World number two Karolina Pliskova will play unseeded Ajla Tomljanovic in the semi-finals of the WTA Zhengzhou Open in China after winning two matches on the bounce yesterday. Bad weather forced organisers to squeeze in second-round and quarter-final matches, meaning a tight turnaround for the top seed and her rivals. But the Czech was unperturbed, first defeating Polona Hercog 6-3, 7-5, then beating Sofia Kenin of the United States 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in the quarter-finals. Also into the last four in central China is Petra Martic from Croatia after she battled past Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. Martic will play unseeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic or the recent US Open semi-finalist Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
Osaka sacks her
second coach of 2019
Twice Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has sacked her second coach in seven months, splitting with Jermaine Jenkins in the wake of her disappointing US Open title defence. Jenkins, a long-time hitting partner of Venus Williams, replaced Sascha Bajin in February, weeks after Osaka’s Australian Open triumph. “I’m super grateful for the time we spent together and the things I learned on and off the court but I feel like now is an appropriate time for change,” the Japanese 21-year-old wrote on Twitter. “Appreciate you, forever warmed by you… Thank you for everything, it was a blast.”
Top seed at Flushing Meadows, former world number one Osaka struggled with a knee problem before being upset by 13th seed Belinda Bencic in straight sets in the fourth round. It continued a difficult season for the power hitter since her second Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park, with early exits at the French Open and Wimbledon.
The Australian Open win made her Asia’s first world number one and the first player of any nation to claim the first two Grand Slam titles back-to-back since Jennifer Capriati in 2001. However, the top ranking and the attention that goes with it proved a heavy burden, she admitted, after a tearful first round exit from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February.
Her early exit from New York has seen her ranking slide to four behind world number one Barty, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina.
New dates announced for India-Pakistan Davis Cup tie
India’s Davis Cup tie against Pakistan at Islamabad will begin on either Nov 29 or Nov 30, but only after the security situation is reviewed, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) said yesterday. AITA wrote to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) last month asking them to move the tie, initially scheduled to take place on Sept 14-15, to a neutral venue or postpone it until political tensions simmered down between the bitter neighbours.
The ITF agreed to postpone the tie to November under “exceptional circumstances” after a security review. Pakistan were forced to host Davis Cup ties at neutral venues for more than a decade as teams refused to travel to the country citing security concerns.
They played their first home tie after a gap of 12 years against Iran in 2017, while Hong Kong were relegated and fined by the ITF after they refused to travel to Pakistan the same year.
US Open winner Andreescu among trio pulling
out of Pan Pacific Open
Open champion Bianca Andreescu has withdrawn from next week’s Pan Pacific Open in Osaka with a right leg injury, the 19-year-old Canadian said. World number five Andreescu was joined in pulling out of the tournament by French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova, who is battling a left wrist injury, and Flushing Meadows semi-finalist Belinda Bencic, who has a left foot problem.
As a result of the pullouts, American Alison Riske, Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva and Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig will move into the main draw of the Sept 16-22 tournament.
Hong Kong women’s tennis event due to protests
Hong Kong’s premier women’s tennis event scheduled for October has been postponed due to the pro-democracy protests, organisers announced. The city is witnessing a fourth month of sometimes violent protests sparked by a bill that would have drawn the former British colony closer to the Chinese legal system.
The bill was withdrawn last week, but the protests are continuing. The organisers said they are in active discussions with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the women’s tour governing body, to identify an alternate week for hosting the event.