Maria Sakari reaches her first WTA Tour final since 2019 in Ostrava - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sakari reaches her first WTA Tour final since 2019 in Ostrava

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Maria Sakkari has reached her first WTA Tour final since 2019 after nine consecutive tour-level semifinal defeats, by beating number 1 seed Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-5 after 1 hour and 51 minutes at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Sakkari won her only title on the clay court of Rabat. Swiatek had never lost a tour-level semifinal and had a win-loss record of 2-0 in her semifinals played in 2021. The Greek player lost to Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals in Ostrava last year. 

Sakkari has extended her win-loss record to 2-0 in her head-to-head matches against Swiatek. In their only previous match Sakkari beat Swiatek in the French Open quarter final last June ending the Pole’s Roland Garros title defense. 

Sakkari won 77% of her first service points and hit 22 winners to 19 unforced errors. 

Sakkari hit a forehand winner to earn her only break in the opening game of the first set. The Greek player did not face a single break point in the first set. 

Sakkari had to save a break point at the start of the second set before holding serve for 2-2. Sakkari earned the break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Swiatek broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. 

Sakkari converted her third break point with a forehand winner down the line to take a 6-5 lead and sealed the win on her first match point. 

Sakkari set up a final against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who cruised past Petra Kvitova 6-0 6-4 after 1 hour and 11 minutes. The Estonian player scored her third top 10 win of the year after beating Sofia Kenin in Stuttgart and Bianca Andreescu in Eastbourne. She has reached her fourth final in 2021 after winning her second career title in Cleveland, finishing runner-up to Jelena Ostapenko in Eastbourne and sharing the Grampians Trophy with Ann Li after the final was not played due to a scheduling delay. 

Kontaveit hit 18 winners to just 7 unforced errors. Kvitova made 28 unforced errors to 11 winners. Kontaveit broke serve three times to take a bagel win in the first set, as Kvitova made 16 unforced errors to just 2 winners. 

Kvitova won her first game in the opening game of the second set. Kontaveit broke serve at love in the fifth game with a backhand winner to take a 3-2 lead.Kvitova saved a match point to hold serve to hold serve for 5-4 and hit a lob to earn her first break point of the match in the next game, as Kontaveit was serving for the win. Kontaveit saved it and closed out the match by forcing a final eror from Kvitova with a big backhand.  

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Davis Cup

Gael Monfils Omitted From French Davis Cup Squad But May Still Play

French captain Sebatian Grosjean also admits that he wishes the competition would change back to its original format.

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

The French tennis federation (FFT) has unveiled their provisional team for the upcoming Davis Cup Finals and as it currently stands their highest ranked player has not made the cut.

 

Gael Monfils has not been selected by team captain Sebatian Grosjean who said his decision was made following a conversation the two had. The world No.21 has been taken out of contention and replaced by world No.28 Ugo Humbert in a team composed of both ‘old and new’ players. Humbert is set to be joined by Richard Gasquet, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Nicolas Mahut and Arthur Rinderknech for the 18-nation competition which will be held across three European cities.

“I spoke with Gaël, he understands my choice. It’s my choice,” Grosjean told reporters on Monday.

However, Monfils has not been completely ruled out of the squad with the captain suggesting he could make a late change if he produces good results in his remaining tournaments. So far this season Monfils has achieved a win-loss record of 15-16. His best result on the Tour was last month when he reached the final of the Sofia Open before losing in straight sets to Jannik Sinner. He is currently 0-3 against top 10 opposition this year.

“The regulations allow us to change three names one month before the competition so everything can change but my choice for now is the one I told you,” Grosjean commented.

Monfils has played in a total of 14 Davis Cup ties between 2009-2019 with a win-loss record of 12-3.

France was the one of the last countries to play a Davis Cup final before the competition was turned into a weeklong event. Former world No.4 Grosjean, who played in three Davis Cup title ties during his career, says his team will fight for another victory but admits he would like to see the old format return.

