WTA

Barty sets up Gauff showdown in Rome as Swiatek survives scare

By Sports Desk May 13, 2021

Ash Barty will meet Coco Gauff in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia after an impressive defeat of Veronika Kudermetova.

The world number one claimed her 27th Tour-level win of this year, seeing off Kudermetova 6-3 6-3 in 81 minutes to reach the last eight in Rome for the first time.

Barty admitted it took some time to get used to the "wow factor" of centre court in the Italian capital, but she rarely looked under threat as she moved to 13-2 on clay in 2021.

The Australian would have faced Aryna Sabalenka for the third tournament in a row had it not been for a sterling performance from Gauff, who won 7-5 6-3 to secure a fourth quarter-final this year.

"Coco has shown that she loves to bring her best tennis against the players that challenge her the most," said Barty, who has never played against the American teenager. "She's played an exceptional tournament thus far. She's got the ability to take the game on. She's aggressive, she can run, she can trust her legs.

"I think it's going to be important for me to try to get the match back on my terms as often as possible. I know when they're in her patterns, the way she likes to play, she's extremely dangerous and very good at what she does. I think it's going to be a new challenge, a clean slate for both of us."

Matters were more difficult for reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek, who saved two match points before beating Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 in a contest lasting nearly three hours.

Powerful serving from Krejcikova and some errant shots from Swiatek gifted the Czech the chance to serve out a straight-sets win, but Swiatek held firm before taking the tie-break.

Swiatek persisted with a drop shot that seemed to cause difficulties for her and her opponent before Krejcikova's aim went awry at the end of the decider.

"I had fun when I played drop shots because today I felt them really good," said Swiatek, who will now face fifth seed Elina Svitolina after her 6-4 6-2 beating of Garbine Muguruza.

"I asked myself a question, what would annoy me in that situation? So, I tried to do that. So, yeah, sometimes it didn't look pretty, but I'm happy that I could do that. One year ago I wouldn't even come up with a solution like that. That's a progress."

Jessica Pegula followed up her shock win over Naomi Osaka by defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets. She will now face Petra Martic, who came from a set down to defeat world number 44 Nadia Podoroska – conqueror of Serena Williams on Wednesday.

Ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, who beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-3, will face Jelena Ostapenko following her three-set defeat of Angelique Kerber.

Related items

  • Ruud into last 16 in Mallorca as Lajovic dumped out Ruud into last 16 in Mallorca as Lajovic dumped out

    Fifth seed Casper Ruud secured his place in the last 16 of the Mallorca Championships with a straight sets win over Gilles Simon on Monday.

    The 22-year-old claimed a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory to set up a meeting with Tennys Sandgren in the next round.

    Following Ruud onto Centre Court, the American beat Spain's Jaume Munar 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 in just over two hours.

    Sixth seed Karen Khachanov is also safely through, although he surrendered a set in beating French qualifier Lucas Pouille 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-4.

    But Dusan Lajovic, seeded eighth, was not quite as fortunate.

    Lajovic, ranked 41st in the world, was beaten 6-4 7-6 (7-2) by Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein (ranked 256).

    Feliciano Lopez came out on top of battle of Spaniards in the round of 32, beating Nicola Kuhn 6-1 7-6 (7-4).

    Their compatriot Roberto Carballes Baena is in with a chance of joining them on Tuesday after seeing his clash with Sam Querrey paused due to light with both players having taken a set.

    Elsewhere, Corentin Moutet beat Lloyd Harris to set up a meeting with top seed Daniil Medvedev, while Jiri Vesely and Stefano Travaglia also progressed.

    Monday's other scheduled ATP event in Eastbourne saw play cancelled due to rain, with the scheduled match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Egor Gerasimov pushed back as a result.

  • Kvitova battles through in Bad Homburg, no play in Eastbourne Kvitova battles through in Bad Homburg, no play in Eastbourne

    Petra Kvitova came from a set down to beat Katarzyna Piter on her return from injury at the Bad Homburg Open, while no play was possible in Eastbourne on Monday due to rain.

    Kvitova withdrew from the French Open after suffering a freak ankle injury during her post-match media duties at Roland Garros.

    The two-time Wimbledon champion recovered to get her grass-court season under way in Germany and battled to a 4-6 6-1 6-4 over Polish outsider Piter.

    A week before the third grand slam of the year gets started at the All England Club, top seed Kvitova trailed 2-0 in the final set as she struggled with her serve, but broke three times to book a second-round meeting with Ann Li.

    Sloane Stephens withdrew ahead of her scheduled match with Laura Siegemund due to a foot injury. Riya Bhatia stepped in with Stephens absent, but Siegemund consigned her to a 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 defeat.

