Australian Open: Osaka-Muguruza Clash Features Insistent Butterfly

A butterfly lands on Japan’s Naomi Osaka as she plays against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by Paul CROCK / AFP)

 

Naomi Osaka had to deal with a butterfly landing on her nose Friday but was otherwise little bothered as she breezed into the last 16 of the Australian Open and a showdown with last year’s runner-up Garbine Muguruza.

The third seed, champion in Melbourne two years ago, gently carried the insect intruder to safety at the side of the court before closing out an easy 6-3, 6-2 victory over Tunisian 27th seed Ons Jabeur in 1hr 18min.

Japan’s Osaka, who has dropped just 13 games in her opening three matches, is great friends with “free spirit” Jabeur and said playing against her on John Cain Arena was “really fun”.

But she wasn’t happy with how she performed.

 

 

A butterfly lands on Japan’s Naomi Osaka as she plays against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)

 

“I felt like I wasn’t playing that well, like my unforced error rate was probably really high today,” she said. “But I’m really happy with how I fought.”

Osaka will face an entirely different style of play when she meets two-time Grand Slam winner Muguruza for a place in the quarter-finals.

“For me I feel like Ons is a very different player, but that’s just judging from the matches I’ve watched of Muguruza,” she said.

“I think Ons is definitely more of a free spirit, and I think for me Muguruza might be a bit more like my taste. Like she’s not as unpredictable as Ons is.”

 

 

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza hits a return against Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE —

 

Osaka added that she was excited to finally play the Spanish 14th seed, having watched her win Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros in 2016 and Wimbledon a year later.

Muguruza, who lost in the final to Sofia Kenin a year ago, beat Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas 6-1, 6-1 to set up the fourth-round clash.

“I’ve practised with her once, but it was on grass, and I was younger,” she said.

“But I just remember being really impressed by her, and for me, I’ve watched her win Wimbledon and win the French Open when I was younger, and I’ve always wanted to have the chance to play her. So for me, this is really exciting.”

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka hits a return against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur during their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 12, 2021. (Photo by Paul CROCK / AFP)

 

When they do play on Sunday, it will be in front of an empty stadiums after it was announced Friday that Melbourne would go into five days’ lockdown from midnight to try and stamp out a fresh coronavirus cluster.

“I feel like while I’m here, I’m really embracing the crowd,” said Osaka, but added that with no fans to spur her on she would instead just “focus within myself”.

Kenin Beats Muguruza To Win Australian Open Final

Sofia Kenin of the US kisses the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in their women’s singles final match on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 1, 2020. AFP

 

America’s Sofia Kenin stunned two-time Major champion Garbine Muguruza to win the Australian Open on Saturday, completing a surprise run where she came from nowhere to lift her first Grand Slam title.

Despite making her debut in a Major final Kenin, 21, showed all her trademark aggression as she fought back from a set down to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in 2hrs 3mins against the shellshocked Spaniard.

The 14th seed, who will now jump to seventh in the world and usurp Serena Williams as America’s number one, was in tears at the end and headed straight for her father Alexander, who is her coach.

It was the final twist in a tournament of upsets after Williams crashed out in the third round and Kenin beat Australia’s world number one Ashleigh Barty in the semi-finals.

“It’s just such an honour to have my name on that beautiful trophy, it’s something I’ve dreamed about,” said Moscow-born Kenin.

“Of course it’s an exciting moment for me and for my family, I get to share this.

“Obviously things are going to change for me, but we’re just going to move forward, get ready for next tournaments.

“Right now we got to figure out how to celebrate.”

Former world number one Muguruza was unseeded for the first time at a Slam since 2014, having suffered a marked loss of form in the last 18 months.

The 26-year-old was resurgent in Melbourne over the past fortnight, but after grabbing the first-set lead her serve failed her spectacularly.

She totted up eight double-faults in all, three of them in the final game — including one on the second championship point, handing the title to her younger opponent.

 Kenin fights back 

Muguruza drew first blood at Rod Laver Arena, where the roof was closed for rain in Melbourne, getting the first break of serve.

Kenin, who ended the fairytale run of 15-year-old Coco Gauff on her way to the final, bounced her American stars-and-stripes racquet on the hardcourt in anger.

The 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon winner Muguruza took the first set in 52 minutes when the young American planted her forehand out.

Kenin, not one to hide her feelings on the court, said that she had struggled to rein in her emotions at that point.

“I was obviously devastated, I knew I didn’t take my chances,” she said. “I knew I needed to somehow forget what happened, just move forward and just keep believing in myself.”

The aggressive Kenin upped the ante in the second set, breaking her more experienced opponent in the fourth game and easily holding to sprint into a 4-1 lead.

