Tag: ash barty

US Open shines light on WTA future stars

WHEN it comes to the WTA Tour, there is no doubt that youngsters are on their way up with plenty of developing talent showcasing their wares throughout the season so far. An all teenage grand slam final was seen for the first time since 1999 as Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu and Canada’s Leylah Fernandez faced off for the US Open title, so we take a look at how the WTA Tour’s young guns fared at the last grand slam of the 2021 calendar year.

Emma Raducanu

It is hard to skip past the incredible run of the 2021 US Open champion, with 18-year-old Raducanu showcasing just what she is capable of. Everyone seems to know the talented teen’s run to the final by now, but lets quickly skim through her US Open journey: firstly, the qualifiers – Raducanu overcame all three of her qualifying opposition, with her higher ranking and straight sets victories in the first two qualifying matches seeing her come into the third round against fourth seeded Mayar Sherif with plenty of confidence. Another straight sets win saw Raducanu head into the main draw, disposing of another qualifier in the process, before facing a string of top 50 players – #49 Zhang Shuai, who saw no change to her ranking following the event, then #41 Sara Sorribes Tormo (now #37) and then #43 Shelby Rogers (now #46). Raducanu then disposed of two seeds in Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari to reach the final, overcoming an old foe in Fernandez to earn the crown.

Leylah Fernandez

While Raducanu claimed the title, Fernandez had an even more star-studded lineup than the eventual winner making her US Open journey that much more intriguing. A guaranteed entry prior to the event due to her ranking, Fernandez entered with nothing to lose and everything to gain. A first round qualifier was easy pickings for the Canadian, denying Ana Konjuh a chance at proceeding, before surviving a tight second round clash with unseeded Kaia Kanepi. It was her third round that really got people talking though, losing the first set to Naomi Osaka before taking charge and overcoming the 2020 champion in outstanding form, before defeating three more seeds – and two top fives in Aryna Sabalenka and Elina Svitolina – to reach the final, all in three sets. While her luck and endurance seemingly ran out in the final, there is no doubting Fernandez’s run to the final was just as – if not more – impressive as Raducanu’s breakout weeks on tour.

Coco Gauff

The third teen in the event was Gauff, with it hard to believe that she is the youngest of the trio so far, having been a main fixture on the tour for a number of years now. Still only 17-years-old and remarkably consistent despite her age, Gauff sits at a career high world number 19 and is still the youngest player within the top 330 worldwide. Gauff has moved up from world number 23 prior to the US Open, and despite only making it to the second round – falling to compatriot and former champion Sloane Stephens – showcased yet again just what she is capable of when she and doubles partner Caty McNally made it all the way to the US Open doubles final. While Gauff and McNally were ultimately unsuccessful against veterans Sam Stosur and Zhang, the future is looking bright.

Of the remaining teen talents participating at the US Open, two made it to the second round before falling, with 19-year-old Clara Tauson disposing of 20-year-old Clara Burel in the first round before drawing world number one Ash Barty in the second round, while 19-year-old Colombian Maria Camila Osorio Serrano faced down Ons Jabeur in the second round and barely made a dint against the 20th seed Tunisian. A 19-year-old Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk did not make it further than the first round of the singles draw, but made it to the doubles Round of 16 in a solid feat.

In the US Open junior girls event, it was 17-year-old American Robin Montgomery who claimed the crown, defeating 17-year-old Belarusian Kristina Dmitruk 6-2 6-4. The left-hander was seeded seventh at the event with Dmitruk seeded sixth, with both stepping up to higher ITF junior rankings in the process. Montgomery became the sixth American junior girls US Open champion and also clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Ashlyn Krueger.

 

Picture credit: Pete Staples/USTA

WTA Tour wrap: Raducanu destroys Rogers, books quarters spot at US Open

IN the latest US Open women’s match in history Maria Sakkari walked away victorious from her Round of 16 clash with Bianca Andreescu following an epic three-set match. Sakkari could finally celebrate the win at 2:14am, cruising past the previous latest finishing time which was more than an hour earlier. The Greek 17th seed dug deep across two tiebreakers and some medical timeouts for a struggling Andreescu, to dump the sixth seed Canadian from the event she won two years prior.

In what was an incredible contest of not only shotmaking and power, but also resilience and composure, Sakkari finally put to bed the knock of closing out tight games. It did take her four match points in the final game of the match to secure the 6-7 7-6 6-3 victory, but she got up in three hours and 29 minutes. The more worrying sign was the perennially injured but incredibly talented Andreescu limping to the line, but never giving in, even earning a game point in the final game, before Sakkari rallied once more and a lob got the better of the Canadian on match point to send the Greek talent into the quarter finals.

The remaining three matches all went down in straight sets, but were very different in the way the final results read. For teenager Emma Raducanu, the next biggest British hope powered through Shelby Rogers in just 66 minutes, stunning the home crowd. Rogers, who overcame world number one Ash Barty two days prior, had no answers for the 18-year-old, who was calculated with 18 winners and only 14 unforced errors, whilst Rogers had 14 and 29. Raducanu also served the only three aces of the game, and won 64 and 50 per cent of her first and second serve points to control proceedings.

