Wimbledon Scare Was A Turning Point For Karolina Pliskova - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Scare Was A Turning Point For Karolina Pliskova

Coach Sasha Bajin speaks out about the moment which turned around Pliskova’s fortunes on the Tour.

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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

It has been a turbulent past few weeks for Karolina Pliskova who has gone from a lull in form to reaching her second major final at Wimbledon.

 

The former world No.1 came into the tournament short of match wins with few people talking up her chances of winning. It started at the Italian Open back in May when she was crushed 6-0, 6-0, by Iga Swiatek in the final. Then she fell in the second round at the French Open before losing her opening matches in Berlin and Eastbourne.

Despite those setbacks, Pliskova has managed to turn her fortunes around in Wimbledon where she has dropped just one set en route to the final. Doing so in the semi-final against second seed Aryna Sabalenka in a match which featured 32 aces. So what has been the trigger for her resurgence?

“Every tournament we go to I kind of really do not expect her to do well but we aim for big results. Maybe this time I was a little bit more vocal,” coach Sascha Bajin told reporters on Friday.
“It was after that first match against Zidansek. She was 2-5 down in the first set and something happened. It’s very hard for me to explain. I saw something change. She got up off the chair, a different look in her eyes, like a different play. It was something about her that changed.’
“From that day I told her every day that we’re going to be here two weeks later having this conversation. I’m just happy it worked out.”

Bajin, who is a former hitting partner of Serena Williams, started to work with Pliskova towards the end of 2020. He was the person who guided Naomi Osaka to her first two Grand Slam titles and won the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year award back in 2018. He has also worked with Kristina Mladenovic and Dayana Yastremska.

“They’re all very different. It’s more about their personality. I think a lot of that personality displays on court as well,” he explained.
“Karolina, for being a former world No. 1, she’s a huge name in tennis and she’s incredibly humble. She has a totally different on-court personality than off court, which makes my job also a lot more fun I have to say. On the court, she can seem kind of cold. Off court she’s nonstop laughing, smiling, cracking jokes.”

At the age of 29 Pliskova is one of the few yet to have won a major title after being ranked world No.1 at some stage of her career. Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina never triumph in a major despite rising to the top. Meanwhile, Caroline Wozniacki was 27 when she won her first.

Bajin believes a reason for Pliskova’s lack of Grand Slam glory is more to do with her mental side rather than physical. Since appearing in the final of the 2016 US Open, she has reached the last eight or better in seven out of 18 major events played (including Wimbledon this year).

I always said, even in Australia (at the Australian Open) I felt like she wanted it so much. It’s something she wanted so much. The problem becomes if you want something so much, it’s just as bad as not wanting it enough. It kind of paralyzes you and it looks like you don’t care, when it’s the complete opposite,” he explains.
“That’s why this time I kind of really was telling her, Listen, you’re going to win this, you’re going to be here for two weeks. I wanted to put that in her mind every day with a tiny little input. At least it worked,” he added.

Pliskova will play Ash Barty in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.

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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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