Tag: ajla tomljanovic

WTA Tour wrap: Carnage in Berlin as top three seeds ousted

IT was almost beyond belief as the bett1Open draw was blown wide open following some massive upsets on a huge day of grass court action. The top three seeds were all ousted for the tournament in upset results to leave the title race at the event up in the air. The only seed to advance through to the quarter finals thus far was fifth seed Belinda Bencic who toppled Croatian Petra Martic in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.

In the other matches, American Madison Keys caused a boilover against top seed Aryna Sabalenka, with the Belarusian newly crowned world number four losing in one hour and 56 minutes. Keys served eight aces and won 71.7 per cent of her first serve points off a 67.9 per cent clip, also saving four of six break point opportunities.

By comparison, Sabalenka won 68.3 per cent of her first serve points, and whilst she also won 47.7 per cent of her second serve points, only served at a 57.7 per cent efficiency. She also faced 14 break points, and whilst she saved 10 of them, went down in three sets, 6-4 1-6 7-5.

Keys hit 31 winners to just 17 unforced errors in the match, standing up against the powerful Sabalenka. Most impressively, despite a disappointing second set, Keys bounced back to win the third and deciding set, breaking Sabalenka in he final game of the match off the back of a couple of unforced errors from the Belarusian.

Meanwhile fellow top three seeds, Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu also suffered defeats at the hands of lower ranked opponents. Svitolina went down to Ekaterina Alexandrova, with the Ukrainian second seed unable to overcome her Russian opponent, losing 6-4 7-5. Canadian third seed Andreescu fell to Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in straight sets 7-6 7-5.

At the Viking Classic, third seed Donna Vekic was the highest ranked player out on court, and she made her way through to the quarter finals with a come-from-behind win over Italian Camila Giorgi. Vekic won 2-6 6-3 6-4 to book her spot in the quarter finals following a huge two hours and 28 minutes on court. The Croatian was one of three winners to advance following two-hour plus victories.

Coco Vandeweghe overcame Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the battle of the unseeded talents, with the American bouncing back in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 6-4 6-3 in two hours and 18 minutes. Similarly, Kristina Mladenovic also won in a come-from-behind situation, overcoming compatriot and seventh seed Fiona Ferro in an all-French duel, saluting 3-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes. The other Frenchwoman out on court – Caroline Garcia – did not have as much fun, bundled out by eighth seed Czech Marie Bouzkova who won easily 6-3 6-0. In the other match, home nation player Heather Watson won via retirement with a 5-2 triumph over Zhang Shuai.

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Madison Keys (USA) defeated [1] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 1-6 7-5
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [2] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-4 7-5
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [3] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 7-6 7-5
[5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Petra Martic (CRO) 6-3 6-4

VIKING CLASSIC ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 2-6 6-3 6-4
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 5-2 RET
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [7] Fiona Ferro (FRA) 3-6- 6-3 6-4
[8] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-3 6-0
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Azarenka and Kerber set up second round clash, Tomljanovic outlasts Mertens

THE two grass event continued in Germany and England overnight, with the WTA 500 bett1open in Berlin and WTA 250 Viking Classic in Birmingham both seeing one big seeded upset apiece amongst relatively  predictable results.

In Germany, a huge second round has been set with a couple of former world number ones in Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber both claiming wins in the Round of 32. Whilst Azarenka was somewhat tested by Kerber’s compatriot Andrea Petkovic, Kerber had little to no issue disposing of Japanese left-hander Misaki Doi in one hour flat.

“It was a really solid match,” Kerber said. “It’s never easy to play a first match on grass courts, especially against a lefty as well. So I’m really happy about my performance and how I started the grass-court season.”

“It’s really nice being back on grass, that’s my favourite surface,” Kerber said. “It’s never easy to start a grass-court season because it’s completely different from the clay courts, but it’s great for me to play in Germany, it’s always really special. That gives me a little bit more motivation.”

Whilst Azarenka leads the duo’s head-to-head 9-1 and is seeded seventh here in Berlin, Kerber is on home soil and looking forward to the clash.

