Tag: anastasia pavlyuchenkova

WTA Tour wrap: Barty and Sabalenka set up tantalising Stuttgart rematch for Madrid title

THE Madrid Open semi-finals produced two huge clashes and set up a massive final in their stead, as Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka look to add another title to their respective hauls following respective straight set wins. They will take on one another for the second time in as many weeks, with a rematch of the Stuttgart Open final sure to see both players fly out of the blocks. Sabalenka will hope to exact revenge on Barty in this one, although will have her work cut out for her given Barty’s excellent form this season with three titles in the bag already to her one.

It took Sabalenka just one hour and three minutes to dispose of Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, claiming a 6-2 6-3 victory and heading into the final without dropping a set all week. The fifth seed Belarusian was clinical and relentless in victory, hitting four aces, converting four break points and saving two of three on her way to her Barty rematch. Whilst Pavlyuchenkova was more efficient on serve, Sabalenka was far more consistent winning 70.8 per cent of her total service points and 48.9 per cent on return.

“I think my game has improved a lot on the clay court,” Sabalenka said post-match. “For sure, it’s given me some confidence, but there’s still so many things to work on. I’m just really happy with my level here in Madrid.”

The Belarusian hit 21 winners for just 11 unforced errors, outclassing Pavlyuchenkova with her relentless serve to finish off with an ace.

“I think from the side it looks like everything is going my way,” Sabalenka said. “Some games I didn’t feel my serve. Some games something wasn’t working. It’s always part of the process. But I’m really happy that from the side, it looks like everything is going my way.”

Sabalenka boasts a 9-1 win-loss record on clay this season, but will be tested by Barty who has a greater record of 16 straight victories on clay, including the one blemish on Sabalenka’s record.

“Physically I have to be ready for this match,” Sabalenka said. “She’s No.1, she’s great. I played her in Stuttgart. It’s not an easy game. I will do everything I can to prepare myself as good as I can. Just looking forward for this battle.”

Meanwhile, Barty exacted revenge over the only player to defeat her since February, in hometown hopeful and qualifier Paula Badosa. But whilst the Spaniard put in the hard yards, Barty was able to control proceedings and complete the 6-4 6-3 sweep in 75 minutes.

“You have to learn from every game, every match you play against an opponent,” said Barty post-match. “I definitely learnt a lot from the match we played in Charleston. There was a small adjustment. I think just learning from some of her patterns, tendencies that came through and showed through in that match in Charleston.

“I think I was just able to control the court a little bit better. I was able to look after my service games a little bit better, build pressure on return games. That’s a massive part of it: not always winning points, but building pressure. Scoreboard pressure can be a big thing. That was a focus for me today.”

Badosa is the first Spanish woman to reach the final four in Madrid, and showcased her excellent form – which will see her break the top 50 for the first time – during the first set, well and truly keeping the world number one on her toes. But Barty was clinical with 30 winners and six aces, winning 68.3 per cent of her total service points and saving four of five break points, heading to the Madrid final with her head held high.


[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-4 6-3
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-2 6-3

WTA Tour wrap: Barty holds firm as Badosa doubles up on Bencic win

WORLD number one Ash Barty has held firm to win her eleventh three-set contest in 2021 to advance through to the semi-finals of the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open. She has only dropped one three-set match – that coming at the Australian Open against Karolina Muchova in the quarter finals – but has claimed ever other full-distance match. The most recent was her quarter finals victory over another Czech, ninth seed Petra Kvitova, 6-1 3-6 6-3.

“It’s just always staying in the fight,” Barty said post-match. “Always staying in the hunt and never letting it slide away. That certainly doesn’t guarantee results, doesn’t guarantee success. It guarantees you give yourself the best chance to do what you do and to figure it out and to find your way.

“I think it’s important not to panic, but everyone emotionally has different ways that they play on the court. I have always been quite calm on the court. That’s just always been my demeanor. But for me, it’s more about just trusting myself and knowing that we just keep chipping away and trying to find a way – and then give yourself time to do that.”

Barty moved through to the final four with the win in one hour and 48 minutes, serving six aces to five, and winning 63.5 and 62.5 of her first and second serve points. She also saved five of seven break points, and broke her opponent four times from 12 opportunities. The win means Barty is strong favourite to take out another clay tournament, with the opponent she beat in the final at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix – Aryna Sabalenka – the only seed remaining in the Madrid Open.

