Tag: maria sakkari

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds fail to fire as upsets made in marathon matches

THREE seeds fell in a highly unpredictable second day of Round of 16 proceedings at Madrid, as the competition heats up heading into the quarter finals. It was a huge difference in comparison to the day prior, as just one of the higher ranked opposition retained the mantle in their respective clashes, as just one match was completed in under two hours.

The big upset of the day saw Elise Mertens down Simona Halep, as the 13th seed Belgian claimed a 4-6 7-5 7-5 scalp of the second seed Romanian. Whilst Halep captured the first set with relative ease, Mertens fought back well to take the upper hand and came from a break down in both the second and third sets to deny Halep the win. Whilst Mertens came in as the underdog with zero wins from three clay court encounters with the Romanian, she was relentless in her approach and despite being error-ridden, capitalised off an uncharacteristically messy Halep.

“I want to be on court as long as possible, especially after losing the first set,” said Mertens. “I didn’t think too much about the score, I was just thinking about the way I should play to improve myself.”

Whilst Halep was more effective on serve throughout, Mertens was far more efficient winning points off 68.3 per cent of her serve, off a 63.2 per cent clip. Mertens will take on Aryna Sabalenka in the quarter finals, following a zippy 6-1 6-2 victory in the lone two-setter of the day against American Jessica Pegula.

“She (Sabalenka) is on fire, she’s making a lot of angles and winners,” said Mertens. “I’ll just try to put as many balls in the court as I can and try to take over a little bit when there’s a shorter ball. “She played Barty (Ash Barty) last week, and I’m definitely going to watch a little bit of that match, because Barty also likes slice and everything to mix it up.”

Sabalenka hit 25 winners for 13 unforced errors throughout the sub-one hour encounter, requiring just 52 minutes in by far the quickest match of the round.

At the other end of the scale were the remaining two Round of 16 matches, which saw Karolina Muchova narrowly claim the win over 16th seed Maria Sakkari 6-0 6-7 7-5, as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova downed 11th seed Jennifer Brady in the longest match of the day, needing two hours and 45 minutes to register a tough 7-5 6-7 6-3 victory. With both winners outlasting in thrillers, it is safe to say neither will back down in their quarter final battle tomorrow.

“I tried to forget actually those [first] two sets, and it was 1-1, so we started with a clear slate,” Muchova said. “I just tried to stay focused and on every ball, to fight till the end. Yeah, it showed me that it was worth it.

“I would actually appreciate to play two sets, but I’m happy I made it,” she said. “It was a very tough match. It’s definitely good for confidence for the next matches.”

“I think it’s a hell of a draw since the first round,” Pavlyuchenkova said post-match. “Any tournament when you beat a Top 10, or I beat Karolina (Karolina Pliskova), she was No.6-seeded here, you think, ‘Okay, it either might be a little easier or open draw.’ But it got even tougher. It gets tougher and tougher and tougher.”

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [2] Simona Halep (ROU) 4-6 7-5 7-5
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-1 6-2
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [11] Jennifer Brady (USA) 7-5 6-7 6-3
Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-0 6-7 7-5

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Mixed bag at Madrid as Muchova and Pavlyuchenkova claim scalps

DAY 6 at the Mutua Madrid Open saw plenty happen around the courts, as second seed Naomi Osaka was ousted in the lone three-setter of the day, while it was also not sixth seed Karolina Pliskova‘s day as the Czech talent fell in straight sets.

It was an excellent effort from Karolina Muchova that saw her inhibit Osaka in their clash, seeing the Czech claim victory 6-4 3-6 6-1. Whilst Osaka worked her way back into the contest after dropping the first set, Muchova commanded control to run home with a whopping 92.9 per cent winning rate off her first serve in the final set, including two of her five aces.

“It was a tough match today, but we had some preparation,” Muchova said post-match. “I was ready to play with all I had today, and to use all the weapons I could and [do] what I can. I’m definitely happy it worked out today.”

Muchova is the newest member of the WTA world top 20, and in this contest it showed. Overall, she hit 29 winners off a fairly efficient 66.2 per cent first serve, as well as converting four of eight break points.

“I was trying to move [Osaka] as much as possible,” Muchova said. “That was the tactic. It sounds easy like that, but, you know, she’s playing really fast so it’s not that easy on the court.

“In the second set especially, she started to be very aggressive. I got back to what I did in the first set in the third set, and again, tried to move her left, right, dropshots, but still in a fast way. In the third set, it went my way.”

Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the third round with a clean 6-0 7-5 sweep of Pliskova, credit to her 20 winners for just 14 unforced errors. Whilst Pliskova bit back in the second set, she was undone by her own 28 errors which spelled trouble, before Pavlyuchenkova commanded control once more to run out victor in just under 75 minutes. Third seed Simona Halep and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka retained control throughout their respective contests to claim respective one hour and 19-minute wins, while a couple of Americans joined the fray as Jennifer Brady downed Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-1, and Jessica Pegula was dealt a walkover from 12th seed Victoria Azarenka.

The remaining two games ended in fairly predictable circumstances as 13th seed Elise Mertens and 16th seed Maria Sakkari proved too good, and while Mertens was challenged in her two hour and 13 minute matchup with Elena Rybakina, Sakkari skated home against Anett Kontaveit with ease.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-4 3-6 6-1
[3] Simona Halep (ROM) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-0 6-4
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-0 7-5
[11] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-2 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) W/O
[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 7-6 7-5
[16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 6-1

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: Kontaveit downs Kenin as Kostyuk and Konjuh clean up at Istanbul

ANOTHER fascinating day of action was had at both the WTA 500 event in Stuttgart, Germany and the WTA 250 event in Istanbul, Turkey, as the Round of 16 continued at both tournaments. Whilst seeds cleaned up the competition at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, it was a different story entirely at the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul, as both of the day’s seeds fell in intriguing results.

Sofia Kenin‘s shocking run of form has continued with another loss, this time to Anett Kontaveit. With just seven wins for the year, Kenin has failed to surpass the Round of 32 since prior to the Australian Open in early February. Conversely, Kontaveit has been fairly consistent and did that again in this encounter to sweep Kenin 7-5 6-4 in just over 90 minutes. Kenin was the only seed to fall on the day as first seed Ash Barty came out flying in her one hour and 24-minute matchup with German hopeful Laura Siegemund, overcoming a second set fight back to claim the 6-0 7-5 victory, though Siegemund’s compatriot and former world number one Angie Kerber was much more successful, cleaning up Georgian Ekaterine Gorgodze 6-2 6-2 for the quickest win of the day, requiring just 72 minutes.

Sixth and seventh seed Czech hard-hitters Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova both reigned supreme as a third Czech in Marketa Vondrousova joined the winners list following a victory over compatriot Marie Bouzkova. Whilst Vondrousova claimed a fairly quick victory in comparision, both Pliskova and Kvitova were taken to three sets by their opposition as German lucky loser Tamara Korpatsch well and truly gave world number nine Pliskova a run for her money in a 7-5 3-6 6-3 clash. Kvitova slumped in the second set before reclaiming momentum to take home a classy win over Maria Sakkari. The remaining win of the day went to Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who disposed of Stefanie Voegele in straight sets 6-4 7-5 to head into the quarter finals.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-0 7-5
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated [3] Sofia Kenin (USA) 7-5 6-4
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Tamara Korpatsch (GER) 7-5 3-6 6-3
[7] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-3 3-6 6-3
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-1 7-6
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Ekaterine Gorgodze (GEO) 6-2 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-4 7-5

 

Both Daria Kasatkina and Wang Qiang fell in straight sets during the Istanbul Round of 16, failing to really challenge their opposition as Marta Kostyuk and Ana Konjuh came out flying and did not back down. Whilst Kasatkina forced a comeback in the second set to Kostyuk, a sloppy error rate left her unable to take advantage of opportunities as she fell 6-3 7-5 in just over 90 minutes. For Wang, it was Konjuh’s continued intensity which left the Chinese eighth seed unable to compete, struggling to retain composure as Konjuh’s consistency proved valuable in the 6-1 6-4 scalp.

In the remaining three games, it took three sets for Katerina Siniakova to overcome Kristina Mladenovic in by far the day’s longest matchup, with the Czech requiring almost two and a half hours to claim the 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory. Whilst Mladenovic made a second set comeback, it was not enough as Siniakova remained composed to save 13 break points and claim seven to take out a controlled victory. Romanian Sorana Cirstea was challenged early by Russian Anastasia Potapova before earning a break in the second and riding out the 7-6(6) 6-4 victory, while Kaia Kanepi was the fifth winner of the day with a 6-4 6-4 sweep of Kazakh Zarina Diyas to claim the quickest win of the day in one hour and 19 minutes.

