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.

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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.

MORE PLISKOVA GIFTS

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.

WINNING TITLE A BIG DEAL

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.

EVERYTHING CAN’T BE PERFECT

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. 

FAN-PLEASING MOMENTS

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.

THE MATCHUP WAS NEARLY EVEN

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.

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

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Alexander Zverev reaches the fourth round at Roland Garros for the fifth consecutive year

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Alexander Zverev edged past Brandon Nakashima 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought match on Court Suzanne Lenglen to reach the fourth round for the fifth consecutive year at Roland Garros. 

 

Zverev had reached the quarter finals in 2018 and 2019 and the semifinals in 2021. 

Zverev had saved a match point and came back from two sets down to beat Sebastian Baez in the second round. 

The match between Zverev and Nakashima featured just three breaks of serve, including a trade of breaks in the third set. Zverev fended off two break points in each of the first two sets. 

Zverev broke in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead with a backhand winner and held serve to take a two-set lead. Zverev earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Nakashima broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Seven of the 12 points went against serve in the tie-break. Zverev came back from 2-4 down in the tie-break and closed out the tie-break 7-5 with a backhand winner after 2 hours and 48 minutes.

“I think I raised my level today. I prefer this compared to the second round thriller. This is much better for me. I don’t lose too much hair. I can still grow old”, said Zverev. 

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Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.

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Francisco Cabral - Image via https://twitter.com/EstorilOpen/

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation. 

 

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune. 

However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing. 

“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”

Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face. 

“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said. 

25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match. 

Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th. 

Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków. 

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Seven Top 10 Seeds Fail To Reach Third Round Of Women’s Draw In French Open First

The series of high-profile exits has set a new milestone but for the wrong reasons.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

The first five days of this year’s French Open have been tough going for some of the world’s best players on the women’s Tour.

 

A series of shock early losses has opened up parts of the women’s draw with 14 out of the last 32 players remaining in the tournament being unseeded. Former champions Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova fell in the first round, as well as fellow top 10 seeds Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit. Then in the second round Maria Sakkari (No.4), Karolina Pliskova (No.8) and Danielle Collins (No.9) all crashed out.

Heading into the third round seven top 10 seeds have already been knocked out of the French Open which is a new record for Roland Garros. The tournament has featured draws including 10 or more seeds since 1978.

“I knew that I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets over all these years,” Sakkari said following her exit.
“At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament.”

Jabeur was tipped by some as a serious contender for the title this year before losing her opening match to an inspired Magda Linette. Prior to the tournament, she boasted a 17-3 record on the clay this year, winning the Madrid Open title and reaching the final of two other events (Charleston and Rome).

“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it’s difficult to take that one in,” she said. ”But that’s what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court.’
“Maybe it was a good thing to lose. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”

In recent years the French Open women’s tournament has been full of unpredictability. The past three editions being won by players who didn’t hold a major title of any sort (in singles) coming into the draw.

One player who has managed to buckle the trend of inconsistency is world No.1 Iga Swiatek who has won 30 matches in a row. The fourth longest streak on the WTA Tour since 2000 after both of the Williams sisters and Justine Henin. Swiatek is also the first player to win 13 or more matches in a row whilst at the top of the rankings since Serena Williams back in 2015.

“I was saying from the beginning that for sure I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to lose a match, and it’s pretty normal,” Swiatek said following her 6-0, 6-2, triumph over Alison Riske.
“I have been losing matches in tennis for a long time. For sure the things we (my team) are doing right now are pretty extraordinary but I know in tennis that only one person wins in the end.’
“I will be okay with that. For sure it’s not fun to lose, but I think it wouldn’t be different than any other loss that I had, you know, in my career.”

Other top 10 seeds remaining in this year’s draw are Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, in the men’s draw all top 12 seeds have reached the third round for the first time since 2009.

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