Tag: jennifer brady

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds fail to fire as upsets made in marathon matches

THREE seeds fell in a highly unpredictable second day of Round of 16 proceedings at Madrid, as the competition heats up heading into the quarter finals. It was a huge difference in comparison to the day prior, as just one of the higher ranked opposition retained the mantle in their respective clashes, as just one match was completed in under two hours.

The big upset of the day saw Elise Mertens down Simona Halep, as the 13th seed Belgian claimed a 4-6 7-5 7-5 scalp of the second seed Romanian. Whilst Halep captured the first set with relative ease, Mertens fought back well to take the upper hand and came from a break down in both the second and third sets to deny Halep the win. Whilst Mertens came in as the underdog with zero wins from three clay court encounters with the Romanian, she was relentless in her approach and despite being error-ridden, capitalised off an uncharacteristically messy Halep.

“I want to be on court as long as possible, especially after losing the first set,” said Mertens. “I didn’t think too much about the score, I was just thinking about the way I should play to improve myself.”

Whilst Halep was more effective on serve throughout, Mertens was far more efficient winning points off 68.3 per cent of her serve, off a 63.2 per cent clip. Mertens will take on Aryna Sabalenka in the quarter finals, following a zippy 6-1 6-2 victory in the lone two-setter of the day against American Jessica Pegula.

“She (Sabalenka) is on fire, she’s making a lot of angles and winners,” said Mertens. “I’ll just try to put as many balls in the court as I can and try to take over a little bit when there’s a shorter ball. “She played Barty (Ash Barty) last week, and I’m definitely going to watch a little bit of that match, because Barty also likes slice and everything to mix it up.”

Sabalenka hit 25 winners for 13 unforced errors throughout the sub-one hour encounter, requiring just 52 minutes in by far the quickest match of the round.

At the other end of the scale were the remaining two Round of 16 matches, which saw Karolina Muchova narrowly claim the win over 16th seed Maria Sakkari 6-0 6-7 7-5, as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova downed 11th seed Jennifer Brady in the longest match of the day, needing two hours and 45 minutes to register a tough 7-5 6-7 6-3 victory. With both winners outlasting in thrillers, it is safe to say neither will back down in their quarter final battle tomorrow.

“I tried to forget actually those [first] two sets, and it was 1-1, so we started with a clear slate,” Muchova said. “I just tried to stay focused and on every ball, to fight till the end. Yeah, it showed me that it was worth it.

“I would actually appreciate to play two sets, but I’m happy I made it,” she said. “It was a very tough match. It’s definitely good for confidence for the next matches.”

“I think it’s a hell of a draw since the first round,” Pavlyuchenkova said post-match. “Any tournament when you beat a Top 10, or I beat Karolina (Karolina Pliskova), she was No.6-seeded here, you think, ‘Okay, it either might be a little easier or open draw.’ But it got even tougher. It gets tougher and tougher and tougher.”

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [2] Simona Halep (ROU) 4-6 7-5 7-5
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-1 6-2
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [11] Jennifer Brady (USA) 7-5 6-7 6-3
Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-0 6-7 7-5

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds successful in big second day of action at Stuttgart and Istanbul

ANOTHER big day of proceedings were had at both the WTA 500 event in Stuttgart, Germany and the WTA 250 event in Istanbul, Turkey, as majority of the seeds across both competitions reigned supreme.

Six matches played out in Stuttgart on Day 2 of proceedings at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, seeing a couple of seeds get their clay season started successfully as four German talents took the court on home soil. Both seeds reigned supreme in straight sets, with Aryna Sabalenka taking out the quickest result of the day 6-2 6-2 over China’s Zhang Shuai in just 66 minutes. Seventh seed Petra Kvitova encountered a tougher opponent in Jennifer Brady but still claimed a clean 6-4 6-3 win in just over 90 minutes to head to the second round.

