Belinda Bencic reaches the quarter final in St. Petersburg - UBITENNIS
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Belinda Bencic reaches the quarter final in St. Petersburg

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Top seed Belinda Bencic edged past Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to reach the quarter final at the St. Petersburg Ladies Open for the first time since her title at this tournament in 2016.

 

Bencic went up a 3-1 lead with an early break after a series of double faults from Kuznetsova. The Russian player broke back to draw level to 3-3. Both players went on serve throught 5-5. Kuznetsova broke serve with a crosscourt backhand winner. Bencic converted a break point to draw level to 6-6. Bencic earned two mini-breaks to open up a 3-0 lead. The Swiss player raced out to a 5-0 lead before Kuznetsova pulled one break back to 3-5. Bencic hit a backhand winner to earn three set points at 6-3 and converted her second set point with an overhead.

Kuznetsova fended off two break points at 1-1 in the second set. Bencic claimed the first break at 3-3 with an overhead and held on her serve through 5-4, but she faced two break points, as she was serving for the match. Bencic saved both chances and hit a winning forehand to bring up a match point. Bencic sealed her chance, as Kuznetsova netted a return.

Bencic will face either Maria Sakkari or Alizé Cornet in the quarter finals.

French qualifier Alizé Cornet cruised past Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-1 after 1 hour and 3 minutes to score her second win in as many matches against her Latvian rival. Cornet had beaten Ostapenko 1-6 7-5 6-0 in Cincinnati 2018.

Ostapenko was playing his opening match after beating 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the Fed Cup Qualifier.

Cornet broke serve in the opening game after two double faults from Ostapenko. The French player went up a double break in the fifth game after two more double faults from Ostapenko. Cornet earned a set point in the eighth game after Ostapenko made his fifth double fault and sealed the first set after 25 minutes.

Cornet earned a break point after a double fault from Ostapenko in the sixth game. The French player got the break after a forehand error from Ostapenko and held her serve at deuce in the third game. Ostapenko faced two match points with an eighth double fault. The Latvian player saved the first chance with a backhand winner. Cornet sealed the win on her second match point after a forehand error from Ostapenko.

French qualifier Oceane Dodin upset Joanna Konta 6-3 6-4 to reach the quarter finals. Dodin claimed the top 20 of her career.

Dodin converted two of her four break points and saved both break points she faced. Both players held on their service games with no break points until 4-3. Dodin earned two break points after Konta hit her slice backhand into the net. The French player converted her first chance with a forehand winner to take a 5-3 lead.

Dodin earned three set points in the next game with her serve. Konta saved one set point with her backhand crosscourt winner, but Dodin sealed the set on her second break point chance, as Konta fired a forehand long.

Dodin earned her only break in the first game of the second set and held on her serve at deuce in the second game with an ace. Dodin held on her serve for 5-3. Konta earned her first two set points, as Dodin was serving for the match at 5-4. Dodin saved both set points before sealing the win with a forehand winner on her second match point.

 

“I am very happy with my game right now. I am very happy to be here and to be in the quarter finals, and we will see. The last top 20 win was three years ago. This is incredible”,said Dodin.

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Naomi Osaka Vows To Be ‘Stronger Than Ever’ In 2021 Following Suspension Of The Olympics

The former world No.1 has given her reaction to decision to delay the four-year sporting event due to the covid-19 pandemic.

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Two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka has said she is ‘disappointed’ but supports the decision to delay this year’s Summer Olympic Games.

 

Earlier in the week it was confirmed that the Tokyo games will now take place during the next year with a date to be confirmed. Making it the first time the Olympics have been suspended until the following year in its 124-year history. Although the games have been cancelled three times before during the first and second world wars.

Osaka had been one of the athletes authorities have used to promote the event. Featuring in a promotional campaign that also included a video. The 22-year-old is the first Asian player in history to become world No.1 in tennis. Despite the delay, she has committed to playing in the event next year.

“Everyone knows how much the Olympics means to me and how proud I will be to participate in my home country,” Osaka wrote on Twitter.
“Of course, I am disappointed that it won’t happen this year but we’ll all be ready to stronger ever in 2021! I support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s brave decision and the IOC 100%. Sport will eventually unite us again and be there for us always, but that time not now,” she added.

The world No.10 has called for the world to unite in the fight against the coronavirus. There have been more than 660,000 cases of the virus worldwide, according to John Hopkins University. The disease is particularly dangerous to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

“This is the time for people from all countries, backgrounds and races to rally together to save as many lives as we can. To me, that is the Olympic spirit. To the people of Japan: stay strong, hang in there, and let’s the show the world our beautiful country when time is right in 2021,” said Osaka.

