Tag: Kaja Juvan

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 32 wrap: Upsets galore as Muchova overcomes Pliskova in huge comeback

A COUPLE of seeded encounters ended in intriguing upsets during the beginning of the Round of 32 at the Australian Open, as the first weekend of zero spectators at the Melbourne Park event began.

Whilst the top seeds of the day in Ash Barty and Elina Svitolina were successful in their pursuits, and a trio of Americans impressed as the competition tightened, Karolina PliskovaBelinda Bencic and Anett Kontaveit all were left behind on day six after all going down in straight sets to their respective opposition. Pliskova came away runner up in one of the tightest encounters of the day, going down to compatriot and 25th seed Karolina Muchova 7-6 7-6 in just under two hours, with a huge comeback from the lower ranked Czech doing wonders for her second week chances, coming back from 5-0 in the second set to reign supreme in the tiebreaker.

“The feeling was not great from any of the matches here. Some were a little bit better, some were a little bit worse,” Pliskova said.

“I think overall, too many mistakes, too much panic in the rallies. “I don’t know if it’s just not having any matches much lately, even last year. I don’t feel safe with anything that I was really doing on the court.

“I thought there were couple close games where I could really go 6-0,” Pliskova said. There was a long game for 5-1 and 6-0.

“I thought she just played a little bit better at this moment. Of course, I played quite amazing to 5-0, but then it’s quite tough to hold this level for a longer time. I was going for big shots.”

While Pliskova hit three more aces (6-3) and two more winners (24-22), she also hit eight more unforced errors (40-32) and was not quite as consistent off her serve, as Muchova well and truly took advantage of a rough day on the park from her higher ranked opposition. The same could not be said for Bencic though, with the 11th seed disposed of quickly and efficiently by 18th seed Elise Mertens 6-2 6-1 in the shortest match of the day, just 62 minutes. Interestingly, the remaining short encounter played out between the last upset to round out the set of three, as unseeded American Shelby Rogers overcame 21st seed Anett Kontveit in 68 minutes. She joins 22nd seed Jennifer Brady and Jessica Pegula in the Round of 16, whilst Kontaveit’s compatriot Kaia Kanepi was disposed of in the lone three-setter of the day,  as 28th seed Donna Vekic overcame the power-hitter 5-7 7-6 6-4.

While not quite as remarkable as some of the other matches on day six, Barty’s solid victory over 29th seed Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova and Svitolina’s win against 26th seed Kazakh Yulia Putintseva were no easy feats, as the two top five talents proved just why they are capable of going all the way.

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [29] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2 6-4
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 6-0
[25] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-5 7-5
[18] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [11] Belinda Bencic [SUI) 6-2 6-1
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [21] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-4 6-3
[22] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated [Q] Kaja Juvan (SLO) 6-1 6-3
[28] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 5-7 7-6 6-4
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2 6-1

Picture credit: Getty Images

Australian Open Women’s Round of 64 wrap: Reigning champion Kenin falters

WHILE rain delays may have soured Day 4 of the 2021 Australian Open, there was not much to sour the women’s draw as the Round of 64 concluded, with a much more predictable day at the office compared to Wednesday’s results. But one result was the upset of the round – and possibly the week – as defending Australian Open champion and world number four, Sofia Kenin, was disposed of in straight sets by Estonian power-hitter, Kaia Kanepi.

It was an uncharacteristic outing from Kenin that sees her finish off her time in Melbourne on the sidelines, failing to withstand the pressure of Kanepi’s powerful serve, with the Estonian racking up 22 winners and 10 aces to Kenin’s 10 and one at an 80 per cent first serve win rate. But it was not just her own serve that Kanepi won off, but also Kenin’s, with the American winning points off 60 per cent of her first serve and 44 per cent off her second, unable to compare and going down in 64 minutes.

“I was obviously way too nervous,” Kenin said post-match. “I felt like I obviously wasn’t there. My head wasn’t there.

“I’m not going to take any credit away from her. She played really well. She came up with some good shots. She obviously had a good plan against me.

“I had chances. I just couldn’t take it. I obviously know why because the nerves big-time got to me.

“I just couldn’t execute my shots.”

