Simona Halep Unsurprised By Mass Exit Of Top Seeds At Madrid Open - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Unsurprised By Mass Exit Of Top Seeds At Madrid Open

Seven top 10 players entered into this year’s tournament but six of those failed to go beyond the second round.

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SIMONA HALEP OF ROMANIA - PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

The series of high-profile exits at this year’s Madrid Open in the women’s draw is something which comes as no shock to two-time champion Simona Halep.

 

Heading into the half-way point of the WTA 1000 event only four out of the 16 seeds remain in the draw. Although Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur is the only top 10 player to have made it to the quarter-final stage out of the seven that entered into the draw. Incredibly, none of the other six top 10 stars managed to score back-to-back wins this year with Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova losing in the first round. Paula Badosa, Maria Sakkari, Danielle Collins and Garbine Muguruza all fell in the second round.

“I would have said that WTA tennis is very open, and anyone can win any tournament,” Halep commented on the situation. “So I’m not very surprised. I know that everyone is working hard and everyone has a chance.’
“I don’t look at the rankings that much, but it’s pretty amazing that only Ons is top 10 at this tournament. It’s a big tournament.”

Halep, who is the only former champion remaining in the women’s tournament, registered her 30th win in Madrid on Monday after beating Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-4. To put that into perspective, she has only won more main draw matches at the Australian Open and French Open (31).

“It means a lot because I feel great. I like the conditions. The people are very nice to me,” she said of the milestone.
“I will always have a warm welcome. Everyone makes me feel at home. In the past, Mr. Tiriac owned this tournament and I felt like actually I’m playing at home.’
“Everyone is nice to me. It’s a special tournament and forever will be the same.”

It is the fourth time this season that the 30-year-old has reached at least the quarter-final stage of a WTA event. Her win-loss record for 2022 currently stands at 18-4.

Next up for Halep in Madrid is a showdown with the highest ranked player remaining in the field, Jabeur. The eighth seed ousted Belinda Bencic 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, in her third round match. Jabeur is chasing after her maiden Tour title on clay this week after coming close at the Charleston Open where she lost the final in three tight sets.

“Every time on court it is a big fight, a big battle. I’m expecting a big one in the next round,” Halep said of her upcoming meeting with Jabeur.
“But I’m here just to give my best. I feel good on the court, I feel my game. I’m just looking forward to playing it and to fighting for it.”

Halep’s quarter-final match will take place on Wednesday.

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Felix Auger Aliassime helps Canada reach the Davis Cup Final

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Canada reached the Davis Cup final for the second time in three years after beating Italy 2-1 in the semifinal in Malaga. 

 

Denis Shapovalov beat Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 in the opening match.

Felix Auger Aliassime earned a 6-3 6-4 win over Lorenzo Musetti to draw level to 1-1 before teaming up with Vasek Pospisil to defeat Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-2) 7-5. 

Sonego beats Shapovalov 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4

Lorenzo Sonego battled past Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 after 3 hours and 14 minutes to give Italy the 1-0 point in the opening singles match of the Davis Cup Finals by Rakuten in Malaga. 

Shapovalov hit five aces, made seven double faults and converted just one of his 13 break points. Sonego fired seven aces, made three double faults and converted one of his four break points. 

Shapovalov won the first nine points of the match to take a 2-0 lead with a break in the opening game. Sonego won three consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead with a break-back in the fifth game. Shapovalov saved two break points in the sixth game to hold serve at deuce for 3-3. Sonego fended off two break points in the seventh game for 4-3. Sonego earned two mini-breaks on the second and sixth points to race to a 5-1 lead. Shapovalov clawed his way back by winning three points for 4-5. Sonego earned two mini-breaks to seal the tie-break 7-4, when Shapovalov sent a forehand long after 1 hour and 10 minutes

The second set went on serve until the 10th game, when Shapovalov earned three consecutive set points at 4-5 0-40 on Sonego’s serve. The Italian player saved five set points to hold serve at deuce for 5-5 and sent the second set to the tie-break. 

Sonego won four consecutive points from 1-2 down to take a 5-2 lead in the tie-break. Sonego missed a drive volley to set up a match point. Shapovalov won his fifth consecutive point to seal the second set to send the match to the decider. 

Shapovalov saved two break points in the first game of the third set. The Canadian player made three double faults but he held serve at deuce without facing any break points. Shapovalov saved a break point in the sixth game with an ace. Sonego fended off three break points at 3-3 in the seventh game to hold serve after three deuces before Shapovalov received treatment for a back issue. 

Sonego earned the decisive break in the 10th game to close out the match after Shapovalov made three double faults. 

Sonego has drawn level to 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Shapovalov, who beat the Italian player 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3 in the Rome Masters 1000 tournament. 

“It’s an unbelievable moment for me. Shapovalov fights non-stop. I had to be focused on every point and I needed the help of all my team. This is just a great moment for Italy. It was really tough to remain focused because I lost the tie-break in the second set, but I was really positive and my captain helped me a lot to do my best to stay in the match and I enjoy the match until the last moment for me. It was a really tight match and a big win and a big win. It was an amazing win for me and for my team”, said Sonego. 

Auger Aliassime beats Musetti 6-3 6-4 

In the second singles match Felix Auger Aliassime beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 6-4 converting a break point late in both sets to send the tie to the decivive doubles clash. Auger Aliassime did not face a break point and won all but three of his first serve points. 

