Wednesday, 23 October 2019

WTA Elite Trophy: Donna Vekic Ends Run in Zhuhai, Still Hope for Martic

October 23, 2019 - Croatian tennis player Donna Vekic also suffered a defeat in her second match of the WTA Elite Trophy tournament in Zhuhai, China, and thus finished her 2019 tennis season.

Namely, HRT writes that in the 2nd round of the Azalea group, the 23-year-old Osijek native lost to 19-year-old Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 7-6 (6), 6- 2 after an hour and 35 minutes of play.

Donna Vekic thus lost with the same result in both of her appearances in Zhuhai. Recall, on Tuesday, she fell 7-6, 6-2 to Dutch player Kiki Bertens, and Vekic ended her performance in the last place of the group.

Against Yastremska, Vekic missed several opportunities in the first set, and at 4-4, she had two chances to break her opponent. Still, the young Ukrainian’s brilliant attack killed the hopes of Vekic. In the tie-break, Vekic reached two consecutive set points at 6-4, but then Yastremska scored four points in a row with her excellent forehand for the comeback. 

Vekic took out her frustration from losing the first set on her racket, though that did not help her continue any better in the duel. The first break of the entire match didn’t come until the fifth game when Yastremska reached a 3-2 lead with a great forehand attack, and after Vekic missed the chance to return to the match in the next game after missing a backhand, it was clear that Yastremska would secure the victory. Vekic did not use any of the three break points she had in the duel. Vekic achieved a first-serve percentage of 68% and only won six games to Yastremska's 13. 

But not all hope is lost for Croatia’s female tennis players - the competition in Zhuhai also features Petra Martic, who will have her first appearance in the Orchid group on Thursday against American Madison Keys. Chinese tennis player Saisai Zheng is also in this group, and in her first match of the group on Tuesday, Zheng outplayed Keys 6-4, 6-2.

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Monday, 21 October 2019

Petra Martic and Donna Vekic to Play for WTA Elite Trophy in China

October 21, 2019 - This week's WTA Elite Trophy tournament brings together female tennis players ranked 9th to 19th on the WTA ladder, with the addition of one wildcard. This year, two Croatian female tennis players made the cut - Petra Martic and Donna Vekic.

HRT reports that the tournament, which begins on October 22, divides the tennis players into four groups of three players. Croatia’s best female tennis player Petra Martic is in the Orchid group against American Madison Keys and Chinese Saisai Zheng, who came to the tournament as the wildcard. Donna Vekic was drawn into the Azalea group against the first-seed of the tournament, Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, and Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska.

On the first day of the tournament, Vekic will hit the court against Bertens, whom she has played six times and has defeated three times. However, Vekic lost in the last match at the WTA tournament in Beijing just over two weeks ago. Vekic has only encountered Dayana Yastremska once and lost.

Martic's first rival, who she will hit the court against on Wednesday, will be China’s Zheng, the 40th best tennis player in the world. The two have yet to play each other. Martic had met her second rival Keys in only one match before and recorded a win. 

The two remaining groups, Rose and Camellia, feature American Sofia Kenin and Alison Riske and Czech player Karolina Muchova (Camellia), while the Rose group includes Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka, Belgian Elise Mertens and Greek Maria Sakkari.

Only the winners of each group will advance to the semi-final scheduled for Saturday. The tournament prize pool is $2,419,844, and the winner can take home $700,000 and 700 points.

Petra Martic is the fifth-seed of the tournament, while Donna Vekic is the eighth. This year's tournament will be held in the Chinese city of Zhuhai from October 22 to 27, 2019. 

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Wuhan Open: Petra Martic into Quarters against Ash Barty

September 25, 2019 - Petra Martic will play against the current best female tennis player in the world, Australian Ashleigh Barty, in the quarterfinal of the Wuhan Open.

Croatian tennis player Petra Martic has booked a spot in the quarterfinal of the WTA tournament in Wuhan! In the 3rd round match, Martic convincingly defeated Russian Veronika Kudermetova 6:3, 6:1 in just 58 minutes of play.

