Tag: astra sharma

2021 Adelaide International: Qualifiers share spotlight as main draw takes the court

DAY 2 of the Adelaide International qualifying round saw the WTA 500 tournament’s main draw begin, with plenty of hotly contested matches on centre court during the first day of the official competition, as Anastasija Sevastova, Wang QiangShelby Rogers and Danielle Collins headed into the Round of 16 with relative ease.

Sevastova was the first to win through to the Round of 16, defeating Caroline Garcia in 81 minutes 6-2 6-4. It was a solid first serve efficiency that saw the Latvian take out the victory, winning 65 per cent of first serve points off a 72.7 per cent clip, controlling the match despite the Frenchwoman fighting back in the second. A game-for-game first set between eighth seed Wang and wildcard Olivia Gadecki – who sits barely within the top 400 at 399th in the world – drew plenty of eyes as the Australian challenged Wang, before the Chinese talent ran away with the second set and eventual victory with her ability to win off her first serve paying dividends with an effectiveness of close to 88 per cent.

On the first and second show courts, it was the underdogs that showcased their form as the likes of Storm Sanders and Liudmila Samsonova reigned supreme and headed into the main draw. Sanders had an excellent outing against American Caty McNally, downing the ninth seed in 75 minute 6-2 6-3. Whilst not as huge a scalp as Sanders’ victory – ranking 292nd in the world to McNally’s 118th – 10th seed and 117th ranked Samsonova got the chocolates over Japanese fifth seed and world number 86 Misaki Doi, 7-6 6-3. Meanwhile, an excellent showing from Latvian Kaja Juvan saw the 20-year-old speed away to an early lead, before 16-year-old top seed Coco Gauff clapped back midway through the second to force a deciding set after a huge come from behind effort, eventually winning 3-6 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes.

A mammoth effort from Maddison Inglis saw the Australian join the winners list with an excellent outing against third seed Christina McHale. Whilst the American seemed to have all proceedings going her way early, a stellar comeback across the second and third sets handed Inglis her entry into the main draw and a chance at her maiden WTA Tour win. With a 65.6 per cent win rate on her first serve off a 78 per cent clip, Inglis was far more effective on serve and utilised her service speed to knock off the world number 85, 4-6 6-2 6-1 in just under two hours.

The remaining two Round of 32 encounters saw a fired-up Rogers fly through the first set against Veronika Kudermetova, before the Russian bit back in the second to force a tiebreaker but unable to rein in the American, as Rogers’ compatriot Collins downed Zheng Saisai and Madison Brengle won through to the main draw alongside Italian Jasmine Paolini.

2021 Adelaide International: Day 1 of qualifiers sees Americans and Aussies dominate

THE Adelaide International qualifying rounds have begun, with a flurry of American and Australian competitors taking the court in South Australia and at least one player from each of the two nations playing in each match. They combined for eight of the 12 winners on the day, including top seed youngster Coco Gauff and unseeded wildcard Storm Sanders, who disposed of second seed American Bernarda Pera in three sets.

In an interesting stat, the top four seeds all hailed from the United States, with just Pera falling from that group. Gauff was clinical in her encounter with Great Britain’s Francesca Jones, disposing of the Brit in 64 minutes and joined by Madison BrengleChristina McHale and Caty McNally on the winners list. Also hailing from the United States but falling in the first round was Asia Muhammad, who stole the first set from Italian Jasmine Paolini but eventually fell in the lone two-plus hour encounters of the day, going down to the sixth seed 4-6 6-3 7-6.

Heading to the Australian winners, and it was Maddison InglisAstra Sharma and Ellen Perez who joined Sanders in the second round, with Inglis knocking compatriot Belinda Woolcock out of the running. Destanee AiavaArina RodionovaLizette CabreraIvana Popovic and Kimberly Birrell will all remain on the sidelines on home soil, unlucky to all draw seeds. Sanders and Sharma impressed with their three set victories over Pera and Lesia Tsurenko showing plenty of intent ahead of the second round.

The remaining non American or Australian winners included Liudmila SamsonovaMisaki Doi and Kaja Juvan, as all three competitors claimed straight set wins over homegrown talent.

The qualifiers will continue today with the first round beginning on Tuesday.

