Tag: Lara Arruabarrena

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

WTA Tour wrap: Badosa stuns Barty to book Charleston semi spot

SPANISH up-and-comer Paula Badosa has stunned world number one Ash Barty to book herself a semi-finals spot at the 2021 Volvo Car Open in Charleston. The 71st ranked Paula Badosa won in straight sets, 6-4 6-3 to book herself a place in the final four, joining fellow unseeded talent Danka Kovinic in the final four.

Kovinic took down 11th seed Kazakh Yulia Putintseva in three sets, coming from behind 6-7 7-5 6-1 in a whopping two hours and 52 minutes, but it was Badosa’s straight sets knockout of Barty that caught the attention. The Spaniard needed just one hour and 16 minutes to claim the victory, serving seven aces to four, and winning 71.1 per cent of her first serve percentage to the Australian’s 58.7 per cent. Despite the world number bringing up 14 break point opportunities, she could only capitalise twice, as Badosa had the 10 but broke five times for the extra three breaks and secure the win.

The other two victors through to the semi-finals are a couple of seeds in 12th seed Ons Jabeur and 15th seed Veronika Kudermetova. Jabeur won in straight sets 6-3 6-3 against American young gun Coco Gauff while Kudermetova won in a a similar fashion, posting a 6-3 6-4 victory over another American in Sloane Stephens. Now Kudermetova will take on Badosa after Jabeur and Kovinic lock horns in the earlier semi-final.

In the other WTA Tour tournament at Bogota, just the one seed remains with fifth seed Slovenian Tamara Zidansek winning into the semi-final against former Top 5 player Sara Errani, 6-3 6-4. She was joined by a mix of players who will eye off maiden WTA Tour titles, with three of the four quarter finals played out in straight sets. Maria Camila Osorio Serrano claimed a 6-3 7-5 win over the in-form Stefanie Voegele in two hours of match play.

The other two winners were Frenchwoman Harmony Tan winning in the quickest match of the day, 6-1 6-4 in just 71 minutes. She was too good for Lara Arruabarrena in that matchup, whilst Viktoriya Tomova defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz in the longest contest of the day. The Bulgarian won 5-7 6-2 6-4 in a come-from-behind victory in two hours and 25 minutes and make her way into the final four.

Now Tomova will take on Zidansek early tomorrow, followed by Osorio Serrano and Tan in the second semi-final as all players eye off a WTA Tour 250 event.


Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 6-4 6-3
Danka Kovinic (ME) defeated [11] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-7 7-5 6-1
[12] Ons Jabur (TUN) defeated [14] Coco Gauff (USA) 6-3 6-3
[15] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-3 6-4


[5] Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Sara Errani (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Harmony Tan (FRA) defeated Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6-1 6-4
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) 5-7 6-2 6-4
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-3 7-5

Picture credit: Volvo Car Open/Chris Smith

WTA Tour wrap: Barty’s clay court court campaign recommences with 61-minute demolition

ASH Barty continued her red-hot form to completely dismantle unseeded Japanese talent Misaki Doi 6-2 6-1 to advance through to the Round of 16 at the Volvo Car Open. The world number one moved to a 15-2 record on the 2021 WTA Tour, which also stretches out to 27-4 since her first-up match at the 2020 Adelaide International 15 months ago.

She went on to win that Adelaide International, and after sitting out the 2020 WTA Tour season once it returned in the second half of the year, Barty remained world number one and started off 2021 as if she had not ever stopped. Her first tournament of the year she won in Melbourne, defeating Garbine Muguruza in the final, a player who had competed throughout the past 12 months.

A shock loss to Karolina Muchova at the Australian Open, followed by another defeat at the hands of Danielle Collins might have momentarily caused some unwarranted questions towards the world number one and how she would go this year. Like true champions do, Barty answered those critics with a stunning run in Miami to defend her title there and claim the WTA 1000 event. It was not just winning the event that mattered, but it was the quality of opposition she beat.

After drawing a qualifier in the second round – following a first round bye – Barty took out former Top 5 talent Jelena Ostapenko, then proceeded to dismiss Top 10 players and Grand Slam champions alike on the way to the Miami Open title. She moved past Belarusian duo Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka – the former being the runner-up at the 2020 US Open and the latter being the most in-form player entering 2021 – before defeating Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu – albeit the Andreescu win was due to retirement, though Barty was in control – to make it six wins on the trot.

The critics have quietened down for now, but Barty is a player that somehow draws criticism for one bad loss amongst double-figure impressive wins. The world number one will always have extra pressure on them, but Barty answers those questions with class and grace. Her 61-minute rout of Doi was the most impressive of any Round of 16 match at the Volvo Car Open. Keeping in mind it was Barty’s first clay match in almost two years, and the Australian looked at home on the red dirt. The Australian now takes on Shelby Rogers in the next round after she toppled Amanda Anisimova in an upset.

