Tag: elena rybakina

WTA Tour wrap: Mixed bag at Madrid as Muchova and Pavlyuchenkova claim scalps

DAY 6 at the Mutua Madrid Open saw plenty happen around the courts, as second seed Naomi Osaka was ousted in the lone three-setter of the day, while it was also not sixth seed Karolina Pliskova‘s day as the Czech talent fell in straight sets.

It was an excellent effort from Karolina Muchova that saw her inhibit Osaka in their clash, seeing the Czech claim victory 6-4 3-6 6-1. Whilst Osaka worked her way back into the contest after dropping the first set, Muchova commanded control to run home with a whopping 92.9 per cent winning rate off her first serve in the final set, including two of her five aces.

“It was a tough match today, but we had some preparation,” Muchova said post-match. “I was ready to play with all I had today, and to use all the weapons I could and [do] what I can. I’m definitely happy it worked out today.”

Muchova is the newest member of the WTA world top 20, and in this contest it showed. Overall, she hit 29 winners off a fairly efficient 66.2 per cent first serve, as well as converting four of eight break points.

“I was trying to move [Osaka] as much as possible,” Muchova said. “That was the tactic. It sounds easy like that, but, you know, she’s playing really fast so it’s not that easy on the court.

“In the second set especially, she started to be very aggressive. I got back to what I did in the first set in the third set, and again, tried to move her left, right, dropshots, but still in a fast way. In the third set, it went my way.”

Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the third round with a clean 6-0 7-5 sweep of Pliskova, credit to her 20 winners for just 14 unforced errors. Whilst Pliskova bit back in the second set, she was undone by her own 28 errors which spelled trouble, before Pavlyuchenkova commanded control once more to run out victor in just under 75 minutes. Third seed Simona Halep and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka retained control throughout their respective contests to claim respective one hour and 19-minute wins, while a couple of Americans joined the fray as Jennifer Brady downed Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-1, and Jessica Pegula was dealt a walkover from 12th seed Victoria Azarenka.

The remaining two games ended in fairly predictable circumstances as 13th seed Elise Mertens and 16th seed Maria Sakkari proved too good, and while Mertens was challenged in her two hour and 13 minute matchup with Elena Rybakina, Sakkari skated home against Anett Kontaveit with ease.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-4 3-6 6-1
[3] Simona Halep (ROM) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-0 6-4
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-0 7-5
[11] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-2 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) W/O
[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 7-6 7-5
[16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 6-1

WTA Tour wrap: Top seeds all survive day two in Madrid

NAOMI Osaka was among all eight seeds to book their spot in the Madrid Open second round, following a straight sets win over compatriot Misaki Doi. In her first clay event in almost two years, Osaka overcame some early resistance from Doi to post a 7-5 6-2 victory and move through to the Round of 32.

“When I was playing on clay that year, I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all,” Osaka said post-match. “The two matches that I lost, it was more mental than it was physical. “Like, I didn’t feel uncomfortable sliding or I didn’t feel that tired. “So I’m actually really excited to get that mindset back and to start feeling more comfortable on clay.”

Osaka was one of four Top 10 seeds to advance through to the second round, with sixth seed Karolina Pliskova coming back from a set down to shake off teenage talent Coco Gauff in three sets. Pliskova won 5-7 6-3 6-2 in a tight contest to eventually finish the stronger of the pair and post a comfortable victory.

“We never played so it was definitely a difficult match. “I think I didn’t start really well, but later in the match, I was finding by game and finding my serve. “This was very important in this match because she can also serve very big,” Pliskova said post-match.

“I’m super happy that I’m through. “I’ve played one semifinal here, so I’ve had a couple of good matches here in the past, but I’m hoping to hopefully improve my game in the next match.”

Third seed Simona Halep started like a house on fire by racing to a 6-0 first set win, before having more of a struggle against Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second set, eventually getting up 6-0 7-5. The other Top 10 seed to advance was fifth seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka who destroyed Russian Zera Zvonareva in 66 minutes, 6-1 6-2.

Fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka won in three sets over Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, with 13th seed Elise Mertens and 16th seed Maria Sakkari also advanced into the Round of 32, with Sakkari remarkably going 6-0 down against American Amanda Anisimova before getting up 0-6 6-1 6-4.

In other results, Russian duo Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina both won through to the next stage, with a mixed bag for the Chinese hopefuls. Saisai Zheng defeated Poland’s Magda Linette in three sets, before Wang Qiang went down to Karolina Muchova in a disappointing 6-1 6-3 loss. Also through to the second round were Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, Estonia’ Anett Kontaveit and United States’ Jessica Pegula.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 7-5 6-2
[3] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-0 7-5
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-1 6-2
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 5-7 6-3 6-2
[11] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 6-4
[12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-5 3-6 6-1
[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3 6-3
[16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 0-6 6-1 6-4
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-4 6-0
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3 6-1
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 7-5 6-2
Saisai Zheng (CHN) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 6-2 3-6 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 7-6 6-3
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 7-6 7-5
Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-1 6-3
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 4-6 6-4 7-6

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur and Sharma to face off in Charleston as Billie Jean King Cup playoff winners decided

ONS Jabeur and Astra Sharma will face off in the MUSC Health Women’s Open final after the respective players toppled their opponents overnight in the semi-finals. Top seed Jabeur continued her steam-rolling of opponents with a 6-3 6-0 smashing of Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, reversing the result of last tournament, when Kovinic won in straight sets. The one-sided result threw back to Budapest in 2018 when Jabeur won in their other encounter 6-2 6-1.

In this match, Jabeur needed 89 minutes to win and dominated from midway through the first set to cruise to the easy victory, breaking a hopping seven times – bringing up 17 break point chances – whilst only dropping her own serve twice. She won 65 per cent of her first serve points to Kovinic’s 45 per cent, and whilst she struggled off her second serve (43.3 per cent), Kovinic won even less with just a 32.3 per cent success rate.

Sharma had a tougher first set against Colombian teenager Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano. The latter was coming off her maiden title last start, and was bringing it to Sharma in the first set, as the Australian needed to win 7-5 in the tiebreaker. From there she won six of the next seven games to get up 7-6 6-1 and book her spot in the final. Also yet to win a title at WTA Tour level in the singles format, Sharma is a one-time finalist at Bogota in 2019, where she also won the doubles title at that event. At 25-years-old, Sharma still remains outside the the Top 100, but will be eyeing off a place inside with this run at the tournament.

MUSC HEALTH WOMEN’S OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Danka Kovinic (MCE) 6-3 6-0
Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano (COL) 7-6 6-1

 

BILLIE JEAN CUP:

The favourites managed to get up on the second day of the Billie Jean King Cup, with Poland, Kazakhstan and Netherlands holding off some stiff resistance from underdogs, Brazil, Argentina and China to advance through to the next stage where they will have the chance to enter the World Group of the 2022 cup.

Youngster Maria Lourdes Carle almost single-handedly defeated Kazakhstan with a win over Yulia Putintseva to back up her upset of Elena Rybakina the day before, but unfortunately Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska went down in both of her singles matches. The pair were then outclassed by more experienced doubles combination Anna Danilina and Yaroslava Shvedova in the deciding doubles, 6-0 7-5.

Netherlands took the risk of not having Kiki Bertens play out the day two singles and it almost cost them, with Wang Xiyu knocking off Lesley Pattinama Kerkhov after defeating Arantxa Rus on day one to lead China to a 2-1 lead. Luckily Rus bounced back with a win over Wang Xinyu, then teamed up with Demi Schuurs to win the doubles match, and the tie for her nation, 3-2.

Meanwhile Poland got up over Brazil in a five-tie result, with Magdalena Frech doing all the heavy lifting, defeating Laura Pigossi – who knocked off Urszula Radwanska on day one – and then combined with Katarzyna Kawa to triumph in the doubles, while Carolina Melgeni Rodrigues Alves won her singles against Kawa and the opening set of double with Luisa Stefani, but the Brazilian pairing fell in three sets, 1-6 6-2 6-4.

