Tag: bianca andreescu

WTA Tour wrap: Carnage in Berlin as top three seeds ousted

IT was almost beyond belief as the bett1Open draw was blown wide open following some massive upsets on a huge day of grass court action. The top three seeds were all ousted for the tournament in upset results to leave the title race at the event up in the air. The only seed to advance through to the quarter finals thus far was fifth seed Belinda Bencic who toppled Croatian Petra Martic in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.

In the other matches, American Madison Keys caused a boilover against top seed Aryna Sabalenka, with the Belarusian newly crowned world number four losing in one hour and 56 minutes. Keys served eight aces and won 71.7 per cent of her first serve points off a 67.9 per cent clip, also saving four of six break point opportunities.

By comparison, Sabalenka won 68.3 per cent of her first serve points, and whilst she also won 47.7 per cent of her second serve points, only served at a 57.7 per cent efficiency. She also faced 14 break points, and whilst she saved 10 of them, went down in three sets, 6-4 1-6 7-5.

Keys hit 31 winners to just 17 unforced errors in the match, standing up against the powerful Sabalenka. Most impressively, despite a disappointing second set, Keys bounced back to win the third and deciding set, breaking Sabalenka in he final game of the match off the back of a couple of unforced errors from the Belarusian.

Meanwhile fellow top three seeds, Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu also suffered defeats at the hands of lower ranked opponents. Svitolina went down to Ekaterina Alexandrova, with the Ukrainian second seed unable to overcome her Russian opponent, losing 6-4 7-5. Canadian third seed Andreescu fell to Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in straight sets 7-6 7-5.

At the Viking Classic, third seed Donna Vekic was the highest ranked player out on court, and she made her way through to the quarter finals with a come-from-behind win over Italian Camila Giorgi. Vekic won 2-6 6-3 6-4 to book her spot in the quarter finals following a huge two hours and 28 minutes on court. The Croatian was one of three winners to advance following two-hour plus victories.

Coco Vandeweghe overcame Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the battle of the unseeded talents, with the American bouncing back in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 6-4 6-3 in two hours and 18 minutes. Similarly, Kristina Mladenovic also won in a come-from-behind situation, overcoming compatriot and seventh seed Fiona Ferro in an all-French duel, saluting 3-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes. The other Frenchwoman out on court – Caroline Garcia – did not have as much fun, bundled out by eighth seed Czech Marie Bouzkova who won easily 6-3 6-0. In the other match, home nation player Heather Watson won via retirement with a 5-2 triumph over Zhang Shuai.

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Madison Keys (USA) defeated [1] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 1-6 7-5
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [2] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-4 7-5
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [3] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 7-6 7-5
[5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Petra Martic (CRO) 6-3 6-4

VIKING CLASSIC ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 2-6 6-3 6-4
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 5-2 RET
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [7] Fiona Ferro (FRA) 3-6- 6-3 6-4
[8] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-3 6-0
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Major semi-final debutants set as Pavlyuchenkova and Zidansek clash

A HUGE first Roland Garros semi-final has been set, after Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Slovenian Tamara Zidansek both overcame tough opposition to win in three sets and in the process, both enter the semi-final stage of a grand slam for the first time. Both players were forced into overtime third set deciders against their respective higher ranked opposition.

Unseeded Zidansek is making waves at the Roland Garros this year, coming into the tournament with zero wins at the event previously, and has proven a tough contender on the clay making history by reaching the quarter finals as the first Slovenian woman to do so at a Grand Slam, before going one better by making the semis.

The Slovenian 23-year-old required a tough three sets, 7-5 4-6 8-6 to take down 33rd seed Paula Badosa, with the Spaniard in ripping form and relentless in her approach. Ranked 85th in the world to Badosa’s 35, Zidansek came out firing and did not relent throughout, hitting 48 winners to Badosa’s 31, but also piling on a whopping 39 unforced errors – still less than Badosa’s 47 – in the huge matchup.

“Winning the first round was a big breakthrough for me,” Zidansek said, having defeated sixth seed Bianca Andreescu in her opening match. “I got a lot of confidence from that.

