Tag: katerina siniakova

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur makes history as Samsonova makes breakthrough

TWO huge results came to fruition overnight, as qualifier Liudmila Samsonova went all the way, claiming the Bett1Open WTA 500 title in Berlin, whilst Ons Jabeur made history at the WTA 250 Viking Classic Birmingham, becoming the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

For Jabeur, it was about “going for it” as much as making her third tour-level single final, overcoming Russian Daria Kasatkina 7-5 6-4. This is the second time the two have gone head-to-head in a final, with the first going the way of Kasatkina, as did their third clash at the 2016 Olympics.

“I knew I had to go for it, I had to win this title to at least breathe, and give an example,” Jabeur said on court. “There’s not a lot of Tunisian or Arabic players playing, so I hope this could inspire them, and I want to see more Arabic [players] and Tunisians playing with me on tour.”

“Last time we played was in Moscow, she won, and I was crying, it was a great battle,” Jabeur said. “I told her, ‘Can you please share some titles with me, at least, let me win my first WTA?'”

Jabeur won 74 per cent of her first serve points off just a 46.3 per cent clip, but made it work by utilising her second serve and converting five break point opportunities, as well as saving four of Kasatkina’s seven attempts.

“You know Dasha, you have to win every point you have,” Jabeur said. “I knew it was going to be difficult, but then when I lost my serve again, I just thought I’d continue focusing on breaking her again, just playing my game.”

In Berlin, Samsonova completed a huge week of upsets after coming through the qualifying stages to execute her 1-6 6-1 6-3 victory over fifth seed Belinda Bencic in on hour and 37 minutes. Whilst the Russian was shaky in the opening set, she fired up to reverse the 6-1 result in the second and maintained momentum throughout the remainder of the clash.

“It’s unbelievable,” Samsonova said post-match. “I didn’t expect it. I [did] dream it, but it’s amazing.”

Samsonova hit 28 winners for 15 unforced errors, with her 14 aces for six double faults playing a big role in her service game dominance. She won 80 per cent of her first serve points and backed up with a 51.6 per cent second serve winning rate, whilst also saving five of seven break points and converting four of eight attempts.

“I was so, so nervous today, even before the match, during the first set,” Samsonova said. “I said ‘Okay, let’s try to put more aggressive game.’ And it worked.”

“I was trying to continue to do my game, to try to be aggressive on the first shot, on my serve, on the return, and that was my focus,” Samsonova said.

Meanwhile in Germany, the Bad Homburg WTA 250 event began with seven matches playing out on the opening day, with fifth seed Nadia Podoroska cleaning up her opposition as sixth seed Sorana Cirstea was dealt the first upset by home hopefuly Andrea Petkovic. Amanda Anisimova executed a 50-minute victory as Misaki Doi followed suit in 58 minutes, whilst German Tamara Korpatsch claimed the lone three-setter of the day, a huge two hour and three minute victory over Rebecca Peterson, while in other games, Patricia Maria Tig and Katerina Siniakova both earned first round wins.

BETT1OPEN FINAL RESULT:

Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated [5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 1-6 6-1 6-3

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM FINAL RESULT:

[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-5 6-4

BAD HOMBURG ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Mara Guth (GER) 6-0 6-3
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated [6] Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 6-4
Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Anna Danilina (KAZ) 6-2 6-2
Tamara Korpatsch (GER) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 7-5 2-6 7-6
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-2 6-1
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-3 6-2
Patricia Maria tip (ROU) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 7-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: Getty Images for LTA

WTA Tour wrap: Azarenka and Kerber set up second round clash, Tomljanovic outlasts Mertens

THE two grass event continued in Germany and England overnight, with the WTA 500 bett1open in Berlin and WTA 250 Viking Classic in Birmingham both seeing one big seeded upset apiece amongst relatively  predictable results.

In Germany, a huge second round has been set with a couple of former world number ones in Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber both claiming wins in the Round of 32. Whilst Azarenka was somewhat tested by Kerber’s compatriot Andrea Petkovic, Kerber had little to no issue disposing of Japanese left-hander Misaki Doi in one hour flat.

“It was a really solid match,” Kerber said. “It’s never easy to play a first match on grass courts, especially against a lefty as well. So I’m really happy about my performance and how I started the grass-court season.”

“It’s really nice being back on grass, that’s my favourite surface,” Kerber said. “It’s never easy to start a grass-court season because it’s completely different from the clay courts, but it’s great for me to play in Germany, it’s always really special. That gives me a little bit more motivation.”

