Tag: angelique kerber

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds storm to victory in Germany as Eastbourne faces rain delays

WITH the opening day of Eastbourne delayed due to rain, just the Bad Homburg event played out on Monday, as Day 2 rolled around fast.

All five of the day’s seeds proceeded to the second round, in a successful day for the tournament’s top talents. Top seed Petra Kvitova and fourth seed Angelique Kerber both drew qualifiers, with Kerber claiming the quickest win of the day, sweeping Russian Ekaterina Yashina 6-1 6-1 in just 50 minutes. On home turf, Kerber looked confident and comfortable.

“Of course, it’s a great feeling to win the first match, especially here in Bad Homburg, which is a really special tournament for me,” Kerber said. “To play in front of the home crowd, it’s always something I’m looking forward to and really excited [about]. “It was a good win for me, and I was feeling really well on the centre court tonight.”

But Kvitova had a much tougher time against Poland’s Katarzyna Piter, dropping the first set before firing in the second and holding on in the third to claim the 4-6 6-1 6-4 victory in just under two hours. The Czech was uncharacteristically error-ridden on serve, registering six double faults for 10 aces, but overall was more consistent on serve than her opposition winning 74 per cent of her first serve points.

“I felt kind of a mix of emotions,” Kvitova said post-match. “I was pretty happy to be back on the grass. “On the other hand, I thought I was probably going to play a little bit better. “It was my third hit after my injury, so I probably expected a little bit more from myself than I really showed today.”

“In the end I won, so that’s a pretty good result,” she added. “I found a few games where I really played good grass tennis, and that’s what I will have to take with me.”

Third seed Jessica Pegula was hard to stop in her matchup with Frenchwoman Amandine Hesse, claiming a speedy 6-1 6-2 win in just 65 minutes, followed closely by compatriot Ann Li who overcame German qualifier Anna Zaja 6-0 6-4 in 74 minutes. Meanwhile, eighth seed Laura Siegemund was tested all the way by lucky loser Riya Bhatia in her tour-level main draw debut, as the Indian fought hard through the 2-6 7-6(2) 6-1 clash. Despite Bhatia taking out the first set, Siegemund worked her way back into the contest to dominate the second set tiebreaker and used that momentum to see out the remainder of the two hour and eight-minute matchup. Seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo was similarly challenged by Italian Martina Trevisan dropping the second set but recovering well to claim the 6-4 3-6 6-2 result.

The remaining two matches also played out in three, with Frenchwoman Alize Cornet downing Arantxa Rus 6-3 2-6 6-1 in a seesawing battle, while Anna Blinkova was challenged by 18-year-old Clara Tauson, before claiming a 7-6(4) 4-6 6-2 victory in the longest matchup of the day, with the Russian requiring two hours and 16 minutes to shake off the Danish teen.

BAD HOMBURG OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Katarzyna Piter (POL) 4-6 6-1 6-4
[3] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Amandine Hesse (FRA) 6-1 6-2
[4] Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Ekaterina Yashina (RUS) 6-1 6-1
[7] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-2
[8] Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Riya Bhatia (IND) 2-6 7-6 6-1
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-3 2-6 6-1
Ann Li (USA) defeated Anna Zaja (GER) 6-0 6-4
Anna Blinkova (RUS) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 7-6 4-6 6-2

 

Picture credit: Sportfoto Zimmer/Maurer

WTA Tour wrap: Azarenka wins battle of former number ones as Samsonova cracks Top 100

A SEED fell at each of the grass events overnight, with the WTA 500 tournament in Berlin seeing Karolina Pliskova go down in straight sets while at the 250 event in Birmingham Jelena Ostepenko competed hard to go down in three.

It was Jessica Pegula who took down Pliskova, overcoming the former world number one 7-5 6-2 credit to a consistent serve and plenty of hunt to claim a 75-minute victory over the Czech. The unseeded American fought hard throughout and was able to convert six of her nine break point opportunities, whilst also winning 59 per cent of her overall first serve points to steal early momentum out from under Pliskova.

Sixth and seventh seeds Garbine Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka had far more luck, with the former dominating against Kazakh Elena Rybakina in the longest clash of the day coming out to one hour and 42 minutes, 6-4 6-3. Whilst Rybakina threw everything she had at the Spaniard, including 11 aces, Muguruza was cleaner and more efficient on serve, also saving six of seven break points and converting four of her own. Azarenka only required 80 minutes to claim the win over fellow former world number one Angelique Kerber, the Belarusian was tested and almost taken to a third set during the 6-3 7-5 matchup.

“I always really enjoy our battles,” Azarenka said. “I always know that it’s going to be a battle, no matter what and I prepare myself for that – there is a certain preparation and motivation going into matches like that.

“[In the second set] I feel like I was coming back to what was working for me – some of the points I was falling off and not playing aggressive. Once I knew that I was stepping up a bit more consistently.”

