Serena Williams Powers Through To Ninth Australian Open Semi With Win Over Halep - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Powers Through To Ninth Australian Open Semi With Win Over Halep

The 39-year-old experienced some difficulty behind her serve in the second set during what was an otherwise clinical win in Melbourne Park.

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Serena Williams is just two wins away from equalling Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam trophy record after disposing of second seed Simona Halep in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

 

The world No.11 overcame some troublesome serving in the second set to prevail 6-3, 6-3, over Halep in what was their first meeting in almost two years. It was Williams’ power that proved decisive as she fired a total of four aces and 24 winners throughout the 82-minute encounter. Although there is room for improvement for the former champion who also dropped her serve three times and leaked 33 unforced errors.

“I definitely think this is the best match I have played in the tournament, for sure,” Williams said during her on-court interview. “I had to going up against the number two in the world so I knew that I had to do better.’
“That’s what I did and I am excited.”

The early anticipated showdown between the two Grand Slam winners was a chance for Williams to avenge her comprehensive loss to Halep in their previous meeting at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. This time round, the 39-year-old produced a mixture of power and clever angle shots to dictate proceedings throughout the majority of the first set.

Trading breaks of serve early on in the match, Williams started to exert her dominance during in the sixth game after back-to-back Halep errors enabled her to break once again for a 4-2 lead. Although this time she was able to back it up with ease. The intensity of Williams’ tennis was one that visibly frustrated her opponent who appeared to be bemused by some calls being made by the automatic Hawk-eye Live system. Racing towards a 6-3 lead, Williams closed it out in clinical fashion with a love service game.

In what is her 20th main draw appearance in Melbourne, only twice has Williams lost a match at the tournament after winning the first set. Although trying to close the match out was problematic as the American’s unforced error count rapidly increased during the second frame. Twice Wiliams was forced to battle back from a break down against a determined Halep who refused to give up. However, once again her clever use of her angle shots saved her as she weathered the storm to move to a 5-3 lead. Closing in on a record 92nd victory in the tournament, she prevailed on her second match point by hitting another forehand winner.

“I realised that I was making a lot of unforced errors in those games that I lost and I knew I had an opportunity to play better. So I just stayed in there (the match), keep going and that is what I did,” she commented on her comeback.
“I can make leaps and improvements really fast. I know throughout my career speed has been the thing which is super good in my game,” she later added.

Awaiting Williams in the semi-finals will be the formidable Naomi Osaka who is also yet to drop a set in the tournament. The Japanese player defeated Hsieh Su-Wei 6-2, 6-2, earlier in the day.

She’s Serena, someone that I feel really intimidated when I see her on the other side of the court,” Osaka said during her press conference.

Whilst Osaka says she is intimidated by her upcoming opponent, Williams says she is inspired by hers.

“She’s such a strong person on the court and an inspirational person off the court, which I think is really cool. It’s so good to see someone who is inspiring in both things when they do their job or not,” she said of Osaka.
“I feel like this is such a good opportunity for me to do my best in the first grand slam of the year.”

As a result of her latest win Williams has now reached 40 Grand Slam semi-finals in her career.

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‘Probably Gonna Quit’ – Tennys Sandgren Blasts Performance After missing Out On Olympic Medal

The tennis star described his fourth place finish as ‘dog s**t.”

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Former Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren said he is close to retiring from tennis after missing out on a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Sandgren and doubles partner Austin Krajicek fell in straight sets to the New Zealand pairing of Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell, who are the first tennis players from their country in over 100 years to win a medal. The loss is a frustrating outcome for the American who wasn’t afraid to express how he felt after the match. Tokyo was the ninth doubles tournament Sandgren has played in this year.

“I mean, who f*ing cares you know, what do I have to show for it? We have a good week and fourth place is dog s**t.” He told the Olympic News Service.

Speaking straight after his loss, the highly emotional 30-year-old then cast doubt on his future in the sport. He is currently ranked 82nd in the world and has a win-loss record of 6-14 so far this year. However, he is yet to reach a quarter-final in singles.

I’m probably gonna quit. That might be my last match. I’m close, yeah, I’m close.” He replied when asked about his career.

As for if he would have done anything different in the bronze medal match, Sandgren replied ‘not to have been so bad.’ He also expressed disappointment that the tennis tournament took place behind closed doors. Prior to the Olympics, organisers decided to hold all events in Tokyo without fans due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city.

“It would have been a great event with fans,” he via via teamusa.org. “Playing on an outside court without fans, I mean, you might as well be playing in Idaho in the middle of nowhere.”

Sandgren and Krajicek were America’s last chance to win a medal in the tennis competition. It is the first time the country has failed to win any medal since tennis returned as an Olympic event in 1988.

“There’s not much you can say about that except it’s pretty, pretty devastating to lose that one. You know, give yourself a chance to get a medal and then to lose those two (matches – including the men’s doubles semifinal) is tough, but you have to give those guys credit today. They played well.” Krajicek concluded.

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Fabio Fognini Apologises For Use Of Homophobic Slur During Olympic Match

The Italian says he regrets using the ‘stupid expression’ during his third round clash.

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Fabio Fognini said the heat got to him during his third round clash with Daniil Medvedev at the Tokyo Olympics after he was caught saying a homophobic slur at himself.

 

The world No.31 lost to Medvedev in three sets during what was incredibly hot and humid conditions with both players taking a 10-minute break after the second set under the extreme weather policy. Frustrated with how his match was going, Fognini was caught by broadcasters saying the word ‘frocio’ which is an anti-gay term in his native language. The exact phrase he used was ‘Frocio, sei un frocio’ which was directed towards himself only.

Following his Olympic exit, the 34-year-old issued a statement on social media in which he apologised for making those remarks during his match. In a post uploaded onto his Instagram story which had a rainbow theme background, Fognini reiterated that he supports the LGBT community and the use of the slur was done in the heat of the moment.

The heat got to my head!” Fognini wrote.
“In today’s (Wednesday’s) match I used a really stupid expression towards myself. Obviously I didn’t want to offend anyone’s sensibilities.
“I love the LGBT community and I apologize for the nonsense that came out of me.”

It is not the first time a player has been caught using a homophobic term during a tennis match this year. Earlier in the season Denmark’s Holger Rune was fined for a term he used during a Challenger match. The former world No.1 junior player later apologised for those comments.

Unlike the women’s Tour, there are currently no publicly out players in men’s tennis and only a select few have come out in the past. In June former top 100 player Brain Vahaly, who came out as gay after retiring from the sport, spoke to UbiTennis about his experience.

Despite his loss, Fognini was the only player from his country to reach the third round of the men’s draw in Tokyo. Lorenzo Sonego, who was seeded two places higher than him, lost in the second round to Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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