Tag: alison riske

WTA Tour wrap: Sorribes Tormo outlasts in longest match of the season

A BIG first day of women’s proceedings at the 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia saw the longest match of the year so far, as all four of the day’s seeds head into the second round.

It took a marathon three hours and 51 minutes, but it was Sara Sorribes Tormo who came out victor in her huge clash with Italian wildcard Camila Giorgi, 7-6(4) 6-7(7) 7-5. The seesawing contest saw neither player really able to make the most of their momentum or claim a significant ascendancy, as the Spaniard and Italian went toe-to-toe and were unable to be split. But with six double faults to her name compared to Giorgi’s 12, Sorribes Tormo was marginally cleaner on serve and won 52.8 per cent of the match’s total points to reign supreme. It was not the only three-setter of the day, as Petra MarticAnastasija Sevastova and Coco Gauff all ground out wins in three, with the last of the three seeing 17-year-old Gauff require two hours and 57 minutes to dispose of Kazakh, Yulia Putintseva as Sevastova turned around a sloppy start and Martic claimed her first top 50 win of the season.

Petra Kvitova and Maria Sakkari were the remaining three set winner of the day, as the 11th and 17th seeds were tested by their respective opposition. For Kvitova, it ended up being a fairly comprehensive victory despite dropping the first set 1-6. Her opposition in Magda Linette flew out of the blocks but could not continue the same form once the Czech left-hander worked her way into the contest and reduced her unforced errors, eventually reigning supreme 1-6 6-0 6-2 in 95 minutes.

“The first set I started very badly. I was missing almost everything. On the court… [the ball] was bouncing everywhere as well. A little bit windy. I just had to used to probably everything,” Kvitova said post-match. “The beginning of the second set when finally I held my serve and broke her serve, I think since then it was much, much better.”

Four of Kvitova’s six double faults were hit in the first set, before the Czech broke back to eventually claim five aces and win 75.6 per cent of her first serve points off a 66 per cent clip. Sakkari’s matchup went slightly different as she claimed the opening set, before her opposition in Polona Hercog bit back to take it to three. The 17th seed claimed the ascendancy once more though, running out 7-6 3-6 6-2 victor in two hours and 48 minutes.

Proceedings went very different for the remaining two seeds on the day, as Iga Swiatek worked from a 1-4 deficit to eventually claim a 5-4 victory over retiree Alison Riske, who battled an ongoing injury throughout the contest and could not maintain intensity or mobility to continue the matchup. While Swiatek had a horror start, recording 18 unforced errors throughout the 52 minutes of play, she was fortunate to proceed as Riske jarred her left foot, and was forced to retire following medical attention. The 13th seed in Jennifer Brady continued her run after claiming a 6-1 6-4 victory over Zhang Shuai, winning 72 per cent of her first serve points off a sloppy 43 per cent clip and converting five break points and saving three in the process.

The remaining matches of the day saw two more Americans in Jessica Pegula and Amanda Anisimova join the winners list, whilst one more in Christina McHale fell to Vera Zvonareva, whilst Ekaterina Alexandrova claimed the quickest win of the day – bar Swiatek’s early finish – over Marta Kostyuk, needing just 75 minutes to claim the 6-3 6-1 victory.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 1-6 6-0 6-2
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-1 6-4
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 5-4 RET
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 3-6 6-2
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 7-6 6-7 7-5
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-3 6-0
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-5 6-3
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 7-5 6-3
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUN) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-3 6-1
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 3-6 6-1 6-3
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 7-5 4-6 6-4

WTA Tour wrap: Svitolina overcome by Teichmann, Barty and Swiatek skate through at Madrid

THE WTA 1000 Mutua Madrid Open has begun in Spain, with the opening day of action seeing plenty of fascinating results. Just one seed fell across the board in the lone three-setter of the day, setting up a massive second round already when proceedings have only just begun.

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina was the first to fall, despite a stellar start giving her the upper hand against Swiss talent Jil Teichmann. But Svitolina failed to bring the heat in the resulting second set as Teichmann piled on the pressure, as a third set ensued before Teichmann ran out 2-6 6-4 7-6(5) victor in just over two and a half hours.

