Sofia Kenin Embracing The Calm Before The Storm In Melbourne - UBITENNIS
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Sofia Kenin Embracing The Calm Before The Storm In Melbourne

The American world No.4 says she is not putting too much pressure on herself ahead of the Australian Open.

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If Sofia Kenin was looking for a match which tested her both mentally and physically, she had her prayers answered on Wednesday at the Yarra Valley Classic.

 

The world No.4 was pushed to her limits by compatriot Jessica Pegula who she outlasted 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. Although the score doesn’t tell the full story with Kenin at one stage trailing by a set and 1-4 before fighting back to secure the win. During what was a lacklustre performance, she struggled behind her second serve in which she only won 45% of points played. Overall, Kenin did hit 14 more winners than Pegula but she also committed 10 more unforced errors.

“I just kept fighting,and then I found my groove, I was happy the way I was able to change things in the second. First I did some things wrong, then I made the adjustment in the second,” said Kenin.
“I was missing so many first serves. I was getting quite annoyed. Then I started making them. I started going after my second serves, which was good. Then it kind of let me down a little bit at 5-2 (in the third set). A win is a win, so I’ll take it,” she added.

22-year-old Kenin is hoping for a deep run this week in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open where she is the defending champion. She kicked-off her season last month in the Middle East where she reached the quarter-finals of the Abu Dhabi Open before losing to Maria Sakkari. Although the one difference is Melbourne is being held in front of a crowd with the Australian Open set to welcome up to 30,000 people each day.

“I can’t wait for next week, to play in front of a bigger crowd. Hopefully the Aussie fans will be on my side.”

2020 was a breakout year for the Russian-born player whose family moved to America a couple months after she was born. Besides her Melbourne triumph, she also won the Lyon Open and reached the final of the French Open. Overall, she won 24 out of 33 matches played last year and was named the WTA’s Player of the Year in December.

However, trying to carry that momentum into a new season is never easy with Kenin admitting that she will be facing a lot of pressure during her title defence at the Australian Open. The last time a female player won the same Grand Slam two years in a row was Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2016.

“I’m happy that I feel like this tournament, I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I’m trying to get as many matches as I possibly can, try to feel my game. Then come Australian Open, it’s going to be different: more pressure on myself and everything,” said Kenin.
“I guess this week is a little bit of a relaxation week for me mentally because I’m not really crazy right now. I’m kind of trying to stay as calm as possible. Coming up, it will be really, really hectic.”

Next up for Kenin will be a clash with Garbine Muguruza at the Yarra Valley event. The player who she beat to win the Australian Open title 12 months ago.

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Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reach the final at the Moselle Open in Metz

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Top two seeds Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reached the final at the Moselle Open in Metz, an ATP 250 tournament.

 

Hubert Hurkacz reached the final at the Moselle Open with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Hurkacz won 79% of points of his first service points to extend his winning record to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Gojowczyk. 

Hurkacz saved a break point in both the first and third games of the opening set. Gojowczyk fended off in the fourth and eighth games at deuce. Hurkacz earned his first break at deuce in the 10th game to win the first set 6-4. 

Gojowzyk earned an early break in the first game to take a 1-0 lead at the start of the second set. Hurkacz converted his second break point at deuce in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Gojowczyk saved two match points in the 12th game to hold serve for 6-6 at deuce. Gojowczyk earned an early mini-break to take a 1-0 lead. Hurkacz won five consecutive points to take a 5-1 lead with three mini-breaks. Gojowczyk pulled one of the two breaks back for 3-5 and saved one of the three match points, but Hurkacz earned his fourth mini-break to win the tie-break 7-4. 

Hurkacz won Delray Beach before he claimed his first Masters 1000 title in Miami. Last July the Polish player reached the semifinal at Wimbledon and is currently ninth in the ATP Race to Turin. 

Gojowczyk got through the qualifying round to reach the fourth round at the US Open. The German player won his only ATP Tour title in Metz in 2017. 