Australian Open Women’s Round of 128 wrap: Barty dominates as Sherif first Egyptian woman to make it to grand slam second round

A flurry of exciting players joined the Australian Open fray on Day 2 of proceedings at Melbourne Park, with world number one Ash Barty making her Open return in smashing fashion, while the likes of Sofia KeninElina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova all came out flying as the top seeds of the day. In a highly competitive day of action – with nine matches going to three sets and four of those hitting the two-hour and 30-minute mark – just a couple of seeded competitors fell, with 12th seed Victoria Azarenka leading the pack after an excellent outing from American Jessica Pegula, while Johanna Konta retired from her 6-4 0-2 encounter with Slovenian Kaja JuvanPetra Martic struggled to maintain composure after Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic took out the first set tiebreaker, eventually going down 7-5 3-6 6-4, while Maria Sakkari was error-ridden in defeat, and 31st seed Zhang Saisai was exposed by American Ann Li who hit 22 winners to Zhang’s two to come away with a 6-2 6-0 victory in 47 minutes.

But while a 47-minute victory was one thing, Barty’s 6-0 6-0 utter domination of Danka Kovinic was another, with the Australian disposing of the world number 82 in just 44 minutes. Collecting 10 winners for five unforced error’s compared to Kovinic’s three and 28, Barty dismantled her opposition on home soil and proved far too good for the Montenegrin, who spent 20,120 minutes in hotel quarantine in Melbourne for a devastating 44 minutes of play. Barty is joined by a couple of compatriots in the second round, as Daria Gavrilova and Sam Stosur were both successful on their opening day. World number 387 Gavrilova stunned 64th ranked Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo on return with a 6-1 first set setting up a straight sets 6-1 7-5 victory, while Stosur downed compatriot Destanee Aiava 6-4 6-4. Kenin’s outing against fellow Australian Maddison Inglis may not have been quite as dominant, but she still came away with a classy 7-5 6-4 victory over the Australian who is still yet to win an match on the WTA Tour, while a duo of green and gold wildcards in Astra Sharma and Arina Rodionova will join Inglis and Aiava on the sidelines.

Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian woman to make it past the first round at a Grand Slam with her 7-5 7-5 victory over Frenchwoman Chloe Paquet, joined by Danilovic and Liudmila Samsonova as the only qualifiers to make it through the day, while young gun Coco Gauff continued her running grand slam form with a 6-3 6-2 sweep of Jil Teichmann to head into yet another second round at a major tournament. Powerhouses Pliskova and Svitolina may have had supremely different playing times – 47 minutes and two hours, respectively – but both also head into the second round, after disposing of Jasmine Paolini and Marie Bouzkova, while the seeded duo is joined in the second round by a flurry of top talent as 2020 Australian Open runner up Garbine MuguruzaBelinda BencicElise Mertens and Anett Kontaveit all came away with excellent wins, as did Jennifer Brady, Karolina MuchovaYulia PutintsevaDonna Vekic and Ekaterina Alexandrova with all bar five seeds making it out alive on Day 2 of the Open.

The second round of action begins at Melbourne Park today, with the day session headlined by the likes of Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu, while the night session will see Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep take the court against unseeded opposition in Caroline Garcia and Ajla TomljanovicVenus Williams will look to continue her run when she takes on Italian qualifier Sara Errani, while Iga Swiatek will take on Errani’s higher ranked compatriot Camila Giorgi.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-0 6-0
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated [WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 7-5 6-4
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-3 7-6
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-0 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-3 4-6 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 7-5 6-4
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated [13] Johanna Konta (GBR) 4-6 2-0 RET
[14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [LL] Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Olga Danilovic (SRB) defeated [16] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-5 3-6 6-4
[18] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [20] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-2 0-6 6-3
[21] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-2
[22] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-1 6-3
[25] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5 6-2
[26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 4-6 6-2 6-3
[28] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Wang Yifan (CHN) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[29] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Ann Li (USA) defeated [31] Zhang Saisai (CHN) 6-2 6-0
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3 6-2
[WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-1 7-5
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 6-3 6-1
Nao Hibino (JPN) defeated [WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) 2-6 6-3 7-5
Madison Brengle (USA) defeated [WC] Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-1 6-2
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (EST) 6-3 6-1
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-4 6-4
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-2 6-2
Zhu Lin (CHN) defeated [Q] Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-1 6-1
[WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) defeated [WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Mayar Sherif (EGY) defeated [Q] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 7-5 7-5
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated [Q] Clara Burel (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Francesca Jones (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Mona Barthel (GER) defeated [Q] Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 3-6 6-4 6-4

