Tsvetana Pironkova Continues Extraordinary Comeback With Victory Over Vekic - UBITENNIS
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Tsvetana Pironkova Continues Extraordinary Comeback With Victory Over Vekic

Tsvetana Pironkova extended her remarkable run at the 2020 US Open (her first event in three years) with a 6-4 6-1 win over Donna Vekic.

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Tsvetana Pironkova extended her remarkable run at the 2020 US Open with a 6-4 6-1 win over Donna Vekic. Her excellent performances are arguably the biggest surprise of this year’s event.

 

After spending three years away from tennis on maternity leave, the Bulgarian, now 32, used a protected ranking to enter the American Grand Slam tournament.

Many viewers may not have even noticed Pironkova was in the draw. And if they did, they probably expected her to go out in the first round. Or, at best, the second round.

However, the Bulgarian has confounded expectations. She beat World No.120 Liudmila Samsonova in the first round. Then she shocked World No.16 Garbine Muguruza in the next round.

Those wins earned Pironkova a third-round meeting with World No.24 Vekic, who reached the quarter-final at the US Open last year.

Pironkova Punishes Wayward Vekic

In the first set, Vekic looked like the better player. She hit an array of superb winners and dictated most of the points. However, she made errors at crucial moments, and it cost her dearly. She gifted Pironkova two break points in the set, and the Bulgarian took them both.

The Croatian could have been forgiven for wondering how she was a set down at that stage. But she needed to put it out of her mind and focus on mounting a fightback. She failed to do this. And, when things started going badly for her in the third game of the set, she directed an angry rant in the direction of her coach.

While Vekic was imploding, Pironkova stayed completely calm. She focused on getting as many balls back over the net as possible. Then she watched as the Croatian destroyed herself.

Ultimately, the only blessing for Vekic was that it was over quickly. She lost five games in a row as she gifted the second set to the Bulgarian in just 25 minutes. During that time, she hit just six winners and made 16 unforced errors. By contrast, Pironkova only made two unforced errors.

All told, it was a very strange match. But the Bugarian will not mind. She has now reached the last 16 at a hard-court Grand Slam for only the second time in her career. The last time it happened was in New York in 2012.

Can Pironkova go any further? It seems unlikely when you consider that her expected fourth-round opponent is Madison Keys, who tends to thrive at Flushing Meadows and looks to be in sparkling form. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to write off the Bulgarian comeback queen.

Muchova survives Cirstea scare

Karolina Muchova (@tenisalmaximo on Twitter)

Karolina Muchova is going places. She shot up the rankings from 141 to 21 last year and enjoyed an eye-catching run to the Wimbledon quarter-final.

Now the Czech has an opportunity to match that performance at Flushing Meadows. However, she will have to play a lot better than she did today.

Muchova took advantage of 13 unforced errors from Cirstea to claim the first set 6-3. Then the match swung completely the other way, as the Czech made 13 unforced errors and the Romanian won the second set 6-2.

Finally, both players got their acts together in the decider, and it turned into a pulsating battle. Cirstea wasted two glorious chances to win it when she served for the match at 5-4 and led 6-3 in the tie-break.

Both times, the Romanian allowed Muchova back into it and the Czech gratefully accepted. She eventually sneaked through 9-7 in the tie-break.

Muchova will be joined in the last 16 by Elise Mertens. The Belgian continued her serene progress through the draw with a 7-5 6-1 victory over Catherine McNally. She is yet to drop a set at the 2020 US Open, and she will face either Sofia Kenin or Ons Jabeur next.

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 

 

The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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WIMBLEDON: Simona Halep Impresses After Troublesome Physical, Mental Battle

2022 has been far from straightforward for the Romanian but she is seeing light at the end of the tunnel at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

For Simona Halep reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon is an achievement in itself after her recent misfortunes. 

 

It all began at the Italian Open last year where she sustained a calf injury that would force her to miss two major events, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games. Recovering from the setback was far from simple for the former world No.1 who soon found herself struggling mentally to the extent that she considered walking away from the sport altogether.

However, she managed to regain her desire and passion for tennis with the help of Patrick Mouratoglou who has officially been her coach since April. Halep continues to work her way back to top shape and her form at Wimbledon proves perseverance pays off. 

Playing her fourth round match against fourth seed Paula Badosa, Halep stormed to an emphatic 6-1, 6-2, win in just over an hour. She dropped only two points behind her first serve and hit 17 winners against just nine unforced errors. It is the third time this year she has beaten a top 10 player after previously beating Badosa on another occasion, as well as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

“It means a lot that I’m back in the quarterfinals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” said Halep.
“I’m working hard every day. I feel like if I do that, I will get better. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. I’m really confident. It’s a pleasure to be on the court.”
“I think this helps me a lot to be able to do my best tennis. And everything comes together. I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally.”

Speaking openly about her previous struggles, injury and confidence are two very different issues to deal with. But which one of those was the most difficult?

“It started with the injury, so I was not able to play for three, four months. Then I also lost the confidence, the belief that I can be good again, at the top. And I struggled for a long period,” she continued.
“But now it’s past. I’m here. I’m playing well. I’m feeling good on the court. So this is the most important thing, and I just want to focus on that.”

It is by no means a coincidence that Halep is thriving at Wimbledon considering her previous record. It was in 2019 when she produced a stunning display against Serena Williams to capture the title. Becoming the first and only player from her country to claim the women’s singles title. She has also reached the quarter-finals on three other occasions prior to this year.

“Grass is not an easy surface and you have to really connect with it. You have to get used to it.” Said Halep.
“I like it because it’s fast. I feel it. I feel stable on my feet. My legs are pretty strong for this surface. I feel my game fits it.”

As the only former Grand Slam champion left in the draw, Halep’s next test will be against Amanda Anisimova who defeated Harmony Tan 6-2, 6-3, in her fourth round match.

“I’m here to play as I did today, to focus on myself,” she states.
“I’m sure that I can play good tennis again. But it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward to it.”


Halep recently crushed Anisimova 6-2, 6-1, at the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. 

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