Tag: Irina-Camelia Begu

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 Miami Open 1000: Collins wins against Mladenovic as Latvian duo advance

IN a blockbuster second day at the WTA Miami Open 1000, the Round of 128 was completed with some interesting results. It was a real mix of winners, with some experienced players and some young guns winning through to the second round in an action-packed day. The first Round of 64 match was also decided – albeit without a ball being served – after Laura Siegemund withdrew from her clash against Belarusian 14th seed Victoria Azarenka.

In a number of three-set battles, Australian Storm Sanders overcame Italian Elizabetta Cocciaretto 6-1 5-7 6-1, while Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo won 6-2 2-6 7-5 against American Bernarda Pera. Also needing three sets for victory were Belarusian US Open quarter finalists Tsvetana Pironkova, winning against Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 7-6 3-6 6-3. Meanwhile Latvian Anastasija Sevastova toppled Serbian Olga Danilovic 6-1 3-6 7-6 as compatriot Jelena Ostapenko knocked off China’s Xiyu Wang, 6-4 6-7 6-1. Other three-set winners were Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, Brit Katie Boulter, Mexican Renata Zarazua, Slovakian Kristina Kucova and Chinese duo Qiang Wang and Saisai Zheng.

In more straightforward clashes, Liudmila Samsonova toppled Italian Camila Giorgi in straight sets 6-2 6-4, as Serbian Nina Stojanovic proved too strong for Great Britain’s Heather Watson, 6-4 6-1. Also marching through to the second round was Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia‘s rout of Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-1 6-2, whilst Tereza Martincova knocked off Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shevdova. The Czech won 6-4 6-2 in that encounter, joining Russian Anna Kalinskaya, Croatian Ana Konjuh and German Andrea Petkovic in the second round after straight set victories.

The highly anticipated match of the day was between American Danielle Collins and Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic who drew each other in blockbuster Round of 128 clash. It went the way of the former, with Collins getting up 6-3 6-3 to advance through to the Round of 64 in 82 minutes in an inspiring performance. She will need to back up with a match against Veronika Kudermetova tomorrow, as Kucova takes on top seed Ash Barty, Konjuh locks horns with Madison Keys, and Sevastova meets Coco Gauff in a huge day of action on the Grandstand Court tomorrow.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Storm Sanders (AUS) defeated Elizabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-1 5-7 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-7 6-4 6-2
Kristina Kucova (SVK) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-4 2-6 7-5
Tsvetana Pironkova (BLR) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 7-6 3-6 6-3
Nina Stojanovic (SRB) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-1 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Olga Danilovic (SRB) 6-1 3-6 7-6
Qiang Wang (CHN) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-1 3-6 6-3
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-4 6-2
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 2-6 6-2 6-1
Katie Boulter (GBR) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 4-6 6-3 6-3
Saisai Zheng (CHN) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 2-6 6-4 6-3
Renata Zarazua (MEX) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-4 4-6 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Xiyu Wang (CHN) 6-4 6-7 6-1
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated Irina Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-4 7-6
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-2 2-6 7-5
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 7-6 7-5
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated Shuai Zhang (CHN) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: Getty Images

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

WTA 500 wraps: Barty Party rolls into final as other semi-finalists decided

IT was a massive day at the WTA 500 events as players squeezed in shortened matches to keep the tournaments on track after no play took place on Thursday. The Yarra Valley Classic and Gippsland Trophy semi-finals have been determined, whilst the quarter finalists are known in the Gippsland Trophy.

Ash Barty is through to the Yarra Valley Classic final following a shortened quarter final and walkover semi-final. The Australian world number one needed three sets to take care of American Shelby Rogers, but to save time on a day filled with double-ups, the players took part in a third set super tiebreak rather than a full set. Barty won 7-5 2-6 10-4 to book her spot in the semis, before would-be opponent Serena Williams pulled out with a shoulder injury.