The Belarusian accounted for 13th seed Belgian Elise Mertens who was under clear duress, retiring at 6-1 4-0 down in the second set. Sabaleka had only dropped two points off her first serve by that stage – though was serving at a horrible 44.7 per cent efficiency – and nine points off her second serve. She saved all three break points, and broke Mertens a total of four times, and restricted the Belgian to just 15 points for the match. The pair often combine in doubles, and the fifth seed certainly had concern for her close friend who retired due to a left thigh injury.

“I feel really sorry for this, and I hope that she will get better soon,” Sabalenka said post-match. “Hopefully she will be ready for the next one in Rome.”

Before she could potentially face Barty, the Belarusian will come up against unseeded Spaniard Paula Badosa who is in some great form this year. Badosa accounted for eighth seed Belinda Bencic 6-4 7-5, defeating her for the second time in a fortnight having knocked her off at the Volvo Car Open in three sets. This time it was a lot easier, and with a win over Barty last tournament too, Badosa will be confident going forward, though admitted she was not so much heading into the match.

“I have to be honest, I was very nervous today,” Badosa said post-match. “Because sometimes these matches are a little bit tricky when you played her two, three weeks ago and you think in your head that you have that opportunity to make a semifinals. I was quite nervous, but I’m quite happy that I could control all the nerves and I could play my game quite good.”

In the other quarter final, Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced through to the semi-finals to take on Barty for a spot in the final, needing just under two hours to win in a couple of tiebreakers against Muchova. The unseeded Russian won 7-4 in the first tiebreaker and 7-2 in the second one to bring about a stirring victory.


[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-1 3-6 6-3
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [13] Elise Mertens (BEL) 6-1 4-0 RET
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-4 7-5
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Karolina Muchova (CZE) 7-6 7-6

Picture credit: Mutua Madrid Open

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds fail to fire as upsets made in marathon matches

THREE seeds fell in a highly unpredictable second day of Round of 16 proceedings at Madrid, as the competition heats up heading into the quarter finals. It was a huge difference in comparison to the day prior, as just one of the higher ranked opposition retained the mantle in their respective clashes, as just one match was completed in under two hours.

The big upset of the day saw Elise Mertens down Simona Halep, as the 13th seed Belgian claimed a 4-6 7-5 7-5 scalp of the second seed Romanian. Whilst Halep captured the first set with relative ease, Mertens fought back well to take the upper hand and came from a break down in both the second and third sets to deny Halep the win. Whilst Mertens came in as the underdog with zero wins from three clay court encounters with the Romanian, she was relentless in her approach and despite being error-ridden, capitalised off an uncharacteristically messy Halep.

“I want to be on court as long as possible, especially after losing the first set,” said Mertens. “I didn’t think too much about the score, I was just thinking about the way I should play to improve myself.”

Whilst Halep was more effective on serve throughout, Mertens was far more efficient winning points off 68.3 per cent of her serve, off a 63.2 per cent clip. Mertens will take on Aryna Sabalenka in the quarter finals, following a zippy 6-1 6-2 victory in the lone two-setter of the day against American Jessica Pegula.

“She (Sabalenka) is on fire, she’s making a lot of angles and winners,” said Mertens. “I’ll just try to put as many balls in the court as I can and try to take over a little bit when there’s a shorter ball. “She played Barty (Ash Barty) last week, and I’m definitely going to watch a little bit of that match, because Barty also likes slice and everything to mix it up.”

Sabalenka hit 25 winners for 13 unforced errors throughout the sub-one hour encounter, requiring just 52 minutes in by far the quickest match of the round.

At the other end of the scale were the remaining two Round of 16 matches, which saw Karolina Muchova narrowly claim the win over 16th seed Maria Sakkari 6-0 6-7 7-5, as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova downed 11th seed Jennifer Brady in the longest match of the day, needing two hours and 45 minutes to register a tough 7-5 6-7 6-3 victory. With both winners outlasting in thrillers, it is safe to say neither will back down in their quarter final battle tomorrow.

“I tried to forget actually those [first] two sets, and it was 1-1, so we started with a clear slate,” Muchova said. “I just tried to stay focused and on every ball, to fight till the end. Yeah, it showed me that it was worth it.

