Osaka, Halep Advance While Barty Beats Sharapova In Cincinnati

Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates.

 

World number one Naomi Osaka and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep battled to three-set triumphs Wednesday at the ATP and WTA Cincinnati Masters while top seed Ashleigh Barty ousted Maria Sharapova.

Reigning US and Australian Open champion Osaka needed more than two hours to outlast Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-2.

The Japanese star will next face a third-round match against Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei, who defeated American Jennifer Brady 7-6 (11/9) 6-3.

Osaka finally scored a win here at the US Open warm-up after losing in the first round a year ago.

“I was just trying to have fun,” Osaka said. “In the second set I was taking myself too seriously and was down on myself.

“Now I just want to have fun and enjoy it. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Osaka advanced with eight aces, 24 winners and breaks on four of five chances against an opponent who was treated on her right knee several times.

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Australia’s Barty, 23, won the battle of former number one players in just over 90 minutes. The reigning Roland Garros champion beat five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova, who was Cincinnati champion in 2011, for the second time this season after a win at the Australian Open.

It was Barty’s 40th victory of 2019 and she goes on to face Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who beat Polish teenager Iga Swiatek 6-4, 7-6 (7/2).

Barty said she remained focused after last week’s opening defeat in Toronto.

“It was certainly no panic sessions after last week. I knew I was a little bit underdone going into Toronto and certainly had no worries or concerns there,” Barty said.

“I’ve been striking the ball really well over the last seven or eight days. I found my groove a little bit more. It took a little bit to adjust to conditions, but it was easy for me to swing out at the start.”

Barty fired 18 winners, breaking Sharapova four times as the Russian made 31 unforced errors.

Fourth-seeded Halep took a late break in the penultimate game of the final set to beat Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 after two hours on court.

The Romanian has finished runner-up in Cincinnati three times, last reaching the final a year ago against Kiki Bertens.

In the next round, the 27-year-old, who retired injured from her Toronto quarter-final against Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova last week, will face American Madison Keys, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

“It was a very, very tough match,” Halep said. “She played well, hitting the ball very strong. “Mentally, it was tough to return for me at the start after playing injured last week.

“But I didn’t have pain, which is good. It took time to get a rhythm and then do something on court.”

World number three Karolina Pliskova beat China’s Wang Yafan 6-1, 6-3, while seventh seed Elina Svitolina, a semi-finalist four years ago, advanced past Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1.

– Tsitsipas, Zverev out –
In the men’s draw, fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas saved three match points but still lost to Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6).

Kei Nishikori went out to fellow Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (7/2), 6-4. Sixth seed Nishikori has still never advanced beyond the third round in Cincinnati.

Alexander Zverev, seeded seventh, remained winless in his Cincinnati career after losing 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-4 to 19-year-old Serb Miomir Kecmanovic. The German struck an unbelievable 20 double-faults in defeat.

Ninth seed Daniil Medvedev, losing finalist to Rafael Nadal in Montreal last weekend, eased past Benoit Paire 7-6 (7/2), 6-1 and will next face Struff.

France’s Richard Gasquet, who ended Andy Murray’s comeback singles tournament in the first round, saw off Argentinian Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6 (7/1).

Australian Alex de Minaur defeated American Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 to set up a third-round tie with Nishioka.

Andy Murray To Return To Singles In Cincinnati Next Week

Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing with his brother Jamie Murray of Great Britain during their doubles match against Raven Klaasen of Russia and Michael Venus of New Zealand during Day 5 of the Citi Open at Rock Creek Tennis Center on August 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

 

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray said on Friday he will return to singles competition next week at the ATP Cincinnati Masters, seven months after having right hip surgery he feared might end his career.

The British star posted a photo of himself on his Facebook page on court while yelling with a clenched right fist and the caption: “That feeling when you accept a wildcard for the singles in Cinci… #LetsDoThis #HereWeGo.”

The 32-year-old Scotsman has fallen to 325th in the world rankings after his January operation to ease nagging hip pain.