Martic broke her opponent in the fourth game, which was enough to take the first set. At 4:2, Croatia’s best female tennis player was faced with Kudermetova’s only chance to break in the first set of the match, though the Russian player made an error that blew her opportunity to return.

Already in the first game of the second set, Martic was up after Kudermetova missed an easy volley, and immediately in the next game, it was 15:40.

Kudermetova had three chances to break Petra in the match, though all three were saved. 

By moving forward, Petra has improved her WTA ranking - which is the best ranking of her career. Namely, Petra is now the 16th best tennis player in the world, and with a new stride and spot in the semifinal of the Wuhan Open, she would reach the top 15. 

Martic will face a special challenge in the quarterfinal, as she awaits Australian Ashleigh Barty for the first time, who is also the world's best female tennis player.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Zhengzhou Open: Petra Martic Advances to Final!

September 14, 2019 - Petra Martic has secured the fourth WTA final of her career!

HRT reports that Croatian tennis player Petra Martic, the 23rd best female tennis player in the world, has made it to the final of the premier WTA tournament in Zhengzhou, China, after overcoming France's Kristina Mladenovic (WTA - 49th) in the semifinal 6:0, 6:3 after just over an hour of play.

In the final, she will play against the Czech tennis player Karolina Pliskova, who beat Australian-Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic 6:3, 6:2 in the first semifinal of the day.

To reach the fourth WTA final of her career, Martic managed an extremely convincing performance against Mladenovic, whom she defeated for the fourth time in their fifth encounter. The Duce native never lost her serve and broke her French opponent four times.

In the first set, which lasted only 22 minutes, Martic took the serve of the French tennis player three times. In the second set, Mladenovic offered stronger resistance, and the match was even until Martic took the 5:3 lead. After that, she quickly ended the match at her serve. 

Martic served three aces in the match and Mladenovic just one. Martic took serve of her rival four times, and never lost her own. Mladenovic made six double faults, while Petra Martic made none.

This will be the sixth match between Martic and Karolina Pliskova. Martic has been better than Pliskova four times so far, with the last time this year at Roland Garros.

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Friday, 13 September 2019

Zhengzhou Open: Petra Martic Secures Spot in Semifinal

September 13, 2019 - Croatian tennis player Petra Martic advanced to the semifinal of the WTA tournament in Zhengzhou, beating Belarusian Arina Sabalenka 7:5, 5:7, 6:4 in the quarterfinal after two hours and 41 minutes of play.

HRT reports that this was the second encounter between Martic and Sabalenkao, and revenge for Martic after losing to the Belarusian player at the start of the tournament in Cincinnati one month ago.

In the first set, Martic lost her break advantage twice, but when she took Sabalenka’s serve for the 6:5 lead for the third time, she managed to win the first set of the match without losing a point.

Martic had the first break in the second set as well, but Sabalenka turned the score to 4:2 in her favor. At 5:2 for Sabalenka, Martic was able to save three set points, equalized at 5:5, and had a break point for a 6:5 lead, which she, unfortunately, did not use. Martic eventually failed to win the tie-break, and Sabalenka used her ninth set point to level the score.

Until the 4:4 result in the third set, neither player had the chance to break. However, Martic stole Sabalenka’s serve and found herself in the situation to serve for the match. Sabalenka reached 15:40 but did not use either of her two break points, and Martic scored the last four points in the duel for the victory. 

In the semifinal, Martic will play against the winner of the match between France's Kristina Mladenovic and Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2019

US Open: Vekic into Quarters, Dodig into Mixed Doubles Semi-final

September 3, 2019 - Donna Vekic is into the quarters of the US Open, while Ivan Dodig will play in the semi-final!

HTS reports that Donna Vekic will play in the quarterfinals of the US Open! The best result of her career in a Grand Slam tournament came after the great battle against German Julia Goerges (30th in the WTA ranking) - 6:7 (5), 7:5, 6:3. 

