Tag: kiki bertens

WTA Tour wrap: Barty and Swiatek set up huge quarter finals clash

THE first day of Round of 32 action is done and dusted at the Madrid Open in Spain, with a couple of intriguing tests making life difficult for seeded competitors.

Ash Barty continued her winning run for the year, still leading all-comers with the most wins to her name in 2021 but was really tested by Slovenian Tamara Zidansek in an intriguing 6-4 1-6 6-3, one hour and 58 minute encounter.

“A really tough match,” Barty said. “I felt my margins were a little bit off today. Made a lot of errors. I think I was missing in the right way, but still just a foot or two here or there makes a big difference. I felt like there were probably too many loose ones for me today.”

Barty was uncharacteristically inefficient off her first serve at just 51 per cent throughout, but still managing to claim the ascendancy with an improved winning rate off said serve. A huge second set from Zidansek – winning her first ever set off a top 10 player – could have spelled trouble for the world number one, however an improved third set saw Barty wrench momentum back in her favour, capitalising off Zidansek’s errors to claim the win.

“I don’t think there was a lot in it by any means,” Barty said. “We had a lot of close games in the first set, early in the second set. In the third, as well, there were a lot of close games. I think the response early in the third was good. I was a bit more aggressive, was able to bring the match back on my terms.”

Meanwhile, a win to Iga Swiatek over German Laura Siegemund has set up a massive quarter final encounter between Swiatek and Barty, with the 2019 and 2020 Roland Garros champions meeting on court for the first time. While Barty was challenged in the second round, Swiatek had a much easier time against Siegemund to claim a 6-3 6-3 victory. Even despite dropping a 3-0 start to the second set as Siegemund recovered to even up the ledger to 3-0, Swiatek won the remaining games to claim the one hour and 40 minute victory.

“It was pretty hard to close that match,” Swiatek said. “Match balls are pretty stressful because you know you’re almost at the end. Sometimes a crazy idea may come up. I tried to just be focused on my basic game, to play safe.

“Anyway, I made a lot of little mistakes. I wasn’t sure where it came from. It was pretty annoying. It just shows that Laura is a great fighter. You could see that also in previous games. In second game of second set, she had amazing rallies, amazing points. She’s fighting till the end and she’s not giving anything for free.”

Both players are looking forward to their encounter, with only a practice hit-out to go off in the past.

“Real exciting,” said Barty. “A match that I look forward to. I’ve hit with her once in Melbourne a few months ago. She’s got a seriously impressive game. Moves very well on the clay court, can slide off both legs, controls her body really well on clay. Likes to use her hopper, gets around, controls the court with her forehand. It’s a challenge that we go into with a really clean slate, a little bit of a period of trying to figure each other out and how our games match up.”

“She has a great slice,” Swiatek said. “I remember it was hard in Melbourne to keep your legs low, just playing back those slices. I think most of the girls have problem with that. I’m going to remember about that.”

“I really respect her,” she said. “Basically I think it’s a good example of dealing with expectations, just having some kind of a distance to the game. I’m also having a hard time finding it. I want to kind of win every match, I want to win right now. Sometimes I’m not giving myself time. She did that.

In other games, Eighth and ninth seeds Belinda Bencic and Petra Kvitova both reigned supreme, whilst another two seeds fell in intriguing results, with Kiki Bertens and Johanna Konta both disposed of in straight sets by Russian, Veronika Kudermetova and Latvian, Anastasija Sevastova, respectively. Ons Jabeur and Paula Badosa were the remaining two winners of the day to head to the quarter finals.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-4 1-6 6-3
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [7] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-4 6-3
[8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 3-6 6-1 7-6
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-4 7-5
[14] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3 6-3
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated [15] Johanna Konta (GBR) 6-3 6-3
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 4-6 6-1 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 5-7 6-1 6-2

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WTA Tour wrap: Svitolina overcome by Teichmann, Barty and Swiatek skate through at Madrid

THE WTA 1000 Mutua Madrid Open has begun in Spain, with the opening day of action seeing plenty of fascinating results. Just one seed fell across the board in the lone three-setter of the day, setting up a massive second round already when proceedings have only just begun.