His first match next week in Cincinnati in the final major tuneup for the US Open will be his first competitive singles outing since the Australian Open in January.

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“Good news for the sport,” Spain’s Rafael Nadal said of Murray’s return to singles. “Especially great news for him. That means that he’s healthy.

“That’s going to be a big, big moment for him,” Nadal told reporters in Montreal. After all the retirement that he predicted in Australia … six months later seems like he’s back again, healthy, competing well.”

Murray will face Richard Gasquet in the first round in Cincy. Murray leads their head-to-head 8-3 and beat the Frenchman in the 2015 Cincinnati quarter-finals.

Should Murray make it to the second round, he would face fourth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem.

Murray has played doubles in recent weeks while practicing his singles in a bid to regain his fitness in time to play at Cincinnati as preparation for this year’s final Grand Slam event that starts in New York on August 26.

Murray and his brother Jamie played doubles together for the first time since the 2016 Rio Olympics in Washington last week, losing in the quarter-finals.

Murray, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic singles champion, won Grand Slam singles titles at the 2012 US Open and Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016.

Halep Under Pressure As Rain Halts Play In Cincinnati

Halep Under Pressure As Rain Halts Play In Cincinnati
(File) Romania’s Simona Halep returns the ball during the women’s singles first round match on day four of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 30, 2018. Eric FEFERBERG / AFP

 

The women’s draw took a beating on Wednesday in Cincinnati, where world number one Simona Halep’s was still battling when rain halted play.

The top-seeded Romanian stood 4-6, 6-3, 3-3 against Australian qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic when storms rolled in to bring the night session to an end on a day that had already seen one three-hour rain delay.

Halep had regained some momentum after falling two breaks down in the third set, with both women taking medical timeouts.

Halep was just one of the top women to run into trouble in the combined WTA and ATP Masters hardcourt tournament — the last major tuneup for the US Open.

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza, playing for the first time since losing in the second round of her Wimbledon title defence, fell 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Lesia Tsurenko.

“It was a very ugly match, but I’m happy that I fought, even if the level wasn’t very high,” said Muguruza, who got a late start to her buildup to the US Open because of an arm injury.

“At the end, she managed to come back in the third set and play better and found a way to win the match,” said Muguruza, who was at least pleased to report that she played without any pain in her arm.

Second seed Caroline Wozniacki, however, retired with a left knee injury after surrendering the first set 6-4 to Kiki Bertens.

The Dane also lost her opening match a week ago in Montreal, following a second-round defeat at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber, the fourth seed, claimed her 40th win of the season, but she had to recover from a set down and needed two chances to serve for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“This was really a match where I was fighting after the first set to coming back,” Kerber said. “It was an important match to get my rhythm, feel the ball, especially now after a few weeks off.”

US Open champion Sloane Stephens bucked the upset trend, winning easily into the third round 6-3, 6-2 over German qualifier Tatjana Maria.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus continued her successful tournament debut, beating ninth seed Karolina Pliskova 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. Australian 16th seed Ashleigh Barty defeated Estonian Kaia Kanepi 7-5, 6-3.

– Ailing Djokovic advances –

In the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic battled stomach issues to beat Adrian Mannarino and reach the third round.

The Wimbledon champion called for the doctor during the second set but put aside his discomfort to progress 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 over the Frenchman before rain halted afternoon play for nearly three hours.

“I wasn’t feeling well, I didn’t have a great night and wasn’t feeling that well for the first set and a half,” said Djokovic, who has won every Masters 1000 title except Cincinnati.

“I made it through, and with the help of the doctor and God…I’m just, you know, happy that I managed to overcome the challenge.”

Fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov launched his title defence with a 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 win over Mischa Zverev, the Bulgarian belting 33 winners in a match that started late.

Marin Cilic, the 2016 men’s champion, beat Romanian Marius Copil 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4, but third-seeded Alexander Zverev, younger brother of Mischa, was upset 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 by Dutch veteran Robin Haase.

Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson beat Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (8/6), 6-2 while Canadian Milos Raonic advanced over Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 7-5.