Whilst Azarenka leads the duo’s head-to-head 9-1 and is seeded seventh here in Berlin, Kerber is on home soil and looking forward to the clash.

“I will try to play my game, and try to take another chance, and play as many matches as I can before I go to Wimbledon,” Kerber said. “It’s another good match at a high level, and this is why I’m here. The draw is really strong, so it’s good to have another good match.”

“I was sometimes dropping my level a bit with not being aggressive enough,” said Azarenka following her clash with Petkovic, which resulted in a 6-4 7-6(2) finish. “I was getting too frustrated in some moments when I had opportunities and didn’t take them, so I want to learn from that for my next round. I think I was putting myself into too much of a dangerous situation when I could have been more disciplined.”

Sixth seed Garbine Muguruza found success against Romanian Sorana Cirstea, 6-3 6-2, and whilst Muguruza and Cirstea hit a similar amount of winners (15-12), Cirstea registered a whopping 35 unforced errors throughout the one hour and 19-minute clash.

“Very pleased,” Muguruza said. “You never know how it’s going to go in the first match, especially on grass after two years, so I’m very excited to win in two sets against Sorana. We’ve played many times, and it’s always difficult.”

Things did not quite go to plan for eighth seed Czech Karolina Muchova, who fell to Russian Veronika Kudermetova in three, 7-6 5-7 6-2. Kudermetova said she drew on her third round loss at the Roland Garros to another Czech in Katerina Siniakova to get over the line in this encounter.

“I don’t know how to explain it but at the French Open I lost a very close match,” Kudermetova said. “I was 5-1 up, 5-2 up in both sets and I lost. Today I was a little bit thinking about it when I was up and serving. Mentally, it’s not really easy because I think and think about my serve. But I am really happy I stayed in the match in the third set.”

Another Russian-Czech matchup played out with the results going the way of the Russian once more with Liudmila Samsonova claiming the victory over Marketa Vondrousova and set to take on Kudermetova in the second round. Just one of four Americans claimed wins, as Jessica Pegula claimed a straightforward win over compatriot Hailey Baptiste who retired at the latter stage of the first set, while Roland Garros quarterfinalist Elena Rybakina and Croatian Petra Martic both took out wins over Shelby Rogers and Asia Muhammad, respectively.

At Birmingham, a huge upset was orchestrated by Australian hard-hitter Ajla Tomljanovic, disposing of top seed Belgian Elise Mertens in a marathon three hour and nine-minute clash, requiring three tiebreakers before the 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-6(4) result was decided. Fourth seed Daria Kasatkina overcame a slow start to steal victory off Polona Hercog, whilst second seed Ons Jabeur, fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko and sixth seed Zhang Shuai all dominated their respective contests to win in two. Meanwhile, Anastasia PotapovaMarta Kostyuk and Leylah Fernandez all found wins on their opening day of action.

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 6-2
[7] Viktoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-4 7-6
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [8] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 7-6 5-7 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 2-6 6-3 6-4
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Asia Muhammad (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-3
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-6 RET
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-4 7-6

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated [1] Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-6 6-7 7-6
[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 6-4 6-2
[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 4-6 6-3 6-3
[5] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-4 6-1
[6] Zhang Shuai (CHN) defeated Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 6-2 7-5
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 5-7 7-6 6-4
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 4-6 7-5 6-3
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Wang Yafan (CHN) 7-5 6-3

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Krejcikova claims maiden Roland Garros singles title

THE 2021 Roland Garros singles final played out overnight, with unseeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova claiming the silverware over 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The huge one hour and 58-minute clash went down to the wire as Krejcikova’s Russian opposition bit back in the second, before the tight third set cemented the Czech in the history books.

The first set saw Krejcikova gain the early ascendancy, with a huge 6-1 opener showcasing her intent and willingness to pressure hard in the contest. But Pavlyuchenkova would not back down, stealing the second 6-2 to ensure the duo had a real game on their hands, as the third set saw neither player give an inch. Both breaking serve and holding once more in the early stages of the third, it was Krejcikova who broke the mold and claimed three straight games to take herself to 5-3, with Pavlyuchenkova winning the next before the Czech served for the match and did not stutter, claiming the 6-1 2-6 6-4 clash.

“I’m extremely happy. It’s a dream come true, for sure,” Krejcikova said. “I’m just really happy that I was able to handle it as I did, that mentally I think that was the biggest key.”

Ranking outside the top 100 just nine months ago, Krejcikova has enjoyed a remarkable rise up the rankings and will make her top 20 debut on Monday, coming in at number 15, following an exciting past few weeks which saw her win her maiden singles title in Strasbourg just two week ago and afford her a current 12-match winning streak.