While the show is over for the reigning champion, all other competing seeds on the day continued their winning form with Ash Barty tested by compatriot Daria Gavrilova in a 6-1 7-6 outing, eventually overcoming the wildcard in just over 90 minutes, while Karolina Pliskova was tested early by American Danielle Collins before running out a 7-6 6-2 victor.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina was challenged in patches by exciting youngster Coco Gauff before utilising her experience to come away with a 6-4 6-3 victory, and the same could be said for 18th seed Elise Mertens who defeated Zhu Lin 7-6 6-1, while fellow seeds Jennifer Brady, Karolina Muchova, Donna Vekic and Ekaterina Alexandrova all joined the straight sets winners club.

Three players were extended to two-plus hours in their respective encounters, with seeds Belinda Bencic and Anett Kontaveit pushed by their respective opponents in Svetlana Kuznetsova and Heather Watson, while Egyptian Mayar Sherif fell out of the winners circle after winning the first set against Kaja Juvan, eventually going down 3-6 7-6 6-3 in two hours and 39 minutes. The final three-setter of the round saw Kazakh 26th seed Yulia Putintseva steal victory away from Alison Van Uytvanck after a sloppy 1-6 second set, eventually reigning supreme in one hour and 55 minutes.

In the remaining matches of the round, American duo Jessica Pegula and Shelby Rogers both came out on top relatively unscathed and are joined by Kristina Mladenovic in the third round. Today’s proceedings will see seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka and Serena Williams headline the day session at Rod Laver Arena, with the likes of 2020 Australian Open runner up Garbine Muguruza and US Open winner Naomi Osaka playing at Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena respectively. World number two Simona Halep will take on Veronika Kudermetova in the evening at Rod Laver, and French Open victor Iga Swiatek will hope to continue her run.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 6-1 7-6
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated [4] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-3 6-2
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 6-4 6-3
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Danielle Collins (USA) 7-5 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 7-5 2-6 6-4
[18] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zhu Lin (CHN) 7-6 6-1
[21] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-7 6-4 6-2
[22] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-1 6-2
[25] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-4 6-1
[26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-4 1-6 6-2
[28] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-2 6-2
[29] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-3 7-6
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-0 6-1
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated [Q] Mayar Sherif (EGY) 3-6 7-6 6-3
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Olga Danilovic (SRB) 6-2 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 7-5 6-1

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: 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

Qualifiers confirmed for Australian Open

ALLOWING enough time to quarantine for 14 days, the Australian Open qualifiers have been confirmed following the completion of the three-round qualification stage over in the UAE. Hosted in Dubai three weeks prior to the Australian Open first round kicking off, 16 men and 16 women earned their places in the respective 128-player draws.

The successful qualifiers had to win three matches to make their way into the Australian Open main draw, and a mix of youth and experience will take to the courts next month.

Looking at the women’s draw, the experience begins with 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani, as well as two-time Grand Slam doubles winner Timea Babos who have both qualified in the singles draw. Fresh off a starring run to the 2020 US Open quarter finals, Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova has qualified for the main draw to try and replicate her run in Melbourne.

The top ranked qualifier was Slovenian Kaja Juvan, with the 20-year-old ranked 104th in the world, just missing out on an automatic spot in the main draw. Having won through to the second round at both Roland Garros and US Open, Juvan will be eyeing off a win for the first time at Melbourne Park. Third seed in qualifying, Belgian Greet Minnen also booked her spot at Melbourne Park, with the 110th ranked 23-year-old having only made main draws at the three Grand Slams last year, and made a second round at the Australian Open.

Without a doubt the best story was the qualification of 243rd ranked Brit, Francesca Jones, who has overcome Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED) to inspire many around the world. EED is a rare genetic condition where Jones was born with one less finger on each hand, and only seven toes. At only 20-years-old, the Leeds-born talent is appearing in her first Grand Slam main draw.

Among others to earn main draw spots in the women’s draw were top ranked Egyptian Mayar Sherif, Italian teenage young gun Elisabetta Cocciaretto, and Canadian 30-year-old Rebecca Marino who last played at Melbourne Park back in 2013.

Looking at the ATP qualifiers, one of the most talked about players is teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz who lost himself no followers on his smashing of second qualifying seed Hugo Dellien in order to make the main draw. Aslan Karatsev is the highest ranked qualifier heading to Melbourne Park, with the 27-year-old Russian winning a spot. Dellien and top seed Gregoire Barrere – who lost to 182nd ranked Portugese player Frederico Ferreira Silva – were both knocked out of contention.

