Category: WTA Tour

2021 Adelaide International: Swiatek dominates final to claim second career title

IGA Swiatek has backed up her maiden title win at Roland Garros last year with a dominant 66-minute display against second seed Belinda Bencic in the 2021 Adelaide International final. Swiatek won 6-2 6-2 in an ultra-impressive performance that saw the 19-year-old claim the win. Remarkably, Swiatek did not drop a set throughout the entire 2021 tournament and has now risen to world number 15.

“For sure, there is something that clicks,” Swiatek said of her dominant run. “Not only in my head but also tennis-wise. “I feel pretty good on court. I feel like sometimes I have weeks when everything clicks, and that’s just the effect of the work we’re doing.”

Swiatek was unbeatable on serve, dropping just two points for the entire match off her first serve, and four points off her second serve. By comparison, Bencic only won 60.6 per cent and 36.4 per cent of her first and second serve points, broken four times by her young opponent and unable to create a break point opportunity.

“I struggled a lot today with how different she played,” Bencic said post-match. “I just couldn’t figure out her patterns or her serve or anything at all.

“It’s the unpredictable-ness. “I think she plays everything just little bit different than I’m expecting. “So not the usual patterns which you would expect. I think I’m a pretty good anticipator. “But today it was a little bit off – of course, thanks to her game.

“Then I think she plays with much more spin and heaviness. Also the balls you think you can reach are just jumping over you. “It makes it harder to make a defence, to counterpunch.”

After remarkably winning her maiden title at Roland Garros last year, Swiatek eyed off being more consistent in 2021, something she can tick off early in the year, and a goal she hoped to continue throughout the season.

“It’s good for me because I can see that I can play good tennis for the whole week,” she said. “It wasn’t like one time during the French Open. “It gives me more confidence that I’m more developed [as a] player and I can play good more often. It just gives me motivation.

“Our goal right now is to have that more often, because I know I can play great tennis. “It’s just all about planning, aiming for the specific tournament to have the best shape possible.”

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 WTA Tour Qatar & Lyon previews

DESPITE losing four Grand Slam winners to-date, the 2021 WTA Tour Qatar Ladies Open still looms as a quality event to take place next week. Top five players, Ash Barty, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin, as well as US Open winner Bianca Andreescu and Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrosova all withdrew from the 500 tournament, but four Top 10 players still remain.

Elina Svitolina has been upgraded to the top seed with the world number five taking advantage of Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka also not attending the event, while Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova round out the top four seeds. Both Pliskova and Kvitova have been in a funk of late, and need to find a way to get back into form. Sabalenka, on the other hand has had nothing but scintillating form, going on a massive winning streak that included a couple of titles late last year, and will look to pick up that again after again falling short of the target at the Australian Open.

Kiki Bertens returns to the Tour at Doha as the fifth seed, while Belinda Bencic has hit her straps in Adelaide and will look to face a host of reinvigorated talents of late. Jennifer Brady is fresh off an Australian Open final to head into the event, while Victoria Azarenka made a Grand Slam final just last year, has rekindled her career-best form and is back inside the Top 20.

The lower end of the draw is still yet to be determined, but the likes of Jelena Ostapenko, Ons Jabeur, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva are all expected to take to the court in the 2021 event. Sabalenka is the reigning champion, but Kvitova (2018) and Pliskova (2017) are both past winners here in Doha. Azarenka is a back-to-back winner, having lifted the trophy in 2012-13.

 

Lyon Open:

A second-time event after last year’s debut, the Lyon Open does not quite have the prestige of the Qatar Ladies Open, with world number 33, Ekaterina Alexandrova the top seed. She loves to beat up on lower ranked tournaments and should really get the job done here against a weakened and predominantly European field in France. Though in saying that, there are some good talents here that will push her all the way.

The top two that jump off the page are Argentinian Nadia Podoroska who reached the semi-final at Roland Garros, while rising American teenager Coco Gauff will cause headaches. French trio, Fiona Ferro, Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic are also among the Top 50 players at the event, as is Slovenian Polona Hercog.

Lower down the order, United States’ Shelby Rogers, Romanian Sorana Cirstea, Italian Camila Giorgi and Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich are all among the bigger dark horses that could surpass their lower rankings against Top 50 opponents in France.

2021 Adelaide International: Bencic to face Swiatek in decider

A BLOCKBUSTER Adelaide International final will see two of the WTA Tour’s up-and-comers face off in a highly anticipated clash following semi-finals results. Second seed Belinda Bencic will take on fifth seed Iga Swiatek after both players took out unseeded opponents yesterday.

