COMMENT: Karolina Pliskova Never Fully Recovered Against Barty At Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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COMMENT: Karolina Pliskova Never Fully Recovered Against Barty At Wimbledon

James Beck reflects on the roller-coaster women’s final which saw Barty become the first Australian to win the women’s title since 1980.




Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Karolina Pliskova’s hopes for winning her first Grand Slam title were virtually doomed from the start of Saturday’s Wimbledon women’s singles final.


She literally didn’t show up for the first 14 points of the match. It wasn’t that Ashleigh Barty was doing anything real special, except play perfect tennis.

Basically, Pliskova didn’t play competitive tennis in the first four games of the match. She didn’t look like a former world’s No. 1 player. Even Chrissie Evert said, “This is a little disappointing.”

With Pliskova appearing to play half-heartedly, Barty unofficially hit four winners, two aces and four unreturnable serves before committing her first error on the 15th point when she netted a backhand. The good-natured Australian isn’t perfect after all.


Pliskova wasn’t finished with charity. Just when it appeared she might actually win the match after taking the second set, she gave away four of the five points in her first service game in the third set en route to a love-3 start.

The sandwich set between the first and third sets really didn’t matter in the end, although both players played reasonably well and hit some great shots. However, Pliskova never seriously threatened to win the match.

Barty is the Wimbledon women’s singles champion for the first time. The two-time Grand Slam champion is now widely acknowledged as the best player in the women’s game.


Getting this one out of the way with a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 victory, of course, was a big deal for the always likable 5-5 Australian. She showed a few nervous moments of her own, enough that she allowed Pliskova to take the second set and almost enough to let Pliskova recover from the service break in the second game of the third set.

By the way, the service break that decided the third set was a true gift from Pliskova. It went like this for the Czech: backhand error, double fault and forehand error for 0-40, then a forehand winner before netting a novice-looking forehand volley from nearly on top of the net.


Things like Pliskova’s gifts to Barty occur often in sports.

Remember the great Roger Federer’s relative give-me swinging volley error and slip two points later on a simple overhead put-away at the net in the tiebreaker that likely cost him the second set in his straight-set loss to Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon men’s quarterfinals?

Who knows what might have happened if Federer hadn’t had those two unlucky mishaps that put the Swiss great in a 4-2 hole in the tiebreaker. He might even have made it to the final against Novak Djokovic. 


Barty and Pliskova both had their own wildly fan-pleasing moments.

As it turned out, the 6-1 Pliskova is actually a lot quicker and mobile than it sometimes appears.

On one spectacular display of talent in the second-set tiebreaker, Barty came up with what looked like a winning drop shot and charged the net after it, but Pliskova got a racket on the ball and lobbed it over Barty’s head only to see Barty chase the ball down and put up another shot.

 Pliskova was waiting in the middle of the net to smash Barty’s shot away. That one was much more exciting than my description makes it sound.


Barty’s most exciting play may have been the one on the first point of the match’s last game when Pliskova ran down a ball on the baseline with Barty heading to the net. Quickly retreating from the net with her back to the net, the athletic Barty leaped high into the air and stretched out fully to put away a backhand volley.

Other than those games and instances that went completely bad for Pliskova, the 29-year-old Czech pretty much matched Barty off the ground and serving. Pliskova’s big strokes kept Barty off the net much of the match.


See James Beck’s Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier columns at (search on James Beck column). James Beck can be reached at 

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Felix Auger Aliassime leads the ATP Next Gen Race to Milan




Felix Auger Aliassime rose to the top of the ATP Next Gen Race to Milan after strong performances at Wimbledon, Cincinnati and at the uS Open. 


After reaching the quarter final at Wimbledon the Canadian player advanced to the last eight at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was the second time he reached the quarter final in a Masters 1000 tournament. 

At the US Open the 21-year-old Canadian player edged Roberto Bautista Agut in a five-set match before beating Frances Tiafoe to reach the semifinals. Auger Aliassime became the first Canadian player to reach the semifinals at the US Open in the tournament history and the youngest player since Juan Martin Del Potro won the tournament in 2009. 

“I am happy with the level I have been playing at times, with the results I have had. It’s a positive week. Things are moving in the right direction”, said Auger Aliassime. Carlos Alcaraz has become the fourth player to secure a spot in the Next Gen ATP Finals after Auger Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Sebastian Korda. Alcaraz became the youngest US Open quarter finalist in the Open Era after scoring an upset third-set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. The player coached by Juan Carlos Ferrero also won the ATP 250 title in Umag and reached the semfinals in Marbella and Winston Salem.

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Liudmila Samsonova sets up semifinal against Jelena Ostapenko in Luxembourg




Liudmila Samsonova upset this year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 6-1 6-4 with three breaks of serve to reach her third semifinal of the season at the Luxembourg Open. 


Samsonova broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. The Russian player claimed the second set 6-1 with a break in the third game and sealed the win on her first match point. 

Samsonova beat Bencic for the second time this season after beating the Swiss player in the final of the WTA grass tournament in Berlin. 

Bencic dropped serve three times in her first tournament since reaching the quarter finals at the US Open where she lost to eventual champion Emma Raducanu. 

Samsonova will face 2019 Luxemburg Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who edged past Alizé Cornet 7-6 (8-6) 6-2. Ostapenko improved her winning streak to 8-0. Ostapenko went down a break twice in the first set. Cornet earned a chance to serve for the set at 5-4, but Ostapenko did not face any set point. Ostapenko saved the first set point in the tie-break before earning the mini-break to win the tie-break 8-6. Ostapenko broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

Marketa Vondrousova completed the semifinal line-up with a 7-5 6-2 win over number 2 seed Elise Mertens after 1 hour and 37 minutes. Mertens broke serve in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Vondrousova won four consecutive games with two breaks to take a 7-5 lead. The Czech player broke twice in a row in the third and fifth games to win the second set 6-2. 

Clara Tauson broke twice in each set to beat Marie Bouzkova 6-3 6-2. 

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Venus Williams Explains Met Gala Photo With Maria Sharapova

The former world No.1 says she and her sister Serena have ‘respect and love’ for Sharapova.




Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at the 20201 Met Gala (image via Instagram)

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams says there are no hard feelings between her, her sister Serena and Maria Sharapova after the trio took a photo together at the Met Gala.


The former world No.1s was seen smiling and laughing together at the New York fundraising event with both of the Williams sisters uploading a photo of them all on their Instagram story. Prompting surprise from some fans considering the at times icy rivalry between Serena and Sharapova that dates back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Serena’s name more than 100 times. She says the American hated her for beating her at Wimbledon that year and that the two were ‘not friends.’

“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” Sharapova wrote.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment.
“But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”

Responding to the claims, Serena hit back at the book in 2018 by describing it as ‘hearsay’ and said she never had any ‘negative feelings’ towards Sharapova. The two clashed on the Tour no fewer than 22 times with Serena winning 20 of those meetings.

“So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book,” Williams commented back in 2018. “So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.”

Three years later and it now seems that all parties have put their disagreements behind them. At the Met Gala they were seen getting on pretty well. Besides posing for a photo together, they were also seen together in the bathroom at the event. A photo taken by pop star Anitta and rapper Saweetie which showed them in the background.

Speaking about the event for the first time, 41-year-old Williams said she wishes Sharapova was still playing before adding that they still ‘respect and love’ each other.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” the 41-year-old explained on Instagram.
“We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’
“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on tour.’
“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.
“So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard of the court for years, we still respect and love each other, and love Maria

Williams, Serena and Sharapova have won a total of 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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