Belinda Bencic Overcomes Rust And Lauren Davis To Reach Australian Open 2nd Round - UBITENNIS
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Belinda Bencic Overcomes Rust And Lauren Davis To Reach Australian Open 2nd Round

Belinda Bencic battled to a much-needed 6-3 4-6 6-1 first-round win over Lauren Davis at the 2021 Australian Open.

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Belinda Bencic (@alairelibrecl on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic battled to a much-needed 6-3 4-6 6-1 first-round win over Lauren Davis at the 2021 Australian Open.

 

The Swiss, 23, has not had much time to practice recently because she was one of the players forced to quarantine in her hotel room in Melbourne for two weeks to reduce the spread of Covid-19. And she has only played one match since September because she lost her opener in the Grampians Trophy warm-up event to Sorana Cirstea.

Bencic shows glimpses of quality during scrappy opener

Given these circumstances, Bencic looked understandably rusty to begin with. She made two double faults and a couple of errors as she surrendered her serve in the opening game.

However, she worked her way into the second game and put Davis under enough pressure to force her to make errors. This enabled the Swiss to break back straight away.

Both players settled a bit in the next couple of games and held serve with ease. Then Bencic made some more costly errors to drop serve again and fall 3-2 behind.

The sixth game was bizarre, as both players seemed distracted by the very loud noises of a helicopter circling overhead. At deuce, Bencic suddenly sprang into life. She punished two weak serves with winners to force two separate break points, and then seized the second with a fierce backhand that was too hot for Davis to handle.

The Swiss player struggled for consistency throughout the opening set, and the seventh game summed it up. She hit three stunning winners, two backhands and a forehand, but also made two double faults and two unforced errors. Despite the mistakes, Bencic eventually held to move 4-3 ahead.

After seven games that took more than 40 minutes to complete, the next two went by in a flash. Davis made a series of errors to hand the World No.12 a break. Then Bencic knuckled down from 15-40 on her own serve to win four straight points and hold to take the first set 6-3.

Davis digs in to level the match

Bencic fell 2-0 behind at the start of the second set due to a disastrous service game. Fortunately for her, Davis let her off the hook with an equally poor showing.

The Swiss earned two break points in game five with a series of excellent backhands. But the American saved them both by forcing her opponent to make errors. Then she won the next two points to secure the hold.

Bencic comfortably held. Then she cranked up the pressure again in game seven by hitting the ball deeper. This earned her a break point. However, much to her annoyance, Davis dug in and clung onto her serve.

After a medical time-out for the American disrupted her rhythm, the Swiss made a few errors in the next game. To her credit, she fought her way to an important hold to make it 4-4.

The set ended in surprising fashion. Davis held to love and then Bencic gifted her the decisive break by making three double faults in the space of one game.

Bencic raises her game

It did not seem to matter who served at the beginning of the decider. There were lots of long points in the first three games, which all went against the server, and Bencic fared marginally better than Davis to open a 2-1 lead.

The Swiss finally found some fluency in game four. She hit a winner and an ace during a love hold. Then the American made the mistake of allowing Bencic back into her next service game from 30-0 up and the World No.12 punished her by hitting a forehand winner on break point to establish a 4-1 lead.

Davis looked on course to reduce the deficit when she hit three winners at the start of game six. But Bencic responded in the best possible way with two aces and two winners to turn it around and hold serve.

By this stage, the Swiss player had her confidence back. She cracked three more winners to earn a break point. Then she benefitted from a Davis double fault to seal victory.

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Elina Svitolina Splits With Coach After Five Years

The tennis star issued a brief statement saying ‘the time is right’ to go in another direction.

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image via https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina

Elina Svitolina is on the hunt for a new coach after parting ways with Andrew Beetles.

 

The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist issued a statement on Monday confirming that she will no longer be working with her British mentor with them both deciding to go ‘their own ways.’  Beetles, who is the former hitting partner of Ana Ivanovic, spent his first full season with Svitolina back in 2017. He started as an assistant coach before later being promoted. Under his guidance, the Ukrainian rose to a ranking high of three and won 11 Tour titles.

“After 5 years and 11 titles together!! Andy and I both agreed it was the right time to move our separate ways. I am very thankful for all his hard work and endless support. I wish him only the best in his future career!’ Svitolina wrote on Twitter. 

The announcement comes a week after Svitolina suffered a shock first round loss at the Tenerife Open to Colombia’s Camila Osorio who went on to reach the final. So far this season she has won 41 out of 61 matches played on the Tour with her best performance occurring at the Chicago Open where she won the title. Svitolina also won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games and reached the quarter-finals of the US Open. 

Svitolina, who married Gael Monfils earlier this year, is currently ranked sixth in the world. She is hoping to finish the season ranked inside the world’s top 10 for the fifth year in a row.