“It means a lot to have gone out there and to have performed,” Raducanu said post-match. “Shelby Rogers is an extremely experienced opponent, so I knew I would have to bring it today.

“To play on Ashe for the first time, it was a little bit of a nervy experience in the beginning. I was really proud of myself, how I managed to settle and regroup and find a level that at the end took me to the win.”

Now Raducanu will test herself against 11th seed Belinda Bencic, following the Swiss talent’s straight sets win over seventh seed Iga Swiatek. The 2020 Roland Garros champion pushed the lower ranked player in the first set, with the tiebreaker going all the way to 14-12 before Bencic could claim the win. The whole match lasted two hours and seven minutes despite being straight sets, with the final score 7-6 6-3. Bencic won 75 and 53 per cent of her first and second serve points compared to Swiatek’s 69 and 46 per cent, and hit two more winners, but two more unforced errors, in what was an incredibly tight game.

“I definitely had an idea what she was going to do, what her plan would be,” Bencic said post-match. “And also I was telling myself I improved a lot in certain areas of my game, which then makes the tactic for her a little bit different again. “And then she kind of had to adjust that mid-match. I was kind of prepared for this, so I’m happy that worked well.”

Meanwhile fourth seed Czech Karolina Pliskova took care of 14th seed Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, in a match that lasted 95 minutes. Pliskova is the second highest remaining player in the draw, and she won 7-5 6-4 over her opponent, with five more winners (24-19) and 10 less unforced errors (24-34). She also won 71 and 52 per cent of her first and second serve points from a 64 per cent serving efficiency, whilst breaking four times to two in the match.

“I’ve been playing so much tennis and I’ve been having so many wins lately in the last couple weeks, I think that kind of helps to relax more and just to enjoy a little bit more,” Pliskova said post-match. “Of course, the motivation is much higher. I think everything is kind of connected. I can somehow play more free, there is not so much pressure on me that I have to win because I played well the last couple weeks. I think this also kind of helped to play better tennis, if you are more relaxed and smile here and there.”

In tomorrow’s quarter fifth seed Elina Svitolina takes on Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez during the day session while second seed Aryna Sabalenka hopes to reach a US Open semi-final by defeating Roland Garros reigning champion Barbora Krejcikova in the night session.

US OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated [14] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-5 6-4
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [6] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-7 7-6 6-3
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated [7] Iga Swiatek (POL) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Emma Raducanu (GBR) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-2 6-1

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA Tour wrap: Barty falls in thriller as Raducanu joins teen brigade in second week

A HUGE Saturday of US Open women’s action saw upsets aplenty as the third round was completed, creating some intriguing matches to come.

The biggest upset of the day was arguably the three set epic between number one seed Ash Barty and American Shelby Rogers, who built off a huge home crowd to claim a come from behind victory. While Rogers took out the first set with relative ease, Barty fought back to well and truly steal momentum away in the second and looked the goods leading 5-2 in the third before the crowd rallied behind Rogers to steal away a huge 6-1 1-6 7-6(5) result.

“I think tonight going on the court I told myself I didn’t want to lose the same way I lost the last five times against her,” Rogers said. “I just tried to do things a little bit differently. In the first set I mixed in some high balls, I was super patient with her slice because she’s not going to miss one very often. I know that very well.”

“In the second and third, she definitely raised her level, as she does,” Rogers said. “I mean, she’s the No.1 player in the world for a reason. But I started wanting to hit the ball a little bit harder, find some winners if I could. That’s the tennis I like to play. That’s what she wants me to do. She wants to redirect and finesse me around the court, wait for me to miss.”

While Barty fired off 37 winners, she was undone by her 39 unforced errors and, especially late in the clash, struggled on serve with faults forcing her to rely on her second serve. Rogers also hit less winners than unforced errors, but the real difference came with just 20 unforced errors in comparison as she built throughout the clash.

“I think there are a few things tonight I’m happy to accept,” Barty said. “There are some things I’m disappointed in, without a doubt. In the end, I just didn’t quite have enough in the tank. I’ve left everything out on the court this year. It was no different tonight. I just didn’t quite have enough to get over the line, which is disappointing but we move on. I sleep well tonight knowing I gave everything I could; it just wasn’t quite enough.”

The other big oust of the day saw Emma Raducanu join the drove of 18-year-olds entering the second week, as the British teen disposed of in-form Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo in just one hour and 10 minutes, 6-0 6-1. Raducanu fired 23 winners and won 79 per cent of her first serve points throughout, efficiently and effectively navigating her way to victory and only dropping the single game 6-0 5-0 up in the second.

“I knew that Sara was an extremely difficult opponent, she’s going to make a lot of balls and not make many mistakes at all,” Raducanu said. “I knew I had to hit through her. I had to work so hard for every single point. Despite the score, there were a lot of deuce games that could have gone either way. I’m just really, really happy to be able to come through that.”

“Honestly, I think with the amount of matches I have played and the experience that I have accumulated in the last four, five weeks, my game is just getting better with each match.”