Two of the four German competitors reigned supreme, with Laura Siegemund collecting the win over her compatriot in Mona Barthel, 6-4 3-6 6-1, whilst Anna-Lena Friedsam downed Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri 6-2 6-0 in one hour and 24 minutes. Julia Middendorf was not quite so lucky though, falling to Estonian Anett Kontaveit, while the remaining Round of 16 spot went to Ekaterina Alexandrova, claiming a come-from-behind victory over Karolina Muchova, 4-6 6-2 6-3.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 6-2
[7] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-4 6-3
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Julia Middendorf (GER) 6-2 6-3
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Karolina Muchova (CZE) 4-6 6-2 6-3
Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) defeated Ulrikke Eikeri (NOR) 6-2 6-0

 

At Istanbul, Anastasia Potapova bounced back well from a delayed third set against sixth seed compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova yesterday, registering a third set win and only requiring an additional 20 minutes to take out the match 7-6 6-7 6-4. Continuing onto Day 2’s proceedings at the event, and it was a fairly predictable day of action with four of the top five seeds earning wins. Elise Mertens and Daria Kasatkina took out the cleanest wins of the day with the top seed Belgian defeating Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena 6-2 6-0 whilst Kasatkina snagged the quickest result of the day with a 6-1 6-0 sweep of Tereza Mrdeza in just 65 minutes.

Third seed Veronika Kudermetova and fifth seed Barbora Krejcikova both also reigned supreme but were forced to overcome deficits, with the former slipping in the second set to give American Bernarda Pera a look in before claiming the three hour victory 6-4 4-6 7-6. Krejcikova overcame a tight 6(8)-7 first set to claim victory over hometown hopeful Cagla Buyukakcay, easily accounting for her in the remainder of the 6-7 6-2 6-0 encounter. Meanwhile, second seed Petra Martic was disposed of by Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, slipping in the 7-5 6-2 encounter and failing to take back momentum.

Of the five remaining matches for the day, all were resolved in straight sets with the closest of the bunch between Romanian Sorana Cirstea and Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova, resulting in a 6-4 7-6 victory the way of the Romanian in just under two hours. On the other end of the spectrum was a one hour and nine minute victory to Marta Kostyuk, who downed Russian Kamilla Rakhimova 6-4 6-3 in an impressively speedy encounter. Ana Bogdan, Vera Zvonareva and Kristina Mladenovic also joined the winners list to head to the Round of 16.

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6-2 6-0
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [2] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-5 6-2
[3] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) 6-1 6-0
[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR) 6-7 6-2 6-0
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3 6-3
Ana Bogdan (ROM) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-3 6-3
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) 6-4 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated Barbara Haas (AUT) 6-4 6-3
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) defeated Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-4 7-6
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [6] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

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: Brady dumped at Doha as top seed out in Lyon

THERE were plenty of upsets at both Doha and Lyon on the opening day of the respective tournaments, with the WTA Tour continuing this week at the 500 and 250 events.

Two matches ago, Jennifer Brady had booked herself into a maiden Grand Slam final. Fast forward to yesterday, and she was blasted into oblivion by a red-hot Anett Kontaveit in the first round of the 2021 Qatar Total Open in Doha. Brady was no match for the Estonian who won 6-1 6-2 in 56 minutes, with a 75.9 and 68.8 success rate on her first and second serve points. She broke Brady four times, whilst the American could not manage to create a break point opportunity, only winning 35 of 93 points in a very lacklustre affair.

Brady was far from the only player humbled in the opening round at Doha, with fifth seed Kiki Bertens blown off the court by Latvian Jelena Ostapenko a minute quicker – 55 minutes – 6-0 6-2. The Latvian won 64 and 63.2 per cent of her first and second serve points compared to Bertens’ 37.8 and 33.3 per cent, whilst taking full advantage of break point opportunities to break six times. In the short match, Bertens only held serve once, and broke once in a result she would like to forget.

The one seed who did survive the day one purge was eighth seed Victoria Azarenka, with the US Open finalist seeing off fellow veteran and Grand Slam winner, Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-3. Despite the final score suggesting it was a routine win, it was anything but for the Belarusian, who broke six times from 13 chances, whilst being broken only twice herself. Azarenka was much stronger across the board, winning 56.3 per cent of her service points, and 55.9 per cent of her return points compared to Kuznetsova’s 44.1 and 43.8 per cent respectively.

