Tagged in: tour

Dominant Matteo Berrettini wins second straight Queen’s title

Italian Matteo Berrettini retained his title at the Queen’s Club Championships with a 7-5, 6-4 defeat of Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic on Sunday, as the world No. 10 gave himself the perfect launch pad into Wimbledon.

Berrettini had too much firepower for unseeded Krajinovic, who has now lost all five of his Tour-level finals.

The Italian, who also claimed the title in Stuttgart this month, has now collected 20 of his last 21 matches on grass, his only loss coming in last year’s Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic.

He was made to work hard by Krajinovic who broke back in the first set, only to get broken again at 5-5. A Krajinovic double-fault proved costly at 2-3 in the second set as Berrettini secured the decisive break of serve and went on to secure his seventh career title with an ace.

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Berrettini, who had surgery on his right hand in March, is the eighth player to win back-to-back titles at the event, all of the others being former world number ones including John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker and Andy Murray.

He will now go into Wimbledon as one of the favorites.

“There are too many emotions,” Berrettini said. “To have this trophy twice, I used to just dream of playing in this tournament. It was a really good week for me, I came here with a lot of confidence. Today was the best match that I played.

“I’ve worked so hard for this. I know that Wimbledon is different but I know that I can do it, I did it once. I’m really looking forward to it, but I know every match will be tough.”

A superb angled volley gave Berrettini the break he had threatened in the fifth game of the opening set.

But Krajinovic, who before this week had never won a match on grass, replied in the next game with a punchy volley to get back on level terms.

The Serbian netted a backhand to drop serve at 5-5, however, and Berrettini then held to take the opener.

In the second set Berrettini showed the range of his game, mixing power with panache to pull ahead, and once he broke serve to love in the fifth game, there was no looking back.

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Emma Raducanu caps debut season with exhibition win

US Open champion Emma Raducanu capped her remarkable debut season with a 6-3, 7-6(3) triumph over Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse in a light-hearted exhibition match at the Champions Tennis event at the famed Royal Albert Hall on Sunday.

Britain’s Raducanu, who turned 19 years old earlier this month, was playing at the season-ending event after some stunning debut months on the Tour.

It started with a first-round defeat in Nottingham in June 2021, but was followed by a remarkable run at Wimbledon that saw he win her first three matches before retiring versus Ajla Tomljanovic and peaked with a spell-bounding win at the US Open, where she did not drop a set on her way to becoming the first British woman to win the tournament in 53 years.

She has since competed in three events, the most recent in Linz, Austria, where she was beaten in the first round against China’s Xinyu Wang.

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The world No. 19, playing on Sunday against her friend Ruse, held her serve in the opening game and then forced Ruse into a long service game, saving two game points before hitting a winner into the corner and then driving her opponent into an error to take a 2-0 lead. The pair held their serves in the following two games before Radacanu broke again to ease into a 5-1 lead.

Ruse briefly broke back, but the Brit followed up by holding her serve two games later to claim the first set.

The Romanian often resorted to drop shots as Raducanu repeatedly fired from behind the baseline as both players held serve to start the second set. But Raducanu broke the deadlock in the fifth game, this time pouncing on a poorly weighted drop shot from Ruse to force an error. Ruse soon recovered though and forced a tiebreak for the set, which Raducanu eased 7-3.

“It was amazing to play at home in front of everyone here. I felt it straight from the minute I walked out — it was an incredible atmosphere — and I really enjoyed playing here,” Raducanu said in her on-court interview.

The Champions Tennis exhibition event, which has taken place since 1997, invites players who have once held the world No. 1 ranking, reached a Grand Slam final or been achieved success in the Davis Cup. This year’s edition will be the last at the Royal Albert Hall as it searches for a new venue next year.

Raducanu will next play at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in December as she begins preseason heading into her first full season on the WTA Tour. She will also compete at the Australian Open in January, her first Grand Slam since claiming the US Open title and the third major of her career.

