Ash Barty Eases Into Australian Open Quarters, Faces Muchova Next - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Eases Into Australian Open Quarters, Faces Muchova Next

The world No.1 reacts to her latest win at Melbourne Park where she is yet to drop a set this year.

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In only her second tournament of the past 11 months Ash Barty swept aside a lacklustre Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-4, to book a place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

The nighttime showdown was a case of deja vu for both players who also locked horns in a lead-up tournament last month. On that occasion Barty was taken to a third set tiebreaker before she triumphed. However, this time around it was more straightforward for the home favourite who took advantage of blips in the Rogers game during both sets. Overall, she produced 21 winners to 16 unforced errors as she broke the American three times.

“I knew my serve was going to be massive. Not giving Shelby too many looks on my second serve,” Barty commented on the tactics she used afterwards. “She’s a player who can take the match away from you very quickly so I needed to have my running shoes on, serve well and try to be in control of as many points as I could.”

Seeking a place in the Australian Open quarter-finals for a third year in a row, the top seed looked to be the sharper of the two players early on in their match. Barty first drew blood four games into the match after a 18-shot rally ended with a winning forehand which saw her break for a 3-1 lead. Rogers had a chance to retrieve the break later on in the set but was unable to capitalise on her opportunities. Enabling the former French Open champion to seal a 6-3 lead with relative ease.

Continuing her momentum Barty struck again three games into the second frame with the help of some cheap gifts coming from across the court. An erratic Rogers forehand error handed the world No.1 another break as she closed in on the finish line. Cruising towards victory the only time Barty faltered was when she was serving for the win after a series of tentative shots resulted in her dropping serve for the first time whilst leading 6-2, 5-2. Despite the blip she held her nerve to close out the match after 71 minutes with the help of a Rogers backhand error.

“It’s really exciting to be through to another quarter-final. I think if you told me a few months ago during pre-season that this is the start to the year that we (my team) would have, we would absolutely take it with a massive smile on our face,” said Barty.
“I’ve grown up on these plexi-cushion courts and have played on them for many years now. I love being at home in Australia and being able to share it with my friends and family,” she added.

Awaiting Barty in the last eight is Czech underdog Karolína Muchová who had never won back-to-back matches in the tournament until this year. Although she did reach the quarter-finals of the 2019 Wimbledon championships. The world No.27 battled back from a 2-5 deficit in the opening set to defeat Elise Mertens 7-6(5), 7-5.

“I just finished this one (match) so I’m really not thinking about it,” Muchova replied when asked about playing Barty next. “I will try my best to recover. She’s an amazing player and I look forward to playing her.”

Barty is now on a nine-match winning streak.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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