The decision for Williams to pull out came not long after she fought off compatriot Danielle Collins in three sets. It meant Barty will have an extra day to rest and come in fresh for the final in her first WTA Tour tournament in almost 12 months. The Australian will play the winner of sixth seed Garbine Muguruza and eighth seed Marketa Vondrousova.

Muguruza sought revenge on Sofia Kenin from last year’s Australian Open final, this time easily dishing out a one-sided result to win 6-2 6-2. It was the only straight sets win of the quarter finals, with Vondrousova defeating Argentinian Nadia Podoroska in three sets. If Vondrousova is able to topple Muguruza, then it will be a rematch against Barty for the 2019 Roland Garros title.

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC QUARTER FINALS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 7-5 2-6 1-0
[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [2] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-2 6-2
[5] Serena Williams (USA) defeated [13] Danielle Collins (USA) 6-2 4-6 1-0
[8] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [14] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 4-6 6-3 1-0

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC SEMI-FINALS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [5] Serena Williams (USA) W/O

The semi-finals of the Gippsland Trophy have been decided with only one of the top six seeds making it through to the final four. Top seed Simona Halep was smashed out of the tournament by Ekaterina Alexandrova, the ninth seed Russian dominating play to win 6-2 6-1 in a one-sided win.

Usually strong at this time of year, Alexandrova will now move through to take on unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi. The sole unseeded player remaining in the draw had a walkover against eighth seed Czech Karolina Muchova to be the freshest of the four players remaining in the tournament.

In the other semi-final, second seed Naomi Osaka will be the favourite to take out the title, having moved past unseeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu. The Japanese rising star won 7-5 6-1 to book her spot in the last four, taking on seventh seed Belgian Elise Mertens, who won through after an epic contest against third seed Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina.

GIPPSLAND TROPHY QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[9] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [1] Simona Halep (ROU) 6-2 6-1
[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 7-5 6-1
[7] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [3] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-3 5-7 10-6
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated [8] Karolina Muchova (CZE) W/O

Looking to the Grampians Trophy in the Round of 16 results, there were a couple of upsets to keep it fresh, in an otherwise predictable day of results. The two biggest surprises were losses to second seed Belinda Bencic and fourth seed Elena Rybakina who both bowed out of the tournament. Sonia Cirstea knocked off Bencic in straight sets, while Barbora Krejcikova won in the super tiebreak against Rybakina in what was a fascinating contest.

The only other unseeded player through to the final eight was Ann Li, with the American defeating Russian Veronika Kudermetova, 7-5 6-3. In terms of the seeds, the top ranked player remaining in the draw now is third seed, Victoria Azarenka with the Grand Slam winner knocking off Yulia Putintseva 11-9 in the super tiebreak following a disappointing second set.

Fifth seed Maria Sakkari, sixth seed Anett Kontaveit, seventh seed Jennifer Brady and eighth seed Angelique Kerber all made it through to the quarter finals having won in straight sets easily over their respective opponents.

GRAMPIANS TROPHY ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Sonia Cirstea (ROU) defeated [2] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 7-5 6-2
[3] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 1-6 11-9
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [4] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 4-6 6-2 10-6
[5] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Leylan Fernandez (CAN) 6-2 6-2
[6] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Bethany Mattek-Sands (USA) 7-5 7-5
[7] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-1 6-4
[8] Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-4 6-4
Ann Li (USA) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-5 6-3

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA 500 wraps: Czechs fall as other top seeds advance

A HUGE day at Melbourne Park saw all three events – Yarra Valley Classic, Gippsland Trophy and Grampians Trophy – underway, in what was a largely predictable day, though did feature a number of upsets, particularly to top ranked Czechs.

In the Yarra Valley Classic, the two top Czech players in the world – Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova – again have fallen short of the mark, losing out to lower ranked opponents in the Round of 16. Pliskova went down in two tiebreakers (7-5 7-3) during her 7-6 7-6 loss to 13th seed American Danielle Collins, while Kvitova started well against Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska, before losing in three sets to the 14th seed, 5-7 6-1 7-6.