Meanwhile, the day’s six remaining seeds had little issue, with only seventh seeded Pole Iga Swiatek facing a third set to make it to the fourth round as 17th seed Maria Sakkari upset 10th seeded Czech Petra Kvitova. Swiatek required two hours and 17 minutes to claim a win over Estonian Anett Kontaveit, as the 28th seed pulled back the second set to take some control before the 20-year-old commanded the 6-3 4-6 6-3 win. She earned her first fourth round berth at the US Open in the process, something that the Pole says shows she is on the right path.

“That’s my first time in the fourth round of US Open, I’m pretty proud of that,” Swiatek said post-match. “We did a great job. Being in fourth round of all the Grand Slams this year, it shows that really I am going the right path.

“The match was exciting, was kind of stressful, really physical, because we had games when we had so many ad [points], so long, that I could feel that I’m getting more and more tired. But I knew that I’m well-prepared. I’m pretty happy actually I could for the first time show the tennis that I was playing on practices, that I was working on.”

“I’m trying to solve problems,” Swiatek added. “Sometimes like during a match against Fiona Ferro, when all the emotions come in, it’s pretty hard to see everything clearly. I’m glad that today I was in a different mindset and my head was more clear because I could actually solve problems. I think that was the reason I won that match.”

Sakkari, on the other hand, levelled her head-to-head with Kvitova to three-all with a 6-4 6-3 victory, and turned the tides following two recent losses to the Czech lefty. Sakkari only made 16 unforced errors to Kvitova’s 34, winning 89 per cent of her first serve points and backing up well on her second where required winning 83 per cent. Sakkari will take on 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in the fourth round, after the Canadian came away with an excellent 6-1 6-2 victory over Belgian Greet Minnen. Andreescu made short work of Minnen, continuing her run on the New York hard courts, which she has technically never faced a main draw US Open loss on after withdrawing from the 2020 event. Andreescu only leaked 11 unforced errors, controlling proceedings throughout to clinch the win in just 67 minutes. The 21-year-old said she is looking forward to a huge clash with Sakkari.

“She’s very powerful,” Andreescu said. “She serves very well. She moves well. She’s a fighter. But I’m also all those things, so it’s going to be good. I’m pumped.”

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova and 11th seed Belinda Bencic joined the winners list with respective 71 and 74-minute victories, as the in-form Czech in Pliskova disposed of another Australian in Ajla Tomljanovic, and Swiss talent Bencic sped past 23rd seeded American, Jessica Pegula. 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova overcame compatriot Varvara Grachevain straight sets to complete the day’s results.

US OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 6-2 1-6 7-6
[4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3 6-2
[6] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-1 6-2
[7] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [28] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 4-6 6-3
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [10] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-4 6-3
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated [23] Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-2 6-4
[14] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-1 6-4
Emma Raducanu (GBR) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-0 6-1

 

Picture credit: Pete Staples/USTA

WTA Tour wrap: Andreescu and Barty continue strong form

IT was a fairly comprehensive day for the US Open’s top seeds, as the Round of 64 came to a close with some intriguing results coming to light. Not only that, but yesterday’s delayed matchup was completed with 16th seed Angelique Kerber earning her third round berth, albeit a day later than expected.

It was a mostly successful day for the top talent as world number one Ash Barty continued her form as Karolina Pliskova and Iga Swiatek overcame deficits to claim wins in three sets. 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu and another grand slam champion in Petra Kvitova both also claimed second round wins in straight sets, with Andreescu one of the last results of the day and proving it was worth the wait, cleaning up American Lauren Davis 6-4 6-4.

“This match wasn’t easy at all,” Andreescu said on court. “There were a lot of close games. “There was just a point here and there that counted.

“I’m feeling very good out there. I think as the matches are progressing, I’m starting to feel my tennis more and more. “I haven’t had easy matches. “Even today I know was straight sets, but the games were very tight.

“What I’m very happy about mostly is my serving because I’ve been working a lot on that. “Also my movement on the court, I’ve been putting a lot of work in the gym and it’s really paying off.”

Barty fended off Danish teen Clara Tauson to earn her third round berth, overcoming Tauson’s second set fight back to claim an eventual 6-1 7-5 victory. The Australian fired off 11 aces for 33 winners and 26 unforced errors, winning a classy 80 per cent of points off her first serve in the process.

“Today was tricky, I think, to navigate through that second set and just trust myself and hit out,” Barty said. “Being able to respond straightaway was a big part of that match.”

“Just refocusing, and narrowing my focus, and remembering what I needed to do to win the match as opposed to getting flat and passive, where I was letting her control a little bit too much.”

Barty will face Shelby Rogers in the Round of 32 for the fifth time this season, after the American rallied from 1-4 down in the first to overcome Romanian Sorana Cirstea 7-5 6-2. Barty has won all four of their 2021 meetings, paving the way for an intriguing clash here. Elsewhere, Pliskova had it slightly tougher, firing off a whopping 24 aces against Amanda Anisimova but requiring two hours and 21 minutes to take down the American 75 6-7(5) 7-6(9). Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna managed to force a first set tiebreaker against Kvitova, but ultimately went down to the fellow left-handed Czech and 10th seed. Meanwhile, Swiatek overcame a shaky start to claim a 3-6 7-6(3) 6-0 victory over Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, cleaning up her act throughout to finish with 37 winners to 35 unforced errors overall.