Meanwhile Liudmila Samsonova has claimed an official maiden Top 100 berth as of next week, upsetting compatriot Veronika Kudermetova, 6-4 6-3. Samsonova did not face a break point, winning 88.5 per cent of her first serve points in a huge effort, with a solid 69.2 per cent second serve effort assisting in her pursuit.

At the Viking Classic in Birmingham, Ostapenko was overthrown by Czech Tereza Martincova in three, 7-6 4-6 6-2, with the Czech firing on all cylinders to register seven aces for zero double faults. In contrast, Ostapenko struggled to control her serve, registering nine double faults for one ace as Martincova controlled proceedings, not allowing Ostapenko to retain her second set momentum as the third loomed. Martincova will take on fourth seed Daria Kasatkina in the quarters, following the Russian’s 6-2 7-5 disposal of Marta Kostyuk. The second quarter final will play out between second seed Ons Jabeur and another unseeded Russian in Anastasia Potapova, after the two both claimed second round wins.

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-5 6-2
[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
[7] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-3 7-5
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-4 6-3

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-2 7-5
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated [5] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-6 4-6 6-2
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Teens impress as Rome final eight is revealed

THE final eight has been decided at the the WTA Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, with the draw evenly split for seeded and unseeded competitors following a couple of intriguing results, which saw two teenagers win their way through to the quarter finals.

The big upset of the day saw youngster Coco Gauff down in-form seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, striking while the iron was hot to clinch the 7-5 6-3 victory over the Belarusian who took home the Madrid trophy just last week.

“It’s one of those matches that for me as a fan, if I were to be able to watch myself play, that would be a match that I would want to watch,” Gauff said. “Because you know we’re going to bring everything we have from the beginning to the end. She brings the intensity on the court from the first point. I have to make sure that I manage that and bring even more intensity. I think you feel it the whole match.”

The 17-year-old American continues to impress on the big stage and this matchup was no different, winning 72 per cent of her first serve points off a 61 per cent clip, also saving four of five break points and converting four of nine chances herself.

“Now I really am trying to enjoy the pressure, enjoy the moment,” she said. “Today I definitely said to myself I’m really having fun out there, even though it was 6-5, 5-all in the first set, which is stressful. I think I have to make sure I enjoy those moments in the matches, because later on in life I’m probably going to wish I could come back to this moment and experience it again. I’m going to enjoy these moments while they’re happening.”

15th seed and 19-year-old Iga Swiatek joins Gauff in the quarters, following a tough encounter with Czech talent Barbora Krejcikova. Whilst it was not pretty, Swiatek was proud of how she battled through her own inconsistency and fluctuating game to come out on top with the 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory in two hours and 50 minutes.

“I just had a tough day mentally,” Swiatek said post-match. “It was hard for me to be positive. I’m really happy I could win that, I could turn the score around. Usually in this situation I was the kind of person that was kind of giving up mentally. Today, even though I wasn’t feeling completely perfect on court, I had some issues as well, I could manage with everything and just win points.”

“I had fun when I played dropshots because today I felt them really good. I asked myself a question, what would annoy me in that situation, so I tried to do that. So, yeah, sometimes it didn’t look pretty, but I’m happy that I could do that. One year ago I wouldn’t even come up with a solution like that. That’s a progress.”

The remaining three seeded victors of the day all skated through with straight sets wins, as top seed Ash Barty continues to bounce back well from her final loss to Sabalenka last week with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Russian Veronika Kudermetova, while both Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova proved too strong for their respective opposition in returnee Garbine Muguruza and Vera Zvonareva. 12th seed Muguruza has looked potent this week but was inefficient on serve, winning just 34.7 per cent of her total service points as fifth seed Svitolina reigned supreme.

In other games, Jelena Ostapenko ousted former champion Angelique Kerber in a two hour and 11-minute clash, 4-6 6-3 6-4, while Petra Martic won in three against Nadia Podoroska and Jessica Pegula claimed the quickest win of the day, with a one hour and 11-minute victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 16 RESULTS: 

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-3 6-3
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 7-5 6-3
[9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 7-5 6-3
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 3-6 7-6 7-5
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Petra Martic (SLO) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 3-6 6-1 6-2
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2 6-4

Picture credit: Paolo Bruno / Getty Images

WTA Tour wrap: No easy wins as seeds struggle in second round

IT was a horror day for the top seeds on Day 5 of the 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, as seven of the top talent fell including three of the top five. It was also a scrappy day for the United States, as just two of eight American competitors proceeded to the third round.

