Elena Rybakina Topples Former Champion Halep To Reach Wimbledon Final - UBITENNIS
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Elena Rybakina Topples Former Champion Halep To Reach Wimbledon Final

Coming into the tournament the Kazakh had never been beyond the last eight of a major event in 11 attempts.



Elena Rybakina (KAZ)- Credit: AELTC/Joel Marklund.

Elena Rybakina produced a powerful display against Simona Halep to book a place in her maiden Wimbledon final at the age of 23.


After suffering two marathon losses to Halep on the Tour, the Kazakh muscled her way to an impressive 6-3, 6-3, victory. In doing so she has recorded only her second win over a top 20 player on the grass in her career. She has also become the first player from her country in history to reach a Grand Slam final. Something her upcoming opponent, Ons Jabeur, has achieved for Tunisia.

“It was a great match. Simona is a great champion and we have played many tough matches before. I was focused today and I am really happy with my performance because I think I played really solid today.” Rybakina said during her on-court interview.

The world No.23 was very much the underdog coming into the match against an in-form Halep who hadn’t lost a set in her five previous matches played. Furthermore, her opponent had the extra experience of playing in a major semi-final eight times before. Nevertheless, Rybakina rose to the occasion with a stunning display that featured five aces and 21 winners. She also won 73% of her first service points.

“It (my performance) was really good. Usually, I have ups and downs which come from nerves. But today I was mentally prepared for everything. It was an amazing match,” she said.
“Of course I was nervous but I think the matches I played before helped me a bit. I played two matches on Court One and today was my first time on Center Court. I think the atmosphere helped me a lot. When the crowd cheered me on I was really nervous but I am very happy I managed to win in the end.”

After already becoming the first Kazakh player to reach the last four of a major, Rybakina started clinically by winning 13 out of the first 17 points to open up a 3-0 lead. 14 minutes went by before Halep managed to get onto the scoreboard but she was still unable to fight back. It was evident how frustrated the Romanian got during the fifth game when she glared at her camp in the crowd and then when a net cord went in Rybakina’s favour she slapped her thigh out of frustration.

Rybakina had two break points to open up a commanding 5-1 lead in the opener but was unable to do so due to a fierce fight back by her opponent. Two games later she worked her way to set point but a Halep winner cancelled it out. Despite those blips, she prevailed when serving. A 118 mph ace set her up with three more set points. She triumphed on her third after a forehand from the former champion landed out

Continuing to apply the pressure with her heavy-hitting, Rybakina continued to draw errors from Halep with the former world No.1 producing a total of three double faults during her opening serving game in set two to get broken right away. The inconsistency of the former champion was her undoing. She broke back in the following game before another sub-standard service performance handed the advantage back to her rival. Rybakina would go on to prevail on her first match point by producing a clean return winner.

Awaiting her next will be second seed Jabeur who defeated Tatjana Maria in three sets. Rybakina trails 1-2 in their head-to-head and lost to her twice last year.

“I think it is going to be a great match,” Rybakina said of the final. “She (Jabeur) is a really good player, a tricky player. I think it is going to be a good match to play against her. I will try to do my best, enjoy and have fun on the court.”

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Luca Nardi beats Flavio Cobolli but it’s not enough to advance to the semifinals at the Next Gen Finals



World number 115 Luca Nardi overcame Flavio Cobolli in an Italian match 3-4 (4-7) 4-2 4-3 (7-1) 1-4 4-3 (7-3) in 2 hours and 14 minutes in the final round robin match of Green Group at the Next Gen Finals at King Abdullah Sports Club in Jeddah. 


The win was not enough to earn a semifinal spot for Nardi. Arthur Fils is the first player to qualify for the knock-out stage. The top seeded Frenchman will face Dominic Stricker later today. Stricker needs to win just one set to reach the semifinals. 

Both players went on serve in the first set en route to the tie-break. Cobolli earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-4. 