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

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

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

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

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

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

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

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

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

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

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Getty Images

Schmiedlova upsets Azarenka as Williams withdraws

DAY four of Roland Garros saw some huge results, with the biggest news to come out of the day the withdrawal from Serena Williams, bowing out to Tsvetana Pironkova prior to the match starting, citing an Achilles injury and more than likely now not playing another tournament in 2020. As for other top 10 seed hopes, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens all continued their winning ways against unseeded opposition, while Victoria Azarenka’s excellent recent form has come to an end with her Roland Garros hopes cut short by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in straight sets.

Unfortunately for Belarusian hope Azarenka, from the get-go it was all the way of Schmiedlova who immediately broke Azarenka’s serve and held to be 2-0 up early, before fighting through all of the 10th seeds efforts to win the last three games to take out the first set in 52 minutes. While Azarenka had a much better start to the second, seeing neither player able to break the opposition’s serve at 2-2, it was Schmiedlova that broke first to win the remainder of the set with a 69 per cent winning rate off her first serve and 57 off the second. Azarenka notched up a whopping 38 unforced errors, hitting one more winner but winning 18 points less than Schmiedlova overall in the 6-2 6-2 battle.

“I think for me it’s very important to move well and to not make a lot of unforced errors, just to put everything in, run a lot,” Schmiedlova said post-match. “That’s my game, but I also need to play a little bit more aggressive, brave in the difficult moments.

“That was very difficult for me before because I was playing too defensive. “Now I’m trying to play a little bit more offensive. I’m glad that it worked today.

“I’m extremely happy. Especially when I won against such great players, I have big respect for both of them (Azarenka and Venus Williams in the opening round). I never played against Vika before… “I think she’s great player. She played really well in US Open. I was (a) little bit scared before the match. But I started well, and I’m really happy how I managed to play all match.” 

Halep was fairly convincing in victory against Romanian compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu for a 6-3 6-4 win in 83 minutes, while Svitolina survived a shock 0-6 second set to record a 6-3 0-6 6-2 victory over Renata Zarazua. Other seeds to head through to the third round were Amanda Anisimova, who came away with a 57 minute 6-2 6-0 victory over countrywoman Bernarda Pera, Elise Mertens and Maria Sakkari, with the latter two overcoming tough efforts for eventual victories, while Kazakh Yulia Putintseva was not so lucky, going down in three sets to Nadia Podoroska.

Bertens endured a tough challenge from Sara Errani, with the Italian unwilling to back down taking the match to over three hours in length credit to tiebreakers in the first and third sets. While Bertens was relieved to come away with the 7-6 6-3 9-7 victory, the Dutch fifth seed told media post-match “I kept on fighting and I still don’t know how I did manage to get the win” in a gruelling battle.

“It was a roller coaster, to be honest,” Bertens said. “Physically I didn’t feel great. I was cramping, I think everyone could really see that. But it was weird because I didn’t feel really tired but I was sweating a lot, I was cold. So I don’t know what it really was, maybe a little bit of tension of course also in the body. 

“It was tough because of course you want to play more aggressive, but it’s really tough for me to do this on this court at this point,” Bertens said. “So then you’re a little bit like struggling, like what should I do and then she’s reading the game of course really well. 

“So there was a lot of drop shots, a lot of running, a lot of breaks of serve, because I also felt like sometimes when I really hit a good shot she only came with a better response. So it was really trying to find a solution out there.”

Bertens takes on Katerina Siniakova in the third round after the Czech reigned supreme over compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 77 minutes. The second all-Czech battle of the day saw 32nd seed Barbora Strycova go down to Barbora Krejcikova in a huge three-setter, with the latter weathering the storm for the 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory. Meanwhile, Australians Astra Sharma and Daria Gavrilova were not so lucky after their opening round wins, with Sharma dealt a tough hand in seed Russia Ekaterina Alexandrova and Gavrilova outclassed by Eugenie Bouchard after winning the first set tiebreaker. Carolina Garcia was too strong against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, steaking momentum to fly through the second set after a tight 7-6 start.

