Below-Par Karolina Pliskova Survives Scare In French Open Marathon - UBITENNIS
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Below-Par Karolina Pliskova Survives Scare In French Open Marathon

The lackluster Czech overcame some patchy play to set up a showdown with a former French Open champion in the next round.

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Second seed Karolina Pliskova encountered a stern opening test at the French Open after outlasting Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in a two-hour roller-coaster.

 

The former world No.1 was forced to battle back from a set down to prevail 6-7(8), 6-2, 6-4, in what was an historic occasion for her rival. 24-year-old Sherif is the first female player from her country to ever contest a Grand Slam main draw match. During the marathon 135-minute encounter, Pliskova looked tentative at times as she produced 45 unforced errors alongside 46 winners. Furthermore she could only convert five out of 15 break point opportunities due to some fierce play from Sherif.

“It was super tough. Especially after losing the first set where I had a couple set points,” said Pliskova.
“I think I was not playing my game during the first set but my level got up a little bit higher in the next two.’
“She played a great game. Especially on this surface in these conditions. She is very tough.”

Pliskova entered the match as the undisputed favourite being ranked over 170 places higher than her opponent. However, the Czech struggled to find consistency in her shot-making early on. Eight times Pliskova had a set point opportunity at two different stages of the opener but she failed to concert all of them. At one stage the frustration got too much for her after she received a code violation for smashing her racket on the court. Meanwhile, underdog Sherif continued to weather the storm by playing inspired tennis as with a mixture of delicate drop shots and deep hitting. The determination of the Egyptian paid off after a tentative smash from Pliskova sailed long to award her the 7-6 lead.

The opener served as a wake up call for Pliskova who finally managed to regain rhythm in her game that paved the way for a rapid resurgence. During the second frame she dictated proceedings with the help of a four-game winning streak as she swiftly drew level in the match.

Besides Sherif, Pliskova also had to contend with the damp conditions and was seen at one stage rubbing her shoulder. This year’s tournament has also changed their ball brand with some players saying it is slower and heavier to hit than usual.

As the rain started to intensify both players continued battling on Court Philippe Chartier until the very end. Pliskova still looked to be below-par on the court and even lethargic after some points. Still, she wouldn’t be denied the victory. The pivotal break occurred during a marathon game at 3-3 that consisted of seven deuces. A backhand shot into the net from Sherif gifted the break as Pliskova neared towards the finish line. Serving for a place in round two, she sealed the win with the help of an ace down the centre of the court.

“The conditions are so different compared to Rome. It was 35 degrees and here (in Paris) it is close to 20,” said Pliskova. “ I’m just happy to be through because these matches can only move me forward and I can feel better after them. Hopefully I am going to have a little bit of a better feeling in the next one.”

In the next round Pliskova will play former champion Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian experienced little difficulty in her opening match as she swept aside Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-1.

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Ash Barty Eases Into Madrid Final

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Number 1 seed Ashleigh Barty beat Paula Badosa 6-4 6-3 to reach her fourth final of the 2021 season at the Madrid Mutua Open after winning three titles at the Yarra Valley Classic, Miami and Stuttgart.

 

The first set went on serve in the first nine games. Barty earned two break points in the 10th game with a lob and loose forehands from Badosa. Badosa saved two set points with winners, but Barty converted her third chance after a double fault from Badosa to close out the first set 6-4. 

After an early trade of breaks, Barty earned her second break after a double fault from Badosa in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. The Aussie star saved three break points in the fifth game and held serve for 4-1 with a dropshot. Barty dropped just two more points on serve to close out the second set 6-3. 

Barty has extended her red clay winning streak to 16 consecutive matches and her win-loss record to 25-3 this season. 

Barty has clinched her 16th consecutive win on red clay. The Australian player avenged her recent defeat against Badosa in the quarter finals in Charleston. 

“It was important for me to get that early break back in the second set and keep my nose in front, almost force her to come up with something that was going to be a really high level to be at a high level to be able to get back into the match. I have learnt a lot about clay, without a doubt. I promise you, I am still counting down to the grass court season. It’s one of the my favourite times of the year. I think the memories and the learnings now that we are getting from the red clay has been really cool, to be able to challenge myself in different ways”, said Barty.

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Ash Barty Battles Past Petra Kvitova In Madrid

Ash Barty is into the semi-finals of Madrid for the first time after defeating Petra Kvitova.

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Ash Barty (@MutuaMadridOpen - Twitter)

The world number one needed three sets and just under two hours to beat the three time Madrid champion.

 

Ashleigh Barty is into the semi finals of the Mutua Madrid Open after beating the number nine seed and three time champion Petra Kvitova in three sets 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted just under two hours.

