Tag: iga swiatek

WTA Tour wrap: Sorribes Tormo outlasts in longest match of the season

A BIG first day of women’s proceedings at the 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia saw the longest match of the year so far, as all four of the day’s seeds head into the second round.

It took a marathon three hours and 51 minutes, but it was Sara Sorribes Tormo who came out victor in her huge clash with Italian wildcard Camila Giorgi, 7-6(4) 6-7(7) 7-5. The seesawing contest saw neither player really able to make the most of their momentum or claim a significant ascendancy, as the Spaniard and Italian went toe-to-toe and were unable to be split. But with six double faults to her name compared to Giorgi’s 12, Sorribes Tormo was marginally cleaner on serve and won 52.8 per cent of the match’s total points to reign supreme. It was not the only three-setter of the day, as Petra MarticAnastasija Sevastova and Coco Gauff all ground out wins in three, with the last of the three seeing 17-year-old Gauff require two hours and 57 minutes to dispose of Kazakh, Yulia Putintseva as Sevastova turned around a sloppy start and Martic claimed her first top 50 win of the season.

Petra Kvitova and Maria Sakkari were the remaining three set winner of the day, as the 11th and 17th seeds were tested by their respective opposition. For Kvitova, it ended up being a fairly comprehensive victory despite dropping the first set 1-6. Her opposition in Magda Linette flew out of the blocks but could not continue the same form once the Czech left-hander worked her way into the contest and reduced her unforced errors, eventually reigning supreme 1-6 6-0 6-2 in 95 minutes.

“The first set I started very badly. I was missing almost everything. On the court… [the ball] was bouncing everywhere as well. A little bit windy. I just had to used to probably everything,” Kvitova said post-match. “The beginning of the second set when finally I held my serve and broke her serve, I think since then it was much, much better.”

Four of Kvitova’s six double faults were hit in the first set, before the Czech broke back to eventually claim five aces and win 75.6 per cent of her first serve points off a 66 per cent clip. Sakkari’s matchup went slightly different as she claimed the opening set, before her opposition in Polona Hercog bit back to take it to three. The 17th seed claimed the ascendancy once more though, running out 7-6 3-6 6-2 victor in two hours and 48 minutes.

Proceedings went very different for the remaining two seeds on the day, as Iga Swiatek worked from a 1-4 deficit to eventually claim a 5-4 victory over retiree Alison Riske, who battled an ongoing injury throughout the contest and could not maintain intensity or mobility to continue the matchup. While Swiatek had a horror start, recording 18 unforced errors throughout the 52 minutes of play, she was fortunate to proceed as Riske jarred her left foot, and was forced to retire following medical attention. The 13th seed in Jennifer Brady continued her run after claiming a 6-1 6-4 victory over Zhang Shuai, winning 72 per cent of her first serve points off a sloppy 43 per cent clip and converting five break points and saving three in the process.

The remaining matches of the day saw two more Americans in Jessica Pegula and Amanda Anisimova join the winners list, whilst one more in Christina McHale fell to Vera Zvonareva, whilst Ekaterina Alexandrova claimed the quickest win of the day – bar Swiatek’s early finish – over Marta Kostyuk, needing just 75 minutes to claim the 6-3 6-1 victory.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 1-6 6-0 6-2
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-1 6-4
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 5-4 RET
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 3-6 6-2
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 7-6 6-7 7-5
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-3 6-0
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-5 6-3
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 7-5 6-3
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUN) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-3 6-1
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 3-6 6-1 6-3
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 7-5 4-6 6-4

WTA Tour wrap: Badosa proceeds, Barty and Kvitova set up quarter final clash

THE Round of 16 saw some huge results propelling players into the 2021 WTA Tour 1000 Mutua Madrid Open. While one hometown hopeful remains in the draw, three of the four seeds of the day retained their mantle as the ones to watch heading into the quarter finals.