“I would actually appreciate to play two sets, but I’m happy I made it,” she said. “It was a very tough match. It’s definitely good for confidence for the next matches.”

“I think it’s a hell of a draw since the first round,” Pavlyuchenkova said post-match. “Any tournament when you beat a Top 10, or I beat Karolina (Karolina Pliskova), she was No.6-seeded here, you think, ‘Okay, it either might be a little easier or open draw.’ But it got even tougher. It gets tougher and tougher and tougher.”


[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [2] Simona Halep (ROU) 4-6 7-5 7-5
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-1 6-2
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [11] Jennifer Brady (USA) 7-5 6-7 6-3
Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-0 6-7 7-5

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Mixed bag at Madrid as Muchova and Pavlyuchenkova claim scalps

DAY 6 at the Mutua Madrid Open saw plenty happen around the courts, as second seed Naomi Osaka was ousted in the lone three-setter of the day, while it was also not sixth seed Karolina Pliskova‘s day as the Czech talent fell in straight sets.

It was an excellent effort from Karolina Muchova that saw her inhibit Osaka in their clash, seeing the Czech claim victory 6-4 3-6 6-1. Whilst Osaka worked her way back into the contest after dropping the first set, Muchova commanded control to run home with a whopping 92.9 per cent winning rate off her first serve in the final set, including two of her five aces.

“It was a tough match today, but we had some preparation,” Muchova said post-match. “I was ready to play with all I had today, and to use all the weapons I could and [do] what I can. I’m definitely happy it worked out today.”

Muchova is the newest member of the WTA world top 20, and in this contest it showed. Overall, she hit 29 winners off a fairly efficient 66.2 per cent first serve, as well as converting four of eight break points.

“I was trying to move [Osaka] as much as possible,” Muchova said. “That was the tactic. It sounds easy like that, but, you know, she’s playing really fast so it’s not that easy on the court.

“In the second set especially, she started to be very aggressive. I got back to what I did in the first set in the third set, and again, tried to move her left, right, dropshots, but still in a fast way. In the third set, it went my way.”

Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the third round with a clean 6-0 7-5 sweep of Pliskova, credit to her 20 winners for just 14 unforced errors. Whilst Pliskova bit back in the second set, she was undone by her own 28 errors which spelled trouble, before Pavlyuchenkova commanded control once more to run out victor in just under 75 minutes. Third seed Simona Halep and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka retained control throughout their respective contests to claim respective one hour and 19-minute wins, while a couple of Americans joined the fray as Jennifer Brady downed Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-1, and Jessica Pegula was dealt a walkover from 12th seed Victoria Azarenka.

The remaining two games ended in fairly predictable circumstances as 13th seed Elise Mertens and 16th seed Maria Sakkari proved too good, and while Mertens was challenged in her two hour and 13 minute matchup with Elena Rybakina, Sakkari skated home against Anett Kontaveit with ease.


Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-4 3-6 6-1
[3] Simona Halep (ROM) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-0 6-4
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-0 7-5
[11] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-2 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) W/O
[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 7-6 7-5
[16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 6-1

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.


[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: Seeds successful in big second day of action at Stuttgart and Istanbul

ANOTHER big day of proceedings were had at both the WTA 500 event in Stuttgart, Germany and the WTA 250 event in Istanbul, Turkey, as majority of the seeds across both competitions reigned supreme.

Six matches played out in Stuttgart on Day 2 of proceedings at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, seeing a couple of seeds get their clay season started successfully as four German talents took the court on home soil. Both seeds reigned supreme in straight sets, with Aryna Sabalenka taking out the quickest result of the day 6-2 6-2 over China’s Zhang Shuai in just 66 minutes. Seventh seed Petra Kvitova encountered a tougher opponent in Jennifer Brady but still claimed a clean 6-4 6-3 win in just over 90 minutes to head to the second round.

Two of the four German competitors reigned supreme, with Laura Siegemund collecting the win over her compatriot in Mona Barthel, 6-4 3-6 6-1, whilst Anna-Lena Friedsam downed Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri 6-2 6-0 in one hour and 24 minutes. Julia Middendorf was not quite so lucky though, falling to Estonian Anett Kontaveit, while the remaining Round of 16 spot went to Ekaterina Alexandrova, claiming a come-from-behind victory over Karolina Muchova, 4-6 6-2 6-3.


