Tag: daria kasatkina

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur makes history as Samsonova makes breakthrough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BETT1OPEN FINAL RESULT:

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

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM FINAL RESULT:

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

BAD HOMBURG ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

 

Picture credit: Getty Images for LTA

WTA Tour wrap: Samsonova stars with upset win in Bett1Open

THERE was no shortage of excitement at both the Viking Classic and the Bett1Open as a couple of surprise upsets headlined the action particularly in Berlin. With rain plaguing the Viking Classic all of the quarter and semi-finals were played making for plenty of intense battles but in the end it was Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina that set up the final showdown.

History could be in the making at the Viking Classic with Jabeur securing hard fought wins against Anastasia Potapova (6-4, 6-0) and Heather Watson (6-3, 6-3) to progress to the final day of play and gifting her a chance to win her first WTA title.

Jabeur made light work of her opponent in Potapova disposing of her in 56 minutes as the second seed went about her business in a highly clinical manner. Down early on in the match, the Tunisian knuckled down to dominate and win 11 of 12 games to topple the up and coming youngster.

“I tried not to waste my time on court, to keep my energy for a long day,” Jabeur said.

It was a slightly different story for Kasatkina who spent a little while longer out on court than Jabeur, taking an hour and 44 minutes to down Tereza Martincova 6-4 2-6 6-0 and just as long to overcome Coco Vandeweghe 6-2 6-4. The three set thriller was hard work with Kasatkina forced to work for every shot as the young Czech. Kasatkina will now play Jabeur in the final with the former looking for her third title this year in what is set to be an absolute thriller.

It has been a fairytale week for Liudmila Samsonova who has continued her run of hot form at the Bett1Open this time knocking out former world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-4 6-2. It was a clinical performance from Samsonova who stifled Azarenka, getting the job done in one hour and six minutes.

The win sees her advance into her first career WTA singles final when she takes on Belinda Bencic in the main event. The Russian dug deep in her outing against the number seven seed in Azarenka with her big hitting well and truly coming to the fore.

“It’s all incredible for me, it’s so new, and I’m very happy for it,” Samsonova said, after her win. “It’s unbelievable for me.”

Samsonova had a good day out on the park with her cleanliness causing all sorts of headaches for Azarenka. In fact the win is only her second in her entire career over a Top 20 talent and she did so in style producing 24 winners including 11 aces and only making a mere six unforced errors.

She now looks ahead to Bencic who also progressed through to the final day of action thanks to a strong performance against Alizé Cornet.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a tough match because [Bencic] plays very good on this surface, and she’s a good player,” Samsonova said. “I will try to do my best and focus on my game, and we will see.”

Bencic got the job done in two sets against Cornet 7-5 6-4 to move through to yet another final. The Swiss talent has been in strong form this year and this battle was no different hitting 29 winners and only racking up 19 unforced errors for the match.

“Of course it gives me a lot of confidence,” Bencic said, after her win. “It’s always great to have this confirmation on grass that it’s working well.”

It took just under two hours for the match to be decided with both players working in overdrive as the world number 12 in Bencic dug into her bag of tricks to try and outsmart the world number 63 to advance to the final stage.

VIKING CLASSIC SEMI FINALS RESULTS:

[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-2 6-4
[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-3 6-3

BETT1OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated [7] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-4 6-2
[5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 7-5 6-4

Photo credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Mixed bag of results across grass court events

IT was a bit of a mixed bag of results across the WTA Tour’s two grass court events yesterday, with two seeds making their way through in each of the Viking Classic and Bett1Open quarter finals, whilst in the other two matches the underdog prevailed. In Berlin, fifth seed Belinda Bencic advanced through to the final four with a hard-fought three-set win over Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 4-6 7-6, needing two hours and 31 minutes to dismiss her opponent.