 

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated [4] Daria Kasatkina (SLO) 6-3 7-5
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated  [8] Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-1 6-4
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 3-6 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 7-6 6-4
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-4 6-4

WTA Tour wrap: Bencic and Sakkari start off Stuttgart proceedings as Istanbul open begins

ANOTHER two WTA Tour events have picked up this week, with the clay court circuit continuing across Europe in Stuttgart, Germany, whilst the Istanbul Championship has begun in Turkey.

Just two matches played out on the opening day of proceedings at the WTA 500 event in Stuttgart, with the two favourites reigning supreme over a couple of homegrown German compatriots. Both Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari got away with excellent sub-90-minute victories in straight sets to proceed to the Round of 16.

Eighth seed Bencic was tested early by teenager Nastasja Schunk before settling into an eventual 6-4 6-2 victory in one hour and 28 minutes. A tight first set was effectively only saved by Bencic’s excellent service game, winning 70.8 per cent of first serve points off a 70.6 per cent clip, and winning 50 per cent of her second set points at a lower efficiency than Schunk, but ultimately only winning three less than the German who was forced to rely on her second serve. The second set saw Bencic kick it up a notch, not broken once in the second on her way to victory over the 17-yeear-old.

For Sakkari, it was a much more straightforward win as she disposed of Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-2 in just 66 minutes. Messiness could well have messed it up though, with missed opportunities during the first set and double faults aplenty. But whilst Sakkari was error-ridden, Petkovic did not capitalise where she could have and served at just 36.8 per cent in the first set, bizarrely not winning a single point off her first serve and just three off her second serve, playing the defensive game much better. Where Sakkari faltered in the first though, she stepped up in the second to run out victor credit to a three-ace second set, winning 92.9 per cent of points off her first serve en route to a scrappy victory.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Nastasja Schunk (GER) 6-4 6-2
Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-2 6-2

At the WTA 250 event in Istanbul, eighth seed Wang Qiang overcame a first set deficit to reign supreme as sixth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova‘s matchup against compatriot Anastasia Potapova was suspended in intriguing circumstances, with the 7-6 6-7 encounter – which currently sits at three hours and 10 minutes in length – suspended due to rainfall, as was the remainder of the day’s draw. Whilst Potapova took out the first set tiebreaker 7-6(2), sixth seed Pavlyuchenkova would not be outdone, fighting back for an extraordinary 7-6(8) second set win to extend the match further. For Wang, it was a sloppy first set that allowed a third Russian in Anastasia Gasanova to gain the early upper hand, before the Chinese sixth seed and world number 50 flicked a switch to overcome the Russian in the latter stages, eventually winning 4-6 6-1 6-2 in two hours and 14 minutes.

In other matches, it was only up-and-coming Croatian Ana Konjuh who got away scot free claiming a straight sets victory on the day, defeating Italian Sara Errani 7-5 6-2 in the clear quickest match of the day. Comparatively, Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova and Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic both required the full length to overcome their respective Spanish opponents, as Siniakova overcame an early surge from Cristina Bucsa to post a 7-6 3-6 6-3 win, whilst Golubic defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz in just over two hours, 6-4 2-6 6-3.

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Anastasia Gasanova (RUS) 4-6 6-1 6-2
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated Sara Errani (ITA) 7-5 6-2
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Cristina Bucsa (ESP) 7-6 3-6 6-3
Viktorija Golubic (SUI) defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) 6-4 2-6 6-3

Anastasia Potapova (RUS) v. [6] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-6 6-7 SUSP

Miami Open 1000: Barty books semis spot as Hurkacz upsets Tsitsipas

WORLD number one Ash Barty is through to the 2021 Miami Open final after defeating fifth seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets. The Australian talent took one hour and 27 minutes to shake off the Ukrainian and advance through to the decider, continuing her run of good form this year after reaching a quarter final at the Australian Open.

Barty served up seven aces to two, and while she only served at a 46.2 per cent efficiency, she did win two thirds of her first serve points, and 54.3 per cent of her second serve points. By contrast, Svitolina had a much higher efficiency at 61.9 per cent, but only won 48.7 and 41.7 per cent of her first and second serve respectively. While Svitolina did break twice from seven chances, while Barty brought up 14 break point chances and converted five of them.

“Every time you’re on the court you’re able to improve, try to get a little bit better and grow every single day,” Barty said post-match. “And I think that’s come with every single match. Every single match I feel like I’ve done something a little bit better and that’s all you can ask. Just try to get that little bit better, that one percent that half-percent just trying to do things right each day.”

At the time of publishing, 11th seed Bianca Andreescu was set to take on 23rd seed Maria Sakkari in the other semi-final.