In other results, the next highest seed behind Barty to advance to the Round of 16 was Tunisian Ons Jabeur (12th), with compatriot Coco Gauff, and 15th seed Russian Veronika Kudermetova the others. It was carnage in the top end though, with American duo Sofia Kenin and Madison Keys both bombing out to compatriots Lauren Davis and Sloane Stephens respectively. Spain’s Paula Badosa also took care of Belinda Bencic in three sets, while Frenchwoman Alize Cornet won against Elise Mertens in straight sets. In terms of the unseeded players, Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, United States’ Cate McNally and Japan’s Kurumi Nara all advanced to the next round.

In the lower seeded Copa Colsanitas, all the seeds had a forgettable day, with the first, third, sixth and eighth seeds all knocked out in the Round of 16. Zheng Saisai, Arantxa Rus, Jasmine Paolini and Wang Yafan all departed prior to the quarter finals, as Spanish qualifiers Nuria Parrizas Diaz and Lara Arruabarrena, Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele and Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova all booked their spots in the final eight. In the sole unseeded match, Italian Sara Errani knocked off Aliona Bolsova in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.


[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Lauren Davis (USA) defeated [2] Sofia Kenin (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 6-7 6-1
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [7] Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-5 6-3
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [8] Madison Keys (USA) 6-4 6-4
[12] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [WC] Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-3 6-3
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [13] Amanda Anisimova (USA) 1-6 7-5 6-4
[14] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 4-6 6-1 6-4
[15] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [WC] Emma Navarro (USA) 6-4 6-4
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Marie Bouzkova (RUS) 4-6 7-5 7-5
Danka Kovinic (MNE) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Cate McNally (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 7-6 2-6 6-4
Kurumi Nara (JPN) defeated Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-1 6-4


Stefanie Voegele (SUI) defeated [1] Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) defeated [3] Arantxa Rus (NED) 7-6 2-6 6-1
[Q] Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) defeated [6] Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 2-6 6-4 6-2
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated [8] Wang Yafan (CHN) 6-3 6-3
Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: Volvo Car Open/Chris Smith

WTA Tour wrap: Americans dominate in Charleston as three-setters set the tone in Bogota

THE WTA Tour 500 and 250 events in Charleston, USA and Bogota, Colombia have continued, with results coming through from America across both the Round of 64 and Round of 32 whilst the Copa Colsanitas has now completed its first round proceedings.

At Charleston, just two seeds participated in the day’s Round of 64 action whilst the second round also began with all three seeds reigning supreme to head straight to the Round of 16. Every match was complete in straight sets on a relatively straightforward day of action. It was just 12th seed Ons Jabeur who made her mark with a sweeping 6-2 6-2 victory over Italian Martina Trevisan in just 58 minutes – the quickest result of the day. Zhang Saisai was not quite as lucky though, with the Chinese 16th seed falling to Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-3 6-1 in just 66 minutes, whilst Sloane Stephens knocked out the other Chinese competitor on the day in Wang Xinyu. Stephens was one of four Americans to reign supreme on the day, joined by Shelby RogersEmma Navarro and Hailey Baptiste in the second round, with the latter downing a fourth compatriot in Caroline Dolehide in the process. In other results, Liudmila SamsonovaAnastasija Sevastova and Danka Kovinic all head to the second round.

In the day’s Round 2 proceedings, third seed Petra Kvitova, sixth seed Garbine Muguruza and 11th seed Yulia Putintseva all reigned supreme in straight sets to head to the Round of 16, downing yesterday’s Round of 64 winners in Storm SandersMagdalena Frech and Zarina Diyas, respectively.


[12] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-2 6-2
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated [16] Zhang Saisai (CHN) 6-3 6-1
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 6-3
Hailey Baptiste (USA) defeated Caroline Dolehide (USA) 6-3 6-3
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Wang Xinyu (CHN) 6-2 6-4
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Danka Kovinic (MON) defeated Gabriela Talaba (ROM) 7-6 6-4
Emma Navarro (USA) defeated Renata Zarazua (MEX) 6-4 6-3


[3] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Storm Sanders (AUS) 7-6 6-2
[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Magdalena Frech (POL) 6-1 6-3
[11] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-2 6-2