Three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka continued his return after knee surgery a year ago, beating Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-4.

Nick Kyrgios shook off a dismal second set to beat Croatian Borna Coric 7-6 (7/1), 0-6, 6-3.

The Australian, who petulantly smacked a ball into the stands as he unravelled in the second set, pulled himself together to set up a meeting with either South Korean Chung Hyeon or Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, whose scheduled match never got underway.

AFP

Roger Federer Sets Eyes On US Open Victory

US OpenSwiss Tennis legend, Roger Federer, is gearing up for a successful outing at the US Open.

The World number 3, having lost the Wimbledon final earlier in the year, again finished as the runner-up in Toronto before going on to win the title in Cincinnati.

A back injury has made 2013 a difficult year for Federer but the 17-time Grand Slam champion insists his injury problems were over and he hopes to challenge for the title in New York.

“I was scared to have another setback, and so it was just not as clear-cut and simple as it is this year,” Federer, who won his five US Open titles in consecutive years between 2004 and 2008, is quoted as saying by The National.

“This year I played a lot of good matches. Not just Toronto and Cincinnati, but really from the first week on I have always played really nice tennis.

“You almost forget how to lose to a point and confidence rises. You’re back to winning ways again and everything seems so simple. I’m looking forward to this tournament, because I really feel like I can play a great tournament. I hope I can show that on the court this year.”

Defending Champion, Rafael Nadal, would not defend his US Open title after pulling out of the tournament with a wrist injury. This paves the way for World Number One, Novak Djokovic, and Federer to stake a claim for the title.

Djokovic, who beat Federer in the Wimbledon final in five sets earlier in the year, is the generally acknowledged favourite to win the 2014 US Open, but he did not sound like it in his last pre-tournament press conference on Saturday.

“When Rafa is not around it changes everything,” Djokovic said. “But, on the other side, we have all the other best players in the world here.”

It is expected that Djokovic would be more concerned by a likely quarter-final meeting with the man who stopped him in the final in 2012, British Andy Murray. Although the British has acknowledged Roger Federer as a major threat.

He believes Federer is in sparkling form and would not be surprised to see the Swiss win the US Open.

Federer faces 29-year-old Australian Marinko Matosevic, the world number 77, in the first round.

Tennis: Nadal Pulls Out Of US Open With Injury

nadalWorld Number One, Rafael Nadal, has pulled out of the US Open the US Open because of an injury to his right wrist.

Nadal suffered an injury to his right wrist at home in Mallorca on July 29 whilst practicing for the US hard court season and he was advised by doctors to wear a cast for two to three weeks but the problem forced him to miss the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the Cincinnati Open.

The defending champion had hoped to recover in time before August 25, when the US Open gets underway at Flushing Meadows but announced on his Facebook page that he would not defend his title due to the injury.

Nadal said: “I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s US Open, a tournament in which I’ve played in three consecutive finals.

“I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things.

“Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.”

The problem is a new one for Nadal to deal with after long-running battles with his knees. Though he plays left-handed, he has a double-handed backhand.

Nadal has not competed since he was beaten by Australian teenager, Nick Kyrgios, in the fourth round at Wimbledon on July 1.

He announced late last month that he would not be defending either his Rogers Cup title in Toronto or his Western & Southern Open crown in Cincinnati.

The World Number One has reached the final in his last three appearances at Flushing Meadows and on each occasion, he played Novak Djokovic.

He beat the Serbian in 2010 and 2013, and lost to him in 2011. Nadal missed the 2012 US Open because of a knee injury which kept him on the sidelines for nine months.

He won his 14th Grand Slam title on the clay of Roland Garros in May this year, but his pursuit of Roger Federer’s record 17 trophies will go on hold until the Australian Open in January, at least.

It is only the fourth time in the Open era, which began in 1968, that the reigning US Open men’s champion has been unable to defend his title.

Nadal’s absence means in-form world No 3, Roger Federer, who won the Cincinnati Masters on Sunday,would be seeded second behind Djokovic.