Kontaveit and Ferro to battle for Palermo title

By Sports Desk August 08, 2020

Anett Kontaveit will tackle Fiona Ferro in Sunday's final of the Palermo Open, the first WTA tournament since March.

Kontaveit overcame top seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4, before Ferro sank Italian title hopes in Sicily with a 2-6 6-2 7-5 win over Camila Giorgi.

Fourth seed Kontaveit is ranked seven places below world number 15 Martic and she won impressively in an hour and 29 minutes.

The Estonian will be targeting just a second career singles title and a first on clay, having previously won on grass in 2017 at Rosmalen.

She said: "I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I'm happy to be in the final."

Martic called the match "a tough one" and spoke of missing chances to make the scoreline tighter than it became.

Ferro and Giorgi slugged it out for two hours and six minutes before their clash produced a finalist, with the home player falling agonisingly short.

World number 53 Ferro go after her second WTA title. Her first also came on clay at Lausanne in July last year.

The 2020 tennis season was suspended for almost five months amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the women's tour has returned with fans in Italy, socially-distanced crowds having been in attendance all week in Palermo

Related items

  • French Open 2020: Djokovic's 31-1 start to the year in numbers as history beckons at Roland Garros French Open 2020: Djokovic's 31-1 start to the year in numbers as history beckons at Roland Garros

    Novak Djokovic is putting together a stellar year in a year like no other.

    The world number one heads into the French Open on the back of another title – at the Internazionali d'Italia – and carrying a 31-1 win-loss record in 2020.

    That '1' is also one he would prefer to forget, after being defaulted for hitting a linesperson with a ball in his fourth-round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open.

    But his own brain fades aside – the organisation of the ill-fated Adria Tour amid the COVID-19 pandemic included – Djokovic has been unstoppable this year, before and after the coronavirus-enforced break.

    While Roger Federer is sidelined, Rafael Nadal is back and the 'King of Clay' will take some stopping at Roland Garros.

    The rescheduling of the major – from a May start to September – has given Djokovic an additional boost in his bid for a second French Open title amid questions over how the different weather could affect Nadal.

    In his current form, Djokovic will also be hard to stop. We take a look at his 2020 in numbers.

    Complete and utter dominance

    When you consider the manner of Djokovic's only loss in 2020, it has thus far been a year of complete dominance.

    The Serbian has won 72 of the 82 completed sets he has played, and none of those were dropped in his meetings with Nadal (ATP Cup) and Federer (Australian Open) this year.

    While Federer will miss the rest of 2020 after knee surgery, Nadal returned to action in Rome, where he lost to Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals. That was the Spanish great's first tournament since the ATP Tour season, suspended in March, resumed.

    The world's top 20 men have not been a problem for Djokovic so far this year. He is 12-0 against players ranked in the top 20, including 7-0 when playing top-10 players. Djokovic's last meeting with a top-10 opponent came in his final win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Dubai in February.

    Djokovic – who has four ATP Tour titles in 2020 and also helped Serbia win the ATP Cup – has made his best start since an extraordinary 2011.

    It is just the second time in his illustrious career that he has won at least 31 of his first 32 matches in a year, having made an incredible 41-0 start nine years ago.

    Given Nadal's inferior record at Melbourne Park, it is no surprise the Spaniard has never managed such a start, while Federer got away strongly in 2005 and 2006, also going 31-1 before extending those runs to 35-1 and 33-1 respectively prior to his next losses.

    But after being defaulted at the US Open and with Wimbledon not held due to COVID-19, Djokovic will want another grand slam win at Roland Garros to truly make his form in 2020 count. If he can, it will mark his sixth year with at least two major victories, joining Federer in achieving that feat and moving clear of Nadal and Roy Emerson.

    And another piece of history could await. Djokovic is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to win every grand slam twice, and just the third in history after Emerson and Rod Laver.

    The 41-0 start in 2011

    Nine years ago, Djokovic put together an extraordinary year on the back of a staggering start.

    He won his first 41 matches of 2011 before the run was ended by Federer in the French Open semi-finals.

    Djokovic won the Australian Open and titles in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade, Madrid and Rome heading into Roland Garros.

    The streak included four wins over Nadal, three against Federer and two defeats of Andy Murray, and Djokovic would finish the incredible year with three grand slam titles.

    After a difficult ending to the campaign, he ended up with a 70-6 win-loss record, achieving a win percentage (92.1) he has only bettered once since – when he went 82-6 (93.2) in 2015.

  • French Open 2020: Will Serena's heir emerge at Roland Garros? French Open 2020: Will Serena's heir emerge at Roland Garros?

    Margaret Court's record is still in play, but Serena Williams' era of dominance on the WTA Tour looks to be winding down as another grand slam approaches.

