Maturing Simona Halep Closing In On Rome Milestone - UBITENNIS
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Maturing Simona Halep Closing In On Rome Milestone

The Romanian is hoping that it will be third time lucky at the Foro Italico this year.




Simona Halep 2 (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Top seed Simona Halep survived a roller-coaster encounter against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza to progress to the final of the Italian Open on Sunday.


The world No.2 required more than two hours to disposed of Muguruza 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, in what was the seventh meeting between the two Grand Slam champions on the WTA Tour. It was a far from straightforward win for the Romanian who lost her serve three consecutive times during the second set. However, she managed to bounce back in the decider with the help of a four-game winning streak as she edged towards victory despite facing some late resistance.

Against Muguruza she’s a very, very difficult player and a good player. It’s always good vibe and a good feeling when I win against her,” Halep told reporters after.
“I know I had so many chances to maybe finish the match a little bit faster and easier, but she doesn’t give up.’
“Credit to her that she fought till the end. I am happy that I was a little bit stronger in the end and I could be more aggressive when I needed to.”

There is still room for improvement for Halep who won only 48% of her service points and converted nine out of her 18 break point opportunities. She also hit 21 winners alongside 22 unforced errors.

The latest victory was the first singles match at this year’s Italian Open to take place in front of fans. Due to a recent decision by the local government, a maximum of 1000 spectators has been allowed to attend the Foro Italico on its last two days. A move that has been hailed by Halep even though she admits that it was her opponent who was getting more cheers.

“It’s been nice to see people in the crowd, even if they were all not supporting me today. They were with Muguruza, but I understand,” she said.
“But I was happy to see them and I felt the energy.”

Halep now moves into her third Rome final where she will have a shot of achieving a unique milestone of winning three major clay events on the WTA Tour along with the French Open and Madrid Open. Something only Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have achieved.

Standing in her way of the title will be the winner of the all-Czech clash between Karolina Pliskova or Markéta Vondroušová. Somewhat of a relief for Halep who lost her two previous finals in Rome to Elina Svitolina.

“I’m not playing her so I have a plus,” she joked.
“It’s a final, so I have to manage it a little bit better than previous years. It’s gonna be a tough match.’
“Now I’m more mature. So let’s hope that I can be better tomorrow and to win it.”

Halep will be playing in her 18th WTA final on the clay and is currently on a 13-match winning streak.

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




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




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




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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