“It was a tough match,” Swiatek said. “I think I didn’t start it properly, because I felt like I couldn’t properly feel my legs. “But it’s not the first time, so I’m trying to work on that. “In the second set, I loosened up a little bit, kind of changed tactics.”

Just two seeds fell on day four of action as Russian Varvara Gracheva overcame 24th seed Paula Badosa and Australian Ajla Tomljanovic downed Croatian Petra Martic, with Gracheva equaling her prior 2020 best at the event by making it to the third round, and Tomljanovic going one better than her four-time personal best (Round of 64). The day’s remaining five seeds had little issue though, as Belinda BencicMaria Sakkari, Jessica Pegula and Anett Kontaveit all went through in straight sets, as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova rounded out the group with a 6-2 5-7 6-2 victory over Anna Schmiedlova.

Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu is the youngest player remaining in the draw following Tauson’s and Coco Gauff‘s loss yesterday, disposing of Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-4. The talented teen hails from Great Britain and is yet to drop a set here after coming through qualifying, joining fellow 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez in the third round. Sara Sorribes Tormo and Greet Minnen round out the day’s list of winners, both claiming straight set victories to head into the Round of 32.

US OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-1 7-5
[4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 7-5 6-7 7-6
[6] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-4 6-4
[7] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 3-6 7-6 6-0
[10] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-1
[14] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-2 5-7 6-2
[16] Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-3 6-2
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
[23] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-3 6-2
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated [24] Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-4 6-4
[28] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-4 6-1
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated [30] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6 6-4
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-1 6-3
Emma Raducanu (GBR) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 6-4
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 7-5 6-2
Greet Minnen (BEL) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-4 6-4

 

Picture credit: Adam Glanzman/USTA

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds continue to star as Andreescu fights to remain

THE US Open women’s draw has already seen plenty of intriguing results shake up the competition, but once more it was the seeds that stepped up to the pressure with just two more joining Yulia Putintseva on the sidelines following the first round.

The likes of Ash BartyKarolina PliskovaIga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova had little issue getting over their first round opposition, with all four seeds proceeding in straight sets. Despite her number one seeding handing her a relatively low risk start to the event, Barty did not have it easy against former Russian finalist, Vera Zvonareva. The Australian sped through the first set but had to adjust in the second, eventually claiming the 6-1 7-6(7) result in just under 90 minutes.

“Obviously a tough one against Vera straight up,” Barty said. “She’s an experienced campaigner. She knows how to get herself into matches. I think all in all, adapting to conditions was a little bit slower than I probably would have liked [but] we’re through. We have another chance to improve on that in the next round.”

“I think when my back was against the wall late in that buster, I came up with some really good stuff,” Barty added. “That’s all we can ask is when your back is against the wall, you trust yourself, you go out there and pick your spots and hit them.”

Kvitova was just about unstoppable, flying through her 6-1 6-2 encounter with Polona Hercog in 61 minutes off the back of an 81 per cent win rate off her first serve. Compatriot Pliskova and Polish talent Swiatek both overcame American competitors in respective 6-3 6-4 results. Sixth seed Bianca Andreescu had a tougher time against Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, who did not relent throughout the entire 7-5 4-6 7-5 contest. A 73 per cent win rate off a 66 per cent clip did the trick though, as the Canadian fired off 40 winners and 36 unforced errors with plenty to improve on now she has that first match out of the way.

“I definitely haven’t had a lot of matches in but I feel very comfortable playing on this court,” Andreescu said post-match. “I’m able to go back to the feelings that I had in 2019 and that confidence a little bit more than other tournaments, maybe it’s the court, the tournament, all of that.

“I channeled a lot in the match and honestly, it was super, super close. It really came down to a couple of points. I just fought the hardest, honestly. It could have gone both ways.”

“She was playing incredible tennis,” Andreescu said. “She was getting to many balls, she was really putting the ball in the court, it was incredible. For me I just really wanted to step up my game and try to be better than that, kind of play her at her own game – not so much with rhythm, but with power – and I think that really helped.”

While Andreescu had to fight hard for her three set victory, she was the only seed to claim a win in three sets on the day with the remaining seeded competitors all proceeding in two. Seeds 11, 14 and 17 in Belinda BencicAnastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Maria Sakkari found themselves relatively unscathed, while moving into the 20’s it was Jessica Pegula (23rd seed), Paula Badosa (24th) and Anett Kontaveit (28th) who found their winning form. 30th seed Petra Martic was the remaining seeded winner on the day, disposing of Hungarian Dalma Galfi 6-3 6-2.

It was a different story for 22nd seed Karolina Muchova and 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova though, with Kudermetova falling in three to Romanian Sorana Cirstea, marginally losing the first set tiebreaker before latching onto that momentum to steal the second set away from Cirstea. But the Romanian stepped up from there on out, firing on all cylinders in the last to claim the 7-6(5) 3-6 6-0 victory. Meanwhile, Muchova was the only Czech to not make it through the day with a 6-2 7-6(3) loss to Sara Sorribes Tormo. The Spaniard may not have retained control throughout the entire clash, but was much more comfortable with just 14 unforced errors to Muchova’s 48. Kristyna Pliskova joined twin sister Karolina in the second round alongside Kvitova and Katerina Siniakova.