[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 6-2
[7] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-4 6-3
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Julia Middendorf (GER) 6-2 6-3
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Karolina Muchova (CZE) 4-6 6-2 6-3
Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) defeated Ulrikke Eikeri (NOR) 6-2 6-0


At Istanbul, Anastasia Potapova bounced back well from a delayed third set against sixth seed compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova yesterday, registering a third set win and only requiring an additional 20 minutes to take out the match 7-6 6-7 6-4. Continuing onto Day 2’s proceedings at the event, and it was a fairly predictable day of action with four of the top five seeds earning wins. Elise Mertens and Daria Kasatkina took out the cleanest wins of the day with the top seed Belgian defeating Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena 6-2 6-0 whilst Kasatkina snagged the quickest result of the day with a 6-1 6-0 sweep of Tereza Mrdeza in just 65 minutes.

Third seed Veronika Kudermetova and fifth seed Barbora Krejcikova both also reigned supreme but were forced to overcome deficits, with the former slipping in the second set to give American Bernarda Pera a look in before claiming the three hour victory 6-4 4-6 7-6. Krejcikova overcame a tight 6(8)-7 first set to claim victory over hometown hopeful Cagla Buyukakcay, easily accounting for her in the remainder of the 6-7 6-2 6-0 encounter. Meanwhile, second seed Petra Martic was disposed of by Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, slipping in the 7-5 6-2 encounter and failing to take back momentum.

Of the five remaining matches for the day, all were resolved in straight sets with the closest of the bunch between Romanian Sorana Cirstea and Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova, resulting in a 6-4 7-6 victory the way of the Romanian in just under two hours. On the other end of the spectrum was a one hour and nine minute victory to Marta Kostyuk, who downed Russian Kamilla Rakhimova 6-4 6-3 in an impressively speedy encounter. Ana Bogdan, Vera Zvonareva and Kristina Mladenovic also joined the winners list to head to the Round of 16.


[1] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6-2 6-0
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [2] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-5 6-2
[3] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) 6-1 6-0
[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR) 6-7 6-2 6-0
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3 6-3
Ana Bogdan (ROM) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-3 6-3
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) 6-4 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated Barbara Haas (AUT) 6-4 6-3
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) defeated Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-4 7-6
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [6] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4

WTA Tour wrap: Bencic and Sakkari start off Stuttgart proceedings as Istanbul open begins

ANOTHER two WTA Tour events have picked up this week, with the clay court circuit continuing across Europe in Stuttgart, Germany, whilst the Istanbul Championship has begun in Turkey.

Just two matches played out on the opening day of proceedings at the WTA 500 event in Stuttgart, with the two favourites reigning supreme over a couple of homegrown German compatriots. Both Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari got away with excellent sub-90-minute victories in straight sets to proceed to the Round of 16.

Eighth seed Bencic was tested early by teenager Nastasja Schunk before settling into an eventual 6-4 6-2 victory in one hour and 28 minutes. A tight first set was effectively only saved by Bencic’s excellent service game, winning 70.8 per cent of first serve points off a 70.6 per cent clip, and winning 50 per cent of her second set points at a lower efficiency than Schunk, but ultimately only winning three less than the German who was forced to rely on her second serve. The second set saw Bencic kick it up a notch, not broken once in the second on her way to victory over the 17-yeear-old.

For Sakkari, it was a much more straightforward win as she disposed of Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-2 in just 66 minutes. Messiness could well have messed it up though, with missed opportunities during the first set and double faults aplenty. But whilst Sakkari was error-ridden, Petkovic did not capitalise where she could have and served at just 36.8 per cent in the first set, bizarrely not winning a single point off her first serve and just three off her second serve, playing the defensive game much better. Where Sakkari faltered in the first though, she stepped up in the second to run out victor credit to a three-ace second set, winning 92.9 per cent of points off her first serve en route to a scrappy victory.


