Anett Kontaveit and Barbora Krejikova reach the semifinals in Sydney - UBITENNIS
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Anett Kontaveit and Barbora Krejikova reach the semifinals in Sydney

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Number 4 seed Anett Kontaveit booked her semifinal spot at the Sydney Tennis Classic when her opponent Ons Jabeur withdrew from the match due to a low back injury after losing the opening set 6-4. 

 

Jabeur received a medical time-out after the first set. The Tunisian player walked to the net for a match-ending hug after a first-serve fault. 

Kontaveit earned the first break point in the fifth game, but Jabeur broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. 

Kontaveit won the last three games from 3-4 down including a break in the 10th game to win the opening set 6-4 after 51 minutes. 

Jabeur beat Kontaveit twice in Cincinnati and in Indian Wells quarter finals last year, 

“I really hope that Ons is going to be fine for next week and that it’s not nothing too serious. The first set was really competitive and we have had some tough matches before, but she has come on top. I was really happy to get the set and that I was playing the way I was playing”, said Kontaveit.

Kontaveit set up a semifinal clash against last year’s Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejikova, who cruised past Caroline Garcia 6-0 6-2 after 68 minutes. Kontaveit beat Krejikova 6-3 6-4 in the round-robin group at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara. 

Krejikova won eight consecutive games to build up a 6-0 2-0 lead. Garcia earned her first break point for 3-3, but Krejikova won the final three games to claim the second set 6-2. 

“It’s definitely going to be a tough match. She is playing great. She has had good wins. The season is so early on. The last time we played was the end of the season. It was different conditions, of course. I am really looking forward to the challenge to play another top 10 player. I am glad to be putting myself in these situations and getting good matches and getting quality time on court”, said Kontaveit. 

Last year’s Indian Wells Paula Badosa beat olympic singles gold medallist Belinda Bencic 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 30 minutes. In the third set Bencic went down a break to trail 1-3, but she broke back to draw level to 3-3. Badosa earned her second break to take a 5-3 lead. Bencic earned three break points, but Badosa saved them. The Spanish player earned a match point on her serve and converted it, when Bencic made an unforced error. Earlier today, Bencic beat Oceanie Dodin 2-6 7-5 6-3 after play was stopped on Wednesday evening due to rain. 

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Iga Swiatek Plays Her Own Style Of Tennis

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal could take some tips from the women’s world No.1.

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Photo by Roberto Dell’Olivo

Four years ago this month, Iga Swiatek was just about to turn 17 years old when she came to Charleston, S.C., to play in an $80K ITF tournament.

 

She looked much like other teenagers on the pro tennis tour. But you could tell that this 5-9 girl from Warsaw was more athletic than most of the other players. She hadn’t shaped her game yet as she played all over the court, defeating many of her opponents because of her athletic ability.

RANKED ONLY 412TH IN THE WORLD FOUR YEARS AGO

Swiatek was ranked only 412th in the world that May of 2018. She moved through qualifying all the way to the semifinals, winning six straight matches in the Charleston event.

She was athletic, but otherwise she didn’t look like someone with a high-level tennis game. She had many rough edges in her game.

The next time I saw her play was two years later. As I watched her on the tennis telecasts late in that unique fall French Open of 2020, I was shocked at her newly constructed tennis game. She wasn’t all over the court. She had a game plan.

She might have been mistaken for a Chris Evert or Tracy Austin of another era. This Swiatek made few errors. Her game was smooth as silk. She just hit the ball much harder than Evert and Austin.

MARCHING LIKE CLOCKWORK IN PARIS

Swiatek was like clockwork in marching through that French Open as a 19-year-old. It was her first career WTA singles title.

She didn’t make any other spectacular moves up the tennis ladder until 2022.

She was totally prepared to take over the world’s No. 1 ranking when Ashleigh Barty retired early this year.

And, wow, Swiatek has made everyone in tennis sit up and take notice of her game and accomplishments.

IGA’S PICTURE-BOOK TENNIS GAME

Swiatek plays a game of picture-book tennis, seldom having to over-exert herself in matches. Her game is a thing of art.

She smoothly blasts balls to every corner of the court with sheer perfection and power, never looking out of sync. She’s not a big hitter the likes of Serena Williams or Steffi Graf.

Swiatek just rips bullets all over the court with relative ease without appearing to be powerful.

She smothers her opposition with perfection.

With her stylish tennis attire, she looks thinner than a 152-pound player. She is a sensational mover. Opponents might as well keep their drop shots in their bag. Just ask the almost humiliated Ons Jabeur, the owner of one of the best drop shots in tennis but who was unable to execute winning points on drop shots in last week’s Rome final against Swiatek.