The Swiss star will now face Frenchwoman Alize Cornet who stunned Grand Slam winner and sixth seed Garbine Muguruza in an epic contest, winning in a third set tiebreaker, 7-5. The overall match saw Cornet come from behind to post a 4-6 6-3 7-6 win over the Spanish seed in two hours and 40 minutes to claim her spot in the final four. Cornet won 76.6 per cent of his first serve points and broke twice from her two chances, whilst rallied hard against a solid Muguruza who broke twice form four chances, and won 67.9 and 70 per cent of her first and second serve points.

“It was a long match with a lot of emotion, especially in the tiebreak,” Cornet said post-match. “I can’t believe I made it at the end. She’s a champion, she never gives up. I should have gone for a it a bit more, I was waiting for a mistake and I was a bit tight – it’s normal. But I was very resilient too, I was always behind in the score in the third set but I kept grinding, I kept fighting to the end and it’s a really nice victory.

“I had a really tough clay season, I couldn’t play well and I don’t know why – but to play well on grass, it’s unexpected but beautiful.”

VIKING CLASSIC QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

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

BETT1OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-4 4-6 7-6
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[7] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-2 5-7 6-4
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 7-6 2-6 7-6

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Sabalenka fails again as Grand Slam champions advance

IT was unfortunately a case of history repeating itself, as Belarusian third seed Aryna Sabalenka bowed out in the third round of Roland Garros. Despite a brilliant 2020 season where she collected just about every title she could in the finale of the interrupted year, going deep in a Grand Slam still eludes the world number four, failing to advance past her previous best Round of 32 result in Paris. It is something that has been a trend for Sabalenka across the Grand Slams, with four round exits at the Australian Open the best result of the lot. Against 31st seed Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the Belarusian faded in obscurity after fighting back to win the second set.

Pavlyuchenkova won 6-4 2-6 6-0 in one hour and 40 minutes to advance through to the fourth round of Roland Garros, playing a sensible game of only 16 unforced errors for 22 winners, whilst the powerful Sabalenka hit 39 for 41. The Russian only served two double faults to Sabalenka’s eight, and won 62 per cent of her first, and 50 per cent of her second serve points. By contrast, while Sabalenka managed to win a higher first serve percentage of points (72 per cent), she was a lowly 33 per cent from her second serve, and this came off a 55 per cent clip. Whilst it looked like Sabalenka had regained control with the second set win, Pavlyuchenkova powered home breaking in all three games in the final set as the Belarusian hit 17 unforced errors to just six winners, whilst the Russian only had the three unforced errors to the same amount of winners.

It was much more clinical from the two veteran Grand Slam winners left in the bottom half of the draw, with seventh seed Serena Williams and 15th seed Victoria Azarenka both winning in straight sets. Williams won 6-4 6-4 against compatriot Danielle Collins, hitting 22 winners to 18 and having one less unforced error (20-21), whilst serving five aces to one and winning 80 and 38 per cent off her first and second serves. Collins battled hard to win 79 and 34 per cent herself, but was broken four times to two which was the difference. Azarenka won 6-2 6 6-2 in 70 minutes over another American in 23rd seed Madison Keys. The American produced the majority of the play one way or another with 17 winners to 33 unforced errors, whilst the conservative Azarenka had six to 12. The Belarusian did win 67 and 57 per cent of her points off her first and second serves, compared to a disappointing 51 and 37 per cent off Keys’ respective serves.

The 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova also advanced through to the fourth round and remains the danger player to watch in the draw, defeating Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-3 6-3. The match lasted 71 minutes, with Vondrousova far more consistent off her first serve (73 to 58 per cent), whilst also winning 59 to 57 per cent off her second. The winners were fairly even (13-12 in Hercog’s favour), but the Slovenian was loose with her shots, hitting 35 unforced errors to Vondrousova’s 14. Meanwhile another rising star of the WTA Tour in Elena Rybakina also advanced through relatively easily with a 6-1 6-4 win over Elena Vesnina. The match only went 63 minutes, as Rybakina produced 12 aces to one, and won 83 and 65 per cent of her first and second serve points – dropping just 11 points in total – compared to Vesnina’s 49 and 50 per cent. The young gun also hit 26 winners to nine, and had five less unforced errors (13-18) in a well-rounded performance.