While the 25-year-old has outwardly struggled with confidence issues throughout the past week, she said her psychologist has been critical in her stepping on court each match, and mentally has been all the better for it.

“I’ve been actually talking to [my psychologist] before every single match that I play since I played Sloane (Sloane Stephens). It was really difficult. I’ve never been in a situation like this, not in the singles. I was a little bit panicking. I really wanted to win,” Krejcikova said.

“Also she gave me a lot of courage to actually go on court, just be happy that I’m actually there. All of this… it’s a big achievement that nobody really expected, not even me. She just told me, Just be happy, just go out there. It’s going to be finals, but just take it as a regular match, pretty much as a practice match that you just want to improve. Just go with this attitude and you see. You’re going to make it or it’s going to come next time.

“I knew that if I really want to win, I’m just going to put so much pressure on myself, it’s not going to happen. We had the conversation about this. She just told me just to go and enjoy. We spoke about how to talk to myself, what to do when I’m going to feel nervous on court. Like simple things, what to do.”

This is not the former doubles number one’s first major title, having registered eight doubles titles across three of the four grand slams in juniors, women’s and mixed divisions. Krejcikova says that this is a dream come true – especially given she will contest the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova on Monday.

“It’s something I have always dreamed about,” she said. “Winning here, my first doubles title, then winning the mixed ones. Now I was just telling myself, It would be really nice if I can get the Grand Slam in all three categories. Now it’s happening. I cannot believe it. Wow.”

Krejcikova is the first Czech woman to lift the Roland Garros singles trophy since Hana Mandlikova in 1981 – playing for the former Czechoslovakia – and the third unseeded champion in the past five years, following the footsteps of Jelena Ostapenko (2017) and Iga Swiatek (2020).

Pavlyuchenkova held no hard feelings for her opposition, telling media post-match that she has been suffering from a minor leg injury throughout the event, but was not willing to give her potential opponents any indication of her pain.

“I have to be honest, I wasn’t mentioning because I was still in the tournament,” said Pavlyuchenkova. “I didn’t want my opponents to hear. But the Sabalenka match, I was actually in a really bad shape physically. I don’t know how I even won that match because I also had a medical treatment there, I had to wrap my leg.”

“I’ll keep on going,” she said. “Hopefully, you know, next time if I have a chance to be in the final I’ll handle it better and I’ll be more fresh and I’ll play better. That’s the goal right now. I want to believe that the best is yet to come, so I think that’s how I should approach the whole situation.”

ROLAND GARROS FINAL RESULT:

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-1 2-6 6-4

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Sabalenka fails again as Grand Slam champions advance

IT was unfortunately a case of history repeating itself, as Belarusian third seed Aryna Sabalenka bowed out in the third round of Roland Garros. Despite a brilliant 2020 season where she collected just about every title she could in the finale of the interrupted year, going deep in a Grand Slam still eludes the world number four, failing to advance past her previous best Round of 32 result in Paris. It is something that has been a trend for Sabalenka across the Grand Slams, with four round exits at the Australian Open the best result of the lot. Against 31st seed Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the Belarusian faded in obscurity after fighting back to win the second set.

Pavlyuchenkova won 6-4 2-6 6-0 in one hour and 40 minutes to advance through to the fourth round of Roland Garros, playing a sensible game of only 16 unforced errors for 22 winners, whilst the powerful Sabalenka hit 39 for 41. The Russian only served two double faults to Sabalenka’s eight, and won 62 per cent of her first, and 50 per cent of her second serve points. By contrast, while Sabalenka managed to win a higher first serve percentage of points (72 per cent), she was a lowly 33 per cent from her second serve, and this came off a 55 per cent clip. Whilst it looked like Sabalenka had regained control with the second set win, Pavlyuchenkova powered home breaking in all three games in the final set as the Belarusian hit 17 unforced errors to just six winners, whilst the Russian only had the three unforced errors to the same amount of winners.

It was much more clinical from the two veteran Grand Slam winners left in the bottom half of the draw, with seventh seed Serena Williams and 15th seed Victoria Azarenka both winning in straight sets. Williams won 6-4 6-4 against compatriot Danielle Collins, hitting 22 winners to 18 and having one less unforced error (20-21), whilst serving five aces to one and winning 80 and 38 per cent off her first and second serves. Collins battled hard to win 79 and 34 per cent herself, but was broken four times to two which was the difference. Azarenka won 6-2 6 6-2 in 70 minutes over another American in 23rd seed Madison Keys. The American produced the majority of the play one way or another with 17 winners to 33 unforced errors, whilst the conservative Azarenka had six to 12. The Belarusian did win 67 and 57 per cent of her points off her first and second serves, compared to a disappointing 51 and 37 per cent off Keys’ respective serves.

