Tag: Jasmine Paolini

2021 Adelaide International: Rogers downs Konta in day of upsets

DAY 3 at the Adelaide International saw a couple more upsets make their way through to the Round of 16, with one seed disposed of in straight sets and a duo of Aussie qualifiers winning their third straight win to head to the second round.

It was Johanna Konta who fell at the first hurdle, absolutely obliterated by American Shelby Rogers 6-2 6-2 in one hour and 16 minutes. Konta retired early from the Australian Open – during the first round in fact – from injury and looked the goods heading into Adelaide, but struggled to maintain her form and failed to have an impact on serve and more so on return. With just 10 unforced errors to her name throughout the contest, Rogers was clean and clinical, registering her third career Top 10 victory. The results of Rogers’ compatriots Coco Gauff and Madison Brengle went in two different directions though, with Gauff overcoming fellow qualifier Jasmine Paolini in a two-hour and 33-minute 6-4 7-6 6-2 battle, whilst Brengle was unfortunate to draw Polish fifth seed Iga Swiatek, and was disposed of in straight sets.

Maddison Inglis fought off former champion Sam Stosur, coming back from the brink in a tight 6-7 7-5 6-4 marathon, winning in two hours and 46 minutes. Whilst Stosur was marginally more effective on serve, Inglis saved seven of her 10 break points and when it came down to overall points won, just pipped her compatriot at the post. In the other all-Australian battle it was underdog Storm Sanders who got the chocolates over Alja Tomljanovic, as Sanders’ fine recent form continued with another straight sets victory, 6-1 6-2 in 63 minutes.

Looking to seeded contests, and both Yulia Putintseva and Petra Martic head through to the second round relatively unscathed, but were both pushed by their respective opposition in Laura Siegemund and Liudmila Samsonova, coming away with 6-4 6-4 and 4-6 6-0 7-5 margins over their respective foes. The remaining matches saw Misaki Doi and Jil Teichmann also join the second round club.

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 Adelaide International: Qualifiers share spotlight as main draw takes the court

DAY 2 of the Adelaide International qualifying round saw the WTA 500 tournament’s main draw begin, with plenty of hotly contested matches on centre court during the first day of the official competition, as Anastasija Sevastova, Wang QiangShelby Rogers and Danielle Collins headed into the Round of 16 with relative ease.

Sevastova was the first to win through to the Round of 16, defeating Caroline Garcia in 81 minutes 6-2 6-4. It was a solid first serve efficiency that saw the Latvian take out the victory, winning 65 per cent of first serve points off a 72.7 per cent clip, controlling the match despite the Frenchwoman fighting back in the second. A game-for-game first set between eighth seed Wang and wildcard Olivia Gadecki – who sits barely within the top 400 at 399th in the world – drew plenty of eyes as the Australian challenged Wang, before the Chinese talent ran away with the second set and eventual victory with her ability to win off her first serve paying dividends with an effectiveness of close to 88 per cent.

On the first and second show courts, it was the underdogs that showcased their form as the likes of Storm Sanders and Liudmila Samsonova reigned supreme and headed into the main draw. Sanders had an excellent outing against American Caty McNally, downing the ninth seed in 75 minute 6-2 6-3. Whilst not as huge a scalp as Sanders’ victory – ranking 292nd in the world to McNally’s 118th – 10th seed and 117th ranked Samsonova got the chocolates over Japanese fifth seed and world number 86 Misaki Doi, 7-6 6-3. Meanwhile, an excellent showing from Latvian Kaja Juvan saw the 20-year-old speed away to an early lead, before 16-year-old top seed Coco Gauff clapped back midway through the second to force a deciding set after a huge come from behind effort, eventually winning 3-6 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes.

