WTA

Clijsters beaten in Chicago in first match of latest comeback

By Sports Desk September 27, 2021

Kim Clijsters saw her latest WTA Tour comeback ended by Hsieh Su-wei at the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic on Monday.

The four-time grand slam champion, playing in her first match of 2021, was defeated 6-3 5-7 6-3 in a contest lasting two hours and 18 minutes on Stadium Court.

Clijsters, who retired in 2012, made her return to the Tour last year, losing her three matches.

After knee surgery at the end of 2020 and having contracted COVID-19 this year, the 38-year-old at last made her first appearance of the season but was bested in a gruelling contest by Australian Open quarter-finalist Hsieh.

Speaking prior to her return in Chicago, Clijsters spoke of how she was drawing inspiration from Andy Murray, who continues on the ATP circuit despite two major hip surgeries.

"Seeing Andy Murray and the way he speaks about his comeback and everything, it's so motivating and it gives you a lot of energy too," she said. "To see him go through the things he's gone through and be open about the challenges of it and the belief that he has, I feel like it's something I can relate to."

Seeds Jessia Pagula, Danielle Collins and Veronika Kudermetova all progressed in Chicago on Monday, although home favourite Madison Keys had to retire from her match with Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

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    Ash Barty defeated Danielle Collins in an enthralling final to cap a supreme Australian Open campaign with a maiden title in her home grand slam.

    Barty was made to work hard for her success by unlikely finalist Collins and had to come from 5-1 down in the second set to prevail 6-3 7-6 (7-2) on Rod Laver Arena.

    It was to the delight of a partisan Melbourne crowd, who saw an Australian triumph in a singles event at the season's first major for the first time since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

    Barty, who has now won 11 matches in a row in 2022, clinched her third grand slam title at the first opportunity, a sublime cross-court forehand sealing a sensational triumph.

    Barty had offered the first sign of nerves and had to save the match's first break point with a brilliant forehand winner before recovering to hold.

    Yet she turned the tables in the next game, Collins tensing up and conceding the first break when she sent two serves long.

    With the crowd behind her, Barty got into her groove, holding with ease before two fantastic forehands paved the way for her to serve out the set.

    Barty seemed primed to take the match away from Collins in the second set, yet the top seed was stunned as she slumped to a 3-0 deficit.

    Having conceded serve for just the second time in the tournament, Barty squandered two immediate chances to break back, Collins coming out on top in a thrilling rally.

    There were more fist pumps from Collins as she held to go 4-1 up. A brilliant passing shot gave Barty hope in the next game, but she rushed a volley and followed with a double fault to hand her opponent two break points.

    Collins took the first to put herself on the brink of restoring parity, only for Barty to rally back with a break of her own and start a quite sensational comeback.

    Having held for 6-3, Barty appeared to have left herself too much to do when she went 30-0 down on Collins' next serve but reeled off four straight points to send the crowd into raptures before levelling the set with a fine hold.

    Collins needed to regain her composure and did so to reach the tie-break, but a foreland long put Barty in control, and the crowd were on their feet after a volleyed winner made it 4-0.

    Collins struck the net and then missed the court to grand Barty four championship points, and the comeback was complete with her slick forehand.

    DATA SLAM: Barty's home run

    The first Australian woman since 1980 to reach the final of this major, Barty became the first woman to win a grand slam title in her home country since Sloane Stephens triumphed at the 2017 US Open.

    She is also the first woman ranked world number one to lift the trophy since Serena Williams in 2015, ending a run of top-ranked players losing the Australian Open final, after Simona Halep in 2018 and Serena Williams in 2016.

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    Barty – 30/22
    Collins – 17/22

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Barty – 10/3
    Collins – 1/2

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Barty – 3/5
    Collins – 2/4

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    Daniil Medvedev conceded he was out of his mind when he embarked on an extraordinary rant at the chair umpire during his Australian Open win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    The Russian, who came from two sets down to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last round, roared into a second consecutive Melbourne final as he downed Tsitsipas in a fiery last-four showdown.

    Medvedev ultimately triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a final with Rafael Nadal but it was a contest in which tempers frayed, mostly on US Open champion's side of the net.

