Ash Barty Endures 50-Hour Trip To Miami For Title Defence - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Endures 50-Hour Trip To Miami For Title Defence

The tennis star says it is ‘bizarre’ leaving her home country as she fights to maintain her No.1 ranking.

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Ash Barty says she is ‘excited’ to be playing tennis outside of her home country once again, even though her first taste of international travel in 12 months didn’t go to plan.

 

The former French Open champion has not travelled internationally for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and missed two out of the three Grand Slam tournaments which were played last year. Despite her lengthy absence from the Tour Barty has managed to maintain at the top of the rankings due to adjustments to the calculations.

Hoping to maintain her position over the coming weeks, the 24-year-old is headlining the Miami Open where she is the defending champion from 2019 (the tournament was cancelled last year). Heading into the tournament Barty admits she has mixed feelings about embarking on playing a full season with various restrictions still in place.

“When leaving Australia, it was quite hard to leave and quite emotional to me,” Barty told reporters on Tuesday. “But I think we’re (my team) excited to have the opportunity to play the whole season. So I think we’re looking at staying away the whole season.’
“Touch wood, everything goes well with the rest of the world, where we’ll be travelling to and playing tournaments,we’ll be able to play safely and feel really comfortable.”

Unfortunately for the Australian she has already experienced some blips in her travels to another country with it taking two days to arrive in Miami. A trip she describes as ‘usually quite easy to make.’ However, a series of flight cancellations forced her to seek alternate routes in what ended up being an eventful journey.

“It was certainly bizarre leaving Australia. We had quite a lengthy trip over here, had a couple flight cancellations. It turned out to be a near 50-hour trip to get here,” she commented on the duration of her trip.
“It was about 48 hours, 45 hours door-to-door, for us. What should have been quite a simple Brisbane-Sydney, Sydney to L.A., L.A.on to Miami is usually quite an easy trip. We had a flight cancellation leaving Australia and another fight cancellation when we got to L.A. It was quite a wriggle around.”

Travel chaos aside, Barty hopes she can continue her form generated from the start of the season. In Melbourne she won her ninth WTA title at the Yarra Valley Classic before going on to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before losing to Karolína Muchová. Barty then suffered a shock loss in the first round of the Adelaide International.

Seeking to get her groove back in Miami, Barty also faces the threat of losing her No.1 ranking to Naomi Osaka who is currently on a 21-match winning streak. Osaka is just defending 65 points in the tournament. Regardless of what happens, she is hopeful that she can once again play at her best.

“I’m looking forward to hopefully bringing some of my best tennis again and giving myself a chance to play a few matches and really get stuck into the tournament,” she concluded.

Barty, who has a bye in the first round, will start her Miami campaign against either Hailey Baptiste or Kristina Kucova.

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Brandon Nakashima continues his winning streak in Tokyo

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Brandon Nakashima continued his winning streak with a 6-3 6-2 win against Shintaro Mochizuki at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.

 

“ I am still learning a lot about it, but it’s very exciting. It’s beautiful so far. My father’s side of the family is Japanese. That’s where I get my last name from. Any time I get to learn more about my background I am super excited, so I am happy to be here. The atmosphere is really amazing. I feel right at home”, said Nakashima. 

Nakashima won nine of the final eleven games from 3-3 in the first set. The US Next Gen player did not face a break point and won 84% of his first serve points. He is aiming to qualify for the Next Gen Finals for the second consecutive year. 

“I am serving well. It affects all the other parts of my game. I am happy that I served wel. It was definintely one of my goals at the beginning of the year, to win my first ATP title. To do in my home town was very special”, said Nakashima. 

Nakashima will take on eithTer Borna Coric or Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. 

Frances Tiafoe beat Japanese wild card Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3 6-4. The US 24-year-old player saved both break points and fired eight aces to win seven of his nine past matches. 

Tiafoe, who reached the semifinals at the US Open last September, will face Bernabe Zapata Miralles, who beat Taro Daniel 7-5 7-5. 

Pedro Martinez saw off Pedro Martinez 7-5 6-4 to stop a eight-match losing streak. The Spaniard will face either Casper Ruud or Jaume Munar. 

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Elena Rybakina comes back from one set down to beat Madison Keys in Ostrava

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Wimbledon champions Elena Rybnkina and Petra Kvitova advanced to the Round of 16 at at the Agel Open in Ostrava after three-set battles. 