“I will try to play my game, and try to take another chance, and play as many matches as I can before I go to Wimbledon,” Kerber said. “It’s another good match at a high level, and this is why I’m here. The draw is really strong, so it’s good to have another good match.”

“I was sometimes dropping my level a bit with not being aggressive enough,” said Azarenka following her clash with Petkovic, which resulted in a 6-4 7-6(2) finish. “I was getting too frustrated in some moments when I had opportunities and didn’t take them, so I want to learn from that for my next round. I think I was putting myself into too much of a dangerous situation when I could have been more disciplined.”

Sixth seed Garbine Muguruza found success against Romanian Sorana Cirstea, 6-3 6-2, and whilst Muguruza and Cirstea hit a similar amount of winners (15-12), Cirstea registered a whopping 35 unforced errors throughout the one hour and 19-minute clash.

“Very pleased,” Muguruza said. “You never know how it’s going to go in the first match, especially on grass after two years, so I’m very excited to win in two sets against Sorana. We’ve played many times, and it’s always difficult.”

Things did not quite go to plan for eighth seed Czech Karolina Muchova, who fell to Russian Veronika Kudermetova in three, 7-6 5-7 6-2. Kudermetova said she drew on her third round loss at the Roland Garros to another Czech in Katerina Siniakova to get over the line in this encounter.

“I don’t know how to explain it but at the French Open I lost a very close match,” Kudermetova said. “I was 5-1 up, 5-2 up in both sets and I lost. Today I was a little bit thinking about it when I was up and serving. Mentally, it’s not really easy because I think and think about my serve. But I am really happy I stayed in the match in the third set.”

Another Russian-Czech matchup played out with the results going the way of the Russian once more with Liudmila Samsonova claiming the victory over Marketa Vondrousova and set to take on Kudermetova in the second round. Just one of four Americans claimed wins, as Jessica Pegula claimed a straightforward win over compatriot Hailey Baptiste who retired at the latter stage of the first set, while Roland Garros quarterfinalist Elena Rybakina and Croatian Petra Martic both took out wins over Shelby Rogers and Asia Muhammad, respectively.

At Birmingham, a huge upset was orchestrated by Australian hard-hitter Ajla Tomljanovic, disposing of top seed Belgian Elise Mertens in a marathon three hour and nine-minute clash, requiring three tiebreakers before the 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-6(4) result was decided. Fourth seed Daria Kasatkina overcame a slow start to steal victory off Polona Hercog, whilst second seed Ons Jabeur, fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko and sixth seed Zhang Shuai all dominated their respective contests to win in two. Meanwhile, Anastasia PotapovaMarta Kostyuk and Leylah Fernandez all found wins on their opening day of action.

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 6-2
[7] Viktoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-4 7-6
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [8] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 7-6 5-7 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 2-6 6-3 6-4
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Asia Muhammad (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-3
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-6 RET
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-4 7-6

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated [1] Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-6 6-7 7-6
[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 6-4 6-2
[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 4-6 6-3 6-3
[5] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-4 6-1
[6] Zhang Shuai (CHN) defeated Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 6-2 7-5
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 5-7 7-6 6-4
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 4-6 7-5 6-3
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Wang Yafan (CHN) 7-5 6-3

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Krejcikova and Pavlyuchenkova set up maiden slam final

BARBORA Krejcikova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have set up a huge Roland Garros final this week following victories during the semis, coming in hot during their successful Grand Slam campaigns with a shot at a maiden major title edging ever closer.

Unseeded Czech Krejcikova was forced to battle hard in a huge clash with 17th seed Greek Maria Sakkari, taking out the tight first set before Sakkari broke back to win the second. She was then forced to save a match point to claim the eventual 7-5 4-6 9-7 encounter, requiring a whopping three hours and 18 minutes to do so – the longest ever women’s semi final at the Roland Garros.

“I think the match was really up and down,” Krejcikova said. “I just told myself, ‘Just fight, fight, fight until the last point’. I’m happy that I was really fighting.”

“I cannot believe it’s actually happening,” Krejcikova said. “I cannot believe it.”