The 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova also advanced through to the fourth round and remains the danger player to watch in the draw, defeating Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-3 6-3. The match lasted 71 minutes, with Vondrousova far more consistent off her first serve (73 to 58 per cent), whilst also winning 59 to 57 per cent off her second. The winners were fairly even (13-12 in Hercog’s favour), but the Slovenian was loose with her shots, hitting 35 unforced errors to Vondrousova’s 14. Meanwhile another rising star of the WTA Tour in Elena Rybakina also advanced through relatively easily with a 6-1 6-4 win over Elena Vesnina. The match only went 63 minutes, as Rybakina produced 12 aces to one, and won 83 and 65 per cent of her first and second serve points – dropping just 11 points in total – compared to Vesnina’s 49 and 50 per cent. The young gun also hit 26 winners to nine, and had five less unforced errors (13-18) in a well-rounded performance.

In other results, Paula Badosa and Tamara Zidansek both fought back from disappointing first sets to post respective wins over opponents. The 33rd seed Spaniard came from behind to knock off Romania’s Ana Bogdan 2-6 7-6 6-4, while Zidansek did not win a game in the first set, before just scraping through in a second set tiebreaker, and eventually running away with it over Czech Katerina Siniakova, 0-6 7-6 6-2. In the other singles result, Romanian Sorana Cirstea defeated Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-3 to advance through to the Round of 16.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 2-6 6-0
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Danielle Collins (USA) 6-4 6-4
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated [23] Madison Keys (USA) 6-2 6-2
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-1 6-4
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 2-6 7-6 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 0-6 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Kasatkina destroys Bencic for Roland Garros third round spot

DARIA Kasatkina caused the upset of the day by ousting 10th seed Belinda Bencic from Roland Garros in their second round clash. The Russian took no prisoners in a one-hour and 16-minute beating, running out a 6-2 6-2 winner over the talented Swiss player. Bencic was one of only two seeds to fall outside of a couple of walkovers, as Kasatkina served eight aces to one and hit seven more winners (27-20) and six less unforced errors (14-20) in a clinical display. Kasatkina also only dropped eight points off her first serve, and did not even face a break point, whilst breaking Bencic four times from nine chances.

“A lot has changed between 2018 and now,” Kasatkina said post-match. “There was one amazing year for me, which was important in a good and in the bad way. “I learned a lot, and I think I become a little bit different, maybe more experienced, a bit more serious. “Let’s say I understand more why I’m winning or why I’m losing.

“At that time everything was just going with the wave, and I was not thinking that much.” Now I’m analysing more what’s going on in the situation I’m in. “Getting maybe a bit more mature.”

Aside from the withdrawals of Naomi Osaka – which was announced after her first round win – and Petra Kvitova – which handed Romanian Ana Bogdan and Russian Elena Vesnina safe passage into the third round, 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova was the only other seeded talent to fall in the Round of 64. Kudermetova went down to Czech Katerina Siniakova, losing in three tight sets 7-6 5-7 7-5 in an epic two-hour and 52-minute match, the clear longest of the day. Kudermetova hit 18 more winners (45-27) but was far too inconsistent with 67 unforced errors to 43, as Siniakova was more efficient off her serve, and despite serving 10 double faults, made the most of her chances when they went in.

One of only two other matches that lasted beyond the two-hour mark was Sorana Cirstea‘s two-hour and 37-minute victory over Italian Martina Trevisan. Cirstea got up in three sets, 6-4 3-6 6-4 in what was a real arm-wrestle for the most part. The Romanian was far from her best, hitting 46 unforced errors to 28, and only had three more winners than her opponent (29-26), but won 50 per cent of her receiving points, and had higher success rates on her first and second serve. The Romanian won through to take on Kasatkina in the Round of 32.

The other epic was seventh seed Serena Williams needing to shake off a second set fight from another Romanian in Mihaela Buzarnescu to win in three sets in two hours and three minutes. Williams got up 6-3 5-7 6-1 to run away with the contest in the end, but not without some tough moments midway through the game. Williams hit one more winner (26-25) and had one less unforced error (27-28) in a relatively even contest, but it was her much higher first serve success rate (75 to 61 per cent) that proved the difference, as she broke five times to two and served the only five aces of the match.

