Brilliant Women’s Semi-Final Line-Up Lights Up Wimbledon 2021 - UBITENNIS
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Brilliant Women’s Semi-Final Line-Up Lights Up Wimbledon 2021

Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka and Angelique Kerber produced superb displays to set up two thrilling semi-finals.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) reaches for the ball in her match against Anna Blinkova (RUS) in the second round of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Credit: AELTC/David Gray

When Elina Svitolina, Sofia Kenin and Victoria Azarenka followed Serena Williams, Belinda Bencic and Petra Kvitova out of the exit door at Wimbledon before the third round began, all the usual stories about the seeded players crashing out of the women’s draw early started popping up all over the news feeds of major publications.

 

However, anyone who looked at these articles and feared for the quality of the Ladies’ Singles event at Wimbledon 2021 need not have worried, as Tuesday’s quarter-finals demonstrated.

Three of the top ten seeds – Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova – produced superb performances to secure relatively straightforward progress to the last four. 2018 champion Angelique Kerber joins them. She dispatched Karolina Muchova 6-2 6-3 to complete a brilliant semi-final line-up.

Kerber Faces Fascinating Barty Clash

The German will have to prepare for a really difficult task. She faces World No.1 Barty, who has finally broken her quarter-final duck at SW19 and now looks well set to win her first Wimbledon title.

The Australian was in commanding form in the last eight. She took the first set 6-1 against compatriot Alja Tomljanovic in just 25 minutes. Then she brushed aside a minor fightback from her opponent to win the second set 6-3.

Despite her excellent form, Barty will be very wary of Kerber. The German is the only former champion still in the draw. And she has caused the World No.1 plenty of problems in their previous meetings, as their 2-2 head-to-head record suggests.

Furthermore, the 25th seed is one of the best in the world on grass when she is on form. And she is currently enjoying a ten-match winning streak so her confidence is high. Whatever happens, it promises to be a thrilling encounter and the winner must surely be considered the favourite to win Saturday’s final.

Sabalenka’s Breakthrough Slam

Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) celebrates her win against Elena Rybakina (KAZ) in the fourth round of the Ladies’ Singles on No.3 Court at The Championships 2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Ever since she emerged, Aryna Sabalenka has been tipped as a future Grand Slam champion. She is almost certainly the most powerful player in the women’s game. When she is at her best, she uses her big serve and even bigger groundstrokes to completely overwhelm opponents.

However, despite her obvious abilities, the Belarussian had never reached a major quarter-final before this week. Up until now, she has always been one error-strewn display away from an early exit. Therefore, if this breakthrough fortnight turns out to be a yardstick of her growing maturity, the rest of the WTA Tour should definitely be worried.

Sabalenka has not breezed through the draw by any means. Britain’s Katie Boulter pushed her hard in round two. Then rising star Elena Rybakina tested her in round four. However, the 2nd seed produced a very impressive performance in the last eight to defeat Ons Jabeur, the rapidly-improving Tunisian who can be a dangerous opponent for anyone.

Pliskova Bids To Maintain Stunning Form

In the semi-final, the Belarussian will face Karolina Pliskova. The Czech is a fascinating figure on the WTA Tour. She seems to have almost all the attributes needed to win a Grand Slam title. She possesses a brilliant serve, precise, powerful groundstrokes and a fearless approach to the toughest matches.

Despite these qualities, the 8th seed has only reached one Grand Slam final and two semi-finals. This has led many observers to question her movement, which is relatively limited, and her temperament on court, which does occasionally boil over, as her furious swipe which took a chunk out of the umpire’s chair in Rome demonstrated.

Encouragingly for Pliskova’s followers, the Czech has looked to be the epitome of calm at Wimbledon 2021 so far. She has glided through the draw like a swan across a lake. And it has been mightily impressive to watch her make it through to the semi-final without dropping a set.

The 8th seed’s serene progress and greater experience make her the more likely winner of her last-four showdown with Sabalenka. She should also be encouraged by her superb wins over Serena Williams (the player most similar to the Belarussian) in 2016 and 2019. During both those victories, she demonstrated her ability to skilfully re-direct powerful strikes into open areas of the court.

ATP

Vasek Pospisil survives scare at Citi Open

The Canadian battled back from a set down in what was a tricky opening encounter.

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Vasek Pospisil was pushed to limits by qualifier Emilio Gomez in his opening match at the Citi Open.

The Canadian required three sets to beat the Ecuadorian qualifier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes of play. He hit a total of 10 aces en route to the second round.

 

” It’s always good to get through a tough one and I felt dialed in during the second set,” said Pospisil. “I was a little bit distracted during the first set but I am glad to get match play and getting the win is important so I am happy I got it done”.

The first three games of the opener went on serve and at 2-1 the Canadian had three chances to take an early break but the world number 165 saved all three and held serve. At 3-3, Pospisil played a poor service game and Gomez took full advantage by breaking him at love. That one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The Canadian was determined to stay alive in the second and broke the Ecuadorian early to take a 2-0 lead and managed to turn it into a double break for a commanding 4-0 lead. Gomez got one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the world number 61 would serve out the second set to force a decider.