Vekic was on the verge of defeat in the second set, losing 5:3 - and at 5: 4, Goerges (who achieved 21 aces in total) had a match point at her serve. Still, Donna pulled herself out of the abyss and won the second set, and in the third, she made the crucial step in the eighth game when she reached her fourth break of the match. 

Goerges had two returns in the next game (15:40), but Donna managed to keep the serve and reach her first victory in the fourth match against Goerges. 

This success also brings Vekic the best ranking of her career, as she is now 21st in the WTA list. Vekic’s contender for the semi-final is the 12th best tennis player in the world, Switzerland's Belinda Bencic, who surprised Japan's Naomi Osaka (7:5, 6:4) in the round of 16. Vekic and Bencic have played three times so far, and Vekic has one win in their last meeting at this year's Roland Garros.

Marin Cilic said goodbye to this year's US Open after the winner of the 2014 tournament did not find his way to success against Rafael Nadal in the round of 16. The great Spaniard lost the first set of his tournament, but celebrated 6:3, 3:6, 6:1, 6:2 for his 40th appearance in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. It was their ninth match and the seventh victory for the Spaniard. Cilic achieved 10 aces with a first-serve percentage of 66%, used two of his three break points (Nadal six of 11) and made 40 unforced errors.

Recall, Petra Martic also failed to reach her second quarterfinal at a Grand Slam tournament (Roland Garros 2019) after she was stopped in the round of 16 by the legendary Serena Williams - 6:3, 6:4.

Ivan Dodig and Taiwanese partner Latisha Chan continue their success in the mixed doubles competition. The Roland Garros and Wimbledon winners have now reached the US Open semi-final after defeating American Raquel Atawo and French Fabrice Martin in the quarterfinal - 7:6(3), 3:6, 10:3.

To play in their third consecutive final, Dodig and Chan will face the 1st seed, Taiwanese player Chan Hao-ching and New Zealander Michael Venus. Unfortunately, Mate Pavic and Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski (2nd seed) were stopped in the mixed doubles quarterfinal by US-British duo Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray - 2:6, 7:5, 10:4.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

US Open: Marin Cilic and Donna Vekic Join Martic in Round of 16

September 1, 2019 - Another great day for Croatian tennis as Donna Vekic and Marin Cilic join Petra Martic in the round of 16 of the US Open!

After Petra Martic secured her spot in the round of 16 on Friday, where she will play against the six-time US Open winner and 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, more good news for Croatia’s representatives in the tournament followed. 

Namely, HTS reports that for the first time in her career, Donna Vekic advanced to the round of 16 of the US Open. In the third round, the Osijek native moved past Ukraine's Julia Putinetseva, the 39th best tennis player in the world, who managed only five games in the clash with the 23rd-seed - 6:4, 6:1.

In the first set, Putinetseva played at Vekic’s level and equalized at 4:4, but in the break in the 10th game, Donna secured a 1:0 lead. In the remainder of the match, the Ukrainian player had no hope, lost her serve twice, and on Donna's first strike, she scored only six points (including on two double faults by Vekic). To secure a spot in her first quarterfinal of a Grand Slam tournament, Donna will play against German Julia Goerges (30th on the WTA list), whom she has never defeated. Goerges has celebrated in all three encounters so far.

Furthermore, Marin Cilic also made it to the round of 16 of the US Open! After a real battle on the court and almost three and a half hours of play, Cilic managed to top the 14th best tennis player in the world, John Isner of the US - 7:6, 3:6, 7:6 (6), 6:4. It was Marin's ninth win in 12 games against the American giant, which was not helped by the fact that he achieved as many as 40 aces (Cilic 21). The key to Marin's success was winning the third set, where, in the tie-break, Isner had two set points at 6:4, and the first at his serve.

"After 6:4 I had some luck, John missed a few of his first serves in times when he needed them. I did my best and used the opportunities that came to my mind,” Marin said after the match, who broke his opponent early in the fourth set (for his third break) and managed to maintain that advantage until the end, during which he made as many as 16 double faults. 

