Aryna Sabalenka Extends Winning Run To Set Up Showdown With Rybakina In Abu Dhabi - UBITENNIS
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Aryna Sabalenka Extends Winning Run To Set Up Showdown With Rybakina In Abu Dhabi

The 22-year-old is yet to drop a set in the tournament as she bids to win her third title in a row.

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Aryna Sabalenka (image via @WTAinsider)

Aryna Sabalenka has extended her unbeaten run on the WTA Tour to 12 matches after dismissing Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-4, in the third round of the Abu Dhabi Open.

 

The fourth seed was unstoppable during the start of the match after racing through the opening set in less than 30 minutes by dropping just six points behind her serve. However, Jabeur proved to be more problematic in the second frame by breaking Sabalenka twice and was at one stage leading 4-2. Despite those wobbles, the world No.10 retrieved both of those breaks before claiming four straight games to turn the tides and book her place in the quarter-finals.

“It was a tough one, but what I think I did well was I didn’t give her any time to play, to make her trick shots. That’s why I think she didn’t feel really well on the court,” tennis.com quoted Sabalenka as saying after. “That’s what I needed at Roland Garros. The courts were really slow there and she had the time, and it was really tricky.
“I think that was the key for today’s win.”

Sabalenka’s victory is a case of sweet revenge after losing to Jabeur at the French Open in what was her least defeat on the Tour. Since then she has won titles in Ostrava and Linz. In her latest match she won 60% of her service points but did hit twice as many unforced errors than winners (20-10).

“Yeah, I’ve won 12 matches, but tomorrow’s another day, and I’ll do everything I can to win another one. I’m not afraid of losing. This is part of our job. But I’ll try to do everything I can to keep winning.” She said.

Awaiting Sabalenka in Monday’s quarter-final will be rising star Elena Rybakina who reached five WTA finals last season, winning the Hobart Open. The Kazakh eased through her third round match in just over an hour after dismissing Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-4. Rybakina broke the Russian three times, including twice at the start of the second set, to seal victory.

“Rybakina, she’s a really aggressive player with a big serve. It’s going to be a really tough one,” Sabalenka commented. “I’ll just need to be ready for her serves and quick shots, stay low and move really well.”

The upcoming match will only be the second time the two have locked horns on the Tour. In their first meeting at the 2019 Wuhan Open Rybakina prevailed in three sets.

Also through to the last eight is 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk who crushed Tamara Zidanšek 6-1, 6-1. The teenager is making her debut in a WTA 500 event and it is only the second time in her career she has reached the last eight of a WTA event. She is currently ranked 99th in the world.

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Nikoloz Basilashvili upsets Stefanos Tsitsipas in Indian Wells to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal

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Nikoloz Basilashvili upset world number 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 2-6 6-4 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semfinal. 

 

Basilashvili, who was playing in his first Masters 1000 quarter final, went up a 4-1 lead with a double break in the first and fifth games. Tsitsipas pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Basilashvili held on his next service games to claim the first set 6-4. 

Tsitsipas broke twice in the fourth and eighth games and did not face a break point to seal the second set 6-2. 

After a trade of breaks in the first and fourth games of the third set, Basilashvili earned his second break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and fended off a break point in the eighth game to hold serve after three deuces. He served out the win on his first match point in the 10th game.   

Despite the defeat Tsitsipas still leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Basilashvili. The Georgian player had never won a main draw match in Indian Wells in his four previous appearances at this tournament. Earlier this year he won two titles at Doha and Munich. 

Tsitsipas was aiming to reach his third consecutive Masters 1000 semifinal in North America after advancing to the last four in two consecutive hard-court tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati. 

“I have played really great matches this tournament. I was not played with how I played today but I was happy with how I managed my stress levels. First time in the quarter finals and it is a big court and Stefanos is still a tough player. I had to keep my physical levels and energy levels in a really good shape because I knew mentally I would be a little bit tight and stressed”, said Basilashvili.