In other results, Greek talent Maria Sakkari saw off Egyptian Maya Sherif in 61 minutes, advancing to the Round of 16 with a comprehensive 6-0 6-3 victory. She was joined in the second round by unseeded Grand Slam winners, German Angelique Kerber, and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza. Kerber won 6-4 6-2 over Turkish talent Cagla Buyukakcay, while Muguruza won 6-2 7-6 over Russian Veronika Kudermetova in their opening round clash.

Day four of action will see six more matches take place, with sixth seed Belinda Bencic up against Madison Keys as the match of the day. Meanwhile Tunisian Ons Jabeur will face Russian Anna Blinkova, and Kazakh Elena Rybakina will lock horns with German qualifier Laura Siegemund.

QATAR TOTAL OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated [5] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-0 6-2
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated [7] Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-1 6-2
[8] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Maya Sherif (EGY) 6-0 6-3
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-2 7-6

 

Meanwhile in Lyon, top seed and tournament favourite Ekaterina Alexandrova has been bundled out of the WTA 250 event, stunned by Danish teenager, Clara Tauson. In a remarkable result, the 2019 Australian Open Junior champion and recently turned 18-year-old won 6-3 6-4 to knock out the only player inside the Top 40 at the event. The match lasted 92 minutes, with Tauson much stronger on her second serve, recovering to win 52.8 per cent of her points compared to Alexandrova’s 35.5 per cent. It helped the Dane break the Russian five times to three and secure the straight sets win.

It was much better news – though no smoother sailing – for second seed Fiona Ferro, after the world number 46 managed to hold off a determined Magdalena Frech. The Polish player fought until the very end having taking a set off the Frenchwoman, but in a match that lasted near three hours, it was the higher ranked Ferro that won out, 5-7 7-5 7-5.

In other results, Serbian Nina Stojanovic easily accounted for sixth seed Romanian Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, 6-4 6-0 in 75 minutes, while eighth seed Arantxa Rus got up over China’s Wang Xiyu in a tight two-setter, 7-6 6-4. In unseeded battles, Greet Minnen ousted another Polish player in Katarzyna Kawa 7-5 7-5, Hungarian Timea Babos knocked off Russian Varvara Gracheva in three sets, 6-4 5-7 6-3, and Italian Camila Giorgi got up over Russian Viktoria Kuzmova 6-2 6-3.

LYON OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated [1] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-3 6-4
[2] Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated Magdalena Frech (POL) 5-7 7-5 7-5
Nina Stojanovic (SRB) defeated [6] Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-4 6-0
[8] Arantxa Rus (NED) defeated Wang Xiyu (CHN) 7-6 6-4
Greet Minnen (BEL) defeated Katarzyna Kawa (POL) 7-5 7-5
Timea Babos (HUN) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-4 5-7 6-3
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Viktoria Kuzmova (RUS) 6-2 6-3

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 WTA Tour Qatar & Lyon previews

DESPITE losing four Grand Slam winners to-date, the 2021 WTA Tour Qatar Ladies Open still looms as a quality event to take place next week. Top five players, Ash Barty, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin, as well as US Open winner Bianca Andreescu and Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrosova all withdrew from the 500 tournament, but four Top 10 players still remain.

Elina Svitolina has been upgraded to the top seed with the world number five taking advantage of Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka also not attending the event, while Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova round out the top four seeds. Both Pliskova and Kvitova have been in a funk of late, and need to find a way to get back into form. Sabalenka, on the other hand has had nothing but scintillating form, going on a massive winning streak that included a couple of titles late last year, and will look to pick up that again after again falling short of the target at the Australian Open.

Kiki Bertens returns to the Tour at Doha as the fifth seed, while Belinda Bencic has hit her straps in Adelaide and will look to face a host of reinvigorated talents of late. Jennifer Brady is fresh off an Australian Open final to head into the event, while Victoria Azarenka made a Grand Slam final just last year, has rekindled her career-best form and is back inside the Top 20.