At the WTA 250 event in Bogota, Colombia, proceedings went very differently with plenty of tight battles ensuing. Of the five seeds, just two fell with second seed Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo falling to Italian Sara Errani in a closely fought 7-5 7-5 encounter, whilst teenaged fourth seed Clara Tauson went down to Chilean Daniela Seguel in three sets, 3-6 6-3 6-2. Dutch third seed Arantxa Rus boasted the longest victory of the day in a marathon encounter with Irina Bara, with the Romanian challenging Rus the entire way in the 6-4 5-7 6-4 matchup which lasted two hours and 35 minutes. That was not the only plus-two-hour match of the day though, with Errani and Seguel both required to take over two hours to dispose of their respective seeded opposition, as did seventh seed Tereza Martincova in her 4-6 6-4 6-4 matchup with Leonie Kung, and Giulia Gatto-Monticone in her 4-6 7-5 6-1 victory over Australian Astra Sharma.

Comparatively, Lara Arruabarrena completed the quickest win of the day in just 50 minutes, 6-0 6-1 over hometown hope Jessica Plazas, whilst fifth seed Tamara Zidansek was challenged in the second set by Anna Kalinskaya in their 6-0 7-5 encounter. Harmony Tan and Maria Camila Osorio Serrano were the last two winners of the Round of 32, looking to continue their form in the second round.


Sara Errani (ITA) defeated [2] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 7-5 7-5
[3] Arantxa Rus (NED) defeated Irina Bara (ROM) 6-4 5-7 6-4
Daniela Seguel (CHI) defeated [4] Clara Tauson (DEN) 3-6 6-3 6-2
[5] Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-0 7-5
[7] Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Leonie Kung (SUI) 4-6 6-4 6-4
Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) defeated Jessica Plazas (COL) 6-0 6-1
Harmony Tan (FRA) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROM) 6-3 6-3
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated Sachia Vickery (USA) 6-3 6-2
Giulia Gatto-Monticone (ITA) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 4-6 7-5 6-1

2020 WTA Copa Colsanitas fantasy tennis: Azarenka makes perfect return as Begu, Cocciaretto knock out seeds

GRAND Slam winner and former world number one, Victoria Azarenka made the perfect return from injury by winning her first round match at the 2020 WTA Copa Colsanitas fantasy tennis tournament. The unseeded Belarusian – now ranked outside the top 50 – downed Australian, Astra Sharma in straight sets 7-5 6-3. Sharma reached the final at this event 12 months ago, but Azarenka showed her class and strength with an imposing win.

It was a mixed bag of results for the first day of play, with a couple of seeds bowing out in Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia and Australian, Ajla Tomljanovic. Garcia fell to Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu in a tight three-set contest. Begu got up 6-4 2-6 6-1 to steady herself after a disappointing second set, and send out the fourth seed from the International tournament. Italian qualifier, Elisabetta Cocciaretto is known for her clay court ability and she enjoyed a strong win over Tomljanovic, getting up 6-4 6-4 over her higher ranked opponent.

The other two seeds survived the first round however, with second seed Czech, Katerina Siniakova making it through to the Round of 16 thanks to an easy 6-1 6-2 victory over Estonian, Kaia Kanepi. Joining her in the second round was eighth seed Russian, Anna Blinkova who won through after an equally one-sided 6-1 6-3 victory over German, Anna Lena Friedsam. In other results, Swiss up and comer Jil Teichmann came from behind to knock out Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, American qualifier Ann Li knocked off Spanish wildcard Lara Arruabarrena in three sets, and Frenchwoman Alize Cornet made it through with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Anna Schmiedlova.

In tomorrows’ action to finish off the Round of 32, top seed Marie Bouzkova takes on talented young Russian, Anastasia Potapova, while one of the predicted matches of the day will be German Andrea Petkovic taking on Italian qualifier and former top five player, Sara Errani.


[2] Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6-1 6-2
Irina Camelia Begu (ROU) defeated [4] Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-4 2-6 6-1
[Q] Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) defeated [6] Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-4 6-4
[8] Anna Blinkova (RUS) defeated Anna Lena Friedsam (GER) 6-1 6-3
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [WC] Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-4 6-4
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 7-5 6-3
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 3-6 6-2 6-1
[Q] Ann Li (USA) defeated [WC] Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6-4 6-7 6-3

2020 WTA Bogota Open preview: Even draw in Colombia for Bogota

AS the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Draft Central is extending the fantasy tennis coverage throughout the ATP and WTA seasons to simulate tournaments and see just how they might have gone down. The next WTA tournament to be completed will be the Bogota Open, which was meant to be held in April. 


Marie Bouzkova (CZECH REPUBLIC) 

With the reigning champion in Amanda Anisimova not competing, 21-year-old first seed, Marie Bouzkova will look to be the one to beat with a solid lead-up to the tournament putting her in the spotlight for a potential maiden title. With one final behind her already this year – defeating two seeds in the process – Bouzkova will need to take advantage of her form but on a lesser preferred surface and prove she has what it takes to go far once more.