A number of other contenders breezed through with 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova showing no mercy to French wildcard Harmony Tan, winning 6-1 6-3 in 62 minutes on court. The quickest match of the day was 33rd seed Paula Badosa‘s 6-2 6-0 destruction of Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in a lightning 52 minutes, while 21st seed Elena Rybakina defeated Nao Hibino 6-3 6-1 in 63 minutes. Danielle Collins breezed past Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-0 in 62 minutes, and Tamara Zidansek rolled into the third round with a 65-minute 6-4 6-1 trouncing of American Madison Brengle.

Elsewhere, Belarusian duo Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka both advanced through to the the next round in two tight sets, with Madison Keys and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova the other two seeds to make their way into the Round of 32. The only other match was Slovenia’s Polona Hercog taking care of France’s Carolina Garcia in straight sets, to complete the first 16 players through to the third round.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) W/O
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-3
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-3 5-7 6-1
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated [10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 6-2
[PR] Elena Vesnina (RUS) defeated [11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) W/O
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Clara Tauson (AUT) 7-5 6-4
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-1 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-3 6-1
[23] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 7-5
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated [29] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 5-7 7-5
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-2 6-4
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [LL] Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-2 6-0
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-2 6-0
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-1
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-4
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5 6-4

Picture credIt: Jimmie 48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Osaka and Sabalenka fire as Kerber falls at Roland Garros

IT was a convincing opening day at the 2021 Roland Garros, with the Round of 128 seeing just one seed fall from 10 of the day’s entrants. One of those winners was Naomi Osaka, who has been well and truly in the media spotlight this week following her announcement not to partake in press conferences during the event, while she was joined by fellow Top 5 talent Aryna Sablenka in the second round, with the Belarusian seeded third.

Osaka had little issue in her opening round match, disposing of Romanian Patricia Maria Tig in one hour and 47 minutes, 6-4 7-6(4). Osaka has never made it to the second week at the French Open, with this victory surely giving her some confidence.

“I’d say it’s a work on progress,” Osaka said in her on court interview post-match. “Hopefully the more I play the better it’ll get. If I play more matches, then hopefully I’ll get better [on the surface].”

“I’m really glad that I won, it’s a very beautiful court,” she said. “I’ve only played two matches here – one before the roof (was installed) and one right now. Hopefully I’ll keep it going.”

Osaka hit 39 winners to Tig’s 19 throughout the contest, and whilst she also made more unforced errors, the Japanese talent was influential off her first serve winning 89 per cent of points off a 55 per cent clip.

Despite the opening round win, Osaka’s victory was soured by a USD $15,000 fine for not fronting the mandator media per Roland Garros (and Grand Slam) obligations. Multiple offences could mean more substantial fines and future suspensions.

The other seed in the spotlight is former world number one and 26th seed Angelique Kerber, who fell to qualifier Anhelina Kalinina. The former champion went down in straight sets 6-2 6-4 in just one hour and 28 minutes, struggling to impact on serve against the Ukrainian, who won back-to-back ITF Challenger events in the lead up to the Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, Sabalenka was not the only Belarusian to reign supreme, joined by 15th seed Victoria Azarenka and unseeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with the latter two both overcoming second set drops in form to claim victory in three. Sabalenka overcame qualifying up-and-comer Ana Konjuh 6-4 6-3, while Azarenka was composed under pressure against former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Sasnovich claimed her opening round win over French wildcard Diane Parry. Just one Belarusian fell, with qualifier Olga Govortsova downed by Elena Vesnina in 58 minutes.

“I would say it wasn’t great level today from me, but I kept trying, kept fighting, kept trying to find my game,” Sabalenka said. “It was a little bit [of a] nervous game, especially in the beginning, because I felt like everything is not going well, and I don’t really feel my game.

“Well, I have a lot of experience of these kind of matches. I mean, emotionally,” she said. “That’s why sometimes I scream ‘Come on’, or ‘Let’s go’, because I find this character inside of me that I have to keep trying and don’t waste my energy.”

“So many mistakes. But I’m really happy in the end of the first set I kind of could find the rhythm. I won the first set, and then everything started to be a little bit better.

“But it was tough match. She’s (Konjuh) really aggressive. Sometimes it was really tough to play under the pressure, under her pressure. I’m just really happy with this win.”