Second seed Bencic had to dig deep against teenage sensation Coco Gauff, winning after two tiebreakers were shared before either player, before racing away to salute in the third set, 7-6 6-7 6-2 in two hours and 45 minutes. In a match that featured pretty shocking consistency on serve, the pair produced 43 double faults between them (23-20 in Gauff’s favour) with the American serving eight more aces (14-6).

Unsurprisingly with the inconsistency on serve, both had plenty of chances to break, and Bencic broke nine of 25 chances, while Gauff broke six of 15 opportunities. In total, 15 of the 32 games went the way of the receiver, which is nearly unheard of at the top level. The second seed’s ability to win 62 to 55.3 per cent of her service points, as well as 44.7 compared to 38.0 per cent upon return was the difference.

Fifth seed Swiatek booked her spot in the final by taking down Bencic’s compatriot, Jil Teichmann. The Polish Roland Garros winner needed just 81 minutes to dispose of Switzerland’s second highest ranked player, winning 6-3 6-2 in style. Unlike the other semi-final, both players were fairly consistent on serve, but Swiatek was unflappable, only facing one break point and saving it. Teichmann, on the other hand, was broken three times from eight chances.

The strength on service was obvious for Swiatek, who won 77.1 and 58.8 per cent of her first and second serve points off a 67.3 per cent efficiency. Teichmann also won 79.3 per cent off her first serve, but struggled off her second with only 28.6 per cent success. In the end, the Grand Slam winner was just too clinical and booked her spot in the Adelaide International final.

“It was my goal from the beginning of the season, I want to be [a] more consistent player, just play good week by week,” Swiatek said, post-match. “I know it’s impossible sometimes. You’re just going to get tired at some point.

“But I felt pretty good from the beginning of the tournament. It’s really important for me. Just I feel that it’s going to be easier year by year because I’m going to be more grown-up, I’m going to be able to physically and mentally handle tournaments every week.

“It was my goal, so I’m pretty happy everything worked here. Hopefully other WTA tournaments I’m going to be able to do that also.”

SEMI-FINAL RESULTS:

[2] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 7-6 6-7 6-2
[5] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3 6-2

2021 Adelaide International: Teenagers and Swiss talents reign supreme in quarters

A HUGE couple of semi-finals await at the 2021 Adelaide International after big results ensued yesterday. Two teenagers are well within their chances to show up their more experienced opposition, as two Swiss talents also remain in the hunt. All four players remaining in the draw are under the age of 24, making for an exciting showing of the depth of young talent on the WTA Tour.

An upset over top seed Ash Barty on Wednesday appeared to be Danielle Collins‘ downfall when she took on Polish teenager Iga Swiatek, failing to complete her quarter final matchup and retiring midway through the second set. Swiatek now makes her way to the semis relatively unscathed, with the 6-3 3-0 default win under her belt and sets up an intriguing battle with 61st ranked Swiss talent Jil Teichmann, who disposed of Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in a tough three-setter which went close to three hours. Whilst Teichmann nabbed the first set with relative ease, her opposition would not go down without a fight as the 6-4 6-7 7-5 battle ensued. Fatigue will be a big factor in the semi between Swiatek and Teichmann, with the former sure to take advantage of her opposition’s result in their upcoming encounter.

The second semi will be between American qualifier Coco Gauff and Swiss second seed Belinda Bencic, as both completed solid wins to make their way through. The 16-year-old Gauff took out compatriot Shelby Rogers in three sets, starting slow in the 2-6 6-4 6-4 encounter but building her way back into the contest to reign supreme over her more experienced opposition. As for Bencic, she had a relatively easy encounter against qualifying Australian Storm Sanders, whose excellent week ground to a halt with the 6-2 6-4 sweep from the world number 12. Despite a stronger second set from the qualifier to draw even at 3-3, Bencic utilised her array of skills to wrestle back momentum and take out the win.

2021 Adelaide International: Collins gatecrashes Barty Party as Storm Sanders becomes the last Aussie standing

DANIELLE Collins has sought revenge on world number one Ash Barty, overturning the result between the pair at last year’s Adelaide International to win in straight sets and book her place in the last eight. The American went down in three sets in last year’s semi-final showdown which saw Barty go on to win the title, but in the Round of 16, it was Collins who got the better of the Australian, stunning her 6-3 6-4 and condemning Barty to her second consecutive loss.

“I think I was really familiar with her game after losing to her three times,” Collins said post-match. “So I certainly got some great tennis lessons out of that and have learned from it.”