Meanwhile in more one-sided results, Great Britain wrapped up its tie against Mexico despite Marcela Zacarias upsetting Heather Watson. Katie Boulter brought the team home with a straight sets win over Giuliana Olmos. Anastasija Sevastova wrapped up an easy tie for Latvia against India, as Elisabetta Cocciaretto did the same in a tight encounter against Colombia’s Mihaela Buzarnescu, 7-5 7-6 following Elena Gabriela Ruse‘s win over Jasmine Paolini.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine and Canada both won 4-0 in comfortable wins over Serbia and Japan, though Elina Svitolina was forced into three sets by Japanese talent Yuki Naito with the match going 6-2 4-6 7-6, while Leylah Fernandez came from behind against Nina Stojanovic to hand the North American nation the victory 6-3 3-6 6-4.

 

Picture credit: Adam Nurkiewicz

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur dominates in Charleston as China and Argentina worry big guns in Billie Jean Cup

TOP seed Ons Jabeur has flexed her muscles with a 48-minute demolition job of Japan’s Nao Hibino to reach the semi-finals of the MUSC Health Women’s Open in Charleston. Jabeur only dropped one game in the 6-0 6-1 domination at the WTA 250 event to be the raging favourite in the tournament. The Tunisian restricted the Japanese talent to just 13 points on Hibino’s serve during the smashing, as she eyes off a potential maiden WTA Tour.

The 26-year-old is at a career-high 27th in the world and will surpass that, having had a huge last 18 months on the Tour. She will take on Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic who is also title-less at WTA Tour level, with the world number 65 upsetting third seed Shelby Rogers in straight sets. After a tight first set, Kovinic ran away with it in the second set to triumph 7-5 6-1 in 70 minutes.

Also moving through to the next round was Australian Astra Sharma who toppled 15-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova, 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 24 minutes. Sharma is ranked 165th in the world and yet to secure a singles title on Tour, though is eyeing off a return to the Top 100. She will take on Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano, who won against Danish teenager Clara Tauson, 6-4 1-0 before the latter was forced to retire from the quarter final.

MUSC HEALTH WOMEN’S OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-0 6-1
Danka Kovinic (MNE) defeated [3] Shelby Rogers (USA) 7-5 6-1
Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE) 6-4 6-3
Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-4 1-0 RET

BILLIE JEAN KING CUP

The return of the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly the Federation Cup) has got underway with the eight playoff matches taking place across the world. Three of them are locked at one match a piece after day one of three, with the other five going 2-0 in favour of the leader after the opening singles matches.

In Poland, Magdalena Frech got the home nation off to the perfect start against Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, with a one-hour and 28-minute win, 6-4 6-3. Brazil’s Laura Pigossi stunned Urszula Radwanska in the second match however, needing almost three hours to knock out the former Top 30 player, winning 7-6 3-6 6-2, including a whopping 11-9 opening set tiebreaker.

Argentina and Kazakhstan were also level after two singles matches, featuring some seriously high quality players. A stunning turnaround for Yulia Putintseva saw her take down French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in three sets, 2-6 6-4 6-0 to give the visitors the lead. However the biggest upset of perhaps the tournament was Maria Lourdes Carle three-set victory over Elena Rybakina. The 21-year-old Argentinian got the job done over the Top 20 talent in her home nation to level the tie at 1-1.

The other 1-1 tie is between Netherlands and China, with a full-strength Dutch side not having it all their own way against a young Chinese outfit. Despite playing on the indoor clay at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Dutch remain level with China despite Kiki Bertens‘ 6-2 6-0 rout of 19-year-old 146th ranked Wang Xinyu in the opening match of the tie. The tighter match was between the 83rd ranked Arantxa Rus and 134th ranked Wang Xiyu, with the 20-year-old getting it done against Rus, winning 6-1 3-6 6-2 in just under two hours.