It was an untidy first set from Teichmann that allowed Svitolina to take out the early ascendancy, before an impressive turnaround – including a much more consistent serve and two aces in the third – allowed the Swiss native to switch the momentum and claim victory. Whilst a 1-5 start to the third set may have looked dangerous, Teichmann flipped a switch to save six match points and pulled off a remarkable come-from-behind win.

“I started slow, especially with a lot of unforced errors,” Teichmann said. “Giving her too many free points. So I found a way to be more solid, to hit more balls.”

Where Teichmann’s compatriot and eighth seed Belinda Bencic was also successful in a 6-4 6-2 encounter with Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, Svitolina’s compatriot Kateryna Kozlova was overcome in the same result by German Laura Siegemund.

A number of American names filtered across the courts in Madrid, with results split evenly down the middle. Two of the day’s top United States prospects in Shelby Rogers and Alison Riske were overcome by seeds who came out flying, with top seed Australian Ash Barty in fine form defeated Rogers 6-2 6-1 in one hour flat, whilst Riske struggled against in-form youngster Iga Swiatek on her Madrid debut, downed 6-1 6-1 in 67 minutes.

“I’ve played Shelby many times this year… and it’s always a very big challenge,” Barty said post-match. “I needed to make sure that I was at my very best to be able to compete today.”

“Every time you step out on the court against Shelby, you really need to be switched on, play your very best because she has the ability to take the match away from you very quickly. It was important for me to start well, across the whole match. It was always going to be a big factor.”

Barty hit eight aces and did not face a single break point on her way to victory, also piling on 19 winners for just nine unforced errors in a classy showing. While Barty is fresh off a clay court title last week at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, 14th seed Swiatek took the court for the first time on clay this season and effectively the first time since her breakthrough French Open victory in 2020.

“Today I just wanted to play solid and to use all the tactics, the clues that my coach gave me to implement everything in my game that he told me. I did that pretty well,” Swiatek said.

“I did some unforced errors that I wish they didn’t happen, but they didn’t have much influence on the score. Also I try to come back to the solid game, so I did that pretty well.”

“[It’s] my first time here. For sure the balls are going pretty high because of the air here. Madrid is elevated. It’s totally different. I strung my racquet more tight. I think most of the players are doing that, so it’s not something special.

“You just have to be ready for every shot because I felt that on practices and even today, that when I did something like a small mistake technically, the ball went out two meters. You really have to be careful here and just kind of really, really focus on techniques.”

The remaining two United States competitors of the day both claimed wins in relatively simple circumstances, as Bernarda Pera and Sloane Stephens got wins on the board in 76 and 82 minutes, respectively. Three more seeds reigned supreme, with seventh seed and defending Madrid champion Kiki Bertens, three-time winner and ninth seed Petra Kvitova – by default after compatriot Marie Bouzkova was forced to retire at 6-2 2-3 – and 15th seed Johanna Konta all heading into the second round. Another six competitors will look to hit the ground running in the Round of 32, with Anastasija SevastovaTamara ZidansekVeronika Kudermetova, hometown hope Paula BadosaOns Jabeur and Angelique Kerber all claiming straight set wins.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-2 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [4] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 2-6 6-4 7-6
[7] Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND) 6-4 6-0
[8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 6-2
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-2 2-3 RET
[14] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 6-1 6-1
[15] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 6-2
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Petra Martic (CRO) 6-3 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROM) 6-0 6-3
Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-4 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4 6-1
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 6-2 6-4
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-1 6-4
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-1 7-5
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-2 6-3
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 7-6 6-1

Australian Open Women’s Round of 128 wrap: Top seeds skate through to second round as former Australian Open champion Kerber falls

THE Australian Open started with a bang on Monday, with the Grand Slam women’s circuit showcasing a heap of intriguing results in the Round of 128.