NOVAK AND RAFA SHOULD COPY SWIATEK

Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal could take some tips from Swiatek, who appears to be just as quick on the court as either of those two giants of men’s tennis. But she tops both of them with the way she makes her lightning-like move toward the net and then almost flawlessly connects her heavy top-spins with the ball and lifts it over the net with a flash of brilliance and power.

Dropping only five sets while winning her last 28 matches is a remarkable feat. In those 23 straight-set wins among her 28-match winning streak, she yielded a total of only 95 games. That’s an average of just over four games per match won by those opponents.

And, of course, Swiatek now looks like the heavy favorite to win her second French Open  title.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Injury-Hit Borna Coric Reacts To First Grand Slam Win In 16 Months

The Croat admits he was unsure how his shoulder would hold up in his opening match at Roland Garros.

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Borna Coric - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

Borna Coric said he is relieved that his body managed to hold up during his opening win at the French Open on Sunday.

 

The former world No.12 spent almost three hours on the court before defeating Spain’s Carlos Taberner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in what was his first Grand Slam match of any kind since the 2021 Australian Open. Paris is only the seventh tournament Coric has played in since returning to the Tour following a year-long absence due to shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches this season.

It does feel great. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my shoulder because I’ve never been in the fourth set, fifth set (of a match) for one-and-a-half years,” said Coric.
“So it was also kind of worrying for me, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel and how my whole body is going to behave in those later sets. Obviously I’ve been practicing it, but it’s really never the same.”

Impressively the Croat produced a total of 54 winners against 39 unforced errors in his latest match in the French capital. Furthermore, he won 76% of his first service points and 53% of his second.

“The last few weeks haven’t been very easy, I lost many tight matches. I mean, I was also quite happy with my tennis, but I was just losing,” he reflected.

Coric was once tipped to be the future of men’s tennis after rising quickly up the ranks at a young age. In 2014 he was the youngest player to end the season in the top 100 and a year last he was the youngest to do so in the top 50. He has recorded a total of nine wins over top five players, including Roger Federer, as well as winning two Tour titles.

In the second round at Roland Garros Coric will take on the formidable Grigor Dimitrov who has been ranked as high as third in the world. He will enter the clash as the underdog given his ongoing comeback from injury. At present Coric’s principal focus is on his body but that will change in the coming weeks.

Until Wimbledon my health needs to come first and after Wimbledon I can kind of try to switch in my mind so I can start playing more and more tournaments. I can train more and I can focus more on the tennis rather than on my shoulder,” he explains.

Coric has reached the third round of the French Open on four previous occasions.

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Felix Auger Aliassime Wins First Ever Roland Garros Match In Five Sets

Felix Auger-Aliassime earned his first ever victory at Roland Garros.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@MatchPointCAN - Twitter)

The Canadian found himself down two sets to none but fought back to pull off the comeback in a thrilling five set victory.

 

Felix Auger Aliassime is into the second round of the French Open for the first time in his career after battling back to beat the Peruvian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas in five sets 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in three hours and 14 minutes.

The Montreal native finished the match serving 14 aces and hitting 52 winners in a match that featured a lot of long rallies from behind the baseline.

“It was a dream for me to play here, it was an honor and my first time on Phillipe Chatrier and my first win at Roland Garros and I had to work hard to get it and credit my opponent he played very well today.”

The Peruvian started the match by breaking the number nine seed right out of the gate and at 3-1 managed to turn that break into a double break as he served out the first set with ease.

The first two games of the second went on serve but again the world number 122 seemed to play better as the Canadian looked stunned, searching for answers.

The Lima native once again took an early lead to take a 3-1 lead and again that seemed like enough for the Peruvian as he served out the second set and was one set away from an improbable upset.

The third set is where the Canadian started to turn things around and his groundstrokes seemed to have more precision. At 2-1 it was the Montreal native who got the first break of serve.

After consolidating the break the world number nine was hungry for more and turned that break into a double break and it looked like the match was turning in his favour.

The Canadian served out the third set to send it to a fourth looking to send it to a decider.

The Montreal native rode the momentum from winning the third into the fourth set where after holding the opening service game got the early break once again taking a 2-0 lead.

At 5-3 with the Peruvian looking to stay in the set, Auger Aliassime managed to get another break to win the set and send the match to a fifth set.

The fifth set stayed on serve until 4-3 when the Canadian had four chances to break and at the fourth time of asking he was able to break and serve out the match to complete the comeback.

After the match in his on court interview he was asked about the adjustments he made in the third set to turn the match around and pull off the win.

“I tried to give myself some more space and a little more time, my opponent at the beginning was playing very quick, aggressive, and flat so I tried a couple things and I also served better and after that it was easier.”

The Canadian will next face either Aslan Karatsev or Camilo Ugo Carabelli in the next round.

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