Tag: andrea petkovic

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur makes history as Samsonova makes breakthrough

TWO huge results came to fruition overnight, as qualifier Liudmila Samsonova went all the way, claiming the Bett1Open WTA 500 title in Berlin, whilst Ons Jabeur made history at the WTA 250 Viking Classic Birmingham, becoming the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

For Jabeur, it was about “going for it” as much as making her third tour-level single final, overcoming Russian Daria Kasatkina 7-5 6-4. This is the second time the two have gone head-to-head in a final, with the first going the way of Kasatkina, as did their third clash at the 2016 Olympics.

“I knew I had to go for it, I had to win this title to at least breathe, and give an example,” Jabeur said on court. “There’s not a lot of Tunisian or Arabic players playing, so I hope this could inspire them, and I want to see more Arabic [players] and Tunisians playing with me on tour.”

“Last time we played was in Moscow, she won, and I was crying, it was a great battle,” Jabeur said. “I told her, ‘Can you please share some titles with me, at least, let me win my first WTA?'”

Jabeur won 74 per cent of her first serve points off just a 46.3 per cent clip, but made it work by utilising her second serve and converting five break point opportunities, as well as saving four of Kasatkina’s seven attempts.

“You know Dasha, you have to win every point you have,” Jabeur said. “I knew it was going to be difficult, but then when I lost my serve again, I just thought I’d continue focusing on breaking her again, just playing my game.”

In Berlin, Samsonova completed a huge week of upsets after coming through the qualifying stages to execute her 1-6 6-1 6-3 victory over fifth seed Belinda Bencic in on hour and 37 minutes. Whilst the Russian was shaky in the opening set, she fired up to reverse the 6-1 result in the second and maintained momentum throughout the remainder of the clash.

“It’s unbelievable,” Samsonova said post-match. “I didn’t expect it. I [did] dream it, but it’s amazing.”

Samsonova hit 28 winners for 15 unforced errors, with her 14 aces for six double faults playing a big role in her service game dominance. She won 80 per cent of her first serve points and backed up with a 51.6 per cent second serve winning rate, whilst also saving five of seven break points and converting four of eight attempts.

“I was so, so nervous today, even before the match, during the first set,” Samsonova said. “I said ‘Okay, let’s try to put more aggressive game.’ And it worked.”

“I was trying to continue to do my game, to try to be aggressive on the first shot, on my serve, on the return, and that was my focus,” Samsonova said.

Meanwhile in Germany, the Bad Homburg WTA 250 event began with seven matches playing out on the opening day, with fifth seed Nadia Podoroska cleaning up her opposition as sixth seed Sorana Cirstea was dealt the first upset by home hopefuly Andrea Petkovic. Amanda Anisimova executed a 50-minute victory as Misaki Doi followed suit in 58 minutes, whilst German Tamara Korpatsch claimed the lone three-setter of the day, a huge two hour and three minute victory over Rebecca Peterson, while in other games, Patricia Maria Tig and Katerina Siniakova both earned first round wins.

BETT1OPEN FINAL RESULT:

Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated [5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 1-6 6-1 6-3

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM FINAL RESULT:

[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-5 6-4

BAD HOMBURG ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Mara Guth (GER) 6-0 6-3
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated [6] Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 6-4
Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Anna Danilina (KAZ) 6-2 6-2
Tamara Korpatsch (GER) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 7-5 2-6 7-6
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-2 6-1
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-3 6-2
Patricia Maria tip (ROU) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 7-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: Getty Images for LTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Suarez Navarro makes return, Kvitova pulls out

DAY 3 of the 2021 Roland Garros women’s draw produced some huge result, as Carla Suarez Navarro made her triumphant return to tennis following cancer treatment, while Ash Barty was tested in her opening round clash and Petra Kvitova pulled out ahead of her second round matchup with an ankle injury.

“Unfortunately, after an MRI and much discussion with my team, I have made the tough decision that it would be unwise to play on it,” Kvitova confirmed on social media. “It’s incredibly bad luck, but I will stay strong and do my best to recover in time for the grass-court season.”

Suarez Navarro put up an impressive fight against Sloane Stephens in her first outing for the year since undergoing treatment, but despite an excellent first set was unable to complete a victory as the American fought hard in the second and third to take out the 3-6 7-6 6-4 win.