A mammoth effort from Maddison Inglis saw the Australian join the winners list with an excellent outing against third seed Christina McHale. Whilst the American seemed to have all proceedings going her way early, a stellar comeback across the second and third sets handed Inglis her entry into the main draw and a chance at her maiden WTA Tour win. With a 65.6 per cent win rate on her first serve off a 78 per cent clip, Inglis was far more effective on serve and utilised her service speed to knock off the world number 85, 4-6 6-2 6-1 in just under two hours.

The remaining two Round of 32 encounters saw a fired-up Rogers fly through the first set against Veronika Kudermetova, before the Russian bit back in the second to force a tiebreaker but unable to rein in the American, as Rogers’ compatriot Collins downed Zheng Saisai and Madison Brengle won through to the main draw alongside Italian Jasmine Paolini.

2021 Adelaide International: Day 1 of qualifiers sees Americans and Aussies dominate

THE Adelaide International qualifying rounds have begun, with a flurry of American and Australian competitors taking the court in South Australia and at least one player from each of the two nations playing in each match. They combined for eight of the 12 winners on the day, including top seed youngster Coco Gauff and unseeded wildcard Storm Sanders, who disposed of second seed American Bernarda Pera in three sets.

In an interesting stat, the top four seeds all hailed from the United States, with just Pera falling from that group. Gauff was clinical in her encounter with Great Britain’s Francesca Jones, disposing of the Brit in 64 minutes and joined by Madison BrengleChristina McHale and Caty McNally on the winners list. Also hailing from the United States but falling in the first round was Asia Muhammad, who stole the first set from Italian Jasmine Paolini but eventually fell in the lone two-plus hour encounters of the day, going down to the sixth seed 4-6 6-3 7-6.

Heading to the Australian winners, and it was Maddison InglisAstra Sharma and Ellen Perez who joined Sanders in the second round, with Inglis knocking compatriot Belinda Woolcock out of the running. Destanee AiavaArina RodionovaLizette CabreraIvana Popovic and Kimberly Birrell will all remain on the sidelines on home soil, unlucky to all draw seeds. Sanders and Sharma impressed with their three set victories over Pera and Lesia Tsurenko showing plenty of intent ahead of the second round.

The remaining non American or Australian winners included Liudmila SamsonovaMisaki Doi and Kaja Juvan, as all three competitors claimed straight set wins over homegrown talent.

The qualifiers will continue today with the first round beginning on Tuesday.

Australian Open Women’s Round of 128 wrap: Barty dominates as Sherif first Egyptian woman to make it to grand slam second round

A flurry of exciting players joined the Australian Open fray on Day 2 of proceedings at Melbourne Park, with world number one Ash Barty making her Open return in smashing fashion, while the likes of Sofia KeninElina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova all came out flying as the top seeds of the day. In a highly competitive day of action – with nine matches going to three sets and four of those hitting the two-hour and 30-minute mark – just a couple of seeded competitors fell, with 12th seed Victoria Azarenka leading the pack after an excellent outing from American Jessica Pegula, while Johanna Konta retired from her 6-4 0-2 encounter with Slovenian Kaja JuvanPetra Martic struggled to maintain composure after Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic took out the first set tiebreaker, eventually going down 7-5 3-6 6-4, while Maria Sakkari was error-ridden in defeat, and 31st seed Zhang Saisai was exposed by American Ann Li who hit 22 winners to Zhang’s two to come away with a 6-2 6-0 victory in 47 minutes.

But while a 47-minute victory was one thing, Barty’s 6-0 6-0 utter domination of Danka Kovinic was another, with the Australian disposing of the world number 82 in just 44 minutes. Collecting 10 winners for five unforced error’s compared to Kovinic’s three and 28, Barty dismantled her opposition on home soil and proved far too good for the Montenegrin, who spent 20,120 minutes in hotel quarantine in Melbourne for a devastating 44 minutes of play. Barty is joined by a couple of compatriots in the second round, as Daria Gavrilova and Sam Stosur were both successful on their opening day. World number 387 Gavrilova stunned 64th ranked Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo on return with a 6-1 first set setting up a straight sets 6-1 7-5 victory, while Stosur downed compatriot Destanee Aiava 6-4 6-4. Kenin’s outing against fellow Australian Maddison Inglis may not have been quite as dominant, but she still came away with a classy 7-5 6-4 victory over the Australian who is still yet to win an match on the WTA Tour, while a duo of green and gold wildcards in Astra Sharma and Arina Rodionova will join Inglis and Aiava on the sidelines.

Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian woman to make it past the first round at a Grand Slam with her 7-5 7-5 victory over Frenchwoman Chloe Paquet, joined by Danilovic and Liudmila Samsonova as the only qualifiers to make it through the day, while young gun Coco Gauff continued her running grand slam form with a 6-3 6-2 sweep of Jil Teichmann to head into yet another second round at a major tournament. Powerhouses Pliskova and Svitolina may have had supremely different playing times – 47 minutes and two hours, respectively – but both also head into the second round, after disposing of Jasmine Paolini and Marie Bouzkova, while the seeded duo is joined in the second round by a flurry of top talent as 2020 Australian Open runner up Garbine MuguruzaBelinda BencicElise Mertens and Anett Kontaveit all came away with excellent wins, as did Jennifer Brady, Karolina MuchovaYulia PutintsevaDonna Vekic and Ekaterina Alexandrova with all bar five seeds making it out alive on Day 2 of the Open.

The second round of action begins at Melbourne Park today, with the day session headlined by the likes of Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu, while the night session will see Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep take the court against unseeded opposition in Caroline Garcia and Ajla TomljanovicVenus Williams will look to continue her run when she takes on Italian qualifier Sara Errani, while Iga Swiatek will take on Errani’s higher ranked compatriot Camila Giorgi.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-0 6-0
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated [WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 7-5 6-4
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-3 7-6
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-0 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-3 4-6 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 7-5 6-4
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated [13] Johanna Konta (GBR) 4-6 2-0 RET
[14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [LL] Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Olga Danilovic (SRB) defeated [16] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-5 3-6 6-4
[18] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [20] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-2 0-6 6-3
[21] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-2
[22] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-1 6-3
[25] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5 6-2
[26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 4-6 6-2 6-3
[28] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Wang Yifan (CHN) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[29] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Ann Li (USA) defeated [31] Zhang Saisai (CHN) 6-2 6-0
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3 6-2
[WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-1 7-5
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 6-3 6-1
Nao Hibino (JPN) defeated [WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) 2-6 6-3 7-5
Madison Brengle (USA) defeated [WC] Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-1 6-2
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (EST) 6-3 6-1
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-4 6-4
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-2 6-2
Zhu Lin (CHN) defeated [Q] Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-1 6-1
[WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) defeated [WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Mayar Sherif (EGY) defeated [Q] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 7-5 7-5
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated [Q] Clara Burel (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Francesca Jones (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Mona Barthel (GER) defeated [Q] Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 3-6 6-4 6-4

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: Seeds prevail as top players enter draws while Round of 64 continues

IT was a successful day across the board for the top echelon of international talent at both the Yarra Valley Classic and Gippsland Trophy, with just one seed falling at each of the two competitions. Both competitions played both the Round of 32 and 64 in a huge day of action, with plenty of tough contests around the grounds.

At the Yarra Valley Classic, it was almost a clean sweep from seeds with just Donna Vekic falling to a feisty Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets, 1-6 6-4 6-2. The only remaining Australian in the draw, Daria Gavrilova, was unfortunate to draw Serena Williams in just her second match since her return, and was unable to hold up under pressure from the champion, while Karolina Pliskova disposed of Elisabetta Cocciaretto with ease, as did Danielle Collins with her Serbian opposition, Nina Stojanovic.

The two former world number ones in Williams and Pliskova were unshakeable throughout their contests, hitting 27 and 30 winners respectively. Joining them in the Round of 16 are the likes of Croatian Petra Martic, who was tested by Belarusian Vera Lapko but prevailed, and eighth seed Marketa Vondrousova who defeated Varvara Gracheva in a 6-4 6-0 contest.