Straight set victories were the theme of the day, with just four more three-set victors in Greet MinnenVarvara GrachevaAnna Schmiedlova and Lauren Davis joining Andreescu and Cirstea on the three set winners list. Amanda Anisimova and Shelby Rogers joined Pegula and Davis on the day’s American winners list, with Rogers disposing of compatriot Madison Brengle, and the likes of Hailey Baptiste, Coco VandewegheAnn Li and Katie Volynets all missing out on a place in the Round of 64.

It was a battle between shared names and former junior number one ranking as 20-year-old Dane Clara Tauson overcame 18-year-old French talent Clara Burel, while 18-year-old Brit Emma Raducanu only required 78 minutes to dispose of Stefanie Voegele, 6-2 6-3. Raducanu is looking to press her case at her second grand slam, making her way through qualifiers to earn this Round of 64 position. Voegele’s compatriot Jil Teichmann continued her solid form to earn a second round berth while it was the opposite for Brit Katie Boulter who fell to Russian Liudmila Samsonova. The last two matches both featured Japanese talents, with Misaki Doi joining Naomi Osaka in the second round following a solid victory over Australian Storm Sanders, while Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro overcame Nao Hibino 6-1 6-4.

US OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS: 

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-1 7-6
[4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 6-3 6-4
[6] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 7-5 4-6 7-5
[7] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Jamie Loeb (USA) 6-3 6-4
[10] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-1 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-4 6-4
[14] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 6-4 6-2
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-4 6-3
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated [22] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 6-2 7-6
[23] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-2 6-2
[24] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-4 6-3
[28] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-3 6-0
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [29] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 3-6 6-0
[30] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Dalma Galfi (HUN) 6-3 6-2
Emma Raducanu (GBR) defeated Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-2 6-3
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4 6-3
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 7-5 6-2
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-0
Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) defeated Claire Liu (USA) 6-1 6-4
Greet Minnen (BEL) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-4 1-6 6-3
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-1 6-4
Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Storm Sanders (AUS) 7-6 6-3
Zhang Shuai (CHN) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-3 6-4
Martina Trevisan (ITA) defeated Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-1 7-5
Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated Clara Burel (FRA) 7-5 6-0
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Anna Sevastova (LAT) 7-6 6-3
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) 5-7 6-0 6-2
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-3 6-2
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Katie Volynets (USA) 6-3 6-1
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Ashlyn Krueger (USA) 7-5 6-7 6-3
Lauren Davis (USA) defeated Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) 6-2 2-6 6-3
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Cristina Bucsa (ESP) 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: Darren Carroll/USTA

US Open preview: Will there be a fourth grand slam champion in 2021?

LITTLE separates some top players from the next in line and the final grand slam on the tennis calendar will see them all come to blows, with an uncompromised US Open sure to set tongues wagging. With plenty of in-form players making the cut and some huge omissions from the ranks, we preview the ins and outs of the women’s draw and which players to watch.

A number of players return to the US Open this year after a year away, with Ash Barty the big headliner given she sat out of 2020 proceedings. The world number one is a deserving favourite here after clinching the Wimbledon trophy to go with four other 2021 titles, and even a first round Tokyo 2020 Olympics upset will not stop the consistent Australian from going far in the event. 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu also returns to the tournament for the first time since her breakthrough victory, but, like Barty, she has benefited off protected rankings throughout the coronavirus pandemic and has not quite reached her top level since returning to the tour this year. Simona Halep is looking to return to the top 10 rankings after dropping out for the first time in seven years through injury, while Sofia Kenin is the only current top 10 player sitting out of the 2021 event with a couple other notable names in Serena WilliamsVenus Williams and Wang Qiang also not taking part in the tournament.

Going off seeding, Barty and world number three Naomi Osaka are arguably the two players to beat, but as recent history has told, just about anyone within the top ranks is in with a viable chance. Second seed Aryna Sabalenka had an excellent start to the year but is still awaiting that grand slam breakthrough, so if she makes it deep into the draw she could prove hard to stop. Osaka is the defending champion and an undeniable star, but occasionally lacks consistency under media or self-induced pressure. Rounding out the top five are a couple on in-form players in Karolina Pliskova – who fell to Barty at Wimbledon and is yet to clinch a title in 2021 – and Elina Svitolina, who won her first title for the year on the weekend via a wildcard entry to the Chicago Women’s Open. Andreescu, 20-year-old Iga SwiatekBarbora KrejcikovaGarbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova complete the top 10, with Swiatek and Krejcikova most likely to be the top challengers amongst that group purely based on consistency and explosiveness. Barty, Osaka and Krejcikova all have a grand slam title apiece this year, making for an intriguing event as all three vie for a second major trophy.