One of the matches of the round was arguably between Ash Barty and Iga Swiatek, with the two seeds going head-to-head for the first time and the matchup not failing to impress. Whilst top seed and world number one Barty came away with the bragging rights over the quick improver in 19-year-old Swiatek, she was tested across both sets to eventually come away with the 7-5 6-4 result in one hour and 41 minutes.

“I really enjoyed myself out there tonight. I enjoyed the challenge. Iga’s game is exceptional. It’s really, really impressive. I love testing myself and trying to figure out the puzzle tonight and the challenges that she created for me,” Barty said post-match.

“I love the way that she plays. I love the way she takes the game on. She plays without fear. I think the way she controls the court, has the ability to move and neutralize from defensive position is very, very impressive.”

While Swiatek won the first three games of the match, the Australian rallied from then on, and did not face a single break point in the first set from there.

“I think probably the first half an hour was a bit of an adjustment period for both of us. I think it took me some time to get used to Iga’s weight of shot. Obviously, we had a game plan going into it, but I had to adjust that and had to kind of learn on the fly a little bit,” Barty said.

“It took me some time to get used to that and kind of nut down what I really wanted to do out there. Once I was able to do that, I became a lot more clear and was able to control the match a little bit more the way that I wanted to.”

While Barty served at an inefficient 53.2 per cent, she made the most of her first serve opportunities to win off 80.5 per cent of her chances. She also converted on three break points, and overall cleaned up her serve impressively in the second to claim the victory, hitting six aces for five double faults in the process, compared to Swiatek’s two and six.

Meanwhile, Spaniard Paula Badosa became the first wildcard to reach the Madrid quarter finals since 2017, overcoming Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in a tough 6-7 7-6 6-0 battle. It was a narrow battle across the first two sets before Badosa flew out of the blocks for the third, with the closeness of the contest proving just how much both players wanted the quarter finals position.

“I got so emotional after the match because of that, of playing home and showing the people the level and that I can win matches. I’m the last Spanish [player] here, so it makes me a little bit more proud. I know the crowd are pushing me a lot,” Badosa said.

“The first two sets were very close. It could go through one side or another one. But then the third set I knew I had to play very aggressive because I was quite tired… I started to be very, very aggressive, concentrated on the first two, three shots. I think that was a little bit the key of the third set.

“It’s an emotional week. I was very nervous when I started the week because I wanted to do very well here. I’m quite happy that it’s coming true. It’s really special… I like to play on clay, as I say always. To reach here the quarterfinals at home, it’s very special, in front of my family, my friends, my people. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Two more seeds claimed wins, as Petra Kvitova disposed of Veronika Kudermetova in three (6-3 4-6 6-4) to ready herself for a huge clash with Barty in the quarters, while Belinda Bencic had the lead in a 7-6 4-3 matchup with Ons Jabeur before the Tunisian retired, citing injury.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [14] Iga Swiatek (POL) 7-5 6-4
[8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Ons Jabeur (TUN) 7-6 4-3 RET
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-3 4-6 6-4
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-7 7-6 6-0

WTA Tour wrap: Barty and Swiatek set up huge quarter finals clash

THE first day of Round of 32 action is done and dusted at the Madrid Open in Spain, with a couple of intriguing tests making life difficult for seeded competitors.

Ash Barty continued her winning run for the year, still leading all-comers with the most wins to her name in 2021 but was really tested by Slovenian Tamara Zidansek in an intriguing 6-4 1-6 6-3, one hour and 58 minute encounter.

“A really tough match,” Barty said. “I felt my margins were a little bit off today. Made a lot of errors. I think I was missing in the right way, but still just a foot or two here or there makes a big difference. I felt like there were probably too many loose ones for me today.”

Barty was uncharacteristically inefficient off her first serve at just 51 per cent throughout, but still managing to claim the ascendancy with an improved winning rate off said serve. A huge second set from Zidansek – winning her first ever set off a top 10 player – could have spelled trouble for the world number one, however an improved third set saw Barty wrench momentum back in her favour, capitalising off Zidansek’s errors to claim the win.