The player with the highest career ranking is Serbian Viktor Troicki, with the former world number 12 making his way into the singles draw, alongside rising talents, Michael Mmoh and Elias Ymer. Australian Bernard Tomic was the only local hope to book a spot in the main draw out of the qualifying contenders.

Dutch player Botic Van De Zandschulp ensured the Netherlands had a representative in the men’s draw, much like Sergiy Stakhovsky for Ukraine. A young gun to watch is 20-year-old Czech Tomas Machac, while 23-year-old Russian Roman Safiullin had some promising performances last year and is also into the Round of 128.

The full list of qualifiers are below in the table.

WOMEN MEN
Greet Minnen (BEL) Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)
Chloe Paquet (FRA) Michael Mmoh (USA)
Whitney Osuigwe (USA) Viktor Troicki (SRB)
Timea Babos (HUN) Roman Safiullin (RUS)
Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP)
Mayo Hibi (JPN) Henri Laaksonen (SUI)
Kaja Juvan (SLO) Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)
Sara Errani (ITA) Elias Ymer (SWE)
Valeria Savinykh (RUS) Maxime Cressy (USA)
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) Kimmer Coppejans (BEL)
Francesca Jones (GBR) Tomas Machac (CZE)
Clara Burel (FRA) Aslan Karatsev (RUS)
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED)
Rebecca Marino (CAN) Quentin Halys (FRA)
Olga Danilovic (SRB) Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Mayar Sherif (EGY) Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR)

Picture credit: Getty Images

Slovenian teenager stuns Kerber to claim first French Open win

SLOVANIAN teenager Kaja Juvan has stunned one of Roland Garros’ title contenders by defeating former world number one and Grand Slam winner, Angelique Kerber. The German star was expected to advance fairly comfortably against her 19-year-old opponent, but instead in just her second French Open match, Juvan claimed the win in a 6-3 6-3 upset.

The match lasted just over an hour, and Juvan showed no fear by toppling the 18th seed, in the same fashion that she took Serena Williams to three sets on Juvan’s Wimbledon debut. Juvan’s aggressiveness paid off, hitting 27 winners to 15, and only conceding 19 unforced errors to Kerber’s 30. She also won 68 per cent off her second serve, and 57 per cent of her points off her opponent’s serve.

“It doesn’t matter to me who the draw is, but when you play against players who have a lot of titles, you say to yourself, okay, I watched them on TV when I was little, but I have to stay focused on myself,” Juvan said post-match. “So I did what I had to do. “But in the end, we had to wait three hours to play. And so we were trying to warm up, I was trying to stay aggressive. That’s why I won her in the end, because she’s a fantastic player.”

Speaking of Williams, she overcame a tight first set tiebreaker to blow away fellow American Kristie Ahn in the second set to advance through to the next round with a 7-6 6-0 win. There she takes on a familiar face in Bulgarian wildcard, Tsvetana Pironkova who took the American to three sets at the US Open.

“She’s playing well, but I am too,” Williams said post-match about her upcoming Round of 64 match. “I’m ready to play her. “She’ll be ready to play me. “It will be a long match, she will get a lot of balls back, but so am I. “I’ll be ready.”

Second seed Karolina Pliskova breezed through to the Round of 64, defeating Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova, joined in the next round by fellow top contenders, Elina Svitolina, Garbine Muguruza, Kiki Bertens and Petra Kvitova who all won their respective matches. Meanwhile American teenager Amanda Anisimova won in a blitz over German Tamara Korpatch.

It was not as positive for Poland’s Magda Linette who went down to Canadian teenage prodigy Leylah Fernandez in three sets, while Madison Keys also lost in the opening round of the Grand Slam she holds, out to China’s Shuai Zhang. Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also took out a seed, winning in a topsy-turvy 6-1 2-6 6-1 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova. The final seed to lose was Czech 22nd seed, Karolina Muchova who bowed out at the hands of Christina McHale, 6-2 6-4.