Osaka pledged full allegiance to Japan in 2019 after having dual citizenship in according to a national law. She was born and is currently based in America, but has a Japanese mother and Haitian father.

Prior to the suspension of the WTA Tour, Osaka has started her 2020 with a win-loss record of 5-3 (including Fed Cup). She reached the semifinals of the Brisbane International before losing to Karolina Pliskova. Then at the Australian Open, she was knocked out in the third round by Coco Gauff.

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Retirement Still On For Carla Suarez Navarro, But Will She End Her Career This Year?

The former top 10 player speaks out about her plans in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Last December Carla Suarez Navarro stated that she will hang up her racket later this year for good. Then came along something that nobody saw coming.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world of tennis to a standstill with all tournaments suspended until June. Completely wiping out the entire European clay-court swing and triggering the French Open being played in September. For Suarez Navarro, it has also ruined her plans of saying goodbye at her home tournament in Madrid where she would have made her 10th and final appearance.

Like many around the world, Suarez Navarro is housebound in Las Palmas, where she is staying with her parents. In her home country of Spain there have been more than 2000 deaths due to the Coronavirus. It is a far from ideal scenario for the Spaniard, who is currently staying in a flat with little training. However, she is still hoping to say her goodbye to the sport in 2020.

“As of today I am not considering it, I said that 2020 would be my last year and it will be almost 100% that way.” Suarez Navarro told Mundo Deportivo.
“We will see if we can play more tennis or not this year, my favourite tournaments have been cancelled and I will not be able to say goodbye for the last time in a few Olympics because they will surely be cancelled.’
“If it (the WTA Tour) were not played more in 2020, I would see a possibility of being able to say goodbye in Madrid 2021.” She added.

Peaking at a high of sixth in the world, the 31-year-old has won two WTA titles during her career out of 11 final appearances. One of which was a Premier 5 event at the 2016 Qatar Open. She has also reached the quarter-final of seven grand slams, including both the Australian Open and US Open in 2018.

“At the moment I have not been able to say goodbye to some tournaments that for me were very special, we will see what happens from now on with tennis tournaments.” She said.

Due to the uncertainty of current events, it is unclear as to when Suarez Navarro and her rivals will return to action. At present both the ATP and WTA are looking into restructuring their calendar following the changing of the French Open dates. A decision that has been criticised by the world No.68.

“I was stunned when I read it, but it was normal for something like this to happen with what was happening around the world.” She commented about the decision taken by the French Tennis Federation.
“I think the most appropriate thing was to say that it was postponed but not to directly put dates that do not fit very well in our calendar. As I said, what happens in a few months, we do not know today.”

Suarez Navarro has recorded 28 wins over top 10 players throughout her career.

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French Open Champion Ash Barty Reacts To Tournament Date Change

The 23-year-old Australian says she is unfazed about when the tournament will be taking place.

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World No.1 Ash Barty has vowed to defend her title at the French Open whenever it takes place amid the recent fallout concerning the grand slam.

 

Earlier this week the French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed the tournament will be delayed until the last week of September due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will now take place a week after the US Open and is currently set to clash with the Laver Cup. Players and even some tennis officials have criticised the FTT for a lack of communication regarding their plans.

Speaking out about the situation, reigning champion Barty said that she is yet to speak with tournament director Guy Forget. It had been previously reported that the men’s champion, Rafael Nadal, was personally contacted about the date change. Nevertheless, the Australian said she hopes that she will have the chance to defend her title later this year.

“I haven’t spoken to Guy Forget but I’m happy to play the tournament whenever it is scheduled,” Barty told the Australian Associated Press.
“I hope I get the chance to defend my title in September – any opportunity to compete is something I’ll grab with both hands.
“There are more important things going on in the world right now, though, and I will do whatever helps keep us all safe and healthy.”

It was at Roland Garros, where the 23-year-old won her first and so far only grand slam title. Last year she dropped only two sets in eight matches en route to the title. Becoming the first player from her country to win the tournament since Margaret Court back in 1973.

Barty will remain at the top of the WTA rankings for the next three months after they have been frozen by the governing body. In a joint-decision, the WTA and ATP have suspended all tournaments until June 7th due to the pandemic. Urging the world of tennis to unite in what was an indirect swipe at the FFT and their decision about the French Open.

“Now is not a time to act unilaterally, but in unison. All decisions related to the impact of the coronavirus require appropriate consultation and review with the stakeholders in the game, a view that is shared by ATP, WTA, ITF, AELTC, Tennis Australia, and USTA.” The statement said.

So far this year, Barty has won 11 out of 14 matches played on the tour. Winning the Adelaide International back in January. Five out of her 11 wins were over top 20 players.

Should there be no further delay to the tour calendar, then next women’s events set to take place are in Nottingham and ‘s-Hertogenbosch on grass.

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