A number of the obvious candidates head through to the second round after excellent day one efforts, with top three seeds Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka skating through completely unscathed. While the second and third ranked players in the world produced almost identical wins, it was the ease with which both disposed of their opposition, seeing Halep defeat Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera 6-2 6-1 in 59 minutes, and Osaka needing just 10 minutes more to down Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-2. Serena Williams proved she is still on track for an equal record 24 singles Grand Slams, outstanding in her 6-1 6-1 sweep of Laura Siegemund in 56 minutes. The quick victory was only beaten by Anastasia Potapova who blew Williams’ compatriot Alison Riske out of the water, obliterating the 24th seed 6-2 6-1 in just 51 minutes to be the quickest victor of the day.

Bianca Andreescu made her triumphant return to the circuit after 15 months away from the court, and while her opposition in lucky loser Mihaela Buzarnescu put her through her paces in a tighter second set, the Canadian eighth seed survived the test to come out with the 6-2 4-6 6-3 victory – something she will be happy about after pulling out of last week’s Grampians Trophy to focus on her Australian Open return. The ever-consistent Petra Kvitova relished being back on Australian soil with a 6-3 6-4 sweep of qualifier Greet Minnen, while Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek both came away with solid victories to head into the second round.

But it was not all fun and games for seeds, as former Australian Open champion and 23rd seed Angelique Kerber was overcome by a fast-starting Bernarda Pera, as the American world number 63 disposed of the German champion in straight sets, 6-0 6-4.  An uncharacteristically down-and-out Qiang Wang could not compete with qualifier Sara Errani, with the 131st ranked Italian far cleaner than last year’s Australian Open giant slayer in the 2-6 6-4 6-4 win.

In other games, Tunisian 27th seed Ons Jabeur and a couple of Kazakhstan representatives head through to the second round with 17th seed Elena Rybakina joined by Zarina Diyas, while Russia boasted four more winners to join Potapova in the next round, but also saw four compatriots fall at the first hurdle. Venus Williams reigned supreme against Kirsten Flipkins, proving once more that age is just a number at 40 years old.

The women’s Round of 128 continues today at Melbourne Park, with world number one Ash Barty hitting the court following her maiden 2021 title on Sunday, while 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin also enters the draw, as does in-form Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and exciting young gun Coco Gauff.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated [WC] Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 6-2 6-1
[3] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-1 6-2
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-0 6-4
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated [LL] Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-2 4-6 6-3
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-3 6-4
[10] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-1 6-1
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-1 6-3
[17] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 4-6 6-4 6-4
[19] Marketa Vondrousova (RUS) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 2-6 7-5 7-5
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated [23] Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-0 6-4
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [24] Alison Riske (USA) 6-2 6-1
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-3 3-6 6-4
[Q] Sara Errani (ITA) defeated [30] Qiang Wang (CHN) 2-6 6-4 6-4
[32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-2 7-6
Venus Williams (USA) defeated Kirsten Flipkens (GER) 7-5 6-2
Ajla Tomljanovich (AUS) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-2 7-5
[Q] Rebecca Marino (CAN) defeated [WC] Kimberley Birrell (AUS) 6-0 7-6
[LL] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated [Q] Mayo Hibi (JPN) 7-6 6-4
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Timea Babos (HUN) defeated Ysaline Bonaventure (BEL) 7-6 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [Q] Valeria Savinykh (RUS) 6-2 4-6 7-6
Hsieh Suwei (TPE) defeated [Q] Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 7-5 6-2
Nina Stojanovic (SRB) defeated Irina Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-3 6-4
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Ana Blinkova (RUS) 6-1 3-6 7-6
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-1 6-4
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-7 6-2 6-4
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 6-3
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-2 6-1

Teenager Tauson wins on Grand Slam debut as Pliskova and Kenin challenged

DAY three of the 2020 Roland Garros saw the remainder of the Round of 128 finish up their matches, with some predictable top seeds in Karolina Pliskova, Sofia Kenin and Aryna Sabalenka making their way through to the second round although the former two had to fight back after strong showings from their opposition.

The longest match of the day – and ultimately one of the biggest upsets too – went to the battle between 21st seed Jennifer Brady and Danish teenager Clara Tauson, seeing the 17-year-old come away with a 6-4 3-6 9-7 victory in a whopping two hours and 45 minutes on court in her grand slam debut and only her second appearance on the WTA Tour. 

