Making Adjustments To Her Game, Victoria Azarenka Storms Into Indian Wells Semis - UBITENNIS
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Making Adjustments To Her Game, Victoria Azarenka Storms Into Indian Wells Semis

At the age of 32, Azarenka believes there is still room for improvement as she closes in on her first title of the season.

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Victoria Azarenka (image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Victoria Azarenka is closing in on her first Indian Wells title since 2016 after defeating Jessica Pegula in straight sets to reach the last four of the tournament.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion secured a 6-4, 6-2, win over the world No.24 and is still yet to drop a set in the tournament. In her latest match Azarenka won 81% of her first service points and broke her opponent five times. It is the third time this year she has reached the semi-final stage of a Tour event but the first time she has done so since June.

“I thought it was a really good match. Very high quality from both players,” said Azarenka. “Very consistent in terms of level for me. I felt that I really played well in the crucial moments. I felt like I stepped up a lot to the occasion. That’s what I’m really happy with.”

Seeded 27th in the draw, Azarenka’s triumph follows her wins over Petra Kvitova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich earlier in the week. She has now won 32 matches at Indian Wells in her career which is the joint-third highest tally among female players along with Caroline Wozniacki. Only Maria Sharapova (38) and Lindsay Davenport (47) have won more.

Despite her history of success in the Californian desert, Azarenka believes her latest win this year has been aided by a change in her tactics. Earlier this week she told reporters that she wanted to be more aggressive during matches.

“I think the court coverage and taking maybe less shots to win the point, that’s something that is important for me to improve,” Azarenka explains. “I think on the baseline, counterattacking, having high intensity, that’s something that worked really well for me. It doesn’t necessarily work all the time. It’s more demanding.’
“I’m looking for things that I can implement that will make it a bit easier for me. I’m also not in the beginning of my career to grind every match. It’s not necessarily tougher physically, but from one match to another it adds up. I’m looking how I can be more efficient as a player.”

Seeking a place in Sunday’s final, the Belarussian will take on former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the next round who is on a resurgence herself. The Latvian recently reached the final of the Luxembourg Open and defeated second seed Iga Switek in Indian Wells. Ostapenko dismissed Shelby Rogers 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, in her quarter-final match.

“She’s a great player. She’s such a champion, a great fighter I think. Both of us are great fighters. It’s going to be an interesting match,” Ostapenko said of facing Azarenka.
“I just have to play my game. I’m more focused on my game. Of course, she’s very consistent. It’s going to be hard. But if I play my game and choose the right shots, I will be consistent, I think it will be a very interesting match.”

Azarenka is the lowest ranked player left in this year’s draw but she is the only one to have previously won the title.

ATP

French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur

The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.

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Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.

 

The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.

During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.

“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”

De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.

“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“

Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.

Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.

Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”

As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.

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Jannik Sinner cruises past Bjorn Fratangelo at Roland Garros

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Number 11 seed Jannik Sinner cruised past world number 186 Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3 6-2 6-3 in 1 hour and 50 minutes on Court 7 at Roland Garros. 

 

Sinner won a long rally to earn his first break point at 15 with a forehand winner in the fourth game for 3-1. Sinner won his final three service games to seal the first set 6-3 with an ace. 

Sinner broke twice in the first and seventh games to close out the second set 6-2. 

The Italian star broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and saved the only two break points he faced at 3-2 15-40. He closed out the match 6-3 with a double break at deuce in the ninth game. 

Sinner reached the quarter finals on debut in 2020 and the fourth round in 2021, losing to Rafael Nadal both times. He has extended his win-loss record to 8-2 at Roland Garros. 

Sinner set up a second round against Roberto Carballes Baena, who overcame Oscar Otte 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 3-6 2-6 6-3. If Sinner beats Carballes Baena, he could face either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Mackenzie McDonald. 

Hubert Hurkacz converted on 5 of his 11 break points and did not face a break point in his 7-5 6-2 7-5 win over Giulio Zeppieri. Hurkacz earned his first break in the 11th game to seal the first set 7-5. 

The Polish player broke in the first and fifth games and did not face any break points to win the second set 6-2. 

Zeppieri saved a break point at 4-4 in the third set, but Hurkacz broke for the fifth time  in the 11th game to close out the third set 7-5. 

Hurkacz will face a second round match against 2018 Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, who came back from two sets down to beat Pablo Andujar 4-6 4-6 6-0 7-5 6-0.

Hurkacz reached the quarter finals in Monte-Carlo and Miami and the semifinals in Miami.

Hugo Gaston pulled off a five-set win over Alex De Minaur in Court Suzanne Lenglen. Gaston went down 0-3 down in the fifth set after losing nine consecutive games.

Gaston wasted two opportunities to end the match, as he was serving for the match twice at 5-4 and 6-5. 

The Frenchman reeled off five consecutive points in the decisive tie-break to beat De Minaur 4-6 6-2 6-3 0-6 7-6 (10-4).  

“The crowd plays a verry important role. They supported me right from the beginning. I like to share my emotions with the audience, so this helped me. This gave me strength, because it was not an easy task at the beginning and the end of the fifth set. I used the crowd. They were fantastic, so it was a great moment”, said Gaston.

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ATP

Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal

The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.

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Novak Djokovic (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.

 

Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.

“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.

Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.

Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.

He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.

Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”

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