By Alessandro Mastroluca
- Britwatch Sports reviews the 2019 season. The second part covers all that happened between the Australian Open and the Roland Garros
- Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros since Jo Durie’s run in 1983
- In Dubai, Roger Federer won his 100th career title
LONDON, UK – It has been a fascinating year for tennis. Britwatch Sports looks at some of the best moments of the season, between the Australian open and the Roland Garros.
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British number one Johanna Konta‘s wait for a first WTA clay-court title continued, after after she lost to Karolina Pliskova in the Italian Open final. At Roland Garros, however, she became the first British woman to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros since Jo Durie in 1983.
After the Australian Open, the WTA circuit saw Belinda Bencic lift her third singles title of her career, her first since 2015 Toronto, in Dubai defeating four Top 10 opponents en route to the title (No.8 Aryna Sabalenka, No.3 Simona Halep, No.6 Elina Svitolina and No.4 Petra Kvitova).
However, it was the 18-year-old Canadian wild card Bianca Andreescu, who burst onto the scene with a run to her first WTA final in Auckland, to complete the first real upset of the year. Andreescu capped her first-ever WTA singles title at the BNP Paribas Open with an absolute masterclass.
Making her first appearance in a main draw of a Premier Mandatory event, she completed a Cinderella run beating Angelique Kerber in the final after two hours and 18 minutes of scintillating play.
In Miami, Ashleigh Barty claimed her maiden Premier Mandatory title and clinched a top-10 status for the first time after a late-night victory over Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. Beating Kvitova for the first time propelled Barty towards the final where she ousted Pliskova. The 2019 Miami Open would remain stay Barty’s biggest career title just until her at Roland Garros. Kvitova added a second 2019 title in Stuttgart, but she struggled with a persistent arm throughout the year.
Johanna Konta reached unexpected heights on clay
On summer, Konta realized that clay could suit her peculiar, patient game. She reached her maiden final on the red dirt in Rabat after fending off three match points in her first-round win over Wang Yafan, and went on to lead by a set a break in the title-match before Maria Sakkari won 10 of the last eleven games.
Then Kiki Bertens made up for her defeat in last year’s final at the Caja Magica and sealed her biggest title thus far beating Halep in the Madrid Open final, becoming the first woman to win the championship losing a set. But Konta remained a leading figure in the summer.
In Rome, Bertens lost to Konta in the semifinals. The Brit had upset No.8 Sloane Stephens in the second round, Venus Williams in the round 16 and Marketa Vondrousova in the quarter-finals on her 28th birthday. Konta, the first British woman to reach the Italian Open final since Virginia Wade in 1971, extended her wait for a first WTA clay-court title continues after she lost to Karolina Pliskova in the Italian Open final.
She went on to record her her first ever main draw win at Roland Garros after four unsuccessful attempts. She lost in the semi-finals to the Czech teenager Vondrousova on Court Simonne Mathieu, the newest stadium next to the garden. But the British No.1 showed her disapproval against the decision to move both women’s delayed semi-finals away from the Court Philippe Chatrier. Konta, the 26th seed, missed out on becoming the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Wade triumphed at Wimbledon in 1977.
Djere’s heartbreaking speech in Rio de Janeiro
In the ATP Tour, the short indoor season nestled between the Australian Open and the first two Masters 1000 of the year crowned Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who captured his first ATP Tour title since October 2017 beating countryman Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.
Ranked No. 210 in the ATP Rankings, Tsonga became the lowest-ranked ATP Tour titlist since Pablo Andujar at 2018 Marrakech. His countryman Gael Monfils stunned every opponent in Rotterdam while Laslo Djere won his first career title at the Rio Open and dedicated his victory to his parents, both of whom died from cancer, in a heartbreaking speech (h/t @TennisTV)
“I lost my mom seven years ago and I want to dedicate this one to her. And also to my dad, I lost him two months ago.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 24, 2019
Djere beat Felix Auger-Aliassime, the youngest ATP 500 finalist since the tournament tier was established in 2009.
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Evans lost his second career final
Great Britain’s Dan Evans seemingly discovered the fountain of youth in Delray Beach where he moved through qualifying, came back from trailing defending champion Frances Tiafoe 1-4 in the third set of their first-round clash, and continued his streak of upsets stunning John Isner and the American’s home crowd in the semifinal. Ranked at No.148 at the time, Evans lost to Moldovan Radu Albot his second tour-level championship match after finishing runner-up at the 2017 Sydney International.
Federer claimed his 100th ATP title
Federer made history in Dubai becoming the second man after Jimmy Connors to win 100 ATP Titles, 6,600 days after sealing his first in Milan. Federer reached that historic feat in Dubai defeating Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas who was a 2-years-old child when he beat Julien Boutter at the Milan Indoors on 4 February, 2001.
During the hard-court tournaments, Nick Kyrgios won an enthralling, controversial clash over Rafa Nadal in Acapulco, who accused the Australian of lacking respect for the public, the opponent and toward himself. Kyrgios managed to win the title at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel beating Alexander Zverev, who defeated Cameron Norrie in the semifinals.
Thiem won his maiden Masters 1000 tournament
Fellow Briton Kyle Edmund came back on court for the first time since losing in the Australian Open first round and secured a comfortable win over Andrey Rublev in the final of the Oracle Challenger Series at Indian Wells. There, he won 7 straight matches before losing to Roger Federer in the Masters 1000 round 16. Federer reached the final, but Dominic Thiem upset him, blasting backhand after backhand to celebrate his maiden title at that level.
Edmund repeated the same result at the Miami Open, losing to Isner. As it happened at Indian Wells, his conqueror reached the title-match, the oldest combined one in the tournament’s 35-year history. The American was no match for Federer. The former world No.1 dominated t and won the his 28th Masters 1000 in 50 finals. Federer became the first two-time winner on the ATP Tour since the beginning of the season.
Nadal, the King of Clay
On clay, Italians did it better. Matteo Berrettini won his second title in Budapest, Fabio Fognini sealed his maiden Masters 1000 triumph in Monte-Carlo and broke into the top 10 for the first time. Nadal was surprisingly unconvincing on his preferred surface as he failed to win a title before the Internazionali d’Italia. In Madrid, he suffered his first defeat against Tsitsipas, who had never won a set in his previous three meetings against the Spaniard.
The eventual champion Djokovic hoped to complete back-to-back titles in Madrid and Rome. At the Foro Italico, the Serbian completed a classic win over Juan Martin Del Potro who gave it all to show relentless offence and powerful winners against the best defender on the tour. Two errors helped Djokovic to save a couple of match points and prevail after three hours. He paid a heavy toll as he ran out of gas when it mattered the most, against Nadal in the final.
The Mallorcan continued his streak at the French Open, where Edmund remained the only Brit to move past the first-round. Nadal defeated Yannick Hanfmann, Yannick Maden, David Goffin, Juan Ignacio Londero, Kei Nishikori and Federer in their first meeting at the tournament since 2011, to set up his twelfth French Open final. In a rematch of the previous year’s clash, he prevailed over Thiem to break Margaret Court‘s all-time record of eleven singles titles won at a Grand Slam event.
Part 1 – 2019 in Review | Australian Open: Andy Murray got a premature tribute, Novak Djokovic made history
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