Tag: ajla tomljanovic

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

Australian Open Women’s Round of 64 wrap: Cirstea stuns Kvitova as Halep holds on

A COUPLE of massive upsets and an almost even bigger upset were the talking points on day three of the Australian Open women’s competition. Eighth seed Bianca Andreescu‘s second match back from injury did not go to plan, losing in straight sets to Chinese Taipei’s Su-Wei Hsieh, while ninth seed Petra Kvitova‘s lacklustre form of late continued, losing out to unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea in three sets.

The world’s best doubles player – but ranked 71st in singles – Su-Wei showed no mercy against the Canadian US Open winner, claiming a 6-2 6-3 win in just 83 minutes on court. Su-Wei hit four less winners (16-20), but had 11 less unforced errors (14-25), as she broke six times from nine chances compared to Andreescu’s two from four. It meant that in the past 18 months, the Canadian young gun has played just the two matches – both here at Melbourne Park and back-to-back – for a net result of 1-1.

The more disappointing of the two results was Kvitova’s three-set loss to world number 68 Cirstea. Whilst making it a battle, Kvitova faded out in the deciding set to lose 6-4 1-6 6-1 in two hours and three minutes. One of, if not the best left hander in the world, the Czech has not been herself of late, and needs to rekindle the form soon or she could slip right outside the Top 10. Full credit to Cirstea who broke six times from 16 chances – compared to five from 13 – whilst hitting 14 less unforced errors (30-44) and only four less winners (17-21).

Almost witnessing the biggest upset of the tournament to-date, fans on Margaret Court Arena could hardly believe their eyes when Australian Ajla Tomljanovic was serving for the match against second seed Simona Halep. The home nation support tried to will on their competitor who won the first set, and then was 5-2 up in the third set. Unfortunately for Tomljanovic, that is where it all swung in the world number two’s favour, as Halep won the last five games of the match – crucially breaking in the ninth game of the set and booking her spot in the third round. After losing every singles match in the second half of last year – not an exaggeration – Tomljanovic has shown good form in 2021, winning two from five, with losses to Halep, Aryna Sabalenka and a three-set defeat to Alize Cornet last week.

Speaking of Sabalenka, she continued her great form of the past six months to post a straight sets win over Russian Daria Kasatkina. She joined other Top 10 players, Naomi Osaka, Sabalenka and Serena Williams in the next round without dropping a set. Other seeds to win in two sets were last year’s Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza, reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek, 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, and the resurgent Tunisian, Ons Jabeur.

In an all-Russian battle, 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova booked her spot in the Round of 32 courtesy of a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win over Varvara Gracheva. She joined Anastasia Potapova in the next round after the Russian took care of Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos, 6-2 6-4. The only other seed to drop out at the second round stage was Elena Rybakina with the rising Kazakh talent unable to repeat her early form last year, going down to France’s Fiona Ferro, 6-4 6-4.

One could have been forgiven if they thought they had time travelled 10 to 15 years. Italian qualifier and former Top 5 player Sara Errani easily overcame an injured Venus Williams 6-1 6-0, in what was a battle of the veterans. A much younger Ann Li continued her unbeaten run in 2021, defeating Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in straight sets, while Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas also made it through to the Round of 32.

The match of the third round has to be third seed Osaka up against 27th seed Jabeur, with the winner likely to play Muguruza in the Round of 16. The stunning upsets of Andreescu and Kvitova has opened the draw wide open for Vondrousova, who could easily make a quarter final if she can play at her best as the only Top 60 player in her section. Sabalenka takes on Li, whilst a potential fourth round clash between the power punchers in Sabalenka and Serena Williams would be a dream, much like a similar clash if Halep and Swiatek win their respective third round matches.

Looking ahead to today, and top seed Ash Barty is back on court up against compatriot Daria Gavrilova in a must-watch for the home nation. Forget not dropping a set, Barty is yet to drop a game after her double-donut performance against Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the first round. Other matches that could provide some highlights include 11th seed Belinda Benci up against Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin take on Danielle Collins and Kaia Kanepi respectively. The match of the day is most likely fifth seed Elina Svitolina clashing with young gun Coco Gauff in a head-to-head not to be missed.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[3] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-2 6-3
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-6 6-3
Su-Wei Hsieh (TAI) defeated [8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-3 6-2
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-4 1-6 6-1
[10] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 6-3 6-0
[14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [Q] Liudmilla Samsonova (RUS) 6-3 6-1
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [17] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4 6-4
[19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [Q] Rebecca Marino (CAN) 6-1 7-5
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [LL] Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-3 6-2
[32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Ann Li (USA) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 7-6
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [Q] Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 6-4
[Q] Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-1 6-0