Elsewhere, the ties all went 2-0, led by Elina Svitolina who has steered Ukraine to a dominant lead alongside 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk who feasted on an inexperienced and youthful Japanese outfit. Canada is upsetting Serbia after a day, with 30-year-old Rebecca Marino toppling Nina Stojanovic in straight sets 6-4 7-6, while Leylah Fernandez won in a three-set thriller over Olga Danilovic.

A full-strength Great Britain led by Heather Watson and Katie Boulter have cruised to a 2-0 lead over Mexico in London, while Jelena Ostapenko got more than she bargained for against Indian 174th ranked Ankita Raina, needing three sets and two hours and 25 minutes to grab the victory, before Anastasija Sevastova had an easy win over world number 621 Karman Kaur Thandi in the second match to lead Latvia to a 2-0 start. Finally, Italy is out to a 2-0 lead in Romania after Martina Trevisan won in three hours and seven minutes over Mihaela Buzarnescu, and Elisabetta Cocciaretto proved too good for Irina Maria Bara.

Picture credit: MUSC Health Women’s Open / Chris Smith

WTA Tour wrap: Clay events kick off in Charleston, Bogota

TWO WTA clay events began this week with the WTA 500 Volvo Car Open starting up in Charleston, United States, as the WTA 250 Copa Colsanitas began in Bogota, Colombia. With a host of exciting talent competing, expect a huge week of tennis action across the two tournaments.

It was a rough day for hometown hopefuls on Day 1 of proceedings at Charleston, with just one player – 13th seed Amanda Anisimova – reigning supreme out of seven competitors hailing from the United States, as two Japanese and two Australians headed through to the second round, as did two Kazakh talents with one falling and one still yet to play at time of publish.

Anisimova was one of four seeds who reigned supreme on Day 1, with the 19-year-old reigning supreme over Polish talent Magda Linette in a huge two hour 5-7 6-2 6-3 battle, which was rivalled by a classy finish from 11th seed Kazakh Yulia Putintseva, who outlasted Great Britain’s Harriet Dart in two hours and three minutes, 7-6 6-4. The 15th seed Veronika Kudermetova clinched the fastest win of the day in 54 minutes over American Desirae Krawczyk, 6-1 6-2, as Czech 17th seed Marie Bouzkova claimed a 6-2 7-5 victory over Timea Babos.

Zarina Diyas was the second Kazakh victor of the day with a 6-3 6-1 sweep of Natalia Vikhlyantseva, whilst Japan’s Kurumi Nara and Misaki Doi both claimed straight sets victories in near-identical times. The two Australian competitors to reign supreme were Storm Sanders and Alja Tomljanovic, both cleaning up in straight sets battles against respective American opposition, whilst Alize Cornet was forced to fight for her spot in the second round in a whopping two hour and 52-minute matchup with American Bernarda Pera, who did not relent in the 4-6 6-4 6-4 encounter. Meanwhile, Magdalena Frech and Paula Badosa were the remaining winners of the completed Day 1 matches. Caty McNally leads 10th seed Elena Rybakina with one set to nil at time of publish, with the all-American matchup between Lauren Davis and Madison Brengle set to begin after the current match concludes.

VOLVO CAR OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Harriet Dart (GBR) 7-6 6-4
[13] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 5-7 6-2 6-3
[15] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Desirae Krawczyk (USA) 6-1 6-2
[17] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 7-5
Storm Sanders (AUS) defeated Asia Muhammad (USA) 6-2 6-4
Kurumi Nara (JPN) defeated Francesca di Lorenzo (USA) 6-2 6-2
Magdalena Frech (POL) defeated Grace Min (USA) 6-2 6-4
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 6-3 6-1
Alja Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-3 6-0
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 4-6 6-4 6-4
Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-3 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 3-6 7-5 6-1

[10] Elina Rybakina (KAZ) v. Caty McNally (USA)
Lauren Davis (USA) v. Madison Brengle (USA)

 

At Bogota, the three seeds of the day all reigned supreme in their first round matches, with sixth seed Jasmine Paolini clocking the quickest victory in just 59 minutes over American Kristie Ahn. Comparatively, eighth seed Wang Yifan was dealt a tough hand from Colombian home hope Emiliana Arango, taken to a two hour and 55-minute matchup which came down to two seventh game sets before the Chinese seed claimed the 6-4 5-7 7-5 victory. Wang’s top seed compatriot Zheng Saisai came away with a reasonably straightforward victory in comparison as she disposed of a second American in Usue Maitane Arconada 6-3 6-1 in one hour and 17 minutes.

