Johanna Konta Pays Tribute To 'Incredible Ball-Striker’ Clijsters Following Monterrey Clash - UBITENNIS
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Johanna Konta Pays Tribute To ‘Incredible Ball-Striker’ Clijsters Following Monterrey Clash

The former Wimbledon semi-finalist gives her assessment of the level Clijsters is currently playing at following their meeting in Mexico.

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Johanna Konta (image via https://twitter.com/WTA)

Second seed Johanna Konta has said it was a ‘privilege’ to play Kim Clijsters after seeing off her Belgian rival in straight sets at the Monterey Open on Tuesday.

 

The world No.16 rallied to a 6-3, 7-5, win over the 36-year-old. Earning her first tour victory this year after losing in the first round of three consecutive tournaments. Konta has been troubled by a knee problem in recent months and cut short her 2019 season due to the injury.

In her latest clash, the Brit was impressive behind her serve against the four-time grand slam champion. In total she won 80% of her first service points and didn’t face a single break point throughout the 86-minute clash. Konta broke Clijsters twice in the first set and once in the second.

“As a young player, I never thought I’d get to play Kim Clijsters in my career,” the 28-year-old said during her on-court interview. “I feel truly privileged and honoured to share the court with such a champion. It’s nice to have her back.”

Konta said she was impressed by the level of play her opponent is still able to produce on the court. A similar compliment to that of Garbine Muguruza, who also recently played Clijsters in Dubai. Clijsters was playing in only her second tournament since the 2012 US Open, which is coincidentally the same grand slam where Konta won her first main draw match.

“It was very tough. She’s an incredible ball-striker. Her ability to do things with the ball is what made her a multiple Grand Slam champion. It’s why she was able to come back and play, in her second match back after seven years, at a level like this. That’s not exactly an every day thing, that’s for sure. I feel so honoured to have played her, and really happy with my performance.” Konta said in tribute.

Clijsters, who is currently unraked on the tour, said there are still things she would like to improve further. Against Konta she won 68% of her first service points, but only 42% of her second. She is coached on the tour by Fred Hemmes Jr. A former top 200 player himself who has also previously worked with Ruben Bemelmans and the Belgian Tennis Federation.

“I felt some things were better,” Clijsters reflected during her press conference. “Some things still need a lot of improvement. That’s why it’s good to play matches.
“I’ve been through different generations and played many players throughout my whole career. I’m still at a stage where I want to focus on what I’m doing and how I’m feeling, and also start reading my opponents.
“It’s a process that I have to trust and keep working hard to improve in every match I play. I’d like to take big steps but I have to focus on small steps and improving day by day.”

Konta will next take on Germany’s Tatjana Maria. Maria knocked out last week’s Acapulco Open champion Heather Watson in three closely contested sets. As for Clijsters, her focus has now switched to Indian Wells where she has been awarded a wild card to play in the main draw.

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Maria Sakkari Pondered Temporary Sport Switch During Tour Suspension

This summer could have looked very different for the world No.20.

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Greek tennis star Maria Sakkari could have been preparing to take part in a completely different sport this week if it wasn’t for the Palermo Open taking place.

 

The world No.20 considered switching her tennis shoes for running ones amid the uncertainty surrounding when the sport would start again. All professional tennis tournaments have been cancelled since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the WTA Tour is restarting this week in Italy.

Although if it wasn’t for Palermo staging the eagerly awaited return of tennis, Sakkari reveals that she might have instead switched her focus to athletics in order to maintain her competitive thirst. Taking part in the Greek athletics championships. Her discipline of choice would have been the 100 meters which her fitness trainer believes she would have made the final in.

“If the Tour was cancelled I was going to compete in the 100m track and field event at the National Championships,” Sakkari told reporters on Sunday.
“Greece National Championships starts on Aug. 8. We were kind of joking with my fitness coach, but inside of me I really needed competition.
“There were rumours going around that the Tour would get cancelled so I thought if the Tour gets cancelled I need to find something. I’m fast, I knew I was not going to win it for sure because I’m not a professional. But yeah, I was thinking of doing that.”

Sakkari can run 100M in a time of 12.7 seconds but that is without both running spikes and starting blocks. Her idea stemmed from the type of training she was doing back in Athens during the tour shutdown. Although tennis remains her first priority.

“I started playing tennis on May 4th, but before that, I was working with my fitness coach at outdoor areas where we were allowed to work out,” she said. “I was running a lot. I think I was running more than I ever did.”