In a repeat of their US Open clash, Serena Williams defeated Tsvetana Pironkova to set up an all-American quarter final with Collins, winning 6-1 6-4 against the Bulgarian. Racing through her match like she had somewhere to be, sixth seed Garbine Muguruza had a point to prove in a 6-1 6-2 rout of 11th seed Russian, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The result meant Muguruza now faces Sofia Kenin in the quarter finals, a repeat of the Australian Open decider 12 months ago.

Kenin took down compatriot Jessica Pegula in three sets 5-7 7-5 6-2, while world number one Ash Barty needed three sets to roll past 16th seed Czech, Marie Bouzkova in a bad day for the Czech Republic. One positive was the success of Marketa Vondrousova, with the eighth seed being the sole winner of the four in action, advancing through to the quarter finals thanks to a hard-fought 7-6 6-7 6-4 triumph over Russian Vera Zvonareva.

The quarter finals see Vondrousova taking on Podoroska for the right to play either Muguruza or Kenin, while the winner in the all-American clash between Collins and Williams will face the winner of the Barty and Shelby Rogers quarter final.

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [16] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-0 4-6 6-3
[2] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 5-7 7-5 6-2
[13] Danielle Collins (USA) defeated [3] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 7-6
[14] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated [4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 5-7 6-1 7-6
[5] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 6-1 6-4
[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [11] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-1 6-2
[8] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4

The Gippsland Trophy also went largely to plan, with five of the seven winners being ranked higher than their opponents. It was not completely smooth sailing for anyone, with only top seed Simona Halep, and ninth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova winning without getting into an eleventh game in any set. Halep toppled 16th seed German Laura Siegemund 6-2 6-4, while Alexandrova ended the unbeaten run of sixth seed Pole, Iga Swiatek who was coming off a Roland Garros title last year.

Speaking of Grand Slam titles, second seed Naomi Osaka – fresh off a break following her 2020 US Open triumph – had to come from a set down to put away a determined Katie Boulter, 3-6 6-3 6-1. Also fighting from a set down, third seed Elina Svitolina took out Latvian Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 6-3 6-2, while the biggest upset of the day belonged to Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu who knocked off fifth seed Johanna Konta in three hours and 32 minutes, 4-6 7-6 7-6.

In the other two matches, eighth seed Karolina Muchova won in three sets over Jasmine Paolini, while Estonian Kaia Kanepi – who ended the 15-game winning streak of Aryna Sabalenka the day before – won through to the quarter finals in straight sets over Daria Kasatkina, 7-5 6-1. Now Kanepi and Muchova lock horns, with Begu to take on Osaka, and two huge all-seeded clashes between Halep and Alexandrova, and Elise Mertens and Svitolina.

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated [16] Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-2 6-4
[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Katie Boulter (GBR) 3-6 6-3 6-1
[3] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [13] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-7 6-3 6-2
Irina-Camelia Begu ROU) defeated [5] Johanna Konta (GBR) 4-6 7-6 7-6
[9] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [6] Iga Swiatek (POL) 6-4 6-2
[8] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 4-6 6-4
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-5 6-1

Meanwhile the first round of action at the Grampians Trophy was completed over the first couple of days, with the remaining 10 matches adding to the two played on day one. Overall there were not a huge amount of surprises, with perhaps the biggest upset seeing teenage rising star Leylah Fernandez take down former US Open winner Sloane Stephens in straight sets.

The 6-3 6-1 victory was a convincing victory in an hour and 14 minutes, though the quickest fully completed match of the day was Sonia Cirstea‘s rout of Oksana Kalashnikova, 6-1 6-1 in just 48 minutes. To put that in perspective, local talent Ellen Perez – who was a late inclusion into the draw – had to retire eight games in against Ann Li and that match went for 43 minutes.

In other results, the three seeds in action were Estonian Anett Kontaveit (sixth), American Jennifer Brady (seventh) and German Angelique Kerber (eighth) who all won through. Both Kontaveit and Brady breezed through in straight sets, whilst Kerber took almost two hours to dispel Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova in three sets, 6-3 4-6 6-3.