“We played an amazing match today, probably the highest-quality tennis I’ve ever played in my life,” Tauson said post-match. “I was just grateful to be there and just happy that I could play a girl like her on a big court. It was a dream come true, of course, and then winning the match, I don’t have any words yet. It was so great, I’ve never really experienced a match like that.”

The youngster may have topped the unforced error tally with 46, but she also hit 48 winners to Brady’s 39, also coming away with a better winning ratio on break points. The final set took almost 70 minutes to decide, with neither player willing to back down and Tauson able to weather the storm after a couple of early opportunities prior to the tiebreaker. 

Other seeded upsets on the day came from Irina Bara – who defeated 26th seed Donna Vekic 6-3 6-4 – and Julia Goerges – who defeated 19th seed Alison Riske in a huge 6-3 6-7 6-1 battle in two hours and 17 minutes. Meanwhile, Qualifier Mayar Sherif put Pliskova through her paces in the first set, taking out the first set tiebreaker before Plskova bit back in the second to steal momentum. Despite a better third set, Sherif could not compete with the Czech second seed, seeing Pliskova run away victory 6-7 6-2 6-4 in two hours and 15 minutes. Liudmila Samsonova also got a good look in against Australian Open champion Kenin, stealing the second set after a tight first set before Kenin came out flying in the third to come out victor in just under two hours. 

Sabalenka was much more convincing in her 6-3 6-1 victory over American Jessica Pegula, claiming the early ascendancy before dominating the second set. 14th seed Elena Rybakina was clinical against Sorana Cirstea in a 6-0 6-3 demolition in 65 minutes, while 29th seed Sloane Stephens continued her solid form with a 66-minute 6-2 6-2 victory over Vitalia Diatchenko. 30th seed Ons Jabeur overcame a difficult start against Kazakh Zarina Diyas for a three set 4-6 6-3 6-1 finish, while the final seeded match saw 13th seed Petra Martic deal with a tough effort from Japanese talent Misaki Doi who was relentless in pursuit, seeing Martic come away with a 7-6 7-5 victory in an hour and 48 minutes.

Doi’s compatriot Nao Hibino continued her excellent run of form with a 6-4 6-0 victory over qualifier Marta Kostyuk in just 58 minutes – the quickest of the day – while in other unseeded matchups Alison van Uytvanck, Jelena Ostapenko, Paula Badosa, Danielle Collins, Daria Kasatkina, Ana Bogdan, Veronika Kudermetova, Fiona Ferro and Laura Siegemund all joined the winners list.

Rybakina destroys Alexandrova as Bolsova piles on more pain for Riske

KAZAKH young gun Elena Rybakina has taken just 61 minutes to take apart fellow top 30 player, Ekaterina Alexandrova at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in a stunning role reversal. Just a fortnight earlier, Alexandrova defeated Rybakina in straight sets at the Western & Southern Open, with the 21-year-old winning just one match in her past four stretching back to Qatar earlier in the year. It follows on from Rybakia’s straight sets defeat to Alexandrova in the Shenzhen Open final on January 11.

This time however, it was Rybakina who had found the formula to success, destroying Alexandrova in just over an hour, 6-0 6-4. The 10th seed raced through the first round match in unbelievable style, two minutes faster than Danka Kovinic‘s 6-1 6-0 rout over Belgian Julia Goerges. The Belgian’s defeat might have copped more attention had it not been for Rybakina’s remarkable win, and the upset of the day.

That upset came courtesy of Spaniard, Aliona Bolsova who came from behind to defeat 13th seed Alison Riske in three sets. The match lasted two hours and 52 minutes with Bolsova claiming a 5-7 7-6 6-3 victory. The 22-year-old had never beaten anyone inside the top 50 until her victory over Riske, and backed up from her stunning qualifying rounds where she dropped just six games across two matches. Now she will take on Anna Blinkova who defeated Jil Teichmann in the first round of the tournament.