The third set started with three breaks of serve but it was the Canadian that was finally able to hold serve and consolidate a break. That break was enough for him to serve out the match and complete the comeback.

Pospisil will next face the young American Sebastien Korda in the third round who is the 12th seed this week in the American capital.

” It’s going to be a tough one because he is playing some great tennis this year and he is an up and comer and a great player,” he said of Korda. “I will have to play really well to win that one because he is a dangerous player so I will have to serve well and return well”.

Other results

It was a busy day one at the Citi Open being held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC with some thrilling matches. Kei Nishikori beat Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 and Marcus Giron pulled a three-set comeback against Ilya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

In the battle of the Belorussians, Ilya Ivashka beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile, Jenson Brooksby avenged a loss to the South African Kevin Anderson by beating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi needed three sets to dispatch Yasutka Uchiyama of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, Ricardas Berankis beat the American qualifier Mitchell Kreuger in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, and Daniel Elahi Galan beat another American Tommy Paul in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, in the last match of the day an American favourite, Jack Sock advanced to round two after his Japanese opponent Yoshito Nishioka was forced to retire due to injury during their match.

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ATP

John Isner Wins 16th ATP Title In Atlanta

The 6ft 10 American got revenge on his American opponent for the loss he suffered last week in Los Cabos.

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John Isner has continued his love affair with the Atlanta Open by ousting Brandon Nakashima to win the tournament for a record sixth time.

 

The sixth seed beat the American teenager 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 57 minutes. Firing a total of 21 aces and winning 81% of his first-serve points en route to the victory.

“I think if you count the last two weeks playing singles and doubles I played 12 matches in about 10 or 11 days so I have played a lot which is exactly what I need,” Isner said following his win. “Hopefully I can take this and go forward and build some momentum for tournaments ahead.’
This tournament has meant everything to my career it’s amazing”. He added.

The first set was extremely tight and neither player gave an inch in their respective service games. The opener was decided by a tiebreaker which Isner is accustomed to. Whilst the first set was tight, the tiebreaker was an even tighter affair Isner squeezing out a 10-8 win to take the first set 7-6.

Again the second set was competitive and again neither player got an edge on their return game. It was only at 5-4 that the Dallas, Texas native found himself at triple match point but the world number 115 saved all three.

Nakashima would save a fourth before holding serve and at 6-5, the world number 35 earned a fifth match point. That’s where he closed out the match and sealed the win and the title.

After the match, Isner was asked about his history of playing numerous tiebreakers throughout his career.

” I play a lot of those and it’s a situation I am comfortable in since I have been on tour forever,” he explained. “Honestly I think today (Sunday) I was just a little bit luckier and that’s what It really came down to. It’s amazing to be out here again playing on a Sunday and it was awesome”.

Isner confirmed that he will not be making the trip to Washington, DC for the Citi Open and instead he will take a week off after playing back-to-back tournaments in Los Cabos and Atlanta. He is next scheduled to be in Toronto for the National Bank Open.

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ATP

Casper Ruud Set For Career-High Ranking After Clay Court Hat-Trick

The young Norweigan player is closing in on his top-10 debut following his surge in success on the Tour.

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As some of his peers battle it out in Tokyo at the Olympic Games, Norway’s Casper Ruud has become a dominant force on the European clay.

 

The 22-year-old battled his way to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Pedro Martinez in the final of Kitzbuhel on Saturday to claim his 12th win in a row on the Tour. It is the third consecutive week where Ruud has won a title after also triumphing at the Nordea Open and Swiss Open Gstaad. The surge in success has made him the first man to have won three ATP titles within as many weeks since Andy Murray did so back in 2011.

“I am shaking all over my body. It feels amazing,” Ruud told atptour.com. “I was very nervous at the end, I knew what I was playing for. Three in a row is something special. What a day to play the final, rain on and off all day.
“I’m just very excited and happy that these three weeks are over, and that I won all of them.”

All three tournaments Ruud has won are ATP 250 events but only once did he play a top 50 player. That was Benoit Paire whom he defeated 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, in the quarter-finals at Gstaad. In Kitzbuhel, he defeated Mario Vilella Martínez (No.167), Mikael Ymer (No.99), Arthur Rinderknech (No.91), and Martinez (No.97).

During his clash with Martinez, the match was interrupted by the rain and it didn’t end until 11:30 PM local time.

“It was tough… we know that the weather was a bit shaky so I was prepared [for the delay],” Ruud said. “It was a bit long there in the end. We came back, only played three games, and then we had to stop again. It was a bit annoying, but we had to keep the focus and try your best. It’s the same for the opponent.”

Ruud has now won four ATP titles this season after also triumphing at the Geneva Open back in May. Since the start of the 2020 season, he has won 45 matches on the clay and has defeated three top 10 players – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini.

The Norweigan is now set to rise to a career-ranking high of 12th when the standings are updated on Monday. He will also go up to eighth place in the ATP Race to Turin.

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