Elise Mertens sets up second round clash against Vera Zvonareva in Linz - UBITENNIS
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Elise Mertens sets up second round clash against Vera Zvonareva in Linz

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Former Australian Open semifinalist and 2020 US Open quarter finalist Elise Mertens came back from one set down to beat Anhelina Kalinina 2-6 6-1 6-2 

 

Kalinina got the first break and came through two consecutive marathon games before breaking for the second time to win the first set 6-2 after 43 minutes. 

Both players traded breaks in the second and thitd games. Mertens broke twice in the fourth and sixth games and saved a late break point in the sixth game to serve out on her second set point with ace at deuce. 

Each player saved a break point at the start of the third set. Mertens converted her third break point in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and survived a seven-minute service game to consolidate her break after three deuces with her overhead. The Belgian player got her second break at 30 in the seventh game, as Kalinina netted a forehand. 

Mertens set up a match against Vera Zvonareva, who beat Marta Kostyuk in straight sets. 

““It may not have been the best match I played. It was a bit of a struggle in the first set. She played pretty aggressively and did not make a lot of mistakes. I tried to change in the second and third sets where I was stepping into the court more. I was mentally prepared for a battle and it was certainly a battle until the end. She was really really attacking my second serve with her backhand, so I tried to put in more serves to her forehand. From the backhand side, she was able to go down the line or cross-court from the ad-side. I found I was reaching less for shots after the first set. Once I made my first serve, I knew I had the advantage”, said Mertens. 

Kalinina finished runner-up  to Marie Bouzkova in the final of the 2014 US Open Junior champion and lost to Sloane Stephens in three sets at the 2018 US Open. 

Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska edged past Irina Camelia Begu 6-4 6-4 with four breaks of serve in her first match since her semifinal at the French Open to reach the second round at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. 

Podoroska won eight consecutive matches at the French Open and upset Elina Svitolina to become the first qualifier to reach the semifinals in Paris. The Argentine player broke the top 100 for the first time in her career. 

Podoroska will face Italy’s Camila Giorgi for a spot in the quarter finals. Giorgi edged Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-3 5-7 6-4. 

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Singapore Champion Alexi Popyrin Dedicates Maiden ATP Title To Family

The world No.114 battled back from a set down to become the fifth active Australian player to win an ATP singles title.

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Rising star Alexi Popyrin has claimed the biggest title in his career to date after triumphing in the final of the Singapore Open on Sunday.

 

The 21-year-old battled back from a set down to defeat world No.46 Alexander Bublik 4-6, 6-0, 6-2, in what was his first ever final on the ATP Tour. Popryin, who had never got past the quarter-final stage of a Tour event prior to this week, managed to turn his fortunes around with the help of an emphatic service display. During the second set he dropped no points behind serve and only one in the third. Overall, the Australian produced 11 aces and broke Bublik five times en route to victory.

A former junior world No.2 who won the 2017 French Open boys’ title, Popyrin has become the fifth active player from Australia to have won an ATP title. The other four are Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur, Bernard Tomic and John Millman. During the trophy ceremony Popyrin said the breakthrough was a result of hard work as he paid tribute to his family.

“I’ll definitely have very fond memories of Singapore now, I’ll definitely remember this for the rest of my life,” he said.
“We put a lot of hard work in the pre-season and it’s paying off in the start of the year I’ve had. In Australia I felt really good so it’s just good to see all the hard work paying off.
“My family behind the scenes, they’ve sacrificed so much for me and to finally win a tournament just shows how much hard work they put in with me also. This is for them 100 per cent.”

Prior to Bublik, Popyrin also scored a win over former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the semi-finals. The breakthrough continues what has been an encouraging start to the season for the Next Gen star. At the Murray River Open in Melbourne he took Grigor Dimitrov to three sets before losing in the third round. Then at the Australian Open he knocked out top 20 player David Goffin.

Meanwhile, Bublik is left wondering what might have been. It was the second time the Kazakh has reached a Tour final this season after Antalya where he had to retire due to injury.

“His first final, his first title, I have four finals, which hurts now but just congratulate you and next time we’ll see if we can face in the final,” Bublik said.

Popyrin will rise to a ranking high of 82nd when the standings are updated on Monday.

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Aryna Sabalenka could face Garbine Muguruza in the Round of 16 in Doha

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Top seed Elina Svitolina, defending champion Aryna Sabalenka, this year’s Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady, last year’s finalist Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova will headline the 2021 edition of the Doha Qatar Open. 

 

Svitolina, who has been handed a bye in the opening round, could face Amanda Anisimova in the second round. The Ukrainian player lost to Anisimova at this stage of last year’s edition of this tournament. The young US player was recently tested positive to covid-19 and skipped the 2021 Australian Open. 

Svitolina is projected to play a quarter final match against either Victoria Azarenka or Svetlana Kuznetsova and a semifinal against Aryna Sabalenka. 

Sabalenka could face a blockbuster Round of 16 clash against 2020 Australian Open finalist and two-time champion Garbine Muguruza. Sabalenka won three titles in Doha, Ostrava and Linz and picked up where she left off last year by winning the first tournament of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi. Muguruza will first face a tough opening match against Veronika Kudemertova. 

Sabalenka has been drawn in the same section as Maria Sakkari, Madison Keys and Belinda Bencic, who finished runner-up to Iga Swiatek in this week’s final in Adelaide. 

Third seed Petrka Kvitova is set to face a second round match against Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova. Who will open her campaign against a qualifier. Kvitova will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment at the Australian Open, where she lost to Sorana Cristea in the second round. 

Jennifer Brady, who finished runner-up to Naomi Osaka in the final of the Australian Open last week, will take on Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit in the first round. The winner of this match will clash against three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber. 

Karolina Pliskova could face 2020 Australian Open quarter finalist Ons Jabeur in the second round and Kiki Bertens in the quarter final. Jabeur reached the quarter final in Doha last year after scoring wins over Brady and Pliskova. Bertens has not player a match since last October’s Roland Garros, where she lost to Martina Trevisan in the quarter final. The Dutch player underwent surgery on her left Achilles tendon and missed the Australian Open. 

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Cagliari to host the Sardegna Open next April

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The Sardegna Open will start the European clay season in the week of 5 April.

 

Players will have two opportunities to play in ATP 250 tournaments in Europe in the week before the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, following an announcement of a single-year licence awarded to the Any Tech 365 Andalucia Open in Spain. 

The Cagliari tournament adds to the calendar of tournaments in Italy after the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan and the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. 

The tournament will take place at the Cagliari Tennis Club and will be broadcast by the federal tennis TV Channel Supertennis. “The addition of this ATP tournament to the already very rich programme of major international events in Italy reflects the confidence in the contry’s organisational skills we enjoy around the world. When the ATP invited us to present our candidacy to organise an ATP 250 event in that week we did not hesitate to do so. It’s also a great opportunity to promote the appeal of the Sardinia region as a tourist destination during difficult times”, said Italian Tennis Federation President Angelo Binaghi.

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