WTA

Andreescu makes winning return in Montreal, Muguruza and Mertens are upset

By Sports Desk August 10, 2021

Crowd favourite Bianca Andreescu was made to work as she opened her defence of the National Bank Open title she won two years ago but the Canadian eventually prevailed in Montreal. 

Andreescu defeated Harriet Dart 6-1 3-6 6-3 in just over two hours in her first match since falling to Alize Cornet in the opening around at Wimbledon. 

That was the latest in a disappointing string of results for Andreescu, who also departed Roland Garros after one match, but the world number eight got back on track Tuesday. 

"Playing at home is so, so awesome," Andreescu said in her on-court interview. "You guys [the fans] show me so much love, especially tonight. I've never had this kind of support before, so I'm so, so grateful."

While Andreescu was able to navigate a challenging opener, three other seeded players were not as fortunate. 

Katerina Siniakova downed fifth seed Garbine Muguruza 6-2 0-6 6-3, while Camila Giorgi ousted ninth seed Elise Mertens 6-3 7-5 and Liudmila Samsonova defeated 12th seed Elena Rybakina 6-4 5-7 6-4.

Having a better time of it were seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova, the 2012 tournament champion, and number 10 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who won by identical 6-4 6-4 scorelines against Frenchwomen Fiona Ferro and Carolina Garcia, respectively. 

Eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka waited out a rain delay to cruise past 2013 finalist Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-2 in the final match of the day. 

In other action, 15th seed Coco Gauff handled Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 6-4 while her countrywoman Danielle Collins continued rolling after her title in San Jose last week, rallying past Jil Teichmann 4-6 6-1 6-3 for her 11th consecutive match win. 

Two more Americans, Sloane Stephens and Jessica Pegula, prevailed in three sets as well. 

Johanna Konta returned to the court after missing Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus-related issues and advanced when Zhang Shuai was forced to retire up 6-4 2-5 with a leg injury. 

Related items

  • On this day in 2020: Maria Sharapova announces retirement in Vanity Fair article On this day in 2020: Maria Sharapova announces retirement in Vanity Fair article

    Maria Sharapova used an article in Vanity Fair to announce she was “saying goodbye” to tennis, on this day in 2020.

    Sharapova had struggled with chronic shoulder problems for some time and the five-time grand slam champion and former world number one had dropped to 373rd in the rankings.

    The then-32-year-old said it would be a wrench to walk away, writing: “How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?

    “How do you walk away from the courts you’ve trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love – one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys – a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years?

    “I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis – I’m saying goodbye.”

    Having announced her talent by winning Wimbledon at the age of just 17 in 2004, Sharapova went on to establish herself as one of the greats of her era – among her contemporaries, only Serena and Venus Williams won more slam singles titles.

    Sharapova added the US Open title in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before twice lifting the trophy at Roland Garros, in 2012 and 2014. She is one of only 10 women to achieve the career Grand Slam.

    Her impact on court was trumped by her profile off it, with the Russian the world’s highest-earning female athlete for much of her career.

    In 2016 came the bombshell announcement that she had failed a doping test for the cardiac drug meldonium, which had been added to the banned list at the start of that year.

    Sharapova was banned for two years, reduced to 15 months on appeal.

    She returned to action in April 2017 but was unable to reach her previous heights, peaking at a high of 21 in the rankings and reaching just one more grand slam quarter-final.

    In July 2022, Sharapova became a mother with the birth of her son Theodore and has taken up pickleball in her post-retirement life.

    Earlier this month, she partnered up with John McEnroe to take on Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf – in Pickleball Slam 2 – losing out on the one million USD (£789,000) prize.

  • Aryna Sabalenka keeps emotions in check during dominant Australian Open success Aryna Sabalenka keeps emotions in check during dominant Australian Open success

    Aryna Sabalenka’s ruthless defence of her Australian Open title was powered by a sense of fun and new-found inner calm.

    The world number two lifted her first grand slam trophy at Melbourne Park 12 months ago and has been untouchable this fortnight.

    She did not drop a set in seven matches and defeated first-time grand slam finalist Zheng Qinwen 6-3 6-2 to become the first player since compatriot Victoria Azarenka 11 years ago to claim back-to-back titles.

    “I don’t know how to describe my emotions,” said Sabalenka. “But definitely I’m super, super happy and proud of everything I was able to achieve so far. I’m just happy with the level I played today.”

