Lacklustre Serena Williams Struggles Past Qualifier In Western And Southern Opener - UBITENNIS
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Lacklustre Serena Williams Struggles Past Qualifier In Western And Southern Opener

It was a brutal day at the office for the world No.9 as she bids to generate some momentum ahead of the US Open next week.



Former world No.1 Serena Williams overcame a huge scare to progress into the third round of the Western and Southern Open on Monday.

The third seed struggled at times throughout her marathon 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-6(0), win over Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus who had already won a trio of matches in the tournament. Illustrated by the 52 unforced errors she hit compared to 41 winners. Despite the roll-coaster encounter that featured world-class play at times from both players, the home favourite would not be denied victory as she snatched the win with the help of a perfect score in the decisive tiebreaker.

“I’m trying to think of the last time I played a three-hour match. I think it was in Madrid. That was good and it was a real physical match out there,” Williams said during her on-court interview.
“I really thought I played pretty well. I was aggressive, hitting some good shots and she (Rus) kept fighting.’

Heading into the match Williams was the overwhelming favourite given her resume that includes a total of 23 Grand Slam titles. However, former junior world No.1 Rus refused to be intimidated by the third seed which paved the way for a nail-biting 59-minute opener. Williams’ usual tactic of powerful shot-making to dictate the rallies was matched by the world No.72 who didn’t seem intimidated in any way. The first 12 games went to serve as neither player managed to work their way to a break point opportunity. Heading into the tiebreaker, Williams continued to be tested as she trailed by a mini-break on three separate occasions. Nevertheless, with almighty shouts of ‘come on’ to motivate her the 39-year-old fought back and rallied her way to a set point advantage before sealing the opener after a wide shot forced Rus to return the ball out.

The problems continued for a tentative-hitting Williams in the second set with her rival refusing to back down. Despite initially getting off to a perfect start in the second frame by breaking Rus, she soon found herself on the back foot after losing four straight games. The resurgence enabled the Dutch player to draw level in the match and revive her chances of clinching her first win over a top 10 player since 2012.

With all to play for at the Billie Jean Tennis Center, proceedings was halted for 10 minutes due to the heat rule in what was a blessing in disguise for the former champion. Returning to the court, Williams re-established her edge in the match with the help of a three-game winning streak in the decider. Although there was another blip to come.

Serving for the match, a lacklustre Williams service game enabled Rus to retrieve the break and then have a chance herself to serve the match out at 6-5. However, Williams yet again clawed her way back before winning seven consecutive points in the final tiebreak to seal the epic victory.

“If I can do this, I mean…I trained really hard for several months and I’m surprised I’m even tired. It was really physical out there,” Williams commented on her performance.

Williams is the highest seed left in the draw after Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin crashed out of the tournament on Sunday. Awaiting her in the next round will be Maria Sakkari who downed Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 7-6(9). She leads the Greek 1-0 in their head-to-head with her sole victory occurring at the Hopman Cup last year.

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Sebastian Korda reaches his second semifinal of the season in s’Hertogenbosh



Sebastian Korda beat Tommy Paul 6-4 6-2 in 67 minutes to reach his second ATP Tour semifinal of the season at Libema Open in s’Hertogenbosh. 

Korda hit 18 winners and won 84% of his first serve points. Korda earned his first break in the third game of the first set to take a 2-1 lead. Paul broke straight back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Korda broke for the second time in the seventh game to win the first set 6-4. Korda broke twice in the third and seventh game to close out the second set 6-2. 

Korda has improved his head-to-head record against Paul to 4-1. 

Korda reached the semifinal on grass at Queen’s in 2023. The US player is is aiming to win his first ATP Tour title since 2021, when he won in Parma on clay. 

Korda set up a semifinal clash against defending champion Tallon Griekspoor, who ccame back from one set down to beat Alexandar Vukic 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3). Griekspoor has won his past eight matches at this tournament. 

Vukic broke in the ninth game to win the first set 6-4. Griekspoor earned his first break in the sixth game of the second set to win the second set 6-3. The third set went on serve with no breaks en route to the tie-break. Griekspoor earned two mini-breaks to open up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break. Vukic pulled one of the two mini-breaks, but Griekspoor held on his serve and sealed the tie-break on his first match point.

“I am very happy to be through. It was a very tough match once again. I think Alexandar played unbelievable grass court tennis, so it was not easy and I am very happy to find my way in the third set. I am enjoying the crowd, the atmosphere and the whole tournament”, said Korda. 

Alex De Minaur beat Milos Raonic7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 26 minutes. De Minaur has improved to 3-0 in his head-to-head matches against Raonic, who was playing in just his fourth tournament of he year.

De Minaur earned his first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Raonic broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. De Minaur broke for the second time in the 11th game and served out on his first set point after saving three break points in the 12th game. De Minaur broke twice in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

De Minaur is aiming to win the second title of his career on career following his win in Eastbourne in 2021.  

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing



Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two



Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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