While young guns continue to put on a show, just one of Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek managed to head to the third round, with Gauff putting on an exciting effort against Martina Trevisan but ultimately coming off second best after a sloppy second set for the 4-6 6-2 7-5 result, while Swiatek powered through the first set against Hsieh Su-wei to record a 6-1 6-4 victory.

Intriguing winners list on day one of Roland Garros

A HUGE day one of the 2020 Roland Garros began with a couple of intriguing winners on the list among a plethora of seeds. As expected, top seed Simona Halep dominated her contest to head through to the second round, as did six of her fellow seeds.

Halep was clinical in her effort against Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, running away with a 6-4 6-0 win on her 29th birthday. In another interesting twist, it was the first women’s game under the new Court Philippe Chatrier roof, with drizzly proceedings for most of the day not disrupting the centre court.

“The perfect present was that I won today, of course,” Halep said at her post-match press conference. “It was a really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday. So it’s going to be pretty unique, maybe forever.”

While a tense first set saw both players fight hard, Halep was able to fight through the cold and Sorribes Tormo’s strong efforts. It certainly was not Halep’s cleanest effort, hitting 23 winners for 23 unforced errors, but fought back from 2-4 down early in the first to win the next four games and head into the second set with the momentum, unwilling to relinquish control. 

“At the beginning I just wanted to be aggressive and to hit the balls everywhere,” said Halep. “But [Sorribes Tormo] was so strong on the legs, and she didn’t miss at all. And also, her ball is coming a little bit higher and with a lot of topspin, so it’s not easy to play from up to the shoulder. And then I just started to open the court better, to go slower, and to work for every ball, which I did very well.”

A couple of unseeded talents came out firing though, with shock exits from Johanna Konta, Dayana Yastremska and Anett Kontaveit making for some big wins to lower ranked talent. Coco Gauff got the chocolates over ninth seed Konta with a 6-3 6-3 victory, while Australian Daria Gavrilova made an excellent return with a 6-4 6-3 victory over 24th seed Yastremska. Carolina Garcia toppled Kontaveit in a tighter three set contest, taking just over two hours to gain the 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory.

It was Gauff’s first main draw match at the Roland Garros, with the 16-year-old the youngest of 11 teenagers in the draw. 

“I know that [Konta] likes to play really hard and play the ball into her,” Gauff said. “So coming into the match I already knew I was going to change the pace and everything. To be honest, I was surprised how good the slice was today.

“I mean, the backhand slice I work on a lot. It’s not the best, but I try to work on it. The forehand slice, I think it was just natural. I knew I had to change up the pace of the ball, especially in the conditions.”

“I don’t really take anything for granted, because I’m just happy to be playing,” Gauff said. “I don’t think maybe winning matches at slams is something I’m used to, especially this is my first main draw at Roland Garros. When I’m on the court, I can act like I’m used to it. When I’m off the court, I’m just happy to be here.”

Comparatively, seeds in Victoria Azarenka, Elise Mertens, Maria Sakkari, Barbora Strycova, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Yulia Putintseva all joined the winners list with straight sets wins, seeing Azarenka come away with the quickest victory in 61 minutes over Danka Kovinic 6-1 6-2. In other games, Barbora Krejcikova, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Irina-Camelia Begu, Astra Sharma and Eugenie Bouchard all head through to the second round while Camila Giorgi retired to compatriot Martina Trevisan and Venus Williams was knocked out of contention by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

2020 WTA Nature Valley Open / ATP Stuttgart Open fantasy tennis: Chaos reigns in Germany as seeds skittled on day one

ONLY one seed fell at the 2020 WTA Nature Valley Open fantasy tennis tournament, whilst there was a lot more chaos at the ATP Stuttgart Open. In Germany, just one of the four seeds on court survived day one against the stronger unseeded grass court players.

Looking at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham first, there was only the one shock which came in the form of Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic knocking out fifth seed Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska. Golubic made it through to the Round of 16 courtesy of a 2-6 6-3 6-4 come-from-behind win over the world number 16 in her bid to eye off a top 100 spot. The other seed engaged in a three-set come-from-behind match was eighth seed Shuai Zhang, but this time the 34th ranked Chinese talent got up, albeit with some nervous moments against British wildcard and world number 146 Harriet Dart, 4-6 6-3 6-4.

