WTA

Pliskova battles through to Strasbourg quarter-finals, Muguruza bows out in Rabat

By Sports Desk May 18, 2022

Karolina Pliskova reached her maiden quarter-final of the season after battling past Bernarda Para in Strasbourg 6-3 1-6 6-1.

Runner-up to Ash Barty at Wimbledon last July, Pliskova has endured a stop-start 2022 campaign.

The Czech missed the first two months with a hand injury, while suffering first-round exits in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid.

But despite being taken to a decider by her French opponent, the top seed hit 16 aces on the way to reaching the last eight.

Second seed Angelique Kerber also required a deciding set to progress to her first quarter-final of the campaign; the three-time Grand Slam winner overcoming Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-4.

Fourth and ninth seeds Elise Mertens and Viktorija Golubic also advanced to the last eight following straight-set wins over Anna-Lena Friedsam and Fiona Ferro respectively.

However, there was no joy for top seed Garbine Muguruza over in Rabat; the two-time Grand Slam champion was beaten 2-6 6-4 6-1 by world number 85 Martina Trevisan.

The Italian's reward is a quarter-final showdown with seventh seed Arantxa Rus, who saw off Dalma Galfi 6-4 6-2.

Mayar Sherif was another seed to tumble; the Karlsruhe champion lost 4-6 7-6(5) 6-1 to Claire Liu, who triumphed in the Trophee Lagardere last week.

Third seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz recovered from losing the opening set to defeat Kristina Mladenovic 4-6 6-3 6-0, while Anna Bondar hit seven aces as she overcame Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-3. 

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  • Wimbledon: Allez Alize as Cornet halts Swiatek run, eight years after famous Serena upset Wimbledon: Allez Alize as Cornet halts Swiatek run, eight years after famous Serena upset

    Iga Swiatek's 37-match winning streak came to an end on Wimbledon's Court One as wily Frenchwoman Alize Cornet pulled off a sensational third-round victory.

    Top seed and world number one Swiatek had not lost since February, when she was beaten by Jelena Ostapenko in Dubai, reeling off six successive tournament wins, including her second French Open title. It was the longest winning streak in women's singles in the 21st century, and now it is over.

    The 21-year-old Polish player had not looked comfortable on grass in her opening two rounds at Wimbledon, and she was outsmarted on Saturday by the experienced Cornet, losing 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 32 minutes.

    At the age of 32, Cornet is playing a record-tying 62nd consecutive grand slam, matching Ai Sugiyama's record. She is also enjoying her best year at the majors, reaching a slam quarter-final for the first time in Australia before getting to the third round at Roland Garros.

    Crucially, Cornet already had a famous Wimbledon scalp behind her coming into this match. Eight years ago, on the equivalent first Saturday of the championships and on the same court, Cornet defeated Serena Williams.

    On this occasion, Cornet swept to a swift double break against the former Wimbledon girls' champion, opening a 3-0 lead. Swiatek got back into the opening set by recovering one break, but she could not draw level.

    Swiatek then had a chance to break in the second game of the second set, and a 2-0 lead was hers when Cornet went long with a forehand. Yet the lead was immediately squandered, a dazzling stop volley from Cornet saving game point before a looping backhand winner brought the set back onto serve.

    From there, Cornet pulled away, Swiatek's belief fading as the match raced away from her. At her 15th Wimbledon, Cornet was able to celebrate another show-stopping moment.

    Data slam: Alize in wonderland

    This was a 24th career win for Cornet against a player ranked inside the top 10, and a fourth against a world number one – the previous three all came against Serena Williams, all in 2014 (including one by retirement). The world number 37, who reached a career-high ranking of 11th in 2009, was facing Swiatek for the first time and now goes on to tackle Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the last eight.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Cornet – 16/7
    Swiatek – 21/33

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Cornet – 1/2
    Swiatek – 3/1

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Cornet – 5/6
    Swiatek – 2/6

  • Tour de France: Jakobsen enjoys 'amazing day' as Van Aert takes yellow jersey Tour de France: Jakobsen enjoys 'amazing day' as Van Aert takes yellow jersey

    Fabio Jakobsen celebrated "an amazing day" after sprinting to victory in stage two of the Tour de France.

    The second of three stages to be held in Denmark proved to be a frantic one, but ultimately pre-race favourite Jakobsen took his first individual Tour de France triumph.

    Preferred to Mark Cavendish and Julian Alaphilippe for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team, Jakobsen repaid the team's faith with a perfectly executed sprint in Nyborg, following a 202.5-kilometre ride from Roskilde.

    Saturday's route included an 18km crossing of the Great Belt Bridge, on which heavy winds caused havoc, with a huge crash halting the progress of two-time reigning champion Tadej Pogacar and world champion time trialist Filippo Ganna among others.

    Fortunately for the General Classification hopefuls, the crash occurred within the final 3,000 metres, meaning no rider lost time, and the focus was able to switch to the sprinters at the front.

