Anastasija Sevastova

Caroline Wozniacki Advances Into US Open Semifinals For Third Time

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Caroline Wozniacki reached her third US Open semifinal on Tuesday as she defeated an injured Anastasija Sevastova, 6-0, 6-2 to start off a lackluster night session that saw the men’s match between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga end with the Frenchman retiring.

The Dane, a former world No. 1, reached the only two major finals of her career at the US Open, coming in 2009 and 2014. The win puts her into her first semifinal at a major since that run to the final of the US Open in 2014.

“It’s amazing to be back here. It’s the best feeling ever,” said Wozniacki, currently ranked No. 74.

The former world No. 1 had no issues starting off the match as she was able to break Sevastova to get out to a quick lead. It was just a couple games into the match, though, that the Latvian took a tumble on the baseline and rolled her ankle, essentially killing off any chances she had of winning the match.

“I felt real sorry for her. I kept pushing her back and making her run,” said Wozniacki, who was aware of the injury but did not want to give her opponent any room to get back into the match.

After taking the first set with no trouble whatsoever, it looked like the second set would take a similar path. Wozniacki was able to race out to a 4-0 lead as Sevastova continued to struggle with the ankle injury.

In the fifth game, however, the Latvian was able to finally get on the board as she fought off three break points to hold for the first time in the match. She would hold again in her next service game and looked to finally be in the match, but it was too little too late.

In the next game, Wozniacki held with ease to close out the win, setting up a semifinal with the 2016 Australian Open champion, Angelique Kerber. The German leads the head-to-head record 7-5, but the Dane holds a 5-4 lead in hard court matches.

“She’s had a great year so she will be tough to beat, but I’m going to do my best. That’s all I can ask for myself,” said Wozniacki. “I always believe in myself, no matter what my ranking.”

Wozniacki2016USOpen

 

El Aynaoui Makes a Comeback (Again)

Once again on the futures circuit this week, another former ATP standout bravely swallowed his pride and started back at square one in the hopes of turning back the clock.

It’s hard to tell how many comebacks Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui has had. The 36 year old has overcome financial destitution and just about every injury in the book to achieve a top 15 ranking and reach the quarterfinals at both the Australian Open and US Open. This week, El Aynaoui returned from a seven month injury layoff at the $15,000 event in Castelldefels. Appearing as a late entrant, he was forced to go through the qualifying rounds before surviving several tough three set matches in the main draw. In the end, El Aynaoui won his first title in almost 12 months by beating Adam Chadaj of Poland 6-3 7-6 in the final.

At the notoriously strong $100,000 event in Sunrise, Dutchman Robin Haase won a rain-delayed final that was pushed into Monday. Haase came back from being down a set and a break to defeat Frenchman Sebastian Grosjean 5-7 7-5 6-1. For Haase, who has already scored wins over Andy Murray and Ivan Ljubicic this year, this is the biggest title of his career. He hopped in a car directly after the final to head to Miami, where he layer played in the qualifying rounds of the Sony Ericsson Open (he won his first round match in Miami Monday evening).

Another player on the comeback trail is Mariano Puerta of Argentina, who’s still trying to rebound after a second doping suspension that almost ended his career. Competing at the $50,000 event in San Luis Potosi this week, Puerta showed glimpses of the form that took him to the French Open finals as he cruised through the draw without the loss of a set. However, injury derailed his good form as he was forced to withdraw from the final before striking a single ball, which allowed Brian Dabul of Argentina to win his first title of year. Both Dabul and Puerta are scheduled at the next $50,000 event in Mexico this coming week, held in the city of Leon.

In other challenger news on the men’s side, Ivan Navarro of Spain won his first event in two years at the $35,000 event in Meknes, while Andreas Beck of Germany won the $35,000 event in Sarajevo.

With her ranking just outside of the top 100, Israeli Tzipi Obziler decided to drop back down to the challengers for the $25,000 event in Tenerife. The decision proved to be wise as she dropped just 14 games in her last four matches and overwhelmed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2 6-3 in the final. The win puts Obziler back inside the top 100 and, with little to defend over the next few months, she should see her ranking continue to climb.

In other challenger news on the women’s side, Barbora Zahalova Strycova of the Czech Republic won her second title of the year at the $25,000 event in Redding, while Melanie South of Great Britain won a nail biting three-set final to take the title at the $25,000 tournament in Sorrento. Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova won the $25,000 event in St. Petersburg, and Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova won her first challenger event at the $25,000 tournament in Noida.

The men keep the spotlight with two $50,000 tournaments this coming week. Werner Eschauer of Austria is the top seed in Barletta and Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer takes top billing in Leon. On the women’s side, Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain accepted a late wild card and is the top seed at the $50,000 event in Latina. Once again this week, there are also several $25,000 women’s events. Anna Lapushchenkova of Russia will hope to keep her local fans happy at the $25,000 event in Moscow, while China’s Shuai Zhang hopes to reverse her losing streak at the $25,000 tournament in Hammond. Anastasia Yakimova of Belarus is the clear favorite a  the $25,000 event in La Palma, while Estonia’s Maret Ani takes top billing at the $25,000 event in Jersey. Finally, Tessenderlo hosts its first professional event as veteran Selima Sfar of Tunisia is the top seed at this $25,000 tournament.