In the unseeded matches, Clara Burel advanced to the second round of her home Grand Slam with a win over Arantxa Rus to face Juvan in the second round, while Alize Cornet won in an all-French battle against another wildcard in Chloe Paquet. It was not as positive for Diane Parry who lost out to Polona Hercog in straight sets, as did Elsa Jacquemot after the wildcard went down to Mexican qualifier, Renata Zarazua.

Other winners on day two were Patricia Maria Tig, Su Wei Hsieh, Katerina Siniakova, Bernarda Pera, and Italian duo, Jasmine Paolini and Sara Errani.

Martic survives thriller to advance through to US Open Round of 64

PETRA Martic had some nervous moments but eventually came up trumps in a three-set win over former top 30 player, Tereza Martincova. Not the easiest of first round matches, Martic came from a set down to post the 5-7 6-4 6-2 win in two hours and 27 minutes. The Croatian, who was a top eight seed for the first time at a Grand Slam event, was just grateful to get through the match knowing how potent the Czech could be.

“I expected a tough match, because she’s very aggressive and likes this surface, which is playing quite fast this year,” Martic said post-match. “It took me a bit of time to adjust, and I was really happy that after the first set I could find my game and play better. It wasn’t easy but I’m glad I managed to get through.”

It was a relatively straightforward day for the seeds, with only the last placed seed – world number 48 and 32nd at the tournament – Rebecca Peterson bundled out, going down to Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, 7-6 6-4. The world number 72 took two hours and two minutes to get up in the straight sets win, and move through to the next round to face American, Jessica Pegula who won against Czech, Marie Bouzkova.

It was a good day for the Americans, with 28th seed Jennifer Brady and return queen, CiCi Bellis both winning their respective matches to book a head-to-head clash in the second round. It will not be the only all-American Round of 64 clash after 18th seed Alison Riske made her way through to the second round, to now take on young gun, Ann Li. The latter overcame an in-from Arantxa Rus – fresh off an upset win over Karolina Pliskova at the Western & Southern Open – in a 6-4 2-6 6-1 triumph in just under two hours.

Shelby Rogers and Madison Brengle both advanced through to the Round of 64, while it was not as positive for teenage sensation Coco Gauff. The 16-year-old went down in three sets to 31st seed Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3 5-7 6-4. It was a danger game for the Latvian who had defeated Serena Williams earlier in the year at the Fed Cup. She said she was in awe of Gauff’s abilities at such a young age.

“I wish I would play like this when I was 16 years old,” Sevastova said, praising her opponent in the virtual post-round press conference. “Great player. “Nothing more to say. “I think she maybe started a bit slower than me, but she was getting better as the match went on. “That’s so important I think in tennis.

“In the end I think third set she played her best tennis. “She was serving better, moving better. “It was tough, yeah. “Fortunately I stayed calm in the third set and managed to win, to close it out.”

Also out at the hands of a seed was Danielle Collins who lost to Estonian 14th seed, Anett Kontaveit. After winning the first set, Collins was outclassed, going down 5-7 6-2 6-2 in what was a clinical performance in two hours and six minutes. The world number 21 said she never lost faith despite Collins’ strong play early.

“[Collins] came out playing great,” Kontaveit said post-match. “I think she was hitting it really strong, moving me around the court, hitting winners. I felt like I played the same the whole match, I was just really trying to stay tough, maintain my level, and I feel like I did that really well.”

“I never stopped believing that I could come back after the first set,” Kontaveit continued. “I just had to stay really tough and fight as hard as I could, and I managed to do that. It definitely helped that I had played a lot of matches and had to get through a lot of tough matches.”

Fourth seed Naomi Osaka overcame hamstring tightness that ruled her out of the Western & Southern Open final to knock over compatriot, Misaki Doi in straight sets, joining fellow top 10 players, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Martic in the next round. Other triumphant seeds included Angelique Kerber, Marketa Vondrousova, Yulia Putintseva, Kristina Mladenovic, Magda Linette, Elena Rybakina and Dayana Yastremska.

From an unseeded players perspective, Anna-Lena Friedsam won through to face off against compatriot Kerber, Belarusian duo Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Vera Lapko, Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, Russian Varvara Gracheva and Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko all moved through in the top quarter of the draw. As for the other half of the day’s action, Danka Kovinic, Kaja Juvan and Kateryna Kozlova joined the host of seeds and Americans running around in a couple of days.

Picture: Getty Images