Donna Vekic Hangs Tough To Beat Kanepi And Reach Last 16 - UBITENNIS
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Donna Vekic Hangs Tough To Beat Kanepi And Reach Last 16




Donna Vekic (@Australian Open on Twitter)

Donna Vekic held her nerve superbly to overcome Kaia Kanepi 5-7 7-6(2) 6-4 in an absorbing third-round encounter at the 2021 Australian Open.


The Croatian, 24, had only won three of her last 11 matches coming into the first Grand Slam of the year. But she has produced winning tennis when it matters most on one of the biggest stages in the sport.

“I’m relieved and happy,” Vekic said, her voice cracking with emotion. “It was a tough match, saving match points. She was playing unbelievable the whole match. I had to fight to the end and I’m just happy to be through.”

It was a very even first set. Both players dominated their service games and they matched each other in the power stakes with some strong hitting during 11 consecutive holds that made it 6-5 to the Estonian.

Unfortunately for Vekic, she saved her worst game for the end of the set and it cost her dearly. She made three unforced errors to hand the decisive break to Kanepi.

Vekic fights back superbly

Vekic fell behind early in the second set too. She made a couple of unforced errors to allow Kanepi into her first service game. Then the Estonian produced a superb forehand to earn a break point and hit a forehand winner to seize it and open up a 2-0 lead.

The Croatian knew she had to raise her game. She held to love to keep the deficit to two games. Then she unleashed two searing forehand winners on her way to earning the break back she needed. When Kanepi hit a forehand long on break point, Vekic clenched her fist and cried, “Idemo!”, which means “Come on!” in Croatian.

In the next game, the Estonian hit a massive forehand to make it 15-30. But the Croatian responded well to win the next three points and level the set at 3-3.

Kanepi halted Vekic’s momentum with a commanding love hold. Then the World No.33 replied with a comfortable hold of her own.

The ninth game of the set was a real dogfight. The Estonian gifted the Croatian two break points with unforced errors but saved them well. Then Vekic hit a series of excellent shots to earn two more. However, Kanepi saved both by narrow margins and eventually held.

It was the Croatian’s turn to face the pressure in game ten. She saved a match point by producing a series of superb shots to set up a forehand winner. Then she secured the hold with a similar strike moments later.

Both players held comfortably to take it to a tie-break. And three unforced errors and a double fault from Kanepi enabled Vekic to establish a 5-1 lead.

The Croatian took full advantage. She hit an ace and then forced another error from the Estonian to level the match.

Vekic raises her game to make it through

Donna Vekic (@Australian Open on Twitter)

After a sloppy opening game when she dropped her serve, Vekic raised her level. She hit two stunning winners as she broke back immediately. Then she applied constant pressure to Kanepi’s serve to outlast her in a long game and earn another break and a 3-1 lead.

The Estonian is a fighter though. She responded to the Croatian’s improvement by hitting three winners during yet another break of serve (the fourth in five games).

Order was restored when both players held serve twice to move the score along to 5-4. Then Vekic produced a series of excellent groundstrokes to earn her first match point.

Kanepi saved that one, but the Croatian earned another with a forehand winner and then seized victory with a powerful backhand.

Brady eases through to last 16

Jennifer Brady awaits Vekic in the fourth round. The American easily saw off qualifier Kaja Juvan 6-1 6-3.

The World No.24, who made a stunning career-best run to the US Open semi-final last year, has won all her matches in straight sets so far. However, she is yet to face a player ranked inside the top 80, so the World No.33 should provide her with a much sterner test.

Pegula continues her march by beating Mladenovic

Jessica Pegula continued her extraordinary run at the 2021 Australian Open with a dominant 6-2 6-1 victory over Kristina Mladenovic.

The American, 26, hit 21 winners during the clash and is in arguably the best form of her life. She will now take on fifth seed Elina Svitolina in her first-ever fourth-round match at a Grand Slam. And even if she loses, she will move up to a career-high ranking of 50 thanks to her wins so far.

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.




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Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 


The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.




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Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 


The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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WIMBLEDON: Simona Halep Impresses After Troublesome Physical, Mental Battle

2022 has been far from straightforward for the Romanian but she is seeing light at the end of the tunnel at The All England Club.




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For Simona Halep reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon is an achievement in itself after her recent misfortunes. 


It all began at the Italian Open last year where she sustained a calf injury that would force her to miss two major events, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games. Recovering from the setback was far from simple for the former world No.1 who soon found herself struggling mentally to the extent that she considered walking away from the sport altogether.

However, she managed to regain her desire and passion for tennis with the help of Patrick Mouratoglou who has officially been her coach since April. Halep continues to work her way back to top shape and her form at Wimbledon proves perseverance pays off. 

Playing her fourth round match against fourth seed Paula Badosa, Halep stormed to an emphatic 6-1, 6-2, win in just over an hour. She dropped only two points behind her first serve and hit 17 winners against just nine unforced errors. It is the third time this year she has beaten a top 10 player after previously beating Badosa on another occasion, as well as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

“It means a lot that I’m back in the quarterfinals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” said Halep.
“I’m working hard every day. I feel like if I do that, I will get better. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. I’m really confident. It’s a pleasure to be on the court.”
“I think this helps me a lot to be able to do my best tennis. And everything comes together. I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally.”

Speaking openly about her previous struggles, injury and confidence are two very different issues to deal with. But which one of those was the most difficult?

“It started with the injury, so I was not able to play for three, four months. Then I also lost the confidence, the belief that I can be good again, at the top. And I struggled for a long period,” she continued.
“But now it’s past. I’m here. I’m playing well. I’m feeling good on the court. So this is the most important thing, and I just want to focus on that.”

It is by no means a coincidence that Halep is thriving at Wimbledon considering her previous record. It was in 2019 when she produced a stunning display against Serena Williams to capture the title. Becoming the first and only player from her country to claim the women’s singles title. She has also reached the quarter-finals on three other occasions prior to this year.

“Grass is not an easy surface and you have to really connect with it. You have to get used to it.” Said Halep.
“I like it because it’s fast. I feel it. I feel stable on my feet. My legs are pretty strong for this surface. I feel my game fits it.”

As the only former Grand Slam champion left in the draw, Halep’s next test will be against Amanda Anisimova who defeated Harmony Tan 6-2, 6-3, in her fourth round match.

“I’m here to play as I did today, to focus on myself,” she states.
“I’m sure that I can play good tennis again. But it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward to it.”

Halep recently crushed Anisimova 6-2, 6-1, at the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. 

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