WTA MIAMI OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-3 6-3
[11] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) [23] Maria Sakkari (GRE)

 

Hubert Hurkacz reached a semi-final on the back of a huge upset win over second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, coming from behind to win 2-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes. The Polish star fell behind early, but then turned it around with 15 aces to seven, and one and three double faults. The serving efficiency was fairly even, with the Greek second seed topping the first serve points won, 70 to 65 per cent, whilst Hurkacz won 53 to 43 per cent in the second serve.

“It is so big [to be in my first Masters 1000 semi-final], especially in front of the crowd here in Miami,” Hurkacz said post-match. “It is a super big win for me and I can’t wait for the next match.

“I was trying to keep fighting and that’s what I did. “[I am] super pumped and happy that I was able to turn this match around.”

At the time of publishing, fourth seed Russian Andrey Rublev was on court against unseeded American Sebastian Korda in the other quarter final.

ATP MIAMI OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 2-6 6-3 6-4
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs. Sebastian Korda (USA)

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA Miami Open 1000: Sakkari and Andreescu to contend for Miami final spot

THE second Miami Open semi-final has been confirmed, with Maria Sakkari and Bianca Andreescu set to go head-to-head following respective wins on Day 10 of proceedings.

Sakkari disposed of world number two Naomi Osaka, with the 23rd seed Greek talent in Sakkari got off to a flying start with a 6-0 first set before the Japanese talent really got going, however the damage was already done and the momentum taken as she completed the 6-0 6-4 sweep in just one hour and nine minutes.

Sakkari’s excellent first set came down to an 88.9 per cent winning rate off her first serve, outclassing Osaka at every turn as the second seed struggled to capitalise serving off a 35 per cent clip. Whilst Osaka lifted in the second set to lead 3-0, it was not enough to overcome Sakkari who stepped up to the challenge, serving two aces and still winning 70 per cent off her first serve to come away with a clean victory.

“I don’t think tennis-wise it was like the best tennis I have ever played in my life,” said Sakkari. “I think I executed our strategy with Tom (Tom Hill, coach) really well. I just did what I had to do. I’m not gonna tell you what. What we discussed before the match, I just did it most of the match, except maybe a couple of games where things didn’t go right.”

“I just had a little bit of time in the changeover [down 1-4] and thought about the strategy again,” said Sakkari. “I think I lost that a little bit in the beginning of the second set. So focusing on my strategy was the key. I knew that if I can break her back, then I can serve clever and I can serve the right way to just come back and win the second set, as well.”

This was Osaka’s first loss in over a year, with Sakkari’s ability to cut the Japanese talent’s 23-win streak effectively allowing Ash Barty to retain world number one status in the process.

It was a very different story in the second quarter final between Canadian eighth seed Andreescu and unseeded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, with a tight three-setter going the full mile for over two and a half hours. Whilst Andreescu won the first set, Sorribes Tormo worked her way back into the match with a solid second set to take it to the third, before the Canadian talent created some much needed separation to take out the third set and match, 6-4 3-6 6-3.

Whilst Sorribes Tormo was more effective on serve by a fair margin – 77 per cent compared to Andreescu’s 65 per cent – Andreescu was much more efficient and consistent overall with a 53.8 per cent win rate off her first serve and 42.9 per cent off her second serve.

Expect a huge clash between Andreescu and Sakkari tomorrow, with their semi-final following the first semi-final between Barty and Elina Svitolina.

MIAMI OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[23] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-0 6-4
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) v. Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-4

WTA Miami Open 1000: Top talents prevail in majority seeded battles

THE WTA Miami Open 1000 Round of 16 fielded majority seeded encounters on Day 8 in the United States, and while a couple of matches went exactly to plan for top talents, results went awry for others in a couple of three set battles.

Top two seeds Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka both came away with wins on Day 8, with Osaka downing 16th seed Elise Mertens 6-3 6-3, though the world number one was certainly issued a more intriguing and tough battle than the recent Australian Open champion, taken to three sets by Belarusian Victoria Azarenka. Whilst Barty took out the first set efficiently, 6-1, Azarenka bit back and gave back Barty the flipped result in the second to go one apiece. The decider saw Barty come away with the 6-1 1-6 6-2 victory as she regained momentum and sped home, hitting six aces off a 66.7 per cent clip, but was inconsistent off her second serve winning just 11 points and hitting two double faults to Azarenka’s five. The Belarusian’s compatriot in seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka had a much easier time of it, exploding out of the blocks in a one hour and seven minute encounter with Czech Marketa Vondrousova, 6-1 6-2. Sabalenka won 76.3 per cent of her first serve points on her way through to the quarter finals, hitting five aces as she did so.