[8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Nastasja Schunk (GER) 6-4 6-2
Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-2 6-2

At the WTA 250 event in Istanbul, eighth seed Wang Qiang overcame a first set deficit to reign supreme as sixth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova‘s matchup against compatriot Anastasia Potapova was suspended in intriguing circumstances, with the 7-6 6-7 encounter – which currently sits at three hours and 10 minutes in length – suspended due to rainfall, as was the remainder of the day’s draw. Whilst Potapova took out the first set tiebreaker 7-6(2), sixth seed Pavlyuchenkova would not be outdone, fighting back for an extraordinary 7-6(8) second set win to extend the match further. For Wang, it was a sloppy first set that allowed a third Russian in Anastasia Gasanova to gain the early upper hand, before the Chinese sixth seed and world number 50 flicked a switch to overcome the Russian in the latter stages, eventually winning 4-6 6-1 6-2 in two hours and 14 minutes.

In other matches, it was only up-and-coming Croatian Ana Konjuh who got away scot free claiming a straight sets victory on the day, defeating Italian Sara Errani 7-5 6-2 in the clear quickest match of the day. Comparatively, Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova and Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic both required the full length to overcome their respective Spanish opponents, as Siniakova overcame an early surge from Cristina Bucsa to post a 7-6 3-6 6-3 win, whilst Golubic defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz in just over two hours, 6-4 2-6 6-3.


[8] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Anastasia Gasanova (RUS) 4-6 6-1 6-2
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated Sara Errani (ITA) 7-5 6-2
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Cristina Bucsa (ESP) 7-6 3-6 6-3
Viktorija Golubic (SUI) defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) 6-4 2-6 6-3

Anastasia Potapova (RUS) v. [6] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-6 6-7 SUSP

WTA Tour wrap: Russians reign supreme as seeds bow out in Mexico

RUSSIANS proved too strong on home soil at the WTA 500 St. Petersburg event whilst it was a mixed bag of results as seeds fell at the WTA 250 event in Monterrey, Mexico.

Sloane Stephens was the big out on Day 2 at Monterrey, with the out-of-form American top seed disposed on in straight sets by Slovakian Kristina Kucova. With just a 32.4 per cent first serve winning rate and marginally better on her second serve with 33.3 per cent of points won – four from 12 – Stephens never looked like she would take out victory here, wih the appalling service efficiency working the way of Kucova who came away with the 6-2 6-2 victory in 70 minutes. Heather Watson was the second seed to fall on the day, struggling to compete with compatriot Harriet Dart who flew out of the blocks in the 6-4 7-6 encounter, hitting six aces for one double fault throughout compared to Watson’s three and eight. The only seed to complete a win thus far on the day is China’s Zheng Saisai, with the third seed’s consistency and ability to win on serve doing her plenty of favours against Russian Varvara Gracheva, winning 6-3 7-5 in tricky conditions. Meanwhile, the only unseeded encounter that is already complete was played out by Kaja Juvan and Maria Camila Orsorio Serrano, with Juvan reigning supreme 6-4 6-4.

The two matches currently in progress – Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko versus seventh seed Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo and sixth seed Ana Blinkova versus Viktorija Golubic – saw both lower ranked players take out the first set in intriguing results. The following two matches are not set to begin until after 6:00pm local (11:00am AEDT).


Kristina Kucova (SVK) defeated [1] Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-2 6-2
[3] Zheng Saisai (CHN) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-3 7-5
Harriet Dart (GBR) defeated [5] Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 7-6
Kaja Juvan (SRB) defeated Maria Camila Orsorio Serrano (COL) 6-4 6-4
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) v. [7] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
[6] Ana Blinkova (RUS) v. Viktorija Golubic (SUI)
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) v. [2] Nadia Podoroska (ARG)
Zhu Lin (CHN) v. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN)

Russians were on the money on home soil at Day 2 of the St. Petersburg Round of 32, as four home hopes proceeded through to the Round of 16 amongst some intriguing results.

