Baseline: May 22 tennis report

Tennis: While baby news made a lot of off-court headlines, Alexander Zverev and Elina Svitolina registered victories in Rome to reach the highest rankings of their careers.

By Andrea Leand, PSN analyst

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NEWS WIRE

  • Former women’s No.1 Vika Azarenka announced that she will return to the WTA circuit earlier than expected after giving birth to son Leo six months ago. Azarenka says her training progressed better than expected and now plans to compete at Wimbledon and a tuneup event.
  • Fabio Fognini and former U.S. Open champion Flavia Pennetta welcomed a baby boy into the family. Federico was born just days after Fognini upset top seed Andy Murray at the Italian Open, eventually falling to Alexander Zverev in the fourth round.
  • As widely anticipated, Novak Djokovic hired Andre Agassi as his coach for the French Open. Djokovic, who dropped his longtime team weeks ago, consulted with Agassi during the Italian Open and believes the former No. 1 can resurrect his performance after disappointing results in the past year.

BACKHANDS

ATP TOUR: Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Final: Alexander Zverev def. Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 6-3

  • Zverev won his first ATP Masters Series title and skyrocketed to a career-best No.10 in the world rankings. The 20-year old-German never faced a  break point with superior service, winning 84 percent of his first-serve points. The ATP’s Next Gen star broke serve three times by winning 63 percent of Djokovic’s second-serve points. Zverev also upset No.5 seed Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals.
  • No.8 seed Dominic Thiem snapped Rafael Nadal’s 15-match claycourt winning streak in the quarterfinals before falling to Djokovic in the semifinals.
  • John Isner was a surprise semifinalist, ousting third seed Stan Wawrinka (third round) and sixth Marin Cilic (quarterfinals).
  • Former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro outplayed No.5 seed Kei Nishikori to win their third-round match, before falling to Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

WTA TOUR: Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Final: Elina Svitolina def. Simona Halep, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1

  • Svitolina, the eighth seed, rose to a career-best No.6 in the world with a run that knocked off No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova (quarterfinals) and third seed Garbine Muguruza, forced to retire with a neck injury while trailing 4-1 in the semifinals.
  • Halep rolled her ankle at 5-2 in the first set of the final but, after having her it taped, held on to take the set. Svitolina, though, exploited Halep’s mishap with an aggressive ground game as the 22-year-old Ukrainian captured her first WTA Premiere Mandatory event and fourth title of 2017.
  • Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit continued her ascent up the ranks to No. 52 by taking out top Angelique Kerber (second round), later succumbing to Halep in the quarterfinals.
  • Russian veteran Ekaterina Makarova outmaneuvered No.4 seed Dominique Cibulkova (second round), prior to falling to No.15 seed and first-time Italian Open semifinalist Kiki Bertens (third round).
  • Daria Gavrilova, who forgot to enter the event and had to qualify for the main draw, outlasted No.10 seed Madison Keys (first round) and No.7 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova (third round) before being stopped by Bertens in the quarterfinals.
  • Venus Williams, seeded ninth, outdueled No. 5 seed Johanna Konta in the third round but was edged by Muguruza in the quarterfinals.

FOREHANDS

ATP TOUR: Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open

  • Site: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Top seed: Stan Wawrinka

ATP TOUR: Open Parc Auvergne Rhones Alpes Lyon

  • Site: Lyon, France
  • Top seed: Milos Raonic

WTA TOUR: Internationaux de Strasbourg

  • Site: Strasbourg, France
  • Top seed: Caroline Wozniacki

WTA TOUR: Nurnberger Versicherungs Cup 2017

  • Site: Nuremberg, Germany
  • Top seed: Kiki Bertens

 

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