Elina Svitolina sets up final against Elena Rybakina in Strasbourg - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina sets up final against Elena Rybakina in Strasbourg

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Elina Svitolina secured her spot in her final of the 2020 season after a hard-fought 6-2 4-6 6-4 win over number 4 seed Aryna Sabalenka after 1 hour and 54 minutes in the semifinal at the Internationaux de Strasbourg. 

Svitolina avenged a three-set defeat against Sabalenka in their only previous head-to-head clash in Wuhan 2018. 

Svitolina converted six of her ten break points and dropped her serve four times. 

Svitolina earned her first break in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. Sabalenka got the break back with a series of forehands at 2-1. Svitolina held serve for 3-2 before forcing an error with a forehand to earn three break points. Svitolina converted her first chance after a wide backhand from Sabalenka. Svitolina fended off a break point before earning her first set point in the eighth game after a double fault from Sabalenka. Svitolina converted her second set point with a dropshot forehand winner. 

Sabalenka served well in the second set and broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead after a forehand unforced error from Svitolina. In the eighth game Sabalenka fended off a break point with a crosscourt backhand. 

Sabalenka held serve at 15 in the 10th game with two forehand winners to close out the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the decider. 

Svitolina broke serve for 2-0 in the third set, but Sabalenka pulled the break back in the fifth game and held serve at love to draw level to 3-3. Svitolina got another break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead after consecutive backhand errors by Sabalenka. Svitolina made a double fault at 30-30 to face  a break point, as she was serving for the match. Sabalenka converted her chance with a volley winner. Sabalenka went up a 40-0 in the 10th game, but Svitolina drew level after two double faults and a wide forehand from Sabalenka. Svitolina earned a match point after a long forehand by Sabalenka. Svitolina sealed the win after Sabalenka made her third double fault.  

The Ukrainian player is bidding to win her second title in 2020 after her triumph in Monterrey before the lockdown. 

“Winning titles is something that you always want to do when you enter the tournament. Every final is special. You try to give everything that you have to win the trophy. Each match, I am playing better and better. I played some good matches against top players, in Rome as well. It’s important for me to take every match and move forward from there”. 

Svitolina set up a final against 21-year-old Elena Rybakina, who beat Nao Hibino 6-3 6-4 after 1 hour and 16 minutes to advance to the fifth final of her career. Rybakina won the second title of her career in Hobart last January and reached finals in Shenzhen, St. Petersburg and Dubai before the lockdown. The Kazakh player has improved her win-loss record to 21-4 record during 2020. 

Rybakina, who beat Hibino at the 2019 French Open, dropped 18 points in 10 service games and saved all three break points she faced. Hibino faced two break points in the second game, which featured six deuces. Rybakina saved both break points and held serve with a service winner in the fifth game. 

Rybakina earned a break in the sixth game when Hibino netted a forehand and held serve with an ace. The number 5 seed closed out the first set 6-3 with a hold at love in the ninth game after 37 minutes. 

Rybakina got a break at love, as Hibino made a double fault in the first game of the second set, and consolidated the lead in the second game with a backhand winner. After six holds of serve Rybakina saved a break point in the eighth game with two winners and held serve at 5-4. 

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Daniel Evans saves a match point to beat Karen Khachanov in Antwerp

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Daniel Evans saved a match point in the tie-break of the second set to edge Karen Khachanov 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 at the European Open in Antwerp.  

 

Khachanov saved three break points in the fifth game of the opening set in a long fifth game before breaking serve in the sixth game to take the first set 6-4. Kjachanov converted his second break in the first game of the second set at deuce to take a 1-0 lead. Evans broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Evans fended off a match point at 5-6 to win the tie-break 9-7 forcing the match to the decider. 

Evans got his first break in the opening game of the decider. The British player dropped just two points on his first serve in the third set and held his serve to win the third set 6-3. Evans has reached his first semifinal since last February, when he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Dubai. 

Evans has a 7-6 record against top 20 players in 2020. The Brit set up a semifinal against Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who beat Lloyd Harris 6-3 7-6 (7-2). Harris claimed the first set with a break at love. Both players traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games en route to the tie-break. Harris got four mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Alex De Minaur converted four of his five break points to cruise past US Marcos Giron 6-3 6-0 in 58 minutes setting up a semifinal against Grigor Dimitrov, who advanced to the semifinal when Milos Raonic, who pulled out of the quarter final due to an abdominal injury. 

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Alexander Zverev moves one step closer to win his second Cologne title

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Alexander Zverev battled past Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 to reach at the bett1 HULKS Championships one week after winning his first Cologne title. 

 

Zverev hit 16 aces and fended off five of the seven break points. 

Zverev has extended his winning streak to six matches and improved his record this season to 21-8. 

Zverev earned an early break in the second game of the first set to take a 2-0 lead. Mannarino broke straight back in the third game and held serve to draw level to 2-2. Zverev got a late break on his fourth chance in the 10th game to win the first 6-4. Zverev got the break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Mannarino broke back, as Zverev was serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set, to push the second set to the tie-break. Mannarino got the first mini-break to take a 3-1 lead. Zverev pulled back the mini-break on the 11th game to save a set point for 5-6 but Mannarino sealed the tie-break on his second chance. 