“Before the tournament I was feeling really good. I was playing good, especially on clay. Had some good matches. When it started to click? I don’t know. I just kept going match by match. Every day is a chapter for itself. I’m just going to keep doing that and hope for the best.”

The Slovenian credited her sports psychologist for the mental strength with which she commanded control of the game when the going got tough.

“I have always been super interested in what people think, you know, how does it work,” said Zidansek. “He’s helped me a lot. Once you get to this stage, it’s all about mental game. It’s about believing that you can go out there. It’s not like you can hit the ball harder or you can run faster.

“OK, maybe you can improve a little bit in that, but it’s about believing. Just self-confidence, trying to compose yourself in the tough situations and just keep fighting. That takes a lot of mental preparation and a lot of energy. He’s helped me a lot with that.”

For Badosa, it appeared to be nerves and overthinking which got in the way of her maiden slam semi-final, explaining that she did not feel quite right throughout the clash.

“It was a tough one,” Badosa said. “I think she played a good match. I didn’t feel myself in the whole match. I’m a little bit sad about that, because I think I played maybe the worst match of the tournament and of the clay season, but sometimes it’s like that.

“I think I was very nervous. I couldn’t control the nerves during the entire match. But at least I fight until the last moment and I had my chances. But, well, credit to her.”

“When you want it so, so much, maybe sometimes it’s a little bit too much, and I was putting a little bit too much pressure on myself. I think that’s a little bit the next time, if I have another opportunity like this, I will try to change. Of course the nerves are always there, but I think today was a little bit too much.”

Zidansek will take on fellow maiden semi-final slam entry in 31st seed Pavlyuchenkova, who overcame 21st seed Kazakh and doubles partner Elena Rybakina in another tough battle, eventually reigning supreme 6-7(2) 6-2 9-7 in just over two and a half hours.

“I actually have always wanted to be in the semi-finals so much before that I think I have achieved it now and I’m sort of neutral reaction. Of course, I’m happy, but I feel like I’m doing my work, I’m doing my job,” Pavlyuchenkova said.

“There are still matches to go through, still work to be done. So I just look at this like that. Trying to enjoy this moment as much as I can but not giving so much importance as well. Take in the present and then see.”

Pavlyuchenkova was cleaner in her approach than her opposition, hitting less winners but getting more out of her service games to pile on the pressure. With just 28 unforced errors to Rybakina’s 43, the Russian was marginally more influential on both her first and second serves, all off a 69 per cent clip.

“I think I have always had the game. I wasn’t fit enough and mentally maybe not strong enough, where I’m working on this aspect, working with a sports psychologist now quite recent, and already I feel like it’s starting to pay off.”

The Russian has also elevated her game by adding coaching to her repertoire, teaming up with brother Aleksandr.

“My brother, even now we were talking a bit, he teach me how to play smarter, to read the game, which I actually like sometimes don’t read the game well,” Pavlyuchenkova said. So that also helps, of course. Just those few things have helped.”

ROLAND GARROS QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-7 6-2 9-7
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated [33] Paula Badosa (ESP) 7-5 4-6 8-6

Picture credit: Julien Crosnier / FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds falter on Day 2 as Osaka withdraws

PLENTY went on across Day 2 of the 2021 Roland Garros, with plenty of huge clashes seeing quality talent disposed of in the opening round, as Naomi Osaka officially withdrew from the event following criticism this week. Of the 12 seeds, five fell on the second day on clay, with the biggest name Bianca Andreescu amongst a number of competitive names.

Andreescu’s questionable lead-up to the Roland Garros saw the Canadian come into her first round match-up with plenty of confidence, even sitting out the remainder of last week’s Internationaux de Strasbourg event but was unfortunate in her draw coming up against fighter Tamara Zidansek, who did not allow Andreescu’s sixth seeding to hand her an early opener. The Slovenian may have dropped the first set in a 7-1 tiebreaker, but forced her way back into the contest to eventually claim the 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 victory in three hours and 20 minutes.

“Obviously, the first Top 10 win is a big one. It shows me that I can play with players like that, and I showed today that I can beat them,” Zidansek said post-match.

