Tag: ekaterina alexandrova

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: 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: Grass events begin in lead-up to Wimbledon

THE grass court events have begun over the past week, with one victor already crowned at the first of two tournaments in Nottingham, as Johanna Konta claimed her fourth career title on home soil. With the first of the grass events out of the way for the first time since 2019, we now cast our eye to the WTA 500 bett1open Berlin tournament and the WTA 250 Viking Classic Birmingham, which follows up last week’s Viking Open.

The bett1open results were fairly comprehensive, with just the one seed competing and realistically the only player really challenged on Day 1. Jule Niemeier put up a tough effort against sixth seed Swiss talent Belinda Bencic, stealing away the first serve with a handy break, before Bencic bit back in the second to take it to one apiece. The decider was a hard contest with neither player willing to give an inch, however Bencic’s impressive service game got the job done, winning 90.5 per cent of her first serve points off a 65.6 per cent clip to turn the tides and claim the eventual 4-6 6-4 7-5 result in two hours and 12 minutes.

Overall, both players were influential on serve, but while Niemeier hit 12 aces to Bencic’s 10, she also had elevated double faults (11-7) which were ultimately in her way of a victory.

“She’s a great opponent,” Bencic said post-match. “I knew she was capable of great tennis, and she’s playing her best tennis right now, so I was expecting a tough match.”

World number 28 Madison Keys also got her grass season off to a quick start, disposing of Pole Magdalena Frech in straight sets, requiring just 75 minutes to claim the 6-3 6-4 encounter. Despite holding a 5-2 lead on serve in the second, Frech surged to break the American and claim back a couple of games, before Keys reeled off four straight points to love to claim the match.

“I think [Frech] played a couple of good points in my [second-to-last] service game, and she came out and had another good service game on her side,” Keys said “I was happy I made it a little less complicated in the last game.”

In the remaining two matches, Alize Cornet and Ekaterina Alexandrova both won in straight sets, with the latter claiming the quickest result of the day requiring just 63 minutes to down wildcard compatriot, Anna Kalinskaya.

At Birmingham, the two seeds looked confident as Donna Vekic downed Francesca Jones in just 67 minutes, 6-1 6-3, while Marie Bouzkova had a shaky start but was hard to deny in the remainder of her clash with Hsieh Su-Wei, claiming the 3-6 6-1 6-2 clash in two hours and one minute.

Camila Giorgi and Tereza Martincova both swept their opposition withe the former disposing of compatriot Giulia Gatto-Monticone in just 67 minutes, as Martincova well and truly shook Australian Sam Stosur, who failed to really fire in their 6-3 6-4 clash. Viktorija Golubic stole the first set away from Heather Watson before the Brit competed hard in the remaining sets on home soil to claim victory in two hours flat, while Caroline Garcia required just under two and a half hours to clean up another Brit in Harriet Dart, eventually claiming the 7-5 4-6 6-4 result. The final match of the day saw Coco Vandeweghe tested by Kristyna Pliskova, with both players forced to fight hard for the second set tiebreaker which saw Vandeweghe gain the upper hand and claim the 6-4 7-6 clash in 81 minutes.

BETT1OPEN BERLIN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Jule Niemeier (GER) 4-6 6-4 7-6
Madison Keys (USA) defeated Magdalena Frech (POL) 6-3 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 6-3 6-1
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-3 6-2

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[3] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Francesca Jones (GBR) 6-1 6-3
[6] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 3-6 6-1 6-2
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Giulia Gatto-Monticone (ITA) 6-3 6-0
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-3 6-4
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 3-6 6-2 6-2
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-4 7-6
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Harriet Dart (GBR) 7-5 4-6 6-4

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Krejcikova and Pavlyuchenkova set up maiden slam final

BARBORA Krejcikova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have set up a huge Roland Garros final this week following victories during the semis, coming in hot during their successful Grand Slam campaigns with a shot at a maiden major title edging ever closer.