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina was the first to fall, despite a stellar start giving her the upper hand against Swiss talent Jil Teichmann. But Svitolina failed to bring the heat in the resulting second set as Teichmann piled on the pressure, as a third set ensued before Teichmann ran out 2-6 6-4 7-6(5) victor in just over two and a half hours.

It was an untidy first set from Teichmann that allowed Svitolina to take out the early ascendancy, before an impressive turnaround – including a much more consistent serve and two aces in the third – allowed the Swiss native to switch the momentum and claim victory. Whilst a 1-5 start to the third set may have looked dangerous, Teichmann flipped a switch to save six match points and pulled off a remarkable come-from-behind win.

“I started slow, especially with a lot of unforced errors,” Teichmann said. “Giving her too many free points. So I found a way to be more solid, to hit more balls.”

Where Teichmann’s compatriot and eighth seed Belinda Bencic was also successful in a 6-4 6-2 encounter with Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, Svitolina’s compatriot Kateryna Kozlova was overcome in the same result by German Laura Siegemund.

A number of American names filtered across the courts in Madrid, with results split evenly down the middle. Two of the day’s top United States prospects in Shelby Rogers and Alison Riske were overcome by seeds who came out flying, with top seed Australian Ash Barty in fine form defeated Rogers 6-2 6-1 in one hour flat, whilst Riske struggled against in-form youngster Iga Swiatek on her Madrid debut, downed 6-1 6-1 in 67 minutes.

“I’ve played Shelby many times this year… and it’s always a very big challenge,” Barty said post-match. “I needed to make sure that I was at my very best to be able to compete today.”

“Every time you step out on the court against Shelby, you really need to be switched on, play your very best because she has the ability to take the match away from you very quickly. It was important for me to start well, across the whole match. It was always going to be a big factor.”

Barty hit eight aces and did not face a single break point on her way to victory, also piling on 19 winners for just nine unforced errors in a classy showing. While Barty is fresh off a clay court title last week at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, 14th seed Swiatek took the court for the first time on clay this season and effectively the first time since her breakthrough French Open victory in 2020.

“Today I just wanted to play solid and to use all the tactics, the clues that my coach gave me to implement everything in my game that he told me. I did that pretty well,” Swiatek said.

“I did some unforced errors that I wish they didn’t happen, but they didn’t have much influence on the score. Also I try to come back to the solid game, so I did that pretty well.”

“[It’s] my first time here. For sure the balls are going pretty high because of the air here. Madrid is elevated. It’s totally different. I strung my racquet more tight. I think most of the players are doing that, so it’s not something special.

“You just have to be ready for every shot because I felt that on practices and even today, that when I did something like a small mistake technically, the ball went out two meters. You really have to be careful here and just kind of really, really focus on techniques.”

The remaining two United States competitors of the day both claimed wins in relatively simple circumstances, as Bernarda Pera and Sloane Stephens got wins on the board in 76 and 82 minutes, respectively. Three more seeds reigned supreme, with seventh seed and defending Madrid champion Kiki Bertens, three-time winner and ninth seed Petra Kvitova – by default after compatriot Marie Bouzkova was forced to retire at 6-2 2-3 – and 15th seed Johanna Konta all heading into the second round. Another six competitors will look to hit the ground running in the Round of 32, with Anastasija SevastovaTamara ZidansekVeronika Kudermetova, hometown hope Paula BadosaOns Jabeur and Angelique Kerber all claiming straight set wins.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-2 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [4] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 2-6 6-4 7-6
[7] Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND) 6-4 6-0
[8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 6-2
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-2 2-3 RET
[14] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 6-1 6-1
[15] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 6-2
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Petra Martic (CRO) 6-3 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROM) 6-0 6-3
Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-4 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4 6-1
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 6-2 6-4
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-1 6-4
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-1 7-5
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-2 6-3
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 7-6 6-1