The remaining four matches saw two sub-90 minute victories and two matches that went over the two hour mark, as two Spaniards reigned supreme in dastardly different results. Aliona Bolsova was made to fight for her 6-4 3-6 6-1 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in two hours and six minutes whilst compatriot Nuria Parrizas Diaz claimed aa 6-2 6-2 dismissal of fellow Spaniard Cristina Bucsa in one hour and 21 minutes. Meanwhile, Viktoriya Tomova and Stefanie Voegele both won their respective matches to head to the second round.

COPA COLSANITAS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Zheng Saisai (CHN) defeated Usue Maitane Arconada (USA) 6-3 6-1
[6] Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated Kristie Ahn (USA) 6-3 6-0
[8] Wang Yifan (CHN) defeated Emiliana Arango (COL) 6-4 5-7 7-5
Aliona Bolsova (ESP) defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) defeated Cristina Bucsa (ESP) 6-2 6-2
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 6-2 6-3
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) defeated Celia Pacquet (FRA) 3-6 6-1 6-4

WTA Miami Open 1000: Tight clashes see Kenin and Pliskova fall in Round of 32

THE Miami Open Round of 32 is complete with a series of intriguing results setting the tone for the fourth round of proceedings as we enter the second week of the WTA 1000 event. Just one match went down in straight sets on a massive day of competition, with plenty to fight for.

Top seed of the day Naomi Osaka by far had the easiest encounter, not required to take the court as she was handed a walkover from Serbian Nina Stojanovic. Things did not go quite as well for fellow top five talent Sofia Kenin though, as the American fell in three sets to 27th seed Tunisian, Ons Jabeur 6-4 4-6 6-4. The one hour and 47-minute blitz saw Jabeur pile on 11 aces for three double faults off a 50 per cent clip, winning 73.8 per cent of point off her first serve. While Kenin was more efficient, she lacked intensity and was far less effective off her second serve, failing to keep in the tight contest. Jessica Pegula downed Karolina Pliskova in an impressive effort, with the two hour and nine minute clash coming to blows following an explosive start from the American 29th seed. Sixth seed Pliskova lacked potency with her eight double faults for five aces, while it was Pegula’s improved second serve effectiveness that saw her clinch the 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory.

Meanwhile, three more seeds joined the winners circle as Garbine MuguruzaElise Mertens and Maria Sakkari all reigned supreme in their respective encounters, though just Mertens came up against a fellow seed as she disposed of Anett Kontaveit in a bizarre seesawing 6-2 0-6 6-2 battle. While Mertens appeared to have the upper hand early, her shocking second set was characterised by sloppy service games, hitting six of her 10 double faults and winning just two of her second serve points. Improved effectiveness during the third set saw the momentum tilt her way once more, however the lack of consistency could prove critical in upcoming matches. Sakkari completed the quickest win of the day with a comparable 6-0 6-1 sweep of qualifier Liudmila Samsonova in just 67 minutes, whilst Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo joined compatriot Muguruza on the winners list, as both downed their respective foes in two-plus hour clashes. Sorribes Tormo claimed the early ascendancy against Elena Rybakina, with the Kazakh 21st seed unable to control proceedings following a sloppy 6-1 start, eventually falling 6-1 3-6 6-2 in two hours and 24 minutes. Muguruza’s two-hour and 41-minute encounter with Anna Kalinskaya saw the 12th seed fight back after dropping the first set, attacking the ball better to come away with the 4-6 6-3 6-4 result.