Of the major challengers, the big players to look out for are the Americans with plenty of depth and ability to go far in major events. Jennifer Brady is the highest ranked American coming in as 13th seed, with Coco Gauff (21st), Jessica Pegula (23rd), Danielle Collins (26th) all hard to stop when they are on song. Factor in the amount of homegrown talent that has stepped up to the plate in recent weeks leading into the event, and it is hard to look past the Americans on the hard courts, especially with so many of them – 23 in fact – lining up for first round berths this week.

Further down the list but still capable of creating upsets are Australian Ajla Tomljanovic whose powerful serve sees her challenge top seeds, and Anett Kontaveit who has lacked a little consistency but claimed her second career title on the weekend in Cleveland so has the form behind her. A number of lower ranked players have consistent game time behind them which top tier players lack during an interrupted season, with Camila Giorgi and Collins a couple who will benefit here with great winning form this season, while Mayar Sherif will want to continue her history-making run and Carla Suarez-Navarro shapes up for her final grand slam after announcing her imminent retirement at the beginning of the season.

 

Picture credit: Andrew Ong/USTA

WTA Tour: Barty takes out W&S Open title as 250s get underway

ASH Barty has looked the goods this week in Cincinnati following a surprise loss at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and did not show an ounce of nerves as she blasted past giant-killing wildcard Jil Teichmann, 6-3 6-1 to claim the 2021 Western and Southern Open trophy.

A tight start to the first set saw neither player give an inch and very little chance to break serve with only minor errors giving points away. But it was the world number one who was able to break first, leading 4-3 and not stopping there as she wrapped up the first set. Barty then raced away to a 5-0 lead in the second before Teichmann was able to recover a game back, breaking the Australian on serve before Barty recovered to clinch the victory. As such, Barty became the first Australian to clinch the title in 48 years.

Teichmann had the run of her career to make it to the final, but the world number one was relentless, putting a stop to the Swiss’ momentous 4-0 run against top 10 players. With eight aces to her name, 28 winners and a clean 85.7 per cent win rate off her first serve, Barty never looked like slowing and only faced two break points throughout – saving one, and only broken towards the end of the match. While Teichmann registered just five more unforced errors, she hit just 12 winners.

“Today against Jil, I feel like I was able to really trust myself and play with confidence, get after the ball, be aggressive and get a bit of a run on, which was going to be important in a big final,” Barty said. “I think we’re just excited that we’ve got matches under our belt in tough conditions here in Cincy, and that’s put us in really good stead going into New York.”

This trophy makes it five titles for Barty in 2021, who will now have a week off ahead of the US Open starting on August 30.

“Our practice weeks before Grand Slams are quite normal,” Barty said. “There is nothing fancy, no extra emphasis on anything. It’s just gauged by how I’m feeling physically, how I’m feeling mentally, and we have had a lot of practice now as a team in being able to read each other and what we think is required, and then it’s about going out there for the first round, whether it’s the Monday or Tuesday, and try to do the best that I can. That’s all I can ask of myself.”

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [WC] Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3 6-1

 

Elsewhere, a couple of WTA 250 events in the Tennis in the Land and Chicago Women’s Open got underway, with the first day of Round of 32 action shaping up. In Cleveland, the Tennis in the Land tournament saw just three matches play out with the big upset  of the day seeing third seed Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova fall to Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu. Fifth seed Nadia Podoroska had little issues taking down American Bernarda Pera, whilst the final clash saw Pera’s compatriot Caty McNally outlast a tough Anna Danilina in three, requiring just over two and a half hours to dispose of the Kazakh 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4.

In Chicago, seeded results were similar with a loss going the way of fourth seed Slovenian Tamara Zidansek who fell in three to Russian Varvara Gracheva, while eighth seed Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk required just 77 minutes to claim a  6-0 6-3 victory over Canadian wildcard Katherine Sebov. In other games, Jasmine PaoliniKaia Kanepi and Francoise Abanda earned a second round berth, with the remaining clash between Rebecca Peterson and Marie Bouzkova suspended.

TENNIS IN THE LAND ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) defeated [3] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-6 6-3
[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-2 6-4
Caty McNally (USA) defeated Anna Danilina (KAZ) 7-6 5-7 6-4

CHICAGO WOMEN’S OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated [4] Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-3 1-6 6-2
[8] Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Katherine Sebov (CAN) 6-0 6-3
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Anna Kalinina (UKR) 3-6 6-2 7-5
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-4 6-2
Francoise Abanda (CAN) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4 6-2
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) leads Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 7-6 0-1 SUSP

 

Picture credit: Getty Images / Dylan Buell

WTA Tour wrap: Teichmann continues remarkable run, looks to crash Barty Party in Cincinnati final

WORLD number 76, Swiss 24-year-old Jil Teichmann has continued her outstanding run at the 2021 Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to book a spot in her maiden WTA Tour 1000 final. The rising talent has two previous career titles, but has not risen inside the Top 40 to-date. That will change if she can cause a monumental upset against world number one Ash Barty in tomorrow’s women’s singles final.