The other seeds had less trouble to move through to the second round, although sixth seed Greek up and comer Maria Sakkari took three sets to knock out Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin, 6-3 3-6 6-4. Top seed Petra Kvitova, third seed Belinda Bencic and seventh seed Donna Vekic all won through to the Round of 16 without being forced into a tenth game in any set. Second seed Canadian Bianca Andreescu got past British wildcard Katie Swan in a tight 7-5 6-4 win, whilst fourth seed Croatian Petra Martic had a similar experience against Serbian wildcard Ivana Jorovic before saluting 7-5 6-1.

In the unseeded matches, only Coco Vandeweghe and Liudmila Samsonova were forced into three sets before getting up. Vandeweghe toppled American compatriot Shelby Rogers 6-0 3-6 7-5, while Russian Samsonova also knocked out an American, downing Ann Li 6-2 2-6 6-1. In other results, Ajla Tomljanovic, Tatjana Maria, Kristina Mladenovic, Stefanie Voegele and Yanina Wickmayer all booked their places in the Round of 16. Reigning champion Caroline Garcia was the final winner through to the second round, knocking off American Jennifer Brady 6-2 6-2 in under an hour.

NATURE VALLEY OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Elena Gabriela Ruse (ROU) 6-3 6-3
[2] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated [WC] Katie Swan (GBR) 7-5 6-4
[3] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-2 6-1
[4] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated [WC] Ivana Jorovic (SRB) 7-5 6-1
[Q] Viktorija Golubic (SUI) defeated [5] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) 2-6 6-3 6-4
[6] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-4
[7] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated [WC] Naiktha Bains (GBR) 6-1 6-4
[8] Shuai Zhang (CHN) defeated [WC] Harriet Dart (GBR) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-0 3-6 7-5
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-2 6-1
Tatjana Maria (GER) defeated [Q] Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-2 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated Julia Goerges (GER) 6-3 6-0
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-2 6-2
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-2 6-2
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Ann Li (USA) 6-2 2-6 6-1
[Q] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-1 7-5

Whilst the results in Nottingham might have gone to script, over in Stuttgart, that was far from the case. Three of the four seeds all fell at the first hurdle, leaving only eighth seed Italian Fabio Fognini remaining to join the top four seeds in the second round. Fognini downed German Philipp Kohlschreiber to book a place in the second round, but was not joined by Nikoloz Basilashvili, Karen Khachanov or Denis Shapovalov. Guido Pella, John Millman and Gilles Simon all won in straight sets to move through to the Round of 16 in sensational upsets.

One of the early title contenders from an unseeded perspective in Marin Cilic also won through, albeit with a come-from-behind win against a plucky Damir Dzumhur who qualified for the event. Cilic won 3-6 6-3 6-4 to make his way into the second round. Also through to the next stage were a couple of wildcards in Juan Martin del Potro and Dustin Brown. The Argentinian Grand Slam winner defeated home nation talent Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1, while Brown got the home crowd happy again with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 triumph over Hungarian qualifier Marton Fucsovics.

In the remaining matches, American duo John Isner and Sam Querrey fought through to the second round. Isner overcame Australian Nick Kyrgios in a remarkable triple tiebreaker match, winning 6-7 7-6 7-6, while Querrey knocked out 2019 Stuttgart Open runner-up, Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets, 6-4 4-6 6-2. The losing teenager’s compatriot in Milos Raonic got the chocolates in the first round however, knocking out German wildcard Dominik Koepfer 4-6 6-1 6-4, while Feliciano Lopez and Lucas Pouille both won through to the Round of 16.

STUTTGART OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Guido Pella (ARG) defeated [5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-2
John Millman (AUS) defeated [6] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 7-6 7-6
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated [7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 7-5 6-2
[8] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-1 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[WC] Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-1
[WC] Dustin Brown (GER) defeated [Q] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 2-6 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 6-7 7-6 7-6
Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-4 4-6 6-2
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [Q] Denis Kudla (USA) 6-3 6-4
Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [WC] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Lucas Pouille (FRA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-0

2020 WTA Nature Valley Open fantasy tennis: Kvitova the favourite as Garcia eyes back-to-back titles

NOW the 2020 WTA Roland Garros fantasy tennis tournament is done and dusted, attention turns to Nottingham for the Nature Valley Open. Whilst there are plenty of young up and comers taking to the grass for the first time this year, there are also five top 20 players, led by top seed, Petra Kvitova.

