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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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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