“I don’t think there was a lot in it by any means,” Barty said. “We had a lot of close games in the first set, early in the second set. In the third, as well, there were a lot of close games. I think the response early in the third was good. I was a bit more aggressive, was able to bring the match back on my terms.”

Meanwhile, a win to Iga Swiatek over German Laura Siegemund has set up a massive quarter final encounter between Swiatek and Barty, with the 2019 and 2020 Roland Garros champions meeting on court for the first time. While Barty was challenged in the second round, Swiatek had a much easier time against Siegemund to claim a 6-3 6-3 victory. Even despite dropping a 3-0 start to the second set as Siegemund recovered to even up the ledger to 3-0, Swiatek won the remaining games to claim the one hour and 40 minute victory.

“It was pretty hard to close that match,” Swiatek said. “Match balls are pretty stressful because you know you’re almost at the end. Sometimes a crazy idea may come up. I tried to just be focused on my basic game, to play safe.

“Anyway, I made a lot of little mistakes. I wasn’t sure where it came from. It was pretty annoying. It just shows that Laura is a great fighter. You could see that also in previous games. In second game of second set, she had amazing rallies, amazing points. She’s fighting till the end and she’s not giving anything for free.”

Both players are looking forward to their encounter, with only a practice hit-out to go off in the past.

“Real exciting,” said Barty. “A match that I look forward to. I’ve hit with her once in Melbourne a few months ago. She’s got a seriously impressive game. Moves very well on the clay court, can slide off both legs, controls her body really well on clay. Likes to use her hopper, gets around, controls the court with her forehand. It’s a challenge that we go into with a really clean slate, a little bit of a period of trying to figure each other out and how our games match up.”

“She has a great slice,” Swiatek said. “I remember it was hard in Melbourne to keep your legs low, just playing back those slices. I think most of the girls have problem with that. I’m going to remember about that.”

“I really respect her,” she said. “Basically I think it’s a good example of dealing with expectations, just having some kind of a distance to the game. I’m also having a hard time finding it. I want to kind of win every match, I want to win right now. Sometimes I’m not giving myself time. She did that.

In other games, Eighth and ninth seeds Belinda Bencic and Petra Kvitova both reigned supreme, whilst another two seeds fell in intriguing results, with Kiki Bertens and Johanna Konta both disposed of in straight sets by Russian, Veronika Kudermetova and Latvian, Anastasija Sevastova, respectively. Ons Jabeur and Paula Badosa were the remaining two winners of the day to head to the quarter finals.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-4 1-6 6-3
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [7] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-4 6-3
[8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 3-6 6-1 7-6
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-4 7-5
[14] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3 6-3
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated [15] Johanna Konta (GBR) 6-3 6-3
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 4-6 6-1 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 5-7 6-1 6-2

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WTA Tour wrap: Svitolina overcome by Teichmann, Barty and Swiatek skate through at Madrid

THE WTA 1000 Mutua Madrid Open has begun in Spain, with the opening day of action seeing plenty of fascinating results. Just one seed fell across the board in the lone three-setter of the day, setting up a massive second round already when proceedings have only just begun.

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina was the first to fall, despite a stellar start giving her the upper hand against Swiss talent Jil Teichmann. But Svitolina failed to bring the heat in the resulting second set as Teichmann piled on the pressure, as a third set ensued before Teichmann ran out 2-6 6-4 7-6(5) victor in just over two and a half hours.

It was an untidy first set from Teichmann that allowed Svitolina to take out the early ascendancy, before an impressive turnaround – including a much more consistent serve and two aces in the third – allowed the Swiss native to switch the momentum and claim victory. Whilst a 1-5 start to the third set may have looked dangerous, Teichmann flipped a switch to save six match points and pulled off a remarkable come-from-behind win.

“I started slow, especially with a lot of unforced errors,” Teichmann said. “Giving her too many free points. So I found a way to be more solid, to hit more balls.”

