Simona Halep Hails ‘Unique’ Birthday Present At French Open - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Hails ‘Unique’ Birthday Present At French Open

The world No.2 reacts to her opening win at Roland Garros.

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Simona Halep (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Simona Halep has described playing at Roland Garros on her birthday as ‘unique’ after easing into the second round of the tournament on Sunday.

 

The top seed marked turning 29 with a 6-4, 6-0, win over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo after recovering from a lacklustre start. Halep dropped her serve two consecutive times to fall behind 2-4 in the opener before winning 10 games in a row to seal victory. Extending her winning run on the Tour to 15 matches.

It was a really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday. So it’s pretty unique, maybe forever,” Halep said afterwards.
“I cannot celebrate much because I have to stay in the room (due to COVID-19 restrictions), so I will have a bottle of water.”

This year’s French Open is taking place later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was originally scheduled to take place between May and June. Due to the change of dates, players are finding themselves playing in much more trickier conditions in Paris which has raised the alarm bells for some.

Halep, who has won two WTA titles on the clay leading up to Paris, actually produced more unforced errors than Tormo (23-16) but hit more than twice as many winners (23-10). Furthermore, she 69% of her first service points but only 44% of her second while playing under the newly built roof on Court Phillippe-Chartier.

I was very honoured to actually open this roof, to be the first women’s match. It was much better because we could play and the rain didn’t stop us at all,” she said.
“Even if it was a little bit heavy, because of the weather, the conditions were good to play on this rainy day.”

The world No.2 is seeking her second title at Roland Garros after 2018 when she won her first ever Grand Slam trophy. Reflecting on how her game has developed over time, Halep believes she is more mature on the court than what she was 12 months ago. Last year she was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the French Open by Amanda Anisimova.

I think I improved a lot. I’m more mature on the court. I feel very good on court. I’m relaxed. I’m just trying to give my best every time. I don’t give up any points. So I think I changed a lot in the last 12 months.”

Halep will play either compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu or Switzerland’s Jill Tiechmann in the second round. Should she go on to win the title this year she will also reclaim the world No.1 ranking from Ash Barty.

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Maria Sakari reaches her first WTA Tour final since 2019 in Ostrava

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Maria Sakkari has reached her first WTA Tour final since 2019 after nine consecutive tour-level semifinal defeats, by beating number 1 seed Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-5 after 1 hour and 51 minutes at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Sakkari won her only title on the clay court of Rabat. Swiatek had never lost a tour-level semifinal and had a win-loss record of 2-0 in her semifinals played in 2021. The Greek player lost to Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals in Ostrava last year. 

Sakkari has extended her win-loss record to 2-0 in her head-to-head matches against Swiatek. In their only previous match Sakkari beat Swiatek in the French Open quarter final last June ending the Pole’s Roland Garros title defense. 

Sakkari won 77% of her first service points and hit 22 winners to 19 unforced errors. 

Sakkari hit a forehand winner to earn her only break in the opening game of the first set. The Greek player did not face a single break point in the first set. 

Sakkari had to save a break point at the start of the second set before holding serve for 2-2. Sakkari earned the break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Swiatek broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. 

Sakkari converted her third break point with a forehand winner down the line to take a 6-5 lead and sealed the win on her first match point. 

Sakkari set up a final against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who cruised past Petra Kvitova 6-0 6-4 after 1 hour and 11 minutes. The Estonian player scored her third top 10 win of the year after beating Sofia Kenin in Stuttgart and Bianca Andreescu in Eastbourne. She has reached her fourth final in 2021 after winning her second career title in Cleveland, finishing runner-up to Jelena Ostapenko in Eastbourne and sharing the Grampians Trophy with Ann Li after the final was not played due to a scheduling delay. 

Kontaveit hit 18 winners to just 7 unforced errors. Kvitova made 28 unforced errors to 11 winners. Kontaveit broke serve three times to take a bagel win in the first set, as Kvitova made 16 unforced errors to just 2 winners. 

Kvitova won her first game in the opening game of the second set. Kontaveit broke serve at love in the fifth game with a backhand winner to take a 3-2 lead.Kvitova saved a match point to hold serve to hold serve for 5-4 and hit a lob to earn her first break point of the match in the next game, as Kontaveit was serving for the win. Kontaveit saved it and closed out the match by forcing a final eror from Kvitova with a big backhand.  