In other results, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk and Veronika Kudermetova both rolled through to the next round without any issues, as did Tunisian Ons Jabeur who continued her great form of the past 12 months. The other winners were United States’ Bethany Mattek-Sands, Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva and Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova who all made it into the Round of 16.

GRAMPIANS TROPHY ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-1 6-3
[7] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-3 6-0
[8] Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-3 4-6 6-3
Bethany Mattek-Sands (USA) defeated Barbora Strycova (CZE) 7-6 6-2
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) 6-0 6-3
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-3 6-1
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Georgina Garcia Perez (ESP) 7-6 6-4
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-2 6-2
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-4 4-6 6-4
Ann Li (USA) defeated Ellen Perez (AUS) 5-3 RET
Sonia Cirstea (ROU) defeated Oksana Kalashnikova (GEO) 6-1 6-1
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-1 6-1

Note: Unfortunately due to a COVID-19 positive test from a hotel worker at the Grand Hyatt where the majority of players are staying, today’s action has been postponed.

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA 500 wraps: Ash Barty returns to the court as 2020 Grand Slam champions make their mark

ANOTHER huge day at the two WTA 500 tournaments was had as the Round of 32 continued in the lead up to the Australian Open next week. Ash Barty made a triumphant return to the court at the Yarra Vally Classic for the first time since early 2020, while a number of seeds fell at the Gippsland Trophy in a less predictable day on the track.

At the Yarra Valley Classic, Barty led the charge as the top seed and did not disappoint with her 6-3 6-3 sweep of Romanian Ana Bogdan. She will be joined in the Round of 16 with all six other seeds from the day after a successful showing from the top talent on the park, with 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin ultimately having the easiest outing of the day with a one-set victory after Italian Camila Giorgi retired. The second seed American’s Australian Open runner up Garbine Muguruza came away with a classy 6-2 6-0 victory over Belgian Alison van Uytvanck, while Kenin’s compatriot Jessica Pegula joined the Round of 16 after disposing of German Mona Barthel. Meanwhile, Argentinian Nadia Podoroska was also successful downing Greet Minnen.

A couple of Czech Republic and Russian representatives were also successful, seeing Czech seeds Petra Kvitova (fourth) and Marie Bouzkova (16th) dispose of Venus Williams and Aliona Bolsova respectively, while Russians Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (11th seed) and Vera Zvonareva also reigned supreme, albeit in less tighter matches than the Czech duo, who were both taken to two hours before shaking their respective opposition.

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROM) 6-3 6-3
[2] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 7-5 RET
[4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 7-6 7-5
[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2 6-0
[11] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-0 6-3
[14] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-3 6-4
[16] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-3 6-7 6-2
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Caroline Dolehide (USA) 6-2 6-4
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-4 7-5

At the Gippsland Trophy, results were far less predictable with the big loss of the day coming from fourth seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who was upset by 94th ranked Estonian Kaia Kanepi in a blistering 6-1 2-6 6-1 outing. Elsewhere, a couple of 2020 Grand Slam title-holders continued their excellent runs as Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka got their 2021 seasons on track straight away. Roland Garros champion Swiatek had a sloppy first set, before regaining confidence and the upper hand over Slovenian Kaja Juvan to come out victorious, 2-6 6-2 6-1 in one hour and 45 minutes. US Open victor Osaka completed her 6-2 6-2 sweep of Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in just 71 minutes, collecting her 12th straight win and her first since the US Open final last September.

Sabalenka was not the only seed to fall during the Round of 32, with young gun Coco Gauff going down to 24-year-old Brit Katie Boulter, who stands a whopping 323 ranks behind the 16-year-old American prodigy. Polona Hercog also fell to a lower ranked opposition in Russian Daria Kasatkina, while turning to successful seeds, and it was go, go, go for the likes of fifth seed Johanna Konta and 16th seed Laura Siegmund who came away with two of the quickest victories of the day over Bernarda Pera and Destanee Aiava, respectively. In other games, Carolina Garcia downed Timea Babos and Irina-Camelia Begu outlasted a hungry Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the only match of the day that went more than two hours, coming away with the 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory in two hours and 35 minutes.