Another young gun who turned the table on a conqueror from a couple of weeks ago was Dayana Yastremska who defeated Italian Camila Giorgi in three sets after losing to her a fortnight ago. The Ukranian 20-year-old won 7-5 6-7 6-4 in two hours and 33 minutes to move through to the Round of 32. She admitted it was far from her best performance, but was just pleased to get through to the next round.

“How else can I feel after a three hour match but tired?” Yastremska said post-match. “Still, it’s a win. Maybe not the best win, but it’s a win!”

The Ukrainian actually had match point in the second set prior to the tiebreak, but Giorgi managed to compose herself and then win the tiebreak to force a third set.

“I felt so bad during the match,” Yastremska said. “My game was ok, and I really felt my shots, but it was weird. I had so many double faults, more than I’ve ever had in my life. “I hit three double faults in a row, and something was going on that was just weird. “My shoe broke, and I had a match point in the second set like in Palermo, but lost the tie-break.

“I had good preparation. “After America, I took two days off to recover my knee and foot. “I had three days to practice, which was really nice, and had more great practices here. “I felt good in my shots, but there was something about the situation that felt unpredictable and unexpected. “I would play well for a few games and then hit three double faults and missed a couple returns. “I guess everyone had days like these.”

In other results, 11th seed Elise Mertens cruised through to victory over Su-Wei Hsieh 6-3 6-1, while Amanda Anisimova took down 16th seed Donna Vekic in two tiebreakers. Other winners were Magda Linette, Barbora Strycova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Marie Bouzkova and Jasmine Paolini.

Three top 12 seeds out, but Italy International still stacked with talent

THE Internazionali D’Italia or Italy International might not feature world number one, Ash Barty or top 12 players Bianca Andreescu and Aryna Sabalenka, but there are still plenty of top 10 talents running around on the Rome clay courts. The lead-up event to Roland Garros, players such as Serena Williams and Simona Halep will be keen to perform strongly.

Last year’s Roland Garros winner Barty will not be there, but world number 14 and French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova will attend and hope to build up towards another big Grand Slam performance. Halep will enter the tournament as the top seed after foregoing the chance to play in the United States, joined by world number three Karolina Pliskova who is in poor form, winning just one of three matches since the COVID-19 pandemic postponement. Pliskova knows how to win in Rome though, defeating Johanna Konta 6-3 6-4 here in 2019.

World number four Sofia Kenin will be seeded third at the event, with Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Belinda Bencic – seeded fourth, fifth and sixth respectively – returning after deciding to stay in Europe the past month. Grand Slam winners Williams and Osaka, and the two European Petras in Kvitova and Martic.

Some players, such as Garbine Muguruza and Alison Riske will be keen to put their US Open campaigns behind them and return to clay. Muguruza in particular is someone more than capable of performing on clay having won the French Open back in 2016. Other French Open winners here are Halep (2018), Jelena Ostapenko (2017), Williams (2002, 2013 and 2015) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009).

Prior to Pliskova’s win last year, Elina Svitolina had won back-to-back titles at the Italy International, with Williams winning three of the past four prior to that, and four overall. In an example of just how durable she is, Venus Williams has been handed a wildcard and is a past winner back in 1999 when she was a teenager. Another veteran and Grand Slam winner is Victoria Azarenka who has rekindled some of her best tennis of late.

It is no surprise to see Italy having a strong presence through the tournament, with Camila Giorgi and Jasmine Paolini the top ranked hopes for the home nation. Elisabetta Cocciaretto still remains a threat, particularly on clay, while former top five player Sara Errani can never be discounted.

Tournament officials will have their work cut out for them fixturing players around their busy schedules with some only just arriving back from the United States in time to take to the court at Rome. Those who reached the semi-finals of the US Open – Williams, Azarenka, Osaka and Jennifer Brady – will all receive first round byes in a floating draw.

Garcia stuns top seed Pliskova to book third round US Open spot

CAROLINE Garcia has caused the boil-over of the US Open by defeating top seed and world number three, Karolina Pliskova in straight sets today. The unseeded Frenchwoman made her way into the third round at the Grand Slam with a 6-1 7-6 victory, winning the last five points of the match after the Czech seed threatened to level the match.