Unseeded Czech Krejcikova was forced to battle hard in a huge clash with 17th seed Greek Maria Sakkari, taking out the tight first set before Sakkari broke back to win the second. She was then forced to save a match point to claim the eventual 7-5 4-6 9-7 encounter, requiring a whopping three hours and 18 minutes to do so – the longest ever women’s semi final at the Roland Garros.

“I think the match was really up and down,” Krejcikova said. “I just told myself, ‘Just fight, fight, fight until the last point’. I’m happy that I was really fighting.”

“I cannot believe it’s actually happening,” Krejcikova said. “I cannot believe it.”

Whilst the two competitors had similar winner (31-27 the way of Krejcikova) and unforced error counts (58-53), the stats proved just how closely fought the matchup was with the Czech only marginally leading off her own service games given Sakkari’s quicker serve, and overall winning 126 total points to Sakkari’s 118.

“I always wanted to play matches like this,” Krejcikova said. “I always wanted to play tournaments like this, big tournaments, big opponents, last rounds. It was always something that I wanted to achieve. It was just taking so long.

“It just took me some time, but I think right now it’s actually right moment. Especially mentally I think I’m just there. I really matured. I just really appreciate things a lot, especially after what I’ve gone through.”

While Sakkari is proud of her run to the semi-finals, which included a milestone becoming the first Greek woman to ever reach a grand slam semi, she was disappointed that she “got stressed” when serving for the match on two separate occasions.

“I have to be deadly honest: I got stressed, starting thinking that I’m a point away from being in the final,” Sakkari said. “I guess it’s a rookie mistake. Good thing is that if I give myself a chance again to be in that position, then I know that I don’t have to do it again.”

“I’m proud of my run here, but it hurts,” she said. “Today’s loss hurts a lot because I was so close. I was just one point away. “But what can you do? “There are lots of positives and some negatives, as well. I just have to embrace it and just move forward and see how am I going to do it the next time.”

Krejcikova also defeated Kristyna Pliskova, 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, fifth seed Elina Svitolina, Sloane Stephens and 24th seed Coco Gauff – in that order – on her way to the semi-final.

Pavlyuchenkova had a similarly tough run to the final, coming up against a couple of top seeds and showcasing just how impressive her last week has been. Christina McHale, Ajla Tomljanovic, third seed Aryna Sabalenka, 15th seed Victoria Azarenka and 21st seed Elena Rybakina, before taking on Slovenian Tamara Zidansek for her first chance at a grand slam major – which came after just one hour and 34 minutes.

“It’s been a long road. It’s been a lot of ups and downs. It’s been a tough one,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I definitely didn’t expect this year being in the final. I guess you can’t expect those things.

“I was just there working hard, doing everything possible. I just said to myself, ‘You know what, this year let’s do whatever it takes, anything you can do to improve your game, your mentality’.”

The Russian raced ahead to an early break 5-3 before her Slovenian opposition bit back, taking the first set to a decider before Pavlyuchenkova claimed the momentum clinching the first set 7-5 and raced away to complete the 6-3 second set.

“Like this something I’ve been thinking about every single time. I think as tennis players, that’s the only goal I think we have in the head. That’s why we playing tennis,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “That’s for us the biggest achievement you can get. That’s what you’re playing for… I think about it all the time. Like been thinking about it since I was a junior, since I was a little kid, since I started playing tennis… It’s been there in my head forever.”

Zidansek will debut in the top 50 following her excellent run to the semi-finals, and left nothing to chance in what ended up being her final encounter for the week.

“I’ve learned that sometimes when I was younger, I was always looking at big players, ‘Wow, they’re hitting so good’. Maybe I want to have a shot like that or something,” Zidansek said.

“But I think I showed myself and I’ve learned that at this stage it really is, I’m going to say, 90 per cent a mental game, just about going out there and believing in yourself, believing in your game. At the end being able to go out there and show your best game.”

ROLAND GARROS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 7-5 4-6 9-7
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 7-5 6-3

 

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Barty withdraws, teens prevail on Day 5

JUST two unseeded matches played out on a huge Day 5 in the Roland Garros Round of 64 women’s draw, as predominantly seeds reigned supreme to head into a hugely competitive third round of action. The big news of the day saw Ash Barty withdraw with injury, while reigning champion Iga Swiatek was one of five players to execute a speedy hour-long win.