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur and Sharma to face off in Charleston as Billie Jean King Cup playoff winners decided

ONS Jabeur and Astra Sharma will face off in the MUSC Health Women’s Open final after the respective players toppled their opponents overnight in the semi-finals. Top seed Jabeur continued her steam-rolling of opponents with a 6-3 6-0 smashing of Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, reversing the result of last tournament, when Kovinic won in straight sets. The one-sided result threw back to Budapest in 2018 when Jabeur won in their other encounter 6-2 6-1.

In this match, Jabeur needed 89 minutes to win and dominated from midway through the first set to cruise to the easy victory, breaking a hopping seven times – bringing up 17 break point chances – whilst only dropping her own serve twice. She won 65 per cent of her first serve points to Kovinic’s 45 per cent, and whilst she struggled off her second serve (43.3 per cent), Kovinic won even less with just a 32.3 per cent success rate.

Sharma had a tougher first set against Colombian teenager Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano. The latter was coming off her maiden title last start, and was bringing it to Sharma in the first set, as the Australian needed to win 7-5 in the tiebreaker. From there she won six of the next seven games to get up 7-6 6-1 and book her spot in the final. Also yet to win a title at WTA Tour level in the singles format, Sharma is a one-time finalist at Bogota in 2019, where she also won the doubles title at that event. At 25-years-old, Sharma still remains outside the the Top 100, but will be eyeing off a place inside with this run at the tournament.

MUSC HEALTH WOMEN’S OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Danka Kovinic (MCE) 6-3 6-0
Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano (COL) 7-6 6-1

 

BILLIE JEAN CUP:

The favourites managed to get up on the second day of the Billie Jean King Cup, with Poland, Kazakhstan and Netherlands holding off some stiff resistance from underdogs, Brazil, Argentina and China to advance through to the next stage where they will have the chance to enter the World Group of the 2022 cup.

Youngster Maria Lourdes Carle almost single-handedly defeated Kazakhstan with a win over Yulia Putintseva to back up her upset of Elena Rybakina the day before, but unfortunately Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska went down in both of her singles matches. The pair were then outclassed by more experienced doubles combination Anna Danilina and Yaroslava Shvedova in the deciding doubles, 6-0 7-5.

Netherlands took the risk of not having Kiki Bertens play out the day two singles and it almost cost them, with Wang Xiyu knocking off Lesley Pattinama Kerkhov after defeating Arantxa Rus on day one to lead China to a 2-1 lead. Luckily Rus bounced back with a win over Wang Xinyu, then teamed up with Demi Schuurs to win the doubles match, and the tie for her nation, 3-2.

Meanwhile Poland got up over Brazil in a five-tie result, with Magdalena Frech doing all the heavy lifting, defeating Laura Pigossi – who knocked off Urszula Radwanska on day one – and then combined with Katarzyna Kawa to triumph in the doubles, while Carolina Melgeni Rodrigues Alves won her singles against Kawa and the opening set of double with Luisa Stefani, but the Brazilian pairing fell in three sets, 1-6 6-2 6-4.

Meanwhile in more one-sided results, Great Britain wrapped up its tie against Mexico despite Marcela Zacarias upsetting Heather Watson. Katie Boulter brought the team home with a straight sets win over Giuliana Olmos. Anastasija Sevastova wrapped up an easy tie for Latvia against India, as Elisabetta Cocciaretto did the same in a tight encounter against Colombia’s Mihaela Buzarnescu, 7-5 7-6 following Elena Gabriela Ruse‘s win over Jasmine Paolini.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine and Canada both won 4-0 in comfortable wins over Serbia and Japan, though Elina Svitolina was forced into three sets by Japanese talent Yuki Naito with the match going 6-2 4-6 7-6, while Leylah Fernandez came from behind against Nina Stojanovic to hand the North American nation the victory 6-3 3-6 6-4.

