Former Roland Garros champion Sara Errani came back from one set down to beat Krystina Pliskova 3-6 6-4 6-3 in a thrilling match at the Ladies Open in Palermo. Errani reaches the quarter finals for the eighth time in her career.
Errani, who won two titles in Palermo in 2008 and 2012, has scored her tour-leading 180th career win on clay, more than any active player on tour. Pliskova went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead. Errani fended off five set points across three games and broke serve to claw her way back to 3-5. Pliskova sealed the opening set 6-3 with another break.
Errani started the second set with an early break to take a 1-0 lead and did not face a break point to claim the second set 6-4.
Both players traded breaks at the start of the third set. Errani got another break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and saved two break-back points to keep her lead.
Errani will face French player Fiona Ferro, who upset number 8 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5 6-2 in their first head-to-head match on Centre Court after 1 hour and 49 minutes to reach her second consecutive quarter final at the 31st edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo. Ferro scored her second win over a top 30 player.
Ferro reached the second round at the Australian Open and lost to Elena Rybakina in the Round of 16 in St. Petersburg earlier this year. Alexandrova won her first WTA title in Shenzhen and advanced to the third round in Melbourne.
Alexandrova got an early break to take a 2-0 lead in the opening set. Ferro broke straight back in the third game and held serve in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Ferro won five consecutive games to build a 7-5 3-0 lead with three breaks in the 11th game of the first set and in the 1st and 3rd games of the second set. Alexandrova pulled one break back in the fourth game for 1-3, but Ferro broke for the third time to serve for the match at 5-2.
Alexandrova earned two break points, but Ferro saved them. Alexandrova saved the first match point, but Ferro closed out the match, as her Russian rival made two forehand errors.
Former world number 30 Aliaksandra Sasnovich cruised past Jasmine Paolini 6-0 6-2 to reach the quarter finals. Sasnovich last made the last eight a WTA Tour in January 2019 in Sydney, when she reached the semifinal as a qualifier.
Paolini reached the top 100 for the first time last year and earned a career-high of world number 94 last March.
Sasnovich fended off two break points and dropped just 14 points. She broke three times to score a 6-0 win in the opening set. Paolini won her first game, but Sasnovich got two breaks in the first and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. Paolini failed to convert six break points and Sasnovich won a very long service game with 10 deuces. The player from Belarus served out the second set 6-2 on her third match point with a drop-shot.
Sasnovich set up a quarter final against either top seed Petra Martic or Liudmila Samsonova.
“I played very well in the first set because I knew how to play against my opponent. I have seen a few matches of hers. She is a really great player. I think the Italian crowd really likes her, and I like her, because I like how she plays”, said Sasnovich.
Dayana Yastremska Heads To Australia Despite Doping Violation
Did the 20-year-old break the rules with her trip?
Tennis Australia says they are ‘investigating’ after it emerged that Dayana Yastremska boarded a plane funded by the governing body despite failing a drugs test.
Last week the International Tennis Federation issued a statement confirming that the Ukrainian tennis star has been issued with a provisional suspension after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone metabolite. An anabolic agent prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency which can be used for the treatment of people with low testosterone. Yastremska was pictured boarding a plane to Australia on Thursday in a post uploaded by two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova which has since been deleted.
Yastremska has denied any wrongdoing and says she has ‘scientific evidence’ that her positive test was a result of contamination. Although she didn’t elaborate any further as to what that evidence is. The world No.29 has the right to appeal her provisional suspension but according to the latest ITF statement she hasn’t done so. One way her ban can be lifted is if the appeals board accepts her contamination argument which would allow her to play right away.
“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine,” Yastremska wrote in a statement. “Given that low concentration and my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.”
Despite Yastremska’s plea, it is unclear as to if she or Tennis Australia has broken any rules. As of January 15h the ITF still lists her as a player who is provisionally suspended from the sport. Richard Ings, who is the former chair of the Australian anti-doping agency, points out that suspended players are not allowed to participate in any activity organised by a tournament. Raising questions as to if a Tennis Australia funded plane journey counts as one of these ‘activities.’