“It’s the formula, we’re going to play it and continue to represent the French team as best we can,” he said. “But if, in the future, it were possible to return to the “home and away” formula, it would be great.
“I’m the captain, I don’t make any decisions about the system. But to have experienced these atmospheres, it’s very special to go to Austria, especially as there are people (Dominic Thiem) absent.”

The Davis Cup Finals will get underway on November 25th. France has been drawn in the same group as the Czech Republic and Great Britain with the winner progressing to the knockout stages. They will play their group matches in Innsbruck.

Note: quotes via Tennis Majors/We Love Tennis

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Andrey Rublev defends his title in St. Petersburg

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Andrey Rublev will defend his title in St. Petersburg. Last year Rublev won one of his five titles in 2020 in St. Petersburg beating Borna Coric in straight sets. On home soil he also won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in 2019. In the past two seasons the player coached by Fernando Vicente he won five more titles in Doha, Adelaide, Hamburg, Vienna in 2020 and Rotterdam in 2021 and the Olympic gold medal in the mixed doubles with Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova beating Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev in the all-Russian final. Rublev finished runner-up to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte-Carlo and Alexander Zverev in Cincinnati. 

 

The Moscow-native player has a record of 8 wins and 4 defeats at the home tournament and also reached the quarter finals in 2019. 

Rublev will open his campaign against this year’s Winston Salem champion Ilya Ivashka or Laslo Djere. 

Fourth-seed Aslan Karatsev won his second ATP Tour title at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and is looking to win back-to-back titles on home soil in St. Petersburg. Last week he won the Moscow tournament without dropping a set. The world number 19 player will make his third main draw appearance at this tournament and will start his campaign against either John Millman or wild card Yshai Oliel from Israel. Karatsev made his breakthrough this year reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open as a qualifier and winning two ATP Tour titles in Dubai and Moscow. He also finished runner-up to Matteo Berrettini in Belgrade. 

Second seed Denis Shapovalov reached the quarter final in 2018 and the semifinal in 2019. The young Canadian star will open against either Pablo Andujar or Federico Delbonis. He will be looking to win his second career title following Stockolm in 2019. 

The main singles draw features two US seeded players Taylor Fritz and Sebastian Korda. Fritz reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal at Indian Wells and will play in St. Petersburg for the second time in his career after losing to Cameron Norrie in the first round. Korda is making his debut in St. Petersburg. Korda won his maiden ATP Tour title in Parma last May and reached the final in Delray Beach and the quarter finals in a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career in Miami. 

Top seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares are currently eighth in the ATP Doubles Race to Turin and are looking to secure the last qualifying spot. 

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Qualifier Anastasia Gasanova shocks Teichmann in Cluj-Napoca

The Russian qualifier is through to the second round after pulling off a stunning upset over the number four seed.

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image via https://twitter.com/tennispragueopn/

Anastasia Gasanova, who qualified for the main draw over the weekend, has stunned fourth seed Teichmann in a three-set battle 4-6, 6-0, 7-5, at the Transylvania Open.

 

The world No.146 won 69% of her first service points and broke eight times during the marathon encounter which lasted two hours and eight minutes on center court. 22-year-old Gasanova is yet to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam and hasn’t won a title of any sort since an ITF $25,000 event in Guiyang, China three years ago.

Initially, it was Teichmann who got off to a fast start using her powerful forehand to set up a breakpoint and broke to take an early 1-0 lead but failed to consolidate and the Gasanova broke right back the following game. The number four seed retook the lead after breaking once again to take a 3-2 lead and this time was able to hold serve the following game and managed to turn it into a double break. The world number 39 was broken once again when serving for the first set but was able to eventually serve it out.

The Russian bounced back in the second set holding her opening service game and breaking the Swiss to take a 2-0 lead. She turned it into a double break and ended up winning the set without losing a single game.

In the third set it was again the world number 146 who got the early break but the number four seed got the break back to even the set at 2-2 and took a 4-3 lead breaking the Russian once again.

At 5-4, Teichmann found herself with two match points but the underdog dug deep and saved both. She then broke back to put the set back on serve at 5-5, and with the Swiss serving to stay in the match the Russian broke one last time to seal the win and the upset.

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