Isner may be most sorry for his disastrous execution of break points in the match, as out of 14 opportunities he used only one (seven percent). Marin, on the other hand, used two of the four break points to take his opponent's serve. To qualify for the quarterfinal, Cilic will play against the great Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard has six wins in their nine encounters so far. 

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Saturday, 31 August 2019

US Open: Petra Martic into Round of 16 Against Serena Williams!

August 31, 2019 - Petra Martic is among the top 16 female players at the US Open!

Croatian tennis player Petra Martic has advanced to the 4th round of the US Open in New York. Namely, Maritc defeated last year's semi-finalist and 12th seed of the tournament, Latvian Anastasia Sevastova in the 3rd round match 6:4, 6:3 in an hour and 26 minutes of play, reports and HTS.

This was Martic and Sevastova's third encounter and the second victory for 28-year-old Croatian. Martic’s first win was in the 3rd round of the grand slam tournament Roland Garros two years ago. 

Better yet, Petra Martic will meet the six-time winner of this tournament, 38-year-old American Serena Williams, in the 4th round of the US Open on Sunday. It will be the first match between the 28-year-old and the 23-time grand slam tournament winner.

With this win, Martic has now been among the top 16 female tennis players in all four grand slams of her career. 

However, the match didn’t start well for the 22nd best player in the world, as Sevastova won the first two games. However, when she broke Martic at 2:0, it was her only in the whole match.

Martic returned her lost serve immediately in the next game, after she saved the Latvian break point at 3:4 and equalized at 4: 4 for the second time in a duel to take away her opponents serve, which was enough for her to win the first set. 

Martic continued her excellent streak with the start of the second set, taking away to her rival in the first game.  In total, she took away the serve of her opponent on four occasions (in the third and ninth games of the first and first and ninth games of the second set). Petra achieved three aces and had a first-serve percentage of 68 percent. Martic also used four of 11 break points, while Sevastova only one of four. 

Donna Vekic will play in the 3rd round against Putintseva at 6:20 pm Croatia time, while Marin Cilic will play at 7:30 pm against John Isner. 

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Friday, 30 August 2019

US Open: Marin Čilić, Petra Martić, Donna Vekić Move into 3rd Round

August 230, 2019 - Marin Čilić, Petra Martić, and Donna Vekić have advanced to the 3rd round of the US Open.

HTS reports that Petra Martić’ secured another win at this year's US Open and was the first Croatian to go through on Thursday after her success against Romanian qualifier Ana Bogdan (152nd in the WTA list) - 6:2, 6:4.

Petra won the first set fairly quickly after an initial lead of 4:0. In the second set, she led with 4:2, after which she lost her serve and allowed Bogdan to level at 4:4, though this was the only time in the match. However, for the fourth time in the match, Petra reached a break which turned into a victory and her first time in the 3rd round of the last Grand Slam tournament of the season. Petra will play against the 11th best tennis player in the world, Latvian Anastasia Sevastova, to reach the round of 16. This will be their third encounter, with each player having one win so far.

Donna Vekić achieved her second victory at this year's US Open on Thursday after defeating 34-year-old Estonian Kaia Kanepi (82nd in the WTA list) - 7:5, 6:3.

Vekić had some difficulty in the first set, in which she lost her first strike on two occasions. Kanepi led 3:1, and Donna saved a set point at 4:5 at her serve to take the set after three wins in a row for 1:0. The second set was far easier for Donna, who used two breaks (in the third and ninth game) to confirm her second time in the 3rd round of the US Open. Recall, Donna made it for the first time in 2017.

With this win, Donna jumped to 22nd place in the WTA ranking (one ahead of Petra Martić), which equals the best ranking of her career. To enter the round of 16, Donna must play against Ukrainian Julia Putinetseva, the 39th best tennis player in the world.