Kenin, who won their only previous encounter in three sets, grabbed the second set in an emphatic 32 minutes. A rattled Muguruza was seen briefly by a physio for what appeared to be a lower-back problem.

Into the deciding set and the gutsy Kenin saved three game points in a pivotal fifth game, tossing the ball back over her head by way of a defiant celebration.

Kenin adds by far the biggest title of her fast-burgeoning career to the three WTA crowns she won last year.

“The past two weeks have been the best of my life,” she told Rod Laver Arena, as her father — who left the Soviet Union in 1987 to give the family a better life — filmed her victory speech on his phone.

“I love you guys from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much,” she told the crowd.

At 21 years and 80 days, Kenin is 22 days younger than Japan’s Naomi Osaka when she won the title last year.

Kenin is the youngest Australian Open champion since Maria Sharapova — her idol — won aged 20 in 2008.

Serena Downs Azarenka To Reach Indian Wells Second Round

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 08: Serena Williams of the United States celebrates her women’s singles second round match victory against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Day 5 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 08, 2019 in Indian Wells, California. Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

Serena Williams defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-3 in a battle of former world number ones on Friday to reach the second round at Indian Wells.

Williams, seeded 10th in her first tournament since a quarter-final exit at the Australian Open, needed two hours and seven minutes to get past her long-time rival.

She took her record against Azarenka to 18-4, although the Belarusian, now ranked 48th in the world, had triumphed in their most recent prior meeting in the 2016 final on the same Indian Wells stadium court.

READ ALSO: After 12 years, Fellaini Calls Time On Belgium Career

“It’s hard to play somebody you’re so close to,” Williams said. “It’s also invigorating.”

Williams advanced to a third-round meeting with another former world number one, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who beat American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-3.

AFP

Muguruza Beats Sharapova To Reach French Open Semis

Muguruza Beats Sharapova To Reach French Open Semis
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza (R) is congratulated by Russia’s Maria Sharapova after winning, at the end of their women’s singles quarter-final match on day eleven of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 6, 2018. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

Garbine Muguruza thrashed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 to reach the French Open semi-finals on Wednesday, condemning the Russian to her worst Grand Slam defeat in more than six years.

The Spanish third seed, who was the champion in Paris in 2016, will face either top seed Simona Halep or two-time major winner Angelique Kerber for a place in Saturday’s final.

Sharapova, playing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015, suffered her most one-sided defeat at the Slams since a 6-3, 6-0 loss to Victoria Azarenka in the 2012 Australian Open final.

“I am very pleased to be in another final in Paris,” said Muguruza who has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

“I was up against a great player so I had make sure I brought my best tennis.”

Sharapova, who missed the 2016 tournament because of a doping ban and last year after she was refused a wild card, was broken six times, committed 27 unforced errors and won just five points on her own serve in the second set.

It was just her fifth loss in 25 Grand Slam quarter-finals.

Muguruza pounced on an error-plagued Sharapova start to lead 4-0 with a double break.

Sharapova never recovered from serving up three double faults in the first game.

By the end of the first set, the five-time major winner had won just eight points against the Muguruza serve and failed to carve out a single break point.

Muguruza only hit five winners in the opener which was more than enough against the erratic Russian who reached the quarter-finals for the first time in three years when old rival Serena Williams handed her an injury-enforced walkover.

Sharapova, 31, was broken in the opening game of the second set which she immediately retrieved.

However, it was just a brief respite as 24-year-old Wimbledon champion Muguruza claimed a quick double break for 4-1, backed up by a hold for 5-1.

It was all over in the next game when Sharapova sent another backhand out wide.

In Thursday’s other semi-final, US Open champion Sloane Stephens will take on fellow American Madison Keys in a repeat of the 2017 final at Flushing Meadows.

AFP

Venus Stuns Muguruza To Advance At WTA Finals

Garbine Muguruza (L) and Venus Williams (R). Photo: ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP

Venus Williams gained revenge for her Wimbledon final defeat by Garbine Muguruza when the American advanced to the last four of the WTA Finals with a gutsy 7-5 6-4 victory over the Spanish world number two on Thursday.

Both players knew a win would secure a passage to the semi-finals as they held identical 1-1 records in White Group play at the season-ending event but the 37-year-old was stronger on the key points and moved brilliantly around the court to progress.

Muguruza had brushed aside Williams to claim her second grand slam title in July but any hopes she had of repeating the feat were snuffed out by a resolute opponent, who simply refused to buckle in the tense Singapore Indoor Stadium encounter.

The Spaniard twice saw herself take the lead in both sets by breaking her opponent’s serve, but Williams twice came back from behind to win the sets.