Caroline Garcia (FRANCE)

A past champion here and fourth seed this time around, Garcia will want to look back to her stellar 2014 form which saw her collect her inaugural WTA title. The 26-year-old will come into this tournament as the most experienced seed with seven titles under her belt but plenty of talented up-and-comers in the draw making it a tough one especially with recent losses against at least two of her fellow seeds in Alison van Uytvanck and Fiona Ferro. That being said, Garcia already having won this tournament could tip the scales her way, making her a real contender.

Astra Sharma (AUSTRALIA)

The tenacious Aussie almost went all the way here last year, coming agonisingly close to her maiden title and almost pulling off a double-victory, collecting the doubles title while she was at it. While 24-year-old Sharma was pipped at the post by then 17-year-old Anisimova, she put up an impressive fight in a breakthrough week so will hope to replicate that stellar form this time around. 

Lara Arruabarrena (SPAIN)

No stranger to the Bogota tournament, 28-year-old Arruabarrena has won here three times – though twice were in the doubles – and will take that tournament experience into this season once more. Though her 2012 victory was a while back now, Arruabarrena was runner-up in both 2017 and 2018 – and could have followed it up once more in 2019 if it wasn’t for Sharma’s stellar run – proving she is not one to back down especially on her preferred surface. The wildcard is always a strong competitor on the clay, putting her in with a good chance if she can keep up the consistency.


Victoria Azarenka (BELARUS)

A former world number one with plenty of experience, one can never overlook Azarenka who has 20 titles under her belt, albeit most recently in 2016. With a winning mentality and the drive to go hard into every contest, Azarenka is a tough beat but having only recently returned to the court she could have a tough time especially coming up against some stellar young talent making its way up the ranks.


Alison Van Uytvanck (BELGIUM)

24-year-old Van Uytvanck had a stellar 2019 season and will want to capitalise on that form here to really push for a follow-up title. While she is not at her strongest on clay, she has proven she can compete with some real top-end talent and push them to the end. Van Uytvanck is renowned for her strong serve but has had a tough time on the clay recently so will look to go one better and prove she has what it takes.

Monterrey Open: Peterson through to Round of 16

SIXTH seed Swede, Rebecca Peterson has survived a two-and-a-half hour battle with Ukrainian, Kateryna Kozlova to move through to the Round of 16 at Monterrey.

Peterson led the procession of seeds through on the opening day, but it was not without a challenge, losing the first set 6-3 before bounding back to win 3-6 7-6 6-4. Peterson served up four aces and won 59.4 per cent of her first serve points, marginally ahead of Kozlova, though her second serve points were slightly below at just 50 per cent success rate. Both players had plenty of break point opportunities, with Peterson mustering up 10 chances and converting six, while Kozlova actually broke seven times, but the extra one came in the first set. Kozolova actually had higher winning percentages on both her service and return points, but the players could not be split overall, winning exactly 96 points apiece.

In other results, eighth seed Wang Yafan moved through to the Round of 16 with a victory over Spaniard, Lara Arruabarrena 6-4 6-4, while ninth seed Marie Bouzkova also took up a place in the next round with a 6-4 6-2 win over Kristina Kucova 6-4 6-2. Astra Sharma won 6-4 6-4 over Serbian Nina Stojanovic, with the Australian moving through to the next round much like Belarusian, Olga Govortsova who won from a set down against Caroline Dolehide, 3-6 6-2 6-1. In the night games, Slovakia’s Anna Schiedlova came from behind to topple Venus Williams 4-6 6-3 6-2 in two and a half hours, while another Grand Slam winner, Sloane Stephens had better luck with her first win of 2020 over compatriot, Emma Navarro.


[5] S. Stephens (USA) defeated E. Navarro (USA) 6-4 5-7 6-1
[6] R. Peterson (SWE) defeated K. Kozlova (UKR) 3-6 7-6 6-4
[8] Y. Wang (CHN) defeated L. Arrubarrena (ESP) 6-4 6-4
[9] M. Bouzkova (CZE) defeated K. Kucova (SLO) 6-4 6-2
A. Sharma (AUS) defeated N. Stojanovic (SRB) 6-4 6-4
O. Govortsova (BLR) defeated C. Dolehide (USA) 3-6 6-2 6-1
A. Schmiedlova (SLO) defeated V. Williams (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-2

Fed Cup qualifiers wrap: Eight nations book spot in Finals

SIX of the eight seeded nations have booked a spot in the Fed Cup finals following the round’s qualifying action over the weekend. Plenty of top 20 WTA Tour players were running around the courts across the world in a number of tight contests. Fourth seed Germany was the only side to sweep the opponent with a massive 4-0 win over Brazil, while all the seeds got up with the exception of understrength Romania and Great Britain who lost to Russia and Slovakia respectively. The other winners were the United States, Belarus, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium, all of whom join last year’s finalists, France and Australia, the top ranked nation Czech Republic, and the home nation Hungary at the new-style Finals in April.