Teichmann took care of fifth seed Karolina Pliskova to stop a potential Wimbledon final rematch between the Czech and Barty, winning her semi-final in an hour and 22 minutes, Teichmann won 6-2 6-4 to book her spot in the final, winning 69.8 and 59.1 per cent of her first and second serve points respectively, doing it off a 66.2 per cent clip. She also served double the aces that Pliskova did (8-4), and broke four times from nine chances, compared to Pliskova’s one from seven.

“I think I served really good, as did she,” Teichmann said post-match. “Especially in the beginning, I was trying to return, somehow get into the rally. I felt as well very good in the rally, and I think that’s where I made the difference.”

Coming into Cincinnati, Teichmann had won just one of her past seven matches and two of her past 10 after a ripping February. The Swiss talent reached a quarter final in the Phillip Island Trophy, and semi-finals at the Adelaide International and Dubai Tennis Championships, but fell one short of reaching the Dubai final – a 1000 event – which she has now achieved. In the past week she has knocked off world number two Naomi Osaka, as well as Top 10 seeds in Belinda Bencic and Pliskova, only dropping one set – to Osaka – along the way.

“I have been working a lot on many different aspects,” Teichmann said. “Mentally I have been working [on] my strokes. I have been working physically, as I mentioned already the past few days. I have had injuries, so I had to work a lot physically, as well. Long weeks, long hours. I guess just the positives getting together right now this week.”

In a more predictable result, Barty defeated German Angelique Kerber in straight sets, having to work hard in the second, before posting a 6-2 7-5 victory in an hour and 14 minutes. Whilst the Australian’s serve can be inconsistent at times, Barty put down 12 aces to one, and won a massive 75 per cent of her first serve points. Whilst Kerber was more efficient with her serve (64.3 to 56.3 per cent), she struggled off her second serve (25 per cent) and could only break Barty twice, as the Australian broke Kerber five times.

Barty was still critical of her second set, where Kerber almost got a look in, but she was able to steady.

“I didn’t feel like I did a lot wrong. In the games at 2-0 and 2-1, I felt the overhead, the ball just kept coming and kept coming with the wind and I got a little bit stuck under it. Angie came up with some really good stuff and tough points through that period. Even the same, at 2-2, I felt like I was able to set up points well and then missed the execution with the last little bit,” Barty said post-match.

“That was frustrating me, because I knew that Angie was lifting and I needed to go with her, and not being able to execute the points when I had set them up the way that I wanted to was frustrating. “Being able to get that momentum back with the break straight away, then it was a bit of a tug of war. “I felt like I was able to build pressure on Angie’s games, but we both did a good job of getting out of some tough holds late in that second set.

“I think in the end, with the new balls, just being a little bit more aggressive and taking it on a bit more and trusting myself to actually get after it, and in a way accept if I was going to miss I was going to miss in the right way. I think that, in the end of the second set, was big.”

Already in 2021 the world number one has four singles titles – including her Wimbledon Grand Slam – and is firmly in pole position to retain the number one mantle for yet another year. With a win against Teichmann in the final, Barty would move her total wins to 40 in the 2021 season, and her career singles titles to 13 in a remarkable effort. The Australian has also managed to put her disappointment in the singles event at the Olympics behind her to reach the WTA 1000 final. Her opponent was looking forward to the clash.

“To me, it’s perfect,” Teichmann said. “Playing Center Court against the world number one in a final, it’s perfect. It’s a really nice challenge, and I’ll go for it.”

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-2 7-5
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [5] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-2 6-4

 

Picture credit: WTA Tour

WTA Tour wrap: Retirements close out quarters quickly as Barty Party maintains rage

TWO retirements marred the quarter finals of the Western and Southern Open women’s draw, with only two matches fully completed. It was a shorter day for Czech seeds Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, with Pliskova winning against an injured Paul Badosa, as a stomach issue forced Kvitova out of the WTA Tour 1000 event. German Angelique Kerber made her way into the semis by Kvitova’s withdrawal, to face world number one Ash Barty, as unseeded Swiss talent Jil Teichmann upset a higher ranked compatriot.

The Kerber-Kvitova clash lasted a set and a half before the 11th seeded Czech had to retire, as the German was leading at the time 6-4 3-3 following an hour and 18 minutes of action. Kerber won 70.3 per cent of her first serve points off an impressive 69.8 per cent serving efficiency, whilst only being broken once. She broke Kvitova twice during the match, and in the end held off the seed long enough before Kvitova eventually had to pull the pin and hand Kerber a semi-finals spot.

Kerber will now face Barty in the semis after the Australian top seed defeated another Czech in Barbora Krejcikova. In a battle of two of the last three Roland Garros champions, Barty made light work of the ninth seed, winning 6-2 6-4 in 71 minutes on court. Barty served seven aces to two and only dropped four points off her first serve. She was inefficient on serve with just a 52.1 per cent clip, but was only broken once and instead broke Krejcikova four times during the match.

“Angie, she’s never been far off her best,” Barty said post-match of Kerber’s form. “She never is. “Even on some days where she’s not having or playing her best tennis, she finds a way to scrap and fight and stay in matches and give herself an opportunity. “She’s one of the best competitors in the world. “She knows how to play big tournaments, knows how to play big matches.