    Zheng, who did not face a top-50 player through the first six rounds, had hoped to emulate the watching Li Na and claim the title for China a decade on.

    But the 21-year-old, the 12th first-time slam finalist in the women’s game in the last three years, was up against it from the start and Sabalenka wrapped up victory in only 76 minutes despite a brief disruption from pro-Palestine protesters.

    Sabalenka has ridden emotional highs and lows throughout her career, overcoming the yips on her serve two years ago and several bruising semi-final losses before she reached her first final 12 months ago.

    She showed tremendous consistency at the slams last year, reaching at least the last four in each one, but there were still crushing defeats in big matches, most painfully in the US Open final against Coco Gauff, after which Sabalenka was seen backstage smashing her rackets.

    But in Melbourne this year the 25-year-old has been flawless, with her only testing match coming in the semi-finals against Gauff and resulting in a cathartic victory.

    “I think it’s all come with experience,” she said. “There is not going to be big wins without really tough losses. Of course I was very down after those matches. I was crying, I was smashing the racket, as we see. I was really crazy.

    “But then, after a day or two, we sit down with the team, thinking, ‘OK, what do we have to do to fix it and to make sure this will never happen again’.”

    Sabalenka’s ferocity on court is at odds with her fun-loving persona off it, and her team can often be seen joking around behind the scenes, while a tradition this year was for the Belarusian to write her signature on her fitness trainer Jason Stacy’s bald head.

    Helping her find an emotional equilibrium during matches has been a lengthy process, with Stacy saying: “That’s been the plan for years. First making her more aware of what’s happening.

    “It’s been a big part. She’s just hiding it really well, and it’s not guaranteed it’s going to be that way every week. But that’s what makes her so dangerous and so powerful as well that part of her. It’s beautiful.”

    Sabalenka said with a smile: “It’s actually good that I’m two different people on and off the court, because if I would be the same person that I am on the court off the court, I think I wouldn’t have my team around me and I think I would be alone.

    “It takes me so much time to become who I am right now on court, to have this control of myself, and to understand myself better.”

    Sabalenka seized control of the match from the start, opening up a 3-0 lead before Zheng gained a foothold courtesy of some impressive serving.

    Three double faults in one game was a disastrous start to the second set, though, and even four missed match points could not derail Sabalenka.

    Zheng, who will break into the top 10 for the first time on Monday, was disappointed with her performance, saying: “To play against her I think it’s so important to hold your own service game. But I couldn’t do that, especially at the beginning.

    “I didn’t perform my best. That’s really a pity for me because I really wanted to show better than that.”

    Sabalenka used her acceptance speech to thank her family, and a second slam title fulfilled the dream she shared with her late father Sergey, who died in 2019.

    “It was really important,” she said. “Of course he’s my biggest motivation. He’s been everything for me.

    “But right now I have my mom, my sister, who is here with me, and I feel like I have to think about them. But I just feel that he’s always with me. I’m very thankful for everything he did for me, and I think if not him I wouldn’t be here.

    “Now, having two grand slam titles, it definitely gives me more confidence and belief in myself. I just have this, knowing that all my life it wasn’t a waste of time and I was doing the right thing. I’m where I’m meant to be.”

  • Australian Open day 14: Aryna Sabalenka celebrates back-to-back titles Australian Open day 14: Aryna Sabalenka celebrates back-to-back titles

    Aryna Sabalenka defeated Zheng Qinwen to make it back-to-back titles at the Australian Open.

    The second seed did not drop a set all fortnight, beating first-time major finalist Zheng 6-3 6-2 to become the first woman since fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in 2013 to successfully defend the trophy.

    Britain’s Alfie Hewett was unable to match Sabalenka, losing 6-2 6-4 to Tokito Oda in the men’s wheelchair final.

    Picture of the dayTweet of the dayStat of the dayCelebration of the dayDiede rolls onWho’s up next?

    The tournament will crown a first time Australian Open champion in the men’s singles on Sunday night.

    After stunning Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, 22-year-old fourth seed Jannik Sinner goes into his first grand slam decider as the favourite.

    There he will take on third seed Daniil Medvedev, who has survived three five-set matches and will hope to make it third time lucky having finished as runner-up in 2021 and 2022.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.