The lower end of the draw is still yet to be determined, but the likes of Jelena Ostapenko, Ons Jabeur, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva are all expected to take to the court in the 2021 event. Sabalenka is the reigning champion, but Kvitova (2018) and Pliskova (2017) are both past winners here in Doha. Azarenka is a back-to-back winner, having lifted the trophy in 2012-13.

 

Lyon Open:

A second-time event after last year’s debut, the Lyon Open does not quite have the prestige of the Qatar Ladies Open, with world number 33, Ekaterina Alexandrova the top seed. She loves to beat up on lower ranked tournaments and should really get the job done here against a weakened and predominantly European field in France. Though in saying that, there are some good talents here that will push her all the way.

The top two that jump off the page are Argentinian Nadia Podoroska who reached the semi-final at Roland Garros, while rising American teenager Coco Gauff will cause headaches. French trio, Fiona Ferro, Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic are also among the Top 50 players at the event, as is Slovenian Polona Hercog.

Lower down the order, United States’ Shelby Rogers, Romanian Sorana Cirstea, Italian Camila Giorgi and Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich are all among the bigger dark horses that could surpass their lower rankings against Top 50 opponents in France.

Osaka wins fourth Grand Slam title in convincing fashion

JAPAN’s Naomi Osaka produced a dominant performance on Saturday night to defeat American Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 and win her fourth Grand Slam title. Although the two sets were quite different, Osaka was far more consistent with her groundstrokes throughout the contest. Brady committed 31 unforced errors and four double faults for the match, far too many mistakes when you are competing against someone of Osaka’s calibre.

Osaka started the match well, holding her first service game to love and looking calm in the high-pressure environment. In contrast, Brady appeared to be very nervous (and excited) at the beginning of her first Grand Slam final. These nerves got the better of Brady in the fourth game, as she served a pair of double faults and handed Osaka the break to love. Osaka was hitting her forehands with great speed and accuracy from the middle of the court at this stage.

Brady immediately got the break back thanks to some powerful groundstrokes of her own that put Osaka under significant pressure. The 22nd seed started to get more comfortable as the set progressed, hitting numerous backhand winners down the line and surprisingly out-hitting Osaka from the baseline. As a result, Osaka started going for too much with her shots and made some unforced errors of her own.

Brady earned herself another break point opportunity at 4-4, but Osaka saved it with a well-placed forehand down the line. The match turned very quickly in the next game, as Brady cost herself the set with a pair of horror forehand errors.

Once Osaka had the first set in the bank, the match was played on her terms. She immediately held serve then played a brilliant crosscourt backhand to earn herself a break point in the second game. Another forehand error from Brady gave Osaka that all-important break, before the third seed won two more consecutive games and went 4-0 up. From there, it was difficult to see a scenario where Brady could come back.

Brady fought hard to get herself a break back, but forehand errors continued to haunt her. Osaka was simply a class above, holding serve from 4-2 onwards to claim her second Australian Open title.

Four of Osaka’s seven career titles to date have been in Grand Slams on hard courts, an incredible statistic that demonstrates her level of dominance on the quicker surfaces. Additionally, Osaka is now riding a 21-game winning streak and remains undefeated in Grand Slam finals. After the match, she thanked the Australian fans for their support throughout the tournament.

“I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans, so just to have this energy it means a lot,” Osaka said. “Thank you so much for coming. I feel like playing a Grand Slam is a super privilege right now and it’s something I won’t take for granted. Thank you for this opportunity.”

For Brady, it was an amazing effort to reach the final given she was one of the players that dealt with strict quarantine rules for two weeks leading into the tournament. She was full of praise for her opponent after the match.

“[Osaka’s] such an inspiration to us all and what she is doing for the game is amazing in getting the sport out there, and I hope young girls at home are watching and are inspired by what she is doing,” Brady said. “Hopefully I’m on this stage next time with this girl over here (referring to the winner’s trophy).”

Overall, both players will be happy with their performances over the last two weeks given the trying circumstances caused by the pandemic. Let’s hope the other three Grand Slams in 2021 run without too many complications.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S FiNAL RESULT:

[3] Naomi Osaka (JAP) defeated [22] Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-4 6-3

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

 

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