“She’s really locked down into the Angie of old, I think, in a sense where she’s confident, she’s aggressive, but she’s able to run and to move and put the ball in tricky spots, to not let you dictate too much. “That’s a challenge of when you play against Angie – you have to ride a fine line of not pressing too much, but not being too defensive where she can move you around the court. ”

The sole Czech to win on the day was Pliskova who took home the victory courtesy of Badosa’s retirement early in the second set. By that stage the fifth seed was leading 7-5 2-0, with Badosa apologising for having to pull out due to a right shoulder injury. In the one-hour and 14-minute clash, Pliskova broke the unseeded Spaniard four times to two, and won 65.6 per cent of her first serve points, and served the only five aces of the match.

In the other match, Teichmann became the lowest ranked player into the final four, set for a big rankings boost after a straight sets win over compatriot and 10th seed Belinda Bencic. Teichmann was ruthless during the 71-minute 6-3 6-2 victory, advancing through to the next round to face Pliskova for a spot in the final. The world number 76 won 84.6 per cent of her first serve points off a 66.1 per cent clip, also saving five break opportunities for the 10th seed, whilst breaking three times from eight chances to post the win.

“We hugged before the match; we hugged after the match,” Teichmann said post-match. “We know that once we step on court it’s business, it’s just another player I have to deal with, and she had the same mindset. At the beginning it’s obviously a bit special, but once we’re in it, we just look at the game, not looking at the opponent, or at least I do that way.”

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [9] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-2 6-4
[5] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 7-5 2-0 RET
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-3 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated [11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-3 3-3 RET

 

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Teichmann downs Osaka as Czechs prevail

IT was almost a clean sweep from Czech competitors on a blockbuster day of Western and Southern Open action in Cincinnati, as three of the four Czechs registered wins, and a Swiss wildcard upset second seed Naomi Osaka.

Jil Teichmann completed the biggest win of her career with a come from behind victory over Naomi Osaka, snatching a 3-6 6-3 6-3 result from under the second seed’s nose. While Osaka flew out of the blocks to claim an early 3-0 lead in the first set, Teichmann played her own technical game creating increasingly longer rallies and utillised everything in her arsenal to put Osaka in uncomfortable positions on court.

“I knew she’s a very tough opponent. She’s a Grand Slam champion. I’m the underdog, so… my plan was to just play my game,” Teichmann said post-match. “I move very good, I change up everything I can – directions, height, everything – and I think she didn’t really feel very comfortable about it, and I served very good.”

“I started actually really bad, two breaks down. I did breaks on my own. I wasn’t serving good. I was doing unforced errors. So when I sat down after first set I was, like, ‘Okay, I started off bad, but I’m actually close.’ I didn’t really feel like she’s much better than me today right now.

Despite being 6-3 2-1 down in the second, Teichmann drew on her patches of momentum to clean up her unforced error rate and take her chances, resulting in an improved 29 unforced errors to Osaka’s 41, and also leading winners 21-17 and aces 8-6.

“Literally, I’m shaking right now. I’m very, very happy with this win. I’ve had a very tough year: I started very well and I’ve had many, many injuries. But I felt like I’ve had a good level and I’m happy it’s working out now,” she said.

The Swiss wildcard will take on compatriot Belinda Bencic next, after the 10th seed earned a straightforward look into the quarter finals following a mid-set retirement from Czech Karolina Muchova.

“I’m just like really, really happy for Swiss female tennis. We really need that. We are very good players, and we are showing it. It’s perfect, actually. It has been perfect,” Teichmann said. “It’s gonna be tough. But either way I’m ready. I’m gonna just enjoy the match. Obviously I’m going to go [and want] to win, but for sure, it’s going to be emotional either way.”

Muchova was the only Czech competitor to not proceed to the quarter finals, with all three Czech seeds claiming victories. Ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova continued her exception form this season with a topsy-turvy three-set win over eighth seed Garbine Muguruza, 6-1 6-7(5) 6-2, while fifth seed Karolina Pliskova downed in-form American Jessica Pegula 6-4 7-6(5), and Petra Kvitova blitzed past Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-1 6-2 in just 63 minutes.

World number one Ash Barty appears to have returned to her dominant winning ways, blasting past 2020 champion Victoria Azarenka 6-0 6-2 in just 71 minutes. Barty fired 25 winners and broke Azarenka five times throughout the clash, winning the first 10 games of the match before Azarenka was able to get on the board, dealing the Belarusian her heaviest loss since 2007.

Angelique Kerber and Paula Badosa complete the day’s winners list, joining Teichmann as the unseeded players remaining in the draw. Kerber overcame Jelena Ostapenko in a hard-fought 4-6 6-2 7-5 clash, impressing on serve winning 61 per cent of her overall service points. Badosa claimed an 85-minute victory over Kazakh Elena Rybakina, 6-2 7-6(5).

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [14] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-0 6-2
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 3-6 6-3 6-3
[5] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 7-6
[9] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [8] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-1 6-7 6-2
[10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Karolina Muchova (CZE) 7-5 2-1 RET
[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-1 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 4-6 6-2 7-5
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-2 7-6

 

Picture credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports