Angelique Kerber has Thursday’s shot of the day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
DUBAI, UAE – Sixth seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai will move to the top of the Road to Singapore leaderboard on Monday after their brilliant run to the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
They beat Chan Hao-Ching and Yaroslava Shvedova 6-1, 6-3, to set up a final clash with Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
“It was closer than it looked,” admitted Hlavackova afterwards. “The second set got trickier…I’m very happy to go through.”
The Russian pair were first to book their place, beating third seeds Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova, 6-4, 6-3.
“It was really important to win this game, and I’m just so happy that we’re in the final now in Dubai,” said Vesnina afterwards.
More to follow.
DUBAI, UAE – No.2 seeds and Olympic Gold medalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina came through multiple rain delays and a thrilling match tie-break to knock out Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai – next week’s top-ranked team on the Road to Singapore leaderboard – 6-2, 4-6, 10-7 to each win their first title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
“Winning the trophy like here in Dubai, it’s very prestigious,” Vesnina said after the match. “It’s the first time we played final here. We were just passing by the corridor, and we saw the trophy. We were just really pleased with the result, because winning such a big title, it’s always giving us some confidence, some positive emotions.”
The Russians reunited last spring after nearly a year apart due to Makarova’s lower leg injury, and quickly resumed being one of the game’s top teams, not only taking home gold at the Olympic tennis event but also winning the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
The players are back off court following another shower ☔️ #DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/C3CoXRcS0l
— WTA (@WTA) February 25, 2017
Playing their second final of the season after finishing runner-up at the Brisbane International to eventual No.1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sania Mirza, Makarova and Vesnina enjoyed a bright start to what became a stormy day in Dubai, racing through the opening set behind three breaks of serve.
“At the beginning of the match we felt really good rhythm. We felt we were kind of controlling the game, even knowing that they’re really good players.”
.@KateMakarova1 lets unleashes the forehand! #DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/U5SIGY1Qwp
— WTA (@WTA) February 25, 2017
The first set and a half featured intermittent rain delays, but a heavier pattern set in at 3-3, sending the two teams off court for over an hour. Hlavackova and Peng emerged much stronger after the break – tapping into the form that helped them reach the Australian Open final – and twice broke serve to level the match.
“After these rain delays, it was too much of the rain delays, to be honest. I think everyone would lose their rhythm. Even Roger [Federer], I think, would lose his rhythm after this kind of on-and-off, on-and-off!
“And they came back to the game, you know. They had pretty good games on their serves. Then we were just a little bit tight. On one game after the rain delay, I think I didn’t hit one ball with the center of my racquet. I was just missing the volleys. I felt like I don’t see the ball. I need the glasses.”
.@EVesnina001 /@KateMakarova1 are on top in the super tiebreak! #DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/4IRzoauw5k
— WTA (@WTA) February 25, 2017
A tense sudden death followed; even as the No.2 seeds forged ahead, the Czech/Chinese duo were never far behind, saving a pair of championship points before ultimately succumbing after two hours and 13 minutes.
What a lob from @EVesnina001 to bring up championship point! #DDFTennis pic.twitter.com/a6q0Xdcff0
— WTA (@WTA) February 25, 2017
The Russians played with imperious aggression throughout, hitting 27 winners – including a stunning lob from Vesnina to set up their slew of match points – to just 13 from the No.6 seeds, who were ultimately undone by their second serve, off which they won three of 22 points.
.@EVesnina001 /@KateMakarova1 win @DDFTennis Doubles title!
Defeat Hlavackova / Peng 6-2, 4-6, -! pic.twitter.com/PHk7xoMoWw
— WTA (@WTA) February 25, 2017
The title in Dubai is Makarova and Vesnina’s ninth as a pair, including two Grand Slam trophies at the French Open and US Open in 2013 and 2014.
“Well, it’s a good start, and we are playing good tennis in doubles, especially this tournament,” Makarova said. “Every match was pretty good doubles tennis, you know, and we were really enjoying how we play, and even it was a deciding tiebreak before. But we will play, of course, big tournaments and hope it will go well.”
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – No.11 seed Petra Kvitova kept up her world-class form in the quarterfinals of the Olympic tennis event, soaring past Elina Svitolina, 6-2, 6-0, to reach the final four in Rio.
Playing in her second Olympics, Kvitova edged closer to a first medal with a strong win over Svitolina, who was fresh off an upset of World No.1 Serena Williams in the third round.
Converting the only two break points of the opening set, the two-time Wimbledon winner raced through the opening set, and didn’t face a break point throughout the 48 minute contest. In all, Kvitova hit 18 winners to just two from the Ukrainian youngster, and hit 11 unforced errors to 16 by match’s end.
Czech Republic's @Petra_Kvitova books her place in the last 4 at #Rio2016 with 62 60 win against @ElinaSvitolina pic.twitter.com/hUVLuqgyil
— ITF Olympic Tennis (@OlympicsTennis) August 11, 2016
Into her first Olympic semifinal, the former World No.2 will face Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig for a spot in the final; Puig was equally emphatic in her quarterfinal demolition of Germany’s Laura Siegemund, 6-1, 6-1.
Kvitova has played her best tennis under the Czech flag, leading her country to four Fed Cup wins in the last five years. Jiri Fencl, coach to Kvitova’s countrywoman Lucie Hradecka, noticed the shift in Kvitova’s mental state after her hard-fought third round win over Ekaterina Makarova.
Petra is emotionally in Fed Cup mode. Watch out everyone. #pojd #Rio2016
— Jiří Fencl (@maxav) August 9, 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – No.2 seed Angelique Kerber is guranteed to win a medal at the Olympic tennis event; the Australian Open champion clinched her spot in the Gold Medal match with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Madison Keys on Friday in the semifinals.