“It’s top players, so if you wait for the mistake it’s never going to happen,” Garcia said post-match. “If you let Pliskova breeze and take your serve, you’re never going to make a return, and then it’s 6-4, 6-4 and you’re done in one hour. “So you have to make her in trouble – that’s what I liked and it was a great challenge for me. “I did well in this challenge and I can take the happiness for it, and now I’m after another one.”

The former top 10 player who is now ranked 50th in the world will compete in her fourth third round match at Flushing Meadows, bouncing back after a first round loss in 2019. Two consecutive breaks in the opening set resulted in the underdog racing to a 5-0 lead before Pliskova finally got on the board by holding serve. It mattered little to Garcia show served it out herself 6-1.

Breaking her opponent in the opening game of the second set, Garcia led by a break in the seventh game at 4-2, but lost three consecutive games as Pliskova had a couple of set points on Garcia’s serve at 5-4. Garcia recovered to force the match into a tiebreaker, where she won 7-2 after being 2-2 early in the break. She now takes on 28th seed Jennifer Brady who is coming off some great form by winning her first title at the Top Seed Open.

“She (Brady) won her first title and she did good since the last year and a half,” Garcia said. “I think we have pretty much the same weapons, the serve and the forehand. “She moves well on court, and she’s playing in her country even if it’s without fans. “We had a battle in the past and I’m looking forward to it. “Because she’s not ranked maybe as high as Pliskova is today, but she’s definitely going to keep improving, so it’s really a great challenge for me.”

Brady comes into the Round of 16 match off the back of an absolute shellacking of compatriot, CiCi Bellis. While Bellis has shown good form upon return on the tour from injury, Brady showed just what she was capable of, winning 6-1 6-2 in just 51 minutes of matchplay. The more experienced American would not allow Bellis to work into the match, hitting 21 winners to three, while only conceding 13 unforced errors to 20.

Speaking of all-American clashes, the only upset that might have rivalled Garcia’s win over Pliskova, was young gun, Ann Li‘s 6-0 6-3 smashing of 13th seed Alison Riske. The match lasted just 75 minutes with the 20-year-old world number 128 hitting 20 winners to 16, and only 20 unforced errors to 33, whilst capitalising on eight of her nine net points. Her ability to attack Riske’s second serve – winning 74 per cent of the points – whilst breaking even off her compatriot’s first serve, was the key to victory. She made Riske move around the court and force her into uncomfortable shot-making positions during the straight sets thrashing.

The 20-year-old now takes on 17th seed Angelique Kerber in the third round with the winner of that match to face the winner of Garcia and Brady for a spot in the quarter finals. Also in the top quarter of the draw two more seeds joined Pliskova and Riske on the sidelines with Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich smashing 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-2, while Russian Varvara Gracheva shook off 30th seed Kristina Mladenovic to win 1-6 7-6 6-0. Gracheva goes head to head with eighth seed Petra Martic in the Round of 16, while Sasnovich now locks horns with Kazakhstan young gun, Yulia Putintseva.

The news was not as good for top rank Kazakh hopeful, Elena Rybakina who was bundled out by Shelby Rogers in straight sets, 7-5 6-1. The American said she was pleased with how her game had gone against a real up and comer on the WTA Tour.

“It definitely felt good to get that one in two sets,” Rogers said post-match. “The first set, I came out playing pretty cleanly, executing the game plan I had very well, and was serving well. Things got dicey when she started playing better, playing more aggressive and making her shots. “I just kept telling myself, ‘One more point, keep making balls,’ and thankfully got through the first set. “I really buckled down in the second because I really didn’t want that to happen again!”

Similarly, it was a mixed bag for Ukrainian fans, with Marta Kostyuk defeating 31st seed Latvian Anastasia Sevastova 6-3 7-6, but Kateryna Kozlova went down to sixth seed Czech Petra Kvitova, 7-6 6-2. Jessica Pegula joined Rogers in the Round of 32 to face Kvitova after defeating Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 7-6 6-2.