Where Teichmann’s compatriot and eighth seed Belinda Bencic was also successful in a 6-4 6-2 encounter with Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, Svitolina’s compatriot Kateryna Kozlova was overcome in the same result by German Laura Siegemund.

A number of American names filtered across the courts in Madrid, with results split evenly down the middle. Two of the day’s top United States prospects in Shelby Rogers and Alison Riske were overcome by seeds who came out flying, with top seed Australian Ash Barty in fine form defeated Rogers 6-2 6-1 in one hour flat, whilst Riske struggled against in-form youngster Iga Swiatek on her Madrid debut, downed 6-1 6-1 in 67 minutes.

“I’ve played Shelby many times this year… and it’s always a very big challenge,” Barty said post-match. “I needed to make sure that I was at my very best to be able to compete today.”

“Every time you step out on the court against Shelby, you really need to be switched on, play your very best because she has the ability to take the match away from you very quickly. It was important for me to start well, across the whole match. It was always going to be a big factor.”

Barty hit eight aces and did not face a single break point on her way to victory, also piling on 19 winners for just nine unforced errors in a classy showing. While Barty is fresh off a clay court title last week at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, 14th seed Swiatek took the court for the first time on clay this season and effectively the first time since her breakthrough French Open victory in 2020.

“Today I just wanted to play solid and to use all the tactics, the clues that my coach gave me to implement everything in my game that he told me. I did that pretty well,” Swiatek said.

“I did some unforced errors that I wish they didn’t happen, but they didn’t have much influence on the score. Also I try to come back to the solid game, so I did that pretty well.”

“[It’s] my first time here. For sure the balls are going pretty high because of the air here. Madrid is elevated. It’s totally different. I strung my racquet more tight. I think most of the players are doing that, so it’s not something special.

“You just have to be ready for every shot because I felt that on practices and even today, that when I did something like a small mistake technically, the ball went out two meters. You really have to be careful here and just kind of really, really focus on techniques.”

The remaining two United States competitors of the day both claimed wins in relatively simple circumstances, as Bernarda Pera and Sloane Stephens got wins on the board in 76 and 82 minutes, respectively. Three more seeds reigned supreme, with seventh seed and defending Madrid champion Kiki Bertens, three-time winner and ninth seed Petra Kvitova – by default after compatriot Marie Bouzkova was forced to retire at 6-2 2-3 – and 15th seed Johanna Konta all heading into the second round. Another six competitors will look to hit the ground running in the Round of 32, with Anastasija SevastovaTamara ZidansekVeronika Kudermetova, hometown hope Paula BadosaOns Jabeur and Angelique Kerber all claiming straight set wins.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-2 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [4] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 2-6 6-4 7-6
[7] Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND) 6-4 6-0
[8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 6-2
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-2 2-3 RET
[14] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 6-1 6-1
[15] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 6-2
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Petra Martic (CRO) 6-3 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROM) 6-0 6-3
Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-4 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4 6-1
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 6-2 6-4
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-1 6-4
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-1 7-5
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-2 6-3
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 7-6 6-1

ATP Miami Open 1000: Hurcakz takes out maiden Masters title

EXPERIENCE was the difference in a huge clash between mates and occasional doubles partners as Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner went head-to-head in the Miami Open 1000 final, with the Polish 26th seed winning in their maiden matchup to clinch his first Masters 1000 title.

Hurkacz took just one hour and 43 minutes to dispose of Sinner in a closely fought 7-6 6-4 encounter, reigning supreme credit to his efficiency on serve, winning 69 per cent of his first serve points off an excellent 71 per cent clip compared to Sinner’s 55 per cent off a 60 per cent clip. Hurkacz also boasted a far cleaner return, which saw Sinner pile on 39 unforced errors throughout.

“Last year I spent here almost half a year,” Hurkacz said on-court post-match. “I was practising in the hottest weather during the spring and summer here, so I think that helped me a lot playing now in Florida, especially in these pretty tough conditions here, because it was a little bit slow here.

“The wind was blowing from side to side sometimes, so it’s huge.”