In the day’s Round of 16 results, 11th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and 14th seed Nadia Podoroska both carved out straight set wins with 6-1 first sets apiece, while Vera Zvonareva battled Kristyna Pliskova in a close-to two hour encounter and Alison van Uytvanck disposed of Suwei Hsieh 6-2 6-0.

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[3] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-3 6-2
[5] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 6-1 6-4
[7] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Vera Lapko (BLR) 4-6 6-4 6-2
[8] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-4 6-0
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) defeated [9] Donna Vekic (CRO) 1-6 6-4 6-2
[13] Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 6-2 6-1

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-1 6-4
[14] Nadia Podoroska (KAZ) defeated Francesca Jones (GBR) 6-1 6-3
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-4 6-7 6-3
Alison van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated Suwei Hsieh (TPE) 6-2 6-0

At the Gippsland Trophy, things went much the same for the seeds with just Qiang Wang falling at the hands of Italian Jasmine Paolini. The top seeds in Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina joined the draw and were immediately successful, coming away with wins in just over an hour apiece, while Ekaterina Alexandrova and Jelena Ostapenko both reigned supreme in close encounters. Eighth seed Karolina Muchova downed American Caty McNally 6-1 6-1 in just 62 minutes for the shortest match of the day.

The longest match award went to 16-year-old Coco Gauff, though, with the 14th seed playing her Round of 64 match and taken all the way by Jil Teichmann. While Gauff proved she was in it to win it from the very beginning, disposing of Teichmann in the first set 6-3, the Swiss talent came back in the second to steal the win from under Gauff’s nose in the 8-6 tiebreaker. Gauff showcased her tenacity in the third, and while she hit a whopping six  double faults in that set alone, her five aces did the trick to come away with the 6-3 6-7 7-6 victory in two hours and 45 minutes.

Joining Gauff in the Round of 32 are German Laura Siegemund, who defeated Monica Niculescu, while two Australia-France battles waged with Frenchwoman Alize Cornet prevailing over Alja Tomljanovic in one encounter, as Australian Destanee Aiava took out the second over Chloe Paquet.

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Simona Halep (ROM) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-4 6-4
[3] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-1 6-4
[8] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 6-1 6-1
[9] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 4-6 6-4 6-2
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated [10] Qiang Wang (CHN) 3-6 7-5 6-4
[13] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Danka Kovinic (MCE) 6-4 7-5

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[14] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3 6-7 7-6
[16] Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Monica Niculescu (ROM) 7-5 6-4
Destanee Aiava (AUS) defeated Chloe Paquet (FRA) 6-1 4-6 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Alja Tomljanovic (AUS) 5-7 6-1 6-3

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

WTA Abu Dhabi Round of 64 wrap: Top six through without a hitch, young guns also advance

OF the 16 seeds on show in the brand new WTA Abu Dhabi 500 event, 12 reached the second round. Kicking off 2021 in style, the top six seeds advanced without dropping a set, whilst 2020 in-form players, Anett Kontaveit and Jennifer Brady were amongst the seeds to fall in the opening round of play.

Top seed Sofia Kenin led the way with a straight sets win over China’s Zhaoxuan Yang who put up a fight before going down, 7-6 6-3. Joining her in the next round was second seed Elina Svitolina, toppling tough American Jessica Pegula, 6-4 6-3. Needing tiebreakers to advance, third and fourth seeds, Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka won their way through, defeated Greece’s Despina Papamicail and Slovenia’ Polona Hercog. Having a much easier time, Garbine Muguruza cruised to a surprising easy win over French battler Kristina Mladenovic, while young gun Elena Rybakina continued her great 2020 form with an easy first-up victory in 2021 over Italian Lucrezia Stefanini.