There is currently no information about who may take over as the new coach of the 27-year-old. 

Svitolina’s 2021 results

  • Melbourne 1 – QF
  • Australian Open – R4
  • Doha – QF Dubai – R2
  • Miami – SF
  • Stuttgart – SF
  • Madrid – R1
  • Rome – QF
  • French Open – R3
  • Berlin – R2
  • Eastbourne – R2
  • Wimbledon – R2
  • Tokyo Olympics – Bronze medal
  • Canadian Open – R2
  • Cincinnati – R2
  • Chicargo – Champion
  • US Open – QF
  • Chicargo 2 – QF
  • Indian Wells – R4
  • Tenerife – R1

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Anett Kontaveit Set To Battle For WTA Finals Spot After Lifting Moscow Crown

It is the third time Kontaveit has won a tournament within the past six months but will she be able to qualify for the season-ending championships?

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Anett Kontaveit (image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit has continued her recent surge in form on the Tour by fighting back from a set down to win her fourth career title at the Kremlin Cup on Sunday.

 

The world No.20 was on the verge of losing to home favourite Ekaterina Alexandrova before battling to a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory. At one stage in the match Kontaveit was trailing by a set and 0-4. Then in the decider she was broken at 4-4 before going on to win three games in a row to clinch the title. Overall, she won 69% of her first service points and broke her opponent five times.

“Of course, I am very happy, the match was extremely difficult, I feel relief and joy,” she said afterwards. “I got lucky at match-point, but during the match there were moments when she (Alexandrova) got lucky too. It always takes a little luck to win. She took the lead, controlled the match, it was very difficult for me, I tried to fight for all the points and this helped me to win.”

Kontaveit, who defeated former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza and Markéta Vondroušová earlier in the tournament, has now won 14 out of the last 15 matches she has played on the Tour. Her only loss was to Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells. She has played in five finals this year which is the second-highest on the WTA Tour after world No.1 Ash Barty who has played in six.

The 25-year-old is now on the verge of qualifying for the WTA Finals for the first time in her career. However, the prospect of her playing in the season-ending event depends on the results of next week’s tournaments. Kontaveit is playing in Romania and she needs to win the tournament and for rival Jabeur to lose before the semi-finals to qualify.

Meanwhile, runner-up Alexandrova exits Moscow frustrated with her missed opportunities in the match. It was the first time she has played in a final this season and only the third time in her career. Prior to Kontaveit, she scored back-to-back wins over Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to win, I’m very sorry. But I will work on it and I hope next time I will be able to get a better result,” Alexandrova said during the trophy ceremony.
“I want to congratulate Anett, she played great, it was hard for me to do something.” She added.

Kontaveit, who has won three WTA titles since August, is the first Estonian player to win the Moscow trophy. Compatriot Kaia Kanepi reached the final of the tournament back in 2011.

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Simona Halep, Emma Raducanu Heads The Field in Cluj Napoca

On Saturday the draw was revealed for the 32 players playing in Cluj this week at the Transylvania Open.

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Simona Halep (image via https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep)

Despite the fact seven main draw players have pulled out, including Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa, the field is pretty deep with a lot of interesting matchups featuring no fewer than six Romanians. 

 

Let’s start at the top with the number one seed Simona Halep who will play her first match against the up-and-coming fellow Romanian Gabriela Elena Ruse. Halep and Ruse most recently teamed up in doubles and made it to the final in Indian Wells.

The number two seed is the Estonian Anett Kontaveit who will play for a title on Sunday in Moscow. She has drawn a qualifier in the first round. Emma Raducanu, the number three seed, will start her tournament against Polona Hercog.

The fourth seed is the Swiss Jil Teichmann who will also face a qualifier in her first-round match. Meanwhile Australia’s Alja Tomljanovic will face Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan who comes in as a late replacement for Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine is the number six seed and she will face the American Bernarda Pera. It will be the third meeting between the two players with the Ukrainian winning both of their previous matches.

Irina Camelia Begu from Romania and she will face another Romanian in Maria Irina Bara while the number eight seed is Anhelina Kalinna who faces a qualifier in the first round.

If the seeds hold up the tournament could potentially see quarterfinal matches featuring Halep vs Tomljanovic, Raducanu vs Kostyuk, Begu vs Teichmann and Kalinna vs Konteveitt.

There are indeed some dark horses in the draw that could cause some upsets. Look out for Maria Camelia Osorio who has been playing some amazing tennis this year and it seems to be her breakout year.

Andrea Petkovic is always a dangerous opponent and she actually won the first event in Romania, the Winners Open, back in the first week of August. Anastasia Potapova from Russia is no easy task, and many expect a good week from her.

Main draw action begins on Monday with what is expected to be a great week in Cluj-Napoca.

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