It was a rough day for the Czech Republic with left-hander Petra Kvitova also falling, although she fought to the bitter end after taking out the first set with ease over Elina Svitolina. The two hour and 22-minute matchup was the second-longest of the day with both the second and third sets going to seven games, resulting in the 2-6 7-5 7-5 victory for the Ukrainian. Whilst both players were error-ridden in patches, Svitolina limited her double faults comparatively (4-9) and was marginally more effective off her first serve despite a lack of efficiency. The longest match honours went to a huge clash between 20-plus seeds Jessica Pegula (29th) and Maria Sakkari (23rd), with the Greek talent reigning supreme in a hotly contest 6-4 2-6 7-6(6) battle. Whilst Pegula appeared to have the upper hand throughout the third set, the higher-ranked Sakkari was more consistent on serve to retain victory despite the loss of momentum during the second.

The only unseeded matchup of the day saw victory go the way of Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, who cleaned up Croatian Ana Konjuh 6-1 7-5. Konjuh’s dream return was almost retained with the tight second set taken to seven games, but her 11 double faults let her down as Sevastova made the most of the Croatian’s missed chances. The remaining two matches of the day will play out between Sara Sorribes Tormo and Ons Jabeur, and Bianca Andreescu and Garbine Muguruza, respectively.

WTA MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [14] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-11-6 6-2
[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated [16] Elise Mertens (BEL) 6-3 6-3
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 2-6 7-5 7-5
[7] Aryna Sabakenka (BLR) defeated [19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-1 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-1 7-5
[23] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [29] Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 2-6 7-6

Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) v. [27] Ons Jabeur (TUN)
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) v. [12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP)

WTA Miami Open 1000: Tight clashes see Kenin and Pliskova fall in Round of 32

THE Miami Open Round of 32 is complete with a series of intriguing results setting the tone for the fourth round of proceedings as we enter the second week of the WTA 1000 event. Just one match went down in straight sets on a massive day of competition, with plenty to fight for.

Top seed of the day Naomi Osaka by far had the easiest encounter, not required to take the court as she was handed a walkover from Serbian Nina Stojanovic. Things did not go quite as well for fellow top five talent Sofia Kenin though, as the American fell in three sets to 27th seed Tunisian, Ons Jabeur 6-4 4-6 6-4. The one hour and 47-minute blitz saw Jabeur pile on 11 aces for three double faults off a 50 per cent clip, winning 73.8 per cent of point off her first serve. While Kenin was more efficient, she lacked intensity and was far less effective off her second serve, failing to keep in the tight contest. Jessica Pegula downed Karolina Pliskova in an impressive effort, with the two hour and nine minute clash coming to blows following an explosive start from the American 29th seed. Sixth seed Pliskova lacked potency with her eight double faults for five aces, while it was Pegula’s improved second serve effectiveness that saw her clinch the 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory.

Meanwhile, three more seeds joined the winners circle as Garbine MuguruzaElise Mertens and Maria Sakkari all reigned supreme in their respective encounters, though just Mertens came up against a fellow seed as she disposed of Anett Kontaveit in a bizarre seesawing 6-2 0-6 6-2 battle. While Mertens appeared to have the upper hand early, her shocking second set was characterised by sloppy service games, hitting six of her 10 double faults and winning just two of her second serve points. Improved effectiveness during the third set saw the momentum tilt her way once more, however the lack of consistency could prove critical in upcoming matches. Sakkari completed the quickest win of the day with a comparable 6-0 6-1 sweep of qualifier Liudmila Samsonova in just 67 minutes, whilst Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo joined compatriot Muguruza on the winners list, as both downed their respective foes in two-plus hour clashes. Sorribes Tormo claimed the early ascendancy against Elena Rybakina, with the Kazakh 21st seed unable to control proceedings following a sloppy 6-1 start, eventually falling 6-1 3-6 6-2 in two hours and 24 minutes. Muguruza’s two-hour and 41-minute encounter with Anna Kalinskaya saw the 12th seed fight back after dropping the first set, attacking the ball better to come away with the 4-6 6-3 6-4 result.

WTA MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) W/O
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [4] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-4 4-6 6-4
[29] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-1 4-6 6-4
[12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[16] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [22] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-2 0-6 6-2
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated [21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-1 3-6 6-2
[23] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-0 6-1
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) v. Amanda Anisimova (USA)

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