Zverev claimed the decider 6-4 with his only break on his second opportunity in the seventh game at 3-3 to secure his spot in the semifinals. 

Zverev has extended his winning record to 4-0 in his head-to-head matches. The German player beat Mannarino in four sets at this year’s US Open. 

“I didn’t think I played a bad game at 5-3 in the second set. I double-faulted once but he actually returned unbelievably. On break point I hit a 222 km/h serve down the T, not too far from the line and he appraached to the net. He is a very talented player. He has unbelievable hands and for him to come back from that he deserved to win the match as much as I did”, said Zverev. 

Zverev set up a semifinal match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner. It will be a re-match of their recent clash at Roland Garros, where Sinner beat Zverev in four sets to reach his fourth Grand Slam quarter final. 

Diego Schwartzman fought back from 2-6 2-5 to claim a thrilling 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after 2 hours and 5 minutes. Davidovich Fokina served for the the match three times and earned a match point at 5-2, but he was not able to convert his chance, as he sent his crosscourt forehand wide. 

“Tennis sometimes is crazy. Maybe today I got lucky to be here anwering questions. That is why I am here as well with this ranking, because I am always trying to find a way to win the matches. Today was not the exception to the rule. I was trying really hard, but obviously he is a great player and the first two sets I was just on court trying to do something but there was no chance. He was playing perfect and the first two sets he deserved to win, for sure”, said Schwartzman.  

Schwartzman set up a semifinal against Felix Auger Aliassime, who beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-4 to clinch his 14th win of the season. The first set started with four consecutive breaks. Auger Aliassime broke twice in the eighth game of the first set and a break in the first game of the second set. 

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Maria Sakkari fights from a set and a break down to reach her second semifinal of the season in Ostrava

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Maria Sakkari fought back from a set and a break down in her 3-6 6-3 6-1 win over Ons Jabeur to get through to her second semifinal of the season after 1 hour and 38 minutes. 

 

Sakkari went down a set and 0-2 in the second set, but she bounced back by winning 12 of the last 14 games. 

Jabeur earned three break points with a forehand winner down the line in the sixth game and got the break, when Sakkari made a backhand error. The Tunisian player reached the set point with a single-handed inside-out backhand slice winner and converted it to win the first set 6-3. 

Jabeur went up an immediate break in the first game of the second set. Sakkari raised her level and broke back in the sixth game, when Jabeur hit a short forehand into the net. Sakkari won 10 of the next 11 games. The Greek player held serve with a drop-volley in the seventh game before breaking serve with a return winner to take a 5-3 lead at deuce. Sakkari sealed the second set on her first set point. 

Sakkari went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead, as Jabeur made a double fault. The daughter of Angeliki Kanellopoulou saved a break point with a service winner to race out to a 4-0 lead and sealed the win by breaking serve with a forehand pass on the first match point. 

“I think that Ons, she came up with some tricky shots in the first set. I could not really find a way to make her like tougher. The fact that I know I can stay on court for a long time gives me a lot of help and hope, so I just stay with her, and finally I got that break I was looking for, and things got better for me after that”, said Sakkari. 

Sakkari set up a semifinal against Victoria Azarenka, who beat Elise Mertens 6-4 6-1. Mertens earned an immediate break in the first game of the opening set. Azarenka came back from 2-4 down by winning four games with two breaks to clinch the first set 6-4. Azarenka went up a double break to race out to a 5-1 lead. The former Grand Slam champion saved a break point chance before serving out the win at deuce in the seventh game. 

World number 26 Jennifer Brady fought back from a set down to beat Russian qualifier Veronika Kudemertova 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-1. The US player has reached her fourth semifinal on the WTA Tour. Brady hit 27 winners to 14 unforced errors, compared to Kudemertova’s ratio of 31 winners to 38 unforced errors. 

Brady will face either number 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka or Spanish qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo. 

Kudemertova got an early break to take a 2-1 lead. Brady broke back to draw level to 3-3. The US player dropped just a single point in her next three service games. Kudemertova was pushed to deuce at 6-5 and held serve with a forehand winner to set up a tie-break. Kudemertova raced out to a 4-0 lead with two mini-breaks, but Brady reeled off four consecutive points to draw level to 4-4. Kudemertova earned a set point as her strong was returned long and sealed the first set with a passing shot winner after 56 minutes. 

Kudemertova earned four break points in the second game of the second set. Brady saved them to hold for 1-1. Brady earned two break points at 2-2 and converted her second chance to take a 3-2 lead, as Kudemertova netted a forehand. 

Brady earned a set point, as Kudemertova sent a forehand wide. The US Open semifinalist sealed the set 6-3 with a break, as Kudemertova shot a backhand wide. 

Brady won the final five games of the decider with a double break in the fourth and sixth games to win the decisive set 6-1. As Brady was serving for the match in the sixth game, Kudemertova saved the first two match point she faced, but Brady converted her third chance with her 14th ace. 

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