Whilst the two competitors had similar winner (31-27 the way of Krejcikova) and unforced error counts (58-53), the stats proved just how closely fought the matchup was with the Czech only marginally leading off her own service games given Sakkari’s quicker serve, and overall winning 126 total points to Sakkari’s 118.

“I always wanted to play matches like this,” Krejcikova said. “I always wanted to play tournaments like this, big tournaments, big opponents, last rounds. It was always something that I wanted to achieve. It was just taking so long.

“It just took me some time, but I think right now it’s actually right moment. Especially mentally I think I’m just there. I really matured. I just really appreciate things a lot, especially after what I’ve gone through.”

While Sakkari is proud of her run to the semi-finals, which included a milestone becoming the first Greek woman to ever reach a grand slam semi, she was disappointed that she “got stressed” when serving for the match on two separate occasions.

“I have to be deadly honest: I got stressed, starting thinking that I’m a point away from being in the final,” Sakkari said. “I guess it’s a rookie mistake. Good thing is that if I give myself a chance again to be in that position, then I know that I don’t have to do it again.”

“I’m proud of my run here, but it hurts,” she said. “Today’s loss hurts a lot because I was so close. I was just one point away. “But what can you do? “There are lots of positives and some negatives, as well. I just have to embrace it and just move forward and see how am I going to do it the next time.”

Krejcikova also defeated Kristyna Pliskova, 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, fifth seed Elina Svitolina, Sloane Stephens and 24th seed Coco Gauff – in that order – on her way to the semi-final.

Pavlyuchenkova had a similarly tough run to the final, coming up against a couple of top seeds and showcasing just how impressive her last week has been. Christina McHale, Ajla Tomljanovic, third seed Aryna Sabalenka, 15th seed Victoria Azarenka and 21st seed Elena Rybakina, before taking on Slovenian Tamara Zidansek for her first chance at a grand slam major – which came after just one hour and 34 minutes.

“It’s been a long road. It’s been a lot of ups and downs. It’s been a tough one,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I definitely didn’t expect this year being in the final. I guess you can’t expect those things.

“I was just there working hard, doing everything possible. I just said to myself, ‘You know what, this year let’s do whatever it takes, anything you can do to improve your game, your mentality’.”

The Russian raced ahead to an early break 5-3 before her Slovenian opposition bit back, taking the first set to a decider before Pavlyuchenkova claimed the momentum clinching the first set 7-5 and raced away to complete the 6-3 second set.

“Like this something I’ve been thinking about every single time. I think as tennis players, that’s the only goal I think we have in the head. That’s why we playing tennis,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “That’s for us the biggest achievement you can get. That’s what you’re playing for… I think about it all the time. Like been thinking about it since I was a junior, since I was a little kid, since I started playing tennis… It’s been there in my head forever.”

Zidansek will debut in the top 50 following her excellent run to the semi-finals, and left nothing to chance in what ended up being her final encounter for the week.

“I’ve learned that sometimes when I was younger, I was always looking at big players, ‘Wow, they’re hitting so good’. Maybe I want to have a shot like that or something,” Zidansek said.

“But I think I showed myself and I’ve learned that at this stage it really is, I’m going to say, 90 per cent a mental game, just about going out there and believing in yourself, believing in your game. At the end being able to go out there and show your best game.”

ROLAND GARROS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 7-5 4-6 9-7
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 7-5 6-3

 

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Kasatkina destroys Bencic for Roland Garros third round spot

DARIA Kasatkina caused the upset of the day by ousting 10th seed Belinda Bencic from Roland Garros in their second round clash. The Russian took no prisoners in a one-hour and 16-minute beating, running out a 6-2 6-2 winner over the talented Swiss player. Bencic was one of only two seeds to fall outside of a couple of walkovers, as Kasatkina served eight aces to one and hit seven more winners (27-20) and six less unforced errors (14-20) in a clinical display. Kasatkina also only dropped eight points off her first serve, and did not even face a break point, whilst breaking Bencic four times from nine chances.