The victory enabled Williams, who won this event in 2008, to advance along with pool winner Karolina Pliskova, who won her first two matches but ended round-robin play with a 6-3 6-1 defeat by Jelena Ostapenko earlier on Thursday.

Caroline Wozniacki has already advanced from the Red Group with one round of matches remaining, while Simona Halep, Caroline Garcia, and Elina Svitolina can all still qualify alongside the Dane when play concludes in that pool on Friday.

Reuters 

Muguruza Advances As Sharapova Returns At US Open

Gabrine Muguruza of Spain looks on during her first round Women’s Singles match against Varvara Lepchenko of the United States on Day One of the 2017 US Open.
Richard HEATHCOTE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza advanced while British seventh seed Johanna Konta was ousted on Monday at the US Open, where Maria Sharapova’s long-awaited return to Grand Slam tennis was finally at hand.

Spanish third seed Muguruza defeated American Varvara Lepchenko 6-0, 6-3 for her first triumph in Arthur Ashe Stadium, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on the first day of New York hardcourt matches.

Muguruza, last year’s French Open champion, can reach the US Open third round for the first time on Wednesday by defeating China’s Duan Ying-Ying.

“Very happy I’m in the second round,” said Muguruza. “I’ve been here so many times and I’ve never done very well. I will try again and hopefully, it will happen.”

Serbia’s 78th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic upset Australian-born Konta 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, ending her slim hopes at taking the world number one ranking at the tournament.

“I’m happy I had everything together and was able to put some serves in,” said Krunic, whose deepest Slam run was to the last 16 here in 2014.

Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion and last month’s Wimbledon runner-up, had not played since losing the All England final to Roger Federer due to an adductor strain.

But the Croatian fifth seed ousted 105th-ranked American Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

“I feel just a little bit rusty,” Cilic said. “I need a few matches to get into the rhythm. It’s a matter of me getting consistency point after point and match after match and I’ll be working on that.”

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova was set to face Romania’s second-ranked Simona Halep in the night feature, the Russian’s first Grand Slam match since serving a 15-month doping ban and only her second on hard courts.

“I don’t think any tennis fan in the world is not going to have that match on,” said US 15th seed Madison Keys.

Former world number one Sharapova is 6-0 lifetime against Halep, although she last played the 25-year-old Romanian in the 2015 WTA Finals.

“It’s going to be a big challenge, first round of a Grand Slam, to face her,” Halep said. “I feel better and I feel that I’m ready to face her again.”

Sharapova, whose major titles include the 2006 US Open, tested positive for the banned drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. Her comeback began in April with the aid of wildcards, which drew complaints from many rivals.

“When someone has been banned or out of competition, I think you have to work for it a little bit to go and play your tournaments and not help that much sometimes,” Muguruza said Saturday.

The French Open denied Sharapova a wildcard and she missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury, but US Open officials offered her a wildcard as “a past US champion who needed the wildcard for entry into the main draw,” according to a tournament statement.

Sharapova, ranked 146th, played only one hardcourt tune-up match before a forearm injury sidelined her.

On the other hand, Halep has lost three times in three months with a chance to claim the world number one ranking, falling in the French Open final and Wimbledon semi-finals and to Muguruza in the Cincinnati final.

– ‘A dark past’ at US Open –

Muguruza improved to 17-2 since the start of her London Grand Slam title run, but the 23-year-old Spaniard resists the notion she can be favored with a poor US Open history.

“Coming to US Open and having a dark past in the results, I keep it with low expectations,” Muguruza said. “I take every match as a final.”

US 10th seed John Isner blasted 22 aces in eliminating France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Herbert won 14 points in a row at one stage, including the final 12 of the third set, but Isner took the next 10 and advanced to a second-round affair with South Korea’s Chung Hyeon.

“I was playing well out there,” Isner said. “He won the third set but I just had to have faith in what I was doing and I’m moving on.”

AFP

Muguruza Reveals Secret Behind Wimbledon Triumph

Garbine Muguruza

Wimbledon 2017 Women’s champion Garbine Muguruza did little to hide her joy after her incredible victory on Saturday over Venus Williams on Saturday.

Muguruza said she always ups her game in grand slams and had her Wimbledon final defeat in 2015 to Venus’ sister Serena on her mind.

READ ALSO: Muguruza Stuns Venus To Win First Wimbledon Title

The Venezuela-born Spaniard said she kept focused on her own game, even when she seemed on the verge of losing the first set before clawing back to overcome Williams and destroy her opponent in the second set.

Muguruza Reveals Secret Behind Wimbledon Triumph
Garbine Muguruza

She said: “I always come very motivated to the grand slams and I don’t know, since I lost the final here I wanted to change that, and I came thinking I’m prepared, feeling good, and during the tournament in the matches I was feeling better and better; in every match I was increasing my level and I think today I played well.”