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 6-2
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated [4] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-1 2-6 6-1
[5] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-2 6-3
[6] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Kaja Juvan (SLO) 2-6 6-2 6-1
[12] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Timea Babos (HUN) 6-4 6-4
Katie Boulter (GBR) defeated [14] Coco Gauff (USA) 3-6 7-5 6-2
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated [15] Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-4 6-3
[16] Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-2 6-2
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 5-7 6-4 6-4

WTA 500 wraps: Seeds stumble in Yarra Valley Classic as Australians fall across the board

ON the opening day of the WTA Tour’s Summer Series in Australia, all bar one of the host nation’s players fell, while a couple of French seeds bowed out in the first round at the Yarra Valley Classic.

Kicking off the 2021 Summer Series in the Yarra Valley Classic, a couple of Americans in Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula both made life difficult for their French opponent’s Australian Open preparations. Rogers defeated 12th seed Fiona Ferro 6-2 7-5, while Pegula was too good for 15th seed Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-1. Only one of the three seeds on day one secured a spot in the second round, as 16th seed Czech Marie Bouzkova smashed local hope Sam Stosur, 6-2 6-0.

It was one of a number of Australians who fell across the day’s play with Kimberley Birrell, Lizette Cabrera and Maddison Inglis all losing out in first round encounters. Birrell and Inglis fell in straight sets to German Mona Barthel and Swede Rebecca Peterson respectively, whilst Cabrera pushed Russian Varvara Gracheva, but went down in three sets, 2-6 6-4 6-2. Other one-sided contests included Australia’s sole winner on day one, Daria Gavrilova, having a 6-2 6-0 smashing of Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova.

In other results, Ana Bogdan took care of Russian Kamila Rakhimova, Grand Slam winner Venus Williams proved too good for Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, fellow veteran Tsvetana Pironkova won over Liudmila Samsonova, and Anastasia Sevastova defeated American Madison Brengle in straight sets. In only one of two three-set matches, Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto came back from the brink after losing the first set 6-0 to China’s Lin Zhu, to win the second set, but then find herself down in the third, but bounced back to win 0-6 6-3 7-5 and advanced through to the Round of 32.

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [12] Fiona Ferro (FRA) 6-2 7-5
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [15] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[16] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-2 6-0
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-2 6-1
Venus Williams (USA) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-1 6-3
Mona Barthel (GER) defeated Kimberley Birrell (AUS) 7-5 6-3
Daria Gavrilova (AUS) defeated Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-2 6-0
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 2-6 6-4 6-2
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Maddison Inglis (AUS) 6-2 6-1
Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) 6-2 6-2
Anastasia Sevastova (LAT) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-2
Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) defeated Lin Zhu (CHN) 0-6 6-3 7-5

In the Gippsland Trophy which was also held in Melbourne Park, three of the four seeds got up to win their first round matches, but it was more disappointment for the home nation across the board, with the three Australians out on court losing their Round of 64 encounters.

Seeds, Jelena Ostapenko and Polona Hercog both recorded three-set wins over their respective opponents after slow starts, as the 13th seed Latvian toppled former Top 5 player Sara Errani 4-6 6-3 6-1, while Hercog knocked off Russian Margarita Gasparyan 2-6 6-3 6-3. Caroline Garcia became the only Frenchwoman to win across either tournament when she knocked off Australia’s Arina Rodionova 6-3 6-4, whilst Rodionova’s compatriots, Olivia Gadecki and Astra Sharma both went down in three-set losses.

Gadecki was brave against Bernarda Pera before losing 6-7 6-3 6-3 in a tight contest, while Sharma stunned Estonian Kaia Kanepi in the first set 6-1, before ultimately being overrun 1-6 7-5 6-2. In another three-set match, Irina-Camelia Begu came from behind to knock off China’s Saisai Zheng. The 11th seed won the first set 6-3, but Begu managed to get it back on her terms and hold off her Chinese opponent to win 3-6 7-5 6-4 in and impressive victory.