“Was a long time, really tough moments, tough months,” Suárez Navarro said. “But, well, every time I had on my mind that I want to be here, I want to come back. Roland Garros is one of my favourite tournaments, so [it was] really clear that my first tournament will be this one.”

“I tried to prepare myself for my best tennis that I can,” Suárez Navarro said. “Obviously I need more time, but I think I had a good time this week practicing, I have good level in my match. Of course I feel tired at the end. I know that if I don’t close the match in two sets, it will be so difficult for me. But I’m really proud, too, of myself and really happy to have the chance to play here one last time.”

“She’s a great player, so she obviously is going to come out and play some really good tennis,” Stephens said. “I thought she played her normal Carla tennis, up on the baseline with that one-handed backhand. I thought she played like she normally does. She brought it to me today, and I thought she played a great match.”

“Obviously she’s been through a lot and we’re all happy that she’s better and healthy and being able to play again, which I think obviously is the most important thing.

“We all love her and love having her around.”

No seeds fell on the day, however it was a close shave for two with world number one Barty taken to three by American Bernarda Pera, and requiring medical attention between the second and third sets, while Karolina Muchova suffered a slump in the first before dominating the remainder of her three setter with Andrea Petkovic.

“It’s so special to be back. I was disappointed not to be able to play last year, but this court is incredible for me, it’s very close to my heart and it’s very nice to be able to play here in front of fans,” Barty said post-match.

“You can’t win a match if you give up, so today was about going out there and not giving up.”

Barty required two hours flat to shake Pera in a 6-4 3-6 6-2 result, with her excellent unforced error count (25-49) paving the way despite Pera dominating the winner count 36-18.

“I think every match that I play in, every different experience, whether it’s an opponent or a physical challenge, I feel like you learn to overcome it and you learn to accept it,” she said.

“That was a massive part of today, was accepting the fact that, yes, I may not be absolutely 100 per cent but I’m certainly good enough to go out there and fight and do the best I can and give myself a chance to win matches.”

All the remaining seeds proceeded to the second round, with Elina SvitolinaKarolina Pliskova, Jennifer Brady and Maria Sakkari leading the pack, while a couple of top 30 talents in young gun Coco Gauff and Tunisian Ons Jabeur trail and 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova downed Venus Williams in 56 minutes.

Plenty of exciting talent also heads into the second round, as two more Americans in Ann Li and qualifier Varvara Lapchenko, as well as a couple of Frenchwomen in Fiona Ferro and Kristina Mladenovic claimed wins, while Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna fell to compatriot Barbora Krejcikova, and a second Australian in Astra Sharma heads to the second round. The remaining winners on the final day of first round action were in-form Pole Magda Linette, Italian Jasmine Paolini and Chinese talent Wang Qiang.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-2
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [Q] Oceane Babel (FRA) 6-2 7-5
[9] Karolina Pliskova (UKR) defeated Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-5 6-4
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-3 6-3
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [Q] Katarina Zavatska (UKR) 6-4 6-1
[18] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 1-6 6-3 6-4
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [Q] Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 7-6 6-4
[25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 7-5 6-2
[32] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-3 6-1
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [Q] Liang En-Shuo (TPE) 6-1 1-6 6-4
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [Q] Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-4 6-0
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 3-6 7-6 6-4
Magda Linette (POL) defeated [WC] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 2-6 6-4 7-6
Ann Li (USA) defeated Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-0 6-1
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 5-7 6-4 6-2
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated [Q] Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-7 7-6 6-0
[WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated [Q] Irina Bara (ROU) 7-6 6-2
[Q] Varvara Lepchenko (USA) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Julien Crosnier/FFT

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.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[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.

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[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 Miami Open 1000: Trio of seeds downed in three sets as second round completed

THREE out of the four seeds defeated in the second round of the 2021 WTA Tour’s Miami Open 1000 event were knocked out in close contests, going down in three sets. Tenth seed Kiki Bertens was the highest ranked seed to fall, though she was incredibly disappointing yet again, continuing her poor 2021 form to lose 6-1 6-2 to Russian Liudmila Samsonova. The other seeds to be knocked out in tighter contests were 13th seed Jennifer Brady, 20th seed Petra Martic and 26th seed Yulia Putintseva.