“I didn’t start really well, but the conditions out there are tough. It’s windy so you have to get used to it. I just kept getting into the match more and more.”

“I think my serve was a great example of that. I didn’t start well, but in the second set, I was serving better. In the third set, I was serving really well, which helped me save those break points at 7-7. I was serving really well when I was break point down, and I remember she hit a great return crosscourt, very deep, and I managed to get it back.”

Despite serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, Andreescu was unable to take advantage of her momentum. While Zidansek only hit one more winner throughout the contest (41-40), Andreescu made a whopping 63 unforced errors to Zidansek’s 46. Despite leading in service efficiency, Andreescu was not as effective winning off her first serve, also allowing Zidansek to win 64 points off her return.

“From my part, I didn’t feel like I played good tennis today. But at the same time, she played really, really well,” Andreescu said. “She threw me off a lot with her heavy, spinny shots and her variety. But at least thinking on the positive side I’m healthy, and I was able to fight as hard as I could.”

“During these tough moments, like I want to show a good example to a lot of people. It sucks right now for me and I can just right now learn from it, because that’s what life’s all about, you learn from your mistakes.

“I just want to keep my head up, feel what I feel right now. I might cry a lot tonight, but tomorrow is a new day.”

Among the other seeds to fall were former champion Garbine Muguruza, ousted by 18-year-old Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, with 16th seed Kiki Bertens, out of form 19th seed Brit Johanna Konta and 22nd seeded Croatian Petra Martic.

It took a career-best outing against Muguruza for Kostyuk to earn her first career Top 20 win, claiming the 89 minute clash 6-1 6-4. While Muguruza has been managing an ongoing back injury, it still took plenty of grit and determination from the Ukrainian teen, hitting only 24 unforced errors to Muguruza’s 40.

“I was so ready and so prepared,” Kostyuk said post-match. “My aggressive game today, I’m really glad it worked. I want to keep on going with this game.”

“I’m really, really happy with my performance today,” Kostyuk said. “I’m just trying to focus on the next one. I have two days off and I’m going to try and work again. The work doesn’t stop, so let’s go!”

Meanwhile, 2020 champion and birthday girl Iga Swiatek was one of the flurry of top 10 seeds to prevail, joined by Sofia KeninSerena Williams and Belinda Bencic. The now-20-year-old Pole in Swiatek overcame close friend Kaja Juvan to head into the second round, while Williams and Bencic both also claimed straight set wins to head into the second round. Kenin was well and truly tested by Jelena Ostapenko in their 6-4 4-6 6-3, two hour contest, as Williams improved her winning rate to 77-1 in the opening round at grand slams in the first ever night session at the Roland Garros.

“It’s never easy to play against your best friend,” Swiatek said. “I have some experience because I played with Kaja for a few times. I played with my other friends on junior level. You just try to block this friendship for two hours, just focus on the game. I think I’m doing that pretty well. It’s nice to have that skill.”

“I feel like my game is better and better,” she said. “My coaches were planning everything for me to have the peak of my shape right now. Hopefully it’s going to be here. But still even though I have big confidence and I’m feeling really good, we still have to remember that every match has a different story and many things can happen on court.”

“I have to say it was pretty cool to be able to play the first night session ever here at Roland Garros,” Williams said. “That was something I thoroughly enjoyed.”

Elise MertensMarketa Vondrousova and Jessica Pegula were the remaining seeds to remain supreme, with Pegula ensuring all three seeded Americans remained in the draw, as qualifier Hailey Baptiste and Madison Brengle rounded out the United States’ winners, with just Shelby Rogers falling at the first hurdle.

