Zheng Qinwen sets up final against Liudmila Samsonova in Tokyo - UBITENNIS
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Zheng Qinwen sets up final against Liudmila Samsonova in Tokyo

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China’s 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen came back from one set down to beat number 4 seed Veronika Kudemertova 5-7 6-3 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 27 minutes in a hard-fought match after 3 hours and 4 minutes securing her spot at the Toray Pan Pacific in Tokyo. 

Kudemertova, who is the top 10 in the Race to this year’s WTA Finals, came back from 1-4 down to win the first set 7-5. Kudemertova  broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4. Kudemertova earned her second break in the 11th game to close out the first set 6-4. The Russian player held break points in each of Zheng’s service games. 

Zheng earned a break in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead in the second set and held on her next service games to seal the second set 6-3.

Both players held on their next service games in the third set en route to their tie-break. Zheng earned the first mini-break with a volley winner at 3-2 and hit two service winners to open up a 5-2 lead. Zheng sealed the win on her second match point at 6-3, as Kudemertova fired a return long. 

Zheng has become the second teenager to reach a final at WTA 500 level or higher, following Coco Gauff, who advanced to the French Open at the age of 18. 

Zheng will take on Liudmila Samsonova, who beat Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in the semifinal. Samsonova has an undefeated record of 3-0 in WTA singles finals this season. Earlier this week she beat Paula Badosa in straight sets in the second round. 

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games of the opening set and held their next service games en route to the tie-break. Samsonova sealed the tie-break on her first set point with her seventh set point. 

Zhang broke in the first game of the second set and earned three game points to open up a 2-0 lead. Samsonova broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The Russian player won the final four games with two breaks to seal the second set 6-2. 

“I am feeling so happy because I am in another final in the last two months. It’s amazing. I never think it’s going to be possible, something like this, so I am incredibly happy”, said Samsonova. 

Samsonova  has reached her third WTA Tour final. She has won 17 of her last 18 matches, including two consecutive titles in Washington and Cleveland. She has lost only one match against Ajla Tomljanovic in the fourth round at the US Open after a 13-match winning streak. Zheng Qinwen beat Samsonova 6-3 6-2 in their only previous head-to-head match in Palermo lat Julu. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Emma Raducanu Among Trio of Grand Slam Winners Handed Miami Open Wild Cards

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has avoided the possibility of having to go through qualifying at the Miami Open after being awarded a wild card for the event on Thursday. 

The 2021 US Open champion is among four players to have received passes into the main draw of the prestigious event, which is classed as a WTA 1000 for the women and as a Masters 1000 for the men. It will be the third straight year that Raducanu has played in Miami but she is yet to win a match there. In 2022 she lost her opening match to Katerina Siniakova before getting beaten by Bianca Andreescu 12 months later. 

Raducanu has won two out of five Tour-level matches played so far this year. Recently her agent, Max Eisenbud, hit back at those who have criticised the tennis star’s results since winning the US Open. Raducanu also missed a chunk of last season due to injury after undergoing wrist and ankle surgery. 

“The girl did everything backward. She skipped every step. She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn’t even know where the player lounge was, she didn’t know where the practice courts were,” Eisenbud told the Served With Andy Roddick podcast.
“I don’t think just being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious.”

Other players to have received wild cards into Miami include Venus Williams, who is a three-time champion at the event but hasn’t won the title since 2001. The 43-year-old hasn’t played on the Tour since August and is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400. 

Carolina Wozniacki completes the line-up of former Grand Slam winners being given wild cards. The Dane was a Miami finalist back in 2017 and has made 12 appearances at the tournament. Earlier this week, she suffered a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, loss to Anna Blinkova in the first round of the San Diego Open. 

As for the men’s tournament, the only confirmed wild card recipient is Kei Nishikori who will be making his first competitive start since July 2023. Recently the injury-stricken Japanese player added Thomas Johansson to his team. 

The Miami Open will get underway on March 17th.

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