“A lot has changed between 2018 and now,” Kasatkina said post-match. “There was one amazing year for me, which was important in a good and in the bad way. “I learned a lot, and I think I become a little bit different, maybe more experienced, a bit more serious. “Let’s say I understand more why I’m winning or why I’m losing.

“At that time everything was just going with the wave, and I was not thinking that much.” Now I’m analysing more what’s going on in the situation I’m in. “Getting maybe a bit more mature.”

Aside from the withdrawals of Naomi Osaka – which was announced after her first round win – and Petra Kvitova – which handed Romanian Ana Bogdan and Russian Elena Vesnina safe passage into the third round, 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova was the only other seeded talent to fall in the Round of 64. Kudermetova went down to Czech Katerina Siniakova, losing in three tight sets 7-6 5-7 7-5 in an epic two-hour and 52-minute match, the clear longest of the day. Kudermetova hit 18 more winners (45-27) but was far too inconsistent with 67 unforced errors to 43, as Siniakova was more efficient off her serve, and despite serving 10 double faults, made the most of her chances when they went in.

One of only two other matches that lasted beyond the two-hour mark was Sorana Cirstea‘s two-hour and 37-minute victory over Italian Martina Trevisan. Cirstea got up in three sets, 6-4 3-6 6-4 in what was a real arm-wrestle for the most part. The Romanian was far from her best, hitting 46 unforced errors to 28, and only had three more winners than her opponent (29-26), but won 50 per cent of her receiving points, and had higher success rates on her first and second serve. The Romanian won through to take on Kasatkina in the Round of 32.

The other epic was seventh seed Serena Williams needing to shake off a second set fight from another Romanian in Mihaela Buzarnescu to win in three sets in two hours and three minutes. Williams got up 6-3 5-7 6-1 to run away with the contest in the end, but not without some tough moments midway through the game. Williams hit one more winner (26-25) and had one less unforced error (27-28) in a relatively even contest, but it was her much higher first serve success rate (75 to 61 per cent) that proved the difference, as she broke five times to two and served the only five aces of the match.

A number of other contenders breezed through with 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova showing no mercy to French wildcard Harmony Tan, winning 6-1 6-3 in 62 minutes on court. The quickest match of the day was 33rd seed Paula Badosa‘s 6-2 6-0 destruction of Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in a lightning 52 minutes, while 21st seed Elena Rybakina defeated Nao Hibino 6-3 6-1 in 63 minutes. Danielle Collins breezed past Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-0 in 62 minutes, and Tamara Zidansek rolled into the third round with a 65-minute 6-4 6-1 trouncing of American Madison Brengle.

Elsewhere, Belarusian duo Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka both advanced through to the the next round in two tight sets, with Madison Keys and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova the other two seeds to make their way into the Round of 32. The only other match was Slovenia’s Polona Hercog taking care of France’s Carolina Garcia in straight sets, to complete the first 16 players through to the third round.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) W/O
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-3
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-3 5-7 6-1
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated [10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 6-2
[PR] Elena Vesnina (RUS) defeated [11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) W/O
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Clara Tauson (AUT) 7-5 6-4
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-1 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-3 6-1
[23] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 7-5
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated [29] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 5-7 7-5
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-2 6-4
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [LL] Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-2 6-0
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-2 6-0
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-1
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-4
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5 6-4

Picture credIt: Jimmie 48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Osaka and Sabalenka fire as Kerber falls at Roland Garros

IT was a convincing opening day at the 2021 Roland Garros, with the Round of 128 seeing just one seed fall from 10 of the day’s entrants. One of those winners was Naomi Osaka, who has been well and truly in the media spotlight this week following her announcement not to partake in press conferences during the event, while she was joined by fellow Top 5 talent Aryna Sablenka in the second round, with the Belarusian seeded third.

Osaka had little issue in her opening round match, disposing of Romanian Patricia Maria Tig in one hour and 47 minutes, 6-4 7-6(4). Osaka has never made it to the second week at the French Open, with this victory surely giving her some confidence.