FAVOURITE:

Petra Kvitova (CZECH REPUBLIC)

The number one seed had a really successful clay court season and will be looking to back it up here with a strong grass court preparation leading into Wimbledon. The number one seed is the clear tournament favourite and one to beat, hoping to take over from last year’s winner, Caroline Garcia. She takes on qualifier Elena Gabriela Ruse in the first round, before a likely encounter with solid grass court player Coco Vandeweghe. She has a relatively softer draw otherwise, and should take out the title here if she plays to her best.

CONTENDERS:

Belinda Bencic (SUI)

The Swiss number three seed is strong on grass and deserves what would be arguable second favouritism. She encounters up and coming Spaniard, Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round, before an almost certain clash with last year’s winner, Garcia in the second round. A quarter final against Maria Sakkari and semi-final against Donna Vekic makes it a tough road to the final, but the Swiss young star is more than capable.

Petra Martic (CRO)

The fourth seed landed in the easier half of the draw, avoiding a lot of the top quality grass court players. Martic eases in with a clash against Serbian wildcard, Ivana Jorovic in the opening round, before arguably one of the toughest second round games for the seeds facing either Julia Goerges or Kristina Mladenovic. If Martic can survive that, expect her to meet Kvitova in the semi-finals in what would be a blockbuster match.

Donna Vekic (CRO)

There are no shortages of Croatian talent heading to Nottingham, and it is easy to see why Vekic would be a strong chance here. She is pretty strong on the grass compared to clay, and she warms up against British wildcard Naiktha Bains in the first round. Realistically she should make it to at least the final eight where she expects to face second seed Bianca Andreescu, and from there it gets tough. Vekic will hope to start her grass court season off on the right note with a deep finish in England.

ROUGHIE:

Caroline Garcia (FRA)

The reigning champion can never be discounted at a tournament, and while she is unseeded in Nottingham – she was seeded one here 12 months ago – Garcia knows what it takes to go all the way. The Frenchwoman has a tougher draw in 2020, and there will be no easy games in the run to the final and trying to defend her title. She takes on American Jennifer Brady in the first round, then third seed Belinda Bencic in the Round of 16. With Sakkari, Vekic and Kvitova the highest ranked opponents on her run to the final, she will need to be at her absolute best to survive.

DARK HORSE:

Tatjana Maria (GER)

There are plenty of talented underrated players at Nottingham, but the German up and comer is one who could really bolster her ranking over the grass court season. She is currently ranked 102 in the world, but is mid-table when it comes to the competitors at this event. If she can notch up a few wins she can leap up the order, and it all starts with a first round match against Australian qualifier, Astra Sharma. Maria could face fifth seed Dayana Yastremska in the second round, with Martic and Kvitova also along the way, but watch out for Maria who could be a big improver over the next month.

2020 WTA Strasbourg and Rabat Open fantasy tennis: Americans dominate on day one

IT was a stellar start to the United States at both the Strasbourg Open and Rabat Open fantasy tournaments with nine of the eleven American competitors making it through to the second round amongst a plethora of talented players. Meanwhile, Australia struggled to produce a win across both tournaments and plenty of matches came down to the wire.

At Strasbourg, six of the eight seeds remain after Elena Rybakina and Donna Vekic went down to their respective foes, shockingly both in straight sets and fairly convincingly at that. The duo’s results were reversed, with Rybakina having a strong start and petering off, while Vekic fought back but to no avail, seeing Camila Giorgi and Shuai Zheng proceed to the next round. Where Rybakina and Vekic failed, the likes of Aryna Sabalenka and Bianca Andreescu both collected solid victories in under an hour, while Dayana Yastremska had a tougher time against Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko though eventually came out on top, 7-5 3-6 6-2.

All three seeded Americans in first seed Sofia Kenin, Serena Williams (second seed) and Madison Keys (sixth) collected wins over quality opponents and will be joined by compatriots Amanda Anisimova, Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens in the Round of 16. All three seeds had tough matches as both Williams and Keys were taken to three sets by their respective opposition in Sam Stosur and Saisai Zheng, while Kenin only just prevailed in a two hour two-setter, defeating Greet Minnen 7-5 7-6. Gauff and Stephens had similarly difficult matches while Anisimova dominated against French qualifier, Chloe Paquet. Meanwhile, Stosur’s compatriot in Astra Sharma met a similar end to her experienced company, going down to Xiyu Wang, 6-1 6-4.

