Qinwen Zheng beats Yastremska, faces defending champion Sabalenka in Title Match - UBITENNIS
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Qinwen Zheng beats Yastremska, faces defending champion Sabalenka in Title Match

Qinwen Zheng will compete in her first Grand Slam final after defeating Dayana Yastremska in straight sets.

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Qinwen Zheng overcame a nervy start to come through in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 against qualifier Dayana Yastremska and became the first Chinese player since Li Na in 2014 to reach Australian Open Final.

Yastremska, who reached a career high ranking of 21 four years ago, came out of the blocks fast and broke serve early for a 2-0 lead with her powerful baseline game, while Zheng’s first serve went missing. However, having never played against each other and with both players into their first Grand Slam semi-final, the tension was there for all to see and the Ukrainian inexplicably threw in four double faults in the next game and was broken straight back.

The right-handed 23-year-old became the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Emma Raducanu in 2021, largely due to her clean ball striking and her mobility around the court. But she became increasingly erratic as the set progressed while Zheng remained in control and fended off further breakpoints.

Although she had not beaten anyone inside the top 50 to reach this stage, she broke serve to lead 4-3 after converting her fourth breakpoint. Aided by winning 75% of her first serves and eight winners, she closed out the set 6-4 after 55 minutes on her first set point.

The pair traded breaks at the start of the second set before DY edged ahead 3-2 with some heavy hitting drawing unforced errors from Zheng. However, back-to-back aces in the next game locked the players in at three games all.

A poor game followed by Yastremska to hand the initiative back to Zheng who broke serve in the seventh game just as in the opening set. She sat down at the changeover 4-3 ahead and now just two games away from her first Slam Final.

Zheng only conceded five more points and closed out the match with a service winner before realising the magnitude of her achievement. She spoke briefly on court and also thanked her fans in Mandarin. When asked about her victory and the influence of her team, she replied:

It feels unbelievable! I’m super excited to have such a great performance today and arrive in the final. I think Dayana played unbelievable tennis. It’s hard to explain my feelings now. Thanks for all the support and to all my team as well. Of course, we have been working hard, lots of effort on the tennis court and also outside with the fitness and the treatment. It’s the basic stuff but little details help every day. Thanks again to my team – I can’t do it without you guys.”

Yastremska has had a super tournament coming through qualifying and also beating Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova as well as former Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka. She also leaves with a cheque of almost a million Australian dollars.

Chinese superstar Li Na famously won the Australian Open ten years ago and Zheng will now aim to follow in her footsteps. But she will start Saturday’s final as the underdog against defending champion Aryna Sabalenka who overcame American Coco Gauff in straight sets in the earlier semi-final. Zheng lost their only encounter last year in the US Open quarter finals.

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Daria Kasatkina And Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Lead Calls For VAR In Tennis

There have been calls for VAR to be introduced into the sport.

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Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina have called for VAR to be implemented in tennis.

The calls have came after Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik in Dubai.

As Bublik lead 6-5 in the final set, Rublev shouted in the face of an umpire allegedly swearing in Russian which was picked up by one of the officials.

This saw Rublev be disqualified from the event with Bublik reaching the final in Dubai.

However as a result of the incident players have called for a VAR review system with the video showing inconclusive proof of whether Rublev did swear in Russian.

Leading the calls for such innovation are Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina as the duo called for VAR to be introduced on twitter, “So you can just disqualify a player, take away all his points and money, without even checking the video? What a joke, yet another confirmation that we need VAR in tennis and an electronic appeal system in all tournaments,” Kasatkina said on social media.

VAR has been implemented in football and also a similar system in rugby with mixed results.

It’s clear though that more technology would help umpires identify whether a grounds for disqualification would be necessary.

So far VAR has been trialled at the Next Gen Finals and the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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