She recently went on a vacaction, which she said in an Instagram post was her first in seven years, as she prepares for the 2022 season.

“For six days I just completely switched off and I started my preseason this week on Tuesday,” Raducanu added. “I’ve been doing a lot of fitness, not so much tennis, so I was a bit nervous coming out to play in front of everyone here.

“Right now, I’m doing preseason and working hard on my fitness, as you can tell I need to work on my sprints to the net when I was getting dropshotted. Then I’m heading out to the Middle East to finish my preseason, and then Christmas out there then flying to Australia on Dec. 26.”

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Anett Kontaveit wins Kremlin Cup in comeback over Ekaterina Alexandrova

Anett Kontaveit twice came back from the brink of defeat to beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 and gain the Kremlin Cup on Sunday to stay in contention for a place at the WTA Finals.

After dropping a set for the first time in the tournament, Kontaveit turned the second set around from 4-0 down and mounted another comeback to win the decider with a break of serve when Alexandrova served for the match at 5-4 up.

“I’m still a little bit speechless,” Kontaveit stated. “Congratulations to Ekaterina. You played such great tennis today.”

Playing in Moscow with a wild card, the Estonian won her third title on tour in as many months after winning the Cleveland Ladies Open in August and the Ostrava Open last month. On the women’s tour only top-ranked Ash Barty has won more than three titles this campaign, with five. Barbora Krejcikova also has three.

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“Unfortunately I couldn’t manage to achieve more today and I’m really very sad but I’m going to work on this and hope something like that won’t happen again next time,” Alexandrova said.

Next week either Kontaveit or Ons Jabeur can secure the last spot at the WTA Finals.

Jabeur has a points lead, meaning Kontaveit would need to collect the Transylvania Open in Romania and hope Jabeur does not reach the semifinals in Courmayeur, Italy.

Aslan Karatsev won the men’s tournament without dropping a set to deny Marin Cilic a third title in Moscow.

Karatsev saved the only break point he faced on his way to a 6-2, 6-4 win over Cilic. He is the third consecutive Russian winner of the tournament following Karen Khachanov in 2018 and Andrey Rublev in 2019. Last year’s Kremlin Cup was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s the second tour title for Karatsev in a breakout season that started with his surprise run to the Australian Open semifinals despite being in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

The 33-year-old Cilic was bidding to win a 20th career title and was the oldest men’s finalist in Kremlin Cup history.

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Naomi Osaka upset in second round of Western & Southern Open by No. 76 Jil Teichmann

Naomi Osaka’s first WTA tour appearance since the French Open in late May did not last long.

The second-ranked Osaka sprayed balls all over the court in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to No. 76 Jil Teichmann on Thursday at the Western & Southern Open.

Osaka repeatedly punched her left thigh with her left wrist and talked loudly to herself, trying to get herself going, but she was impassive as she shook hands at the net with the exuberant Teichmann.

Meanwhile, top-ranked Ash Barty rolled through the first 10 games of her match with defending champion Victoria Azarenka in a 6-0, 6-2 victory to reach the women’s quarterfinals.

“I think sometimes the scoreline in tennis can fool you,” Barty said. “Though it seemed like a quite convincing scoreline in the match, each and every game had crucial points and I was able to win most of those.”

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Former tournament women’s champion Karolina Pliskova advanced with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Jessica Pegula. Olympic champion and third-seeded Alexander Zverev also moved on, defeating Guido Pella 6-2, 6-3, while Roland Garros-finalist and second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas was pushed by Lorenzo Sonego to three sets before prevailing, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Medvedev bounced back up after a nasty fall early in the second set and went on to close out the win.

“You can’t see this on video, but my racket got between my legs and hit the back of my calf,” Medvedev said. “I don’t know how that happens. I actually have a bruise on my calf. A bruise is a bruise. It’s nothing serious.”