Other three-set winners included Slovenian Kava Juvan who knocked off China’s Yafan Wang, 4-6 6-1 6-4, while German Andrea Petkovic got over Italian Martina Trevisan, 6-1 3-6 7-5. Over to the straight set winners and Hungarian Timea Babos defeated Romania’s Patricia Tig, Anna Schmiedlova toppled Valeria Savinykh 6-1 6-3, Jasmine Paolini won a hard-fought tussle over Canada’s Rebecca Marino 7-6 6-3, while Daria Kasatkina and Danka Kovinic won comfortably against Mihaela Buzarnescu and Tamara Zidansek respectively.

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) defeated [11] Saisai Zheng (CHN) 3-6 7-5 6-4
[12] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-3 6-4
[13] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Sara Errani (ITA) 4-6 6-3 6-1
[15] Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 2-6 6-3 6-3
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated Yafan Wang (CHN) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Timea Babos (HUN) defeated Patricia Tig (ROU) 7-6 6-3
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-1 3-6 7-5
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Valeria Savinykh (RUS) 6-1 6-3
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Olivia Gadecki (AUS) 6-7 6-3 6-3
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 1-6 7-5 6-2
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated Rebecca Marino (CAN) 7-6 6-3
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-1 6-1
Danka Kovinic (MCE) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Getty Images

Seeds prevail in mixed bag of results on Day 5 at Linz

IT was a mixed bag of results on Day 5 at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, both in terms of scores and rounds, with the remainder of the Round of 32 complete and the first three matches of the Round of 16 played.

Looking to the Round of 32 first, and it was a mostly predictable day at the office with four seeds taking the court and just the one defeated in Jil Teichmann. Teichmann may have got the jump early over Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin, but was challenged well in the second and well and truly overcome in the third set as Dodin ran away with the 1-6 6-4 6-2 victory. While Teichmann excelled with 12 aces and three double faults, she struggled to effectively capitalise on her first serve points winning just 56.1 per cent. While Dodin’s effectiveness was not much higher at 61.5 per cent, she was a lot more consistent on the return, too, allowing her to gain the upper hand.

While seventh seed Teichmann was overcome, the same could not be said for second seed Elise Mertens, fifth seed Veronika Kudermetova and sixth seed Nadia Podoroska, with the trio all coming away with wins. Mertens struggled in the first set against Anhelina Kalinina before lifting her game, with the 2-6 6-1 6-2 match completed in two hours and five minutes. Overall, Mertens was much more clinical and consistent than her Ukrainian opposition, winning 72.9 per cent of points off her first serve and much more effective on the return, too. While both players hit four double faults, Mertens capitalised well with seven aces to Kalinina’s one, and was much more consistent both saving and converting break point opportunities.

For Podoroska, it was a closer encounter but still a clean straight sets victory against Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, coming away with the 6-4 6-4 victory credit to a 59.8 per cent service point winning rate and consistency on her break point opportunities. Mertens and Podoroska were certainly tested more than Kudermetova who came away with a 6-0 6-0 result against Barbara Haas, utterly blowing the Austrian away in 53 minutes.

Heading to the Round of 16, and just the one seed participated in Ekaterina Alexandrova, outlasting Varvara Gracheva in a tough first set before sparking up for the 7-5 6-1 victory. Alexandrova may not have been her most effective on serve but was certainly efficient, serving at 62 per cent but winning a terrific 80.6 per cent of her first serve points compared to Gracheva’s 58.3 per cent. It was that service rate that saw Alexandrova dominate in the second set, capitalising well and reducing her errors, not dropping any double faults in the second after racking up six in the first.

Greet Minnen took on Barbora Krejcikova in the longest match of the day, with the duo battling it out in the first two sets for one apiece from tiebreakers. While it was Krejcikova who brought the match to a close in just under three hours for the 5-7 7-6 6-4 results, there was no doubt Minnen put on her fair share of a show with the duo looking very similar on the stats sheet and a credit to the work-rate and hustle showcased on court.