Picture credit: Getty Images

Australian Open Women’s Round of 128 wrap: Barty dominates as Sherif first Egyptian woman to make it to grand slam second round

A flurry of exciting players joined the Australian Open fray on Day 2 of proceedings at Melbourne Park, with world number one Ash Barty making her Open return in smashing fashion, while the likes of Sofia KeninElina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova all came out flying as the top seeds of the day. In a highly competitive day of action – with nine matches going to three sets and four of those hitting the two-hour and 30-minute mark – just a couple of seeded competitors fell, with 12th seed Victoria Azarenka leading the pack after an excellent outing from American Jessica Pegula, while Johanna Konta retired from her 6-4 0-2 encounter with Slovenian Kaja JuvanPetra Martic struggled to maintain composure after Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic took out the first set tiebreaker, eventually going down 7-5 3-6 6-4, while Maria Sakkari was error-ridden in defeat, and 31st seed Zhang Saisai was exposed by American Ann Li who hit 22 winners to Zhang’s two to come away with a 6-2 6-0 victory in 47 minutes.

But while a 47-minute victory was one thing, Barty’s 6-0 6-0 utter domination of Danka Kovinic was another, with the Australian disposing of the world number 82 in just 44 minutes. Collecting 10 winners for five unforced error’s compared to Kovinic’s three and 28, Barty dismantled her opposition on home soil and proved far too good for the Montenegrin, who spent 20,120 minutes in hotel quarantine in Melbourne for a devastating 44 minutes of play. Barty is joined by a couple of compatriots in the second round, as Daria Gavrilova and Sam Stosur were both successful on their opening day. World number 387 Gavrilova stunned 64th ranked Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo on return with a 6-1 first set setting up a straight sets 6-1 7-5 victory, while Stosur downed compatriot Destanee Aiava 6-4 6-4. Kenin’s outing against fellow Australian Maddison Inglis may not have been quite as dominant, but she still came away with a classy 7-5 6-4 victory over the Australian who is still yet to win an match on the WTA Tour, while a duo of green and gold wildcards in Astra Sharma and Arina Rodionova will join Inglis and Aiava on the sidelines.

Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian woman to make it past the first round at a Grand Slam with her 7-5 7-5 victory over Frenchwoman Chloe Paquet, joined by Danilovic and Liudmila Samsonova as the only qualifiers to make it through the day, while young gun Coco Gauff continued her running grand slam form with a 6-3 6-2 sweep of Jil Teichmann to head into yet another second round at a major tournament. Powerhouses Pliskova and Svitolina may have had supremely different playing times – 47 minutes and two hours, respectively – but both also head into the second round, after disposing of Jasmine Paolini and Marie Bouzkova, while the seeded duo is joined in the second round by a flurry of top talent as 2020 Australian Open runner up Garbine MuguruzaBelinda BencicElise Mertens and Anett Kontaveit all came away with excellent wins, as did Jennifer Brady, Karolina MuchovaYulia PutintsevaDonna Vekic and Ekaterina Alexandrova with all bar five seeds making it out alive on Day 2 of the Open.

The second round of action begins at Melbourne Park today, with the day session headlined by the likes of Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu, while the night session will see Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep take the court against unseeded opposition in Caroline Garcia and Ajla TomljanovicVenus Williams will look to continue her run when she takes on Italian qualifier Sara Errani, while Iga Swiatek will take on Errani’s higher ranked compatriot Camila Giorgi.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-0 6-0
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated [WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 7-5 6-4
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-3 7-6
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-0 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-3 4-6 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 7-5 6-4
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated [13] Johanna Konta (GBR) 4-6 2-0 RET
[14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [LL] Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Olga Danilovic (SRB) defeated [16] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-5 3-6 6-4
[18] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [20] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-2 0-6 6-3
[21] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-2
[22] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-1 6-3
[25] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5 6-2
[26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 4-6 6-2 6-3
[28] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Wang Yifan (CHN) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[29] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Ann Li (USA) defeated [31] Zhang Saisai (CHN) 6-2 6-0
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3 6-2
[WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-1 7-5
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 6-3 6-1
Nao Hibino (JPN) defeated [WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) 2-6 6-3 7-5
Madison Brengle (USA) defeated [WC] Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-1 6-2
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (EST) 6-3 6-1
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-4 6-4
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-2 6-2
Zhu Lin (CHN) defeated [Q] Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-1 6-1
[WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) defeated [WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Mayar Sherif (EGY) defeated [Q] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 7-5 7-5
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated [Q] Clara Burel (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Francesca Jones (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Mona Barthel (GER) defeated [Q] Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 3-6 6-4 6-4

WTA Abu Dhabi Round of 32 wrap: Gasanova shocks Pliskova in debut tournament

RUSSIAN rising star, Anastasia Gasanova has shocked third seed Czech Karolina Pliskova, claiming her first ever Top 100 victory with a 6-2 6-4 triumph in the Round of 32 at the Abu Dhabi WTA 500 event. Gasanova had no troubles knocking off the former world number one, having come through qualifying and then toppling former Top 25 German, Mona Barthel in the first round. Ranked 261st in the world, Gasanova is playing her first ever WTA Tour main draw event, having only reached qualifying in non-ITF events previously.

“It was not me on the court,” Gasanova said post-match. “I was so sure of myself. “I’m really happy right now. “I’m really surprised, but when I woke up today, I thought, ‘Why not? Why can’t I win this match? “Actually, I thought I would lose in qualies or something like that, but I just kept pushing myself, like, I need to win and I want to win.”

Gasanova now advances through to the third round where she takes on unseeded Spaniard, Sara Sorries Tormo who needed three sets to take down unseeded American Bernarda Pera, 5-7 6-3 6-4. The Russian was not the only underdog Russian to advance into the Round of 16, as Daria Kasatkina did not need to take the court with 12th seed Czech Karolina Muchova retiring pre-game, as Veronika Kudermetova knocked off Italian Bianca Turati 6-2 6-1. The fourth Russian through to the third round was Ekaterina Alexandrova, as the 17th seed booked a place following a three-set epic against Great Britain’s Heather Watson, 7-5 6-7 6-3.

Victories to the other unseeded players in Marta Kostyuk and Tamara Zidansek – who defeated 11th seed Jennifer Brady in the first round – meant the third quarter of the Abu Dhabi draw completely seedless with one of Kostyuk, Zidansek, Sorribes Tormo or Gasanova to reach the semi-finals. Similarly, Spaniard Paula Badosa now faces Kudermetova in another unseeded Round of 16 meeting, with the winner to lock horns with either Alexandrova or second seed Elina Svitolina.

The Ukrainian broke the trend of successful Russians, knocking off veteran Vera Zvonareva in straight sets, 6-4 6-1. The winner of the Svitolina-Alexandrova match will be the sole seed in the second half of the draw. It is a much different story in the top half of the draw, with Kasatkina the sole unseeded player, now set to face Kazakhstan rising star, Elena Rybakina. The talented youngsters defeated China’s Wang Xiyu 6-4 6-4 to book her place in the Round of 16, and the winner of the third round match to face an in-form player of 2020.

Aryna Sabalenka has not lost any form from her remarkable end to 2020, rolling well into double-figures with 12 consecutive wins and two titles in her wake. The powerful Belarusian took down a plucky Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5 6-4 to now face Tunisian Ons Jabeur. The 15th seed had a it more to do, defeating Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko in a come-from-behind victory, 5-7 6-3 6-2 to book her spot in the Round of 16.

Meanwhile in other results, top seed Sofia Kenin survived a scare against Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, with the latter forced to retire leading 7-5 4-5 in their Round of 32 match. Now Kenin takes on Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva who dispatched Czech Barbora Krejcikova 6-4 7-5. In the last third round matchup, fifth seed Garbine Muguruza will lock horns with ninth seed Maria Sakkari. Muguruza proved too strong for Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1 6-4, while Sakkari held off teen sensation Coco Gauff, 7-5 6-2.

All the Round of 16 matches will be played tomorrow.

ABU DHABI ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 5-7 5-4 RET
[2] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-4 6-1
Anastasia Gasanova (RUS) defeated [3] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-2 6-4
[4] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 7-5 6-4
[5] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-1 6-4
[6] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Xiyu Wang (CHN) 6-4 6-4
[9] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 7-5 6-2
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated [12] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 0-0 RET
[13] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-4 7-5
[15] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 5-7 6-3 6-2
[17] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 7-5 6-7 6-3
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Su-Wei Hsieh (TAI) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-4 6-4
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4 6-4
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Bianca Turati (ITA) 6-2 6-1

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA Abu Dhabi Round of 64 wrap: Top six through without a hitch, young guns also advance

OF the 16 seeds on show in the brand new WTA Abu Dhabi 500 event, 12 reached the second round. Kicking off 2021 in style, the top six seeds advanced without dropping a set, whilst 2020 in-form players, Anett Kontaveit and Jennifer Brady were amongst the seeds to fall in the opening round of play.

Top seed Sofia Kenin led the way with a straight sets win over China’s Zhaoxuan Yang who put up a fight before going down, 7-6 6-3. Joining her in the next round was second seed Elina Svitolina, toppling tough American Jessica Pegula, 6-4 6-3. Needing tiebreakers to advance, third and fourth seeds, Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka won their way through, defeated Greece’s Despina Papamicail and Slovenia’ Polona Hercog. Having a much easier time, Garbine Muguruza cruised to a surprising easy win over French battler Kristina Mladenovic, while young gun Elena Rybakina continued her great 2020 form with an easy first-up victory in 2021 over Italian Lucrezia Stefanini.

The first big upset saw eighth seed Czech and 2019 Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova out of the Abu Dhabi event, going down to Chinese T’s Hsieh Su-Wei. Also bowing out were Kontaveit and Brady, who went down to Russian Veronika Kudermetova and Slovenian Tamara Zidansek respectively. Brady’s loss was particularly brutal considering the US Open semi-finalist won the first set 6-0 before losing 0-6 6-3 6-4. The only other seed to be eliminated was 16th seed Donna Vekic, who lost to United States’ Bernarda Pera 7-6 2-6 6-4. The four other seeds to secure a Round of 16 place were Karolina Muchova (12th), Yulia Putintseva (13th), Ons Jabeur (15th) and Ekaterina Alexandrova (17th).

In terms of the unseeded players, teenagers Coco Gauff and Leylah Fernandez both shone in their wins, as Gauff destroyed Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri 6-0 6-1, while Fernandez made light work of respected Italian Jasmine Paolini, 6-4 6-2. Italian Bianca Turati was a fresh face to the winners list with the 23-year-old predominantly an ITF player but moved through to the next round easily. Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich joined compatriot Sabalenka in the Round of 16, while Heather Watson came from behind to defeat her only other compatriot in the draw, Jodie Burrage. Australia Ajla Tomljanovic made a great start to 2021 with a straight sets win, while Sara Sorribes Tormo enjoyed an important victory over Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska.

The full results are below.

ABU DHABI ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Zhaoxuan Yang (CHN) 7-6 6-3
[2] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 6-3
[3] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Despina Papamicail (GRE) 6-2 7-6
[4] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 6-2
[5] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[6] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Lucrezia Stefanini (ITA) 6-1 6-3
Su-Wei Hsieh (TAI) defeated [8] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 3-6 6-3 7-6
[9] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-4 6-2
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [10] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 7-5 6-1
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated [11] Jennifer Brady (USA) 0-6 6-3 6-4
[12] Karolina Muchova defeated Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-4 6-1
[13] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-3
[15] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-6 6-3
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated [16] Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-6 2-6 6-4
[17] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-4 6-4
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-4 6-2
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Jamie Loeb (USA) 6-1 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-2 5-7 6-2
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Lin Zhu (CHN) 6-2 7-6
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 5-7 7-5 6-4
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Qiang Wang (CHN) 6-2 3-6 6-3
Anastasia Gasanova (RUS) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-2 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Valentini Grammatikopoulou (GRE) 6-2 6-2
Bianca Turati (ITA) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-1 6-2
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Anna Bondar (HUN) 6-2 6-2
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 6-2 6-4
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-3 6-3
Xiyu Wang (CHN) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-3 3-6 6-4
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) defeated Yafan Wang (CHN) 6-3 2-6 6-3
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Jodie Burrage (GBR) 4-6 6-2 7-5
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Amandine Hesse (FRA) 6-3 6-4
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Ulrikke Eikeri (NOR) 6-0 6-1

Picture: Getty Images

Who is in the best position to take out the WTA Tour US Open trophy?

WHICH player is in the best position to take out the WTA Tour US Open title? In a compromised season of tennis action, really anything could happen here with the reigning champion out of the draw and plenty of the top talent missing out due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. But with rankings on the line and many itching to get back on the court, expect some huge battles over the coming weeks.

Looking at the draw, a number of things stick out – many of which were brought up in our US Open preview yesterday – such as some key withdrawals in terms of rankings and a heap of American competitors will take the courts at Flushing Meadows. With a couple of shock losses at the Western and Southern Open last week expect the women’s draw to have some interesting results given the inconsistency of court time and overall unknown of the competition this year. Six of the top 10 ranked in the world have withdrawn from the competition with the top two in Ash Barty and Simona Halep leading the pack as a huge 27 players from the United States contend for the title.