In Palermo Sakkari will be the third seed in the draw and faces Czech Republic’s Kristýna Plíšková in the first round on Monday. The world No.20 started 2020 by winning nine out of 15 matches played on the Tour with her best runs being to the fourth round of the Australian Open and semi-finals of the St Petersburg Open.

We’re back in competition so I’m blessed,” Sakkari said. “Blessed to be back.”

Sakkari is bidding to win the second WTA trophy of her career this week after triumphing last year at the Morocco Open.

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Petra Martic leads the field in the Ladies Open in Palermo

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Three top 20 players lead the field of the WTA International tournament in Palermo. World number 15 Petra Martic leads the field. 

 

The Croatian player won the Istanbul title and reached the final in Zhengzhou and the quarter final at Roland Garros in 2019. She started the 2020 season with a semifinal in Dubai. 

Martic will face Belgium’s Allison Van Uytvanck in the the opening round and could set up a match against last year’s Doha champion Elise Mertens. 

Mertens could square off against Daria Kasatkina in the second round. Donna Vekic will face either Anett Kontaveit or Irina Camelia Begu in the quarter finals. The possible semifinal clash in this section of the draw could pit Martic against either Begu or Kontaveit. 

In the bottom half of the draw last year’s Roland Garros Marketa Vondrousova is projected to meet Camila Giorgi in the second round and Dayana Yastremska in the quarter finals. Vondrousova will make her come-back with a quarter final in Adelaide last January after a wrist injury forced her to miss the second half of her 2019 season. 

Maria Sakkari will take on Krystina Pliskova. In this section of the draw France’s Kristina Mladenovic will meet Ekaterina Alexandrova. The winner of the Mladenovic vs Alexandrova clash will face either Sara Errani or Sorana Cristea. The other Italian player to receive a wild card is former Australian Open junior semifinalist Elisabetta Cocciaretto. 

Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Varvara Gracheva and Lara Arrabarruena reached the second round of qualifying at the 31st edition of the Palermo Ladies Open. The WTA season resumes this week after a five-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Aliaksandra Sasnovich battled past Anastasya Komardina 7-5 6-2 after a hard-fought match. Spain’s Lara Arrabarruena edged past number 3 seed Greet Minnen 6-0 2-6 6-1. Number 4 seed Oceane Dodin cruised past Italian wildcard Federica Bilardo 6-3 6-1. 

Number 8 seed Ysaline Bonaventure rallied from one set down and fended off three match points to beat Indy De Vroome 3-6 7-6 (11-9) 6-2 after 2 hours and 45 minutes. Liudmila Samsonova edged past Tereza Mrdeza 6-3 6-4. Kaia Juvan fought back from one set down to beat Magdalena Frech 2-6 6-2 6-2. 

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Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington

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Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be the top seed at the inaugural edition of the Lexington Open from 10th August 2020 on the same week as the Prague Open. The Lexington Open will be the first US tournament of the US hard court season, which will continue with the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, which will be held in the same venue at Flushing Meadows in New York. 

 

Serena was very close to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but lost four times in a Major final after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. 

The US legend will play her first match since she hepled the US team beat Latvia in the Fed Cup last March in Everett. There Serena beat Jelena Ostapenko but she was defeated by Anastasija Sevastova. 

Williams will lead a star-studded line-up, which features this year’s Australian Open finalist and former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva, Ons Jabeur, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and US rising star Cori Gauff. 

Sabalenka won two consecutive editions of the Wuhan tournament in 2018 and 2019, in Shenzhen in 2019, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and the Doha final in 2020. 

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 and reached the final at 2018 Roland Garros. She finished runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. The US player lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Monterrey in her last WTA Tour match before the pandemic. 

Amanda Anisimova won her maiden WTA title in Bogotà in 2019 in her first professional tour tournament on clay. Last year the young US player beat Simona Halep en route to becoming the youngest semifinalist at the French Open since 2006. This year Amanda lost to Serena Williams in the semifinal in Auckland last January. 

Johanna Konta reached the French Open semifinal and the Rome Final in 2019. The British player enjoyed her best year in 2017, when she won the Miami title and reached the Wimbledon semifinal rising to her best ranking at world number 4. 

The Top seed Open will be the first WTA tournament to be played in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States. The Kentucky tournament will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-player doubles field. 

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