[1] USA (3) defeated Latvia (2)

Despite an almost unbelievable fightback from the Latvian visitors, the number one seeds, United States advanced through to the finals with a 3-2 victory in Washington. Not many expected Latvia to put up too much of a fight despite a couple of improved players in Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasija Sevastova, with both succumbing to Grand Slam winners, Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin on Day 1. But out of nowhere in the opposite singles, the Latvian pair turned it around winning the reverse singles both in three sets with the nation’s number one player, Ostapenko defeating Kenin, and then Sevastova stunning 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams in the tightest of matches so far. The result led to a live doubles match, but the familiar pairing of Kenin and Bethany Mattek-Sands ensured the home crowd left happy as the United States booked its spot in the finals.

Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-2 6-2
Serena Williams (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-6 7-6
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-3 2-6 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Serena Williams (USA) 7-6 3-6 7-6
S. Kenin / B. Mattek-Sands (USA) defeated J. Ostapenko / A. Sevastova 6-4 6-0

Netherlands (2) defeated by [2] Belarus (3)

Despite Kiki Bertens‘ best efforts, Netherlands was unable to upset Belarus in the two nations tie. Held in Netherlands, Bertens won both her matches against fellow top 15 player, Aryna Sabalenka, and the plucky improving Aliaksandra Sasnovich, but both players took down Arantxa Rus in their respective singles. The pair then combined in the doubles to defeat Bertens and Demi Schuurs, but not without an almighty fight, as the finals spot came down to an epic tiebreaker. In the end, Sabalenka and Sasnovich got up 10-8 in the third set tiebreaker over Bertens and Schuurs, winning 4-6 6-3 7-6 in a thrilling finish to a terrific couple of days.

Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-7 6-2 6-1
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-2 6-3
Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 6-4
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 0-6 7-5 6-2
A. Sabalenka / A. Sasnovich (BLR) defeated K. Bertens / D. Schuurs (NED) 4-6 6-3 7-6

[3] Romania (2) defeated by Russia (3)

World number 38, Veronika Kudermetova will owe her teammates after the 22-year-old had a weekend to forget against an understrength Romanian side. Playing her first singles match in the competition since 2014, the top 50 player lost to both world number 90 Ana Bogdan, and more shockingly, world number 197 Jacqueline Adina Cristian. Luckily for Kudermetova, her teammate and in-form Russian top 30 player Ekaterina Alexandrova stepped up, winning against Elena Gabriela Ruse and Bogdan, before recently 21-year-olds Anna Blinkova and Anna Kalinskaya booked a spot in the finals with a straight sets doubles win over Cristian and Ruse.

Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Elena Gabriela Ruse (ROU) 6-1 6-4
Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 7-5 3-6 7-5
Jaqueline Adina Cristian (ROU) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-5 6-3
A. Blinkova / A. Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated J. Cristian / E. Ruse 6-3 6-2

Brazil (0) defeated by [4] Germany (4)

Home court advantage did little for Brazil to cause an upset against Germany who did not even bother to play its best side in the qualifying tie. The South American nation was the lowest ranked side of any that competed in the qualifiers, and neither Teliana Pereira or Gabriela Ce – both ranked outside the top 200 could compete against top 100 players, Laura Siegemund and Tatjana Maria. With the tie wrapped up quickly at 3-0, the Pereira-Maria singles did not go ahead, and instead the tie went straight to the doubles, where Anna-Lena Friedsam and Antonia Lottner finished off the tie with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani.

Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Teliana Pereira (BRA) 6-3 6-3
Tatjana Maria (GER) defeated Gabriela Ce (BRA) 6-3 7-6
Laura Siegmund (GER) defeated Gabriela Ce (BRA) 6-1 6-2
A. Friedsam / A. Lottner (GER) defeated L. Pigossi / L. Stefani (BRA) 6-1 6-4

[5] Spain (3) defeated Japan (1)

A stunning performance from Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo set the tone for the home nation’s win over Japan. Sorribes Tormo took down top 10 star and Grand Slam winner, Naomi Osaka 6-0 6-3 in a performance for the ages in front of home fans, before Carla Suarez Navarro doubled down on the performance with a 6-3 6-4 triumph over top 100 player, Misaki Doi. Opting not to play Osaka in the second match, Japan threw in 137th ranked Kurumi Nara who also suffered defeat at the hands of Suarez Navarro and hand Spain the tie victory. It meant Sorribes Tormo and Doi’s match did not need to be played, instead skipping straight to the doubles, where top 30 pairing, Ena Shibahara and Shuko Aoyama got Japan a consolation match with a 6-2 6-3 win overly Lara Arruabarrena and lowly ranked Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov.

Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-0 6-3
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-3 6-4
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated Kurumi Nara (JPN) 6-1 6-3
S. Aoyama / E. Shibahara (JPN) defeated L. Arrubarrena / A. Bolsova Zadoinov (ESP) 6-2 6-3

[6] Switzerland (3) defeated Canada (1)

Switzerland has triumphed over visitors, Canada with the latter nation opting not to use its top star, Bianca Andreescu who was returning from injury. Initially picked to ease her back in via the doubles, the final rubber was not required after the home nation picked up the win 3-1. It did not come without an upset however, as teenager, Leylah Annie Fernandez stunned world number five, Belinda Bencic in straight sets. The 17-year-old is ranked 185th in the world, but she did not look out of place on the world stage, going close to Jil Teichmann in the first match, before upsetting Bencic to keep the tie alive. Unfortunately due to the unavailability of both Andreescu and former top 10 player, Eugenie Bouchard, Canada relied upon specialist doubles player (ranked seventh in doubles but 448th in singles) Gabriela Dabrowski to win a match, but was not surprisingly bowled over in both her singles against Bencic and Teichmann. The tie showed that Fernandez – who does not turn 18 until September – could be one to watch in the future.

Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN) 7-6 6-4
Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) 6-1 6-2
Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN) defeated Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 7-6
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) 6-3 6-4

[7] Belgium (3) defeated Kazakhstan (1)

Missing their top ranked young star in Elena Rybakina, Kazkhstan was unable to defeat Belgium on the road, going down to an Elise Mertens-inspired effort. Mertens defeated Zarina Diyas from a set down 1-6 6-2 6-1, before Yulia Putintseva came from behind to knock over Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure in three sets, 3-6 7-6 6-2. On the second day, Mertens and the inclusion of Kirsten Flipkens – who replaced Bonaventure – needed just two sets to down Putintseva and Diyas respectively to move through to the next round. With the tie all wrapped up, the doubles was not required as Flipkens and Greet Minnen were heavy favourites against Anna Danilina and Yaroslava Shvedova.

Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 1-6 6-2 6-1
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Ysaline Bonaventure (BEL) 3-6 7-6 6-2
Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-1 7-6
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-3 6-4

Slovakia (3) defeated [8] Great Britain (1)

Slovakia has taken full advantage of an understrength Great Britain outfit, and a home court to defeat the eighth seeds in fairly comfortable fashion 3-1. Slovakia’s top ranked singles player is Viktoria Kuzmova, who defeated Harriet Dart in three sets on Day 1, following on from Anna Karolina Schmiedlova‘s triumph over top ranked Brit, Heather Watson in straight sets. The former top 30 player has had injury and form concerns over the years, and is now ranked outside the top 100. But she was on song over the weekend, collecting two wins including Watson and Dart without too much trouble. Watson did knock over the lowly ranked Rebecca Sramkova, who was subbed in for Kuzmova after the 21-year-old was rested in case she was required for doubles. That was never needed with Slovakia securing the win in just four matches. The storyline could have been different had the visitors had top 15 player, Johanna Konta, but instead they bow out with Slovakia being the ultimate underdogs at the Fed Cup finals.

Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-2 6-3
Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) defeated Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-7 6-3 7-5
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Rebecca Sramkova (SVK) 6-0 7-5
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Harriet Dart (GBR) 7-5 6-3

2020 Fed Cup qualifiers preview: Nations load up on star talent

MUCH like the Davis Cup last year, the Fed Cup in 2020 has undergone a revamp with a World Cup-style tournament planned for Budapest in April. In it, 12 nations will compete for the title, with last year’s grand finalists, France and Australia automatically qualifying, as well as host nation Hungary, and wildcard Czech Republic (highest ranked nation not from last year’s finalists). Those four teams will be joined by eight other nations which will be decided by the qualifiers taking place next weekend.