    Williams has won none of the past 13 majors, dating back to her most recent success at the 2017 Australian Open, though she missed the first four of those having given birth.

    This is the 23-time champion's longest stretch without a grand slam win since she made her Melbourne bow in 1998.

    Williams has reached at least the semi-finals in five of her past eight major appearances, yet she has not recorded a win in that time and, having not made the Roland Garros quarter-finals since 2016, an end to that miserable run appears unlikely in the coming weeks.

    So could the future of the women's game be present in Paris? Well, finding Serena's heir is proving rather difficult.

    While she is one of seven female players to have claimed 10 or more major titles, Serena is the only member of that elite group to have won a championship in the 21st century.

    Justine Henin and Serena's sister Venus have each had seven wins, yet other genuine rivals have been a rarity over the past 20 years.

    Roland Garros results have illustrated this trend as well as any championship. Only Serena, Henin and Maria Sharapova have won multiple French Open titles since the start of the 2000 season, with Henin's 2005-2007 run the last time a woman celebrated consecutive triumphs on the red clay.

    That drought will continue for at least another year, too, due to Ash Barty's absence.

    Another name missing from this year's draw is perhaps the most likely candidate to emulate Williams' success. US Open champion Naomi Osaka is still just 22 but has won three of the past seven majors she has contested. That also amounts to just three victories in three seasons, but time is on her side as she looks to shape her own legacy.

    Williams is Osaka's idol, as was so painfully evident when the Japanese shed tears following a grand slam breakthrough that came during Serena's 2018 US Open meltdown. The pair watched one another at Flushing Meadows earlier this month, although Serena's last-four defeat prevented a highly anticipated final rematch.

    "I feel like she's such an intense player that is really exciting to watch," Williams said of Osaka, who looks to have adopted her role model's single-minded drive.

    Discussing her impressive grand slam record prior to this month's victory over Victoria Azarenka, Osaka revealed her approach: "No-one remembers anyone but the winner."

    Yet Osaka has work to do if she is going to be a winner on all surfaces like Williams, one of just two players - along with Sharapova - to win a career Grand Slam since the turn of the century. Angelique Kerber could join that club in the coming weeks, yet French Open success seems increasingly unlikely for the two-time quarter-finalist and world number 22. Osaka has not been past the third round at Roland Garros or Wimbledon, reserving her success for the hard courts.

    Meanwhile, although victory at the Australian Open in 2019 quickly added to Osaka's first triumph, that second title has proved tricky for a number of other hopefuls.

    Since Serena's 23rd major honour, six women have become one-off grand slam winners - including Sofia Kenin, 21, and Bianca Andreescu, 20. The pair are younger than several other champions, yet neither have even reached a quarter-final outside of their sole successes.

    Andreescu has seen her 2020 season completely wrecked by injury and withdrew from Roland Garros this week. In her stead, others will look to join her as a champion. Qatar Open winner Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina and last year's French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova are each younger than Osaka and hold a place in the WTA's top 20.

    Then, of course, there is Coco Gauff, ranked 51st.

    The 16-year-old beat Venus at both the 2019 US Open and the 2020 Australian Open, also eliminating defending champion Osaka at the latter. At each tournament, she lost only to the eventual winner.

    "She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age," Venus said. "I think the sky's the limit for her."

    But a first-round exit at the US Open represented a reality check for Gauff. With no Barty and no Osaka, might she seize the opportunity and bounce back in stunning style at Roland Garros?

    Or is this Serena's time? Number 24 at last. It is up to the next generation to ensure she cannot afford to keep passing up such chances.

  • Tsitsipas savours atmosphere in Hamburg win over 'idol' Cuevas Tsitsipas savours atmosphere in Hamburg win over 'idol' Cuevas

    Stefanos Tsitsipas enjoyed having fans watching his match so much that he forgot he needed to win as he defeated childhood 'idol' Pablo Cuevas 7-5 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Hamburg European Open.

    The ATP 500 clay-court competition was given special permission by local authorities to allow up to 2,300 people to attend on each day, with the tournament originally postponed in July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    And Tsitsipas relished having fans in attendance, which, along with playing against someone he idolised as a youngster, created the conditions that caused him to lose focus for a little while.

    "I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very difficult opponent to face, particularly on this surface," Tsitsipas, 22, said of his 34-year-old opponent. "He is a good friend and one of my idols growing up. It was a great match and I enjoyed it.

    "There was a certain point in the match when I forgot I needed to win, as I was enjoying the game and the atmosphere, the crowd. I was playing with positive vibes and energy."

    Tsitsipas will now meet Dusan Lajovic, who swept aside Karen Khachanov in emphatic fashion, winning 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour.

    Casper Ruud was similarly impressive as he saw off Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-3, and he will meet Ugo Humbert – the Frenchman having eliminated Jiri Vesely 6-4 6-3.

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.