The highest ranked woman to reach the final four in Rio, Kerber came up against an in-form rival in Madison Keys, who has taken her to three sets in two of their last three encounters – beating her to win the 2014 Aegon International in Eastbourne.
Hoping to become the first German woman to medal at the Olympic tennis event since idol Stefanie Graf, the World No.2 played contained tennis against her more aggressive opponent, hitting just two unforced errors in the first set alone to take the early initiative.
Madison Keys: 14 winners, 18 unforced errors.
Angelique Kerber: 1 winner, 1 unforced error.
Kerber leads *4-3. https://t.co/LBU8kSMjRn
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 12, 2016
“It means a lot to be in the final right now,” she said after the match. “It wasn’t easy to be the next after Steffi to reach the final at the Olympics means a lot. It’s really special to be here today, and tomorrow in the finals.”
Keys became the first American to make her Top 10 debut since Serena Williams back in 1999 earlier this year, and wasn’t about to go down without a fight. Facing down the barrel of triple match point in the tenth game of the second set, Keys saved all three – a total of four by game’s end – to try and force a deciding set.
“She’s an unbelievably good player and she played really hard today. I was trying to move well, get the balls back and go for it when I had the chance. It wasn’t easy in the second set when I had four match points, but I managed to come back and focus again. It’s really special to be in the final now.”
Kerber saved two break points on her own serve to get back within striking distance of her first Olympic final – having fallen in the quarterfinals back in her London debut four years ago – and finally secured victory on her sixth match point.
Standing between the German and a gold medal is Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig, another youngster in the midst of a career-best season. Puig became the first woman from her country to win a medal after upsetting No.11 seed Petra Kvitova in the other semifinal, and has knocked out quality opposition all week in Rio, including reigning French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza.
“She’s played very good this week,” Kerber said when asked about her next opponent. “I know it’ll be a tough final, but I’ll try to enjoy it, go out and play my best tennis and, of course, win the next match. But Monica plays good and I’m ready for that.”
.@AngeliqueKerber will face @MonicaAce93 in the gold medal match after defeating Madison Keys 63 75 at #Rio2016 pic.twitter.com/7ruVKIroOF
— ITF Olympic Tennis (@OlympicsTennis) August 12, 2016
January was defined by five breakthrough players who brought some impressive performances to the first month of 2016. Which one soared the highest?
Have a look at the nominees for January’s Breakthrough Performance of the Month and cast your vote before Thursday at 11:59pm ET! The winner will be announced Friday, February 8.
January 2016 WTA Breakthrough Performance of the Month Finalists:
Daria Kasatkina: Building on the momentum she’d started at the end of last season – reaching the third round of the US Open as a lucky loser and the semifinals of the Kremlin Cup as a qualifier – 18-year-old Daria Kasatkina began 2016 with a bang by defeating Venus Williams in three sets at the ASB Classic. A former junior French Open champion, the Russian came to Melbourne full of confidence and promptly upset No.27 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round. Backing up that win over fellow junior prodigy Ana Konjuh, Kasatkina’s run ended at the hands of World No.1 Serena Williams in the third round.
Johanna Konta: Konta’s breakthrough also involved a win over the elder of the Williams sisters; unseeded at the Australian Open, Konta took out the No.8 seed in two decisive sets en route to her first Grand Slam semifinal, where she lost to eventual champion Angelique Kerber. During her historic two weeks in Melbourne – where she became the first Brit to reach the final four Down Under since Sue Barker in 1977 – Konta outlastes 2015 Australian Open semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round, capturing an 8-6 final set just to reach her first career major quarterfinal, and went one step better when she ended the fairytale run of Zhang Shuai.
Zhang Shuai: Zhang came into the Australian Open without ever having won a Grand Slam main draw match in 14 previous attempts. She earned her first victory in emphatic style, however, when she blasted past No.2 seed Simona Halep in straight sets. The qualifier backed up her win with efficient wins over Hobart champion Alizé Cornet and Varvara Lepchenko – and survived a tricky fourth round with No.15 seed and 2015 semifinalist Madison Keys – before she ran out of gas on her eighth match of the tournament (three in qualifying, five in main draw) against Konta. Zhang’s run nonetheless guaranteed she would be the new Chinese No.1, a prestigious mantle with Li Na having recently retired and the 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon.
Samantha Crawford: The powerful young American has long struggled with injuries and inconsistencies since winning the 2012 US Open girl’s singles title, but had an impressive week at the Apia International Sydney. Unseeded in qualifying, she took out 2014 champion Tsvetana Pironkova to reach the main draw and hit through Belinda Bencic and Andrea Petkovic to reach the semifinals, where she lost to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. With textbook technique and effortless power, Crawford is within spitting distance of the Top 100 thanks to her run in Sydney, and should be one to watch as her ranking continues to increase.
Daria Gavrilova: Hometown favorite Daria Gavrilova rode a wave of support into her first-ever Grand Slam second week at the Australian Open. Dismissing No.6 seed Petra Kvitova in the second round, the Russian-born Aussie won a classic third round encounter against Kristina Mladenovic and bageled Carla Suárez Navarro in her next match before falling in three. Gavrilova is another former junior champion, winning the US Open title in 2010, but a torn ACL stunted her progress and kept her off the tour for nearly all of 2014. Last year, she won the 2015 WTA Rising Star of the Year Award and is set to reach a career-high ranking of No.33 following her run Down Under.
How it works:
Finalists are selected by wtatennis.com
Winner is then determined by a fan vote on wtatennis.com