WTA

Kvitova overcomes Rybakina to reach last 16 in Adelaide

By Sports Desk January 09, 2023

Petra Kvitova defeated Elena Rybakina in the pick of the first-round matches at the Adelaide International 2 on Monday.

Two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova hit 21 winners to 12 unforced errors on her way to a 6-3 7-5 win against reigning SW19 champion Rybakina in a match lasting 87 minutes.

Belinda Bencic, a defeated finalist in this tournament in 2021, also advanced with a 6-3 6-4 win against former world number one Garbine Muguruza to maintain her positive form.

Fellow seeded players Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins beat Sorana Cirstea and Karolina Pliskova respectively to book their places in the last 16.

At the Hobart International, favourite Marie Bouzkova saw off Jacqueline Cristian 7-6 (7-2) 6-3, while Lauren Davis defeated Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-2 in an all-American clash.

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  • French Open day seven: Coco Gauff wins teenage battle as Iga Swiatek marches on French Open day seven: Coco Gauff wins teenage battle as Iga Swiatek marches on

    Coco Gauff fought off the challenge of 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva to reach the fourth round of the French Open.

    Gauff came back from a set down to defeat the Russian 6-7 (5) 6-1 6-1 while Iga Swiatek hammered Wang Xinyu 6-0 6-0, but Elena Rybakina was forced to withdraw because of illness.

    In the men’s event, Casper Ruud and Holger Rune are on track for a quarter-final meeting, while Alexander Zverev defeated Frances Tiafoe in the night match.

    Picture of the dayStat of the dayShot of the dayJunior progress

    Cameron Norrie’s third-round exit completed a miserable French Open for Britain’s senior singles players but, after several years of very little junior presence, there are six British competitors in the main draws of the boys’ and girls’ singles, including 14-year-old qualifier Hannah Klugman.

    Fallen seeds

    Men: Taylor Fritz (9), Frances Tiafoe (12), Borna Coric (15)

    Women: Elena Rybakina (4), Ekaterina Alexandrova (23)

    Who’s up next?

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    Novak Djokovic will hope to have a more comfortable afternoon than against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina when he takes on Juan Pablo Varillas in the fourth round.

    Carlos Alcaraz meets Lorenzo Musetti while the first women’s night session of the year sees Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka meet former finalist Sloane Stephens.

    Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will bid to keep his strong form going against Sebastian Ofner while Elina Svitolina meets Russian Daria Kasatkina.

  • Casper Ruud and Holger Rune close on French Open rematch after third-round wins Casper Ruud and Holger Rune close on French Open rematch after third-round wins

    Casper Ruud and Holger Rune are closing in on a French Open rematch after both reached the fourth round on Saturday.

    The pair contested a heated late-night quarter-final 12 months ago, with Ruud triumphing in four sets before Rune accused him of a “lack of class” for celebrating in his face, something the Norwegian denied.

    They have played once since, in Rome a couple of weeks ago, when Rune gained some revenge, and will be favoured to clash in the last eight once again.

     

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    Ruud went on to reach his first grand slam final here last year and then repeated the feat at the US Open, although he came out on the losing side both times.

    This season has been a struggle by contrast but there are signs the 24-year-old is starting to find his form and he recovered from a set down to beat China’s Zhang Zhizhen 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-4.

    “My level is getting better,” said Ruud. “I still feel like there are things I can improve and I can make less errors than I have done in some moments in my matches.

    “So I still feel like there is a level that I haven’t played yet that I can bring out, and I will need to bring out now going into the second week, for sure.

    “I’m very happy with being through the first three matches. It’s tough. For me this year it’s been much more pressure, obviously, compared to last year.”

    Last year’s tournament was Rune’s breakthrough, and the young Dane has maintained his momentum, breaking into the top 10 and twice beating Novak Djokovic.

    The 20-year-old is particularly strong on clay and he swatted aside Argentinian qualifier Genaro Alberto Olivieri 6-4 6-1 6-3.

    Rune has only had to play two matches so far having been given a walkover by Gael Monfils in the second round.

    “Luckily I haven’t used too much unnecessary energy during the tournament so far,” he said. “I’m in the fourth round and I can play better, so it’s a good thing. But obviously the matches are going to get harder and harder from now so I have to step up also.”