It was a flared-up hip injury that forced Barty to retire from her encounter with Pole Magda Linette, who swept the world number one in the first set before the Australian retired at 6-1 2-2, only managing to play out 48 minutes on court.

“It’s disappointing to end like this,” said Barty. “I’ve had my fair share of tears this week. “It’s all good, everything happens for a reason. “There will be a silver lining in this eventually. “Once I find out what that is, it’ll make me feel a little bit better, but it will be there, I’m sure.”

The Australian leads all-comers for wins on tour this season, with three titles to her name already in 2021.

“It’s just a bridge too far this week,” Barty said. “We had a fantastic lead-up and for my body to let me down is really disheartening, but knowing that we also, we did nothing wrong. It’s something that can’t be explained at this time. “It was just becoming too much. “Right from the first game I was battling the pain, and it just became too severe… it was becoming unsafe.”

“It’s disappointing but not panic stations,” she said. “We know what’s going on. “We just need time to manage it to get back on the court as quickly as we can.”

Linette moves onto the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time, and is joined by teen compatriot Swiatek, who needed just 61 minutes to dispose of Swede Rebecca Peterson, hitting 22 winners to seven throughout the 6-1 6-1 encounter.

“I had a good day today since I woke up, so I knew that I’m going to be in the right mood,” Swiatek said. “I just kept that. I did my routines before the match. “Then when I was on the court, I just felt the ball perfectly. I felt like I could do anything with it. So I’m pretty happy that I had this, you know, this attitude right now.”

Despite Barty and Osaka already out of the running and leaving a clear vision to the finish line, Swiatek is not overthinking her chances on the clay and instead looking straight to her third round matchup.

“I’m just focusing on my next round,” she said. “Actually, I’m gonna play against Anett Kontaveit. “She’s, like, super experienced. “I already lost against her two times. “So it’s going to be a tough match.”

Maria SakkariOns Jabeur and Kontaveit also executed quick victories, with the three seeds finding their form quickly to clean up their respective unseeded opposition. Unseeded Czech Barbora Krejickova joined the hour-long winners group, defeating 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, while 14th seed Elise Mertens also claimed victory.

Eight Americans took the court on Day 5, seeing five competitors reign supreme as the four seeds proved too good. Fourth seed Sofia Kenin appears to have found her groove at the perfect time, downing compatriot Hailey Baptiste, as 13th seed Jennifer Brady, teen 24th seed Coco Gauff and 28th seed Jessica Pegula all claimed wins. While Varvara Lapchenko went down in straight sets to 18th seed Czech Karolina Muchova and Ann Li was shaky against fifth seed Elina Svitolina, proceedings went far different for former finalist Sloane Stephens, who stepped up to the tough task of ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, coming away with a 7-5 6-1 victory in 91 minutes.

The remaining two competitors in teen Marta Kostyuk and 20-year-old Varvara Gracheva earn a chance to reach the second week of a grand slam for the first time when they go head to head in the third round.

“I think we are at times where anyone in women’s tennis can win a slam, kind of,” Kostyuk said. “Not like anyone, anyone, but a lot of girls. Let’s call it that way. It’s not that I have this strong feeling inside me that I’m coming into a Grand Slam believing that I can win it, but this time I feel really good. I believe anything is possible.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS: 

Magda Linette (POL) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 6-1 2-2 RET
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 7-5 6-3
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Ann Li (USA) 6-0 6-4
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-1 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-5 6-1
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 6-4 2-6 7-5
[14] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 4-6 6-2 6-4
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 6-3
[18] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-3 6-4
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-3 7-6
[25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-2 6-4
[28] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-3 6-3
[30] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2 6-0
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [32] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Camila Giorgi (FRA) 7-5 1-6 6-2
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-3 6-4

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Suarez Navarro makes return, Kvitova pulls out

DAY 3 of the 2021 Roland Garros women’s draw produced some huge result, as Carla Suarez Navarro made her triumphant return to tennis following cancer treatment, while Ash Barty was tested in her opening round clash and Petra Kvitova pulled out ahead of her second round matchup with an ankle injury.

