Tag: madison keys

WTA Tour wrap: Mixed bag of results across grass court events

IT was a bit of a mixed bag of results across the WTA Tour’s two grass court events yesterday, with two seeds making their way through in each of the Viking Classic and Bett1Open quarter finals, whilst in the other two matches the underdog prevailed. In Berlin, fifth seed Belinda Bencic advanced through to the final four with a hard-fought three-set win over Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 4-6 7-6, needing two hours and 31 minutes to dismiss her opponent.

The Swiss star will now face Frenchwoman Alize Cornet who stunned Grand Slam winner and sixth seed Garbine Muguruza in an epic contest, winning in a third set tiebreaker, 7-5. The overall match saw Cornet come from behind to post a 4-6 6-3 7-6 win over the Spanish seed in two hours and 40 minutes to claim her spot in the final four. Cornet won 76.6 per cent of his first serve points and broke twice from her two chances, whilst rallied hard against a solid Muguruza who broke twice form four chances, and won 67.9 and 70 per cent of her first and second serve points.

“It was a long match with a lot of emotion, especially in the tiebreak,” Cornet said post-match. “I can’t believe I made it at the end. She’s a champion, she never gives up. I should have gone for a it a bit more, I was waiting for a mistake and I was a bit tight – it’s normal. But I was very resilient too, I was always behind in the score in the third set but I kept grinding, I kept fighting to the end and it’s a really nice victory.

“I had a really tough clay season, I couldn’t play well and I don’t know why – but to play well on grass, it’s unexpected but beautiful.”

VIKING CLASSIC QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-2 7-5
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated [5] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-6 4-6 6-2
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3 6-3

BETT1OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-4 4-6 7-6
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[7] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-2 5-7 6-4
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 7-6 2-6 7-6

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Carnage in Berlin as top three seeds ousted

IT was almost beyond belief as the bett1Open draw was blown wide open following some massive upsets on a huge day of grass court action. The top three seeds were all ousted for the tournament in upset results to leave the title race at the event up in the air. The only seed to advance through to the quarter finals thus far was fifth seed Belinda Bencic who toppled Croatian Petra Martic in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.

In the other matches, American Madison Keys caused a boilover against top seed Aryna Sabalenka, with the Belarusian newly crowned world number four losing in one hour and 56 minutes. Keys served eight aces and won 71.7 per cent of her first serve points off a 67.9 per cent clip, also saving four of six break point opportunities.

By comparison, Sabalenka won 68.3 per cent of her first serve points, and whilst she also won 47.7 per cent of her second serve points, only served at a 57.7 per cent efficiency. She also faced 14 break points, and whilst she saved 10 of them, went down in three sets, 6-4 1-6 7-5.

Keys hit 31 winners to just 17 unforced errors in the match, standing up against the powerful Sabalenka. Most impressively, despite a disappointing second set, Keys bounced back to win the third and deciding set, breaking Sabalenka in he final game of the match off the back of a couple of unforced errors from the Belarusian.

Meanwhile fellow top three seeds, Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu also suffered defeats at the hands of lower ranked opponents. Svitolina went down to Ekaterina Alexandrova, with the Ukrainian second seed unable to overcome her Russian opponent, losing 6-4 7-5. Canadian third seed Andreescu fell to Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in straight sets 7-6 7-5.

At the Viking Classic, third seed Donna Vekic was the highest ranked player out on court, and she made her way through to the quarter finals with a come-from-behind win over Italian Camila Giorgi. Vekic won 2-6 6-3 6-4 to book her spot in the quarter finals following a huge two hours and 28 minutes on court. The Croatian was one of three winners to advance following two-hour plus victories.

Coco Vandeweghe overcame Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the battle of the unseeded talents, with the American bouncing back in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 6-4 6-3 in two hours and 18 minutes. Similarly, Kristina Mladenovic also won in a come-from-behind situation, overcoming compatriot and seventh seed Fiona Ferro in an all-French duel, saluting 3-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes. The other Frenchwoman out on court – Caroline Garcia – did not have as much fun, bundled out by eighth seed Czech Marie Bouzkova who won easily 6-3 6-0. In the other match, home nation player Heather Watson won via retirement with a 5-2 triumph over Zhang Shuai.

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Madison Keys (USA) defeated [1] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 1-6 7-5
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [2] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-4 7-5
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [3] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 7-6 7-5
[5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Petra Martic (CRO) 6-3 6-4

VIKING CLASSIC ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 2-6 6-3 6-4
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 5-2 RET
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [7] Fiona Ferro (FRA) 3-6- 6-3 6-4
[8] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-3 6-0
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Grass events begin in lead-up to Wimbledon

THE grass court events have begun over the past week, with one victor already crowned at the first of two tournaments in Nottingham, as Johanna Konta claimed her fourth career title on home soil. With the first of the grass events out of the way for the first time since 2019, we now cast our eye to the WTA 500 bett1open Berlin tournament and the WTA 250 Viking Classic Birmingham, which follows up last week’s Viking Open.

