WTA

Sabalenka and Gauff ease through in Madrid but Kvitova and Haddad Maia on their way home

By Sports Desk April 27, 2023

Aryna Sabalenka is through to the round of 32 at the Madrid Open after beating Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-3 on Thursday.

It was an ominous start for Cirstea, being broken to love in the opening game, but she stuck with second seed Sabalenka and broke back, before ultimately being pipped to the first set by the impressive Belarusian.

The key was on break points, with Sabalenka claiming all five that she won against the Cirstea serve, while saving six of eight on her own as she ultimately eased to victory.

Sabalenka now has 26 wins on clay in the WTA since 2021, with only Ons Jabeur (37), Iga Swiatek (34), Paula Badosa (31) and Coco Gauff (28) having more during this time.

Gauff also advanced after a routine 6-4 6-1 win over Irene Burillo Escorihuela, making the sixth seed in Madrid the first player to win 35 WTA-1000 main draw matches as a teenager since 2009.

Ninth seed Maria Sakkari defeated Arantxa Rus 6-4 6-4 and fifth seed Caroline Garcia also had few problems against Yulia Putintseva, winning 6-3 6-4.

However, it was not a good day for 10th seed Petra Kvitova, who was beaten 7-6 (11-9) 6-1 by Jule Niemeier, while 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia also lost, 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 to Mirra Andreeva and 20th seed Donna Vekic was eliminated in straight-sets by Rebeka Masarova.

Jelena Ostapenko took just 61 minutes to get past Linda Fruhvirtova 6-0 6-3, and will face 14th seed Liudmila Samsonova next, who did not take much longer to see off Maryna Zanevska 6-2 6-3.

There were also wins for Elise Mertens, Badosa, Camila Osorio, Shelby Rogers, Mayar Sherif, Magda Linette and Irina-Camelia Begu.

Related items

  • The Open: McIlroy looking to respond after Nadal and Jordan support following Pinehurst setback The Open: McIlroy looking to respond after Nadal and Jordan support following Pinehurst setback

    Rory McIlroy insists his U.S. Open capitulation is behind him as he aims to respond at The Open Championship, backed by support from two sporting stars.

    The Northern Irishman collapsed in remarkable fashion at Pinehurst, missing two simple putts as Bryson DeChambeau sneaked in to profit and win the major.

    Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal and NBA legend Michael Jordan both reached out to McIlroy in the aftermath of that disappointment.

    The 35-year-old has now racked up four runners-up finishes in majors since his last such victory at the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Yet McIlroy is intent on responding when The Open returns at Royal Troon this week.

    "Rafa Nadal and Michael Jordan," McIlroy told The Guardian. "Two of the most unbelievable competitors that have ever been in sport.

    "MJ was maybe the first person to text me after I missed the putt on the 18th but both of them got in touch very, very quickly. They just told me to keep going. MJ reminded me of how many game-winning shots he missed. Really nice."

    The four-time major champion scored bogeys on three of his final four holes during his U.S. Open downfall.

    "Was it a great opportunity to win a major? Absolutely," McIlroy added of his short-putting nightmare. "It hurt and in the moment it was tough, terrible.

    "I'd say people would be surprised to see how quickly I got over it and moved on."

    McIlroy subsequently took a short break before returning at the Scottish Open last week, finishing tied for fourth place at the Renaissance Club.

    "Maybe the one drawback from me not talking [to media] afterwards was that you got three weeks of speculation," McIlroy said, referring to his swift exit at Pinehurst. 

    "He should have done this, should have done that but we will never know because he didn't say. I trust the people around me. I don't need to go looking for external counsel.

    "If the tournament ended after 68 holes, people would be calling me the best golfer in the world. You have to be an eternal optimist. Say you play 25 events a year and win three of those. You are one of the best players in history. We lose way more than we win.

    "Yes, I was in a great winning position and should have won but it's not the first time I have let something slip away. It's probably not going to be the last.

    "You have to look at it on the continuum. It was tough but it is one tournament, I play 23-25 per year. You have to keep going.

    "The great thing about this game is you have an opportunity to get back on the horse right after a tough loss. You try to learn from it and do better next time."

  • Wimbledon champion Alcaraz not convinced tennis has entered new era Wimbledon champion Alcaraz not convinced tennis has entered new era

    Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz does not believe his convincing final victory over Novak Djokovic marks the start of a new era for tennis.

    Alcaraz clinched his second Wimbledon title – and his fourth at grand slams overall – in mesmerising fashion on Sunday, thrashing seven-time champion Djokovic in straight sets.

    The Spaniard needed just 73 minutes to take the first two sets before being pushed closer in the third, ultimately winning 6-2 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

    Djokovic – who turned 37 in May – could now go a full calendar year without a major title for just the second time since 2010, and the first since 2017.

    Alcaraz, meanwhile, is the third-youngest man to win back-to-back Wimbledon titles in the Open Era (21 years, 70 days), older only than Boris Becker (18 years, 227 days, 1985-86) and Bjorn Borg (21 years, 26 days, 1976-77).

    However, asked by Spanish publication AS whether he was the figurehead of a new era for the sport, Alcaraz said: "I don't really feel that way. 

    "I've seen a lot of people who have said it's a generational change, a new era, a changing of the guard after Sunday's match, but in the end I don't see it that way. 

    "We try to work as hard as possible to put Djokovic in trouble, to try to be there as many times as we can, but I don't feel that there is a change of era, a generational change or a changing of the guard, not at the moment."

    Sunday was a great day for Spanish sport as Luis de la Fuente's football team beat England 2-1 in the Euro 2024 final, with substitute Mikel Oyarzabal netting the winner.

    Alcaraz believes the performances of 17-year-old Lamine Yamal and 22-year-old Nico Williams point to a bright future for football, and sport in general, in Spain.

    "When I finished my game I had a message from [Alvaro] Morata, who is the one I talk to the most, the one I get along with the best," he revealed. 

    "One of the first people I called in the dressing room was him, who was walking to the stadium before playing the final. I wished him all the luck in the world. 

    "Lamine, Nico are 17, 22-year-old boys, who have made the difference in this European Championship. It was the first time they played with the national team. 

    "They have done it in an incredible way. It's great to see new players in Spain who fight like them, who give their all for the flag, for the country. 

    "I think it's wonderful to have a national team and young athletes who are pointing the way, who are going up. Hopefully we will have many years of enjoyment."

     

  • Nadal makes winning return alongside Ruud at Bastad Nadal makes winning return alongside Ruud at Bastad

    Rafael Nadal was victorious on his first outing since May, teaming up with Casper Ruud to beat second seeds Guido Andreozzi and Miguel Reyes-Varela in the Nordea Open doubles at Bastad.

    Returning to the clay in Sweden for the first time since he won the singles title as a teenager in 2005, Nadal looked comfortable alongside the world number nine.

    The Spaniard was beaten by Alexander Zverev in the first round at the French Open in May, then chose to skip Wimbledon as he prepares to play at the Paris Olympics.

    He hit one tremendous forehand winner early in the second set as the star-studded pairing triumphed 6-1 6-4 in 70 minutes.

    Speaking alongside Ruud after the match, Nadal said: "It's a pleasure playing with a good friend and an amazing player like Casper here in Bastad.

    "Personally, I am happy and I think it was a good match. We played quite well for the first time we played together and I'm happy to be back here after almost 20 years.

    "I have great memories from this place from 2003, 2004 and 2005, so I am enjoying this week and hopefully I can keep going."

    Nadal will open his singles campaign at the competition on Tuesday, with home hope Leo Borg his first opponent at the ATP 250 event.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.