Nardi saved two break points in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. The world number 115 broke serve in the sixth game to close out the second set 4-2. 

Cobolli converted his second break point in the first game of the third set. Nardi pulled back on serve in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Nardi opened up a 3-0 lead with two mini-breaks. Cobolli pulled one of the two mini-breaks back for 1-3. Nardi won the final four points with two mini-breaks to claim the tie-break 7-1. 

Nardi clutched his groin when he was serving at 0-1 in the fourth set and called a medical time-out at 0-3. Cobolli earned a break in the second game to close out the fourth set 4-1. 

Cobolli saved two break points to hold serve in the second game. Nardi fended off two break points in the fifth game. Both players held on serve en route to the tie-break. Nardi earned his first mini-break with a backhand flick from out wide to take a 2-1 lead. Cobolli pulled the mini-break back to draw level to 2-2. Nardi closed out the match with a return down the line winner.   

Nardi hit 27 winners to 12 unforced errors. 

“I am happy with the win. Even if I did not qualify, I think today was the best match I played out of the three. I am a bit sad I did not qualify, but I did not want to leave Jeddah without a win. I kept fighting today and I am happy”, said Nardi. 

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Hamad Medjedovic moves to 2-0 in Red Group at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah



Hamad Medjedovic edged past Luca Van Assche 4-2 2-4 4-3 (9-7) 4-1 to move to 2-0 In Red Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah one day after winning a marathon five-set match against Alex Michelsen. 


Medjedovic broke serve in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. He held serve and saved two break points in the sixth game to close out the first set 4-2. 

Van Assche saved three break points at 2-2 before breaking serve in the sixth game  with a running forehand pass to seal the second set 4-2. 

Medjedovic earned a break point in the first game of the third set, when Van Assche made a double fault. Van Assche saved them to hold on his serve. Both players held on serve en route to a tie-break. Van Assche raced out to a 5-1 lead. Medjedovic won three consecutive points to claw his way back to 4-5. Van Assche earned three set points at 6-4, 6-5 and 7-6, but Medjedovic won the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7. 

Medjedovic left the court for nine minutes for a bathroom break. 

Medjedovic broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. When he was serving out the match, he saved three break points as he closed out the win with two unreturned serves. 

“For sure the tie-break changed a lot of things in this match. He had three set points. I stayed focused on the important points. I was consistent, hitting the ball hard, and I am glad that I won the tie-break”, said Medjedovic. 

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Abdullah Shelbayh upsets Alex Michelsen to win his first win at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah



Jordan’s wild card Abdullah Shelbayh beat world number 97 Alex Michelsen 4-2 1-4 4-0 4-0 to clinch his fourth top 100 win. Shelbayh moves to 1-1 in Red Group. 


Shelbayh hit 26 winners, including seven aces. The Asian player will face Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic in his third round robin match. 

Shelbayh earned the first break in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. The wild card held his next two service games at 30 to close out the first set 4-2. 

Michelsen, who reached the ATP 250 final in Newport last summer, broke in the second game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Shelbayh made a backhand error. 

Michelsen earned a break point in the first game of the third set, but Shelbayh saved it with an ace. The Jordanan player held serve before breaking serve to close out the third set 4-0. Shelbayh won four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to win the fourth set 4-0. 

“Having the opportunity to play here now to finish here, I could not ask for a better end to the year. I appreciate all the support throughout the week that I have been receiving already, throughout the year and from the Arab world especially. It makes me happy to represent my country. There is some pressure but you feel like it’s good pressure to have on you shoulders when you are representing your country and the region you come from”,said Shelbayh. 

Shelbayh improved his ATP ranking from world 470 to 185. His tennis idol is Rafael Nadal. Shelbayh has trained at the Rafa Nadal for more than five years. Toni Nadal flew to Jordan when Shelbayh was 13 years old to recruit him to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy. He became the first Jordanan player to win a main-draw ATP Tour match last April against Elias Ymer in Banja Luka. 

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