This victory marks Hurkacz’s biggest ATP Tour title of his career thus far and second for 2021, adding to his Winston-Salem ATP 250 title in 2019. He also enters the ATP Top 20 for the first time, rising to 16th in the world from 37th prior to the event.

Sinner was complimentary of his opponent and “best friend on Tour”.

“Hubi, many congratulations for this week and a half,” he said. “I think you showed what talent you have. I’m more proud what kind of person you are. I have to say [you are] maybe my best friend on Tour. Maybe we should play more doubles together.”

“I played [some] of the best tennis I’ve ever played,” Hurkacz said in his post-match press conference. “I was solid throughout the whole tournament, and I was able to get through each round, [and] was even more pumped for the next round. I think that’s something special for me.”

Intriguingly, this victory marked the first time a Polish player had won an ATP Masters 1000 title, with Hurkacz’s rise and milestone victory following compatriot Iga Swiatek‘s Roland Garros breakthrough in 2021.

“I had a big belief in myself from the beginning of the season,” Hurkacz said. “Winning the tournament like this gives you extra motivation and self-confidence that, okay, you’re able to do it. Like, you came through some really hard moments here, and you just try to do it.”

MIAMI OPEN 1000 FINAL RESULT:

[26] Hubert Hukacz (POL) defeated [21] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-6 6-4

WTA Miami Open 1000: Ana Konjuh’s up some magic to power past Swiatek

CROATIAN former Top 20 talent Ana Konjuh has upset Roland Garros reigning champion Iga Swiatek in the third round of the WTA 1000 Miami Open overnight. The Croatian world number 338th turned 23 in December last year and still has a bright future ahead of her, smashing 40 winners on her way to a three-set win, 6-4 2-6 6-2.

Konjuh served 10 aces to five and only four double faults to six, winning 71.4 per cent of her first serve points to Swiatek’s 62.9 per cent. The Polish player broke her lower ranked opponent three times from seven chances, while the Croatian created 14 break point opportunities, but only converted four of them. The final two were enough to secure the third set victory comfortably and advance through to the next round.

“I knew it was going to be tough,” Konjuh said post-match. “I just told myself I need to stay and be offensive and not give her many chances. That second set maybe I screwed up a little bit, but overall, credit to her. You know, she stepped up her game. But I just wanted to stay mentally in it in those key moments just to be able to, you know, produce some great shots. I did that.”

It was a mixed bag for the two Latvians in Miami, with Anastasija Sevastova not even needing to take the court in order to advance to the Round of 16, after third seed Simona Halep pulled out. Top seed Ash Barty won comfortably against the other Latvian in Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-2 in her first match outside Australia in more than 12 months.

Meanwhile both Belarusian’s advanced to the Round of 16, with Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka winning in straight sets against their respective opponents. The seventh seed Sabalenka won 7-6 6-4 defeating 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova, while Azarenka trumped 24th seed Angelique Kerber, 7-5 6-2.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina forced her way past 30th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in a first set tiebreaker and overall tight match 7-6 6-4, while two Czechs featured in the remaining two matches. Earlier in the day, Marketa Vondrousova toppled 11th seed Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-4 6-4, while Petra Kvitova smashed Great Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-1 6-2 in just 58 minutes on court.

WTA MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-3 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated [3] Simona Halep (ROU) W/O
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [30] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-6 6-4
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 6-4
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [17] Johanna Konta (GBR) 6-1 6-2
[19] Marketa Vondrousova ( CZE) defeated [11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 4-6 6-4 6-4
[14] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated [24] Angelique Kerber (GER) 7-5 6-2
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated [15] Iga Swiatek (POL) 6-4 2-6 6-2

Picture credit: WTA Tour

WTA Miami Open 1000: Konjuh shocks Keys as Barty shaky on international return

THE Round of 64 at the 2021 Miami Open has already produced some excellent efforts and intriguing results as the top seeds enter the main draw, with Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka amongst the seeds who were challenged on their opening day.