The American was the third from her nation to make her way into the quarter finals following Shelby Rogers‘ victory the day before, and young gun Coco Gauff‘s come-from-behind win over sixth seed Croatian Petra Martic. Gauff had to fight back from a set down to win 5-7 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes, saving seven of her 10 break points, whilst breaking her opponent four times in a nail-biting encounter. She now takes on Rogers in an all-American affair.

For Collins, having disposed of one Grand Slam winner in Barty, she now has another to overcome. The unseeded American faces Iga Swiatek in the quarter finals after the Pole Roland Garros winner defeated Australian Maddison Inglis in straight sets, 6-1 6-3. On a day that was a disaster for seeds, Swiatek held firm and won through to the final eight, joining second seed Belinda Bencic as the only other seed through to the quarter finals.

The biggest upset of the day – even more so than Collins over Barty – was Storm Sanders‘ triumph over Yulia Putintseva. The 26-year-old world number 292nd had no fears against the seventh seed and world number 28, winning 6-4 5-7 6-1 in a tight affair. In a remarkable second match since they last played nine years ago when they were teenagers, the now 26-year-olds engaged in a two-hour and 18-minute battle which saw Sanders emerge victorious. She saved eight of 10 break points, whilst capitalising on four of nine herself to make her way into the quarter finals to take on Bencic.

In the other results, Latvian Anastasia Sevastova will lock horns with Swiss rising talent Jil Teichmann after both won their respective matches. Sevastova knocked out Christina McHale in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, while Teichmann came from behind to defeat eighth seed Chinese talent, Wang Qiang, 3-6 6-3 6-3.

ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Danielle Collins (USA) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 6-3 6-4
[2] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-1 6-3
[5] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Maddison Inglis (AUS) 6-1 6-3
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [6] Petra Martic (CRO) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Storm Sanders (AUS) defeated [7] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 5-7 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [8] Wang Qiang (CHN) 3-6 6-3 6-3
Anastasia Sevastova (LAT) defeated Christina McHale 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Tennis Australia/James Elsby

2021 Adelaide International: Rogers downs Konta in day of upsets

DAY 3 at the Adelaide International saw a couple more upsets make their way through to the Round of 16, with one seed disposed of in straight sets and a duo of Aussie qualifiers winning their third straight win to head to the second round.

It was Johanna Konta who fell at the first hurdle, absolutely obliterated by American Shelby Rogers 6-2 6-2 in one hour and 16 minutes. Konta retired early from the Australian Open – during the first round in fact – from injury and looked the goods heading into Adelaide, but struggled to maintain her form and failed to have an impact on serve and more so on return. With just 10 unforced errors to her name throughout the contest, Rogers was clean and clinical, registering her third career Top 10 victory. The results of Rogers’ compatriots Coco Gauff and Madison Brengle went in two different directions though, with Gauff overcoming fellow qualifier Jasmine Paolini in a two-hour and 33-minute 6-4 7-6 6-2 battle, whilst Brengle was unfortunate to draw Polish fifth seed Iga Swiatek, and was disposed of in straight sets.

Maddison Inglis fought off former champion Sam Stosur, coming back from the brink in a tight 6-7 7-5 6-4 marathon, winning in two hours and 46 minutes. Whilst Stosur was marginally more effective on serve, Inglis saved seven of her 10 break points and when it came down to overall points won, just pipped her compatriot at the post. In the other all-Australian battle it was underdog Storm Sanders who got the chocolates over Alja Tomljanovic, as Sanders’ fine recent form continued with another straight sets victory, 6-1 6-2 in 63 minutes.

Looking to seeded contests, and both Yulia Putintseva and Petra Martic head through to the second round relatively unscathed, but were both pushed by their respective opposition in Laura Siegemund and Liudmila Samsonova, coming away with 6-4 6-4 and 4-6 6-0 7-5 margins over their respective foes. The remaining matches saw Misaki Doi and Jil Teichmann also join the second round club.

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 Adelaide International: Qualifiers share spotlight as main draw takes the court

DAY 2 of the Adelaide International qualifying round saw the WTA 500 tournament’s main draw begin, with plenty of hotly contested matches on centre court during the first day of the official competition, as Anastasija Sevastova, Wang QiangShelby Rogers and Danielle Collins headed into the Round of 16 with relative ease.