[1] USA vs. Latvia

USA: Serena Williams, Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Coco Gauff, Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Latvia: Anastasija Sevastova, Jelena Ostapenko, Diana Marcinkevica, Daniela Vismane

A full-strength American outfit will not show any mercy on its Latvian opponents in the Fed Cup qualifiers, with the unfortunate visitors running into the number one seed. The United States lost to Australia last year, but were without both Williams and Riske who have nominated to play, while Gauff could unbelievably make her Fed Cup debut before her 16th birthday. The 12th placed Latvians are not out of place at this level, with two top 50 players who will contest the singles and not make it easy for the home side. Last year they lost to Germany before sweeping Slovakia, but have struggled given they realistically have the four players to pick compared to United States’ smorgasbord of talent. Unfortunately for Sevastova and Ostapenko, a sweep is in the works in this event, with Williams and Kenin likely to take the singles, though Riske and Gauff both impressed at the Australian Open, so expect Gauff if any to pick up a singles if it is a dead rubber by Day 2. Ostapenko will play all three as the only star doubles player – unless Latvia somehow go 2-0 up – while Mattek-Sands will potentially team up with Riske in the doubles. It is an embarrassment of riches for the home team and expect them to potentially win 5-0 in this head-to-head.

Netherlands vs. [2] Belarus

Netherlands: Kiki Bertens, Arantxa Rus, Lesley Kerkhove, Indy De Vroome, Demi Schuurs
Belarus: Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Olga Govortsova, Lidziya Marozava

Netherlands had a 2019 to forget, swept by both Japan and Canada, and the Dutch will want to put in a much better effort here. The 19th ranked nation is perilously close to dropping out of the World Group, but at least have Bertens back for this year. Belarus swept Germany in 2019, before falling to a strong Australian side, 3-2. All eyes will be on the clash between Bertens and Sabalenka – expected to be Day 2 – which could potentially decide the clash. For Netherlands to win, they will need Bertens to win both singles, with the second option being the 93rd ranked Rus, who will struggle against Sabalenka and veteran Grand Slam winner, Azarenka. Azarenka and Sabalenka might monopolise the two days as the top two singles and doubles players, though expect Sasnovich – who is in good form herself – to potentially get a role. Schuurs is ranked 14th overall in doubles and will team with Kerkhove or potentially Bertens depending on fitness, though if they do go 2-0 up, one of De Vroome or Kerkhove would be expected to take that spot as the fresh player. This match should go the way of Belarus, but it will be close if Bertens is on song, so expect a 3-2 result to the visiting side and number two seeds, though it could be 4-1 if Sabalenka fulfils the promise she has shown at times.

[3] Romania vs. Russia

Romania: Ana Bogdan, Irina Maria Bara, Elena Gabriela Ruse, Jaqueline Adina Cristian, Raluca Olaru
Russia: Ekaterina Alexandrova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudermetova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anna Kalinskaya

Romania stunned top seeds Czech Republic last year with an upset win in the first round of the competition, before going down to France 2-3 in the semi-finals. Unfortunately for the Romanians, the team that won through to a semi-final is completely different to the one that will host the strongest Russian side in a number of years. Russia had a remarkable run last year, winning through from Ground 1 to the World Group after sweeping Italy 4-0 – its third sweep of last year. Simona Halep has chosen to withdraw from the tie citing the upcoming 2020 Olympics as her main focus away from the individual events, which means the Romanians have to rely on 98th ranked Bogdan and 160th ranked Bara to get through the singles. Their doubles combination is also completely different with Bara potentially playing with Olaru in the doubles, allowing Ruse to take over the singles. It is hard not to see Russia completely sweeping Romania in this clash, with four top 60 players, including top 30 singles players Alexandrova and Pavlyuchenkova. They should win all four singles, though with it done and dusted after three, expected either Kudermetova or more likely Kalinsaka to get a gig on the second day, with the pair also potentially playing the doubles tie. Russia 5-0 is one of the more comfortable assumptions in this qualifying round.

Brazil vs. [4] Germany

Brazil: Gabriela Ce, Telina Pereira, Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, Laura Pigossi, Luisa Stefani
Germany: Laura Siegemund, Tatjana Maria, Anna-Lena Friedsam, Antonia Lottner

Without a top 50 player on show, the Brazil-Germany clash is not one of the more intriguing clashes, with Germany’s Siegemund ranked 72nd in the world and heading into the tie as the top ranked player. She and 87th Maria should make light work of Ce and Pereira who are both ranked outside the top 200. Stefani is ranked in the top 70 for doubles and might lead the home nation to a match win in the final rubber, though Friesam is ranked in the top 50 and will give up stiff competition. The South American nation made the qualifiers after winning through Group 1, but falling to Slovakia meant it was not an automatic selection. Germany will miss a number of key players from last season with Julia Goerges the top ranked player opting not to play, along with Mona Barthel and Andrea Pekovic who were other winning singles players. Instead the fourth and fifth choices will lead the charge, though it should not be a problem, earning the spot in the World Group after a 3-1 win over Latvia in the playoffs last year. Germany to win 4-1 at least in this tie.