Spanish talent Sara Sorribes Tormo proved too good for Australian Open finalist Brady, winning in a come-from-behind victory, 3-6 6-4 6-1. It was a similar story for both Russian Anna Kalinskaya and Serbian Nina Stojanovic, who also triumphed in three-set come-from-behind matches. Kalinskaya knocked off Martic 5-7 6-2 7-6, while Stojanovic took out Putintseva, 5-7 7-5 6-2. The quartet of unseeded players were the only ones to advance on the day, with the remaining matches won by the higher ranked seeds.

At the top of the list was second seed Naomi Osaka who saved set points in the first set to put away plucky Australian Ajla Tomlljanovic in the Japanese star’s first match since her Australian Open triumph. Osaka won 7-6 6-4 and managed to get it done in straight sets, whilst the previous Australian Open winner had it much tougher. Fourth seed Sofia Kenin needed three sets to overcome German Andrea Petkovic, dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, before running away with it 6-7 6-1 6-3. Anett Kontaveit also needed three sets in her win over Sorana Cirstea, while Ons Jabeur held off a determined Paula Badosa in the tightest contest of the day, 7-6 5-7 7-5 to advance through to the Round of 32.

“This is my first match since Australia, so I just really wanted to play well,” Osaka said post-match. “I kind of feel like I’m at home here, because I grew up [near here] for most of my life.”

The other seeds were able to get up in straight sets, with Karolina Pliskova having a confidence-boosting 6-1 6-1 thrashing over China’s Zheng Saisai, with Elena Rybakina, Elise Mertens and Maria Sakkari having similar one-sided results during their second round wins. Amanda Anisimova knocked off Sloane Stephens in the battle of the Americans 6-3 6-3, while Jessica Pegula joined Anisimova in the next round, with the American winning 6-3 6-4 over Australian Storm Sanders. In other results, Canadian Bianca Andreescu, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and Belgian Elise Mertens also all won to book their spots in the next round, in what was an entertaining day of play at Miami.

MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 7-6 6-4
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-7 6-1 6-3
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-2 6-1
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 7-6 6-0
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated [10] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-2 6-1
[12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Wang Xinyu (CHN) 6-4 6-1
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated [13] Jennifer Brady (USA) 3-6 6-4 6-1
[16] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated [20] Petra Martic (CRO) 5-7 6-2 7-6
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6-4 6-0
[22] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 4-6 6-3
[23] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-2 6-3
Nina Stojanovic (SRB) defeated [26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 5-7 7-5 6-2
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 7-6 5-7 7-5
[28] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-3 6-3
[29] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Storm Sanders (AUS) 6-3 6-4

WTA Miami Open 1000: Collins wins against Mladenovic as Latvian duo advance

IN a blockbuster second day at the WTA Miami Open 1000, the Round of 128 was completed with some interesting results. It was a real mix of winners, with some experienced players and some young guns winning through to the second round in an action-packed day. The first Round of 64 match was also decided – albeit without a ball being served – after Laura Siegemund withdrew from her clash against Belarusian 14th seed Victoria Azarenka.

In a number of three-set battles, Australian Storm Sanders overcame Italian Elizabetta Cocciaretto 6-1 5-7 6-1, while Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo won 6-2 2-6 7-5 against American Bernarda Pera. Also needing three sets for victory were Belarusian US Open quarter finalists Tsvetana Pironkova, winning against Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 7-6 3-6 6-3. Meanwhile Latvian Anastasija Sevastova toppled Serbian Olga Danilovic 6-1 3-6 7-6 as compatriot Jelena Ostapenko knocked off China’s Xiyu Wang, 6-4 6-7 6-1. Other three-set winners were Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, Brit Katie Boulter, Mexican Renata Zarazua, Slovakian Kristina Kucova and Chinese duo Qiang Wang and Saisai Zheng.

In more straightforward clashes, Liudmila Samsonova toppled Italian Camila Giorgi in straight sets 6-2 6-4, as Serbian Nina Stojanovic proved too strong for Great Britain’s Heather Watson, 6-4 6-1. Also marching through to the second round was Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia‘s rout of Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-1 6-2, whilst Tereza Martincova knocked off Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shevdova. The Czech won 6-4 6-2 in that encounter, joining Russian Anna Kalinskaya, Croatian Ana Konjuh and German Andrea Petkovic in the second round after straight set victories.