Sevastova was the first to win through to the Round of 16, defeating Caroline Garcia in 81 minutes 6-2 6-4. It was a solid first serve efficiency that saw the Latvian take out the victory, winning 65 per cent of first serve points off a 72.7 per cent clip, controlling the match despite the Frenchwoman fighting back in the second. A game-for-game first set between eighth seed Wang and wildcard Olivia Gadecki – who sits barely within the top 400 at 399th in the world – drew plenty of eyes as the Australian challenged Wang, before the Chinese talent ran away with the second set and eventual victory with her ability to win off her first serve paying dividends with an effectiveness of close to 88 per cent.

On the first and second show courts, it was the underdogs that showcased their form as the likes of Storm Sanders and Liudmila Samsonova reigned supreme and headed into the main draw. Sanders had an excellent outing against American Caty McNally, downing the ninth seed in 75 minute 6-2 6-3. Whilst not as huge a scalp as Sanders’ victory – ranking 292nd in the world to McNally’s 118th – 10th seed and 117th ranked Samsonova got the chocolates over Japanese fifth seed and world number 86 Misaki Doi, 7-6 6-3. Meanwhile, an excellent showing from Latvian Kaja Juvan saw the 20-year-old speed away to an early lead, before 16-year-old top seed Coco Gauff clapped back midway through the second to force a deciding set after a huge come from behind effort, eventually winning 3-6 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes.

A mammoth effort from Maddison Inglis saw the Australian join the winners list with an excellent outing against third seed Christina McHale. Whilst the American seemed to have all proceedings going her way early, a stellar comeback across the second and third sets handed Inglis her entry into the main draw and a chance at her maiden WTA Tour win. With a 65.6 per cent win rate on her first serve off a 78 per cent clip, Inglis was far more effective on serve and utilised her service speed to knock off the world number 85, 4-6 6-2 6-1 in just under two hours.

The remaining two Round of 32 encounters saw a fired-up Rogers fly through the first set against Veronika Kudermetova, before the Russian bit back in the second to force a tiebreaker but unable to rein in the American, as Rogers’ compatriot Collins downed Zheng Saisai and Madison Brengle won through to the main draw alongside Italian Jasmine Paolini.

2021 Adelaide International: Day 1 of qualifiers sees Americans and Aussies dominate

THE Adelaide International qualifying rounds have begun, with a flurry of American and Australian competitors taking the court in South Australia and at least one player from each of the two nations playing in each match. They combined for eight of the 12 winners on the day, including top seed youngster Coco Gauff and unseeded wildcard Storm Sanders, who disposed of second seed American Bernarda Pera in three sets.

In an interesting stat, the top four seeds all hailed from the United States, with just Pera falling from that group. Gauff was clinical in her encounter with Great Britain’s Francesca Jones, disposing of the Brit in 64 minutes and joined by Madison BrengleChristina McHale and Caty McNally on the winners list. Also hailing from the United States but falling in the first round was Asia Muhammad, who stole the first set from Italian Jasmine Paolini but eventually fell in the lone two-plus hour encounters of the day, going down to the sixth seed 4-6 6-3 7-6.

Heading to the Australian winners, and it was Maddison InglisAstra Sharma and Ellen Perez who joined Sanders in the second round, with Inglis knocking compatriot Belinda Woolcock out of the running. Destanee AiavaArina RodionovaLizette CabreraIvana Popovic and Kimberly Birrell will all remain on the sidelines on home soil, unlucky to all draw seeds. Sanders and Sharma impressed with their three set victories over Pera and Lesia Tsurenko showing plenty of intent ahead of the second round.

The remaining non American or Australian winners included Liudmila SamsonovaMisaki Doi and Kaja Juvan, as all three competitors claimed straight set wins over homegrown talent.

The qualifiers will continue today with the first round beginning on Tuesday.

2021 Adelaide International WTA preview: Barty Party not over down under

THOSE Australians wanting more Ash Barty will get what they wished for after the world number one made a surprise late charge at the 2021 Adelaide International WTA 500 event. The tournament was initially featuring a stacked field, but with many of them reaching deep into the Australian Open, withdrawals had left the tournament without a Top 10 player. Then came Barty.

The Australian reached the quarter finals of her home Grand Slam during the week, and has opted to play another tournament Down Under having missed out on so much tennis in the past 12 months. Unsurprisingly, the tournament committee was more than happy to hand her a wildcard alongside fellow Australians Olivia Gadecki – coming off a stunning win over Grand Slam winner Sofia KeninSam Stosur and Ajla Tomljanovic.