In other results, Paula Badosa and Tamara Zidansek both fought back from disappointing first sets to post respective wins over opponents. The 33rd seed Spaniard came from behind to knock off Romania’s Ana Bogdan 2-6 7-6 6-4, while Zidansek did not win a game in the first set, before just scraping through in a second set tiebreaker, and eventually running away with it over Czech Katerina Siniakova, 0-6 7-6 6-2. In the other singles result, Romanian Sorana Cirstea defeated Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-3 to advance through to the Round of 16.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 2-6 6-0
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Danielle Collins (USA) 6-4 6-4
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated [23] Madison Keys (USA) 6-2 6-2
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-1 6-4
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 2-6 7-6 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 0-6 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Kasatkina destroys Bencic for Roland Garros third round spot

DARIA Kasatkina caused the upset of the day by ousting 10th seed Belinda Bencic from Roland Garros in their second round clash. The Russian took no prisoners in a one-hour and 16-minute beating, running out a 6-2 6-2 winner over the talented Swiss player. Bencic was one of only two seeds to fall outside of a couple of walkovers, as Kasatkina served eight aces to one and hit seven more winners (27-20) and six less unforced errors (14-20) in a clinical display. Kasatkina also only dropped eight points off her first serve, and did not even face a break point, whilst breaking Bencic four times from nine chances.

“A lot has changed between 2018 and now,” Kasatkina said post-match. “There was one amazing year for me, which was important in a good and in the bad way. “I learned a lot, and I think I become a little bit different, maybe more experienced, a bit more serious. “Let’s say I understand more why I’m winning or why I’m losing.

“At that time everything was just going with the wave, and I was not thinking that much.” Now I’m analysing more what’s going on in the situation I’m in. “Getting maybe a bit more mature.”

Aside from the withdrawals of Naomi Osaka – which was announced after her first round win – and Petra Kvitova – which handed Romanian Ana Bogdan and Russian Elena Vesnina safe passage into the third round, 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova was the only other seeded talent to fall in the Round of 64. Kudermetova went down to Czech Katerina Siniakova, losing in three tight sets 7-6 5-7 7-5 in an epic two-hour and 52-minute match, the clear longest of the day. Kudermetova hit 18 more winners (45-27) but was far too inconsistent with 67 unforced errors to 43, as Siniakova was more efficient off her serve, and despite serving 10 double faults, made the most of her chances when they went in.

One of only two other matches that lasted beyond the two-hour mark was Sorana Cirstea‘s two-hour and 37-minute victory over Italian Martina Trevisan. Cirstea got up in three sets, 6-4 3-6 6-4 in what was a real arm-wrestle for the most part. The Romanian was far from her best, hitting 46 unforced errors to 28, and only had three more winners than her opponent (29-26), but won 50 per cent of her receiving points, and had higher success rates on her first and second serve. The Romanian won through to take on Kasatkina in the Round of 32.

The other epic was seventh seed Serena Williams needing to shake off a second set fight from another Romanian in Mihaela Buzarnescu to win in three sets in two hours and three minutes. Williams got up 6-3 5-7 6-1 to run away with the contest in the end, but not without some tough moments midway through the game. Williams hit one more winner (26-25) and had one less unforced error (27-28) in a relatively even contest, but it was her much higher first serve success rate (75 to 61 per cent) that proved the difference, as she broke five times to two and served the only five aces of the match.

A number of other contenders breezed through with 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova showing no mercy to French wildcard Harmony Tan, winning 6-1 6-3 in 62 minutes on court. The quickest match of the day was 33rd seed Paula Badosa‘s 6-2 6-0 destruction of Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in a lightning 52 minutes, while 21st seed Elena Rybakina defeated Nao Hibino 6-3 6-1 in 63 minutes. Danielle Collins breezed past Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-0 in 62 minutes, and Tamara Zidansek rolled into the third round with a 65-minute 6-4 6-1 trouncing of American Madison Brengle.