Other winners on day three included fourth seed Naomi Osaka, 14th seed Anett Kontaveit and 24th seed Magda Linette, whilst in the last game of the day, 19th seed Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska went down to American Madison Brengle 6-2 6-3.

Picture: USTA

Martic survives thriller to advance through to US Open Round of 64

PETRA Martic had some nervous moments but eventually came up trumps in a three-set win over former top 30 player, Tereza Martincova. Not the easiest of first round matches, Martic came from a set down to post the 5-7 6-4 6-2 win in two hours and 27 minutes. The Croatian, who was a top eight seed for the first time at a Grand Slam event, was just grateful to get through the match knowing how potent the Czech could be.

“I expected a tough match, because she’s very aggressive and likes this surface, which is playing quite fast this year,” Martic said post-match. “It took me a bit of time to adjust, and I was really happy that after the first set I could find my game and play better. It wasn’t easy but I’m glad I managed to get through.”

It was a relatively straightforward day for the seeds, with only the last placed seed – world number 48 and 32nd at the tournament – Rebecca Peterson bundled out, going down to Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, 7-6 6-4. The world number 72 took two hours and two minutes to get up in the straight sets win, and move through to the next round to face American, Jessica Pegula who won against Czech, Marie Bouzkova.

It was a good day for the Americans, with 28th seed Jennifer Brady and return queen, CiCi Bellis both winning their respective matches to book a head-to-head clash in the second round. It will not be the only all-American Round of 64 clash after 18th seed Alison Riske made her way through to the second round, to now take on young gun, Ann Li. The latter overcame an in-from Arantxa Rus – fresh off an upset win over Karolina Pliskova at the Western & Southern Open – in a 6-4 2-6 6-1 triumph in just under two hours.

Shelby Rogers and Madison Brengle both advanced through to the Round of 64, while it was not as positive for teenage sensation Coco Gauff. The 16-year-old went down in three sets to 31st seed Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3 5-7 6-4. It was a danger game for the Latvian who had defeated Serena Williams earlier in the year at the Fed Cup. She said she was in awe of Gauff’s abilities at such a young age.

“I wish I would play like this when I was 16 years old,” Sevastova said, praising her opponent in the virtual post-round press conference. “Great player. “Nothing more to say. “I think she maybe started a bit slower than me, but she was getting better as the match went on. “That’s so important I think in tennis.

“In the end I think third set she played her best tennis. “She was serving better, moving better. “It was tough, yeah. “Fortunately I stayed calm in the third set and managed to win, to close it out.”

Also out at the hands of a seed was Danielle Collins who lost to Estonian 14th seed, Anett Kontaveit. After winning the first set, Collins was outclassed, going down 5-7 6-2 6-2 in what was a clinical performance in two hours and six minutes. The world number 21 said she never lost faith despite Collins’ strong play early.

“[Collins] came out playing great,” Kontaveit said post-match. “I think she was hitting it really strong, moving me around the court, hitting winners. I felt like I played the same the whole match, I was just really trying to stay tough, maintain my level, and I feel like I did that really well.”

“I never stopped believing that I could come back after the first set,” Kontaveit continued. “I just had to stay really tough and fight as hard as I could, and I managed to do that. It definitely helped that I had played a lot of matches and had to get through a lot of tough matches.”

Fourth seed Naomi Osaka overcame hamstring tightness that ruled her out of the Western & Southern Open final to knock over compatriot, Misaki Doi in straight sets, joining fellow top 10 players, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Martic in the next round. Other triumphant seeds included Angelique Kerber, Marketa Vondrousova, Yulia Putintseva, Kristina Mladenovic, Magda Linette, Elena Rybakina and Dayana Yastremska.

From an unseeded players perspective, Anna-Lena Friedsam won through to face off against compatriot Kerber, Belarusian duo Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Vera Lapko, Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, Russian Varvara Gracheva and Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko all moved through in the top quarter of the draw. As for the other half of the day’s action, Danka Kovinic, Kaja Juvan and Kateryna Kozlova joined the host of seeds and Americans running around in a couple of days.

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.