The field for the Adelaide International is not the strongest one, but still features some great young talent alongside some players really hoping to build better form in 2021. Roland Garros reigning champion Iga Swiatek could loom as one of the main threat’s to Barty’s crown, with the 17th ranked Pole coming in as the fifth seed. Fellow young gun, Yulia Putintseva is seventh seed and one of seven Top 30 competitors at the event.

Elise Mertens is the one to watch, with the tricky Belgian flying under the radar at times, but has the capacity to push for a Top 10 spot, currently ranked 16th and coming in as the fourth seed. Belinda Bencic and Johanna Konta round out the top four players at the event, with both the Swiss up-and-comer and British talent looking to have better outings than their third and first round exits at Melbourne Park. Sixth seed Petra Martic is in the same boat, exiting the first Grand Slam of the year in the Round of 128 and now the world number 19 is hoping to impress here.

The withdrawals from the tournament include Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady, and young guns Bianca Andreescu, Elena Rybakina, Dayana Yastremska and Marketa Vondrousova. Instead a number of Chinese and French hopes have come into the tournament, with Zhang Shuai, Zheng Saisai and Wang Qiang joining eighth seed Qiang Wang in the draw, as well as Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. American duo Danielle Collins and Shelby Rogers are also among the inclusions following the withdrawals.

While the Australian Open did not go to plan for the world number one, the Barty Party is predicted to roll on in Adelaide, with the Australian star a winner her 12 months ago and is clearly the best player in the draw. Mertens and Swiatek are the biggest threats to her crown based on their form, while one of the other seeds could finally click into gear in 2021 and cause some headaches.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Osaka wins fourth Grand Slam title in convincing fashion

JAPAN’s Naomi Osaka produced a dominant performance on Saturday night to defeat American Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 and win her fourth Grand Slam title. Although the two sets were quite different, Osaka was far more consistent with her groundstrokes throughout the contest. Brady committed 31 unforced errors and four double faults for the match, far too many mistakes when you are competing against someone of Osaka’s calibre.

Osaka started the match well, holding her first service game to love and looking calm in the high-pressure environment. In contrast, Brady appeared to be very nervous (and excited) at the beginning of her first Grand Slam final. These nerves got the better of Brady in the fourth game, as she served a pair of double faults and handed Osaka the break to love. Osaka was hitting her forehands with great speed and accuracy from the middle of the court at this stage.

Brady immediately got the break back thanks to some powerful groundstrokes of her own that put Osaka under significant pressure. The 22nd seed started to get more comfortable as the set progressed, hitting numerous backhand winners down the line and surprisingly out-hitting Osaka from the baseline. As a result, Osaka started going for too much with her shots and made some unforced errors of her own.

Brady earned herself another break point opportunity at 4-4, but Osaka saved it with a well-placed forehand down the line. The match turned very quickly in the next game, as Brady cost herself the set with a pair of horror forehand errors.

Once Osaka had the first set in the bank, the match was played on her terms. She immediately held serve then played a brilliant crosscourt backhand to earn herself a break point in the second game. Another forehand error from Brady gave Osaka that all-important break, before the third seed won two more consecutive games and went 4-0 up. From there, it was difficult to see a scenario where Brady could come back.

Brady fought hard to get herself a break back, but forehand errors continued to haunt her. Osaka was simply a class above, holding serve from 4-2 onwards to claim her second Australian Open title.

Four of Osaka’s seven career titles to date have been in Grand Slams on hard courts, an incredible statistic that demonstrates her level of dominance on the quicker surfaces. Additionally, Osaka is now riding a 21-game winning streak and remains undefeated in Grand Slam finals. After the match, she thanked the Australian fans for their support throughout the tournament.

“I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans, so just to have this energy it means a lot,” Osaka said. “Thank you so much for coming. I feel like playing a Grand Slam is a super privilege right now and it’s something I won’t take for granted. Thank you for this opportunity.”

For Brady, it was an amazing effort to reach the final given she was one of the players that dealt with strict quarantine rules for two weeks leading into the tournament. She was full of praise for her opponent after the match.

“[Osaka’s] such an inspiration to us all and what she is doing for the game is amazing in getting the sport out there, and I hope young girls at home are watching and are inspired by what she is doing,” Brady said. “Hopefully I’m on this stage next time with this girl over here (referring to the winner’s trophy).”

Overall, both players will be happy with their performances over the last two weeks given the trying circumstances caused by the pandemic. Let’s hope the other three Grand Slams in 2021 run without too many complications.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S FiNAL RESULT:

[3] Naomi Osaka (JAP) defeated [22] Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-4 6-3

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

 

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