In the remaining unseeded clashes, wildcard Harmony Tan overcame compatriot Alize Cornet in straight sets to join fellow Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the second round, as a couple of Russians in Varvara Gracheva and Daria Kasatkina also claimed wins, with the former all joined by Zhang Saisai, Martina Trevisan, Zarina Diyas, Tereza Martincova and Mihaela Buzarnescu in the Round of 64.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-4 4-6 6-3
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated [6] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 7-6 7-6 9-7
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Irina Camelia Begu (ROU) 7-6 6-2
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Kaja Juvan (SLO) 6-0 7-5
[10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-0 6-3
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated [12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-1 6-4
[14] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [Q] Storm Sanders (AUS) 6-4 6-1
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated [16] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-1 3-6 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [19] Johanna Konta (GBR) 7-6 6-2
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 4-6 6-3 6-0
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated [22] Petra Martic (CRO) 6-2 6-7 6-4
[28] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Zhu Lin (CHN) 6-4 4-6 6-4
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3 6-1
[WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Hailey Baptiste (USA) defeated Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-1 6-4
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated [Q] Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6-2 6-3
Zheng Saisai (CHN) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 4-6 6-4 6-4
Martina Trevian (ITA) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 7-5 4-6 6-5
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-3 5-7 6-3
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 7-5
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Ivana Jorovic (SRB) 6-3 7-6
Madison Brengle (USA) defeated [Q] Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) 7-5 6-4
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 7-5 7-5
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-7 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Julien Crosnier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Upsets aplenty at Strasbourg

A BIG sixth day of action at the 2021 Internationaux de Strasbourg saw six matches play out, with two Round of 16 clashes joining the quarter finals. It was a day of pure upsets, with none of the higher ranked players winning in their respective clashes.

Two seeded clashes played out, with fifth seed Barbora Krejcikova downing third seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, while eighth seed Magda Linette claimed victory over fourth seed Yulia Putintseva. Linette won 77 per cent of her first serve points in her best run since February 2020. Krejcikova is now the highest ranking seed remaining in the draw, with her 7-6 6-1 victory over Alexandrova the first in her career following losses in all three prior encounters. Krejcikova said her win ratio allowed her to reflect on what she needed to put out on court to get the win this time.

“I’ve played her many times, and I always started really bad in the first set, and then she was always improving really, really well,” Krejcikova said post-match. “I felt like this time I had to start the first set really well, and I still lost serve and I was still down, but I was closer, and I felt the tiebreak was the deciding point of the match.”

Krejcikova won 72.2 per cent of her first serve points off a 53 per cent clip, also proving more efficient off her second serve than the Russian and hitting four aces for three double faults, compared to Alexandrova’s four and five.

“I see that I’m improving every shot, my physical, my mental, everything,” Krejcikova said. “I’m just happy that I can actually show it on court and play this high level and play all the top players. It’s something that I really like to do, so I’m happy that I’m here.”

Meanwhile, German qualifier Jule Niemeier continued her eye-catching run at Strasbourg with a second victory for the day, and with another win to follow up on her form which saw her win her first Tour-level main draw match in the first round here this week. She will take on Krejcikova in the semi-final tomorrow.

Still only 21-years-old, Niemeier said she knows what she is capable of but does not yet feel the pressure due to her ranking, which allows her to stand up and really push her opposition with no expectations.

“I don’t feel the pressure because I’m ranked [over] 200 at the moment, so I have nothing to lose,” Niemeier said. “I know what I can play, and what I can do on court, so that I can cause trouble!”

“I have the level, that I can keep up with all the players. “I’ve beaten two players who are in the Top 100 now, Shelby (Shelby Rogers) is in the Top 50. “I have the game, and I can beat them.”

“I was injured for such a long time in the past, so it was not easy for me,” she said. “I’m just enjoying being on court and playing against really good players.”

Like Niemeier, Sorana Cirstea was rostered to play two matches for the day, however drew number one seed Bianca Andreescu who withdrew following her second round win. This allowed Cirstea to focus all her energy on defeating her first task at hand in the last Round of 16 match, taking down sixth seed Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-1 in one hour flat. Cirstea will take on Linette tomorrow for a chance at the Strasbourg final.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [1] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) W/O
[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [3] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-6 6-1
[8] Magda Linette (POL) defeated [4] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-3 6-3
Jule Niemeier (GER) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-4 6-1

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [6] Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 6-1
Jule Niemeier (GER) defeated [7] Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-4 7-6

Picture credit: Chryslène Caillaud / Internationaux de Strasbourg

WTA Tour wrap: French fall like flies in Strasbourg

IT was not a good day for the French WTA Tour athletes in Strasbourg as all three players were bundled out in different circumstances following five Round of 16 matches overnight. Wildcard duo Harmony Tan and Clara Burel, as well as experienced Caroline Garcia were all knocked out of the WTA Tour 250 event, as higher ranked opponents proved too much on the day.