“I’d say it’s a work on progress,” Osaka said in her on court interview post-match. “Hopefully the more I play the better it’ll get. If I play more matches, then hopefully I’ll get better [on the surface].”

“I’m really glad that I won, it’s a very beautiful court,” she said. “I’ve only played two matches here – one before the roof (was installed) and one right now. Hopefully I’ll keep it going.”

Osaka hit 39 winners to Tig’s 19 throughout the contest, and whilst she also made more unforced errors, the Japanese talent was influential off her first serve winning 89 per cent of points off a 55 per cent clip.

Despite the opening round win, Osaka’s victory was soured by a USD $15,000 fine for not fronting the mandator media per Roland Garros (and Grand Slam) obligations. Multiple offences could mean more substantial fines and future suspensions.

The other seed in the spotlight is former world number one and 26th seed Angelique Kerber, who fell to qualifier Anhelina Kalinina. The former champion went down in straight sets 6-2 6-4 in just one hour and 28 minutes, struggling to impact on serve against the Ukrainian, who won back-to-back ITF Challenger events in the lead up to the Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, Sabalenka was not the only Belarusian to reign supreme, joined by 15th seed Victoria Azarenka and unseeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with the latter two both overcoming second set drops in form to claim victory in three. Sabalenka overcame qualifying up-and-comer Ana Konjuh 6-4 6-3, while Azarenka was composed under pressure against former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Sasnovich claimed her opening round win over French wildcard Diane Parry. Just one Belarusian fell, with qualifier Olga Govortsova downed by Elena Vesnina in 58 minutes.

“I would say it wasn’t great level today from me, but I kept trying, kept fighting, kept trying to find my game,” Sabalenka said. “It was a little bit [of a] nervous game, especially in the beginning, because I felt like everything is not going well, and I don’t really feel my game.

“Well, I have a lot of experience of these kind of matches. I mean, emotionally,” she said. “That’s why sometimes I scream ‘Come on’, or ‘Let’s go’, because I find this character inside of me that I have to keep trying and don’t waste my energy.”

“So many mistakes. But I’m really happy in the end of the first set I kind of could find the rhythm. I won the first set, and then everything started to be a little bit better.

“But it was tough match. She’s (Konjuh) really aggressive. Sometimes it was really tough to play under the pressure, under her pressure. I’m just really happy with this win.”

Petra Kvitova was the only other Top 15 talent to take the court and claim and opening round win, as a smattering of Top 20 and Top 30 talents reigned supreme, including Elena Rybakina – who disposed of 2020 Roland Garros Juniors champion and wildcard Elsa Jacquemot in straight sets – Madison KeysVeronika KudermetovaAnastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Paula Badosa, with the latter seeded for the first time at a major and making no mistake.

Meanwhile, none of the remaining hopeful surprise packets took out wins on the opening day, with another French wildcard in Clara Burel falling, as did lucky loser Elisabetta Cocciaretto, and qualifiers Wang Xiyu and Ekaterine GorgodzeAjla Tomljanovic had little issue cleaning up Kateryna Kozlova, and was joined by Nao HibinoLeylah Fernandez and Katerina Siniakova.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-4 7-6
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [Q] Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-4 6-3
[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-7 7-6 6-1
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-4 2-6 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [WC] Elsa Jacquemot (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[23] Madison Keys (USA) defeated [WC] Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-1
[Q] Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) defeated [26] Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-2 6-4
[29] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 7-6 6-1
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-4 6-0
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-2 7-6
Danka Kovinic (MNE) defeated [WC] Clara Burel (FRA) 6-3 7-6
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-2 6-4
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated [WC] Diane Parry (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
Nao Hibino (JPN) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 7-6 6-2
Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated [LL] Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-1 6-3
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-2 6-1
Elena Vesnina (RUS) defeated [LL] Olga Govortsova (BLR) 6-1 6-0
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated [Q] Wang Xiyu (CHN) 6-2 4-6 6-4
Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated [Q] Ekaterine Gorgodze (GEO) 6-4 6-2
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-0 4-6 6-2

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Rain delays in Belgrade as Gauff sets up blockbuster quarter final

ANOTHER big day of proceedings were had at both the Serbia Ladies Open in Belgrade and Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, with one event interrupted by rain, delaying entrants to the quarter finals, and the other completing its Round of 16 results.

