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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Lorenzo Sonego continues his winning streak with a victory over Barnabe Zapata Miralles in Sofia

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Lorenzo Sonego beat Barnabe Zapata Miralles 6-3 6-4 after 1 hour and 19 minutes to reach the second round at the Sofia Open. Sonego won 86% of his first serve points. 

 

Sonego broke serve in the second game at 30, but he missed a double break point in the third game. The Italian player dropped just three points in his next three service games to close out the first set 6-3.  

Sonego broke serve in the ninth game at love, as Zapata Miralles made a double fault. He made a double fault and a forehand error at 5-4, but he won four consecutive points to close out the second set on his first match point. 

Last week Sonego won his title in Metz without dropping a set. 

Sonego will face Danish Next Gen player Holger Rune in the second round. 

“I am really happy because today I was really aggressive on court. I played so well. I did my best thing today. I am really happy for that. Zapata is a big wall. He served really well, but I started so good today, with good variation. The key was my performance on serve, and to be aggressive on serve”, said Sonego. 

Lorenzo Musetti battled past Alexander Lazarov 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (10-8) 6-2 after 2 hours and 42 minutes. 

The first set went on serve with no break points. Lazarov earned his mini-break at 4-2 to win the tie-break 7-5. Musetti saved two break points at 4-4. The Italian player wasted a set point at 5-4 on Lazarov’s serve and dropped his serve in the next game. Lazarov earned his chance to close out the match at 6-5, but he was broken at 30. Musetti went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Lazarov  won four consecutive points to take a 5-4 lead. Lazarov had the chance to close the match, but he dropped two points on serve.  Musetti sealed the tie-break on his fourth set point. 

Musetti earned two breaks and held his next service games to win the third set 6-2. 

Ilya Ivashka upset Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 (7-3) after 1 hour and 52 minutes to reach the quarter finals. Ivashka saved all seven break points he faced. Dimitrov saved two match points in the second set forcing the match to the tie-break. Ivashka earned two mini-breaks to take a 7-3 lead. 

Ivashka will face either Sonego or Rune in the quarter final. 

“It was a very tough match and I am very happy that I got the victory at the end. It is very hard to play against Grigor, especially at his home”, said Ivashka.  

Fernando Vedasco edged past Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 to set up a second round match against Alexander Vukic. 

Jan Lennard Struff came back from a set down to beat Dusan Lajovic 4-6 6-3 6-2. 

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Botic Van de Zandschulp beats Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Tel Aviv

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Botic Van de Zandschulp cruised past Joao Sousa 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. Van de Zandschulp won 83% of his first serve points and hit 28 winners to Sousa’s six. 

 

The Dutchman will face Liam Broady, who Serbian wild-card Hamad Medjedovic 7-5 6-3. 

Tomas Martin Etchevery edged past 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev 6-2 6-7 (0-7) 6-4  scoring the biggest win of his career. 

Arthur Rinderknech came back from one set down to beat Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3. Rinderknech set up a second round against third seed Diego Schwartzman. 

Emil Ruusuvuori broke serve five times in his 6-3 6-2 win over J.J Wolf. 

Sebastian Korda beat Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Maxime Cressy. Novak Djokovic is the top seed of the Tel Aviv tournament, which returns for the first time since 2021.

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