Tan unfortunately was forced to retire after 50 minutes, dropping the first set and only playing two games of the second before pulling the pin due to injury against Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, 6-1 1-1. Han was joined by fellow wildcard Burel on the sidelines after she suffered defeat at the hands of third seed Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova. The Russian trumped her younger opponent in 70 minutes on court, winning 6-3 6-4 to advance through to the quarter finals at the event.

The match of the day went to the epic three-set battle between Garcia and fifth seed Czech Barbora Krejcikova. The Frenchwoman seemed to be in control in the first set, winning it 6-3 to take the early advantage, but Krejcikova hit back in a big way over the next two sets, only dropping three games between the two sets to win 3-6 6-2 6-1 in one hour and 49 minutes.

Despite being inconsistent off her serve – Krejcikova only served at a 55.2 per cent clip compared to Garcia’s 69.2 per cent – she won 31 of her 37 first serve points, and only dropped 19 points off her serve in total for the match. Garcia by contrast was fairly efficient in getting her serve in – 69.2 per cent of the time off her first serve – but she was much lower with taking advantage in those points, winning 61.1 and 54.2 per cent of her first and second serve points respectively. Furthermore, she could only break Krejcikova one from three chances, while the Czech set up five break point opportunities and capitalised an impressive four times.

In the late match, German qualifier Jule Niemer looked ready to cause a shock against seventh seed Shelby Rogers, up 6-4 2-1 before it was suspended. Krejcikova will face Alexandrova in an all-seeded battle, while fourth seed Yulia Putintseva – who won against Swiss talent Jil Teichmann following Teichmann’s retirement after two games – will take on eighth seed Pole Magda Linette. Top seed Bianca Andreescu awaits the winner of sixth seed Shuai Zhang and Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the other quarter final.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [WC] Clara Burel (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[4] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 2-0 RET
[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 3-6 6-2 6-1
[7] Shelby Rogers (USA) [Q] Jule Niemer (GER)
Arantxa Rus (NED) defeated [WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-1 1-1 RET

Picture credit: WTA Tour

WTA Tour wrap: Andreescu pulls out of quarters as Rus upsets Pegula

THE Internationaux de Strasbourg has continued with Day 4 rolling around already, and six matches playing out across the first and second rounds following a huge opening couple of days.

Four matches played out to complete the Round of 32, with the biggest upset of the lot a 6-4 6-4 effort from Arantxa Rus over second seed American, Jessica Pegula. Rus required just under 90 minutes to complete the clean sweep, forcing service errors from the second seed who finished the match with eight double faults to her name.

Seventh seed Shelby Rogers survived a marathon encounter against compatriot Christina McHale, eventually claiming the 7-5 6-7(6) 7-5 victory in three hours and 23 minutes. Rogers was error-ridden on serve but still managed to claim the overall ascendancy to win 51.5 per cent of the total points, and appeared much more consistent compared to McHale.

Meanwhile, wildcard Harmony Tan and qualifier Jule Niemeier both reigned supreme, winning through to the second round following straight sets victories.

Looking to the Round of 16, and top seed Bianca Andreescu completed her second round victory over Belgian Maryna Zanevska, before immediately withdrawing from her quarter final with an injury.

“I’m super happy with the win today,” Andreescu said post-match. “I will be pulling out of my next match, because I did feel a little bit of an ab tear, and I don’t want to push it at all for Roland Garros. I don’t want to take any risks. Nothing serious though. It’s a little discomfort.”

Despite pulling out of her next match, Andreescu comfortably disposed of Zanevska, claiming the 6-1 6-4 victory in just 65 minutes. The second Round of 16 match for the day played out between eighth seed Magda Linette and hometown hopeful Alize Cornet, which saw the Pole take out the first and an early ascendancy in the second before Cornet pulled the pin, suffering from a right hip injury to complete the game 7-6(2) 3-0.