In a mostly successful day for seeds, just one fell despite hard challenges against the aforementioned top five competitors. It was Madison Keys who was disposed of by Croatian Ana Konjuh, who in the process of completing the 6-4 6-2 clean sweep of the 18th seed, also posted her first top 20 win in four years. It took the 23-year-old and former world number 20 – who now ranks 338th in the world – just one hour and 12 minutes to down the American, cleanly and efficiently outclassing Keys in her first back-to-back win since 2017 following four elbow surgeries.

Barty was forced to overcome a comeback from the Slovak Republic’s Kristina Kucova, taking out the first set but appearing to take the foot off the accelerator as the match went on, dropping the second set 4-6 before Kucova looked to serve for the match at 5-3 in the third. But Barty rallied from there, saving a match point before winning the last five games of the match to run out victor, 6-3 4-6 7-5. Regardless of her shakiness, Barty still registered a solid 78.7 per cent win rate off her first serve credit to a whopping 15 aces on her way to victory, despite only serving off a 50.5 per cent clip. As for Sabalenka, it was her compatriot in Tsvetana Pironkova who provided a real challenge, with her opposition firing from the get-go with a 6-0 start against the seventh seed. But Sabalenka fired from there, still not appearing to be at her best but proving her winning experience was crucial in this encounter to reign supreme 0-6 6-3 7-6(9). The higher ranked Belarusian hit six aces for 11 double faults in an uncharacteristically messy outing, which saw Pironkova intriguingly lead majority of the overall stats but still fall in a huge 7-6(9) final set tiebreaker. The third big test was played out between Elina Svitolina and Shelby Rogers, with the former marginally reigning supreme in the 3-6 7-5 6-3 two hour and 29 minute encounter. While Svitolina lacked consistency in windy conditions and was forced to take a medical timeout for a wrist injury, she clawed her way back with a huge second set to steal momentum and eventual victory.

Angelique Kerber appeared to be back to her best in the quickest match of the day, disposing of Renata Zarazua in just 61 minutes, completing a 6-0 6-0 sweep as Ekaterina AlexandrovaBelinda BencicIga Swiatek and Veronika Kudermetova all followed suit in 70-80 minute respective wins. Also amongst the winners circle on Day 3 at Miami were 17th seed Johanna Konta and unseeded Jelena Ostapenko, whilst three matches are yet to be complete at time of publish.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Kristina Kucova (SLO) 6-3 4-6 7-6
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 3-6 7-5 6-3
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Tsvetana Pironkova (BLR) 0-6 6-3 7-6
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-2 6-1
[16] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
[17] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 6-4 7-5
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated [18] Madison Keys (USA) 6-4 6-2
[19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-4 6-4
[24] Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Renata Zarazua (MEX) 6-0 6-0
[30] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-0 6-4
[32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Danielle Collins (USA) 6-3 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-2 5-7 6-3

[3] Simona Halep (ROM) v. Caroline Garcia (FRA)
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) v. Alize Cornet (FRA)
Anastasia Sevastova (LAT) v. [31] Coco Gauff (USA)

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 ATP/WTA 1000 Miami Open preview: Federer and Nadal withdraw as Barty returns

THE 2021 Miami Open is set to begin this week, played from Monday, March 22 through to Sunday, April 4, with the 1000 event expected to showcase some high calibre encounters across both the ATP and WTA Tours. Whilst the men’s list is missing a couple of notable names within the top 20, the women’s draw will boast just about all of the big names in the biz as the season rolls on despite COVID-19 restrictions still impacting proceedings. Both the men’s and women’s reigning Australian Open champions are set to compete, highlighting the strength of the respective events.

