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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Linda Noskova cruises past Jelena Ostapenko in Stuttgart to clinch her third top 10 win

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Linda Noskova cruised past number 8 seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-1 on her debut at this tournament in just 68 minutes to reach the second round at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

Noskova has claimed her third top 10 win this year. She beat Iga Swiatek in the third round of the Australian Open en route to her first Grand Slam quarter final and Maria Sakkari in Doha. 

Noskova raced out to a 5-1 lead with two breaks of serve in the first and third games. Ostapenko pulled one break back in the eighth game for 3-5. Noskova earned three set points in the ninth game with a return winner and converted her first chance to clinch the first set 6-3. 

Noskova broke twice in the second and fourth games to cruise through the second set 6-1. 

Noskova converted all her five break points. 

Marketa Vondrousova beat Donna Vekic 6-4 6-3 in 1 hour and 26 minutes to reach the second round. The reigning Wimbledon champion converted four of her eight break points. 

Vondrousova went down 2-4 down in the first round, but she came back by winning four games to clinch the first set 6-4. Vondrousova broke in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead. The Czech player earned three game points to lead 4-1, but Vekic pulled back on serve at 3-2 with a passing winner. Vondrousova earned another break to take a 5-3 lead after a drop-shot misfire by Vekic and served out the win with two consecutive aces. Vondrousova now leads 2-1 in her head-to-head matches against Vekic. 

Elise Mertens overcame Tatjana Maria 6-1 4-6 6-0 to set up the first clash of her career against world number 1 Iga Swiatek. 

“At the age of 22, it’s unbelievable what Swiatek has already achieved. Definitely in the future, she will achieve a lot more. She is a bit like an all-court, all-around player, so you don’t really find a lot of weaknesses. That’s why she is world number 1”, said Mertens. 

This year’s Abu Dhabi champion Jasmine Paolini cruised past her doubles partner Sara Errani 6-1 6-0 with three breaks of serve in each set. 

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Rafael Nadal makes a winning come-back against Flavio Cobolli in Barcelona

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Rafael Nadal made a winning come-back by beating Italy’s Flavio Cobolli 6-2 6-3 in 1 hour and 26 minutes at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. The twelve-time Barcelona champion won his third match this year. 

Nadal is playing just his second tournament of the year and his first since last January, when he reached the quarter final in Brisbane. 

Nadal converted two of his eight break points and held four service games in the first set. The Spaniard held serve from 0-30 down in the first set. Cobolli faced two break points in the fourth game and saved them. The Italian player wasted a game point and was broken on Nadal’s third break point after a backhand error. Nadal consolidated the break by holding serve with a service winner to take a 4-1 lead. Cobolli faced four break points in the sixth game, but he saved three of these break points with service winners and held serve with a powerful serve to reduce the gap to 2-4. Nadal held serve at love in the seventh game with a service winner.

Cobolli missed a game point after Nadal’s backhand crosscourt winner, as he was serving to stay in the set in the eighth game. Nadal earned a set point after a forehand error from Cobolli and converted it, when the Italian player netted a forehand. 

Cobolli earned his first break point in the opening game of the second set. Nadal fended it off with a drop shot winner to hold serve after Cobolli’s forehand error. 

Nadal earned two break points, as Cobolli netted a backhand in the second game. The home star converted his break point to open up a 2-0 lead, as Cobolli hit a forehand long. Cobolli broke back in the third game after Nadal made a backhand error. 

Nadal broke serve again in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, when Cobolli made a double fault. The former world number 1 player held his service game with a service winner in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Cobolli held serve to love in the sixth game with a forehand winner to reduce the gap to 2-4. Nadal held serve in the seventh game after a forehand error from Cobolli to open up a 5-2 lead forcing the Italian player to serve  to stay in the match. Cobolli held at love to cut the deficit to 3-5. 

Nadal served out the win with a hold at 15 after Cobolli’s backhand error. Cobolli made 41 unforced errors, including 27 in the opening set. 

Nadal set up a second round match against Alex De Minaur. The 92-time titlist leads 3-1 in his four head-to-head matches against his Australian opponent. 

“Every time it is more difficult and especially when you are at an advanced age. It makes things even tougher. I am going through tough moments but at the same time, when I am able to be on Tour for a few days and practise with the guys then be able to compete a little bit, it means a lot to me. It’s still enjoyable enough to keep going. I am happy to start with a victory without a doubt”, said Nadal.

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Rising Star Mirra Andreeva Teams Up With Wimbledon Champion Martinez

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Mirra Andreeva – Australian Open 2024 (foto: X @WTA)

Teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva has begun working with a former Grand Slam champion on a trial basis ahead of the French Open.

The 16-year-old has linked up with Conchita Martinez, who is overseeing her run at this week’s Rouen Open in France. Martinez peaked at a ranking high of No.2 during her career and won 33 WTA titles. After retiring from the sport, she has coached Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. 

Andreeva’s latest partnership was formed with the help of her agent ‘two or three weeks ago.’ According to the WTA website, their practice week went well and now they are testing working together during a tournament. 

“So far, so good,” said Andreeva“I like it, I hope she likes it too. We will see how it will go and then we will decide about our next tournaments. I cannot say there are special aspects we are working on. But the first thing we worked on was my slice, because she was a good slicer. So she told me some tricks, and I’m trying to use it when I have time and a good possibility on court.”

Andreeva is currently ranked 43rd in the world and is the youngest player in the top 100. She has already reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open but is yet to win a WTA title. So far this year the Russian’s best result was a quarter-final appearance at the Brisbane International. 

Martinez, who also reached the last 16 of a major at the age of 16, spoke about the teenager with Ubitennis during last year’s Wimbledon Championships. At the time she pointed out that consistency is key for the youngster.

“The most important thing is that she keeps practising and focusing on what she has to do to get better. It’s great what she is doing now but she has to maintain it,” she commented.

Andreeva kicked off her campaign in Rouen with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Nadia Podoroska. 

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