Teenage Star Leylah Fernandez Stuns Fifth Seed Stephens In Mexico - UBITENNIS
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Teenage Star Leylah Fernandez Stuns Fifth Seed Stephens In Mexico

The world No.126 is through to her second consecutive WTA quarter-final in as many weeks.

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Leylah Fernandez (image via https://twitter.com/TennisCanada)

17-year-old Leylah Fernandez has continued her surge in form on the WTA Tour in recent days with a three-set victory over former US Open champion Sloane Stephens at the Monterrey Open.

Fernandez, who reached her first senior final last week in Acapulco, battled on the court for more than two hours to down Stephens 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3. Making it the second top 20 player she has defeated over the past month after Belinda Bencic in the Fed Cup. Against Stephens, Fernandez failed to convert a set point opportunity in the opener before losing the tiebreak. However, she bounced back in the next two sets where she didn’t face a single break point and broke her rival three times in total.

“It was a great match. I was a little nervous in the beginning. She’s a great player and she’s won a Grand Slam. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” wtatennis.com quoted Fernandez as saying after the match.
“I tried to use everything that I’ve trained, as in forgetting about the past and focusing on the present, and that’s helped me a lot. I’ve done a lot of mental training since I was very young and it’s paying off now.”

Fernandez is currently at a ranking high of 126th in the world following her run in Acapulco. Another deep run this week would nudge her closer to breaking into the top 100. At present there is only one player under the age of 17 in the top 100, which is America’s Coco Gauff.

As for Stephens, she finds herself going back to the drawing board once again. The former world No.3 has scored only two victories in five tournaments played so far in 2020. As a result of her lacklustre results, she is currently ranked 37th in the world. Her lowest position since August 2017.

The latest victory of the Canadian has set her up for a potential showdown against top seed Elina Svitoliva, who plays her second round match against Olga Govortsova on Thursday. Svitolina has won 13 titles so far in her career, but hasn’t won a tournament since the 2018 WTA Finals.

“It’s going to be another tough match,” Fernandez previewed. “Svitolina, she’s a great player. She’s won many tournaments and I’ve seen her play on TV.
“I’ll just go through my training tomorrow, maybe fix a few things, have a game plan and hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.”

Fernandez is the reigning French Open girls champion.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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