In Serbia, Ana Konjuh was the big winner of the day downing second seed Yulia Putintseva. The Croatian was just too strong showcasing her repertoire and winning 57 per cent of the overall points in a comprehensive 6-3 6-4 victory in just under an hour and a half. Seventh seed Rebecca Peterson was fortunate to proceed by default following an excellent first set from Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, who came out flying but was forced to retire early in the third with injury. While Peterson was on the incline in their encounter, winning the second set fairly easily and leading the third, the Swedish talent will want to improve her service game ahead of her quarter final clash.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich overcame Cristina Bucsa in a bizarre 6-4 5-7 6-0 clash, which saw the Spaniard fight back valiantly in the second but completely drop the ball and the momentum in the bagel third set as Belarusian Sasnovich claimed the victory. Meanwhile, Kamila Rakhimova leads Maria Camila Osorio Serrano 6-4 and will continue their matchup tomorrow, whilst undercover the delayed match between Reka-Luca Jani and Ana Kalinskaya has gotten underway, with Jani leading 2-0 in the first.

In Parma, four of the five seeds survived the day with the lone loss going to retiree, Sara Sorribes Tormo. While the Spaniard led the charge early, she was forced to retire at 2-2 in the third, giving hometown hopeful Sara Errani another chance as she enters the quarter finals. All four winning seeds proceeded to the next round following straight set wins, with the longest playing out between second seed Petra Martic and Liudmila Samsonova, as the Croatian reigned supreme, whilst Wang Qiang was not far behind with a 6-4 6-4, one hour and 40-minute matchup with Martina di Giuseppe, snatching victory with a couple of breaks.

Coco Gauff has set up a huge quarter finals stoush with compatriot and fellow young talent Amanda Anisimova following a speedy 71-minute victory over Italian Camila Giorgi, while Caroline Garcia is the final entrant to the quarter finals following her 6-2 6-4 75-minute sweep of German, Anna-Lena Friedsam.

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS: 

Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated [2] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-3 6-4
[7] Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-2 2-1 RET
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Cristina Bucsa (ESP) 6-4 5-7 6-0

Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) leading Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) 6-4
Reka-Luca Jani (HUN) leading Ana Kalinskaya (RUS) 2-0

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 7-6 6-3
[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-2 6-3
[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Martina di Giuseppe (ITA) 6-4 6-4
Sara Errano (ITA) defeated [7] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 4-6 7-5 2-2 RET
[8] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 6-2 6-4

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds struggle on clay in drizzly conditions

A RAIN delay was not enough to curb the form of a couple of former champions on Day 2 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, as the Round of 64 continued with just one of the day’s four seeds proceeding to the second round following some huge matchups.

Spaniard Garbine Muguruza was the lone seed to proceed on the day, downing lucky loser Patricia Maria Tig in the second quickest encounter of the drizzly day. Requiring just 66 minutes to sweep the 6-1 6-2 contest over her last minute opposition, Muguruza won 65.5 per cent of the match’s total points on her way to the second round.

“It was a weird day,” Muguruza said post-match. “I woke up sunny, had an opponent. Then it turned out I had another opponent and it was raining the whole match. We had a little bit of everything!

“But, Rome, it’s such a familiar tournament. I played here so many times, I’ve had nice matches. I love this clay, the red clay. It’s familiar to me. Just looking forward to get as many matches as possible.”

Of the other seeds on the day, two in Belinda Bencic (10th seed) and Johanna Konta (16th) were beaten soundly whilst the third in Elise Mertens (14th) put up a fight but could not retain control. Bencic was upset by Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic in a 6-3 6-4 contest, wherein the Belgian’s error-rate did not hold up in a one hour and 48-minute matchup. Konta’s shaky season continued with another loss to her name,  falling to Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in just one hour and nine minutes, unable to contest in the 6-3 6-1 encounter. For Mertens, it took a momentum swing from her Russian opposition in Veronika Kudermetova to take the win, as the Belgian took the first set before falling behind in the second and third of the 4-6 6-2 6-3 contest, in two hours and 19 minutes.