 

Picture credit: Adam Nurkiewicz

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur dominates in Charleston as China and Argentina worry big guns in Billie Jean Cup

TOP seed Ons Jabeur has flexed her muscles with a 48-minute demolition job of Japan’s Nao Hibino to reach the semi-finals of the MUSC Health Women’s Open in Charleston. Jabeur only dropped one game in the 6-0 6-1 domination at the WTA 250 event to be the raging favourite in the tournament. The Tunisian restricted the Japanese talent to just 13 points on Hibino’s serve during the smashing, as she eyes off a potential maiden WTA Tour.

The 26-year-old is at a career-high 27th in the world and will surpass that, having had a huge last 18 months on the Tour. She will take on Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic who is also title-less at WTA Tour level, with the world number 65 upsetting third seed Shelby Rogers in straight sets. After a tight first set, Kovinic ran away with it in the second set to triumph 7-5 6-1 in 70 minutes.

Also moving through to the next round was Australian Astra Sharma who toppled 15-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova, 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 24 minutes. Sharma is ranked 165th in the world and yet to secure a singles title on Tour, though is eyeing off a return to the Top 100. She will take on Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano, who won against Danish teenager Clara Tauson, 6-4 1-0 before the latter was forced to retire from the quarter final.

MUSC HEALTH WOMEN’S OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-0 6-1
Danka Kovinic (MNE) defeated [3] Shelby Rogers (USA) 7-5 6-1
Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE) 6-4 6-3
Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-4 1-0 RET

BILLIE JEAN KING CUP

The return of the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly the Federation Cup) has got underway with the eight playoff matches taking place across the world. Three of them are locked at one match a piece after day one of three, with the other five going 2-0 in favour of the leader after the opening singles matches.

In Poland, Magdalena Frech got the home nation off to the perfect start against Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, with a one-hour and 28-minute win, 6-4 6-3. Brazil’s Laura Pigossi stunned Urszula Radwanska in the second match however, needing almost three hours to knock out the former Top 30 player, winning 7-6 3-6 6-2, including a whopping 11-9 opening set tiebreaker.

Argentina and Kazakhstan were also level after two singles matches, featuring some seriously high quality players. A stunning turnaround for Yulia Putintseva saw her take down French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in three sets, 2-6 6-4 6-0 to give the visitors the lead. However the biggest upset of perhaps the tournament was Maria Lourdes Carle three-set victory over Elena Rybakina. The 21-year-old Argentinian got the job done over the Top 20 talent in her home nation to level the tie at 1-1.

The other 1-1 tie is between Netherlands and China, with a full-strength Dutch side not having it all their own way against a young Chinese outfit. Despite playing on the indoor clay at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Dutch remain level with China despite Kiki Bertens‘ 6-2 6-0 rout of 19-year-old 146th ranked Wang Xinyu in the opening match of the tie. The tighter match was between the 83rd ranked Arantxa Rus and 134th ranked Wang Xiyu, with the 20-year-old getting it done against Rus, winning 6-1 3-6 6-2 in just under two hours.

Elsewhere, the ties all went 2-0, led by Elina Svitolina who has steered Ukraine to a dominant lead alongside 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk who feasted on an inexperienced and youthful Japanese outfit. Canada is upsetting Serbia after a day, with 30-year-old Rebecca Marino toppling Nina Stojanovic in straight sets 6-4 7-6, while Leylah Fernandez won in a three-set thriller over Olga Danilovic.