A mixed bag of results finished off the round as young talent Iga Swiatek proved too strong for Polona Hercog despite a tight first set, while Caroline Garcia had a similarly solid match to defeat qualifying Italian, Francesca Di Lorenzo. Fellow qualifier Fiona Ferro pushed Victoria Azarenka to the brink however, as the Belarusian only just remained above water for the 7-6 7-5 victory, while Qiang Wang and Kateryna Kozlova battled it out in the marathon three hour match for the day, with Qiang eventually reigning supreme for the 7-5 5-7 7-5 victory.

While Strasbourg saw American competitors dominate and all six proceed to the next round, at Rabat the story went a little differently with two of the five going down. Fourth seed Alison Riske was the big shock of the day going down to qualifier Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets, while Ann Li put up a strong fight but could not compete with Russian eighth seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Meanwhile, Venus Williams prevailed in a tight three set contest against Kristina Mladenovic and fellow compatriots in Taylor Townsend and Coco Vandeweghe continued their solid form with respective straight sets victories.

As for seeds, the remaining top five competitors reigned supreme, though three had tough battles to get through first. Among the tough matches, Maria Sakkari impressed against Spaniard, Sara Sorribes Tormo, showcasing some real depth to her game and coming back from the brink four games down to win the first set in a tiebreaker. The second set came much easier for the Greek competitor who eventually won 7-6 6-3, though not so much for the likes of fellow top talents in Johanna Konta, Elise Mertens and Marketa Vondrousova. Mertens had the easiest match of the trio but  was well and truly tested in the second by her wildcard opposition in Usue Maitane Arconada before putting out a stellar third set to take the win. Meanwhile, both Konta and Vondrouova had to fight a bit harder for their respective wins against formidable German talents in Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber but will surely be brimming with intensity ready for the second round.

Joining Riske on the sidelines were Magda Linette and Yulia Putintseva after frankly disappointing outputs against their respective opposition. Linette had a rough start against Jill Teichmann, and despite competing well in the second set was unable to catch up to the Swiss competitor after she pulled out to a confident lead early, winning 6-2 7-6. Putintseva competed well but was not strong or consistent enough to keep up to Alison Van Uytvanck who seemingly came out with a point to prove, reigning supreme for the 6-4 6-4 victory. 

Where Americans were consistent on day one, Australian duo in Ajla Tomljanovic and Priscilla Hon both had shaky starts on the clay after not competing for much of the season, eventually going down in respective straight sets losses. In other games, Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Nina Stojanovic in a 7-5 2-6 6-1 marathon, while Julia Goerges was clinical against Jasmine Paolini, defeating the Italian in just 40 minutes, 6-2 6-1.

Tomorrow’s draw will surprisingly not see any of today’s American winners compete against each other, meaning there is a real chance of the United States continuing their domination after day one,

STRASBOURG OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Greet Minnen (BEL) 7-5 7-6
[2] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 4-6 6-1 6-2
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-2 6-4
[4] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-2 6-3
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated [5] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
[6] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Saisai Zheng (CHN) 3-6 7-5 6-1
[7] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5 3-6 6-2
Shuai Zhang (CHN) defeated [8] Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-2 6-4
[Q] Xiyu Wang (CHN) defeated [WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-1 6-4
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated [WC] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 6-3 6-1
Qiang Wang (CHN) defeated [Q] Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 7-5 5-7 7-5
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 7-6 7-5
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 7-5 2-6 6-4
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated [Q] Francesca Di Lorenzo (ITA) 6-2 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Polona Hercog (ROU) 7-5 6-2

RABAT GRAND PRIX ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 3-6 6-1 7-5
[2] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [WC] Usue Maitane Arconada (ESP) 6-2 4-6 6-1
[3] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[Q] Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) defeated [4] Alison Riske (USA) 6-1 7-6
[5] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 7-5 6-3
[Q] Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [6] Magda Linette (POL) 6-2 7-6
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated [7] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 6-4
[8] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [Q] Ann Li (USA) 5-7 6-4 6-1
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3 6-2
Venus Williams (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 4-6 6-3 7-6
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 7-5 2-6 6-1
Julia Goerges (GER) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
Taylor Townsend (USA) defeated Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-4 6-3
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated [Q] Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-4 6-2
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Su Wei Hsieh (TAI) 6-3 6-2

2020 WTA Stuttgart and Istanbul fantasy tennis: Seeds too good on day one

IT was a big first day of fantasy competition for both the Tennis Grand Prix and Istanbul Open, with both Round of 32 days hosting a wealth of talent and mostly predictable outcomes, with all seeded players across both competitions heading through to the second round.

