Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep is to head into the Australian Open with room for improvement after being upset 6-4, 6-2 by Aryna Sabalenka yesterday at the Adelaide International.
The reigning Wimbledon champion and former world No. 1 from Romania dropped serve five times and was flattened in the second set by her opponent from Belarus.
The 71-minute rout leaves Halep standing 1-1 for the season with the first Grand Slam of the year starting on Monday in Melbourne.
Today, Sabalenka faces Dayana Yastremska of the Ukraine for a place in the final after the 19-year-old beat a second top-20 opponent this week when she put out Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-3.
Sabalenka won her first match against Halep after racking up two losses.
“It feels great. We had a tough match and she played well,” Sabalenka said. “I tried to stay focused on each point. I stayed in the moment and that helped me to win.”
In the first set, Halep twice lost a break advantage, with Sabalenka coming through with a third break of serve in the final game on a double fault from Halep.
Although Halep drew applause as she finally won a game in the second set, Sabalenka fired a winning return to seal match point.
Yastremska, ranked 24th, was thrilled to get past Vekic.
“It’s nice to be in the semi-finals just in the beginning of the year,” she said. “I’m just getting my form. I have a big goal for Australia.”
In men’s play, South Africa’s Lloyd Harris beat fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals.
Alex de Minaur pulled out of the Adelaide International and the Australian Open with an abdominal tear, describing it as “really serious.”
“It’s not great — not going to lie. Obviously it’s a week of the calendar that I really look forward to ... so it’s pretty devastating to miss out on my home Slam,” said De Minaur, the world No. 21 and Australia’s top player.
Two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza yesterday withdrew from her quarter-final match at the Hobart International with a viral illness. Second-seeded Muguruza was to play Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova, who is to receive a walkover and advance to the semi-finals.
World No. 13 Denis Shapovalov of Canada yesterday crashed out of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, beaten in straight sets by qualifier Ugo Humbert of France.
There was only one break in each set of the evenly contested clash, with Humbert clinching the victory with Shapovalov’s sixth double fault to win 7-5, 6-4.
“I’m really, really happy. It’s one of the biggest wins of my career,” the 57th-ranked Humbert said as he advanced to a semi-final showdown with big-serving John Isner of the US. “I tried to play each ball. I tried to stay focused and my plans were working.”
Isner survived on his thunderous serve with an impressive 25 aces to overcome Kyle Edmund of Britain in the opening quarter-final.
While Edmund had the better of the fourth seed for much of the match, Isner served his way out of trouble when it mattered. Edmund was unable to convert any of his nine break points.
Both sets went to a tiebreak before Isner won 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5) and expressed relief at making the final four.
“I know I was a bit fortunate to win today. That’s how tennis goes, but I’m happy I’m in the semi-finals,” the two-time Auckland champion said. “That match point, I played it very aggressively and very well. Winning a match like this can give me a lot of confidence going forward.”
In the other quarter-finals, French fifth-seed Benoit Paire defeated John Millman of Australia 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, and Polish sixth seed Hubert Hurkacz downed Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-7 (11/13), 6-4.
Additional reporting by AP
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on
The Chicago Blackhawks and the Montreal Canadiens, with the fewest wins of any NHL playoff teams, ignited the rink returning from a COVID-19 hiatus with upset triumphs in Saturday openers. NHL Rookie of the Year candidate Dominik Kubalik inspired the Blackhawks to a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in game one of their best-of-five qualifying series at Edmonton, Alberta, scoring two goals and assisting on three others. “We were ready to go, and I think the game was pretty good,” Kubalik said. “I felt pretty good and everything went my way, so it’s nice, but it’s just the first game,