A full-strength Great Britain led by Heather Watson and Katie Boulter have cruised to a 2-0 lead over Mexico in London, while Jelena Ostapenko got more than she bargained for against Indian 174th ranked Ankita Raina, needing three sets and two hours and 25 minutes to grab the victory, before Anastasija Sevastova had an easy win over world number 621 Karman Kaur Thandi in the second match to lead Latvia to a 2-0 start. Finally, Italy is out to a 2-0 lead in Romania after Martina Trevisan won in three hours and seven minutes over Mihaela Buzarnescu, and Elisabetta Cocciaretto proved too good for Irina Maria Bara.

Picture credit: MUSC Health Women’s Open / Chris Smith

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

WTA Tour wrap: Upsets blow open Dubai draw

UPSETS in the top half of the 2021 WTA Tour’s Dubai Tennis Championships have left the door wide open for an unseeded player to make a run at a 1000 title. Just a single seed remains in the top half – sixth seed Belinda Bencic – after a number of upsets in the second round of the tournaments saw wildcards and even a qualifier book their spots in the final 16. It is a different story in the bottom half of the draw, with six of the eight competitors coming into the tournament as seeds.

Top seed Elina Svitolina headlines the exits from the Dubai Tennis Championships, with the Ukrainian bowing out to Russian Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. The veteran came back from a set down to post an impressive victory over the tournament’s top player, winning 2-6 6-4 6-1 in one hour and 52 minutes.

“I have no doubts I can compete against the best, so I just want to play and enjoy my game,” Kuznetsova said post-match. “I was feeling so stressed out there in the first set, I couldn’t make any balls, the feeling was terrible. “I was just focusing on trying to make two or three shots in, to see how I can go, how I can regroup, that’s it.”

The biggest upset of the day had to be Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova, who advanced to be the sole qualifier in the final 16 after a demolition of 6-1 6-4 over fifth seed Kiki Bertens in 76 minutes. Martincova will take on teenage young gun Coco Gauff in the Round of 16 following Gauff’s three-set come-from-behind win over 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, defeating the Czech, 3-6 6-0 6-4.

A retirement to fourth seed Petra Kvitova midway through the second set when she was trailing 6-2 3-4 has allowed Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann to make her way into the Round of 16. The up-and-coming Swiss talent will take on Tunisian Ons Jabeur who dislodged 14th seed Elena Rybakina in a tough match, needing two hours and 18 minutes to win, 7-6 4-6 6-2. Also exiting the tournament in the second round from a seed perspective was 11th seed American, Madison Keys who went down to Russian wildcard, Anastasia Potapova in straight sets, 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 25 minutes. Potapova will lock horns with sixth seed Bencic who fought through three tough sets in two hours and 38 minutes – the longest match of the day – to finally defeat Russian Veronika Kudermetova, 6-4 6-7 6-4.

It was more straightforward for the other seeds in the draw with third seed Aryna Sabalenka, eighth seed Iga Swiatek, ninth seed Garbine Murugurza, 10th seed Elise Mertens and 15th seed Anett Kontaveit all advancing through to the Round of 16 in straight sets. Second seed Karolina Pliskova had a scare, but managed to pull through against Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in three sets, 6-3 6-7 6-2 in two hours and nine minutes. In other results, Barbora Krejcikova ousted the other Latvian in the draw, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3 6-1, Caroline Garcia toppled Martina Trevisan 6-2 6-4, while in-form Jessica Pegula destroyed Kristina Mladenovic in just 69 minutes – the quickest match of the day – to advance through to the final 16.

 

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated [1] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 2-6 6-4 6-1
[2] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-3 6-7 6-2
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 6-4
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-2 3-4 RET
[Q] Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated [5] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-1 6-4
[6] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (CZE) 6-4 5-7 6-4
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [LL] Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-4
[9] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 6-4 6-2
[10] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-3 6-3
[WC] Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [11] Madison Keys (USA) 6-4 6-3
[WC] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [12] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 3-6 6-0 6-4
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [14] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 7-6 4-6 6-2
[15] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-4 7-5
Babora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-3 6-1
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-1 6-2

2021 WTA 1000 preview: Dubai Tennis Championships

THE 2021 WTA Tour Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are set to begin on the weekend, with plenty of top talent expected to take the court in the United Arab Emirates. Reigning champion Simona Halep and world number one Ash Barty both withdrew from the tournament during the week citing injuries, whilst Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka (2021) and Sofia Kenin (2020) will also not compete.