On the ATP Tour, the clear omissions from the draw include Rafael NadalDominic Thiem and Roger Federer, with the trio’s absence making for a huge hole in the draw and a real opportunity for the developing players coming through the ranks to make their mark. Looking down the list, it’s safe to say Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are the clear frontrunners in as first and second seeds with one title apiece to start the year, whilst Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are well within their chances here given the glaring absences. 2021 title-winners Andrey Rublev (Rotterdam title, 13-2 in 2021), Diego Schwartzman (Buenos Aires, 8-3) and David Goffin (Montpellier, 9-5) also register high in the draw, with the likes of Matteo Berrettini, Denis ShapovalovGael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut rounding out the top 11 or so players, pending shuffling from this week’s results. Factor in the explosiveness of the likes of Nick Kyrgios, who is still yet to confirm attendance, and the wealth of Spanish talent currently residing within and around the top 50, and there is so much that could go against the grain here.

Given it is an ATP 1000 event, there is no shortage of talent as players flock to Miami. Even heading down the list to lower ranked players, there are plenty of quality names across the board with in-form and young talent looking to add valuable points to their rankings. Two-time Miami champion Andy Murray is the big name wildcard at the event, joined by teen Carlos Alcaraz, Michael Mmoh, Hugo Gaston and Jack Draper in the main draw.

Heading to the women’s draw, and whilst there is more consistent top talent in the draw, that does not make it any easier to predict with the relatively even WTA Tour boasting a number of players who consistently step up at this level. Australian world number one and reigning 2019 Miami champion Ash Barty is reportedly set to compete after spending an unprecedented year way from the international circuit in 2020, joined by the ever formidable Naomi OsakaSimona HalepSofia Kenin and Elina Svitolina to round out the top five seeds. Also featuring are eight-time champion Serena Williams, who can never be overlooked in an event of this calibre, and a number of developing talents with French Open champion Iga Swiatek (2020) and 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu both set to take the court here. Jennifer BradyKarolina Pliskova and Madison Keys are another few who cannot be dismissed, as are the ever exciting teens Coco Gauff and Amanda Anisimova.

Factor in the evenness and unpredictability of the women’s draw, with realistically any number of the top 20 – or upwards of that – capable of beating anyone on their day, and Miami will have a real battle on its hands. The women’s main draw wildcards include Anna Kalinskaya, Ana Konjuh, Storm Sanders, Katrina Scott, Mayar Sherif, Xiyu Wang and Xinyu Wang, with qualifiers for both the women’s and men’s events set to play out over March 22-23.

WTA Tour wrap: Muguruza claims eighth title with Dubai success

TWO-TIME Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza has added more silverware to her cabinet, claiming victory in the 2021 WTA 1000 Dubai Tennis Championships overnight. The Spaniard defeated Junior and WTA Tour Grand Slam doubles winner Barbora Krejcikova in the final, with a tight 7-6 6-3 victory. It was Muguruza’s first title in four years after coming runner-up last month in Melbourne, and her first at a tournament not in Monterrey in four year.

“It was such a tight match,” Muguruza said post-match. “It could have gone either way. I feel like the finals are very hard, the two best players of that week, and I had to work hard for it tonight. Very happy about it.”

“I always believed every time that I go out there, I’m one of the players that can get the trophy,” Muguruza added. “There is proof this week, yes, but I’ve always believed that, in good moments and in bad moments.”

The match lasted two hours and eight minutes, with the first set going all the way deep into a tiebreaker before Muguruza emerged successful, taking it out 8-6 in the tiebreaker. Both players were broken in the opening two games of the match, before Nuguruza moved a break ahead in the sixth game, and then Krejcikova returned serve with a break of her own. Once again the Spaniard had a chance to capitalise off three set points in the twelfth game of the first set, but again the Czech stood up, forcing a tiebreaker. Thi time it would be Muguruza on the back foot, facing a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreak, but won three of the next four points to claim the set.

“I had to work so hard for it in the first set, the difference of one point, and I’m happy that it went my way,” Muguruza said.

Much like the first set, the Spaniard broke her opponent in the opening service game, but this time saved three break points to ensure she went to 2-0 rather than another 1-1 battle. That would be the last break until the last game of the match when she dominated Krejcikova’s serve for three match points and took advantage to become the WTA 1000 title winner.