Elsewhere, Belarusian duo Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka both advanced through to the the next round in two tight sets, with Madison Keys and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova the other two seeds to make their way into the Round of 32. The only other match was Slovenia’s Polona Hercog taking care of France’s Carolina Garcia in straight sets, to complete the first 16 players through to the third round.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) W/O
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-3
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-3 5-7 6-1
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated [10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 6-2
[PR] Elena Vesnina (RUS) defeated [11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) W/O
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Clara Tauson (AUT) 7-5 6-4
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-1 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-3 6-1
[23] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 7-5
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated [29] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 5-7 7-5
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-2 6-4
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [LL] Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-2 6-0
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-2 6-0
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-1
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-4
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5 6-4

Picture credIt: Jimmie 48/WTA

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: Williams downed as first and second rounds continue

THE WTA Tour saw a mixed bag of results on Day 4 of the respective events in Parma, Italy and Belgrade, Serbia, with both tournaments playing out a combination of first and second round matches.

At the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, the eldest and youngest Americans came away with dastardly different results, as veteran and top seed Serena Williams fell at the second hurdle to Czech talent Katerina Siniakova, 7-6 6-2.

“Not every day is really amazing,” Siniakova said following the victory. “If you go to play against a player like this, you really have nothing to lose, so I came up and wanted to enjoy it.

“I should be more proud of them,” she said. “My statistics against top players are really good, and a lot of players would want this. I should be really proud and believe more in myself – this match can open my eyes and I will try to keep it like this.”

“I didn’t do a lot of mistakes, and I think she felt it,” Siniakova said. “I think she was trying to go harder and doing a lot of mistakes, which helped me – I’m really happy I could keep my level all match.”

Things went supremely different for 17-year-old third seed Coco Gauff, who came away unscathed in her first round clash with Kaia Kanepi, 7-6(6) 7-6(7). It seemed to be the way of the day as second seed Petra Martic downed Varvara Gracheva in another Round of 32 matchup, while fourth seed Daria Kasatkina started strong but could not retain control against a fighting Sloane Stephens in the Round of 16.

Finishing off the day’s Round of 32 saw Sara Errani win on home soil in a 7-5 4-6 6-1 fightback over Ana Bogdan, as Anna Lena Friedsam was tested throughout by a feisty Viktorija Golubic on a mission, 6-4 6-7(1) 6-2. In the second round’s last two matches, fifth seed Amanda Anisimova is the only seed thus far to have reached the third round after defeating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova while Liudmila Samsonova defeated Italian wildcard Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-2 6-2 in the quickest match of the day.

At Belgrade, just two Round of 16 matches played out as fourth and fifth seeds Paula Badosa and Nadia Podoroska both made their mark, claiming respective straight set wins in under 85 minutes over Mihaela Buzarnescu and Oceane Dodin. Just two more seeds took the court throughout the day’s Round of 32 proceedings, with one proceeding and one falling in another intriguing twist. Frenchwoman and sixth seed Kristina Mladenovic struggled against Russian Anna Kalinskaya, fighting back well after giving away a bagel for a first set, but unable to clinch victory eventually falling 6-0 7-6(6). Proceedings went much better for seventh seed Swede Rebecca Peterson, who overcame a sloppy first set and flew out of the blocks for the remainder of her clash with Serbian Nina Stojanovic, claiming the 5-7 6-1 6-0 victory in just under two hours.

It was not a good day for homegrown talent with neither of Stojanovic’s compatriots making it through to the second round, as Olga Danilovic and Lola Radivojevic  both fell to higher ranked opposition in under 90 minutes to Kamilla Rakhimova and Viktoriya Tomova respectively. In the remaining matches, Hungarian Reka-Luca JaniAna Konjuh and Aliaksandra Sasnovich all overcame tough efforts from their opposition to book spots in tomorrow’s Round of 16 proceedings.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-4 6-2
[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 7-6
Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 7-5 4-6 6-1
Anna Lena Friedsam (GER) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-4 6-7 6-2

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated [1] Serena Williams (USA) 7-6 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 1-6 6-4 7-5
[5] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-2 6-4
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Giulia Gatto-Monticone (ITA) 6-2 6-2