Muguruza’s swift victory was only beaten by Barbora Krejcikova‘s 63-minute cast off of Zheng Saisai, winning 86 per cent of her first serve points on her way to the 6-2 6-0 win. The Czech’s compatriot Marketa Vondrousova was not so lucky though, falling to Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets 6-4 6-2. A couple of Americans joined the winners list as Bernarda Pera downed Tamara Zidansek to book a second round meeting with Muguruza, while Madison Keys took care of compatriot Sloane Stephens in a 4-6 6-2 7-5 seesawing contest.

In other games, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Garcia both proceeded following straight sets wins, and were joined in the second round by Argentinian Nadia Podoroska.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-3 6-4
[12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROM) 6-1 6-2
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [14] Elise Mertens (BEL) 4-6 6-2 6-3
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated [16] Johanna Konta (GBR) 6-3 6-1
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 7-5
Ajla Tolmljanovic (AUS) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-2 6-0
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-3 6-2
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Elisabetta Cocciaretto 7-6 6-2
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 2-6 7-6 6-1
Madison Keys (USA) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 4-6 6-2 7-5

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Top seeds all survive day two in Madrid

NAOMI Osaka was among all eight seeds to book their spot in the Madrid Open second round, following a straight sets win over compatriot Misaki Doi. In her first clay event in almost two years, Osaka overcame some early resistance from Doi to post a 7-5 6-2 victory and move through to the Round of 32.

“When I was playing on clay that year, I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all,” Osaka said post-match. “The two matches that I lost, it was more mental than it was physical. “Like, I didn’t feel uncomfortable sliding or I didn’t feel that tired. “So I’m actually really excited to get that mindset back and to start feeling more comfortable on clay.”

Osaka was one of four Top 10 seeds to advance through to the second round, with sixth seed Karolina Pliskova coming back from a set down to shake off teenage talent Coco Gauff in three sets. Pliskova won 5-7 6-3 6-2 in a tight contest to eventually finish the stronger of the pair and post a comfortable victory.

“We never played so it was definitely a difficult match. “I think I didn’t start really well, but later in the match, I was finding by game and finding my serve. “This was very important in this match because she can also serve very big,” Pliskova said post-match.

“I’m super happy that I’m through. “I’ve played one semifinal here, so I’ve had a couple of good matches here in the past, but I’m hoping to hopefully improve my game in the next match.”

Third seed Simona Halep started like a house on fire by racing to a 6-0 first set win, before having more of a struggle against Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second set, eventually getting up 6-0 7-5. The other Top 10 seed to advance was fifth seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka who destroyed Russian Zera Zvonareva in 66 minutes, 6-1 6-2.

Fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka won in three sets over Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, with 13th seed Elise Mertens and 16th seed Maria Sakkari also advanced into the Round of 32, with Sakkari remarkably going 6-0 down against American Amanda Anisimova before getting up 0-6 6-1 6-4.

In other results, Russian duo Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina both won through to the next stage, with a mixed bag for the Chinese hopefuls. Saisai Zheng defeated Poland’s Magda Linette in three sets, before Wang Qiang went down to Karolina Muchova in a disappointing 6-1 6-3 loss. Also through to the second round were Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, Estonia’ Anett Kontaveit and United States’ Jessica Pegula.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 7-5 6-2
[3] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-0 7-5
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-1 6-2
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 5-7 6-3 6-2
[11] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 6-4
[12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-5 3-6 6-1
[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3 6-3
[16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 0-6 6-1 6-4
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-4 6-0
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3 6-1
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 7-5 6-2
Saisai Zheng (CHN) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 6-2 3-6 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 7-6 6-3
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 7-6 7-5
Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-1 6-3
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 4-6 6-4 7-6

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Teenage stars take the cake

FOUR of the eight quarter finalists at the 2021 MUSC Health Women’s Open have been decided after four matches were played out on the Charleston clay. Third seed Shelby Rogers was the only seeded player through to the quarter finals, defeating American Claire Liu in straight sets, 6-2 6-2. The second highest ranked remaining player in the draw cruised through the final eight in 68 minutes.