Fifth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and eighth seed Daria Kasatkina were the two expected to reign supreme, but were forced to take their time against their respective opposition in Cagla Buyukakcay and Clara Tauson. Pavlyuchenkova trailed the service game efficiency but overall made better use of her serve, winning of 75 per cent of first serve chances and 62.5 per cent of second serve chances compared to her Turkish opposition to win 6-4 6-4. For Kasatkina, it was a matter of outclassing the 18-year-old Danish talent in Tauson, with the young gun biting back in the second after marginally trailing the first for a 6-4 7-6(0) end result. Also through to the Round of 16 is Margarita Gasparyan, who was the only player to beat a seed on Day 2. Gasparyan flew out of the gates against Kristina Mladenovic, and whilst the first set tiebreaker went to the Frenchwoman, Gasparyan could not be stopped from there winning convincingly, 6-7 6-1 6-1. The fourth Russian in the next round is Kamilla Rakhimova, who defeated compatriot Daria Mishina 6-1 7-6 6-1 for her spot in the Round of 16.

In other matches, two Czech talents prevailed with one getting the win in tight circumstances, whilst the other’s experience was anything but. For Tereza Martincova, a first set 6-0 speedrun against Stefanie Voegele was not enough to secure momentum, taken to another two sets and forced to work for the 6-0 4-6 6-4 victory. Meanwhile, Katerina Siniakova downed Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-2 in the quickest win of the day, just 63 minutes. Comparatively, the two remaining winners completed their respective matches in two hours and 12 minutes each, with Wang Xinyu earning her way to the nxt round with a great 6-1 5-7 7-5 outing against Viktoriya Tomova, whilst Romanian Jacqueline Cristian will go another day after her Belarusian opponent Vera Lapko retired during the third set, despite leading early.


[5] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR) 6-4 6-4
Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) defeated [7] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-7 6-1 6-1
[8] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-4 7-6
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Stefanie Voegele (AUT) 6-0 4-6 6-4
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Kirsten Flipkens (GER) 6-1 6-2
Wang Xinyu (CHN) defeated Viktoriya Tomova (HUN) 6-1 5-7 7-5
Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) defeated Daria Mishina (RUS) 6-1 7-6 6-1
Jacqueline Cristian (ROM) defeated Vera Lapko (BLR) 6-7 6-4 2-1

WTA Tour wrap: Tauson wins maiden WTA Tour title as Dubai event kicks off

DANISH teenager Clara Tauson has won her maiden WTA Tour with a straight sets victory over fellow qualifier, Viktorjia Golubic in the Lyon Open final. Tauson produced a stunning week to not drop a set and extend her 2021 record – over WTA and ITF Tours – to 19-3, whilst handing Golubic her fourth loss for a 19-4 record. The 6-4 6-1 victory backed up her ITF tournament victory over Golubic a few weeks back, allowing her to add a WTA 250 event to her trophy cabinet.

It was the first final between two qualifiers in four years, in a match that last 89 minutes. Tauson served seven aces, but at a poor 48.2 per cent efficiency. That mattered little however, as she capitalised with 66.7 and 55.2 per cent success off her first and second serves, the counter contrast to a steady Golubic who served at 74.6 per cent efficiency, but could only muster 49.1 and 27.8 per cent off her service games.

“I think I played aggressive, I think I played my game, even though I missed a few balls,” Tauson said post-match. “I didn’t really think too much about winning or losing, I thought about playing my game and just playing one point at a time, and that helped a lot.”

A former junior world number one, Tauson raced through the draw from qualifying, which started with a stunning 6-3 6-4 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova in the opening round. She has booked her place inside the Top 100 on Tour following her final victory.

“I think I’ve been really solid; especially after the first set, I’ve come out good in every single match,” Tauson said. “I just kept my game going. It’s been a weird week like that, normally I have some fall-outs, but I haven’t had any of those this week, so I’m very happy with that.”


[Q] Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated [Q] Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-4 6-1


Meanwhile day one of the Dubai WTA Tour 1000 event kicked off with seven first round matches completed. Alexandrova was the talking point of another loss at this tournament, going down to American young gun Coco Gauff in three sets. Gauff needed to win two tiebreakers, including an epic third set tiebreaker 10-8 to get up in the two-hour and 41-minute match, but eventually saluted to advance through to the second round.

Gauff saved two match points in the deciding set tiebreaker after leading by as much as 5-1 in the third. She served for the match three times at 5-2, 5-4 and 6-5, and missed opportunities on closing it out sooner with four match points in the tenth game of the set. The American got on the back foot in the tiebreaker, having to save two match points herself, before coming from 8-7 down to win 10-8 and book her place in the Round of 32.

“There were times when we both could have thrown in the towel and gave up, but we both were mentally fighting,” Gauff said post-match. “I think it’s just one of those that you’re happy that it’s over, and happy that you fought through it.”

The only seed in action on day one was Greek 16th seed Maria Sakkari, but she fell to Czech, Barbora Krejikova in straight sets, 6-2 7-6 in an hour and 48 minutes on court. Krejikova’s doubles partner, Katerina Siniakova was not as fortunate, suffering defeat at the hands of Tunisian Ons Jabeur in just 65 minutes, 6-2 6-3. Meanwhile veteran Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, and compatriot Veronika Kudermetova both advanced to the Round of 32 with first round victories, as did Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, and Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.


Barbora Krejicova (CZE) defeated [16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-2 7-6
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-2 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-4 1-6 7-5
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-6 2-6 7-6
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-0 5-3 RET
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-6 6-2


Picture credit: Alexandre Hergott – Lyon Open

WTA Tour wrap: Muguruza takes down Sabalenka at Doha as Burel and Tauson’s runs continue in Lyon

IT was a huge day in Doha, with plenty of big names making their way through to the Qatar Total Open quarter finals, whilst in Lyon, the French were up and about, making up half of the final eight combatants.

Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza has managed to quell third seed and power player, Aryna Sabalenka in the second round of the Qatar Total Open to move through to the quarter finals. She had to fight hard against the much-improved Belarusian, but held firm to claim victory in the standout match of the day, 6-2 6-7 6-3 in two hours and 26 minutes.

Despite having two less aces (4-6), Muguruza dominated on serve with a 74 per cent efficiency and higher first (64.9 to 59.4 per cent) and second (48.1 to 43.5 per cent) serve point conversions. She also broke seven times from 17 chances, whilst only being broken four times herself. It was a fascinating contest from the get-go, but the consistent Spaniard proved too strong.

It was much easier work for top seed Elina Svitolina who cruised into the quarter finals with a dominating 6-1 6-2 smashing of Japanese lucky loser Misaki Doi. She joined fourth seed Petra Kvitova and eighth seed Victoria Azarenka in the final eight after they also claimed straight sets wins. Kvitova did well to knock off Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-3, while Azarenka accounted for German qualifier Laura Siegemund, 6-4 6-2.

The run of American qualifier Jessica Pegula continued, with the Australian Open quarter finalist making another final eight appearance at a big tournament, taking care of Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, 6-2 7-5. Meanwhile Greek Maria Sakkari knocked off Madison Keys easily, 6-2 6-2, while Estonian Anett Kontaveit won against German Angelique Kerber, 6-1 6-4. In the late game that just wrapped up, second seed Karolina Pliskova defeated Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-4 4-6 7-5.


[1] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [LL] Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-1 6-2
[2] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-4 4-6 7-5
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-2 6-7 6-3
[4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-1 6-3
[8] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated [Q] Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-4 6-2
Maria Sakkari (GER) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 6-2 6-2
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-1 6-4
[Q] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-2 7-5


Three of the four French seeds made it through to the final eight, with fifth seed Alize Cornet being the first one to fall in the 2021 Lyon Open. Cornet went down in three sets to compatriot and wildcard, Clara Burel in the second round of the tournament, losing 6-1 1-6 6-3 in two hours and six minutes. It was better news for second seed Fiona Ferro, who booked her place in the quarter finals with a win over Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova.

Martincova retired when Ferro was up 6-2 4-1, and the Frenchwoman second seed joined fellow seeds, Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia in the quarter finals making it four French through to the last eight. The only other straight sets result yesterday was Danish teenager Clara Tauson who continued her run after defeating top seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, knocking off Hungary’s Timea Babos, 6-2 6-3 in 71 minutes.

Meanwhile elsewhere, Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic accounted for Belarusian Vera Lapko in a come-from-behind win 5-7 6-4 6-3, while Italian Camila Giorgi also came from a set down to defeat Serbian Nina Stojanovic, 2-6 6-1 7-6.


[2] Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [Q] Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-2 4-1 RET
[WC] Clara Burel (FRA) defeated [5] Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-1 1-6 6-3
Viktorija Golubic (SUI) defeated Vera Lapko (BLR) 5-7 6-4 6-3
[Q] Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 6-3
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 2-6 6-1 7-6

Picture credit: Getty Images