The first big upset saw eighth seed Czech and 2019 Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova out of the Abu Dhabi event, going down to Chinese T’s Hsieh Su-Wei. Also bowing out were Kontaveit and Brady, who went down to Russian Veronika Kudermetova and Slovenian Tamara Zidansek respectively. Brady’s loss was particularly brutal considering the US Open semi-finalist won the first set 6-0 before losing 0-6 6-3 6-4. The only other seed to be eliminated was 16th seed Donna Vekic, who lost to United States’ Bernarda Pera 7-6 2-6 6-4. The four other seeds to secure a Round of 16 place were Karolina Muchova (12th), Yulia Putintseva (13th), Ons Jabeur (15th) and Ekaterina Alexandrova (17th).

In terms of the unseeded players, teenagers Coco Gauff and Leylah Fernandez both shone in their wins, as Gauff destroyed Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri 6-0 6-1, while Fernandez made light work of respected Italian Jasmine Paolini, 6-4 6-2. Italian Bianca Turati was a fresh face to the winners list with the 23-year-old predominantly an ITF player but moved through to the next round easily. Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich joined compatriot Sabalenka in the Round of 16, while Heather Watson came from behind to defeat her only other compatriot in the draw, Jodie Burrage. Australia Ajla Tomljanovic made a great start to 2021 with a straight sets win, while Sara Sorribes Tormo enjoyed an important victory over Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska.

The full results are below.

ABU DHABI ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Zhaoxuan Yang (CHN) 7-6 6-3
[2] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 6-3
[3] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Despina Papamicail (GRE) 6-2 7-6
[4] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 6-2
[5] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[6] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Lucrezia Stefanini (ITA) 6-1 6-3
Su-Wei Hsieh (TAI) defeated [8] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 3-6 6-3 7-6
[9] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-4 6-2
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [10] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 7-5 6-1
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated [11] Jennifer Brady (USA) 0-6 6-3 6-4
[12] Karolina Muchova defeated Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-4 6-1
[13] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-3
[15] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-6 6-3
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated [16] Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-6 2-6 6-4
[17] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-4 6-4
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-4 6-2
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Jamie Loeb (USA) 6-1 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-2 5-7 6-2
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Lin Zhu (CHN) 6-2 7-6
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 5-7 7-5 6-4
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Qiang Wang (CHN) 6-2 3-6 6-3
Anastasia Gasanova (RUS) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-2 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Valentini Grammatikopoulou (GRE) 6-2 6-2
Bianca Turati (ITA) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-1 6-2
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Anna Bondar (HUN) 6-2 6-2
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 6-2 6-4
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-3 6-3
Xiyu Wang (CHN) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-3 3-6 6-4
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) defeated Yafan Wang (CHN) 6-3 2-6 6-3
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Jodie Burrage (GBR) 4-6 6-2 7-5
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Amandine Hesse (FRA) 6-3 6-4
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Ulrikke Eikeri (NOR) 6-0 6-1

Picture: Getty Images

Sabalenka survives early scare on Day 2 at Linz

TWO players retired on day two of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, seeing six of the eight matches run out as expected and very little surprises bar the two late withdrawals. Top seed Aryna Sabalenka survived an early scare from Jasmine Paolini before consolidating a win, while it was Julia Grabher and Tereza Martincova who finished their matches early, handing second round berths to Sorana Cirstea and Jana Fett.

Sabalenka had a rough time overcoming Paolini, with the Italian getting out to a 4-1 start before the Belarusian got going, eventually coming away with a 6-4 6-4 victory but forced to work for every bit of it. It was Sabalenka’s ability to win off her serve that propelled her across the line, racking up 11aces for four double faults and winning points off 73 per cent of her first serve. While she was not as effective on her second serve, Sabalenka won 54.5 per cent of points overall to proceed to the Round of 16.

“I’ve been working on my service game, and I felt the motion and felt the serve pretty well today,” Sabalenka said. “I’m happy with that. I think the serve helped me a lot today, it was a lot of pressure on her from my serve.”