Petra Kvitova was the only other Top 15 talent to take the court and claim and opening round win, as a smattering of Top 20 and Top 30 talents reigned supreme, including Elena Rybakina – who disposed of 2020 Roland Garros Juniors champion and wildcard Elsa Jacquemot in straight sets – Madison KeysVeronika KudermetovaAnastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Paula Badosa, with the latter seeded for the first time at a major and making no mistake.

Meanwhile, none of the remaining hopeful surprise packets took out wins on the opening day, with another French wildcard in Clara Burel falling, as did lucky loser Elisabetta Cocciaretto, and qualifiers Wang Xiyu and Ekaterine GorgodzeAjla Tomljanovic had little issue cleaning up Kateryna Kozlova, and was joined by Nao HibinoLeylah Fernandez and Katerina Siniakova.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-4 7-6
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [Q] Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-4 6-3
[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-7 7-6 6-1
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-4 2-6 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [WC] Elsa Jacquemot (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[23] Madison Keys (USA) defeated [WC] Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-1
[Q] Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) defeated [26] Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-2 6-4
[29] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 7-6 6-1
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-4 6-0
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-2 7-6
Danka Kovinic (MNE) defeated [WC] Clara Burel (FRA) 6-3 7-6
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-2 6-4
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated [WC] Diane Parry (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
Nao Hibino (JPN) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 7-6 6-2
Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated [LL] Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-1 6-3
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-2 6-1
Elena Vesnina (RUS) defeated [LL] Olga Govortsova (BLR) 6-1 6-0
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated [Q] Wang Xiyu (CHN) 6-2 4-6 6-4
Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated [Q] Ekaterine Gorgodze (GEO) 6-4 6-2
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-0 4-6 6-2

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Gauff bounces back to reach Parma final as Serbian semis decided

AMERICAN teenager Coco Gauff will contest the Emilia-Romagna Open final against Wang Qiang after the Chinese sixth seed took care of Gauff’s compatriot Sloane Stephens. Wang won 6-2 7-6 in the one-hour and 46-minute match to reach the Parma final, as Gauff had to bounce back from a shocking second set to win in three sets over Katerina Sinaikova in two hours and eight minutes, 7-5 1-6 6-2.

“It definitely gives me more experience, just the fact that I’ve been in a final before, so I know how the nerves feel, and I know how to handle it a little bit better,” Gauff said post-match. “Tomorrow, I’m just going to go out there and have fun.”

Gauff said playing Siniakova – which not only included losing the second set but going down 2-0 in he third – was difficult, before Gauff piled on six consecutive games to dominate the last part of the match and win 7-5 1-6 6-2.

“[Siniakova is] a super tricky player, she obviously had some great wins this week,” Gauff said. “To be honest, I just kind of hung in there, and although in the second set my level went down a little bit, I was glad that I was able to pick it up for the third.”

Wang had a lower serving efficiency than Stephens (59.7 to 75.3 per cent) but served one more ace (2-1) and was far more consistent on serve, with a 63 to 55.2 first serve winning percentage, and 5.48 to 36.8 second serve winning percentage. Still, Stephens raced out to a 5-1 lead in the second set, but Wang closed her down to win five of the next six games, force a tiebreaker and take out he match in straight sets.

Over in the Serbia Open, Paula Badosa remains the only seeded player in the final four, defeating seventh seed Rebecca Peterson in straight sets 6-2 6-3. The fourth seed Spaniard was far too good and continued her ripping 2021 form to book a spot in the final four. Also making their way through to the semi-finals were Croatian Ana Konjuh who has also been impressive this season, Colombian Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova.

SERBIA LADIES OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[4] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [7] Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-2 6-4
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated [5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-4 6-3
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-4 6-2
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-3 4-6 6-2

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 7-5 1-6 6-2
[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-2 7-6

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

WTA Tour wrap: Gauff wins teen battle as Stephens and Wang enter first semi-finals in years

WITH two events currently in progress, the Serbia Ladies Open continues to be plagued by rain delays seeing no Day 6 matches go ahead, while the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, Italy, went full steam ahead with four huge quarter finals setting up a massive day of semi-finals action tomorrow.

There were two entirely seeded clashes for the day, with one a battle between American teens and the other a three-hour blockbuster. The first saw third seed 17-year-old Coco Gauff continue her excellent form with a victory over 19-year-old Amanda Anisimova, clinching the quickest win of the day in one hour and 21 minutes, 6-3 6-4.

“I was pretty satisfied with the way I played,” Gauff said post-match. “I do think I could have served a little bit better, but other than that, I was pretty happy with the way I played today.”

