WTA

Muguruza ends Sabalenka's reign as Azarenka, Kvitova progress in Qatar

By Sports Desk March 03, 2021

Garbine Muguruza made clear she is "fighting for trophies" on the WTA Tour after knocking out defending champion Aryna Sabalenka at the Qatar Open. 

Muguruza prevailed in a high-quality contest that required a third set to decide the outcome, the world number 16 and two-time grand slam champion eventually triumphing 6-2 6-7 (7-5) 6-3 after two hours, 18 minutes on court. 

Sabalenka had won their only previous meeting but the third seed saw her hopes of retaining the trophy dashed, not helped by only managing to convert four of the 13 break-point opportunities she created in the match. 

Muguruza – who matched 41 winners with the same number of unforced errors – finished in fine style, claiming the final four games in a row to set up a meeting with Maria Sakkari, who defeated Madison Keys in straight sets. 

"I'm very motivated to play top players," Muguruza said in her post-match press conference, according to the WTA Tour's website. "Like everybody, I worked hard. I'm fighting for trophies, to play well in big tournaments, in good tournaments. 

"Today I was facing a top player, and I knew I have to go out there with a big, fighting spirit, and be strong to be able to win against these tough opponents." 

While the 2020 winner is no longer involved, former champions Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova both made it beyond the second round with straight-sets wins in Wednesday's action. 

Azarenka, who claimed the title in 2012 and then returned to successfully retain it a year later, saw off qualifier Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-2. 

Kvitova, meanwhile, eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The fourth seed went all the way in 2018 and is now into the last eight this year – a 6-1 6-3 result paving the way for a clash with Anett Kontaveit.

Top seed Elina Svitolina is also through – and will face Azarenka next – after needing little over an hour to defeat Misaki Doi 6-1 6-2.

Karolina Pliskova, the second seed, found life far tougher against Ons Jabeur however, eventually coming out on top 6-4 4-6 7-5 in a thriller.

Meanwhile, at the Lyon Open, second seed Fiona Ferro progressed to the last eight on home soil after opponent Tereza Martincova was forced to retire when 4-1 down in the second set, having already lost the opener too.

Alize Cornet is another French favourite hoping to make home advantage tell in the tournament; the fifth seed rallied from a set down to beat compatriot Clara Burel 1-6 6-1 6-3. 

Related items

  • Djokovic battles into second round of French Open after Herbert triumph Djokovic battles into second round of French Open after Herbert triumph

    Novak Djokovic fought off a stern challenge from Pierre-Hugues Hubert to make a successful start to his French Open title defence on Tuesday.

    The world number one held off the challenge of the home favourite to win 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, setting him on his way to a potential 25th Grand Slam title.

    Djokovic enjoyed a fairly comfortable first set but had to work hard to win the second as Hubert took a more aggressive approach. He steadied in time for a crucial tie-break though, holding his nerve to secure it.

    The Serbian regained control in the final set, sealing the win after a double fault from Hubert to set up a second-round tie against Roberto Carballes Baena.

    Data Debrief: Djokovic's title defence off to a good start

    Djokovic (367) trails only Roger Federer (369) for Men’s Singles match wins at Grand Slam events in the Open Era, and could overtake him with a strong showing at the French Open.

    He is now 72-2 in opening round matches at Grand Slam events, winning his past 69 such matches. Djokovic’s last opening round loss came via retirement at the 2011 US Open against Conor Niland.

  • Alcaraz and Sinner's ability same level as 'Big 4', believes Simon Alcaraz and Sinner's ability same level as 'Big 4', believes Simon

    Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have the ability of the 'Big 4' if they can keep up their consistency, former world number six Gilles Simon believes.

    Alcaraz won his first grand slam title at the US Open in 2022, becoming the youngest world number one in the history of the ATP rankings at 19 years, four months, and six days, before winning his first Wimbledon title in 2023.

    Alcaraz beat Daniil Medvedev to win Indian Wells in March but has since struggled with an arm injury, with his last match before Roland Garros coming in the quarter-final of the Madrid Open on May 1.

    He beat J.J. Wolf in straight sets on Sunday to progress to the second round of the French Open, where he will face Jesper De Jong.

    Simon, speaking at the Roland-Garros eSeries by Renault tournament, believes in the Spaniard's ability, comparing him to some of the big names in the sport.

    He said: "I think that Alcaraz has the level of the big 3 or big 4 that we've had because he really has a level that's very high.

    "In other words, when his tennis is up and running, it's really hard to beat him. And I see him at the same level as [Rafael] Nadal, Novak [Djokovic], [Roger] Federer, even at their best, because he's got that level.

    "On the other hand, he can't keep it up at the moment, every week, with the consistency that those players have had. But he's young, he's still very young, and he's going to keep winning, keep progressing, keep raising his game.

    "Maybe he'll reach the level of those players. Last year, we saw him do very well at Roland Garros but ultimately lose due to cramp. But then he wins at Wimbledon, and you think that's it, he's reached that level [of the big 3].

    "Yes, he was there over that period, not over ten months for the moment. And I've no doubt he'll be there, but it's going to be complicated."

    Meanwhile, Sinner has enjoyed a strong start to 2024 saw him win his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open, following up with wins in Rotterdam and Miami.

    The Italian also cruised through his opening round at Roland Garros with a straight-sets win over Christopher Eubanks and is set to face Richard Gasquet next on Monday.

    "As far as I'm concerned, [Sinner's] at a slightly lower level than Alcaraz. But his average level is higher than that of Alcaraz. So that's where it's interesting," Simon added.

    "So far, Jannik has been able to show consistency for over six months, from the end of last season to his injuries at the start of the clay-court season.

    "He's been in the final of almost every tournament for six months, or a winner. His consistency is reminiscent of that of the Big 4.

    "But what's interesting is that he lost his big match at Indian Wells, against Alcaraz, who suddenly regained his level and overtook him. So that's how I see it."

  • Sabalenka extends first-round streak with fine start at French Open Sabalenka extends first-round streak with fine start at French Open

    Second seed Aryna Sabalenka emphatically progressed to the second round of the French Open with victory over Erika Andreeva on Tuesday.

    Australian Open champion Sabalenka won 6-1 6-2 in just 68 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier in the first career meeting between the two players.

    There were 27 winners from Sabalenka and just nine from Andreeva, who only showed the briefest resistance with a sole break early in the second set.

    But strong favourite Sabalenka, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros last year, made an instant response by breaking back, ultimately winning five of the final six games to ruthlessly close out the victory.

    She will play a qualifier – either Irene Burillo Escorihuela or Moyuka Uchijima – in the next round of the competition.

    Data Debrief: Sabalenka extends first-round streak

    Sabalenka has now won each of her last 15 first-round matches at grand slam tournaments, not suffering defeat at the first hurdle since a clash against Carla Suarez Navarro at the Australian Open in January 2020. 

    She has also won six R1 matches in a row at the French Open, not suffering an opening-round loss in Paris since the 2018 edition.

    Sabalenka will continue her bid to become the first female player to win both the Australian Open and Roland Garros in a calendar year since Serena Williams in 2015. Her record on clay this season is now improved to a healthy 12-3.

    Andreeva, meanwhile, was always likely to find the going tough and won just eight of her 23 points on first serve as she was broken five times across the contest. The 19-year-old is yet to reach a grand slam second round.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.