 

Rybakina came back from one set down to beat Madison Keys 5-7 6-3 6-3 in 2 hours and 14 minutes. The 2022 Wimbledon champion ended a two-match losing streak. 

Keys, who beat Rybakina in their previous head-to-head matches at Roland Garros and Cincinnati earlier this year, went up a set and a break to build up a 7-5 1-0 lead. 

Rybakina earned her first break in the second game of the second set. The Kazakh player broke Keys in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and held on her next service games to win the second set 6-3. Rybakina took a 3-2 lead with her second break of the third set. Keys saved three match points at 5-3. Rybakina sealed the win on her fourth match point with a forehand winner. 

Petra Kvitova overcame US qualifier Bernarda Pera 6-3 2-6 6-4 in just over two hours. Kvitova hit 35 winners to 21 unforced errors. 

Kvitova raced out to a 5-0 lead with two breaks of serve in the second and fourth games. Pera pulled one break back in the seventh game to reduce her deficit to 3-5. Kvitova saved a break point to hold serve in the ninth game for 6-3. 

Pera earned an early break to take a 2-0 at the start of the second set. Five of the first seven games went against serve. Kritova went up a break at 4-3. Pera fired her first ace to hold serve for 5-4. Kvitova earned two match  points with her 10th ace. She fired her 11th ace to close out the match. 

Kvitova set up a second round match against Paula Badosa. Kvitova and Badosa have drawn level to 1-1 in their two head-to-head matches.  

Ekaterina Alexandrova overcame Victoria Azarenka 6-4 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes to reach the second round. 

Alexandrova has extended her winning streak to six consecutive matches, that includes her recent title in Seoul. 

Alexandrova was ranked outside the top 50 for the first time since 2019, but she came back by reaching two semifinals in Charleston and Madrid. In the past four months she clinched two WTA titles in S’Hertogenbosch and Seoul. She has recorded 29 wins to 10 defeats since April. 

Alexandrova will face either number 5 seed Daria Kasatkina or 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu. 

Azarenka earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Alexandrova broke back in the fifth game for 2-3, but Azarenka broke for the second time after a four-deuce battle to take a 4-2 lead, when Alexandrova sent a backhand wide on the seventh break point.

Alexandrova came back by winning four consecutive games to clinch the first set 6-4. 

A Hawkeye overrule denied Alexandrova a break point at 3-3. Alexandrova held serve before breaking twice in the eighth and tenth games to win the second set 6-4. 

Aleksandrova broke in the third game of the decider after a six- deuce battle with a pass on the third break point. The Russian player sealed the win with a service winner with her second match point. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut beats Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the second round at the Astana Open

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Roberto Bautista Agut upset eight-seed Felix Auger Aliassime 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 55 minutes to reach the second round at the Astana Open in Nur Sultan. 

 

Bautista Agut earned his first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and held his next service games to seal the first set 6-4. 

Auger Aliassime went up a break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Bautista Agut pulled one break back in the fifth game and held on his serve to draw lo draw level to 3-3. Bautista Agut went up a mini-break twice in the tie-break, but Auger Aliassime pulled back on serve both times to draw level to 4-4. Bautista Agut sealed the win on his second match point. 

“It is my first time here. I played great in these conditions. I am very happy to win against a top 10 player. It’s not easy to beat Felix, especially on hard courts. That means I had to playa very good match. I was very solid and and very aggressive. I am very happy”, said Bautista Agut. 

Hubert Hurkacz edged past Francisco Cerundolo 6-2 7-6 (7-2) after 82 minutes in the first round of the Astana Open. 

Hurkacz broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the first set 6-2. The Polish player fired 11 aces and saved the one break point he faced in the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. Hurkacz earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

The 2021 Miami Open champion set up a second round match against either Alexander Bublik or Tallon Griekspoor.

Hurkacz is currenly ranked ninth in the ATP Race to Turin, just 20 points behind Alexander Zverev, who has been sidelined by an injury. 

Andrey Rublev advanced to the second round with a 6-4 6-3 win over Laslo Djere in 71 minutes. Rublev saved all three break points and broke in the 10th game of the first set and in the 2nd game in the second set. 

Rublev set up a second round match against Chinese qualifier Zhizhen Zhang, who came back from one set down to beat Aslan Karatsev 4-6 6-4 6-1. 

Adrian Mannarino rallied from one set down to beat Stan Wawrinka 1-6 6-2 6-3 to extend his lead to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against his Swiss rival. Botic van de Zandschulp eased past Beibit Zhukzhiev 6-1 6-1. 

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