“I felt a really sudden pain in the first game of the match, so it’s really unlucky,” Cornet said.

“But you know me, I kept playing, I kept trying, and I was even in the position to win the [first] set … But every time I was running, it was quite difficult, and in the second set it got a little bit worse.”

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

Arantxa Rus (NED) defeated [2] Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 6-4
[7] Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 7-5 6-7 7-5
Harmony Tan (FRA) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-4 6-4
Jule Niemeier (GER) defeated Diane Parry (FRA) 6-4 6-3

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 16 RESULTS: 

[1] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Maryna Zanevska (BEL) 6-1 6-4
[8] Magda Linette (POL) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 7-6 3-0 RET

Picture credit: Internationaux de Strasbourg/C’est qui Maurice?/Michel Grasso

WTA Tour wrap: Andreescu returns

BIANCA Andreescu made her return at the Internationaux de Strasbourg Round of 32 and did not skip a beat, leading the charge as all four seeds reigned supreme in an intriguing day on the clay.

For Andreescu, this win was a long time coming after putting her season on pause since March – and the full 15 months before that – and the top seed did not disappoint as she executed a speedy 6-1 6-2 victory over Spaniard Andrea Lazaro Garcia in 61 minutes. Intriguingly, this match marked just Andreescu’s second WTA Tour level clay court win, but she starred against the qualifier with an excellent 84 per cent win rate off a 75.6 per cent clip. She was joined in the second round by all three of the the day;s remaining seeds in Zhang ShuaiYulia Putintseva and Barbora Krejcikova, with the last technically completing the quickest win of the day by default as a 55 minute matchup with Oceane Dodin was cut short by the Frenchwoman’s injury retirement.

Zhang claimed the win over Japanese talent Misaki Doi in one hour and 40 minutes, while Putintseva took part in one of just two three setters for the day, tested by Swede Rebecca Peterson before eventually taking out the 6-4 3-6 7-6 victory in a whopping three hours and 20 minutes. The second three-setter played out between Romanian Sorana Cirstea and Venus Williams, with the former claiming her first victory over Williams from three prior outings, overcoming a showy second set from the former champion to reign supreme 6-1 2-6 6-1 in just one hour and 45 minutes.

All three remaining matches for the day were decided fairly comprehensively, as Belgian Maryna Zanevska claimed the next quickest result of the day over Belarusian Yuliya Hatouka, completing the 6-2 6-1 sweep in jut 57 minutes. Frenchwoman Carolina Garcia overcame a tight start to take the win over Kazakh Zarina Diyas, whilst Jil Teichmann also joined the winners list with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Anna Blinkova.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Andrea Lazaro Garcia (ESP) 6-1 6-2
[4] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-3 3-0 RET
[6] Zhang Shuai (CHN) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 7-5 6-4
Maryna Zanevska (BEL) defeated Yuliya Hatouka (BLR) 6-2 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 7-5 6-2
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-1 2-6 6-1

Picture credit: Internationaux de Strasbourg/C’est qui Maurice?/Michel Grasso

WTA Tour wrap: Barty’s clay court court campaign recommences with 61-minute demolition

ASH Barty continued her red-hot form to completely dismantle unseeded Japanese talent Misaki Doi 6-2 6-1 to advance through to the Round of 16 at the Volvo Car Open. The world number one moved to a 15-2 record on the 2021 WTA Tour, which also stretches out to 27-4 since her first-up match at the 2020 Adelaide International 15 months ago.

She went on to win that Adelaide International, and after sitting out the 2020 WTA Tour season once it returned in the second half of the year, Barty remained world number one and started off 2021 as if she had not ever stopped. Her first tournament of the year she won in Melbourne, defeating Garbine Muguruza in the final, a player who had competed throughout the past 12 months.

A shock loss to Karolina Muchova at the Australian Open, followed by another defeat at the hands of Danielle Collins might have momentarily caused some unwarranted questions towards the world number one and how she would go this year. Like true champions do, Barty answered those critics with a stunning run in Miami to defend her title there and claim the WTA 1000 event. It was not just winning the event that mattered, but it was the quality of opposition she beat.