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated [6] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-0 7-6
[7] Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 5-7 6-1 6-0
Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) defeated Olga Danilovic (SRB) 6-2 6-4
Reka-Luca Jani (HUN) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-2 0-6 7-5
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Wang Xiyu (CHN) 6-7 6-0 6-2
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2 1-6 7-5
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated Lola Radivojevic (SRB) 6-2 6-3

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-0 6-4
[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-2 6-3

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

WTA Tour wrap: Emilia-Romagna and Belgrade begin

THE second day at both the Emilia-Romagna Open and Belgrade WTA 250 events saw plenty of intriguing results, following predictable opening days at each tournament.

Of the eight Day 2 matches which played out at Parma, all three seeds proceeded joining the opening day’s winners in Daria KasatkinaAmanda Anisimova and Wang Qiang. Top seed Serena Williams was the big entrant to the event and did not disappoint in her opening day on court, downing qualifying Italian teenager Lisa Pigato 6-3 6-2 in just 68 minutes, as seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo downed Bernarda Pera with a similar result.

Pigato may have been unlucky to draw Williams in her maiden WTA Tour main draw entry, but said that despite the result it was a dream to play the champion, even asking for a photo with Williams – while they were still on court.

“Playing against her, it was my dream,” Pigato said post-match. “When we finished, I thanked her, because it was an honour playing agaist her. “She told me that I’m a good player, and it was fantastic to talk to her.”

“Lisa played really well,” Williams said in her on-court interview. “She told me she was only 17. Her future is super-bright – she handled the moment well, so I look forward to cheering for her in the future.”

“It’s usually after the match, in the locker room, I take photos,” Williams said. “It was really cool and gutsy. “It was her first WTA main draw match, so I thought it was a really good opportunity to take a photo – she’ll be able to look back on that in years. “I wish I had done that with my first match, it would have been really cool.”

The remainder of the United States’ competitors results went shakily as Caty McNallyChristina McHale and Venus Williams both fell in the opening round, with the former downed by compatriot Sloane Stephens. McHale and Williams were both disposed of in the only three-setters of the day, as hometown hopeful Camila Giorgi heads into the second round, while Williams won the first set before being outclassed for the remainder of her 5-7 6-2 6-2 clash with Anna Schmiedlova.

Eighth seed Caroline Garcia was tested by Argentinian Paula Ormaechea in their 6-4 6-4 matchup, while in the remaining matches at Parma another Italian in Martina di Giuseppe heads through to the Round of 16, joined by the final winner of the day in Katerina Siniakova.

At Belgrade, one seed in Yulia Putintseva joins yesterday’s seeded winners in Paula Badosa and Nadia Podoroska in the Round of 16, whilst both Oceane Dodin and Mihaela Buzarnescu also proceeded. Whilst Putintseva suffered a slow start against Kaja Juvan, requiring three sets to dispose of the Slovenian, Belgrade’s two remaining seeds in Zhang Shuai and Danka Kovinic were not quite as lucky as the third and eighth seeds fell in three to Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Cristina Bucsa, respectively. The final winner of the day was Leylah Fernandez, as the 18-year-old Canadian downed another Slovenian in Polona Hercog.

Four more Round of 32 matches will play out at Parma tomorrow, as the remaining eight matches take the court at Belgrade, while both events also see the beginning of the Round of 16.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Lisa Pigato (ITA) 6-3 6-2
[7] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 6-2
[8] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Paula Ormaechea (ARG) 6-4 6-4
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 7-6 6-4
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-1 6-3
Martina di Giuseppe (ITA) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 7-5 7-6

[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-4 6-3
[5] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 5-7 6-1

BELGRADE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Kaja Juvan (SLO) 4-6 6-2 6-1
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated [3] Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 1-6 7-6
Cristina Bucsa (ESP) defeated [8] Danka Kovinic (MNE) 3-6 6-4 6-1
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-5 6-1

[4] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-2 6-3
[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 4-6 6-3
Oceane Dodin (FRA) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-3 7-5
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 4-6 7-5 6-2

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events