“Unfortunately, after an MRI and much discussion with my team, I have made the tough decision that it would be unwise to play on it,” Kvitova confirmed on social media. “It’s incredibly bad luck, but I will stay strong and do my best to recover in time for the grass-court season.”

Suarez Navarro put up an impressive fight against Sloane Stephens in her first outing for the year since undergoing treatment, but despite an excellent first set was unable to complete a victory as the American fought hard in the second and third to take out the 3-6 7-6 6-4 win.

“Was a long time, really tough moments, tough months,” Suárez Navarro said. “But, well, every time I had on my mind that I want to be here, I want to come back. Roland Garros is one of my favourite tournaments, so [it was] really clear that my first tournament will be this one.”

“I tried to prepare myself for my best tennis that I can,” Suárez Navarro said. “Obviously I need more time, but I think I had a good time this week practicing, I have good level in my match. Of course I feel tired at the end. I know that if I don’t close the match in two sets, it will be so difficult for me. But I’m really proud, too, of myself and really happy to have the chance to play here one last time.”

“She’s a great player, so she obviously is going to come out and play some really good tennis,” Stephens said. “I thought she played her normal Carla tennis, up on the baseline with that one-handed backhand. I thought she played like she normally does. She brought it to me today, and I thought she played a great match.”

“Obviously she’s been through a lot and we’re all happy that she’s better and healthy and being able to play again, which I think obviously is the most important thing.

“We all love her and love having her around.”

No seeds fell on the day, however it was a close shave for two with world number one Barty taken to three by American Bernarda Pera, and requiring medical attention between the second and third sets, while Karolina Muchova suffered a slump in the first before dominating the remainder of her three setter with Andrea Petkovic.

“It’s so special to be back. I was disappointed not to be able to play last year, but this court is incredible for me, it’s very close to my heart and it’s very nice to be able to play here in front of fans,” Barty said post-match.

“You can’t win a match if you give up, so today was about going out there and not giving up.”

Barty required two hours flat to shake Pera in a 6-4 3-6 6-2 result, with her excellent unforced error count (25-49) paving the way despite Pera dominating the winner count 36-18.

“I think every match that I play in, every different experience, whether it’s an opponent or a physical challenge, I feel like you learn to overcome it and you learn to accept it,” she said.

“That was a massive part of today, was accepting the fact that, yes, I may not be absolutely 100 per cent but I’m certainly good enough to go out there and fight and do the best I can and give myself a chance to win matches.”

All the remaining seeds proceeded to the second round, with Elina SvitolinaKarolina Pliskova, Jennifer Brady and Maria Sakkari leading the pack, while a couple of top 30 talents in young gun Coco Gauff and Tunisian Ons Jabeur trail and 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova downed Venus Williams in 56 minutes.

Plenty of exciting talent also heads into the second round, as two more Americans in Ann Li and qualifier Varvara Lapchenko, as well as a couple of Frenchwomen in Fiona Ferro and Kristina Mladenovic claimed wins, while Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna fell to compatriot Barbora Krejcikova, and a second Australian in Astra Sharma heads to the second round. The remaining winners on the final day of first round action were in-form Pole Magda Linette, Italian Jasmine Paolini and Chinese talent Wang Qiang.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-2
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [Q] Oceane Babel (FRA) 6-2 7-5
[9] Karolina Pliskova (UKR) defeated Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-5 6-4
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-3 6-3
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [Q] Katarina Zavatska (UKR) 6-4 6-1
[18] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 1-6 6-3 6-4
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [Q] Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 7-6 6-4
[25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 7-5 6-2
[32] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-3 6-1
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [Q] Liang En-Shuo (TPE) 6-1 1-6 6-4
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [Q] Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-4 6-0
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 3-6 7-6 6-4
Magda Linette (POL) defeated [WC] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 2-6 6-4 7-6
Ann Li (USA) defeated Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-0 6-1
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 5-7 6-4 6-2
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated [Q] Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-7 7-6 6-0
[WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated [Q] Irina Bara (ROU) 7-6 6-2
[Q] Varvara Lepchenko (USA) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Julien Crosnier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Krejcikova claims first title in Strasbourg

CZECH Barbora Krejcikova has won her maiden WTA Tour singles final in Strasbourg, defeating experienced Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the last tournament prior to Roland Garros kicking off today. The fifth seed won 6-3 6-3 in an hour and 39 minutes to salute on clay and head into the Grand Slam with plenty of confidence.