READ ALSO: Venus Admits Muguruza ‘Played Top Tennis’ In Wimbledon Final

Asked who she would rather dance with from the male finalists, an embarrassed Muguruza chose Roger Federer, drawing loud laughter from journalists at the news conference.

Venus Admits Muguruza ‘Played Top Tennis’ In Wimbledon Final

Wimbledon Final: Venus Admits Muguruza 'Played Top Tennis'

Wimbledon 2017 Women’s finalist Venus Williams was full of praise for her opponent Garbine Muguruza who denied her victory on Saturday.

READ ALSO: Muguruza Stuns Venus To Win First Wimbledon Title

When asked if an injury was behind her second set collapse, Williams didn’t mention any injury, instead heaping praise for her opponent’s performance.

“I definitely would have loved to have converted some of those points but she competed really well, so she just dug in there and managed to play better.

READ ALSO: Muguruza Reveals Secret Behind Wimbledon Triumph

“She played really well. I mean, she played top tennis, so I have to give her credit for just playing a better match. I’ve had a great two weeks. I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer.”

Muguruza Stuns Venus To Win First Wimbledon Title

Garbine Muguruza

Spirited Garbine Muguruza clinched a maiden Wimbledon title on Saturday with a stunning 7-5 6-0 demolition of Venus Williams.

The dreams of a fairytale victory of the American 10th seed at the age of 37 were blown apart in a devastating second set.

After some tense early exchanges, 23-year-old Muguruza cut loose, winning nine straight games to claim a second grand slam title to add to last year’s French Open.

The Spaniard fell to the floor in celebration after clinching victory in an hour and 17 minutes. It was her second Wimbledon final, having lost to Venus’s sister Serena on the same stage in 2015.

In the first women’s final played under the Centre Court roof, a high-quality first set gradually built towards a captivating conclusion.

It included several tests of nerve for the battling Spaniard who showed an almost iron will not to give an inch even as Venus upped the aggression levels with ferocious intent.

Muguruza saved three break points, which included two tension-filled set points in the 10th game, the first of which saw the Spaniard emerge with a clenched fist from an epic 19-shot rally.

She took the first set when Venus netted a backhand and then put her foot on the floor with astonishing brutality.

She also broke on three straight occasions in the second set as Venus seemed to hit a mental and physical wall.

When the five-time winner could barely get her racket on a vicious forehand, it gave the Spaniard three match points but in keeping with a messy second set, she needed two Hawk-eye challenges to put the beleaguered American out of her misery.

As the scoreboard showed the ball had bounced out at 40-30, she dropped her racket and fell to the ground, before covering her face in an emotional celebration.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza Crushes Rybarikova To Reach Wimbledon Final

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza reached her second Wimbledon final in three years with a thumping 6-1 6-1 win over Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova on Thursday.

A visibly confident Muguruza needed just 64 minutes to deal with the 87th-ranked Rybarikova, who had beaten third seed Karolina Pliskova and American Coco Vanderweghe on her unexpected run to the last four.

The Spaniard was 3-0 up after just 10 minutes, her aggressive approach paying dividends against an opponent who looked nervous in what was the biggest game of her career to date.

Muguruza, who lost to Serena Williams in 2015 final, will face the winner of Thursday’s other semi between Venus Williams and Britain’s Johanna Konta in Saturday’s final.

Czech Republic Beat Spain To Reach Fed Cup Semi-Final

Czech Republic Beat Spain To Reach Fed Cup Semi-FinalThe Czech Republic have reached their ninth straight Fed Cup semi-final, after Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova led the reigning champions to a 3-1 victory over Spain in Ostrava.

After wins for Pliskova and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in the opening rubbers on Saturday, Sunday’s action started with the score level at 1-1.

Pliskova was in dominant form and the world number three dispatched Muguruza in just 60 minutes in their tie.

However, Czech triumphed 6-2 6-2 over the French Open champion to give Strycova the chance to seal the Czech Republic’s 10th consecutive Fed Cup victory.

Rafael Nadal To Represent Spain At Olympics

Rafael Nadal, olympics, spainDespite injury concerns, Spanish tennis player, Rafael Nadal has confirmed that he would represent his country at the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

The 14-time Grand Slam winner, who has suffered injury setbacks in the past few months, said he is ready compete in every category of the tournament in Brazil.

“After discussing it with my team, I have decided I will play everything that I can,” he said.

“We are here and practice has gone well – more or less. It’s not an ideal situation, there are always risks, but the MRI scan was OK.”

Nadal, 30, is scheduled to play doubles with Marc Lopez and mixed doubles with French Open champion, Garbine Muguruza.