Zhang Shuai saves a match point to beat Caroline Garcia in Tokyo - UBITENNIS
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Zhang Shuai saves a match point to beat Caroline Garcia in Tokyo



World number 28 Zhang Shuai saved a match point to beat number 2 seed Caroline Garcia 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) reaching the quarter finals at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.


Zhang scored her second top 10 win this season. The Chinese player set up a quarter final match against either Karolina Pliskova or Petra Martic. 

Garcia broke serve in the first game of the opening set and fired 27 aces to seal the first set 6-4 after 40 minutes. 

Zheng turned around the match by winning 11 of the first 15 points to open up a 3-0 lead. Garcia got back on serve in the ninth game to draw level to 5-5. 

Zheng came back from an early mini-break down to close out the second set tie-break 7-5 on her third set point. 

Both players held on their serves in the third set. Garcia earned her first break point on the match point, but Zhang saved it with a big serve to draw level to 5-5. Garcia was not able to hold on to an early mini-break in the tie-break. Zheng hit a forehand passing shot to take a 5-3 lead before sealing the win on her second match point after 2 hours and 30 minutes. 

Garcia hit 67 winners to 49 unforced error and faced just break points. Zheng broke once and hit 21 winners to 25 unforced errors. 

Zheng now leads 3-2 in her five head-to-head matches against Garcia. The Chinese player won her seventh career win against a top 10 player and the second in the past month after beating Anett Kontaveit in Cincinnati. Zheng reached the fourth round at the US Open.

Garcia suffered just her second defeat in her last 15 matches. At this year’s US Open Garcia beat Coco Gauff in the quarter finals before losing to Ons Jabeur in her first Grand Slam semifinal. This defeat stopped a 13-match winning streak. The French player returned to the top 10 in singles on 12 September. Garcia reached the final as a wildcard with her compatriot Kristina Mladenovic and won her second French Open doubles title beating Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff in the final. In the build-up to Wimbledon Garcia won her eighth career title at the Bad Homburg Open beating Bianca Andreescu in the final. She reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. At the Poland Open Garcia beat world number 1 Iga Swiatek in the quarter finals scoring her first win against a number 1 player in ten attempts, ending Swiatek’s 18 match win streak on clay. At the Cincinnati Open she defeated Maria Sakkari and Elise Mertens reaching her first quarter final at a WTA 1000 since the Canadian Open in 2018. She beat Jessica Pegula to reach her first WTA 1000 semifinal since Madrid in 2018. She became the first qualifier to reach a WTA final since 2009. Garcia clinched her tenth WTA title beating Petra Kvitova in straight sets. 

Liudmila Samsonova upset this year’s Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-2 6-4 in the opening round. Samsonova lost to Ajla Tomljanovic in the Round of 16 at the US Open losing for the first time after a 13-match win streak. The Russian player will take on Wang Xinyu. 

Number 3 seed Garbine Muguruza beat Greek qualifier Despina Papamichail 6-4 6-2 to reach the quarter final. Muguruza will face the winner of the match between Samsonova and Wang. 

Quinwen Zheng beat Paula Badosa 6-3 6-2. Badosa earned the first break in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. Zheng came back by winning five consecutive games with two breaks to take the first set 6-3. Zheng converted her third break point to take a 2-0 lead. The Chinese player broke for the second time in the seventh game to seal the second set 6-2. Badosa has reached just a quarter final in San José since last April, when she advanced to the semifinal in Stuttgart.

Zheng will face Claire Liu, who beat Elise Mertens 6-4 6-1. After a trade of breaks in the fourth and fifth games of the first set Liu converted her third break point in the 10th game to seal 6-4. Mertens started the second set with a break in the first game, but Liu rallied by winning six consecutive games with three breaks of serve to win the second set 6-1.

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Grand Slam Glory Is The Main Goal For America’s Coco Gauff



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

 Coco Gauff has big aspirations and she isn’t afraid to speak openly about them. 


Following her second round win over Julia Grabher at the French Open on Thursday, the 19-year-old played down the fixation on her current ranking which is No.6 in the world. Gauff admits that her position is something that doesn’t concern her in the sport unless she is sitting at the top of the world rankings. 

“I’m not a ranking person at all. The goal is No.1, and I think that’s when I would care about the ranking,” she stated in her press conference. 
“Anything in between two and 10, I mean, I’m going to be honest, it’s not that important to me.”

Gauff first broke into the world’s top 10 in September 2022 and has remained there ever since. At the time she was the youngest top 10 debutant on the WTA Tour since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. She has been ranked as high as No.4 in the world.

“When I made the top 10, it was a cool accomplishment, but for me it was never about staying there. I only want to go upwards,” she said. “The biggest goal is to win Grand Slams, and I think the ranking will come with Grand Slams.”