The second-ranked Russian, the winner last week in Toronto, won when Dimitrov double-faulted on match point. Medvedev has been on the court for only 2 hours, 28 minutes while winning his first two matches in consecutive sets after a first-round bye.

Medvedev is the first player not named Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray to crack the top two since July 18, 2005. Injuries and other issues kept Djokovic, Federer and Nadal from competing this year.

While his matches have been short, Medvedev feels winning will go a long way. “The more matches I can win in these two tournaments that are similar to New York, the more confidence you have,” he said.

“Confidence is the big key. It’s good coming there knowing that you’re capable of playing good. Now, I know it’s possible. A Grand Slam is a Grand Slam. They’re tough. Opponents want to beat you. You hope you show your best tennis.”

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Sergio birdies final hold to win Sanderson Farms

Sergio Garcia didn’t have to sweat much over the final shot that clinched the Sanderson Farms Championship, his first PGA Tour triumph since the 2017 Masters. It was only 2 feet 6 inches in length, barely more than a tap-in after the Spaniard hit the shot of the tournament from the final fairway.

But just like with the other putts he stroked this week, Garcia wasn’t watching when he rolled in one last birdie putt to close out a final-round 67 to edge Peter Malnati by a shot at the Country Club of Jackson.

“Well, I guess eyes closed is probably normal for me now,” Garcia said. “I realized that I get too caught up in trying to make it too perfect instead of just letting myself do it. You don’t have to hit a perfect putt every time to be able to make it.”

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Garcia, 40, has been one of the more cerebral players on Tour for more than two decades.

But even after opening with a share of the 54-hole lead in Mississippi, it didn’t appear likely coming down the stretch that he’d be able to add to his trophy haul this week.

Garcia played his first 13 holes in 2 under, a solid score for a co-leader but not good enough to keep pace with Malnati, the 2015 champion who blistered the course with a closing 63.

There were few signs entering this week that self-trust would amount to much for Garcia, who was making his first-ever Sanderson presence.

He had missed three of his last four cuts, including each of the first two majors this year, and had dropped out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time since 2011. In nine starts since the break, he had ended better than T-32 just once – a T-5 finish at the RBC Heritage in June.

Asked if he had become frustrated by media asking him what’s wrong with his game, Garcia shed some perspective on his recent drought. “I really wasn’t that frustrated,” he stated, “because nobody was really talking to me.”

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WTA considering extending Tour

The Women’s Tennis Association is working on boosting players’ earnings when the sport resumes after the coronavirus.

The WTA is also taking into account extending the 2020 season to help players in the lower tiers who have had no opportunity to earn money on the tour since the season was suspended in early March.

“The WTA is diligently working with our tournaments to maximize earning possibilities when the professional tennis circuit is able to resume and is considering an extension to the current 44-week season to enable more tournaments to take place,” the association told Reuters in a statement.

“It is our sincere hope to return to the court as soon as possible – when the health and safety or our players, fans and staff can be guaranteed, we will be back competing.”

The men’s ATP Tour and the WTA suspended all tournaments until June 7th once several countries started to close borders in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.

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The International Tennis Federation (ITF), the sport’s governing body, also postponed its lower-tier World Tennis Tour until June 8th.

The WTA season ending finals are scheduled from November 1-8 before the season heads into a break of eight to 10 weeks.

The WTA is well aware that without tournaments and prize money on offer, it leaves several players with financial concerns.

“We wish there was a way everyone, especially those in need the most, could be compensated at the level they were expecting, but the needs are so great and the WTA unfortunately is not in a financial position to do that,” the WTA stated.

“Professional tennis players are independent contractors and not employees of the WTA.  As a result, a player’s compensation is based on on-court competition and when tournaments are not held this puts a pause on their principal revenue flow.

“The WTA fully recognises the challenges these athletes are facing as well as those similar challenges being dealt with from millions of people around the world during this unprecedented situation.”

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