Whilst the duo have gone toe-to-toe before, this encounter marked their first meeting since 2017, and the first time they have met on the professional circuit. Gauff won 73.7 per cent of her first serve points off a 60 per cent clip, and whilst it was not her best efficiency hitting four aces for five double faults, it was much mroe effective than Anisimova’s 40 per cent off a 53.6 per cent clip.

“In the second set, I was actually missing a lot of balls in the first three games, I think I lost like seven or eight points in a row,” Gauff said. “And then I honestly decided to go for bigger targets, and just focus on hitting the ball deeper instead of trying to hit winners.”

The second seeded clash saw sixth seed Wang Qiang defeat second seed Petra Martic in three hours straight, requiring three sets to claim the 7-6(4) 3-6 7-5 victory. The Chinese talent was both more effective and more consistent on serve, and hit 25 winners, making her way into her first WTA semi since mid-2019. Martic struggled to perform despite the shaky scoreline, hitting a whopping 41 unforced errors throughout.

An in-form Sloane Stephens will take on Wang in the semi finals, after claiming a solid one-hour and 25-minute victory, 6-3 6-0 over Italian Sara Errani. Stephens hit 26 winners to Errani’s 10, and won 60.7 per cent of the total points along with the last eight games of the match to claim victory. Katerina Siniakova is the final player to head into the semis, taking on Gauff following a 7-5 6-1 sweep of eighth seed Caroline Garcia.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS: 

[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated [2] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [5] Amanda Anisimova (USA) 6-3 6-3
Katerina Sinakova (CZE) defeated [8] Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Sara Errani (ITA) 6-3 6-0

Picture credit: Marta Magni / MEF tennis

WTA Tour wrap: Williams downed as first and second rounds continue

THE WTA Tour saw a mixed bag of results on Day 4 of the respective events in Parma, Italy and Belgrade, Serbia, with both tournaments playing out a combination of first and second round matches.

At the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, the eldest and youngest Americans came away with dastardly different results, as veteran and top seed Serena Williams fell at the second hurdle to Czech talent Katerina Siniakova, 7-6 6-2.

“Not every day is really amazing,” Siniakova said following the victory. “If you go to play against a player like this, you really have nothing to lose, so I came up and wanted to enjoy it.

“I should be more proud of them,” she said. “My statistics against top players are really good, and a lot of players would want this. I should be really proud and believe more in myself – this match can open my eyes and I will try to keep it like this.”

“I didn’t do a lot of mistakes, and I think she felt it,” Siniakova said. “I think she was trying to go harder and doing a lot of mistakes, which helped me – I’m really happy I could keep my level all match.”

Things went supremely different for 17-year-old third seed Coco Gauff, who came away unscathed in her first round clash with Kaia Kanepi, 7-6(6) 7-6(7). It seemed to be the way of the day as second seed Petra Martic downed Varvara Gracheva in another Round of 32 matchup, while fourth seed Daria Kasatkina started strong but could not retain control against a fighting Sloane Stephens in the Round of 16.

Finishing off the day’s Round of 32 saw Sara Errani win on home soil in a 7-5 4-6 6-1 fightback over Ana Bogdan, as Anna Lena Friedsam was tested throughout by a feisty Viktorija Golubic on a mission, 6-4 6-7(1) 6-2. In the second round’s last two matches, fifth seed Amanda Anisimova is the only seed thus far to have reached the third round after defeating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova while Liudmila Samsonova defeated Italian wildcard Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-2 6-2 in the quickest match of the day.

At Belgrade, just two Round of 16 matches played out as fourth and fifth seeds Paula Badosa and Nadia Podoroska both made their mark, claiming respective straight set wins in under 85 minutes over Mihaela Buzarnescu and Oceane Dodin. Just two more seeds took the court throughout the day’s Round of 32 proceedings, with one proceeding and one falling in another intriguing twist. Frenchwoman and sixth seed Kristina Mladenovic struggled against Russian Anna Kalinskaya, fighting back well after giving away a bagel for a first set, but unable to clinch victory eventually falling 6-0 7-6(6). Proceedings went much better for seventh seed Swede Rebecca Peterson, who overcame a sloppy first set and flew out of the blocks for the remainder of her clash with Serbian Nina Stojanovic, claiming the 5-7 6-1 6-0 victory in just under two hours.