With so many huge outs on the day, it was the fall of Naomi OsakaSimona Halep and Sofia Kenin that had jaws dropping with the second, third and fourth seeds all unable to get wins on the board. While Osaka challenged unseeded American Jessica Pegula early on, she could not arrest back momentum and fell 7-6(2) 6-2 in just 87 minutes. Kenin has been in shaky form this year and has struggled to hit the height of her early 2020 form, something that was evident in her 6-1 6-4 loss to Czech Barbora Krejcikova. Meanwhile, former world number one Angelique Kerber got an easy look into the third round despite dropping the first set 1-6 to Halep, as the Romanian was forced to retire midway through the second set with a left calf injury – now confirmed to be a tear.

“In the first set I think my start was a little bit slow. I was not moving too good. I know that I have to move good against Simona, that the rallies are long. I was not serving actually too good in the first few service games on my serve,” Kerber said after the match.

“In the second set I knew, ‘Okay, now I have to fight for every ball, I have to move better, and maybe not overthink everything.’ Also not looking on the scoreboard. Just playing point by point. I was focusing more on my service game, because I start to play better in the second set. Then suddenly she called the trainer. I know that Simona is not calling trainers just like this.

“I knew, ‘Okay, something happened.’ But I really didn’t see the moment, so I don’t know what exactly happened in the moment. But, of course, I was feeling so bad with her, because this is not the way I would like to finish a tough match against also a friend on the other side.”

Eighth seed champion Serena Williams also had her tournament cut short by a rampaging Nadia Podoroska, who claimed her third career win over a top 10 player. Whilst Williams kept her guessing, Podoroska fought hard for the 7-6(6) 7-5 victory and claimed 52 per cent of the total points to claim the win.

“It’s special win. [To] play against her, it’s an honour for me. I saw her playing when I grew up, so it was a special match for me,” Podoroska said post-match.

“But most of all, I’m happy the way I played. I felt again comfortable on clay, on my game, and that’s most important for me. I think it was a very good match, high level. I knew that I have to play every point, fight for every ball. She didn’t play a tournament for a while, so I knew that maybe she did too many mistakes at the beginning or I have to push her to do them. But I think I played a great match.”

“It’s tough to have a first match on clay. It was definitely kind of good to go the distance and to try to be out there, but clearly I can do legions better,” Williams said.

“She has a good game, for sure, obviously. She’s very consistent. Overall, it was good for me to play such a clay court player on clay today, but it’s a little frustrating. But it’s all right. It is what it is.”

Petra KvitovaJennifer Brady and Maria Sakkari were the remaining three seeds to fall, with the second failing to take the court confirming a walkover prior, as the latter was downed by teenager Coco Gauff in a seesawing 6-1 1-6 6-1 affair. Meanwhile, top seed Ash Barty was joined by Elina SvitolinaAryna SabalenkaKarolina PliskovaGarbine Muguruza and Iga Swiatek in the next round, with three of the aforementioned names claiming wins over American talent.

The remaining winners on the day were Jelena OstapenkoPetra Martic and Veronika Kudermetova.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-4 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 7-6 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated [3] Simona Halep (ROM) 1-6 3-3 RET
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [4] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-1 6-4
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 2-6 6-3 6-4
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 7-5 6-1
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated [8] Serena Williams (USA) 7-6 7-5
[9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-2 6-3
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated [11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-4 3-6 6-4
[12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 2-6 6-0 7-5
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [13] Jennifer Brady (USA) W/O
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 7-5 6-1
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-1 1-6 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-2 7-6
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds struggle on clay in drizzly conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: 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

WTA Tour wrap: Halep cleans up in 56 minutes as seeds control proceedings

TWO seeds fell across a widely predictable day on the WTA Tour, with the two events seeing fairly convincing results across the board.

At the WTA 500 Porsche Tennis Gand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, four world top 10s all proceeded to the quarter finals, with world number two and top seed Simona Halep doing it in style with a 6-1 6-3 sweep of Czech Marketa Vondrousova in just 56 minutes. Vondrousova’s sixth seed compatriot Karolina Pliskova was the only player taken to three sets. Pliskova may have been tested early by Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, but retained control following a 7-6(6) first set deficit to claim the 6-7 6-4 6-3 victory.

Elina Svitolina overcame former world number one and German hopeful Angie Kerber to ensure she made the quarters, escaping the first set tiebreaker to speed through the second set and come away with the 7-6 6-3 victory. Things went even easier for fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka, overcoming another German in Anna-Lena Friedsam in 79 minutes, 6-4 6-2, hitting five aces apiece by controlling proceedings much better to command victory. The remaining match saw the only upset of the day in Germany, as Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova claimed entry into her maiden clay court quarter final, ousting eighth seed Belinda Bencic in the process. The Russian required 81 minutes to carve out her third top 20 win for 2021, hitting 12 aces in the final match of the day to seal the deal, 6-1 7-5.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROM) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-1 6-3
[4] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 7-6 6-3
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 6-4 6-2
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-7 6-4 6-3
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-1 7-5

 

Meanwhile, at the WTA 250 TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship in Istanbul, Turkey, top seed Elise Mertens remains in the hunt for the crown with another win on the board, this time over Swiss talent Viktorija Golubic, although she was certainly forced to fight for the upper hand in the 6-4 4-6 6-1 clash. The second set slip did not appear to worry Mertens though, as she got down to business to lock Golubic away in the third set. Mertens is joined by third seed Veronika Kudermetova in the quarter finals, following the Russian’s clean 6-4 6-3 sweep of Estonian hard-hitter Kaia Kanepi.