    Angelique Kerber needed only 50 minutes to see the back of Ekaterina Yashina 6-1 6-1 on home soil, grasping all five break-point opportunities.

    Kerber will do battle with Anna Blinkova in round two and Jessie Pegula's next assignment is an encounter with Katerina Siniakova following a 6-1 6-2 defeat of Amandine Hesse.

    Blinkova beat Clara Tauson 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-2, while Sara Sorribes Tormo saw off Martina Trevisan 6-4 3-6 6-2

    Miserable weather in Eastbourne prevented Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys, Bianca Andreescu and Madison Keys from playing at the Viking International.

  • Kudos to her for being true to herself – Konta hails absent Wimbledon star Osaka Kudos to her for being true to herself – Konta hails absent Wimbledon star Osaka

    Britain's biggest hope for Wimbledon glory believes All England Club absentee Naomi Osaka deserves admiration for her impact on and off the court this year.

    Johanna Konta beat Osaka three times before the Japanese player went on a stratospheric rise, and she still holds that 3-0 record, given the pair have surprisingly gone four years without facing each other on tour.

    While Konta will bid to become a first British champion in the Wimbledon women's singles since 1977 winner Virginia Wade, superstar Osaka has elected to skip the grand slam which begins next Monday, just weeks after withdrawing from the French Open.

    Osaka is the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion, but she abandoned her Roland Garros campaign on May 31 after a first-round win and revealed a long-endured battle with depression.

    She made that announcement a day after the grand slams warned she could be thrown out of their tournaments for repeatedly skipping mandatory post-match media duties, with Osaka receiving messages of support from the likes of Serena and Venus Williams and Billie Jean King.

    The 23-year-old had already declared she would not take part in media conferences during her stay in Paris for the sake of her mental health, questioning the set-up of such interviews and why sporting bodies insist stars must always take part. She faced criticism from some quarters but has started a wider, valuable conversation about how athletes are treated.

    Osaka, who last year was ranked by Forbes as the highest-paid female athlete in world sport, has been a powerful and uncompromising voice on race and gender inequality issues, with Konta impressed by the impact such a young player is having.

    "As a tennis player she's a four-time grand slam champion already, so she's an incredibly gifted, good tennis player and she is reaching the results that prove that as well," said Konta, a Jaguar ambassador.

    "I think for the game, she'll probably be around and be successful for quite some time to come.

    "She has a big passion for social movements and current social matters and she feels empowered by using her voice in ways she feels is beneficial to things that she believes in and that's her prerogative to do so.

    "And I think that as long as people stay authentic to themselves and what they believe in, I think they make the biggest positive impact they can, and that is the rule of thumb that she's following.

    "Obviously a lot of people will find a lot of solace in someone as successful as her talking about things that maybe they experience but don't have the sort of social platform or, I guess, strength of voice to be able to put it in the public domain. Kudos to her for being true to herself."

    Konta's wins over Osaka came at the second-round stage of the 2015 US Open, the same round at the 2017 Australia Open, and later in 2017 in Stuttgart.

    Their next meeting could come at the Tokyo Olympics, with both planning to take part, Osaka hoping to strike what would be a famous gold for Japan.

    The best tennis of Konta's 2021 season so far saw her land a grass-court title at the Nottingham Open this month, becoming the first British woman to win a WTA singles tournament on home soil since Sue Barker did so at the Daihatsu Challenge event in Brighton in 1981.

    It gave Konta a first trophy since winning the Miami Open in 2017 and a fourth career title, with the former world number four hitting her stride in timely fashion ahead of a Wimbledon tilt.

    For any British player at Wimbledon, attention can be intense, but that is particularly the case for the few who have enjoyed success on a scale Konta has experienced, reaching the semi-finals in 2017 and getting through to the quarters two years ago, the last time the tournament was held.

    She has found ways to alleviate the pressure from her own perspective, explaining how she took the heat out of situations so successfully in previous championships.

    "Playing in 2017 and getting to the semis there, I didn't feel too overwhelmed by attention," Konta, 30, said in an interview with Stats Perform.

    "I think attention can only be too overwhelming if you put yourself in the position where you are looking for it and acknowledging it.

    "For me, I would wake up, have breakfast, get in my own car and drive myself to the site, warm up and play my match and do the media and all that, then I'd get in my car and come home, have dinner, watch a series or watch a film, but I wasn't spending my time on social media, I wasn't watching the news, I wasn't really doing too much.

    "The only time I noticed that things were happening was when I needed to pop to the supermarket to get some food, and all the newspapers that were there had my face on them, so that was an interesting one."


    :: Johanna Konta is a Jaguar ambassador. Jaguar is the Official Car of The Championships, Wimbledon. To discover Jaguar’s unmatched experiences visit jaguar.co.uk/Wimbledon

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.