WTA MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) W/O
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [4] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-4 4-6 6-4
[29] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-1 4-6 6-4
[12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[16] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [22] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-2 0-6 6-2
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated [21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-1 3-6 6-2
[23] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-0 6-1
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) v. Amanda Anisimova (USA)

WTA Miami Open 1000: Trio of seeds downed in three sets as second round completed

THREE out of the four seeds defeated in the second round of the 2021 WTA Tour’s Miami Open 1000 event were knocked out in close contests, going down in three sets. Tenth seed Kiki Bertens was the highest ranked seed to fall, though she was incredibly disappointing yet again, continuing her poor 2021 form to lose 6-1 6-2 to Russian Liudmila Samsonova. The other seeds to be knocked out in tighter contests were 13th seed Jennifer Brady, 20th seed Petra Martic and 26th seed Yulia Putintseva.

Spanish talent Sara Sorribes Tormo proved too good for Australian Open finalist Brady, winning in a come-from-behind victory, 3-6 6-4 6-1. It was a similar story for both Russian Anna Kalinskaya and Serbian Nina Stojanovic, who also triumphed in three-set come-from-behind matches. Kalinskaya knocked off Martic 5-7 6-2 7-6, while Stojanovic took out Putintseva, 5-7 7-5 6-2. The quartet of unseeded players were the only ones to advance on the day, with the remaining matches won by the higher ranked seeds.

At the top of the list was second seed Naomi Osaka who saved set points in the first set to put away plucky Australian Ajla Tomlljanovic in the Japanese star’s first match since her Australian Open triumph. Osaka won 7-6 6-4 and managed to get it done in straight sets, whilst the previous Australian Open winner had it much tougher. Fourth seed Sofia Kenin needed three sets to overcome German Andrea Petkovic, dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, before running away with it 6-7 6-1 6-3. Anett Kontaveit also needed three sets in her win over Sorana Cirstea, while Ons Jabeur held off a determined Paula Badosa in the tightest contest of the day, 7-6 5-7 7-5 to advance through to the Round of 32.

“This is my first match since Australia, so I just really wanted to play well,” Osaka said post-match. “I kind of feel like I’m at home here, because I grew up [near here] for most of my life.”

The other seeds were able to get up in straight sets, with Karolina Pliskova having a confidence-boosting 6-1 6-1 thrashing over China’s Zheng Saisai, with Elena Rybakina, Elise Mertens and Maria Sakkari having similar one-sided results during their second round wins. Amanda Anisimova knocked off Sloane Stephens in the battle of the Americans 6-3 6-3, while Jessica Pegula joined Anisimova in the next round, with the American winning 6-3 6-4 over Australian Storm Sanders. In other results, Canadian Bianca Andreescu, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and Belgian Elise Mertens also all won to book their spots in the next round, in what was an entertaining day of play at Miami.

MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 7-6 6-4
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-7 6-1 6-3
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-2 6-1
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 7-6 6-0
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated [10] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-2 6-1
[12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Wang Xinyu (CHN) 6-4 6-1
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated [13] Jennifer Brady (USA) 3-6 6-4 6-1
[16] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated [20] Petra Martic (CRO) 5-7 6-2 7-6
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6-4 6-0
[22] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 4-6 6-3
[23] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-2 6-3
Nina Stojanovic (SRB) defeated [26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 5-7 7-5 6-2
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 7-6 5-7 7-5
[28] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-3 6-3
[29] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Storm Sanders (AUS) 6-3 6-4

WTA Tour wrap: Upsets blow open Dubai draw

UPSETS in the top half of the 2021 WTA Tour’s Dubai Tennis Championships have left the door wide open for an unseeded player to make a run at a 1000 title. Just a single seed remains in the top half – sixth seed Belinda Bencic – after a number of upsets in the second round of the tournaments saw wildcards and even a qualifier book their spots in the final 16. It is a different story in the bottom half of the draw, with six of the eight competitors coming into the tournament as seeds.

