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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Wimbledon 2019: Karolina Pliskova sees off tricky Hsieh Su-wei, Caroline Wozniacki faces her end

On Wimbledon Day 5, former world number one Karolina Pliskova served superbly to beat Hsieh Su-wei 6-3 2-6 6-4, while Caroline Wozniacki fell to a 6-4 6-2 defeat to Zhang Shuai on Friday.

By: Reuters | London | Updated: July 6, 2019 12:45:44 pm
Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova celebrates winning her third round match against Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei (Reuters)

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova served superbly to beat Hsieh Su-wei 6-3 2-6 6-4 on Friday and reach the Wimbledon fourth round for the second time.

Czech third seed Pliskova fired down 14 aces on Court One to counter the unorthodox Hsieh’s fast feet and soft hands, securing victory in an hour and 46 minutes.

“I thought my serve was amazing today… I’d love to call myself a specialist on grass,” Pliskova said. “This year I’m doing better and I’ve made the second week.

“On grass she’s a very tough opponent, she’s done a good job the past couple of months and I’m just super pleased that I’ve made it,” added Pliskova, who lost to Hsieh in Dubai this year.

“There’s nobody like this playing any more in the draw so I think I’ll feel much better in the next match after this test,” Pliskova added.

Both players started the opening set strongly before an unusually untidy game by world number 16 Hsieh allowed Pliskova to claim a break for a 5-3 lead.

That was the opening the 27-year-old needed as she switched gears and closed out the set with her sixth ace.

Hsieh responded with an early break in the second set to race 4-2 ahead and the 33-year-old Taiwanese saved four break points in the seventh game before taking the match into a decider.

Pliskova, who beat last year’s Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in the Eastbourne final last week, put Hsieh on the back foot with searing groundstrokes early in the third set to break for a 3-1 lead.

Appearing less rattled by Hsieh’s variations as the match wore on, Pliskova staved off a late comeback attempt by Hsieh to close out victory.

Up next for Pliskova is Czech compatriot Karolina Muchova who beat 20th seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6(7) 6-3.

Caroline Wozniacki’s Wimbledon ends in grumbles

At first it had all looked so good for former world number one Caroline Wozniacki at Wimbledon on Friday.

The newlywed Dane raced into a 4-0 lead over China’s Zhang Shuai in their third round clash on Court Two.

But that was as good as it got. From there she slipped, via a rambling, rumbling grumble about Hawk-Eye, to a 6-4 6-2 defeat.

“I thought there was a few ones that I saw way differently,” the 28-year-old said, referring to her ongoing irritation with the line-call verification system.

“But it is what it is. You can’t really change a Hawk-Eye call. You just have to move on, know what it is. That’s really it. I mean, at this point it doesn’t matter. It is what it is. Maybe the Hawk-Eye was right. Maybe I just saw it wrong. I don’t know.

“Obviously when you think you’ve won the point and then have to replay, that can be frustrating.”

More frustrating, however, must have been letting slip such a commanding lead with barely a whimper. In her last tournament she had let slip a 5-2 final set lead to lose to Aryna Sabalenka at Eastbourne.

But Wozniacki had a swift answer to questions about her form. “I think she played better, and that’s really it,” she said.

Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the end of last season, Wozniacki has struggled for consistency this term – reaching the final at Charleston in April, but following that up with first round defeats in three of the subsequent four tournaments.

For Zhang, who becomes the first Chinese woman to reach the Wimbledon fourth round since Peng Shuai five years ago, the victory over the 14th seed marked her first win over a top-20 player all year.

This year’s run to the fourth round marks a major upturn in Wimbledon fortunes for the 30-year-old, who had never won a main draw match since her first attempt at qualifying in 2010.

“Can you believe I never win one match before 2019?” she posted on Twitter. “Thanks very much all crowd to visiting and supporting.”

Zhang will next face either Viktorija Golubic or Dayana Yastremska for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Teenager Gauff digs deep to continue dream run

Fifteen-year-old Cori Gauff clawed her way back from a set and 5-2 down and saved two match points to beat Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 3-6 7-6(7) 7-5 on Friday and reach the Wimbledon fourth round.

The American teenager, ranked 313th in the world, had earned a match on Centre Court after capturing the public’s imagination with her giant-killing exploits, including ousting former champion Venus Williams in the first round.

Gauff, who beat former semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova in the second round, was roared on by the crowd but found it hard at first to cope with 28-year-old Hercog’s heavy groundstrokes and big serve.

She showed remarkable composure, however, to fight back against the 60th-ranked Slovenian, who failed to convert two match points in the second set.

“I always knew I could come back no matter what the score is, I just went for my shots,” Gauff, nicknamed Coco, said after leaving the court to warm applause.

“The crowd was amazing. Even when I was down match point they were still cheering me on.”

Hercog needed treatment on her back after the second set and slumped to 4-1 in the third but she too fought back in the tense duel.

“I’m relieved it’s over – she was playing unbelievably,” Gauff said.

Hercog dumped a shot into the net in the final game and another went long under Gauff’s pressure before the teenager leapt in the air to celebrate her victory as her proud parents applauded from the players’ box.

Gauff is the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era and the youngest to reach the fourth round since American Jennifer Capriati, also aged 15, in 1991.

She faces seventh seed Simona Halep, a former world number one, in the last 16.

Excited Gauff mature beyond her years but still a teenager inside

Teenager Coco Gauff has captivated Wimbledon with her extraordinary talent and youthful exuberance but, as her beaten opponent said on Tuesday, she is “probably older in her head than the numbers show”.

The 15-year-old American exhibited remarkable maturity and poise to fight back from a set and 5-2 down in her third-round 3-6 7-6(7) 7-5 defeat of Slovenian Polona Hercog.

Afterwards a clearly delighted Gauff, who beat five-times champion Venus Williams in the first round before taking the scalps of former semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova and Hercog, switched between reflective adult and excited teenager.

“It’s was pretty surreal how life changes in a matter of seconds,” she said.

“I remember before I played Venus, as you know, when you walk to leave the practice courts, there are people waiting. One little kid asked me for a picture. Then after the next day, after I played Venus, everybody was screaming my name.”

She said it was awe-inspiring to walk out on Centre Court, describing it as “sacred” but she did not feel nervous.

“Obviously this moment is an incredible moment. I’m still excited I get to keep living it,” she said, adding that defeats she had suffered in the past had helped her to achieve success this week.

“You really learn a lot from your loss. You don’t learn too much when you win a lot,” she said.

Gauff recovered from two match points against her on Tuesday to overcome Hercog in a match that lasted two hours 46 minutes and took her into Wimbledon’s second week.

But the teenaged Gauff appeared equally excited about a posting about her by Beyonce’s mother, about a new album by Jaden Smith and about a video of her mother’s celebration in the players’ box on Tuesday going viral.

“Please tell me she’s a meme. I’m so excited to go on Instagram,” she laughed. “I’m going to retweet it and everything.”

And she said it was “cool” to have won some $220,000 so far this week so she would probably buy some hoodies.

“I love wearing hoodies. My mom, she banned me from buying hoodies for two months. Every week I was getting new hoodies sent to the house,” she said.

“I can’t buy a car because I can’t drive.”

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