Krejcikova won despite having a shocking serving efficiency, producing 10 double faults and no aces for a 55.2 per cent clip, though when she did get it in she capitalised, winning 73 per cent of her first serve points. With Cirstea, the veteran might have served three aces and done it at a 62.5 per cent efficiency, but could not capitalise off her first serve, winning a poor 48.9 per cent of the points. She was also broken six times during the match and could only muster three breaks from seven chances against the fifth seed.

“There’s been a lot of emotions on the court,” Krejcikova said post-match. “I have so many things on my mind right now. “It’s really hard to put it in sentences.”

The 25-year-old Czech is at a career-high 38th in the world and is enjoying a really promising 18-8 start to 2021 as she eyes off a Top 30 spot. Known as a doubles player where she has won two Grand Slams among eight doubles titles, Krejcikova has risen from outside the Top 50 so far this year. Coming into the match, the players had played twice with a 1-1 head-to-head.

“I felt I was struggling with the serve already yesterday, and today I was struggling with the serve,” Krejcikova said. “But I just knew that it was going to be like this, and I was looking to find another way to win the match. To somehow fight for the ball each point, and just find a way to win the rally, somehow, even if my serve doesn’t work and it’s not really helping me.

“Actually at the end, at 5-3, I was serving really well! So I don’t know what happened, it’s been up and down.”

In the end, Krejcikova won 56.7 and 52.8 per cent of her service and return points, for an overall 54.7 per cent success rate to claim the breakthrough title ahead of Roland Garros. The most recent title winner will take on compatriot Kristyna Pliskova in the first round at Paris, with a potential second round clash against 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova. Cirstea has a tougher first-up match, locking horns with 19th seed Johanna Konta.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG FINAL RESULT:

[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 6-3

 

Picture credit: Internationaux de Strasbourg / Chryslène Caillaud

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: Frenchwomen and seeds win on opening day at Strasbourg

IT was a fairly comprehensive day of results on the opening day at the WTA Tour’s Internationaux de Strasbourg, as the two seeds reigned supreme and a couple of hometown hopefuls enter the second round.

The two seeds were predictable smashing out first round victories, as third seed Ekaterina Alexandrova flew out of the blocks against American Lauren Davis, whilst Magda Linette executed the quickest win of the day with a 60-minute smashing of Nao Hibino. A second set comeback from Davis was not enough to steal a victory from the in-form Alexandrova, who reigned supreme 6-1 7-5 in 80 minutes flat with an excellent 83 per cent first serve winning rate. Despite hitting seven double faults for six aces, she was cleaner than the American who struggled to convert. For Linette, it was a blowout 6-2 6-0 performance that puts her in good stead for the second round, however much of it was down to Hibino’s shaky performance with the Japanese talent struggling off her service games winning just one of her second serve points, while Linette converted all six break points she faced and saved five of six chances.

The two Frenchwomen also saw success on the opening day, as Alize Cornet completed the longest win of the day in one hour and 39 minutes over Kristyna Pliskova, 6-4 7-5, and 20-year-old Clara Burel backed her up with a 65-minute smashing of qualifier Varvara Gracheva. Cornet was tested by a fiery Pliskova, but kept her head to win 55 per cent of the overall points, utilising Pliskova’s shaky second service winning rate of 24 per cent to take the upper hand. Burel was clinical in her own matchup, winning 81 per cent of her first serve points and not only saving five of six break points, but also converting five of six.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[3] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-1 7-5
[8] Magda Linette (POL) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-2 6-0
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-4 7-5
Clara Burel (FRA) defeated Varvar Gracheva (RUS) 6-3 6-1

Picture credit: Michel Grasso