At Stuttgart, not one match went to three sets with all six winners consistent against their respective opposition. Sixth seed Garbine Muguruza and eighth seed Dayana Yastremska were both unworried by the talent standing in their way, downing their respective opposition in straight sets. Yastremska proved the young-guns are here to fight,  and was highly clinical in her defeat of grand slam champion Angelique Kerber, downing her in just over an hour, 6-2 6-2. Muguruza was similarly impressive against Anett Kontaveit, with the Spanish champion dominating majority of the match to down the Estonian, 6-2 6-3. 

Two more quality names in Qiang Wang and Sloane Stephens also head through to the Round of 16 after stellar first set performances, relentless against their respective opposition in Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasija Sevastova. While both were challenged in the second set, both overcame their troubles though Qiang almost allowed her veteran opposition in Kuznetsova a look in, only winning the second set tiebreaker to head through relatively unscathed.

Taiwan qualifier Su Wei Hsieh downed wildcard Tatjana Maria 6-2 6-1 while fellow wildcard Anna Lena Friedsam had a tougher time against British opposition, Heather Watson.

Istanbul saw relatively similar results on day one, with three seeds winning their way through to the second round. Elena Rybakina came in strong against Caroline Garcia, running home victor 6-2 6-3 in what was a relatively easy win to the 20-year-old Kazakh. Fellow top three seed Petra Martic had a tougher time against her Swiss opposition in Jil Teichmann, dropping the first set after Teichmann well and truly put the accelerator on to pile on the points. But a second set tiebreaker saw martic regain the upper hand, eventually running out strong with the 2-6 7-6 6-2 victory. 

Sixth seed Amanda Anisimova was among four Americans to compete on day one but was only joined by wildcard Coco Vandeweghe in the Round of 16, knocking out compatriots Ann Li and Jessica Pegula in the process. Li struggled against 18-year-old Anisimova, unable to compete with the up-and-comer, going down in straight sets 6-0 6-3. Vandeweghe had a tougher time against Pegula, challenged all the way but eventually running out victor in over two hours of play, 4-6 6-3 7-6.

The next match saw a talented young-gun matchup, with 18-year-old Pole, Iga Swiatek taking on 17-year-old Canadian, Leylah Fernandez. Swiatek was just too strong, running out in a relatively easy victory 6-1 6-1 thanks to her constant pressing attack but the young wildcard Fernandez stuck to her guns and this match just goes to show how much young talent is on the rise. Australian Astra Sharma just could not compete with her Russian opposition in Liudmila Samsonova, going down in straight sets 6-4 6-3.

In other games, fellow wildcard Mihaela Buzarnescu defeated Japanese qualifier, Kurumi Nara, holding her ground despite dropping the second set and winning 6-1 5-7 6-3, while Veeronika Kudermetova held her ground for much of her match against Carla Suarrez Navarro but eventually was run down by the Spanish talent, who won 7-6 5-7 6-3.

Tomorrow will see some intriguing matchups across both fantasy competitions with first seed and surprise entrant Serena Williams taking the court at Istanbul, while seventh seed Petra Kvitova will look to go back-to-back at Stuttgart.

STUTTGART ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-2 6-3
[8] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-2 6-2
Qiang Wang (CHN) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-2 7-6
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-1 6-4
[Q] Su Wei Hsieh (TAI) defeated [WC] Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-2 6-1
[WC] Anna Lena Friedsam (GER) Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 6-4

ISTANBUL ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-4 6-3
[3] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 2-6 7-6 6-2
[6] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Ann Li (USA) 6-0 6-3
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 5-7 6-3
[WC] Mihaela Buzarnescu (TUR) defeated [Q] Kurumi Nara (JPN) 6-1 3-6 6-4
Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [WC] Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 6-1
[WC] Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 4-6 6-3 7-6
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-4 6-3