French Open champion Iga Swiatek yesterday crushed world No. 12 Belinda Bencic in straight sets to claim the Adelaide International at Memorial Drive.
The 19-year-old Pole was in ruthless form as she downed Bencic 6-2, 6-2 to claim the second title of her career.
Swiatek burst onto the tennis scene at Roland Garros last year when she claimed the French Open crown, defeating then world No. 6 Sofia Kenin in the final.
She started strongly against Bencic and never eased up, breaking her Swiss opponent twice in each set to wrap up a comfortable win.
Both players were untroubled, holding their opening service games until Bencic’s serve deserted her at 2-2 and Swiatek took full advantage.
She broke Bencic and was never in trouble after that, running away with the title on the back of a powerful forehand and Bencic’s misfiring serve, which included eight double faults.
Swiatek went into the tournament as world No. 18, but is now to rise to a career-high No. 15 as a result of the win, her first hard-court title.
She said that she appreciated being able to play in front of spectators during the Australian tournaments, particularly in front of a capacity crowd for the Adelaide final.
“It’s been an amazing time here in Australia,” she said.
Bencic, whose season was badly affected by injury problems, was playing her 11th final, but her first in 12 months.
The former world No. 4 showed some glimpses of her best tennis, but had no answers against Swiatek.
“Tennis can be a little bit brutal,” she said. “You can have a very good week, and still end up losing and having a bitter feeling. I didn’t manage to find a way today, but I think I had a great week and I really enjoyed playing here.”
OPEN SUD DE FRANCE
AP, MONTPELLIER, France
Top-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut was clinical in beating sixth-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-3 to reach the Open Sud de France semi-finals on Friday.
Bautista Agut won 88 percent of the first-serve points and was ruthless on Humbert’s serve, converting all four break points. He served out the match and on his first match point.
The Spaniard, who is chasing a 10th career title and first since winning Doha in 2019, meets unheralded Peter Gojowczyk for a place in today’s final.
The German qualifier eased into the last four by beating Austrian Dennis Novak 6-4, 6-1.
Gojowczyk was strong on serve, winning 88 percent of his first-serve points and saving the only two break points he faced.
Second seed David Goffin of Belgium converted three of his break points in beating seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 6-4, 6-4.
Seeking a first ATP title since 2017 and fifth overall, Goffin next plays Egor Gerasimov.
The unseeded Belarusian hit 16 aces in defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Rafael Nadal on Friday said that he would not play in the Acapulco ATP tournament next month because of a back injury, which also caused his withdrawal from next week’s Rotterdam event.
The world No. 2 is therefore unlikely to play again until the season’s first Masters event in Miami from March 24.
“I am very sorry not to participate in Acapulco 2021,” the 34-year-old Nadal, champion in Acapulco in 2005, 2013 and last year, wrote on Twitter.
“It is a difficult year for everyone and in my current state of health, with a bad back, it is impossible to make such a long trip. I love Acapulco, I have played the last four years, but this year it is not possible. Hopefully in 2022,” he wrote.
Nadal was bothered by the back injury in Melbourne, where he was knocked out of the Australian Open in the quarter-finals by Stefanos Tsitsipas from two sets up.
The Spanish star could lose his No. 2 world ranking next week to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev if the Australian Open runner-up makes the final in Rotterdam.
TAKE TWO: Tainan TSG are the favorites going into this season, which starts on Sunday. They have fearsome forwards and national ’keeper Pan Wen-chieh between the posts Defending champions Tainan TSG (Taiwan Steel Group) face a tough challenge from their southern neighbors Taipower and CPC FC when the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) season starts this weekend with four matches on Sunday. Promoting grassroots soccer, and organizing relegation and promotion between the top and second divisions last year was important for the progression of Taiwanese soccer, CTFA chairman Chiou I-jen told a news conference in Taipei yesterday. “We are going in the right direction ... and becoming more competitive” for international competitions, Chiou said. Still the favorites, Tainan TSG have the league’s most fearsome forwards, with three international star players.
Nine-year-old Thai kickboxer Pornpattara “Tata” Peachaurai is eager to get back in the ring after COVID-19 curbs brought his fight season to a halt more than five months ago. The money he earns is vital income for his family. “All the money from boxing, the regular payment and the tips, it all goes to mum,” the lean young fighter said. “I’m proud to be a boxer and to earn money for my mum.” Tata’s last fight was in October last year, before a second COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand shut down sports events as bans on large gatherings were reimposed. “I cannot box. I
FIFTY YEARS ON: ‘Don’t be afraid of competition, we can compete peacefully,’ said Yao Zhenxu, a Chinese player who was there when ‘ping-pong diplomacy’ began It was 50 years ago, but Zhang Xielin remembers vividly how a shaggy-haired US table tennis player stepped onto the Chinese team’s bus, a chance encounter which would shape history. It was the world championships in Nagoya, Japan, and Glenn Cowan mistakenly hopped in with Zhang and his teammates — an awkward moment because the US and China were then deeply at odds. “We were on the bus and were talking and laughing,” said Zhang, now 80. “But when we realized that an American had come onto the bus, we fell silent.” The Chinese triple world champion Zhuang Zedong eventually came forward and
After several humbling losses to the West Division leaders, the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday sent quite the message to the Colorado Avalanche in their last of eight regular-season matchups. Eight was more than enough for the Wild to slow the Avalanche. Kevin Fiala notched his first career hat-trick, while Kirill Kaprizov had two of Minnesota’s three power-play goals as the sharp-shooting Wild beat Colorado 8-3 to hand the Avalanche their first regulation loss in 16 games. “We can play against you guys,” Fiala said. “If we’re going to meet them in the playoffs.” Luke Johnson, Ryan Hartman and Joel Eriksson Ek also scored as