With such a mix of competitors and little warm-up for many of the entrants, there is really no certainty of who will hold up well against their respective opposition. Looking at the first quarter of the draw, the is no doubt that Karolina Pliskova has lucked out with her top seeding but will come up against a couple of well-prepared players who have tried their hand at both the Prague Open and Western and Southern Open in recent weeks, whereas Pliskova only played at the latter. While she should get the chocolates over her first opposition in Anhelina Kalinina, with the Ukrainian ranked just within the top 150 and no more recent time on court than Pliskova. But with the likes of Carolina Garcia or Jasmine Paolini next up – and the chance of Alison Riske further down the line – Pliskova cannot afford to rest on her laurels, especially given the amount of homegrown United States talent that will hope to bring home the trophy.

Looking further the down the line, names like Petra Martic and Marketa Vondrousova also stick out with a couple of highly seeded players in the mix. Past US Open champion Angelique Kerber is also in this quarter of the draw and while the German talent has not been a huge threat in recent years with her form somewhat dropping she comes in as 17th seed at the US Open and will want to take advantage of that especially against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round.

While Naomi Osaka has been in the news for different reasons this week, she had to withdraw from the Western and Southern Open final on the weekend citing injury prior to taking the court which could really put her US Open chances in jeopardy. While her form ahead of the extended break was somewhat shaky, she had a very good run at the W&S Open and could be a huge threat here at the US Open if she competes – especially with 2019 victor Bianca Andreescu out – and could nab a second title. Sitting at fourth in the seeding, Osaka will take on compatriot, Misaki Doi in the first round and is likely to run out winner with little issues, but if she makes it past the early rounds could set up a huge battle against Petra Kvitova, who comes in as sixth seed but like many, has only taken the court once since the break in proceedings back in March.

Anett Kontaveit has also been in solid form but will take on American Danielle Collins in the first round potentially setting up some intriguing battles with Anastasija Sevastova and Coco Gauff also among that grouping, with the Latvian the second last seeding in at 31st but 16-year-old Gauff able to beat anyone on her day.

Leading the next quarter of the draw are Americans Madison Keys and Serena Williams, with this quarter having a fair few top-seeded Americans making for a tantalising couple of battles. Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza and Greek Talent Maria Sakkari are among this draw while former US Open champion Sloane Stephens is also in the mix. This quarter of the draw looks like it could be one of the tougher ones of the entire competition given the calibre of young and experienced talent and potentially setting up some huge matches down the track. If everything goes to plan, expect a huge battle between Stevens and Williams potentially in the third round, which would see one of the two Americans down and out and potentially put a huge hole in Williams’ plan to reach 24 Grand Slam titles.

Expect youngster Iga Swiatek to put in a tough batter in her match against 29th seed Czech talent Veronika Kudermetova, and while Swiatek has really stepped up her game recently Kudermetova is no easy beat and will benefit off Swiatek not having a great return at the W&S Open, bundled out in the opening round by then-qualifier Christina McHale – who will hope to continue on her good string of form when she takes on Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the opening round – while Belarusian Victoria Azarenka has a handy 2020 W&S Open title behind her – that she earned by default but still deserved given her fine form in the lead-up – so is no easybeat.

One of the headlines of the draw is second seed Sofia Kenin, with the 21-year-old American aiming for back-to-back grand slam titles, owning the Australian Open title back in February and still the most recent grand slam champion in 2020 given the lack of competition this year. Kenin seems to have a fairly straightforward draw when it comes to her competition with wildcard Kim Clijsters among the mix but only if the former champion can get over the line against Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, while Elise Mertens and Johanna Konta are also in the mix and should make it through the first round also with relative ease. Based on the rankings of Kenin’s fellow seven players in the bottom of the draw, expect her to at least make it to the Round of 16 with relative simplicity given 27th seed Ons Jabeur looks to be the toughest battle of the lot but ranked 31st in the world overall compared to Kenin’s placement in fourth on the world rankings.

Top Seed Open draws Serena Williams to the fray

A BRAND new tournament starts up this week in Lexington, Kentucky, with the Top Seed Open set to host a wealth of top ranked players from the North America region in the lead up to the US Open, with hard court experience essential on the return of the tour.