The final match saw Jana Fett and Aliaksandra Sasnovich go head to head, with this three-setter looking very different to the previous one as Belarusian Sasnovich came away with the 3-6 6-1 6-3 victory in 131 minutes. Fett’s error rate was her downfall, registering a better first serve ratio and winning rate but piling on the double faults, with her 13 double faults overawing her seven aces. Sasnovich’s consistency was paramount to her success, not necessarily having the flashy moments but ultimately winning 56.5 per cent of service points and 52.7 per cent of return points, credit to her consistent effort.

Schmiedlova upsets Azarenka as Williams withdraws

DAY four of Roland Garros saw some huge results, with the biggest news to come out of the day the withdrawal from Serena Williams, bowing out to Tsvetana Pironkova prior to the match starting, citing an Achilles injury and more than likely now not playing another tournament in 2020. As for other top 10 seed hopes, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens all continued their winning ways against unseeded opposition, while Victoria Azarenka’s excellent recent form has come to an end with her Roland Garros hopes cut short by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in straight sets.

Unfortunately for Belarusian hope Azarenka, from the get-go it was all the way of Schmiedlova who immediately broke Azarenka’s serve and held to be 2-0 up early, before fighting through all of the 10th seeds efforts to win the last three games to take out the first set in 52 minutes. While Azarenka had a much better start to the second, seeing neither player able to break the opposition’s serve at 2-2, it was Schmiedlova that broke first to win the remainder of the set with a 69 per cent winning rate off her first serve and 57 off the second. Azarenka notched up a whopping 38 unforced errors, hitting one more winner but winning 18 points less than Schmiedlova overall in the 6-2 6-2 battle.

“I think for me it’s very important to move well and to not make a lot of unforced errors, just to put everything in, run a lot,” Schmiedlova said post-match. “That’s my game, but I also need to play a little bit more aggressive, brave in the difficult moments.

“That was very difficult for me before because I was playing too defensive. “Now I’m trying to play a little bit more offensive. I’m glad that it worked today.

“I’m extremely happy. Especially when I won against such great players, I have big respect for both of them (Azarenka and Venus Williams in the opening round). I never played against Vika before… “I think she’s great player. She played really well in US Open. I was (a) little bit scared before the match. But I started well, and I’m really happy how I managed to play all match.” 

Halep was fairly convincing in victory against Romanian compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu for a 6-3 6-4 win in 83 minutes, while Svitolina survived a shock 0-6 second set to record a 6-3 0-6 6-2 victory over Renata Zarazua. Other seeds to head through to the third round were Amanda Anisimova, who came away with a 57 minute 6-2 6-0 victory over countrywoman Bernarda Pera, Elise Mertens and Maria Sakkari, with the latter two overcoming tough efforts for eventual victories, while Kazakh Yulia Putintseva was not so lucky, going down in three sets to Nadia Podoroska.

Bertens endured a tough challenge from Sara Errani, with the Italian unwilling to back down taking the match to over three hours in length credit to tiebreakers in the first and third sets. While Bertens was relieved to come away with the 7-6 6-3 9-7 victory, the Dutch fifth seed told media post-match “I kept on fighting and I still don’t know how I did manage to get the win” in a gruelling battle.

“It was a roller coaster, to be honest,” Bertens said. “Physically I didn’t feel great. I was cramping, I think everyone could really see that. But it was weird because I didn’t feel really tired but I was sweating a lot, I was cold. So I don’t know what it really was, maybe a little bit of tension of course also in the body. 

“It was tough because of course you want to play more aggressive, but it’s really tough for me to do this on this court at this point,” Bertens said. “So then you’re a little bit like struggling, like what should I do and then she’s reading the game of course really well. 

“So there was a lot of drop shots, a lot of running, a lot of breaks of serve, because I also felt like sometimes when I really hit a good shot she only came with a better response. So it was really trying to find a solution out there.”