The highly anticipated match of the day was between American Danielle Collins and Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic who drew each other in blockbuster Round of 128 clash. It went the way of the former, with Collins getting up 6-3 6-3 to advance through to the Round of 64 in 82 minutes in an inspiring performance. She will need to back up with a match against Veronika Kudermetova tomorrow, as Kucova takes on top seed Ash Barty, Konjuh locks horns with Madison Keys, and Sevastova meets Coco Gauff in a huge day of action on the Grandstand Court tomorrow.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Storm Sanders (AUS) defeated Elizabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-1 5-7 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-7 6-4 6-2
Kristina Kucova (SVK) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-4 2-6 7-5
Tsvetana Pironkova (BLR) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 7-6 3-6 6-3
Nina Stojanovic (SRB) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-1 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Olga Danilovic (SRB) 6-1 3-6 7-6
Qiang Wang (CHN) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-1 3-6 6-3
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-4 6-2
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 2-6 6-2 6-1
Katie Boulter (GBR) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 4-6 6-3 6-3
Saisai Zheng (CHN) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 2-6 6-4 6-3
Renata Zarazua (MEX) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-4 4-6 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Xiyu Wang (CHN) 6-4 6-7 6-1
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated Irina Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-4 7-6
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-2 2-6 7-5
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 7-6 7-5
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated Shuai Zhang (CHN) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA 500 wraps: Seeds stumble in Yarra Valley Classic as Australians fall across the board

ON the opening day of the WTA Tour’s Summer Series in Australia, all bar one of the host nation’s players fell, while a couple of French seeds bowed out in the first round at the Yarra Valley Classic.

Kicking off the 2021 Summer Series in the Yarra Valley Classic, a couple of Americans in Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula both made life difficult for their French opponent’s Australian Open preparations. Rogers defeated 12th seed Fiona Ferro 6-2 7-5, while Pegula was too good for 15th seed Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-1. Only one of the three seeds on day one secured a spot in the second round, as 16th seed Czech Marie Bouzkova smashed local hope Sam Stosur, 6-2 6-0.

It was one of a number of Australians who fell across the day’s play with Kimberley Birrell, Lizette Cabrera and Maddison Inglis all losing out in first round encounters. Birrell and Inglis fell in straight sets to German Mona Barthel and Swede Rebecca Peterson respectively, whilst Cabrera pushed Russian Varvara Gracheva, but went down in three sets, 2-6 6-4 6-2. Other one-sided contests included Australia’s sole winner on day one, Daria Gavrilova, having a 6-2 6-0 smashing of Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova.

In other results, Ana Bogdan took care of Russian Kamila Rakhimova, Grand Slam winner Venus Williams proved too good for Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, fellow veteran Tsvetana Pironkova won over Liudmila Samsonova, and Anastasia Sevastova defeated American Madison Brengle in straight sets. In only one of two three-set matches, Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto came back from the brink after losing the first set 6-0 to China’s Lin Zhu, to win the second set, but then find herself down in the third, but bounced back to win 0-6 6-3 7-5 and advanced through to the Round of 32.

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [12] Fiona Ferro (FRA) 6-2 7-5
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [15] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[16] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-2 6-0
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-2 6-1
Venus Williams (USA) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-1 6-3
Mona Barthel (GER) defeated Kimberley Birrell (AUS) 7-5 6-3
Daria Gavrilova (AUS) defeated Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-2 6-0
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 2-6 6-4 6-2
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Maddison Inglis (AUS) 6-2 6-1
Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) 6-2 6-2
Anastasia Sevastova (LAT) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-2
Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) defeated Lin Zhu (CHN) 0-6 6-3 7-5

In the Gippsland Trophy which was also held in Melbourne Park, three of the four seeds got up to win their first round matches, but it was more disappointment for the home nation across the board, with the three Australians out on court losing their Round of 64 encounters.

Seeds, Jelena Ostapenko and Polona Hercog both recorded three-set wins over their respective opponents after slow starts, as the 13th seed Latvian toppled former Top 5 player Sara Errani 4-6 6-3 6-1, while Hercog knocked off Russian Margarita Gasparyan 2-6 6-3 6-3. Caroline Garcia became the only Frenchwoman to win across either tournament when she knocked off Australia’s Arina Rodionova 6-3 6-4, whilst Rodionova’s compatriots, Olivia Gadecki and Astra Sharma both went down in three-set losses.

Gadecki was brave against Bernarda Pera before losing 6-7 6-3 6-3 in a tight contest, while Sharma stunned Estonian Kaia Kanepi in the first set 6-1, before ultimately being overrun 1-6 7-5 6-2. In another three-set match, Irina-Camelia Begu came from behind to knock off China’s Saisai Zheng. The 11th seed won the first set 6-3, but Begu managed to get it back on her terms and hold off her Chinese opponent to win 3-6 7-5 6-4 in and impressive victory.

Other three-set winners included Slovenian Kava Juvan who knocked off China’s Yafan Wang, 4-6 6-1 6-4, while German Andrea Petkovic got over Italian Martina Trevisan, 6-1 3-6 7-5. Over to the straight set winners and Hungarian Timea Babos defeated Romania’s Patricia Tig, Anna Schmiedlova toppled Valeria Savinykh 6-1 6-3, Jasmine Paolini won a hard-fought tussle over Canada’s Rebecca Marino 7-6 6-3, while Daria Kasatkina and Danka Kovinic won comfortably against Mihaela Buzarnescu and Tamara Zidansek respectively.

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) defeated [11] Saisai Zheng (CHN) 3-6 7-5 6-4
[12] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-3 6-4
[13] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Sara Errani (ITA) 4-6 6-3 6-1
[15] Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 2-6 6-3 6-3
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated Yafan Wang (CHN) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Timea Babos (HUN) defeated Patricia Tig (ROU) 7-6 6-3
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-1 3-6 7-5
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Valeria Savinykh (RUS) 6-1 6-3
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Olivia Gadecki (AUS) 6-7 6-3 6-3
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 1-6 7-5 6-2
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated Rebecca Marino (CAN) 7-6 6-3
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-1 6-1
Danka Kovinic (MCE) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Getty Images

Hopman Cup hypothetical teams: Italy & Germany

ONE of the most unique tennis tournaments which features both ATP Tour and WTA Tour players is the Hopman Cup. Given the world circumstance and the fact it was already skipped on the eve of last year, it looks to be either delayed later in 2021, or perhaps at the turn of the New Year in 2022. However, in this new series we wanted to look at some hypothetical Hopman Cup teams and what they might look like if there was no COVID-19 pandemic, and if the famed mixed tournament did go ahead.

We continue the series with Italy and Germany who have some serious up-and-talent coming talent as well as some future stars who would be amongst the top teams in the hypothetical Hopman Cup competition.

Italy: Jannik Sinner & Camila Giorgi

This Italian team would have no shortage of players to pick from, particularly from the ATP Tour side, but it would be hard to look past Next Gen rising star Jannik Sinner fresh off his first ATP Tour title this year. The 19-year-old became the youngest winner on Tour when he took out the title in Sofia, which capped off his year at 19-11 after an 11-10 previous record on the ATP Tour. He would be the first choice to excite the crowd on the indoor hard courts, but that is not to take away from Top 10 player, Matteo Berrettini and fellow talent Fabio Fognini. Lorenzo Sonego who most famously destroyed Novak Djokovic in October, would be another astute choice, all of whom rank inside the Top 40.

From the WTA Tour, Camila Giorgi is the top ranked Italian and deserves the first-up crack if offered a spot at the Hopman Cup. While the women’s Tour does not have as many strong top-end talents as the ATP Tour for Italy, Giorgi is a solid player who reached the Top 30 at her best a couple of years ago and has won a couple of titles in her career. The 28-year-old is getting on in her career, with former Top 5 player Sara Errani also thereabouts. Italian teenager Elisabetta Cocciaretto might be a good shout if they wanted to blood a youngster, but she would be an exciting pick to team up with fellow 19-year-old Sinner.

Germany: Alexander Zverev & Angelique Kerber

With two genuine A-Graders at their best, Germany would be a formidable opponent in the Hopman Cup and there are no better choices than the two top ranked players on the Tours. Alexander Zverev would be the standout choice for the men’s spot, as an impressive indoor hard court player and the youngest of the Top 100 Germans at 23-years-old. Ranked seventh in the world and a US Open runner-up this year, Zverev took a step forward in terms of his Grand Slams performance and would start the season off strongly with a nice warm-up event at the hypothetical event. Others who might be considered are 36th ranked 30-year-old Jan-Lennard Struff and 66th ranked 26-year-old Dominik Koepfer.