It was not a good day for homegrown talent with neither of Stojanovic’s compatriots making it through to the second round, as Olga Danilovic and Lola Radivojevic  both fell to higher ranked opposition in under 90 minutes to Kamilla Rakhimova and Viktoriya Tomova respectively. In the remaining matches, Hungarian Reka-Luca JaniAna Konjuh and Aliaksandra Sasnovich all overcame tough efforts from their opposition to book spots in tomorrow’s Round of 16 proceedings.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-4 6-2
[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 7-6
Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 7-5 4-6 6-1
Anna Lena Friedsam (GER) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-4 6-7 6-2

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated [1] Serena Williams (USA) 7-6 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 1-6 6-4 7-5
[5] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-2 6-4
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Giulia Gatto-Monticone (ITA) 6-2 6-2

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated [6] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-0 7-6
[7] Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 5-7 6-1 6-0
Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) defeated Olga Danilovic (SRB) 6-2 6-4
Reka-Luca Jani (HUN) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-2 0-6 7-5
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Wang Xiyu (CHN) 6-7 6-0 6-2
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2 1-6 7-5
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated Lola Radivojevic (SRB) 6-2 6-3

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-0 6-4
[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-2 6-3

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

WTA Tour wrap: Emilia-Romagna and Belgrade begin

THE second day at both the Emilia-Romagna Open and Belgrade WTA 250 events saw plenty of intriguing results, following predictable opening days at each tournament.

Of the eight Day 2 matches which played out at Parma, all three seeds proceeded joining the opening day’s winners in Daria KasatkinaAmanda Anisimova and Wang Qiang. Top seed Serena Williams was the big entrant to the event and did not disappoint in her opening day on court, downing qualifying Italian teenager Lisa Pigato 6-3 6-2 in just 68 minutes, as seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo downed Bernarda Pera with a similar result.

Pigato may have been unlucky to draw Williams in her maiden WTA Tour main draw entry, but said that despite the result it was a dream to play the champion, even asking for a photo with Williams – while they were still on court.

“Playing against her, it was my dream,” Pigato said post-match. “When we finished, I thanked her, because it was an honour playing agaist her. “She told me that I’m a good player, and it was fantastic to talk to her.”

“Lisa played really well,” Williams said in her on-court interview. “She told me she was only 17. Her future is super-bright – she handled the moment well, so I look forward to cheering for her in the future.”

“It’s usually after the match, in the locker room, I take photos,” Williams said. “It was really cool and gutsy. “It was her first WTA main draw match, so I thought it was a really good opportunity to take a photo – she’ll be able to look back on that in years. “I wish I had done that with my first match, it would have been really cool.”

The remainder of the United States’ competitors results went shakily as Caty McNallyChristina McHale and Venus Williams both fell in the opening round, with the former downed by compatriot Sloane Stephens. McHale and Williams were both disposed of in the only three-setters of the day, as hometown hopeful Camila Giorgi heads into the second round, while Williams won the first set before being outclassed for the remainder of her 5-7 6-2 6-2 clash with Anna Schmiedlova.

Eighth seed Caroline Garcia was tested by Argentinian Paula Ormaechea in their 6-4 6-4 matchup, while in the remaining matches at Parma another Italian in Martina di Giuseppe heads through to the Round of 16, joined by the final winner of the day in Katerina Siniakova.

At Belgrade, one seed in Yulia Putintseva joins yesterday’s seeded winners in Paula Badosa and Nadia Podoroska in the Round of 16, whilst both Oceane Dodin and Mihaela Buzarnescu also proceeded. Whilst Putintseva suffered a slow start against Kaja Juvan, requiring three sets to dispose of the Slovenian, Belgrade’s two remaining seeds in Zhang Shuai and Danka Kovinic were not quite as lucky as the third and eighth seeds fell in three to Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Cristina Bucsa, respectively. The final winner of the day was Leylah Fernandez, as the 18-year-old Canadian downed another Slovenian in Polona Hercog.

Four more Round of 32 matches will play out at Parma tomorrow, as the remaining eight matches take the court at Belgrade, while both events also see the beginning of the Round of 16.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Lisa Pigato (ITA) 6-3 6-2
[7] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 6-2
[8] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Paula Ormaechea (ARG) 6-4 6-4
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 7-6 6-4
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-1 6-3
Martina di Giuseppe (ITA) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 7-5 7-6

[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-4 6-3
[5] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 5-7 6-1

BELGRADE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Kaja Juvan (SLO) 4-6 6-2 6-1
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated [3] Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 1-6 7-6
Cristina Bucsa (ESP) defeated [8] Danka Kovinic (MNE) 3-6 6-4 6-1
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-5 6-1

[4] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-2 6-3
[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 4-6 6-3
Oceane Dodin (FRA) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-3 7-5
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 4-6 7-5 6-2

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events