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Carlos Moya, Flavia Pennetta and Ana Ivanovic are among the candidates for the 2022 International Tennis Hall of Fame

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Carlos Moya, the first Spanish player the number 1, and former Grand Slam champions Flavia Pennetta and Ana Ivanovic are among the candidates for 2022 International Tennis Hall of Fame. 

 

Ivanovic lifted the 2008 French Open Trophy after a final at the 2008 Australian Open and a semifinal at 2007 Wimbledon and claimed 15 WTA titles during her career. Since her French Open triumph, she spent 12 weeks as world number 1 player. She would become the first player representing Serbia to be voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. 

“Many of the women who I looked up to as a young girl are Hall of Famers and to be nominated to receive an honour that places my career alongside those who inspired me is just incredible”, said Ana Ivanovic. 

Flavia Pennetta became the oldest first-time Grand Slam champion when she beat her childhood friend Roberta Vinci in the all-Italian US Open Final in 2015. Pennetta teamed up with Vinci in guiding Italy to four Fed Cup titles. 

“I loved competing and to have my tennis career recognized in this way among the sports all-greats is such an incredible honour”, said Pennetta. 

Moya won the 1998 Roland Garros title and reached the 1997 Australian Open final. He became the first Spanish player to reach the top of the ATP Ranking and won 20 ATP titles, including three ATP Masters 1000 trophies. Moya lifted the Davis Cup title in 2004 for Spain after taking his his second singles win of the tie with his straight-set win over Andy Roddick. 

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Paula Badosa reaches her first WTA 1000 semifinal at Indian Wells

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World number 27 Paula Badosa became the first Spanish player since 2003 to reach the semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after her 6-4 6-3 win over 2019 finalist Angelique Kerber. 

 

After an early trade of breaks in the first set, both Badosa and Kerber held serve until the 10th game, when Kerber misfired on consecutive points, as was serving at 4-5 30-30. Badosa earned her second break point, as Kerber hit her second double fault of the set. Badosa converted her chance when Kerber sent her backhand long. 

Badosa went up a 5-2 lead with a double break in the fourth and sixth games. Kerber fended off two match points to hold serve for 3-5 before breaking Badosa to get back on serve for 5-5. After two holds of serve Badosa converted her third match point after Kerber sent her forehand long. 

Badosa set up a semifinal against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat Anett Kontaveit. The Spaniard has moved into her second WTA 1000 semifinal of the season after advancing to the same stage at the Madrid Mutua Open. 

Badosa has claimed her fourth top 10 win of her 2021 season after beating this year’s Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets in the fourth round. Earlier this week she defeated Coco Gauff and Dayana Yastremska, dropping just one set en route to the semifinal against Jabeur. 

Badosa will meet Jabeur for the second time this season. The Spanish player beat her Tunisian rival 7-6 2-6 6-4 at the 2015 US Open. Jabeur took a re-match last spring when she beat Badosa 7-6 5-7 7-5 in the second round in Miami. 

Last April Badosa beat Belinda Bencic and Ashleigh Barty at the Charleston Open en route to the semifinals, where she lost to Veronika Kudemertova. One month later the Spanish player advanced to her first WTA 1000 semifinal at the Madrid Mutua Open becoming the first Spanish player to reach the semifinals in the tournament history, beating Belinda Bencic. Badosa reached her third consecutive semifinal at the Serbia Open defeating Rebecca Petterson. She joined the top 40 for the first time in her career and went on to win her maiden title after Ana Konjuh withdrew from the match injured. 

At the French Open Badosa beat 2019 finalist Marketa Vondrousova to move into the quarter finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career. She went up a break in the final set, but she lost to Tamara Zidansek. 

At the Olympic Games in Tokyo Badosa beat Kristina Mladenovic, Iga Swiatek and Nadia Podoroska before withdrawing from the quarter final against eventual Olympic silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova due to a heatstroke.  

“I always said Jabeur is one of the most talented players in the world. She is doing an amazing year. It’s nice seeing all these players that we were like a few years ago outside the top 100 now being top 10, top 20, fighting for the finals. It’s amazing. I am super happy that I can play her”, said Badosa. 

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