    Wout van Aert and Danish hope Mads Pedersen looked well set coming out of the bunch, but Michael Morkov's exceptional lead-out ability proved crucial for Quick-Step, as Jakobsen was able to launch an attack in the final 150m, and ultimately crossed the line first by a matter of inches.

    For the 25-year-old, who suffered horrendous injuries in a crash at the Tour de Pologne less than two years ago, it marked a remarkable success story.

    "For me it was a long process, step by step," said the Dutchman. "A lot of people helped me along the way – this is to pay them back so they can see that it was not for nothing.

    "I'm happy that I still enjoy riding the bike, racing, and luckily I can win. It was an amazing day.

    "The team kept me in a good position when we exited from the bridge. I could stay behind Morkov, he dropped me off in the wheel of Van Aert. I was next to [Peter] Sagan, we kind of touched each other but luckily we stayed alright, then it was a final stretch where I could launch.

    "It sounds easy, but for sure the legs were in pain. But this is what we train for, this is why we race. And a stage at the Tour de France, I've been dreaming about that for 15 years. It's the biggest race. As a sprinter you want to make it here and to win."

    Van Aert takes yellow

    While he was pipped to the post by Jakobsen, Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) leads the GC, taking a one-second advantage over overnight leader Yves Lampaert, meaning he will wear yellow on Sunday's route from Vejle to Sonderborg.

    Van Aert also leads the points classification after his efforts in the sprint, ending Quick-Step's run of 34 successive Tour de France stages in which one of their riders has held the green jersey.

    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 4:34:34
    2. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) same time
    3. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) same time
    4. Danny van Poppel (BORA-Hansgrohe) same time
    5. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) same time

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 4:49:50
    2. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) +0.01
    3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +0.08

    Points Classification

    1. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 60
    2. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 59
    3. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 30

    King of the Mountains

    1. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education–EasyPost) 3

  • Jones: Swain red card worked against England Jones: Swain red card worked against England

    Eddie Jones suggested Darcy Swain's first-half dismissal worked in Australia's favour as England crashed to a dismal fourth defeat in a row.

    England initially took advantage of their opponents being down to 14 men thanks to Ellis Genge's try early in the second half, only to then collapse in remarkable style.

    Jordan Petaia, Folau Fainga'a and Pete Samu crossed over to put Australia out of sight, with Henry Arundell and Jack van Poortvliet tries mere consolations for England.

    The visitors were five points ahead with 20 minutes left but went on to lose 30-28, and Jones says their terrible final-quarter showing was not helped by Swain's earlier sending off.

    "In some ways, the red card can work against you. Sometimes the referee wants to compensate. We didn't adjust as well as we should have," Jones told Sky Sports.

    "We had enough moments to win the game. At 14-9 with 20 minutes to go we should have put it away. The reaction from the boys is to win this series 2-1. We have to go again.

    "The message at half-time was to keep putting pressure on and we did that in spurts. We lost the ball twice on their try-line and we didn't pressure them, whereas Australia did. 

    "We need to work on our finishing and a bit on our defence as well. There are still some positives to come from what has been a very disappointing result for us."

    Jones clarified at his news conference that he did not blame referee James Doleman for his side's defeat in Perth, but reiterated Swain's exit inadvertently helped Australia.

    "You look at the history of the game, whenever you get a red card the referee evens it up. He helps the team with the red card," he said.

    "It's social reciprocity, it happens, that's normal and we've got to be good enough to handle it.

    "It happens in every game of rugby I've seen. The team gets a red card and the opposition gets evened up. Because they're nice blokes, referees.

    "I'm not criticising the referees, I'm not using it as an excuse, that's the reality of rugby.

    "I'll say it again. I think when you play against 14 men the referee has a significant impact on the game and you've got to be good enough to understand what that is.

    "We weren't good enough to understand what that is and therefore we paid the price."

    England's defeat was their first against Australia in nine Tests amid a run stretching back to October 2015, pre-dating Jones' time in charge.

    Not only did the home side play more than half of the match a man light, they also lost three players to first-half injuries after Quade Cooper pulled up in the warm-up.

    Swain was repeatedly provoked by England's players, with Jonny Hill seen pulling his hair, but Australia coach Dave Rennie is unsure if that was a deliberate ploy from the opposition.

    "I'm not sure if it was a team plan, but there was certainly provocation there. Not just in that situation but also earlier in the game," he said.

    "We'll have a decent look at the footage and work out how we're going to appeal that. We'll have decent look at the card. We'll be seeking clarity around it.

    "We train with the scenario of playing with 14 or 13 players all the time. What we know is that we just have to work harder. We found a way."

    Australia have now won their last five Tests on home soil – their best-such run since 2008 – and five of their last eight when hosting European opposition.

    The second match in the three-Test series takes place in Brisbane next Saturday, before concluding in Sydney the following weekend.

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