The WTA Tour has some lower ranked options, which makes Angelique Kerber the standout choice. While the 32-year-old is in the twilight of her career, she is a proven performer at Grand Slam level. What makes the Zverev-Kerber pairing much more likely is that they competed in the 2019 event, so are happy to take to the court at the Hopman Cup. Outside of Kerber, the next three Germans are also 30-plus, with Laura Siegemund (50th, 32-year-old), Andrea Petkovic (102nd, 33) and Tatjana Maria (109th, 33) all having the experience against a wide variety of opponents.

Picture: Tennis World USA

2020 Libema Open fantasy tennis: Tsitsipas and Wawrinka fall at first hurdle

A COUPLE of huge upsets on day two of the Libema Open fantasy tennis tournament in both the men’s and women’s competitions have shaken up the draw going forward. Greek second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is out of the Open after falling to Frenchman Benoit Paire in three sets, 7-5 3-6 6-3. Also joining him on the list of outs is fourth seed Swiss talent, Stan Wawrinka who was certainly not Stan the Man in his defeat to Japan’s Kei Nishikori, 6-3 6-4.

The other two seeds to join the Libema Open for their first match of the week won through, with number one seed Roger Federer having to shake off a determined Borna Coric to win 6-4 2-6 6-1. Third seed Belgian David Goffin got up over American Taylor Fritz in a more commanding 6-4 6-1 victory. The only other seed to fall in the men’s draw was sixth seed Brit Andy Murray who bowed out to South African qualifier Kevin Anderson, 6-3 4-6 6-3.

The three lower ranked seeds all made it through in three tight sets, with Chilean Cristian Garin, Australian Alex de Minaur and Brit Daniel Evans booking a spot in the quarter finals. They knocked off French duo Ugo Humbert and Jeremy Chardy, and Italian Andreas Seppi to make their way through to the final eight, but not without a challenge, including both de Minaur and Evans falling a set behind before bouncing back to win in three.

The quarter finals sees Evans matched up against top seed Federer, Goffin taking on Anderson, Garin facing Nishikori and de Minaur going head-to-head with Paire.

ATP ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Borna Coric (CRO) 6-4 2-6 6-1
Benoit Paire (FRA) defeated [2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 7-5 3-6 6-3
[3] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-4 6-1
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [4] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-3 6-4
[5] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4 4-6 6-4
[Q] Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated [6] Andy Murray (GBR) 6-3 4-6 6-3
[7] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 3-6 6-4 7-5
[8] Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Andreas Seppi (ITA) 5-7 6-1 6-1

In the women’s action, the second seed also fell in the Round of 16, with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka bowing out in straight sets to German Angelique Kerber, 6-4 6-3. The German star moved through to the quarter finals, joining Kristyna Pliskova as the other unseeded player to topple a seed on day two. Pliskova got past fifth seed Elise Mertens in a come-from-behind win 2-6 6-2 6-3 to join her sister in the next stage.

Karolina Pliskova did not have too much trouble disposing of another Belarusian in Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka, 6-1 6-4, while third seed Kiki Bertens continued her good run in her home tournament with an identical scoreline against unseeded American Kristi Ahn. Sixth seed Alison Riske and eighth seed Johanna Konta also made their way through to the final eight with straight sets wins over Ons Jabeur and Coco Gauff respectively.

In the final two matches, Russian Veronika Kudermetova defeated German wildcard Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-3, while Slovenian Polona Hercog got the better of another Russian in Ekaterina Alexandrova, also 6-2 6-3. In tomorrow’s quarter finals action, top seed Pliskova faces Kudermetova, while her sister matches up with Hercog. In the other quarter finals, Riske and Bertens go head-to-head in the match of the day, while Konta and Kerber looms as another massive clash.

WTA ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-1 6-4
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated [2] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 6-3
[3] Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated Kristie Ahn (USA) 6-1 6-4
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) defeated [5] Elise Mertens (BEL) 2-6 6-2 6-3
[6] Alison Riske (USA) defeated Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-4 7-6
[8] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 6-3 6-1
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [WC] Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-2 6-3
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2 6-3

2020 Libema Open fantasy tennis: Seeds mostly go to plan, with a couple of upsets on opening day

THERE were no major shocks in the ATP Libema Open, whilst six of the eight WTA seeds reached the second round in the WTA fantasy tennis tournament in s’Hertogenbosch. Of the day’s winners, the top three women dominated proceedings, whilst the highest seeded men largely had greater degree of difficulty to win.