After drawing a qualifier in the second round – following a first round bye – Barty took out former Top 5 talent Jelena Ostapenko, then proceeded to dismiss Top 10 players and Grand Slam champions alike on the way to the Miami Open title. She moved past Belarusian duo Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka – the former being the runner-up at the 2020 US Open and the latter being the most in-form player entering 2021 – before defeating Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu – albeit the Andreescu win was due to retirement, though Barty was in control – to make it six wins on the trot.

The critics have quietened down for now, but Barty is a player that somehow draws criticism for one bad loss amongst double-figure impressive wins. The world number one will always have extra pressure on them, but Barty answers those questions with class and grace. Her 61-minute rout of Doi was the most impressive of any Round of 16 match at the Volvo Car Open. Keeping in mind it was Barty’s first clay match in almost two years, and the Australian looked at home on the red dirt. The Australian now takes on Shelby Rogers in the next round after she toppled Amanda Anisimova in an upset.

In other results, the next highest seed behind Barty to advance to the Round of 16 was Tunisian Ons Jabeur (12th), with compatriot Coco Gauff, and 15th seed Russian Veronika Kudermetova the others. It was carnage in the top end though, with American duo Sofia Kenin and Madison Keys both bombing out to compatriots Lauren Davis and Sloane Stephens respectively. Spain’s Paula Badosa also took care of Belinda Bencic in three sets, while Frenchwoman Alize Cornet won against Elise Mertens in straight sets. In terms of the unseeded players, Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, United States’ Cate McNally and Japan’s Kurumi Nara all advanced to the next round.

In the lower seeded Copa Colsanitas, all the seeds had a forgettable day, with the first, third, sixth and eighth seeds all knocked out in the Round of 16. Zheng Saisai, Arantxa Rus, Jasmine Paolini and Wang Yafan all departed prior to the quarter finals, as Spanish qualifiers Nuria Parrizas Diaz and Lara Arruabarrena, Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele and Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova all booked their spots in the final eight. In the sole unseeded match, Italian Sara Errani knocked off Aliona Bolsova in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.

VOLVO CAR OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Lauren Davis (USA) defeated [2] Sofia Kenin (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 6-7 6-1
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [7] Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-5 6-3
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [8] Madison Keys (USA) 6-4 6-4
[12] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [WC] Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-3 6-3
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [13] Amanda Anisimova (USA) 1-6 7-5 6-4
[14] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 4-6 6-1 6-4
[15] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [WC] Emma Navarro (USA) 6-4 6-4
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Marie Bouzkova (RUS) 4-6 7-5 7-5
Danka Kovinic (MNE) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Cate McNally (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 7-6 2-6 6-4
Kurumi Nara (JPN) defeated Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-1 6-4

COPA COLSANITAS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Stefanie Voegele (SUI) defeated [1] Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) defeated [3] Arantxa Rus (NED) 7-6 2-6 6-1
[Q] Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) defeated [6] Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 2-6 6-4 6-2
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated [8] Wang Yafan (CHN) 6-3 6-3
Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: Volvo Car Open/Chris Smith

WTA Miami Open 1000: Barty goes back-to-back as Andreescu retires injured

WORLD number one Ash Barty has defended her 2019 WTA Miami Open 1000 crown with a straight sets win over a sore Bianca Andreescu. The Australian top seed got up 6-3 4-0 in the match to make it 12 consecutive wins in Miami. Having defeated Top 20 talents, Belarusian duo Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka, and Ukrainian Elina Svitolina on the way to the title in 62 minutes against the Canadian eighth seed.

“I felt like with each match I have been playing better and better, which is ultimately what we are after,” Barty said. “To be able to have the title at the end is a bonus, and to be able to defend my title the first time in my career I’ve been able to do that is really, really special too.”

Barty served four aces to two for the match, and won a whopping 77.8 per cent of her first serve points, off a 61.4 per cent clip. Andreescu was efficient with getting her first serve in 73.8 per cent of the time, but won just 45.2 per cent of her points off her first serve, and could not consistently crack through on her opponents’ serve. Barty broke four times from eight chances to Andreescu’s one from two. Unfortunately a “freak accident” in the second game of the second set forced the Canadian to retire two games later.