    Next he faces Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo, who is through to the fourth round of a slam for the first time after upsetting eighth seed Taylor Fritz 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-5.

    American Fritz was booed onto court after his shushing of the crowd on Thursday night but that had turned to cheers by the time he walked off.

    Cerundolo was joined in the last 16 by countryman Tomas Etcheverry, who knocked out 15th seed Borna Coric 6-3 7-6 (5) 6-2, while 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka ended the run of Daniil Medvedev’s conqueror Thiago Seyboth Wild in a five-set tussle.

  • Mirra Andreeva feared French Open disqualification for ‘really stupid move’ Mirra Andreeva feared French Open disqualification for ‘really stupid move’

    Mirra Andreeva admitted she feared being defaulted from the French Open during her third-round defeat by Coco Gauff in their teenage battle in Paris.

    It was one of the most anticipated clashes of the tournament so far, with Gauff taking on a player younger than her for just the third time in her senior career.

    Sixteen-year-old Andreeva swept through qualifying before dropping just six games in her first two rounds at her debut grand slam.

    Gauff and Andreeva’s combined age is younger than Novak Djokovic, and the 19-year-old American looked like she could lose to a player her junior for the first time.

    But Andreeva was unable to sustain the level she showed in winning the first set and bowed out with a 6-7 (5) 6-1 6-1 defeat.

    There were moments of youthful petulance from Andreeva that she will need to stamp out, though, particularly an incident late in the tie-break when she swiped a ball angrily into the crowd.

    She earned a code violation but was fortunate she did not hurt a spectator, which could have seen her disqualified.

    “Right after I thought that it was a really stupid move from me, because it was not necessary to do that,” she said. “It was really bad what I did. I had thoughts like this (a potential default), but he just gave me a warning.”

    The Russian is undoubtedly a player of huge potential and she more than matched Gauff during a high-class first set full of fierce shot-making and court craft.

    Andreeva admitted she let her head drop, saying: “It was a tough first set. We broke each other a lot of times. I was just playing.

    “It’s not enough to win one set to win a match. I was trying to play but something didn’t work out and I got disappointed, upset, and not really was thinking about the match. I was thinking about my mistakes. I went too deep in this.

    “After the first set I won, I realised that I can really win this match. Then I got a little bit nervous not to lose this opportunity.”

    Andreeva is limited in the number of tournaments she can play because of her age and expects her next event to be Wimbledon qualifying – providing her UK visa comes through in time.

    Although Russian and Belarusian players are allowed to compete this year, Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka has also spoken about a delay in receiving her visa.

    If it was not for her nationality, Andreeva could have been a strong candidate for a Wimbledon wild card based on her performance in Paris.

    “I didn’t play on grass yet,” she said. “It can be my first time. I’m excited about it because I have never tried it. So, if I can go there, we will see what I can do.”

    Gauff reached her first slam singles final here 12 months ago and broke into the top 10 but this season has been tricky and she will take confidence from the way she turned the match around.

    Gauff knows better than anyone the position Andreeva is in, and she said: “Mirra’s super young and she has a big future. I remember I was here playing at 16 years old so she has a lot to look forward to. I’m sure you’ll see a lot more matches between us.”

    The tournament lost one of its title favourites before the start of the day when Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina withdrew through illness, revealing she had been struggling with a virus for two days.

    The 23-year-old appeared to be the biggest obstacle to Iga Swiatek reaching another final having won all three matches between them this season.

    The world number one was in ruthless form on Philippe Chatrier, defeating an opponent 6-0 6-0 for the fourth time in her career and first at a grand slam.

    China’s Wang Xinyu was the unfortunate recipient as Swiatek hit top form at Roland Garros – four of the six sets she has played so far this year have now been bagels.

    Swiatek has gained a reputation for the number of sets she wins easily, and social media was awash with talk of her ‘bagel factory’.

    “I don’t want to really talk about that,” said the 22-year-old. “I really get why people do that, because it’s fun and tennis is entertainment and everything. But, from the players’ point of view, I want to be respectful to my opponents.”

    Meanwhile, the seventh prime-time night session on Sunday will belatedly feature a women’s match for the first time, with Sabalenka’s clash against former finalist Sloane Stephens selected for the slot.

    Organisers have again come under fire after only picking one women’s match across the fortnight last year.

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