The world number one hit 15 winners, served six aces while her Czech opponent his 44 unforced errors in the loss. It was the Aussie who got off to the best possible start holding her opening service game and earning three chances to break in the following service game.

“I started off particularly well, Petra (Kvitova) struggled to find the court a little bit and gave me some cheap points, In the second she served particularly well and I feel like she made a lot more first serves so it was important for me to try and manufacture a break early in the third just to break some momentum and try to find my way back in”

She would break the number nine seed with a sublime return winner to take an early 2-0 lead before the Czech tried to get back into the set earning a break chance of her very own the next game but it was immediately saved with a big serve and Barty held serve.

The world number one continued to dominate the first set earning two more chances to go up a double break which she would convert and would serve out the set in 25 minutes.

The second set is where the Czech number nine seed bounced back and after holding the opening service game broke to take an early lead before the Aussie tried to get the break back but was denied and Kvitova saved three breakpoints.

She would serve out the second set to force a third and deciding set and once again that’s where the number one responded earning the first break of the third set.

The number nine seed had a chance to back on serve but the Aussie would save the break opportunity with a gutsy second serve ace but the resilient Czech stayed in the match and got the break back to go back on serve at 3-2.

Unfortunately for her the Aussie pushed hard once again for the crucial break in the match and would convert on her third attempt and that break was enough for her to serve out the match.

She will next face Paula Bodosa who earlier in the day became the first Spanish women to reach the semifinals at the Madrid Open after upsetting the number eight seed Belinda Bencic and she told Ubitennis what the experience will be like playing in a stadium with fans who will be cheering against her.

“It doesn’t bother me, I’ve played matches in Australia where I’ve had them on my side but it’s a different element, it’s exciting to be able to play in front of a crowd, were grateful this week that we got people to be able to enjoy it with us and enjoy the matches and she’s had an exceptional week, having played her a couple of weeks ago there were things from that match that I learned and we try and take those into account tomorrow as best we can and go out there and try to execute”

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Ash Barty Explains How Rise In Tennis Has Affected Her Life

The world No.1 outlines how tennis has impacted her as a person following her latest win in Madrid.

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ASHLEIGH BARTY OF AUSTRALIA during Mutua Madrid Open 21(Photo by Diego Souto/MM0)

With prize money earnings exceeding more than $18 million Ash Barty says she still sticks to the same ‘10 or 15’ t-shirts over the past five years and rotates between them.

 

The former French Open champion is currently the highest ranked player in women’s tennis and has won 11 WTA titles so far in his career. Including two this year in Miami and Melbourne. However, the Australian has insisted her rise in the sport hasn’t changed her as a person. Instead she describes it as more of a learning experience.

I’ve been very fortunate to have many experiences over the last two or three years in my growth and development as a tennis player,” she said following her third round win at the Madrid Open.
“My experiences as a tennis player haven’t changed me as a person. They’ve certainly helped me grow and develop and become a better person, but they certainly haven’t changed any of my true values or anything that I live by. Whether it’s 1 or 100, as a person I couldn’t care less how the tennis works out.”

Despite her success, the Australian stresses that she is no different to everybody else. Last season Barty missed a major of the Tour due to travelling concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since returning to action in February, she has won 22 out of 25 matches played and is currently on a 14-match winning streak when it comes to playing on the red clay.

“I’m not a massive person to go out shopping,” she admits. “I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl. I’ve had the same 10 or 15 T-shirts for five years. I rotate through. Sometimes I’ll go out on a limb and get a different colour that’s not gray, black or white.”

Taking to the court in Madrid this week, the Jaguar logo is placed in the centre of Barty’s dress. She has been endorsed by the company since late 2018 and even drives their F-Pace SUV back in Australia. Although she has recently gained a Porsche after winning the Stuttgart Open in Germany. Is there a temptation to change car brands in the future?

“I don’t know. I love my Jag, that’s all I’m going to say,” she commented. “It was obviously a very cool gift. The tournament in Stuttgart has been doing it for a long time. Porsche has been a great sponsor for them. But I love my Jag.”

On the court in Madrid Barty faces a potentially tricky encounter in the quarter-finals against Petra Kvitova who has already won the tournament on three previous occasions which is more than any other female player. She has won four out of their five most recent meetings on the Tour but still trails their head-to-head 4-5.

“I love to play Petra. She brings out the best in me,” Barty stated. “I just said to Tyz (coach Craig Tyzzer) that we’re going to be counting in Roman numerals the amount of times we’ve played. It’s another challenge, another test. She’s won this tournament multiple times, loves the conditions here. It’s a fresh challenge for me.”

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