Bertens takes on Katerina Siniakova in the third round after the Czech reigned supreme over compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 77 minutes. The second all-Czech battle of the day saw 32nd seed Barbora Strycova go down to Barbora Krejcikova in a huge three-setter, with the latter weathering the storm for the 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory. Meanwhile, Australians Astra Sharma and Daria Gavrilova were not so lucky after their opening round wins, with Sharma dealt a tough hand in seed Russia Ekaterina Alexandrova and Gavrilova outclassed by Eugenie Bouchard after winning the first set tiebreaker. Carolina Garcia was too strong against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, steaking momentum to fly through the second set after a tight 7-6 start.

While young guns continue to put on a show, just one of Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek managed to head to the third round, with Gauff putting on an exciting effort against Martina Trevisan but ultimately coming off second best after a sloppy second set for the 4-6 6-2 7-5 result, while Swiatek powered through the first set against Hsieh Su-wei to record a 6-1 6-4 victory.

Intriguing winners list on day one of Roland Garros

A HUGE day one of the 2020 Roland Garros began with a couple of intriguing winners on the list among a plethora of seeds. As expected, top seed Simona Halep dominated her contest to head through to the second round, as did six of her fellow seeds.

Halep was clinical in her effort against Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, running away with a 6-4 6-0 win on her 29th birthday. In another interesting twist, it was the first women’s game under the new Court Philippe Chatrier roof, with drizzly proceedings for most of the day not disrupting the centre court.

“The perfect present was that I won today, of course,” Halep said at her post-match press conference. “It was a really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday. So it’s going to be pretty unique, maybe forever.”

While a tense first set saw both players fight hard, Halep was able to fight through the cold and Sorribes Tormo’s strong efforts. It certainly was not Halep’s cleanest effort, hitting 23 winners for 23 unforced errors, but fought back from 2-4 down early in the first to win the next four games and head into the second set with the momentum, unwilling to relinquish control. 

“At the beginning I just wanted to be aggressive and to hit the balls everywhere,” said Halep. “But [Sorribes Tormo] was so strong on the legs, and she didn’t miss at all. And also, her ball is coming a little bit higher and with a lot of topspin, so it’s not easy to play from up to the shoulder. And then I just started to open the court better, to go slower, and to work for every ball, which I did very well.”

A couple of unseeded talents came out firing though, with shock exits from Johanna Konta, Dayana Yastremska and Anett Kontaveit making for some big wins to lower ranked talent. Coco Gauff got the chocolates over ninth seed Konta with a 6-3 6-3 victory, while Australian Daria Gavrilova made an excellent return with a 6-4 6-3 victory over 24th seed Yastremska. Carolina Garcia toppled Kontaveit in a tighter three set contest, taking just over two hours to gain the 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory.

It was Gauff’s first main draw match at the Roland Garros, with the 16-year-old the youngest of 11 teenagers in the draw. 

“I know that [Konta] likes to play really hard and play the ball into her,” Gauff said. “So coming into the match I already knew I was going to change the pace and everything. To be honest, I was surprised how good the slice was today.

“I mean, the backhand slice I work on a lot. It’s not the best, but I try to work on it. The forehand slice, I think it was just natural. I knew I had to change up the pace of the ball, especially in the conditions.”

“I don’t really take anything for granted, because I’m just happy to be playing,” Gauff said. “I don’t think maybe winning matches at slams is something I’m used to, especially this is my first main draw at Roland Garros. When I’m on the court, I can act like I’m used to it. When I’m off the court, I’m just happy to be here.”

Comparatively, seeds in Victoria Azarenka, Elise Mertens, Maria Sakkari, Barbora Strycova, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Yulia Putintseva all joined the winners list with straight sets wins, seeing Azarenka come away with the quickest victory in 61 minutes over Danka Kovinic 6-1 6-2. In other games, Barbora Krejcikova, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Irina-Camelia Begu, Astra Sharma and Eugenie Bouchard all head through to the second round while Camila Giorgi retired to compatriot Martina Trevisan and Venus Williams was knocked out of contention by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova