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From around the world

Top Seed Wang Into Dalian QFs

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

DALIAN, China – Top seed Wang Qiang won a topsy-turvy encounter on Thursday against Han Na-Lae to reach the quarterfinals of the Dalian Women’s Tennis Open.

Watch live streaming from Dalian all week right here.

Strong performances on the ITF Circuit this year have seen Wang close in on a Top 50 debut, which she could secure with a deep run in Dalian. However, she was given an unexpectedly stern examination against lucky loser Han before finishing strongly to close out a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 victory.

Grace Min will meet her in the last eight after she upset No.6 seed Jana Cepelova, 6-4, 6-3. This was not the afternoon’s only upset, either; Aleksandra Krunic knocked out No.3 seed Duan Ying-Ying, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, while Wang Yafan defeated Tamira Paszek, the No.4 seed, 6-2, 7-6(2).

Also advancing was last year’s runner-up, Julia Glushko, who fought back to see off qualifier Peangtarn Plipuech, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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Eguchi, Pliskova Book Dalian Final Clash

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

DALIAN, China – No.7 seed Misa Eguchi outlasted Grace Min in a two-hour and twenty minute marathon match to reach the final at the Dalian Women’s Tennis Open, where she’ll face the unseeded Kristyna Pliskova for a shot at the title.

Watch free live streaming from Dalian 125K all week right here!

After dropping the first set to the Japanese No.7 seed, Min – the author of yesterday’s big upset of top seed Qiang Wang – roared back in the second, edging past Eguchi in the tiebreaker to force a deciding set. After weathering a two-hour rain delay, the Japanese player righted the ship in the final set, powering past Min to book a spot in the final.

Her opponent in the Dalian Women’s Tennis Open final will be the 24-year-old Kristyna Pliskova. Pliskova, ranked No.122, will arrive into the match feeling quite rested as her opponent Han Xinyun was forced to retire just 36 minutes into the match, with Pliskova leading 4-1.

Eguchi leads the head to head against Pliskova, notching a straight sets win over the Czech in their only previous encounter back in 2014. But the pair haven’t played at the WTA-level since, and Eguchi will have to contend with Pliskova’s biggest weapon: her powerful, record-setting serve.

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Wozniacki Dodges Lucic-Baroni Challenge

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MONTERREY, Mexico – No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki dodged a stern second-round challenge from Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Abierto Monterrey Afirme 6-4, 6-4.

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“It was very tough,” Wozniacki said after the match. “[Lucic-Baroni] plays really strong and really hard from the baseline and I didn’t have much time to get ready for my shots. So yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Wozniacki found herself in trouble early on – she quickly found herself down 4-2 in the first set, overpowered by Lucic-Baroni’s heavy groundstrokes and returns. After a word with her coach, Wozniacki came back with more aggression, winning the next four games to take back the set 6-4.

The pair contested a tight second set, holding serves and trading breaks at 3-3, staying level until Wozniacki sealed the match with a final break to Lucic-Baroni’s serve as the Croatian sent a forehand wide.

“I think I just kept my head cool and just got that extra ball back, try to get a little extra pop in my shots when she was attacking me,” Wozniacki said of her first-set comeback. “I got a lot of returns back and I kept the ball deep.”

Wozniacki is set to face Britain’s Heather Watson in the Monterrey quarterfinals.

Earlier in the evening, No.1 seed Sara Errani was no match for the inspired performance of 20-year-old Anett Kontaveit, who sent her packing 6-1, 6-3.

Kontaveit’s first-round win over Cibulkova – a former Australian Open finalist – fired a warning shot to her Monterrey rivals, and although Errani had never played against her she knew to expect a challenge.

“No, I have seen her on television in a couple of games but I don’t know her,” Errani said ahead of their match. “I have seen her play very well, hit the ball very hard, but let’s see.”

Errani was confounded by Kontaveit’s short-angled forehands and pace, and once the Estonian found her footing in the match there was no looking back. After Errani’s service hold in the first game of the set, Kontaveit won the next six to win the first set 6-1 in barely 22 minutes. Errani’s troubles continued in the second set; though Errani broke Kontaveit’s serve twice, the 20-year-old kept the pressure on and kept the points short, marching to a 6-1, 6-3 victory.

