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

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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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Iga Swiatek Saves Two Match Points To Edge Out Krejcikova In Rome

Iga Swiatek survived a 2 hour and 50 minute clash to advance to the Rome Quarter-Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Iga Swiatek saved two match points to defeat Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5 to reach the last eight in Rome.

 

The defending Roland Garros champion battled and clawed to victory in 2 hours and 52 minutes after saving two match points.

Swiatek will now play the winner of the match between Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

A summary of the match would be a lot of errors and tentative play throughout as the Pole was too aggressive in the opening set allowing a lot of unforced errors into her game.

Meanwhile Krejcikova was solid but was aggressive with the right angles in the right moments.

This proved crucial for the Czech Republican as she took advantage of Iga’s inability to produce first serves.

A crucial hold at 4-2 was enough for Krejcikova as there were six breaks of serve in the opening set. A long ninth game ended with the Czech taking the set 6-3.

In the second set it was more of the same with Swiatek as she was not able to produce her best tennis.

After going down an early break, Swiatek knew she had to build the points up slowly and gain her confidence. This is what occurred as she got the break back immediately and started to hold serve more comfortably.

Even though the world number 15 looked more confident with her shots and started to construct points better she could not successfully get into Krejcikova’s service games.

Towards the end of the set Swiatek saved two match points as this dramatic contest went to a second set tiebreak.

Swiatek’s mini-break lead was reduced but her fighting spirit was not as Krejcikova felt the pressure and a double fault from her gave the Pole a lifeline as she forced a deciding set.

After spending the change of ends being emotional, Swiatek regained similar form in the final set with her drop-shots being effective.

Krejcikova held nerve of her own as she continued to force the Pole to make unforced errors and just be as solid as she could be.

Swiatek saved three break points in the seventh game to lead 4-3 and then pounced in the 12th game with some heavy returns to take the match and move into the last eight.

Next for the Pole after a mammoth clash will be Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina as she climbs into a new career ranking of 14 in the world.

In other results today Coco Gauff knocked out Madrid Champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-3 for one of the best wins of her career.

The vibrant American faces world number one Ash Barty who continued her amazing season with with a 6-3 6-3 win over Veronika Kudermetova.

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Serena Williams’ 1000th Match Ends In Defeat To Podoroska

Serena Williams was defeated in Rome as she reaches a landmark milestone of 1000 WTA matches.

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Serena Williams (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Serena Williams’ 1000th WTA tour match has ended in a 7-6(6) 7-5 defeat to Nadia Podoroska in Rome.

 

The American made her return to tour for the first time in 84 days as she looked to build momentum heading into Roland Garros.

If the first few games were to set the tempo of the match then it would prove to be a long contest with Serena struggling to get any free points on her serve.

It was the Argentinian who got the first break of the match in the third game as she tested Serena’s stamina early on in the contest.

In typical Serena fashion, the 23-time grand slam champion produced some stunning ground-strokes especially from central positions to break to love straight away.

On serve, Serena looked fairly comfortable as she ended the match with eight aces although she only made a first serve percentage of 48%.

That was her key downfall as it was Podoroska who looked the more comfortable on return as she used some devastating angles to force unforced errors from the Serena racket.

A break for a 5-4 lead ensured that the last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist would serve for the opening set.

However Serena used her power and good point construction to once again break back which was met with a roar from the world number eight.

Eventually the first set would head towards a tiebreaker with Podoroska dominating the majority of it.

She had three set points which came and went as Serena used her fighting qualities to roar back into the match.

But once again some unforced errors would cost the four-time champion as Podoroska took the next two point to claim the opening set in 66 minutes.

In the second set, Serena was the early aggressor as she dictated points better setting the pace of the match.

Again though Podoroska extended the rallies and made the American move all round the court exposing as much space as possible.

The Argentinian was rewarded for her court coverage when she broke in the sixth game as Serena began to tire.

As in the first set, Podoroska couldn’t serve out the second set as her cautious play lead to Serena levelling it up at 5-5.

However Serena’s serve was just not working when she needed it too and Podoroska secured the final blow to seal a fantastic victory for her.

For Serena its onto Roland Garros as she will look to improve her fitness in the next couple of weeks.

As for Podoroska she will play Petra Martic after the Croatian beat Kristina Mladenovic today 7-5 6-3.

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Naomi Osaka’s Clay Woes Continue After Pegula Defeat In Rome

Naomi Osaka went out in the second round in Rome to Jessica Pegula.

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Jessica Pegula (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka’s clay court woes continued in Rome after losing to Jessica Pegula 7-6(2) 6-2.

 

The world number two admitted previously that learning the clay court trade would take time and this continues to be the case after another early defeat on the surface.

After losing in the second round in Madrid to Karolina Muchova, Osaka knew she needed a quick start in this match and she produced that with the early break for a 2-0 lead.

Pegula’s loss in Madrid was in the third round although that was to the eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka and she had every reason not to be intimidated as she slowly worked her way in the match.

The American reaped her rewards as she took her second break point to bring the match back on serve.

Despite the setback, Osaka continued to dictate play using her athleticism to bring shots back with depth and pace as she was arguably playing the better tennis.

In the latter stages of the set, the Australian Open champion had created three set points before some bold Pegula tennis denied Osaka the set.

Eventually the first set went to a tiebreak which saw the world number 31 be more aggressive and produce some stunning tennis to win seven of the nine points on offer to win the tiebreak 7-2.

In the second set, Osaka fell apart as her backhand, net play and general point construction crumbled quickly.

Pegula offered more in attacking combinations and produced some big serves as she broke three times in the second set.

Despite breaking in the sixth game, it was another disappointing performance from Osaka who conceded defeat in 90 minutes.

As for Pegula she has set up a third round clash with Ekaterina Alexandrova.

In other results so far today Elina Svitolina survived a scare as she edged past Amanda Anisimova 2-6 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Garbine Muguruza also edged past Bernarda Pera 2-6 6-0 7-5 in just over two hours after the Spaniard struggled with a foot injury.

There were comfortable victories for Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova while Petra Kvitova was knocked out by Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-4.

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