The bett1open results were fairly comprehensive, with just the one seed competing and realistically the only player really challenged on Day 1. Jule Niemeier put up a tough effort against sixth seed Swiss talent Belinda Bencic, stealing away the first serve with a handy break, before Bencic bit back in the second to take it to one apiece. The decider was a hard contest with neither player willing to give an inch, however Bencic’s impressive service game got the job done, winning 90.5 per cent of her first serve points off a 65.6 per cent clip to turn the tides and claim the eventual 4-6 6-4 7-5 result in two hours and 12 minutes.

Overall, both players were influential on serve, but while Niemeier hit 12 aces to Bencic’s 10, she also had elevated double faults (11-7) which were ultimately in her way of a victory.

“She’s a great opponent,” Bencic said post-match. “I knew she was capable of great tennis, and she’s playing her best tennis right now, so I was expecting a tough match.”

World number 28 Madison Keys also got her grass season off to a quick start, disposing of Pole Magdalena Frech in straight sets, requiring just 75 minutes to claim the 6-3 6-4 encounter. Despite holding a 5-2 lead on serve in the second, Frech surged to break the American and claim back a couple of games, before Keys reeled off four straight points to love to claim the match.

“I think [Frech] played a couple of good points in my [second-to-last] service game, and she came out and had another good service game on her side,” Keys said “I was happy I made it a little less complicated in the last game.”

In the remaining two matches, Alize Cornet and Ekaterina Alexandrova both won in straight sets, with the latter claiming the quickest result of the day requiring just 63 minutes to down wildcard compatriot, Anna Kalinskaya.

At Birmingham, the two seeds looked confident as Donna Vekic downed Francesca Jones in just 67 minutes, 6-1 6-3, while Marie Bouzkova had a shaky start but was hard to deny in the remainder of her clash with Hsieh Su-Wei, claiming the 3-6 6-1 6-2 clash in two hours and one minute.

Camila Giorgi and Tereza Martincova both swept their opposition withe the former disposing of compatriot Giulia Gatto-Monticone in just 67 minutes, as Martincova well and truly shook Australian Sam Stosur, who failed to really fire in their 6-3 6-4 clash. Viktorija Golubic stole the first set away from Heather Watson before the Brit competed hard in the remaining sets on home soil to claim victory in two hours flat, while Caroline Garcia required just under two and a half hours to clean up another Brit in Harriet Dart, eventually claiming the 7-5 4-6 6-4 result. The final match of the day saw Coco Vandeweghe tested by Kristyna Pliskova, with both players forced to fight hard for the second set tiebreaker which saw Vandeweghe gain the upper hand and claim the 6-4 7-6 clash in 81 minutes.

BETT1OPEN BERLIN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Jule Niemeier (GER) 4-6 6-4 7-6
Madison Keys (USA) defeated Magdalena Frech (POL) 6-3 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 6-3 6-1
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-3 6-2

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[3] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Francesca Jones (GBR) 6-1 6-3
[6] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 3-6 6-1 6-2
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Giulia Gatto-Monticone (ITA) 6-3 6-0
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-3 6-4
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 3-6 6-2 6-2
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-4 7-6
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Harriet Dart (GBR) 7-5 4-6 6-4

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

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: Seeds struggle on clay in drizzly conditions

A RAIN delay was not enough to curb the form of a couple of former champions on Day 2 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, as the Round of 64 continued with just one of the day’s four seeds proceeding to the second round following some huge matchups.

Spaniard Garbine Muguruza was the lone seed to proceed on the day, downing lucky loser Patricia Maria Tig in the second quickest encounter of the drizzly day. Requiring just 66 minutes to sweep the 6-1 6-2 contest over her last minute opposition, Muguruza won 65.5 per cent of the match’s total points on her way to the second round.

“It was a weird day,” Muguruza said post-match. “I woke up sunny, had an opponent. Then it turned out I had another opponent and it was raining the whole match. We had a little bit of everything!

“But, Rome, it’s such a familiar tournament. I played here so many times, I’ve had nice matches. I love this clay, the red clay. It’s familiar to me. Just looking forward to get as many matches as possible.”

Of the other seeds on the day, two in Belinda Bencic (10th seed) and Johanna Konta (16th) were beaten soundly whilst the third in Elise Mertens (14th) put up a fight but could not retain control. Bencic was upset by Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic in a 6-3 6-4 contest, wherein the Belgian’s error-rate did not hold up in a one hour and 48-minute matchup. Konta’s shaky season continued with another loss to her name,  falling to Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in just one hour and nine minutes, unable to contest in the 6-3 6-1 encounter. For Mertens, it took a momentum swing from her Russian opposition in Veronika Kudermetova to take the win, as the Belgian took the first set before falling behind in the second and third of the 4-6 6-2 6-3 contest, in two hours and 19 minutes.