Yastremska is currently on the Australian Open entry list and is set to be allowed to train during her 14-day quarantine like other players unless anything changes. Tennis Australia has not made a public statement but news agency AAP has confirmed that an investigation has been launched. Should it turn out that the 20-year-old is ineligible to play, it is unclear if she would be required to pay back the cost of her plane trip.
The Australian Open starts on February 8th.
Madison Keys latest player to test positive for Coronavirus
Madison Keys ruled out of the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.
The American tested positive for the first time and will miss the first grand slam of the year.
Madison Keys has officially tested positive for the coronavirus. She announced the news on social media and says she will, unfortunately, miss the Australian Open.
“Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I, unfortunately, tested positive for Covid-19 before I was suppose to fly to Australia. I’m very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen.
“I am self isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to be back on tour next month.
“Thank you for all your support.
“Stay Healthy and safe.
Keys is the latest player to have tested positive after Andy Murray revealed he had a positive test while Tennys Sandgren had tested positive but was given the green light to travel.
Two players in men’s qualifying in Doha tested positive and were immediatly removed from the draw. Apparently if you test positive for the first time you are not allowed to travel but if you already tested positive and show no symptoms there is a chance you will continue to test positive before the effects go away.
Players are traveling this week to Australia and will be mandated to follow the 14 day quarantine with the exception of training five hours a day. The Australian Open begins on February 8th.
While most players will be quarantining in Melbourne both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have confirmed they will do their quarantine in Adelaide.
Unstoppable Aryna Sabalenka Storms To Abu Dhabi Title
Another clinical performance has secured the Belarusian her third consecutive title and a new career-high ranking position.
Aryna Sabalenka’s winning run shows no signs of stopping anytime soon after she powered her way to the Abu Dhabi title on Wednesday.
The fourth seed needed just over an hour to defeat Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2, in what was a largely one-sided encounter in the Middle East. Sabalenka utilized her power to her advantage as she fired five aces and 18 winners past her opponent who was playing in her first WTA final at the age of 23. Overall she won almost twice as many points (63-37) than Kudermetova.
With both players holding their ground early on, Sabalenka started to dominate midway through the opening set with the help of a four-game winning streak. Leading 3-2 on serve, she broke her Russian rival twice in a row to clinch the 6-2 lead. Throughout the opener the world No.10 dropped just five points behind her serve.
It was a familiar pattern in the second frame with Sabalenka continuing to dismantle Kudermetova’s fragile serve. Overall, she broke six consecutive times in the final with four of those occurring in the second set alone. Easing to a game away from victory, she did experience a blunder after losing one of her breaks. However, there would be no chance of a Kudermetova comeback as Sabalenka closed out the match in the following game with her rival hitting a forehand error on match point.
“I’m really proud of the fact that I was fighting no matter what this week,” the new champion reflected on her performance. “Some matches I didn’t feel my serve and some matches I didn’t feel my backhand or forehand, but I just kept fighting and finding my shots, and this is what I’m really proud of. I’m really happy with this title.”
The win extends Sabalenka’s unbeaten run on the Tour to 15 wins. She has now won three titles in a row after ending 2020 triumphing in both Ostrava and Linz. As a result of her latest triumph, Sabalenka will rise to a ranking high of seventh in the world on Monday.
There is also a silver lining for underdog Kudermetova who defeated Elina Svitolina and Marta Kostyuk earlier in the tournament. Her run to the final will move her up the rankings to a career high of 36th. She has already scored five wins over top 10 opponents so far in her career.
“Aryna’s playing good. She played unbelievable today,” Kudermetova said. “She didn’t give me a lot of chances. She tried to keep every ball on the court, she tried to attack, and when she had her chances she went full power on the court. She also fights until the end—that’s why she’s a top player.”
Sabalenka’s surge on the Tour has sparked high expectations for her going into the Australian Open where she is hoping to break new ground in a Grand Slam.
“I was doing everything I could in each match from the beginning (in Abu Dhabi) and I’m happy to start the season with a title,” Sabalenka said. “I’m going to Australia, I’m confident with one thing, that I will do everything I can to win matches.”
Despite her success on the WTA Tour, she has only reached the fourth round of a major once at the 2018 US Open.
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