    Second seed Medvedev felt Tsitsipas' father was coaching from the sidelines and received a warning for his persistent complaining.

    He stopped short of accusing Tsitsipas of cheating but explained his mindset at length in the post-match news conference.

    Medvedev said: "Cheating, not at all. First of all I got broken - I got a little bit mad. I thought the referee could do a little bit better with the crowd, just to say, 'Quiet please', or something like this. 

    "Didn't see him doing that often and I made a terrible double fault, got a code when I was just showing everybody that I'm cramping.

    "I cannot toss the ball with my left hand because everybody's screaming, so my serve was terrible.

    "To be honest, before every return his father was talking Greek. I don't know, maybe he's saying, 'Come on, come on', there is no problem.

    "But then the referee, I asked him if he can talk. He said he can talk but he can't coach. Then I said, 'Do you speak Greek?' 

    "If not, the guy is talking, talking, talking. I don't know what he says, but if it's a coach - I don't consider coaching as cheating but it should be a code violation. Then second one would be a bit tricky."

    Medvedev branded the umpire "a small cat" in his astonishing on-court outburst.

    He added: "You guys are laughing, so I think we can say it was funny, but I was definitely out of my mind. I was not controlling myself anymore about anything.

    "That's actually why I'm really happy to win. Many matches like this I would go on to do mistakes - you lose your concentration with things in the heat of the moment. I'm so happy that I managed to catch it really fast."

    Medvedev often feels regret after his outbursts, but concedes they sometimes give him the fuel to win.

    "I regret it all the time, because I don't think it's nice." he said. "I know that every referee is trying to do their best.

    "In tennis we don't fight with the fists but tennis is a fight. It's a one-on-one against another player. 

    "So I'm actually really respectful to players who never, almost never show their emotions because it's tough, I can get really emotional. 

    "I have been working on it. So many matches I handle it. If we look back at myself five years ago when I started playing, just started playing, there was less attention on me, but I was just insanely crazy.

    "I'm working on it. Helps me to win matches, I know. So I do regret it 100 per cent, but again, in the heat of the moment, I just lost it."

    Tsitsipas suggested the Russian was lacking in maturity, saying about the rant: "Well, it's for sure funny!

    "It's funny. I don't pay attention to the stuff. I know players like to do this stuff to throw you off mentally. Could be maybe a tactic? It is all right, he is not the most mature person anyways."

    Of the allegation he received coaching, Tsitsipas replied: "I wasn't - you saw me the other day, losing the score twice in two of my matches. I cannot hear anything when I'm playing. 

    "It's impossible. Having the crowd being so loud in every single point, you have to have super hearing to be able to hear what your coach says.

    "I'm used to it. They've been targeting me already a long time. The umpires are always paying attention to my box, never paying attention to the opponent's box. 

    "Last thing I want is someone giving me tips and giving me advice on what I should do. I'm not the kind of person that would try and listen when out there competing, playing. In practice, maybe."

    But Medvedev was reluctant to get into a war of words with Tsitsipas.

    He said: "No, I don't want to get too much into this, because again, it was nothing against Stefanos, nothing during this match and I feel like I didn't talk about him. 

    "I just talked about the rule, because again, I don't know what his father is saying. Maybe he's just saying, 'Let's go next point'. It's completely allowed. 

    "I don't know Greek. Same about the umpire. He should just, I don't know, talk to Stefanos first maybe, [tell him to] say something to your father. 

    "If my coach would be talking in French to me before every point, even I would say, 'Stop it. It's not allowed'. So it was only about this."

    Tsitsipas revealed he had regularly discussed the topic with his father and ultimately believes coaching should be legalised.

    He added: "My father, look, he's a person that when he gets into something when there is a lot of action, his medicine is to talk, and you can't stop it. It's something that he does from nature.

    "I've tried, spent countless hours trying to figure it out with him, but it's part of him. 

    "Last year I went out publicly on one of my social media platforms and said that I think coaching should be allowed, simply because coaches do it anyways. 

    "Most of them get away with it, and they do it pretty smartly, I can tell you."

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