 

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Insider Podcast: Kerber Reigns In New York

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

NEW YORK, NY, USA – Angelique Kerber marked her coronation as the WTA’s new No.1 by defusing Karolina Pliskova in an absorbing US Open final.

Showing all the qualities that have made her 2016’s standout performer, Kerber rallied from 3-1 down in the final set to collect her second Grand Slam trophy.

“I think it’s amazing what I did this year, and I’m really so happy and so proud about everything – my team, my game, the improvements to my game,” Kerber said afterwards. “Being here with my second [Grand Slam] trophy is the best feeling ever.”

Hear what else Kerber had to say on her latest triumph, as well as comment from gallant runner-up Pliskova in the latest Daily Dispatch:

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or on any podcast app of your choice to ensure you never miss an episode when they go live. Reviews are always helpful, so if you like what you’ve heard so far, leave us one. You can also get new episode alerts by following us on Twitter @WTA_Insider.

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McHale Survives Tokyo Scare

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

TOKYO, Japan – No.7 seed Christina McHale survived a late wobble to defeat Kateryna Kozlova and take her place in the second round of the Hashimoto Sogyo Japan Women’s Open Tennis.

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In her first match since a disappointing second-round defeat to Roberta Vinci at the US Open, McHale looked to have weathered to storm when she broke for a 5-3 in the deciding set. However, Kozlova had no intention of going quietly, promptly breaking back to ensure a tense finish.

McHale regrouped to force a tie-break and despite spurning two match points, closed out a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory after almost three hours on court.

Elsewhere, there were mixed fortunes for the draws other seeds as Zhang Shuai came through her own rollercoaster, while Kateryna Bondarenko and Madison Brengle fell at the first hurdle.

Taking on wildcard Eri Hozumi and the home crowd, Zhang recovered from a slow start to both the first set, then a second set whitewash before ultimately prevailing, 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3.

Bondarenko, the No.8 seed, was edged out by Louisa Chirico, 6-4, 7-5, while No.5 seed Brengle lost the final four games to slip to a 6-1, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Jana Cepelova.

The remaining seeds will all be in action on Tuesday, including last year’s winner, Yanina Wickmayer and home favorite Misaki Doi, who begins her bid to become the tournament’s first Japanese champion against Aliaksandra Sasnovich. 

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Indian Wells: Breaking Down The Draw

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – Simona Halep faces a daunting challenge if she is to become the second player to successfully defend her crown at the BNP Paribas Open.

In the event’s 27-year history, only the great Martina Navratilova has won back-to-back titles. Halep’s hopes of following in these legendary footsteps were done no favors during Monday afternoon’s draw, which placed her in a treacherous top quarter.

All 32 seeds receive a first-round bye and Halep’s opening match will be against either Vania King or a qualifier.The mercurial Ekaterina Makarova, who famously upset Halep at the 2015  Australian Open, is seeded to be her third-round opponent.

Should she pass these early tests, then in all likelihood the Romanian will have to run the Williams gauntlet; Venus Williams is Halep’s projected fourth round foe, with top seed Serena Williams likely to be lying in wait in the quarterfinals. Only seven players have succeeded in beating both sisters at the same tournament, Jelena Jankovic being the most recent, at Rome in 2010. 

Twelve months ago, Serena made her much-publicized return to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and her move prompted Venus to follow suit. Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova are also in the top half, both of whom will be wise not to look too far ahead.

In a section that includes Svetlana Kuznetsova, Monica Niculescu, Heather Watson and last year’s runner-up, Jelena Jankovic, No.3 seed Radwanska’s most pressing concern will be the possible second-round banana skin against Dominika Cibulkova.

Keeping Kvitova company are Fed Cup teammate Lucie Safarova and fellow big-hitters Madison Keys and Sabine Lisicki. 

No.2 seed Angelique Kerber finds herself in the less threatening bottom half, although her recent Doha hiccup will surely safeguard against complacency.

Barring upsets, Kerber and Carla Suárez Navarro are set to lock horns in the last eight, while two of the WTA’s new kids on the block, Garbiñe Muguruza and Belinda Bencic, are the leading seeds in the other quarter.

Click here to see the full draw.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova’s Best Shots Of 2016

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Svetlana Kuznetsova’s late season surge into Singapore made headlines, but the WTA veteran’s hot shots have been turning heads all season long. Watch all of her best shots of 2016, right here!

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