In the ATP tournament, the four seeds in action all made it through to the Round of 16, with varying match lengths. Fifth seed Cristian Garin – fresh off a Roland Garros semi-final – was made to work for a Round of 16 spot against French wildcard, Corentin Moutet throughout a come-from-behind three-set win. Garin got up 5-7 6-3 6-4 to make his way through to the next round. It was a similar tale for Australian seventh seed Alex de Minaur who put a horror clay season behind him to knock off another Frenchman in Adrian Mannarino, 6-7 7-5 7-5.

The other two seeds had a bit of an easier time with sixth seed Brit Andy Murray taking out compatriot and qualifier Cameron Norrie 7-6 6-1, while the other British winner was Daniel Evans. The eighth seed got up over the in-form Aljaz Bedene 6-1 6-2 in just an hour and three minutes. Kyle Edmund could not beat his two highest ranked compatriots in the second round, bowing out to Frenchman Benoit Paire in three sets. It was a really busy day for France on the courts with eight Frenchmen featuring in all different matches. 

Joining Paire in the Round of 16 were Ugo Humbert and Jeremy Chardy who won in straight sets over the in-form Nicolas Jarry, and Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden both in straight sets. The news was not as positive for another qualifier in Pierre Hugues Herbert who bowed out to Borna Coric in three sets, while Richard Gasquet also bowed out to Andreas Seppi. Gregoire Barrere was another French casualty in Round 1, losing to Taylor Fritz 7-5 6-3. Other winners on the men’s side were South African qualifier Kevin Anderson and Japanese talent Kei Nishikori.

ATP ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [WC] Corentin Moutet (FRA) 5-7 6-3 6-4
[6] Andy Murray (GBR) defeated [Q] Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-6 6-1
[7] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-7 7-5 7-5
[8] Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-1 6-2
Borna Coric (CRO) defeated [Q] Pierre Hugues Herbert (FRA) 7-5 3-6 6-3
Andreas Seppi (ITA) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[Q] Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-4 4-6 7-6
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated [WC] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 6-3
Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 7-5 6-3
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [Q] Matthew Ebden (AUS) 6-4 7-6
Benoit Paire (FRA) defeated Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-3 5-7 7-6

In the women’s first round, there were not a great deal of surprises as the top three seeds completely destroyed their respective opponents. Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka and Kiki Bertens all cruised through to the Round of 16, dropping a combined four games between them. They left Slovakian Vikoria Kuzmova, and qualifiers, Jasmine Paolini and Greet Minnen in their wake by pushing through to the second round. Also through easily were sixth seed Alison Riske and eighth seed Johanna Konta who had impressive wins over Alison Van Uytvanck and Arantxa Rus respectively.

Belgium’s Elise Mertens had the toughest straight sets win of the seeded winners, holding off a determined Lesia Tsurenko to get up 7-5 6-4. The news was not as good for Kazakhstan duo Elena Rybakina and Yulia Putintseva. The pair can catch the same flight home after Rybakina lost in three sets to Slovenian Polona Hercog 3-6 7-6 6-4 in more than two and a half hours, while Putintseva lost to Russian Veronika Kudermetova 7-6 2-6 7-5.

Looking at the unseeded matches, German wildcard Andrea Petkovic turned around a shocking first set to overcome fellow wildcard, Australian Priscilla Hon 0-6 6-4 6-2. Grand Slam winner, Victoria Azarenka moved through to the Round of 16 courtesy of a victory over 2019 Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova, while her compatriot Aliaksandra Sasnovich went down to Kristyna Pliskova in straight sets, with the Czech joining her sister in the next stage. American duo, Kristie Ahn and Coco Gauff made it through to the Round of 16, as did Tunisian Ons Jabeur, Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova and German Angelique Kerber.

WTA ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-1 6-0
[2] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [Q] Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-1 6-0
[3] Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated [Q] Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-1 6-1
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated [4] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 3-6 7-6 6-4
[5] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 7-5 6-4
[6] Alison Riske (USA) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2 6-3
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [7] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 7-6 2-6 7-5
[8] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-2 6-2
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-1 6-4
[WC] Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated [WC] Priscilla Hon (AUS) 0-6 6-4 6-2
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-4 6-3
Kristie Ahn (USA) defeated [Q] Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 7-6 6-2
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [WC] Mona Barthel (GER) 7-6 6-4
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) defeated [WC] Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-2 6-3
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Yafan Wang (CHN) 6-2 6-7 6-3
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-4 2-6 6-4