Muguruza’s swift victory was only beaten by Barbora Krejcikova‘s 63-minute cast off of Zheng Saisai, winning 86 per cent of her first serve points on her way to the 6-2 6-0 win. The Czech’s compatriot Marketa Vondrousova was not so lucky though, falling to Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets 6-4 6-2. A couple of Americans joined the winners list as Bernarda Pera downed Tamara Zidansek to book a second round meeting with Muguruza, while Madison Keys took care of compatriot Sloane Stephens in a 4-6 6-2 7-5 seesawing contest.

In other games, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Garcia both proceeded following straight sets wins, and were joined in the second round by Argentinian Nadia Podoroska.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-3 6-4
[12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROM) 6-1 6-2
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [14] Elise Mertens (BEL) 4-6 6-2 6-3
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated [16] Johanna Konta (GBR) 6-3 6-1
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 7-5
Ajla Tolmljanovic (AUS) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-2 6-0
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-3 6-2
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Elisabetta Cocciaretto 7-6 6-2
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 2-6 7-6 6-1
Madison Keys (USA) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 4-6 6-2 7-5

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: 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.

VOLVO CAR OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[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

COPA COLSANITAS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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 Miami Open 1000: Konjuh shocks Keys as Barty shaky on international return

THE Round of 64 at the 2021 Miami Open has already produced some excellent efforts and intriguing results as the top seeds enter the main draw, with Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka amongst the seeds who were challenged on their opening day.

In a mostly successful day for seeds, just one fell despite hard challenges against the aforementioned top five competitors. It was Madison Keys who was disposed of by Croatian Ana Konjuh, who in the process of completing the 6-4 6-2 clean sweep of the 18th seed, also posted her first top 20 win in four years. It took the 23-year-old and former world number 20 – who now ranks 338th in the world – just one hour and 12 minutes to down the American, cleanly and efficiently outclassing Keys in her first back-to-back win since 2017 following four elbow surgeries.

Barty was forced to overcome a comeback from the Slovak Republic’s Kristina Kucova, taking out the first set but appearing to take the foot off the accelerator as the match went on, dropping the second set 4-6 before Kucova looked to serve for the match at 5-3 in the third. But Barty rallied from there, saving a match point before winning the last five games of the match to run out victor, 6-3 4-6 7-5. Regardless of her shakiness, Barty still registered a solid 78.7 per cent win rate off her first serve credit to a whopping 15 aces on her way to victory, despite only serving off a 50.5 per cent clip. As for Sabalenka, it was her compatriot in Tsvetana Pironkova who provided a real challenge, with her opposition firing from the get-go with a 6-0 start against the seventh seed. But Sabalenka fired from there, still not appearing to be at her best but proving her winning experience was crucial in this encounter to reign supreme 0-6 6-3 7-6(9). The higher ranked Belarusian hit six aces for 11 double faults in an uncharacteristically messy outing, which saw Pironkova intriguingly lead majority of the overall stats but still fall in a huge 7-6(9) final set tiebreaker. The third big test was played out between Elina Svitolina and Shelby Rogers, with the former marginally reigning supreme in the 3-6 7-5 6-3 two hour and 29 minute encounter. While Svitolina lacked consistency in windy conditions and was forced to take a medical timeout for a wrist injury, she clawed her way back with a huge second set to steal momentum and eventual victory.

Angelique Kerber appeared to be back to her best in the quickest match of the day, disposing of Renata Zarazua in just 61 minutes, completing a 6-0 6-0 sweep as Ekaterina AlexandrovaBelinda BencicIga Swiatek and Veronika Kudermetova all followed suit in 70-80 minute respective wins. Also amongst the winners circle on Day 3 at Miami were 17th seed Johanna Konta and unseeded Jelena Ostapenko, whilst three matches are yet to be complete at time of publish.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Kristina Kucova (SLO) 6-3 4-6 7-6
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 3-6 7-5 6-3
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Tsvetana Pironkova (BLR) 0-6 6-3 7-6
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-2 6-1
[16] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
[17] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 6-4 7-5
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated [18] Madison Keys (USA) 6-4 6-2
[19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-4 6-4
[24] Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Renata Zarazua (MEX) 6-0 6-0
[30] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-0 6-4
[32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Danielle Collins (USA) 6-3 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-2 5-7 6-3

[3] Simona Halep (ROM) v. Caroline Garcia (FRA)
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) v. Alize Cornet (FRA)
Anastasia Sevastova (LAT) v. [31] Coco Gauff (USA)

Picture credit: Getty Images