Fifth seed Czech Barbora Krejcikova was not quite so lucky though, well and truly overcome by Romanian Ana Bogdan who was relentless in the 6-3 6-3 victory. Whilst Krejcikova served at an excellent 80 per cent efficiency, she failed to really take control or win points off her service games which allowed Bogdan to find a look in and claim the win. The remaining match of the day saw unseeded duo Fiona Ferro and Vera Zvonareva go head-to-head, with the former taking out the win in an inefficient showing from both players. Ferro’s lesser errors paid off however, eventually running away with the 6-3 6-3 win in 89 minutes.

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-4 4-6 6-1
[3] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6-4 6-3
Ana Bogdan (ROM) defeated [5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-3 6-3
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-3 6-3

WTA Tour wrap: Kontaveit downs Kenin as Kostyuk and Konjuh clean up at Istanbul

ANOTHER fascinating day of action was had at both the WTA 500 event in Stuttgart, Germany and the WTA 250 event in Istanbul, Turkey, as the Round of 16 continued at both tournaments. Whilst seeds cleaned up the competition at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, it was a different story entirely at the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul, as both of the day’s seeds fell in intriguing results.

Sofia Kenin‘s shocking run of form has continued with another loss, this time to Anett Kontaveit. With just seven wins for the year, Kenin has failed to surpass the Round of 32 since prior to the Australian Open in early February. Conversely, Kontaveit has been fairly consistent and did that again in this encounter to sweep Kenin 7-5 6-4 in just over 90 minutes. Kenin was the only seed to fall on the day as first seed Ash Barty came out flying in her one hour and 24-minute matchup with German hopeful Laura Siegemund, overcoming a second set fight back to claim the 6-0 7-5 victory, though Siegemund’s compatriot and former world number one Angie Kerber was much more successful, cleaning up Georgian Ekaterine Gorgodze 6-2 6-2 for the quickest win of the day, requiring just 72 minutes.

Sixth and seventh seed Czech hard-hitters Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova both reigned supreme as a third Czech in Marketa Vondrousova joined the winners list following a victory over compatriot Marie Bouzkova. Whilst Vondrousova claimed a fairly quick victory in comparision, both Pliskova and Kvitova were taken to three sets by their opposition as German lucky loser Tamara Korpatsch well and truly gave world number nine Pliskova a run for her money in a 7-5 3-6 6-3 clash. Kvitova slumped in the second set before reclaiming momentum to take home a classy win over Maria Sakkari. The remaining win of the day went to Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who disposed of Stefanie Voegele in straight sets 6-4 7-5 to head into the quarter finals.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-0 7-5
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated [3] Sofia Kenin (USA) 7-5 6-4
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Tamara Korpatsch (GER) 7-5 3-6 6-3
[7] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-3 3-6 6-3
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-1 7-6
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Ekaterine Gorgodze (GEO) 6-2 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-4 7-5

 

Both Daria Kasatkina and Wang Qiang fell in straight sets during the Istanbul Round of 16, failing to really challenge their opposition as Marta Kostyuk and Ana Konjuh came out flying and did not back down. Whilst Kasatkina forced a comeback in the second set to Kostyuk, a sloppy error rate left her unable to take advantage of opportunities as she fell 6-3 7-5 in just over 90 minutes. For Wang, it was Konjuh’s continued intensity which left the Chinese eighth seed unable to compete, struggling to retain composure as Konjuh’s consistency proved valuable in the 6-1 6-4 scalp.

In the remaining three games, it took three sets for Katerina Siniakova to overcome Kristina Mladenovic in by far the day’s longest matchup, with the Czech requiring almost two and a half hours to claim the 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory. Whilst Mladenovic made a second set comeback, it was not enough as Siniakova remained composed to save 13 break points and claim seven to take out a controlled victory. Romanian Sorana Cirstea was challenged early by Russian Anastasia Potapova before earning a break in the second and riding out the 7-6(6) 6-4 victory, while Kaia Kanepi was the fifth winner of the day with a 6-4 6-4 sweep of Kazakh Zarina Diyas to claim the quickest win of the day in one hour and 19 minutes.

 

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated [4] Daria Kasatkina (SLO) 6-3 7-5
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated  [8] Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-1 6-4
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 3-6 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 7-6 6-4
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-4 6-4