Marin Čilić passed into the 3rd round of the US Open, though he didn’t get there without a fight. The former winner of this tournament completed the task against German tennis player Cedric-Marcel Stebe (256th in the ATP ranking) in the second round - 4:6, 6:3, 5:7, 6:3.

Čilić entered the match slower and lost his serve right away in the first game. He quickly came back with a break, but Stebe once again used Marin's mistakes and took away his serve in the ninth game to win the first set.

Marin continued to play and easily won the second set, but in the third, the Croatian faced new problems. Namely, Stebe led 4:1 after he broke Čilić in the fourth game, though Marin won six of the next seven games and still found a way to win the third set. The fourth set saw the result equal at 3:3, though Marin secured the win after two consecutive breaks. Marin’s victory saw 48 winners, but 52 simple errors (Stebe 33). Marin will now play against 14th-seeded American John Isner, against whom he has eight wins in 11 games played.

Recall, Borna Ćorić pulled out of the tournament due to a back injury and never played his 2nd round match. 

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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

US Open: Marin Čilić, Borna Ćorić, Petra Martić, Donna Vekić into 2nd Round

August 28, 2019 - Marin Čilić, Borna Ćorić, Petra Martić, and Donna Vekić will play in the 2nd round of the US Open. 

HTS reports that Petra Martić was the first to advance to the 2nd round of the US Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the season in New York. Still, it was no easy match for the 28-year-old. Slovenian Tamara Zidanšek, the 66th best tennis player in the world, took the match to the third set against the 22nd seed of the tournament, though Petra was untouchable for the final 6:4, 4:6. 6:1. 

However, Croatia’s best female tennis player could have settled the duel in two sets, as she had an advantage of 5:2, but Zidanšek equalized after a powerful series. Petra totaled five aces and a first-serve percentage of 58%. She also used five of 13 break points. In the second round, she will play against Romanian qualifier Ana Bogdan, 152nd in the WTA ranking. 

Borna Ćorić successfully opened this year's appearance at the US Open. The 22-year-old Zagreb native moved past Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy (122nd in the ATP ranking) - 7:6 (7), 6:3, 6:0. Donskoy did not reach a break point throughout the match, but was dangerous in the first set where he had a 4:1 advantage in a tie-break, and at 7:6, a set point. After he won the first set, Borna went on to win the match. Donskoy held on to 3:3 in the second set, and was out of the game until the end. Borna (using four of seven break points) managed two aces and a first-serve percentage of 60%. He also achieved 31 straight points with 28 unforced errors (Donskoy 33). His next rival will be Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, currently the 78th best tennis player in the world. 

We saw an excellent performance by Marin Čilić at the start of this year's US Open, which saw the 22nd seed and former winner of the tournament (2014) overcome Slovakian Martin Klizan (83rd in the ATP ranking) - 6:3, 6:2, 7:6 (6).

However, Čilić did not enter the match best, and the Slovakian led in the first set 3:1. After that, Marin played better and solved the first and second sets with an impressive series of nine games won. In the third set, both players firmly held their first strike, so the decision fell to a tie-break where Klizan had four set points at 6:2, but Marin ended the match with six consecutive points, scoring 17 aces, a first-serve percentage of 59%, and used four of nine break points. In the second round, Čillić will play against German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. 

Donna Vekić was the last of Croatia’s representative to qualify for the 2nd round on Tuesday after she topped Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp, the 207th player in the WTA raking - 7:6 (4), 6:3. Far more excitement was seen in the first set, in which Hogenkamp led 3:1, and at 6:5 she had the serve to be up 1:0. However, Donna managed to stop Hogenkamp and secured the win in the second set after 2:2 with two new breaks. She hit four aces (with a first-serve percentage of 48%) and used five of 10 break points. She had 36 winners, but made as many as 30 unforced errors. Donna’s 2nd round contender will be 34-year-old Estonian Kaia Kanepi, currently the 82nd best player in the world. 

Ivo Karlović ended his performance at this year's US Open in the first round. After 69 minutes of play, Karlović lost to American Frances Tiafoe2:6, 3:6, 2:1. 

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