It was 12 months ago at Roland Garros where Gauff achieved her best performance at a major by reaching the final before losing in straight sets to Iga Swiatek. The tournament is her best Grand Slam in terms of match wins (13) and is the only one where she has reached the quarter-finals or better on multiple occasions. Gauff also won the French Open girls’ title back in 2018 at the age of just 14. 

Five years on from the junior triumph, she has become a regular fixture on the Tour. So much so, that there is already another generation of players on the rise. One of those includes Russia’s Mirra Andreeva who says her ultimate goal in tennis is to break Novak Djokovic’s all-time Grand Slam title record which currently stands at 22. Andreeva, who is only the seventh player under the age of 17 to reach the third round of Roland Garros since 1993, will be Gauff’s next opponent. 

“I think she knows the game well, and she’s proved her position to be here and proved in her results in the past, so I don’t think the age thing matters,” Gauff commented on her next opponent. 
“I’ve never thought about my age, to be honest. This will be my third time playing someone younger than me.
“Honestly, the first two times I didn’t even think about it because when you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff will play Andreeva on Saturday. 

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Gael Monfils Withdraws From French Open Clash With Rune



Image via https://twitter.com/ATPTour_ES

After winning a marathon first round clash at the French Open on Tuesday, Gael Monfils has been forced to pull out of the tournament due to a left wrist injury. 


The 36-year-old defeated Sebastian Baez in a five-set thriller in his opening match at his home Grand Slam which took place late at night on the Phillip Chatrier Court. Monfils’ win was the first he has recorded on the Tour since returning to action following a foot problem. He suffered a plantar fascia rupture in his right foot last year which sidelined him from competition for seven months.

Now Monfils’ latest injury setback concerns his wrist which he started to feel pain in whilst playing against Baez. He has subsequently been advised to not continue playing to avoid worsening the issue. 

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. I was quite happy this morning. I woke up quite good, but I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” Monfils said in a late-night press conference on Wednesday. “Felt it during the match, actually the whole match [yesterday]. And unfortunately even [though] we pushed it ’til tonight, just came back again for another exam, and yes, waited a little bit.
“The doctor said [it] was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely said I should stop.”

Monfils has been diagnosed with a Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) injury. He has undergone an Arthroscan (MRI) which will establish how long he may be sidelined from the sport. The Frenchman is set to find out the results later today. 

“I think had it been totally broken it would have been more serious, but it’s partial,” Monfils said. “So I’ll know more about the length of time when I’m off the courts. But the doctor said he hopes I’ll be able to play on grass.”

Due to his withdrawal, Danish sixth seed Holger Rune will move into the third round where he will play either Genaro Alberto Olivieri or Andrea Vavassori who have both come through the qualifying rounds. 

As for the schedule of play at Roland Garros, Monfils’ match was set to take place in the evening slot. It has been replaced by Alexander Zverev’s clash with Alex Molcan. 

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Dissatisfied Aryna Sabalenka Reaches French Open Third Round



Aryna Sabalenka has sealed her place in the last 32 of the French Open for the fourth consecutive year after overcoming a spirited performance from qualifier Iryna Shymanovich. 


The world No.2 powered her way to a 7-5, 6-2, win over her compatriot in a match where she at times struggled to maintain consistency in her shot-making. Sabalenka’s powerful hitting produced some stunning shots but also resulted in some costly errors which proved pragmatic at times.

“I’m not really happy with my game today,” said Sabalenka, who hit 23 unforced errors compared to 21 winners. “I’m going to work a little bit tomorrow and make sure I’m ready for the next round a little bit better than I was today.” 

The first set was a far-from-perfect performance from the reigning Australian Open champion who produced a total of 17 unforced errors. Sabalenka looked to be on a good footing early after breaking for a 4-2 lead but her inconsistency enabled Shymanovich to claw her way back to level. Nudging ahead to a 6-5 lead, the second seed snatched the opener after prevailing in a marathon seven-deuce service game. Two set points came and went before Sabalenka converted her third with the help of a drop shot from her opponent landing out. 

Sabalenka, who is challenging Iga Swiatek for the No.1 spot in Paris, started the second set emphatically by breaking for a 2-0 lead. However, she failed to capitalize on the opportunity as once again Shymanovich broke back. Prompting her to look towards her entourage in the crowd in frustration.

Despite the blip, the 25-year-old bounced back to crush her opponent’s hope of a shock win. Surging to a 5-2 lead, Sabalenka worked her way to three match points with a powerful forehand strike that forced her rival to return the ball out. She prevailed on her second opportunity after a Shymanovich shot crashed into the net.

“It was a tough match,” Sabalenka reflected. “She played really great tennis and I’m happy that no matter what I was able to fight for every point. I’m happy to get this win.” 

Sabalenka will next take on either Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova or Magdalena Frech. Should she win that match, she will achieve her best-ever run at the French Open. Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam where she is yet to reach the semi-final stage.

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