“I think I played a couple of really good points in important moments, so that was good from my side. The atmosphere was amazing today. Thanks to the music group. They were amazing and made it great and the fans enjoyed it”, said Hurkacz. 

Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta battled past Gael Monfils 7-5 7-6 (10-8) after 1 hour and 49 minutes to reach his third tour-level final. Carreno Busta bounced back from 1-4 down in the first set and fended off four set points at 3-6, 4-6 5-6 6-7 in the tie-break of the second set. The Spanish player sealed the win, when Monfils hit a forehand win

Carreno Busta drew level to 3-3 in his six head-to-head matches against Monfils. 

“It’s a long time since we have played with this kind of atmosphere. It was amazing. At the beginning it was really tough. Then I started to play better and made the rallies longer from the baseline and I think it was key to try and push a little bit”, said Carreno Busta. Carreno Busta was playing in his first ATP Tour level semifinal since Dubai in 2020. 

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Petra Kvitova set semifinal against Anett Kontaveit in Ostrava

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Anett Kontaveit upset this year’s Olympic singles gold medallist Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-3 after 74 minutes in the quarter finals of the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. Kontaveit set up a semifinal clash against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. 

 

Kontaveit has extended her winning streak against Bencic to 2-0. The Estonian had beaten her Swiss rival in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open. 

Kontaveit scored her fourth win over a top 20 player this year. She won the second WTA title of her career in Cleveland before the US Open. 

Kontaveit hit 29 winners to just 18 unforced errors and converted five of her eight break points. Bencic produced 12 winners to 18 unforced errors. 

In the first set Kontaveit broke serve in the fourth and sixth games to race out to a 5-1 lead and earned a set point in the seventh game. Bencic fired a winner to save the set point. The Swiss player fended off another set point at 5-3. 

Bencic pulled both breaks back to get back on seve at 5-4. However, Kontaveit converted the first of her three set points. Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the third set. Kontaveit hit a backhand winner down the line to break serve for 4-2 in the sixth game. She held serve at love for 5-2 and sealed the win in the ninth game on her second match point with a crosscourt backhand winner. 

Petra Kvitova knocked out Jill Teichmann 6-4 6-4. The Czech player saved seven of the eight break points she faced. 

Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the first set to hold serve for 2-2. The Czech player earned the break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, as Teichmann sent her forehand long. Kvitova hit her forehand to earn three set points and converted her second chance by forcing an error. 

Kvitova earned an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Teichmann broke straight back to draw to 2-2. Kvitova hit a series of backhands to get her second break in the fifth game for 3-2 and saved three break points to hold serve for 4-2. The home player earned three set points with a backhand winner at 5-4. After missing her first match point with a double fault, she converted her second chance with an unreturnable serve. 

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Iga Swiatek sets up semifinal against Maria Sakkari in Ostrava

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Last year’s Roland Garros Iga Swiatk reached the first semifinal since May in Rome with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 win over Elena Rybakova after 1 hour and 41 minutes. 

 

Swiatek earned the first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Rybakina broke back with a crosscourt backhand to draw level to 3-3. Swiatek held serve easily for 6-6 to set up a tie-break. 

Swiatek earned the first set point at 6-5 and converted her chance when Rybakina sent a backhand wide. 

Swiatek raced out to a 5-1 lead with a double break. Rybakina pulled one break back for 2-5 with a backhand down the line winner on break point. Swiatek sealed the second set 6-2 on the third match point. 

Swiatek set up a semifinal clash against Maria Sakkari, who secured a place in her sixth semifinal of the season with a 7-5 6-3 win over Tereza Martincova after 1 hour and 36 minutes. Sakkari has extended her head-to-head lead to 3-0. Sakkari has reached a career-high of world number 12 after reaching two Grand Slam semifinals at Roland Garros and at the US Open. 

Sakkari earned an early break in the first game. The Greek faced two break points in the 10th game of the first game, when she was broken at 5-4 in the first set. Sakkari converted her third break point in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5. 

Sakkari broke twice in the third and ninth games to win the second set 6-3. She has lost all her five semifinals in 2021 so far.  

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