Ninth ranked Serena Williams headlines the Top Seed Open, with the Grand Slam champion eager to return to the court regardless of the type of event, with the champion not typically attending International events. She is joined by sister Venus (67th), as well as a host of quality American talent in Amanda Anisimova (28th), Sloane Stephens (37th), Coco Gauff (52nd) and Belarusians Aryna Sabalenka (11th) and Victoria Azarenka (58th).

Johanna Konta, Garbine Muguruza, Yulia Putintseva and Magda Linette round out the top eight seeds at the Lexington event in what is anticipated to be a good warm-up for the US Open.

The top eighth of the draw looks like a Throwback, with both Williams sisters and Azarenka there, with Venus up against the Belarusian in the first round and Serena almost certainly waiting in the second round. The first Australian to play since the restart, Ajla Tomljanovic takes on Putintseva in the opening round, while watch for Swiss up and comer Jil Teichmann, who forgoed defending a couple of tournaments in Europe to play in Lexington.

At the opposite end of the draw, a likely second round clash between Sabalenka and Gauff could take place symbolising the next Williams and Azarenka who could be going head-to-head at the same time. Even the qualifying draw has its fair share of talent with young gun Leylah Fernandez returning to the court, with American Ann Li, as well as another Australian in Arina Rodionova.

Gauff’s youth injects an exciting element with the youngster able to ply her trade against any number of top ranked players when she is on song, with some wins here critical if she is to head up the rankings and gain some precious experience heading into the US Open. Serena Williams is much the same, with the 23-time Grand Slam champion hoping to draw level with Margaret Court with another US Open victory on the board.

No spectators will attend the event, with strict protocols in place and rigorous testing to ensure further tournaments down the track will not be impacted. While a draw is yet to be announced, the calibre of talent ensures some enticing contests along the way to the inaugural Top Seed Open final and inevitable champion.

2020 WTA Nature Valley Open / ATP Stuttgart Open fantasy tennis: Cilic ousts Zverev as Garcia’s run to defend her title continues

FIVE seeds and last year’s reigning champion remain in the 2020 WTA Nature Valley Open fantasy tennis tournament, while over in Stuttgart, just two seeds are left standing following another day of upsets on grass.

Turning the attention to Nottingham, seven of the eight seeds were on court after winning their first round matches, but by the end of the day, only five remained. Reigning champion Caroline Garcia and compatriot Kristina Mladenovic flew the flag for France to make their way into the quarter finals. Garcia toppled third seed Belinda Bencic 6-2 7-6, while Mladenovic got over fourth seed Petra Martic, 3-6 7-6 6-4.

It was much better for the top two seeds as both Petra Kvitova and Bianca Andreescu defeated their respective opponents. The Czech number one seed won 7-6 6-4 against American Coco Vandeweghe, while Andreescu knocked off Belgian qualifier Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 6-3. It was mostly a one-sided day for the winning seeds, with last year’s runner-up Donna Vekic also winning in straight sets, 7-5 6-2.

In the remaining results, sixth seed Maria Sakkari won 7-6 7-0 over Stefanie Voegele whilst Tatjana Maria handed a third Swiss player a defeat, winning 6-2 6-3 against qualifier Viktorija Golubic. Chinese eighth seed Shuai Zhang was the other player through to the quarter finals with a come-from-behind three set win, 3-6 6-3 7-6. In the quarter finals, Mladenovic and Maria face off, while Sakkari takes on Garcia. In the other quarter finals, Kvitova locks horns with Zhang, whilst at the bottom of the draw, Andreescu plays Vekic.

NATURE VALLEY OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 7-6 6-4
[2] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated [Q] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 6-4 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated [3] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 7-6
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [4] Petra Martic (CRO) 3-6 7-6 6-4
[6] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 7-6 6-0
[7] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 7-5 6-2
[8] Shuai Zhang (CHN) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 3-6 6-3 7-6
Tatjana Maria (GER) defeated [Q] Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-2 6-3

At Stuttgart, it was absolute carnage with three of the remaining five seeds ousted from the competition, including number one seed and tournament favourite, Alexander Zverev. Fresh off a maiden Grand Slam win at Roland Garros, Zverev hoped to carry on that success in his home country, but went down to Croatian Marin Cilic in a straight sets defeat, 6-1 6-2. He was joined by third seed Gael Monfils in an equally disappointing loss, with the Frenchman out courtesy of a 6-3 6-2 defeat at the hands of big-serving American John Isner.