[5] Spain vs. Japan

Spain: Carla Suarez Navarro, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, Lara Arruabarrena, Georgina Garcia-Perez
Japan: Naomi Osaka, Misaki Doi, Kurumi Nara, Ena Shibahara, Shuko Aoyama

Spain has been a nation down on its past which saw it net five Fed Cup titles in the 90s, but returns to the World Group after back-to-back wins over Japan and Belgium last year. Ironically now Spain must do it all against Japan, except now the Japanese have a fairly handy inclusion in world number four, Osaka. Against a retiring Suarez Navarro in her final Fed Cup, and a top 100 improving Sorribes Tormo, Osaka should have no troubles in her two singles, though Spain could triumph in the others against Doi. Japan has a strong doubles pairing of Shibahara and Aoyama which could prove important, while Arruabarrena and Garcia-Perez are expected to front up for the doubles for Spain. The home court advantage could prove advantageous, especially given Osaka’s strength on hard court, though Japan should turn the tables on their European opponents and win 3-2 in a close one.

[6] Switzerland vs. Canada

Switzerland: Belinda Bencic, Jil Teichmann, Viktorija Golubic, Stefanie Voegele, Timea Bacsinszky
Canada: Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Annie Fernandez, Eugenie Bouchard, Gabriela Dabrowski

Switzerland come into this clash having rolled Italy last year in World Group 2 before going down to top seeds, United States in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the North American nation, Canada ran into top seeds Czech Republic last year and was swept 4-0. Having not played since last year, Andreescu will try and carry the hopes of Canada on her shoulders with an upset win over Switzerland. The world number six is still only 19-years-old and her clash with 22-year-old Bencic should be a must-watch match. Bencic has had an up-and-down year already in 2020, but having at least had runs on the board, she should have the advantage and lead her side in the singles. Teichmann is a developing talent who should have no troubles against the Canadian second singles player, while Bouchard is a better player than here 212th ranking gives her a fighting chance to cause an upset. Dabrowski is ranked eighth in the doubles, and could give Canada the edge if Andreescu can win both her singles, though chances are it will go the way of the home team sixth seeds, with Switzerland winning 3-2.

[7] Belgium vs. Kazakhstan

Belgium: Elise Mertens, Kirsten Flipkens, Ysaline Bonaventure, Greet Minnen
Kazakhstan: Yulia Putintseva, Zarina Diyas, Anna Danilina, Yaroslava Shvedova

Seventh seed Belgium will head into its home clash against Kazakhstan as warm favourites given top player, Mertens has nominated to play, while 20-year-old young gun, Elena Rybakina will not take the court for the visitors. Belgium faced a tough draw last year, losing to Spain and then France. For Kazakhstan, they moved through Group 1 with three consecutive wins including one over China, before falling to Great Britain 3-1 in the World Group playoff. In this clash expect Mertens to triumph in both her singles to give Belgium the edge, though both Putintseva and the in-form Diyas will start favourite against Flipkens in the second singles. Belgium could well team-up Mertens and Flipkens in the doubles or opt for 22-year-old Minnen. They are likely to claim the win there and lead Belgium to at least a 3-2 victory, if not 4-1.

Slovakia vs. [8] Great Britain

Slovakia: Viktoria Kuzmova, Jana Cepelova, Rebecca Sramkova, Magdalena Rybarikova, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
Great Britain: Heather Watson, Harriet Dart, Naiktha Bains, Katie Swan, Emma Raducanu

An understrength Great Britain will travel to Slovakia with a much greater challenge on its hands than first thought. Its two preferred singles players, Johanna Konta (resting) and Katie Boulder (injured) will not take part, leaving Watson and Dart as the preferred options. Last year Great Britain earned a spot in the World Group courtesy of five consecutive wins, defeating Slovenia, Greece, Hungary, Serbia and Kazakhstan, dropping just one singles match as Konta and Boulter combined for an 11-1 record in 2019. Dart and Swan was the preferred doubles combination, while the 17-year-old Raducanu has also earned a call-up to the squad along with 22-year-old Bains. With four of the five players 23-years-old or younger, it is certainly a changing of the guard for the British side. Slovakia on the other had have just two in that age bracket, led by top 100 player, Kuzmova. Cepelova will likely play the second singles, with Kuzmova teaming up with Schmiedlova or Sramkova in the doubles. Despite having the key outs, Great Britain would still fancy its chances and could well get up 3-2, though this is likely the closest match of all and Slovakia could surprise the eighth seeds.