“Everybody that is playing well and feels good [any] week can get the trophy, this is how hard women’s tennis is now,” Muguruza said. “Very happy that I managed for two weeks to be able to reach the last match, because it’s never easy.

“You have all these opponents, having to play ten matches in a row, makes it difficult. It’s very hard, and I’m happy that I managed well. “Physically it was hard but I was happy that I could handle that.”

Overall, Muguruza served seven aces to one, and only one double fault to three, capitalising on 64.9 and 53.3 per cent of her first and second serve points off a 65.5 per cent clip. Krejcikova managed to still win 61.9 and 52.9 per cent of her points respectively, but was lower off a 55.3 per cent first serve efficiency, and was broken four times to two.

The result has seen Muguruza move up to 13th in the world, leap frogging three players in Jennifer Brady, Victoria Azarenka and Iga Swiatek, but still sits more than 800 points off world number 12, Belinda Bencic. Krejcikova on the other hand made massive strides uo the world rankings to jump into 37th overall (a rise of 26 places) to now be the fourth highest ranked Czech singles player.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL RESULT:

[9] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 7-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA Tour wrap: Pegula smashes Pliskova on her way to final eight

RED-HOT Jessica Pegula is knocking down the door of the Top 30 during the 2021 WTA Dubai Tennis Championships, and her form suggests it could be a lot higher given her dominant 6-0 6-2 demolition job on second seed Karolina Pliskova, her second victory in as many weeks over the Czech. In 2021, Pegula is 21-4 and has made two quarter finals and one semi-final in her past three tournaments including the WTA 1000 Dubai event.

Coming into Dubai. Pegula was already at a career-high 36th in the world, but after her 53-minute rout of world number six Pliskova, Pegula has the opportunity to roll into the seeded places at a Grand Slam, breaking her highly fancied opponent in six of Pliskova’s seven games, and only dropping 11 points on serve in an eye-opening upset victory. The win backed up her previous victories over fellow Top 10 player Elina Svitolina and Pliskova in Doha.

Pegula will be a first-time WTA 1000 quarter finalist alongside another couple of underdogs in Russian wildcard Anastasia Potapova and Czech doubles talent Barbora Krejcikova. Potapova ended the run of sixth seed Belinda Bencic in three sets, 6-1 2-6 7-5 in a topsy turvy match, leading the top half of the draw completely seedless. Krejcikova disposed of Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets to enter her first WTA 1000 quarter final, and will battle Potapova for further history eyeing off a semi-final.

With Coco Gauff and Jil Teichmann facing one another in the other quarter final in the top half, one player will reach their first ever WTA Tour 1000 final. Gauff took care of Czech qualfier Tereza Martincova in straight sets, 6-4 6-2 to face Teichmann who overcame Tunisian Ons Jabeur in an eye-opening match, 6-3 6-3. Gauff turns 17 on Saturday – the Dubai Tennis Championships final – with the teenager the highly fancied one to reach the decider.

In other results, the seeds rolled through with victories, as 10th seed Elise Mertens took care of France’s Caroline Garcia 6-4 6-2 to set up a clash with Pegula in the quarter finals. Meanwhile third seed Aryna Sabalenka will meet ninth seed Garbine Muguruza in a battle of different styles, with the Belarusian power player knocking out 15th seed Estonian Anett Kontaveit, while the reliable Spanish all-court talent took down Roland Garros winner Iga Swiatek, 6-0 6-4 in a dominant performance.

Krejcikova and Potapova are up first on Centre Court with Mertens and Pegula facing off in the other day match. At night, Muguruza and Sabalenka open the prime time slot, finished off by rising talents Teichmann and Gauff. Both Krejcikova and Pegula have a busy schedule on quarter finals day, also taking part in the doubles quarter finals too.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [2] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-0 6-2
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [15] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 6-2
[WC] Anastasia Potapova (RSU) defeated [6] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-1 2-6 7-5
[9] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [8] Iga Swiatek (POL) 6-0 6-4
[10] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-4 6-2
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-3 6-3
[WC] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [Q] Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-3 6-2

 

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA