WTA Abu Dhabi Daily Preview: The Singles and Doubles Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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WTA Abu Dhabi Daily Preview: The Singles and Doubles Semifinals

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Maria Sakkari will return to the top 20 with a win on Tuesday (twitter.com/WTA)

Aryna Sabalenka is two matches away from her third consecutive WTA tour title.  But standing in her way in today’s semifinals is Maria Sakkari, who has defeated two Major champions over the last two days.

 

The other singles semifinal features two unseeded, up-and-coming youngsters, who are both looking to reach their first career WTA final.  In the doubles semifinals, the reigning US Open champions face last summer’s Lexington champions, and last year’s St. Petersburg champs take on the Australian Open singles champion and the Australian No.2, who are teaming together for the first time.

Aryna Sabalenka (4) vs. Maria Sakkari (9)

No one is hotter on tour than Sabalenka, who is on a 13-match winning streak.  This run includes wins over Victoria Azarenka, Elise Mertens, and Elena Rybakina, who she defeated yesterday in three sets.  However, no one has been more impressive this week than Sakkari, who in the last two rounds took out Sofia Kenin and Garbine Muguruza.  Against Kenin yesterday, Sakkari claimed the last 10 games, and won 24 of 31 points in the third set.  After yesterday’s match, Maria told the WTA that she connects her recent results with taking a bit of pace of her shots, as she was previously hitting too hard and struggling to control her power.  Sabalenka and Sakkari have met four times over the last 18 months, all on hard courts.  Sakkari won the first meeting two Augusts ago in Cincinnati, though Sabalenka has taken the last three.  Even though Sakkari has already defeated two top 15 players in this tournament, her power game may be outdone by that of Sabalenka’s.  While Sakkari is the better mover, overpowering an in-form Sabalenka is a tall task.

Veronika Kudermetova vs. Marta Kostyuk

Yesterday, 23-year-old Kudermetova defeated Elina Svitolina for the second consecutive time.  Impressively, the Russian is now 5-3 against top 10 opposition.  Her opposition today is currently ranked 99th in the world, but Kostyuk made a splash three years ago at the Australian Open.  The then-15-year-old came through qualifying to reach the third round in Melbourne, the youngest player to do so since Martina Hingis.  The WTA has a great profile on Kostyuk here, which outlines the pressure the Ukranian felt after achieving success at such a young age.  But after turning 18 last summer, Kostyuk is focused on letting that pressure go and focusing on the process rather than the results.  Prior to this week, Marta only had two main-draw, tour-level wins, which occurred at the 2020 US Open, where she was narrowly defeated by eventual champion Naomi Osaka.  This will be Kudermetova and Kostyuk’s first career meeting.  The 38th-ranked Kudermetova is the highest-ranked player Kostyuk has faced in this event, while Veronika has already taken down two top 10 seeds.  When vying to reach your first WTA final, experience in high-profile matches is crucial, which makes Kudermetova the favorite on Tuesday.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani (8) vs. Laura Siegemund and Verz Zvonareva.  Carter and Stefani are an impressive 18-5 since last August.  Siegemund and Zvonareva won the US Open in September, which was also their first event together as a team.  They are 9-1 during their short stint together.

Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (5) vs. Sofia Kenin and Ajla Tomljanovic.  The team from Japan have now reached three semifinals in their last four events, but have not advanced farther.  Kenin and Tomljanovic have only dropped one set this week in their first tournament as a team.

Full order of play is here.

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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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