The results were not as positive for the sixth and seventh seeds. Sixth seed Australian Ajla Tomljanovic went down to rising Danish star Clara Tauson, with the 18-year-old winning 6-1 6-4 in 96 minutes of play. Lauren Davis was the other casualty from a seeded perspective, going down in the longest encounter of day three, as Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic won in two hours and eight minutes, eventually triumphing in three sets, 6-1 1-6 6-3.

In the other match on the day, Japan’s Nao Hibino won in straight sets over another American in Francesca Di Lorenzo, making it three losses from four competitors at the clay court tournament, 6-4 6-3.

In tomorrow’s action, Cristina McHale takes on teenage Colombian Maria Camila Osorio Serano and Emma Navarro takes on another teenage talent in Czech Republic’s Linda Fruhvirtova. Top seed Tunisian Ons Jabeur will lock horns with Alycia Parks, while eighth seed Madison Brengle going head-to-head with Astra Sharma.

MUSC HEALTH WOMEN’S OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Claire Liu (USA) 6-2 6-2
Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated [6] Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-1 6-4
Danka Kovinic (ME) defeated [7] Lauren Davis (USA) 6-1 1-6 6-3
Nao Hibino (JPN) defeated Francesca Di Lorenzo (USA) 6-4 6-3

WTA Tour wrap: Americans reign on opening day of Charleston 250 event

IT was a successful opening day of the 2021 MUSC Health Women’s Open WTA 250 event in Charleston, with the Americans mostly successful on home soil and seeing four of the day’s five seeds collect wins.

Third seed Shelby Rogers exploded out of the blocks with a 6-0 6-1 victory over compatriot Caty McNally, requiring just 62 minutes to claim the win with six aces and a whopping 83.3 per cent winning rate off her first serve. Rogers also excelled on return, winning 62.2 per cent of points off McNally’s service games to head into the second round unscathed.

Seventh seed American Lauren Davis also took on a compatriot in Coco Vandeweghe and ran out victor in one hour and 38 minutes with an effective 7-6 6-4 takedown. Whilst Vandeweghe was marginally more efficient on serve, Davis was far consistent in comparison and utilised her second serve much better. The third American to head through to the second round was eighth seed Madison Brengle who was taken to three set by Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva. Whilst Vikhlyantseva stole back the second set after a rough 0-6 start, she shot herself in the foot in the third hitting six double faults to take her total to 11 for the match, and eventually was outclassed by Brengle 6-0 3-6 6-2.

The remaining three games saw an intriguing result between Japanese talents Nao Hibino and fifth seed Misaki Doi, with the latter retiring in the third set when the two were even 6-6 with a severe leg cramp, handing Hibino the three hour and nine minute, 7-5 5-7 6-6 marathon victory. Hibino will want to clean up her service game in her upcoming match after hitting 10 double faults for two aces off a 64 per cent clip, however saved 16 break points in the tight encounter.

Australian Ajla Tomljanovic completed a clean and efficient one hour and three minute 6-1 6-1 victory to head into the second round, defeating Renata Zarazua credit to a huge 81 per cent win rate off her first serve, and capitalising off her Mexican opposition’s error rate. The remaining winner of the day was Swiss teenager Clara Tauson, who claimed a 6-3 6-3 victory over Russian Liudmila Samsonova.

MUSC HEALTH WOMEN’S OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[3] Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 6-0 6-1
Nao Hibino (JPN) defeated [5] Misaki Doi (JPN) 7-5 5-7 6-6 RET
[6] Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Renata Zarazua (MEX) 6-1 6-1
[7] Lauren Davis (USA) defeated Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 7-6 6-4
[8] Madison Brengle (USA) defeated Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 6-0 3-6 6-2
Clara Tauson (SUI) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-3 6-3