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Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reach the final at the Moselle Open in Metz

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Top two seeds Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reached the final at the Moselle Open in Metz, an ATP 250 tournament.

 

Hubert Hurkacz reached the final at the Moselle Open with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Hurkacz won 79% of points of his first service points to extend his winning record to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Gojowczyk. 

Hurkacz saved a break point in both the first and third games of the opening set. Gojowczyk fended off in the fourth and eighth games at deuce. Hurkacz earned his first break at deuce in the 10th game to win the first set 6-4. 

Gojowzyk earned an early break in the first game to take a 1-0 lead at the start of the second set. Hurkacz converted his second break point at deuce in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Gojowczyk saved two match points in the 12th game to hold serve for 6-6 at deuce. Gojowczyk earned an early mini-break to take a 1-0 lead. Hurkacz won five consecutive points to take a 5-1 lead with three mini-breaks. Gojowczyk pulled one of the two breaks back for 3-5 and saved one of the three match points, but Hurkacz earned his fourth mini-break to win the tie-break 7-4. 

Hurkacz won Delray Beach before he claimed his first Masters 1000 title in Miami. Last July the Polish player reached the semifinal at Wimbledon and is currently ninth in the ATP Race to Turin. 

Gojowczyk got through the qualifying round to reach the fourth round at the US Open. The German player won his only ATP Tour title in Metz in 2017. 

“I think I played a couple of really good points in important moments, so that was good from my side. The atmosphere was amazing today. Thanks to the music group. They were amazing and made it great and the fans enjoyed it”, said Hurkacz. 

Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta battled past Gael Monfils 7-5 7-6 (10-8) after 1 hour and 49 minutes to reach his third tour-level final. Carreno Busta bounced back from 1-4 down in the first set and fended off four set points at 3-6, 4-6 5-6 6-7 in the tie-break of the second set. The Spanish player sealed the win, when Monfils hit a forehand win

Carreno Busta drew level to 3-3 in his six head-to-head matches against Monfils. 

“It’s a long time since we have played with this kind of atmosphere. It was amazing. At the beginning it was really tough. Then I started to play better and made the rallies longer from the baseline and I think it was key to try and push a little bit”, said Carreno Busta. Carreno Busta was playing in his first ATP Tour level semifinal since Dubai in 2020. 

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Petra Kvitova set semifinal against Anett Kontaveit in Ostrava

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Anett Kontaveit upset this year’s Olympic singles gold medallist Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-3 after 74 minutes in the quarter finals of the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. Kontaveit set up a semifinal clash against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. 

 

Kontaveit has extended her winning streak against Bencic to 2-0. The Estonian had beaten her Swiss rival in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open. 

Kontaveit scored her fourth win over a top 20 player this year. She won the second WTA title of her career in Cleveland before the US Open. 

Kontaveit hit 29 winners to just 18 unforced errors and converted five of her eight break points. Bencic produced 12 winners to 18 unforced errors. 

In the first set Kontaveit broke serve in the fourth and sixth games to race out to a 5-1 lead and earned a set point in the seventh game. Bencic fired a winner to save the set point. The Swiss player fended off another set point at 5-3. 

Bencic pulled both breaks back to get back on seve at 5-4. However, Kontaveit converted the first of her three set points. Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the third set. Kontaveit hit a backhand winner down the line to break serve for 4-2 in the sixth game. She held serve at love for 5-2 and sealed the win in the ninth game on her second match point with a crosscourt backhand winner. 

Petra Kvitova knocked out Jill Teichmann 6-4 6-4. The Czech player saved seven of the eight break points she faced. 

Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the first set to hold serve for 2-2. The Czech player earned the break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, as Teichmann sent her forehand long. Kvitova hit her forehand to earn three set points and converted her second chance by forcing an error. 

Kvitova earned an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Teichmann broke straight back to draw to 2-2. Kvitova hit a series of backhands to get her second break in the fifth game for 3-2 and saved three break points to hold serve for 4-2. The home player earned three set points with a backhand winner at 5-4. After missing her first match point with a double fault, she converted her second chance with an unreturnable serve. 

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