Zhu Lin upsets Maria Sakkari to reach the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career - UBITENNIS
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Zhu Lin upsets Maria Sakkari to reach the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career



World number 87 Zhu Lin upset number 6 seed Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-4 in a late night match on Rod Laver Arena to set up a fourth-round match against 2012 and 2013 champion Victoria Azarenka, who beat Madison Keys 1-6 6-2 6-1. The match went past midnight and the Chinese New Year’s eve. 


Zhu earned 15 break points and fired 29 winners to 38 unforced errors. 

The first set started with three consecutive breaks, as Zhu took a 2-1 lead. Sakkari broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Zhu took the first set 7-3 on the tie-break with three mini-breaks. 

Sakkari bounced back by winning the second set 6-1 with four breaks of serve to force the match to third set. 

Zhu earned an early break in the third set, but Sakkari pulled back on serve to draw level to 4-4, but Zhu earned her decisive break on her 15th  and final opportunity of the match with a lob in the ninth game earning a chance to serve for the match. 

“I just keep telling myself. It’s just one break and then I need to put more for serving and be aggressive, trust myself. That’s all I tell myself, and he relaxed. Enjoy the stadium, enjoy the crowd”, said Zhu. 

Zhu has recorded the first win of her career against a top 10 player. The Chinese player will celebrate her 29th birthday on the women’s final day next Saturday. Zhu had never got beyond the second round at the Australian Open or at any other Grand Slam. 

“Is this real ? Am I in a dream ? Words cannot describe how I feel right now. Thank you my team for pushing me every day to become a better player. I would not be here without guys. I also want to thank the fans for coming to support. It means a lot to me. Can I say a few words in Chinese ? It’s Chinese New Year’s Eve today”, said Zhu Lin. 

Zhu took part in the WTA Rising Stars showcase at the 2015 WTA Finals in Singapore alongside Naomi Osaka, Ons Jabeur and Caroline Garcia, but she has sidelined by injuries in the transition to the main WTA Tour.

“There were a lot of ups and downs. Even sometimes I thought about maybe I was not good enough for tennis. I thought about retiring sometimes, but my family, my friends, they always talk to me. They believe I can be a better player, so they were pushing me every day to become a better person. So I am really appreciating”, said Zhu. 

Sakkari was disappointed with her performance. The Greek player hit 42 winners to 52 unforced errors. 

“I think my level was not level was not good at all. I started the match by being too defensive and not hitting the ball. Just being scared of playing my game. Zhu had nothing to lose. She was playing free. She was playing free, She was enjoying herself. She was playing very good. I have seen her on the tour. I have never seen her playing that well, to be honest. Beating Jill Teichmann in the round before, and I didn’t remember her moving so well as she did today. As I said, she was pretty pumped and motivated to have a good result. She has achieved it already by beating two very good players”, said Sakkari. 

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Is Iga Swiatek On Her Way To Becoming A Roland Garros Legend?



Rafa Nadal couldn’t have done it better.


There was Iga Swiatek dominating another top 10 opponent on the court Rafa loves so much, while her favourite player is still sidelined by hip surgery and expects his legendary career to come to a close next year.

Indeed, Swiatek may be on her way to becoming a legend herself on Court Philippe Chatrier at the French Open. The Polish Wonder already owns two titles at Roland Garros and is in line to possibly win two more matches there over the next three days for a third French title.

Of course, that’s a long way from the number of titles Nadal has won in the Paris Grand Slam. Fourteen titles sound like an out-of-reach dream for anyone to capture at the same Grand Slam, even the 22-year-old Swiatek.


The top-ranked Swiatek was on her game in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, starting strong and then winning nine of the last 12 games against young Coco Gauff in a 6-4, 6-2 win over last year’s runner-up.

Gauff played her usual aggressive game, but at times appeared to go for too much too often. She appeared to overpower Swiatek at times with her big serve, but only on first serves. Otherwise, the 19-year-old American didn’t seem to have her weapons under control much of the match.


No one in the women’s game anticipates better than Swiatek. She always appears to be ready for the next shot.

Opponents can never count Iga out. And allowing her to get ahead in a match is almost like turning over the controls to Swiatek, who already owns three Grand Slam titles and has now advanced to the semifinals in four of her last six Grand Slams.

Swiatek jumped out to a 3-1 lead against the sixth-ranked Gauff, then dropped a pair of games before taking full charge of the match.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Casper Ruud Topples Rune To Reach French Open Semis



Casper Ruud came out on top in his all-Scandinavian clash with Holger Rune to seal his place in the semi-finals of the French Open. 


