Lyudmila Samsonova made a splash at the prestigious women’s tournament in Montreal. The Russian tennis player in turn removed such eminent rivals as Arina Sobolenko, Belinda Bencic and Elena Rybakina from her path, thanks to which she reached the Masters final for the first time in her career. However, the organizers deprived her of the chance to fight for the title in a duel with Jessica Pegula, forcing her to enter the court two hours after an exhausting battle with a former compatriot, moved from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon. Nevertheless, the defeat did not prevent the 24-year-old native of Olenegorsk from overtaking Daria Kasatkina in the WTA rating and becoming the first racket of the country.
Lyudmila Samsonova at the representative tournament in Montreal faced, perhaps, the most difficult tests associated with the vagaries of the weather and ill-conceived decisions of the organizers. The start of her match of the third round with the second racket of the world Arina Sobolenko, scheduled for Thursday, was postponed several times due to rain, and then completely postponed to Friday morning. As a result, the Russian woman had to play two meetings in one day – at first she defeated the Belarusian in a difficult duel, spending almost three hours on the court, and in the evening she knocked Belinda Bencic out of the draw. Lyudmila’s total playing time for that day was 4 hours 44 minutes.
In the semi-finals, the Russian woman was to meet with Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, however, this match was not destined to take place on time either: it moved from Saturday to Sunday afternoon. And this was just the case when changes in the schedule could play into the hands of the opponent. The fourth racket of the world had a long match with Daria Kasatkina the day before (the meeting lasted 3 hours and 27 minutes), and she had the extra time to rest.
Also on topic
Confident step: Medvedev and Kasatkina reached the quarterfinals of the Masters in Canada
Daniil Medvedev reached the quarterfinals of the Masters in Toronto without losing a single set to his opponents. In the third round match, he took over …
Until this day, the paths of Samsonova and Rybakina crossed twice, and both matches went to the Russian woman: she won the same tournament in Montreal two years ago, as well as in Tokyo in 2022.
This time the scales at first tipped not in favor of the 18th racket of the world. First of all, she probably made a pairing mistake when she decided to play the first game at the reception. It was this element that Samsonova did not work out at the beginning of the match, and in general she seemed to feel out of her element and made completely unusual mistakes. In particular, over and over again, Lyudmila frustrated blows in situations that absolutely did not favor this. In general, Samsonova made exactly twice as many unforced errors (10 vs. 5) in the first game, and lost quite toothlessly 1:6.
At the start of the second set, the Russians immediately started a hard fight on the serve, but she managed to survive, and then Rybakina, leading 40-30, unexpectedly made three double faults in a row and allowed her opponent to lead 2-0. True, Lyudmila failed to confirm the break, immediately giving the game to zero. Nevertheless, the Russian woman gradually began to grope for her game: she began to attack more boldly, go to the net, respond more sharply to Rybakina’s serve, and also pulled up her own hit with the first ball (from 50 to 58%).
All this allowed her to take the next four games in a row and restore equality in sets.
Rybakina, on the other hand, seemed to be worried about some problems with her right shoulder, which was taped, or fatigue after the meeting with Kasatkina. One way or another, the percentage of the first serve of the Kazakhstani tennis player has dropped significantly, while the number of unforced errors, on the contrary, has increased significantly. The third set got off to a disappointing start for the 2022 Wimbledon champion, who dropped her serve to zero.
The Russian woman only increased her attacking power. The only time she unexpectedly faltered was in the sixth game on her serve. With a 40-15 advantage, Lyudmila suddenly made two unfortunate mistakes in a row. Fortunately, the decline did not last long, she immediately pulled herself together and brought the game to victory. Rybakina did not have a single break point for the entire third set, which naturally led to defeat. And Samsonova thus designed the first exit in her career to the final of the Masters.
Freshness of Pegula
Lyudmila’s rival in the decisive match was Jessica Pegula, who played her semi-final on Saturday. In it, she defeated the first racket of the world, Iga Sviontek, and although the meeting was also not easy, the American had much more time to recover than her future rival.
The organizers of the tournament gave the Russian woman only two hours to rest and prepare for the final, although they could have postponed it until later in the evening. Athletes took to the court at 16:45 local time. But perhaps the convenience of the spectators already gathered in the stands turned out to be more important for Canadian managers than the condition of one of the participants, who had just played an exhausting match against one of the best tennis players in the world.
Also on topic
Time with daughter, going to a concert and a joke on the coach: Medvedev arranged a mini-vacation before the North American tournaments
Daniil Medvedev withdrew from the tournament in Washington and instead of playing tennis he spends time with family and friends. Over the past couple of weeks, he…
“To be honest, I feel very tired. I don’t know how I got through today. I want to enjoy the next match. Enjoy and play the best you can. I know that this match will be harder than any other because I already played alone today, but I think I can enjoy it. I have nothing to lose, ”said the Russian woman after meeting with Rybakina.
But, obviously, it was not possible to get pleasure from Samsonova’s game: she did not succeed in the final at all. She did not have time to react to the opponent’s quick attacks, sent the ball out of bounds in simple situations and almost did not take the initiative in rallies. Lyudmila lost the first set in just 21 minutes, managing to take only one game on her serve.
In the second, the Russian woman showed rare glimpses of her best game, but she did not have enough physical or moral strength to radically change the situation. As a result, the game ended for her with a “steering wheel”, and the whole match was completed in 49 minutes. Even Pegula reacted with understanding to the current situation, who did not celebrate the victory after the final draw, and during the awards ceremony she especially noted the stamina of her opponent, who had to play two matches in a row.
“I’m sorry that we didn’t manage to play in more honest conditions,” the American emphasized.
Nevertheless, for Samsonova, the result shown in Montreal is the best in years on the professional tour. In the updated WTA ranking, Lyudmila rose to 12th place, displacing Kasatkina from it, and for the first time in her career became the first racket of Russia.