The other top four seeds restored the balance somewhat with Daniil Medvedev easily accounting for Lucas Pouille 6-3 6-1, while Matteo Berrettini got up in a come-from-behind win against Sam Querrey. Fellow Italian seed Fabio Fognini was not as fortunate as Berrettini, losing to Milos Raonic in three sets, 6-3 4-6 6-4.

In the other results, Argentinian wildcard Juan Martin del Potro kept the good times rolling with a 6-2 6-2 triumph over Gilles Simon, while Australian John Millman and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez also won through to a quarter final. Millman defeated German wildcard Dustin Brown 2-6 7-6 7-5, while Lopez toppled Argentinian Guido Pella 6-1 6-1.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s quarter finals, Medvedev takes on Raonic and Berrettini faces Lopez of the last remaining seeds. In the other two matchups, del Potro clashes with Cilic and Isner meets Millman.

STUTTGART OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [1] Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-1 6-2
[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-3 6-1
John Isner (USA) defeated [3] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-3 6-2
[4] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 1-6 6-3 6-2
Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [8] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 4-6 6-4
[WC] Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-2 6-2
John Millman (AUS) defeated [WC] Dustin Brown (GER) 2-6 7-6 7-5
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-1 6-1

2020 WTA Nature Valley Open / ATP Stuttgart Open fantasy tennis: Chaos reigns in Germany as seeds skittled on day one

ONLY one seed fell at the 2020 WTA Nature Valley Open fantasy tennis tournament, whilst there was a lot more chaos at the ATP Stuttgart Open. In Germany, just one of the four seeds on court survived day one against the stronger unseeded grass court players.

Looking at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham first, there was only the one shock which came in the form of Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic knocking out fifth seed Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska. Golubic made it through to the Round of 16 courtesy of a 2-6 6-3 6-4 come-from-behind win over the world number 16 in her bid to eye off a top 100 spot. The other seed engaged in a three-set come-from-behind match was eighth seed Shuai Zhang, but this time the 34th ranked Chinese talent got up, albeit with some nervous moments against British wildcard and world number 146 Harriet Dart, 4-6 6-3 6-4.

The other seeds had less trouble to move through to the second round, although sixth seed Greek up and comer Maria Sakkari took three sets to knock out Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin, 6-3 3-6 6-4. Top seed Petra Kvitova, third seed Belinda Bencic and seventh seed Donna Vekic all won through to the Round of 16 without being forced into a tenth game in any set. Second seed Canadian Bianca Andreescu got past British wildcard Katie Swan in a tight 7-5 6-4 win, whilst fourth seed Croatian Petra Martic had a similar experience against Serbian wildcard Ivana Jorovic before saluting 7-5 6-1.

In the unseeded matches, only Coco Vandeweghe and Liudmila Samsonova were forced into three sets before getting up. Vandeweghe toppled American compatriot Shelby Rogers 6-0 3-6 7-5, while Russian Samsonova also knocked out an American, downing Ann Li 6-2 2-6 6-1. In other results, Ajla Tomljanovic, Tatjana Maria, Kristina Mladenovic, Stefanie Voegele and Yanina Wickmayer all booked their places in the Round of 16. Reigning champion Caroline Garcia was the final winner through to the second round, knocking off American Jennifer Brady 6-2 6-2 in under an hour.

NATURE VALLEY OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Elena Gabriela Ruse (ROU) 6-3 6-3
[2] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated [WC] Katie Swan (GBR) 7-5 6-4
[3] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-2 6-1
[4] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated [WC] Ivana Jorovic (SRB) 7-5 6-1
[Q] Viktorija Golubic (SUI) defeated [5] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) 2-6 6-3 6-4
[6] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-4
[7] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated [WC] Naiktha Bains (GBR) 6-1 6-4
[8] Shuai Zhang (CHN) defeated [WC] Harriet Dart (GBR) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-0 3-6 7-5
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-2 6-1
Tatjana Maria (GER) defeated [Q] Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-2 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated Julia Goerges (GER) 6-3 6-0
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-2 6-2
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-2 6-2
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Ann Li (USA) 6-2 2-6 6-1
[Q] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-1 7-5

Whilst the results in Nottingham might have gone to script, over in Stuttgart, that was far from the case. Three of the four seeds all fell at the first hurdle, leaving only eighth seed Italian Fabio Fognini remaining to join the top four seeds in the second round. Fognini downed German Philipp Kohlschreiber to book a place in the second round, but was not joined by Nikoloz Basilashvili, Karen Khachanov or Denis Shapovalov. Guido Pella, John Millman and Gilles Simon all won in straight sets to move through to the Round of 16 in sensational upsets.