Ruud, who is seeded fourth in the draw, battled to a 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, win over his Danish opponent in what was a topsy-turvy encounter on the Philippe Chatrier Court. It is the second year in a row that the Norwegian has defeated Rune in the last eight of Roland Garros and he now leads their head-to-head 6-1. He is through to the last four of a major for only the third time in his career. 

“I’m very relieved. I came into this match trying to not play with pressure but it is not easy when you’re playing a big match against Holger who is never easy,” Rune said during his post-match interview. “He is very aggressive. Luckily for me the first two sets he wasn’t feeling it too well. He made a lot of errors and I got a lot of points for free.’
“That helped settle my nerves but he fought back in the third set. In the fourth set, I was lucky to keep that break.”

The highly anticipated nighttime clash began in one-way fashion with Ruud claiming 12 out of the first 15 games with relative ease as an erratic Rune struggled to find his game on the court, hitting a total of 40 unforced errors during the first two sets. 

It wasn’t until the third frame that Ruud finally faced some resistance on the court as his opponent orchestrated the crowd to get behind him. Prompting the 20-year-old to hit a series of impressive shots to revive his hopes.

However, Rune’s comeback was short-lived as Ruud broke once more midway through the fourth set as he moved to a game away from victory. He earned his first match point at 5-2 following a double fault from his rival but failed to convert. Two more opportunities then came and went for Ruud before he managed to serve the match out in the following game.

“I think I did well,” he replied when asked about how he handled his nerves. “I kind of looked at it (the match) as if he was the favourite. He won the last time we played and he has had a better year than me so far.’
“He was hoping to get into his first (Grand Slam) semi-final and I was hungry to get into another semi-final. Luckily it worked out well for me.”

Awaiting the 24-year-old in the semi-finals on Friday will be Alexander Zverev who defeated Tomás Martín Etcheverry in four sets. He trails their head-to-head 1-2 but they have never faced each other on clay. 

“Ruud has been there before. He was in the final here last year, so he knows exactly what it means and what it takes,” Zverev told reporters.  

Ruud is now 16-5 this season when it comes to playing matches on the clay. Since the start of 2020, he has registered 86 wins on the surface which is more than any other player on the ATP Tour.

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Alexander Zverev Reaches French Open Semis 12 Months After Horrific Injury



Alexander Zverev says there is still work to be done at the French Open after sealing his place in the semi-finals of the tournament on Wednesday. 


The world No.27 battled to a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, win over Argentine underdog Tomas Martin Etcheverry in a match that featured numerous lengthy rallies. After dropping the second set, Zverev then had to bounce back from a break down at the start of the third before restoring his lead. Overall, he hit 45 winners to 44 unforced errors and converted five out of 11 break point opportunities. 

“I’m happy to be in a semifinal of a Grand Slam any time that I’m there but for me, the tournament is not over,” Zverev said during his press conference.
“I’m happy to be here, but I know that hopefully I have two more matches ahead, and they’re not going to get easier.”

It is the third consecutive season that Zverev has reached the last four at Roland Garros and the sixth time he has done so at a Grand Slam so far in his career. He has now won 13 consecutive matches against players ranked outside of the top 20 at the French Open. 

Unlike his previous Grand Slam runs, this one is perhaps more sweeter for the German considering what he has been through over the past year. At the clay court major in 2022, he took on Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals where he suffered a severe ankle injury that ended up sidelining him from competition for seven months.

“I couldn’t play for the first seven months of my injury. Then for the next three, four months, I was still in pain. I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to.” Zverev recounted.
“I think I’m at a stage now where I’m not thinking about the injury so much anymore. I’m not thinking about what happened. I’m just happy to be back where I was last year, and I have another chance. Hopefully I can take it.”

Despite his credentials, Zverev has only featured in the final of a major tournament once before. That was at the 2020 US Open where he led Dominic Thiem by two sets to love before losing the match in five. 

His record is a stark contrast to that on the ATP Tour where he has reached 30 finals, winning 19 titles. His collection includes two ATP Finals trophies, a gold medal from the Tokyo Olympics and five Masters 1000 crowns.

“Grand Slams are tennis history. That’s what you play for. I think the two most important things in tennis are Grand Slams and the Olympic Games.” He said.
“When you are in a semifinal or final of either of those, I think that’s very different from being in a final of another tournament.”

Zverev is aiming to become the first German man to reach a French Open final since Michael Stich in 1996. 

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