Seeds skittled in New York as W&S Open main draws decided

JUST six of a possible 24 qualifying seeds are through to the main draw of the Western & Southern Open’s WTA Tour main draw, while the ATP event had a remarkable four make it through qualifying.

Looking at the WTA Tour side of things, the youth of the Tour continued to impress today with some of the most exciting youngsters making their way into the main draw. Canadian teen, Leylah Fernandez made her way through to the main draw with a 6-4 6-1 triumph over American Kristie Ahn, while recently turned 20-year-old Ann Li also made it through with an impressive 6-3 7-6 win over Viktoria Kuzmova. CiCi Bellis‘ return to the circuit continued with a huge come-from-behind win over Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure, one of four American qualifiers through to the Round of 64. The other two were other seeded qualifiers in Jessica Pegula and Cristina McHale.

Top seeded qualifier and Top Seed Open finalist Jil Teichmann made it to the main draw with a win over Shelby Rogers for the second time in a week, again defeating her in straight sets 6-3 6-4 after doing it in the Lexington semi-final. Aside from the trio of Americans, the other top ranked players to survive qualifying were fifth seed Laura Siegemund, seventh seed Arantxa Rus and 12th seed Kirsten Flipkens. Other qualifiers were Russian duo, Vera Zvonareva and Anna Kalinskaya, and Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin.

WTA TOUR QUALFIERS:

Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
Arantxa Rus (NED)
Ann Li (USA)
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS)
Leylan Fernandez (CAN)
CiCi Bellis (USA)
Oceane Dodin (FRA)
Kirsten Fllipkens (BEL)
Laura Siegemund (GER)
Jil Teichmann (SUI)
Cristina McHale (USA)
Jessica Pegula (USA)

In their first event since March, the ATP Tour’s qualifying draw produced a number of upsets on the final day of that stage, with plenty of lowly ranked competitors making it through to the Round of 64 at New York. The highest ranked player to make it through to the first round of the main draw was Aljaz Bedene, with the fourth seed just getting past Austrian Dennis Novak, 4-6 6-3 6-4. He joined Marton Fucsovics, Cameron Norrie and Ricardas Berankis as the seeds through to the next stage of the tournament.

Top seeded qualifier, Gilles Simon had a shock loss to American wildcard, Sebastian Korda. The 54th ranked Frenchman looked good in the opening set then won just one game in the final two sets to lose 3-6 6-0 6-1 against the 224th ranked 20-year-old Korda. Another lowly ranked American in 271st ranked Mackenzie McDonald also booked his spot in the main draw with a 6-7 7-5 7-6 victory over German Dominik Koepfer, while fellow wildcard J.J. Wolf defeated up-and-coming Spaniard Jaume Munar in a come-from-behind 2-6 6-4 6-4 victory to also add to the American representation. Other winners through to the main draw were Emil Ruusuvuori, Salvatore Caruso, Marcos Giron and Norbert Gombos who all saluted in the second round of qualifying.

ATP TOUR QUALIFIERS:

Sebastian Korda (USA)
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)
Ricardas Berankis (LTU)
Aljaz Bedene (SLO)
Mackenzie McDonald (USA)
Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
Salvatore Caruso (ITA)
Cameron Norrie (GBR)
Marcos Giron (USA)
Lloyd Harris (RSA)
J.J Wolf (USA)
Norbert Gombos (SVK)

Tomorrow’s action at New York kicks off with a massive day on the Grandstand Court, starting with Ekaterina Alexandrova up against ninth seed, Elena Rybakina in one of the matches of the day. Following that, 13th seed Maria Sakkari tackles American young gun Coco Gauff. Wrapping up the day session, wildcard duo Frances Tiafoe and Andy Murray do battle, before 16th seed Dayana Yastremska and American wildcard Venus Williams go at it, and Canandian 12th seed Denis Shapovalov and Croatian Marin Cilic light up the night session.

Other matches not to be missed on the first day of action at New York include German Jan-Lennard Struff up against Australian Alex de Minaur, American duo Alison Riske and Amanda Anisimova doing battle, and the big serving Sam Querrey and Milos Raonic lock horns.