One of the early title contenders from an unseeded perspective in Marin Cilic also won through, albeit with a come-from-behind win against a plucky Damir Dzumhur who qualified for the event. Cilic won 3-6 6-3 6-4 to make his way into the second round. Also through to the next stage were a couple of wildcards in Juan Martin del Potro and Dustin Brown. The Argentinian Grand Slam winner defeated home nation talent Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1, while Brown got the home crowd happy again with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 triumph over Hungarian qualifier Marton Fucsovics.

In the remaining matches, American duo John Isner and Sam Querrey fought through to the second round. Isner overcame Australian Nick Kyrgios in a remarkable triple tiebreaker match, winning 6-7 7-6 7-6, while Querrey knocked out 2019 Stuttgart Open runner-up, Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets, 6-4 4-6 6-2. The losing teenager’s compatriot in Milos Raonic got the chocolates in the first round however, knocking out German wildcard Dominik Koepfer 4-6 6-1 6-4, while Feliciano Lopez and Lucas Pouille both won through to the Round of 16.

STUTTGART OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Guido Pella (ARG) defeated [5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-2
John Millman (AUS) defeated [6] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 7-6 7-6
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated [7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 7-5 6-2
[8] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-1 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[WC] Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-1
[WC] Dustin Brown (GER) defeated [Q] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 2-6 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 6-7 7-6 7-6
Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-4 4-6 6-2
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [Q] Denis Kudla (USA) 6-3 6-4
Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [WC] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Lucas Pouille (FRA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-0

2020 Roland Garros fantasy: Young seeds prove strong on day three

ANOTHER big day at the Roland Garros fantasy tournament saw some big names grace the court, with four of this quarter’s top five seeds reigning supreme to head to the Round of 64. Americans once again came out on top for the most part, while a couple of grand slam champions rose to the occasion.

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin, sixth seed Naomi Osaka and eleventh seed Bianca Andreescu all reigned supreme in their matches, with the trio of grand slam victors fairly consistent in their pursuits. Despite an average start to her match against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, Osaka pushed back and came out on top, using her feisty play to come back firing in the second and third to win 5-7 6-2 6-2. Kenin and Andreescu had much easier runs against their respective opposition, while the next ranked seed in this quarter of the draw – Elena Rybakina – followed suit, with all three players downing their opposition in under an hour and in straight sets. 

Of the last four seeds, just Alison Riske and Donna Vekic fell to their unseeded opposition. Riske’s shock exit was full credit to Patricia Maria Tig’s explosive play, with the Romanian a force to be reckoned with in the 6-3 6-2 victory. Vekic put up a far better fight against qualifier Lesia Tsurenko but was unable to hold up to the forceful Ukrainian, going down in a three set battle 7-6 2-6 7-5. The youngest seeds of the group in Dayana Yastremska and Iga Swiatek also proved too good on day three, and while Swiatek had a tougher time of it than Yastremska did, the pair impressed with their respective composure and ability to get the job done.

Three more Americans joined the winners list as qualifier Shelby Rogers, Bernarda Pera and Jessica Pegula all head through to the next round after solid performances, with Pegula coming from behind to record her 7-5 6-7 6-1 victory over Japan’s Misaki Doi. Of the last five matches, all were consolidated with just the two sets, and while Anna Lena Friedsam and Heather Watson came close to losing crucial sets to their respective opposition, Varvara Gracheva, Pauline Parmentier and Anastasia Potapova were all solid to head through to the Round of 64.

Coming up tomorrow for the last quarter of the Round of 128 are some quality matchups, while Ash Barty and Petra Kvitova take the court and giant slayer Qiang Wang looks to back up her stellar run in the Australian Open with another quality run.

ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated [Q] Nadia Podoroska (RUS) 6-3 6-0
[6] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 5-7 6-2 6-2
[11] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Xiyu Wang (CHN) 6-3 6-2
[15] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-1 6-3
Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) defeated [18] Alison Riske (USA) 6-3 6-2
[21] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) defeated [25] Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-6 2-6 7-5
[27] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 2-6 7-6 6-1
Anna Lena Friedsam (GER) defeated Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-4 6-4
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated [Q] Usue Maitane Arconada (ESP) 6-1 6-0
[Q] Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-3 7-5
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-2 7-5
[WC] Pauline Parmentier (FRA) defeated [WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-3 6-4
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated [Q] Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-4
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [WC] Dianne Parry (FRA) 6-2 6-2
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 7-5 6-7 6-1