Nevertheless, the WTA 1000 event will still boast a draw featuring 12 of the world’s top 20 players, making for a huge week of competition and plenty to play for with such a tight race amongst the WTA world rankings.

Coming in as top seed is Ukrainian and 2017 champion Elina Svitolina, and she is joined by top 10 talents Karolina PliskovaAryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova with Kiki Bertens rounding out the top five seeded positions. Czech duo Pliskova and Kvitova – another former champion here in 2013 – are always dangerous, capable of beating anyone on their day whilst Svitolina is more than capable of going far despite her recent form, which has seen her fail to make it past the quarter finals of a tournament since winning the Internationaux de Strasbourg last September. Meanwhile, Sabalenka has already put a title win on the board in 2021, taking out the first tournament of the year – the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open – and Bertens comes in completely fresh, hitting the court for the very first time this year.

There are a number of other top 20 players who are sure to set the competition alight, with the ever consistent Iga Swiatek coming into Dubai off the back of her second major title and current career high ranking of 15th in the world. Still only 19-years-old, she will be joined in the draw by a resurgent Victoria Azarenka whilst American Jessica Pegula will look to back up her excellent Australian Open quarter finals run with another strong effort here. Elena Rybakina will look to back up her 2020 effort, with the 2020 Dubai Tennis Championships runner up sure to fly out of the gates this time around.

When it comes to nations well within their chances of going far, the United States has six competitors – with world number 19 Madison Keys leading the charge – whilst Czech Republic is not far behind with five. Russia and France boast four participants apiece, though neither nation features within the top 30. Perhaps one of the most intriguing entrants is Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova, who comes in at world number 1029, and joins compatriot Rybakina in the main draw. Tunisian Ons Jabeur will look to keep climbing up the rankings, whilst a couple of early knockouts from the Australian Open will hope to recapture their form at Dubai.

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.

2020 WTA Tour title winners

A HUGE 2020 season of tennis action – cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting cancellations – is done and dusted for the year, meaning it is time to take a look back at some of the big wins of the year. Next, we take a look at the WTA Tour winners across the year that was. For the ATP Tour edition, click here.

January:

Brisbane International – Karolina Pliskova (CZE)

Shenzhen Open – Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS)

Auckland Open – Serena Williams (USA)

Adelaide International – Ash Barty (AUS)

Hobart International – Elena Rybakina (KAZ)

Australian Open – Sofia Kenin (USA)

 

February:

St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy – Kiki Bertens (NED)

Thailand Open – Magda Linette (POL)

Dubai Tennis Championships – Simona Halep (ROM)

Qatar Open – Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)

Mexican Open – Heather Watson (GBR)

 

March:

Lyon Open – Sofia Kenin (USA)

Monterrey Open – Elina Svitolina (UKR)

 

August:

Palermo Open – Fiona Ferro (FRA)

Prague Open – Simona Halep (ROM)

Top Seed Open – Jennifer Brady (USA)

Western & Southern Open – Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

US Open – Naomi Osaka (JPN)

 

September:

Istanbul Open – Patricia Maria Tig (ROM)

Italian Open – Simona Halep (ROM)

Internationaux de Strasbourg – Elina Svitolina (UKR)

Roland Garros – Iga Swiatek (POL)

 

October:

Ostrava Open – Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)

 

November:

Austrian Ladies Linz – Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)

 

TOP WINNERS:

Simona Halep (3)

Aryna Sabalenka (3)

 

GRAND SLAM WINNERS:

Sofia Kenin (Australian Open)

Naomi Osaka (US Open)

Iga Swiatek (Roland Garros)