the future?

“I don’t know. I love my Jag, that’s all I’m going to say,” she commented. “It was obviously a very cool gift. The tournament in Stuttgart has been doing it for a long time. Porsche has been a great sponsor for them. But I love my Jag.”

On the court in Madrid Barty faces a potentially tricky encounter in the quarter-finals against Petra Kvitova who has already won the tournament on three previous occasions which is more than any other female player. She has won four out of their five most recent meetings on the Tour but still trails their head-to-head 4-5.

“I love to play Petra. She brings out the best in me,” Barty stated. “I just said to Tyz (coach Craig Tyzzer) that we’re going to be counting in Roman numerals the amount of times we’ve played. It’s another challenge, another test. She’s won this tournament multiple times, loves the conditions here. It’s a fresh challenge for me.”

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