Auger Aliassime earned his first break in the sixth game to open up a 5-2 lead and held his next service games to seal the first set 6-3 with an ace after 39 minutes. 

Musetti held his serve after three deuces to hold serve in the first game of the second set. Both players held serve until 4-4. Musetti saved the first break point in the ninth game with a service winner, but Auger Aliassime converted his second chance with a down the line winner. Musetti went up a 0-30 lead on Auger Aliassime’s serve in the 10th game, but the Canadian player hit three service winners to serve out the match 6-4 keeping Canada’s hopes of reaching the final alive. 

Auger Aliassime now leads 3-2 in his five head-to-head matches against Musetti. 

“It’s sad, because it’s the second time in a row that I have the chance to bring Italy to the final. I played until the last point, and Felix played better than me. he deserved to win”, said Musetti. 

Canada beats Italy 7-6 (7-5) 7-2

Canadian captain Frank Dancevic made a late change to the doubles line-up, calling up Auger Aliassime to team up with Vasek Pospisil. 

Berrettini and Fognini converted their second break point in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. Auger Aliassime and Pospisil broke back on their third opportunity in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both teams went on serve setting up a tie-break. Auger Aliassime earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Berrettini and Fognini went up a break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Auger Aliassime and Pospisil broke back in the third game after two double faults from Fognini to draw level to 2-2. Both players went on serve until the 11th game when Auger Aliassime and Pospisil earned the decisive break on their third opportunity to take a 6-5 lead. The Italian team wasted two break-back points at 5-6 in the 12thgame.  Auger Aliassime delivered two first serves to get to deuce with an ace and a winner and won the final four points to secure their spot in the final. 

Felix Auger Aliassime: “That’s the good thing about having many good players on the team. I feel like Denis and Vasek played really well yesterday to come back and win, but Denis had a long match, and we knew coming this week that we could make some changes depending on how singles went. I feel like the whole team connected around this idea and there was no ego in the wrong place. Everybody just has the clear idea of the main goal, which is lifting the cup tomorrow”. 

Canada improved their lead against Italy to 3-0 in the three head-to-head matches after wins in 2013 and 2019. 

Canada is one win away from a historic first Davis Cup title.  

Canada set up a final against Australia, who reached the Davis Cup final for the first time in 19 years after a 2-1 win over Croatia on Friday. 

Australia holds a 9-1 lead against Canada. Howevr the Canadian team earned a win in their last match at the 2019 Davis Cup match. 

Auger Aliassime and Shapovalov lost to Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger Aliassime in the Davis Cup final in Madrid in 2019. 

“Making the finals is always an amazing feeling, and I really believe in the team. We have done it before. We are here again and I believe we can win this, so we are going to go after it tomorrow and give it all we have got”, said Frank Dancevic.

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Australia fights back from losing the first match to reach the Davis Cup final

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Australia fought back from losing the first singles match to beat Croatia 2-1 reaching its first Davis Cup in 19 years. 

 

Alex De Minaur cruised past Marin Cilic 6-2 6-2 in just 44 minutes to send the semifinal to decisive doubles match. Cilic made 10 double faults, as De Minaur broke four times to draw level to 2-2 in his head-to-head matches. De Minaur has improved his Davis Cup hard-court singles record to 10-1 in the Davis Cup. 

“This is what this team is about, that never say-die attitude. I have had a couple of instances when I have been in this position and I feel like my back is against the wall, and there is only a wall to break through, and that’s going forward steam ahead and just going after every single point. My job was to keep us alive, and I am happy to do anything I can do for my country”, said De Minaur. 

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell came back from one set down to beat Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 6-4. Thompson and Purcell broke twice and never dropped a service game to come back from losing the first-set tie-break. 

The first set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Mektic and Pavic earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Thompson and Purcell broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead and held serve in the 12th game to force the match to the decider. The Australian team broke again in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held their next two service games to close out the third set 6-4. 

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. 

“I am so proud. Australia has a rich history in this competition. We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions. I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it”, said Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt. 

Australia will face either Italy or Canada in the final. 

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Borna Coric beats Thanasi Kokkinakis to give Croatia a 1-0 lead against Australia in Davis Cup semifinal in Malaga

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Borna Coric beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-3 after 1 hour and 32 minutes with a break in each set to give Croatia a 1-0 lead over Australia in the first match of the semifinal of the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Malaga. 

 

Coric hit 19 winners to just 9 unforced errors. 

Kokkinakis saved a break point in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. The Croatian player converted his third break point at deuce in the 10th game to close out the first set 6-4. 

Coric faced the only break point at the second set and earned the only break in the sixth game to seal the win 6-4 6-3. 

“This means a lot to me. I was watching the guys playing Davis Cup when I was injured and doing my rehab. To play for Croatia is an amazing feeling for me. I was turning to my coach in the first set and saying: ‘I don’t know what to do against his serve’, but I started to read it later on, and thankfully I was serving well myself. When I was younger, I did not serve so well and I needed to improve it. After my shoulder injury I did not know whether I would be able to serve again at all, but I did so much work on it that I serve even better now then I used to”, said Coric.

Alex De Minaur will face 2018 Davis Cup champion Marin Cilic. In their previous head-to-head matches Cilic leads 2-1 over De Minaur and beat the Australian player 6-1 5-7 6-4 in the Group Stage of the Davis Cup finals. 

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