Top seed Elina Svitolina headlines the exits from the Dubai Tennis Championships, with the Ukrainian bowing out to Russian Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. The veteran came back from a set down to post an impressive victory over the tournament’s top player, winning 2-6 6-4 6-1 in one hour and 52 minutes.

“I have no doubts I can compete against the best, so I just want to play and enjoy my game,” Kuznetsova said post-match. “I was feeling so stressed out there in the first set, I couldn’t make any balls, the feeling was terrible. “I was just focusing on trying to make two or three shots in, to see how I can go, how I can regroup, that’s it.”

The biggest upset of the day had to be Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova, who advanced to be the sole qualifier in the final 16 after a demolition of 6-1 6-4 over fifth seed Kiki Bertens in 76 minutes. Martincova will take on teenage young gun Coco Gauff in the Round of 16 following Gauff’s three-set come-from-behind win over 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, defeating the Czech, 3-6 6-0 6-4.

A retirement to fourth seed Petra Kvitova midway through the second set when she was trailing 6-2 3-4 has allowed Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann to make her way into the Round of 16. The up-and-coming Swiss talent will take on Tunisian Ons Jabeur who dislodged 14th seed Elena Rybakina in a tough match, needing two hours and 18 minutes to win, 7-6 4-6 6-2. Also exiting the tournament in the second round from a seed perspective was 11th seed American, Madison Keys who went down to Russian wildcard, Anastasia Potapova in straight sets, 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 25 minutes. Potapova will lock horns with sixth seed Bencic who fought through three tough sets in two hours and 38 minutes – the longest match of the day – to finally defeat Russian Veronika Kudermetova, 6-4 6-7 6-4.

It was more straightforward for the other seeds in the draw with third seed Aryna Sabalenka, eighth seed Iga Swiatek, ninth seed Garbine Murugurza, 10th seed Elise Mertens and 15th seed Anett Kontaveit all advancing through to the Round of 16 in straight sets. Second seed Karolina Pliskova had a scare, but managed to pull through against Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in three sets, 6-3 6-7 6-2 in two hours and nine minutes. In other results, Barbora Krejcikova ousted the other Latvian in the draw, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3 6-1, Caroline Garcia toppled Martina Trevisan 6-2 6-4, while in-form Jessica Pegula destroyed Kristina Mladenovic in just 69 minutes – the quickest match of the day – to advance through to the final 16.

 

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated [1] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 2-6 6-4 6-1
[2] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-3 6-7 6-2
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 6-4
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-2 3-4 RET
[Q] Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated [5] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-1 6-4
[6] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (CZE) 6-4 5-7 6-4
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [LL] Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-4
[9] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 6-4 6-2
[10] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-3 6-3
[WC] Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [11] Madison Keys (USA) 6-4 6-3
[WC] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [12] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 3-6 6-0 6-4
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [14] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 7-6 4-6 6-2
[15] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-4 7-5
Babora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-3 6-1
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-1 6-2

WTA Tour wrap: Mertens fights tough as six of seven seeds advance to Dubai second round

SIX of the seven seeds advanced at Dubai in what was largely a predictable day, but a couple of past Top 30 players were knocked out early on. With the top eight seeds having a bye from the first round, seven of the other seeds took to the court on day two of the main draw singles, with the majority having successful outings.

Ninth seed Garbine Muguruza bounced back from her sheepish Qatar Total Open final loss to record a solid 6-3 7-5 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu. Eleventh seed Madison Keys was even swifter with a 6-1 6-1 rout of Chinese Taipei’s Liang En-Shuo in just 64 minutes. It was the not the quickest rout of the day for seeds however, with 15th seed Anett Kontaveit smashing Hungarian doubles star, Timea Babos 6-2 6-1 in 57 minutes.

Also through to the next round were 14th seed Elena Rybakina and 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova who both won in straight sets, while 10th seed Elise Mertens had a fight on her hands. The Belgian won from a set down against Bulgarian lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova, 4-6 6-2 6-4. Despite having to win in three, Mertens still at last booked her spot in the second round, which was not the case for 13th seed Petra Martic. The Croatian’s poor form in 2021 continued, going down to Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, 7-6 6-4.