“It’s never the way you ever want to finish a match, particularly in a final,” Barty said post-match. “I really do feel for Bianca. “I think she’s had such a rough trot with injuries in the past.

“I think that’s going to be one of the first of many battles for us. “I just hope from now on they are healthy and we can both stay out on the court and fight for everything that we can give. “Obviously I feel for her having to pull out today.”

Andreescu’s dominance in North America since the start of 2019 still remains strong, with the retirement just her third loss in 36 matches, and the Canadian was pleased with how she had performed throughout the tournament.

“I really fought through very tough matches,” Andreescu said post-match. “My body seemed to be good up until today. I think it was just, like, a freak accident.

“But other than that, I’m super grateful. “One of my first tournaments back in a really long time, and all I can say is that I’m super grateful.”

The Australian became just the sixth woman to successfully defend a Miami Crown, following in the footsteps of the Williams sisters – Venus and SerenaMonica Seles, Stefanie Graf and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario who are also past world number ones.

“They are genuine champions of our sport, legends of our sport,” Barty said. “I feel very privileged to be mentioned in that sentence, and it’s very cool and something I was unaware of. “But I think it’s extremely humbling to be mentioned in the same sentence as those champions, [and] I feel like I’ve got a long, long way to go yet before I can be in discussion with those names.”

The Miami Open title means Barty has now hit double-figure WTA Tour titles, following on from her Yarra Valley Classic win earlier this year. The 24-year-old will enter the clay court season full of confidence having collected a number of Top 20 scalps along her way to the title.

WTA MIAMI OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-4 2-0 RET

WTA Miami Open 1000: Sakkari and Andreescu to contend for Miami final spot

THE second Miami Open semi-final has been confirmed, with Maria Sakkari and Bianca Andreescu set to go head-to-head following respective wins on Day 10 of proceedings.

Sakkari disposed of world number two Naomi Osaka, with the 23rd seed Greek talent in Sakkari got off to a flying start with a 6-0 first set before the Japanese talent really got going, however the damage was already done and the momentum taken as she completed the 6-0 6-4 sweep in just one hour and nine minutes.

Sakkari’s excellent first set came down to an 88.9 per cent winning rate off her first serve, outclassing Osaka at every turn as the second seed struggled to capitalise serving off a 35 per cent clip. Whilst Osaka lifted in the second set to lead 3-0, it was not enough to overcome Sakkari who stepped up to the challenge, serving two aces and still winning 70 per cent off her first serve to come away with a clean victory.

“I don’t think tennis-wise it was like the best tennis I have ever played in my life,” said Sakkari. “I think I executed our strategy with Tom (Tom Hill, coach) really well. I just did what I had to do. I’m not gonna tell you what. What we discussed before the match, I just did it most of the match, except maybe a couple of games where things didn’t go right.”

“I just had a little bit of time in the changeover [down 1-4] and thought about the strategy again,” said Sakkari. “I think I lost that a little bit in the beginning of the second set. So focusing on my strategy was the key. I knew that if I can break her back, then I can serve clever and I can serve the right way to just come back and win the second set, as well.”

This was Osaka’s first loss in over a year, with Sakkari’s ability to cut the Japanese talent’s 23-win streak effectively allowing Ash Barty to retain world number one status in the process.

It was a very different story in the second quarter final between Canadian eighth seed Andreescu and unseeded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, with a tight three-setter going the full mile for over two and a half hours. Whilst Andreescu won the first set, Sorribes Tormo worked her way back into the match with a solid second set to take it to the third, before the Canadian talent created some much needed separation to take out the third set and match, 6-4 3-6 6-3.

Whilst Sorribes Tormo was more effective on serve by a fair margin – 77 per cent compared to Andreescu’s 65 per cent – Andreescu was much more efficient and consistent overall with a 53.8 per cent win rate off her first serve and 42.9 per cent off her second serve.

Expect a huge clash between Andreescu and Sakkari tomorrow, with their semi-final following the first semi-final between Barty and Elina Svitolina.

MIAMI OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[23] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-0 6-4
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) v. Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-4