Paolini’s compatriot Camila Giorgi was much luckier, taken to three sets by Sara Sorribes Tormo and escaping with the 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory. The duo were fairly well matched in this encounter, with the former getting away with a lucky win but was error-ridden in her approach, allowing Sorribes Tormo to capitalise off her service games with nine double faults for one ace. The Spaniard was marginally better off the first serve but not as consistent on the second, which allowed Giorgi the look in she required to bring home the victory.

Stefanie Voegele and Barbora Krejcikova edged past their respective opposition to also join the winners list, with the former overcoming Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova after a tough first set and the latter fighting back from a tight middle set to control proceedings in the third to defeat Harmony Tan. Meanwhile, Vera Zvonareva downed Marta Kostyuk, and Arantxa Rus defeated Tamara Zidansek to round out the day’s proceedings with a couple more straight sets wins in the books.

Pliskova sisters downed as Ostapenko returns at full strength

DAY five at the Roland Garros saw the second day of Round of 64 action, with the women’s draw continuing to produce some intriguing results. Three more seeds fell to lower ranked opposition as the draw continues to heat up, with second seed Karolina Pliskova upset in straight sets by a tenacious Jelena Ostapenko, while both Elena Rybakina (14th seed) and Sloane Stephens (29th) were disposed off in three-setters despite both making a second set comeback.

The battle between 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko and Pliskova was always going to be tough, but very little expected it to be complete in 69 minutes with a 6-4 6-2 result that saw Ostapenko reign supreme. With Pliskova known for her strong serve, Ostapenko said she focused on ensuring she returned serve well and did not allow Pliskova to get the upper hand.

“I knew I have to return well today because she obviously has one of the best serves on tour,” Ostapenko said post-match. “I think I was returning very well today. Also, I had to hold my serve, which I did pretty good, just once in the first set I didn’t hold my serve.

Return and hold serve she did, winning 22 of a possible 30 points off her first serve at 73 per cent and backing it up with a 54 per cent ratio on the second serve, well above Pliskova’s 30 per cent winning rate on the second. Ostapenko hit 27 winners for 19 unforced errors, winning 54 per cent of her receiving points in a solid output.

“I think I was playing good today,” Ostapenko said. “I knew it was going to be a tough match, so I was trying to be very focused all match, playing my game. I tried to keep the ball in play to make sure I’m not missing and making too many unforced errors, but when I had the chance I was going for it.

“Obviously I knew she’s a great player so it’s going to be a tough match, but I think I played well today.”

While Pliskova credited Ostapenko’s effort, the Czech second seed was critical of her own game.

“I’m sure I could do much better,” Pliskova said. “I know that she can be tough if she’s playing well, but I think everything started with me. “I was definitely not playing great. “I think maybe same level as the match before, but of course she’s a much better player.”

Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna did not fare much better, ousted in straight sets by 11th seed Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, while seventh seed Petra Kvitova ran away with a solid victory over Jasmine Paolini and fourth seed Sofia Kenin was challenged by Ana Bogdan with a slow start, eventually running away with the 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory. Aryna Sabalenka also got the chocolates over Daria Kasatkina, as did Petra Martic and Ons Jabeur

Rybakina had a tough one against hometown hero Fiona Ferro, while Ferro’s fellow countrywoman, 19-year-old Clara Burel also head through to the next round, though the duo’s French compatriot Alize Cornet was not quite as lucky going down in the second set tiebreaker to Zhang Shuai. Paula Badosa was strong in her victory over Stephens, with the American unable to string together another win and joined on the sidelines by Christina McHale, whereas Danielle Collins was much more effective to head through to the Round of 32 alongside Kenin. In the remaining matches, Irina Bara heads through to the next round by default after Alison van Uytvanck retired mid-match, Laura Siegemund overcame a 1-6 start to reign supreme over Julia Goerges, and 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez defeated Polona Hercog.