The quickest match of the day by far was Amanda Anisimova‘s 6-2 6-2 smashing of Croatian qualifier Ana Konjuh in 52 minutes, as the American put in her best performance of the past 12 months. Fellow Americans, Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula booked their spots in the second round, with Rogers overcoming Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi 7-6 6-2, and Australian Open quarter finalist Pegula defeated Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-2 6-1. Swiss talent Jil Teichmann and Latvian Anastasija Sevastova also blitzed their respective opponents to move into the Round of 32.

Fellow Latvian Jelena Ostapenko knocked out another Romanian in Patricia Maria Tig, whilst the sole Romanian through to the second round was Sorana Cirstea who accounted for former Top 30 player, Lesia Tsurenko 6-4 6-4. Amongst the other matches were a host of three-set battles. Lucky loser Misaki Doi won her second consecutive first round match after losing in qualifying, defeating Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-2 4-6 6-3 to make her way through to the next stage. Meanwhile Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia accounted for German Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber 3-6 6-2 6-4 in a come-from-behind win, while Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova upset her higher ranked compatriot Kristyna Pliskova in a three-set epic, 7-6 6-7 6-3.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [Q] Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-3 7-5
[10] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [LL] Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) 4-6 6-2 6-4
[11] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Liang En-Shuo (TAI) 6-1 6-1
[12] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [Q] Ana Bogdan (ROU) 6-4 6-4
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [13] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6 6-4
[14] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-0 6-4
[15] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated [WC] Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 6-1
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 6-2
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated [Q] Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-2 6-2
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [Q] Katarina Zavatska (UKR) 6-1 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 6-7 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 3-6 6-2 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-4 6-4
[LL] Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-2 4-6 6-3
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-2 6-1
[WC] Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-0 6-3

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

2021 WTA 1000 preview: Dubai Tennis Championships

THE 2021 WTA Tour Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are set to begin on the weekend, with plenty of top talent expected to take the court in the United Arab Emirates. Reigning champion Simona Halep and world number one Ash Barty both withdrew from the tournament during the week citing injuries, whilst Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka (2021) and Sofia Kenin (2020) will also not compete.

Nevertheless, the WTA 1000 event will still boast a draw featuring 12 of the world’s top 20 players, making for a huge week of competition and plenty to play for with such a tight race amongst the WTA world rankings.

Coming in as top seed is Ukrainian and 2017 champion Elina Svitolina, and she is joined by top 10 talents Karolina PliskovaAryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova with Kiki Bertens rounding out the top five seeded positions. Czech duo Pliskova and Kvitova – another former champion here in 2013 – are always dangerous, capable of beating anyone on their day whilst Svitolina is more than capable of going far despite her recent form, which has seen her fail to make it past the quarter finals of a tournament since winning the Internationaux de Strasbourg last September. Meanwhile, Sabalenka has already put a title win on the board in 2021, taking out the first tournament of the year – the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open – and Bertens comes in completely fresh, hitting the court for the very first time this year.

There are a number of other top 20 players who are sure to set the competition alight, with the ever consistent Iga Swiatek coming into Dubai off the back of her second major title and current career high ranking of 15th in the world. Still only 19-years-old, she will be joined in the draw by a resurgent Victoria Azarenka whilst American Jessica Pegula will look to back up her excellent Australian Open quarter finals run with another strong effort here. Elena Rybakina will look to back up her 2020 effort, with the 2020 Dubai Tennis Championships runner up sure to fly out of the gates this time around.

When it comes to nations well within their chances of going far, the United States has six competitors – with world number 19 Madison Keys leading the charge – whilst Czech Republic is not far behind with five. Russia and France boast four participants apiece, though neither nation features within the top 30. Perhaps one of the most intriguing entrants is Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova, who comes in at world number 1029, and joins compatriot Rybakina in the main draw. Tunisian Ons Jabeur will look to keep climbing up the rankings, whilst a couple of early knockouts from the Australian Open will hope to recapture their form at Dubai.