Tag: marta kostyuk

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: Azarenka wins battle of former number ones as Samsonova cracks Top 100

A SEED fell at each of the grass events overnight, with the WTA 500 tournament in Berlin seeing Karolina Pliskova go down in straight sets while at the 250 event in Birmingham Jelena Ostepenko competed hard to go down in three.

It was Jessica Pegula who took down Pliskova, overcoming the former world number one 7-5 6-2 credit to a consistent serve and plenty of hunt to claim a 75-minute victory over the Czech. The unseeded American fought hard throughout and was able to convert six of her nine break point opportunities, whilst also winning 59 per cent of her overall first serve points to steal early momentum out from under Pliskova.

Sixth and seventh seeds Garbine Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka had far more luck, with the former dominating against Kazakh Elena Rybakina in the longest clash of the day coming out to one hour and 42 minutes, 6-4 6-3. Whilst Rybakina threw everything she had at the Spaniard, including 11 aces, Muguruza was cleaner and more efficient on serve, also saving six of seven break points and converting four of her own. Azarenka only required 80 minutes to claim the win over fellow former world number one Angelique Kerber, the Belarusian was tested and almost taken to a third set during the 6-3 7-5 matchup.

“I always really enjoy our battles,” Azarenka said. “I always know that it’s going to be a battle, no matter what and I prepare myself for that – there is a certain preparation and motivation going into matches like that.

“[In the second set] I feel like I was coming back to what was working for me – some of the points I was falling off and not playing aggressive. Once I knew that I was stepping up a bit more consistently.”

Meanwhile Liudmila Samsonova has claimed an official maiden Top 100 berth as of next week, upsetting compatriot Veronika Kudermetova, 6-4 6-3. Samsonova did not face a break point, winning 88.5 per cent of her first serve points in a huge effort, with a solid 69.2 per cent second serve effort assisting in her pursuit.

At the Viking Classic in Birmingham, Ostapenko was overthrown by Czech Tereza Martincova in three, 7-6 4-6 6-2, with the Czech firing on all cylinders to register seven aces for zero double faults. In contrast, Ostapenko struggled to control her serve, registering nine double faults for one ace as Martincova controlled proceedings, not allowing Ostapenko to retain her second set momentum as the third loomed. Martincova will take on fourth seed Daria Kasatkina in the quarters, following the Russian’s 6-2 7-5 disposal of Marta Kostyuk. The second quarter final will play out between second seed Ons Jabeur and another unseeded Russian in Anastasia Potapova, after the two both claimed second round wins.

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-5 6-2
[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
[7] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-3 7-5
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-4 6-3

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 16 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

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Historic victories pile up as quarter finalists emerge

IT was a clean sweep on Day 9 of Roland Garros action, with the women’s draw seeing all four matches play out in straight sets and relatively confident wins at that. A couple more seeds fell, as one unseeded player remains in this half of the draw.

In a day of fast finishes, it was teen Coco Gauff who completed her victory the quickest as the 17-year-old slammed home a 6-3 6-1 result in just 53 minutes over 25th seed Ons Jabeur. Gauff reached her first grand slam quarter final in the process – and is the youngest in Paris to do so since 2006 – hitting just nine unforced errors to 21 throughout the encounter, and 15 winners for two aces.

“It means a lot to me,” Gauff said post-match. “I have lost in the fourth round a couple times so it feels good to get over that hurdle. Today I played probably my best match so far in the tournament.”

“I feel like all my matches have been — I don’t know how to say it, but straightforward wins, like no crazy three sets and stuff,” she said. “As we know, I have had a lot of those in the past.”

“I just feel like this has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level. Hopefully I can keep that going.”

Gauff, seeded just one ahead of Jabeur in at 24th, is also the youngest American to reach the quarters of any major slam since Venus Williams in 1997, who prevailed to make the US Open final.

“I’m definitely still learning [on clay], I’m going to always still be learning no matter how many matches I win,” Gauff said. “But for me, it’s just being patient. And shot selection I think is really important on clay because you’re not going to have too many outright winners on clay just because it’s slower and gives more time for your opponent to get the ball.”

“I think clay is probably the surface you can use the whole court the most. I think it’s important that I continue to mix up how I play so my opponents don’t really know what to expect.”

The young gun takes on Barbora Krejcikova in the next round, with the Czech unseeded but only ranked eight behind Gauff on the current WTA rankings, slotting in at number 33 in the world following her maiden title clinch at Strasbourg last week. That form has stuck with Krejcikova, who despite having to overcome severe nerves and stress prior to her Round of 16 encounter, put out a huge 6-2 6-0 performance to sweep former finalist Sloane Stephens in 67 minutes.

“I woke up and I just felt really bad,” Krejcikova told media post-match. “I just felt really stressed. I don’t know why or what for. Half an hour before the match, I didn’t even want to step on the court. I had to lock myself in the physio room and I had to talk to my psychologist. I was actually crying. I just felt really, really bad, and I don’t know why. It just happened.”

“I went there on the court, and I know that it didn’t look like it, but I just felt really, really bad. I was just happy that I started well. I think after the first point, things got a little bit better, a little bit easier. Then I broke her. I just felt like, yeah, you know, I can actually play her.”

“I think I was just more stressed that I’m just not gonna be good enough. I think that’s what happened.”

But Krejcikova was more than good enough, hitting more winners (10-9) and less unforced errors (19-26), as well as winning an huge 82 per cent of her first serve points off a 61 per cent clip.

“We talked about it a lot, and she told me, ‘You know, if you can overcome this, what you feel right now, it’s going to be a huge win. It doesn’t matter if you’re gonna win on the court or lose on the court, because it’s going to be a personal win.'”

The second quarter final from this half of the draw will see reigning champion and eighth seed Iga Swiatek take on 17th seed Maria Sakkari, with the latter another player who booked her maiden grand slam quarter final with a swift 68-minute victory over fourth seed Sofia Kenin. Sakkari’s 6-1 6-3 sweep of Kenin also makes her the first Greek woman to reach the final eight of a grand slam in the Open Era.

“I knew it was going to come,” Sakkari said about her historic milestone. “I didn’t know when. But I think that I’ve been playing very good tennis, especially this year, and I don’t see why [I can’t go] further, as well.”

The Greek talent just about blew Kenin off the court during the first set, before backing it up with a clean second. She forced a whopping 32 unforced errors including nine double faults from the American, whilst hitting 19 winners to Kenin’s 14 and just 15 unforced errors to go with her 84 per cent win rate off her first serve.

“I was stressed before the match,” she said. “I was nervous because it’s a tennis match, so I want to win. But then on the other hand, I told myself, just go out there and enjoy. I know it sounds very calm and easy thing to do, but that’s actually one of the few times I’ve told myself to enjoy a match.”

“I just trusted my game and I went for it, and it worked.”

Swiatek is into her second straight quarter final at Paris, and was given the hardest time in the Round of 16 by Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk, eventually reigning supreme 6-3 6-4 in just over an hour and a half during the Roland Garros night session.

“Playing the night session… is always hard, because you have to change the whole rhythm of the day, change the routines,” Swiatek said. “I like [being tested] because it keeps me constantly on my toes. It just keeps you focused all the time, because you don’t have that flow, so… you have to work all the time.

“With that flow, you sometimes can seem surprised that, ‘Hey, something is not good,’ and then you’re going to panic. But right now I’m getting tested, as you said. Still I’m moving forward, so that’s even better for me.

“It is a big achievement,” Swiatek said on court post-match. I won last year, but being in the quarter-final of a Grand Slam isn’t like an everyday thing. I’m really proud that I am doing good. I have good support with me.”

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [4] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-1 6-3
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-3 6-4
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-3 6-1
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-2 6-0

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Americans dominate as young talent continues to shine

IT was an intriguing day of Round of 32 action in the Roland Garros women’s draw, as a number of American competitors took the court and upsets aplenty made waves.

Two exciting all-American clashes took place, with the first between fourth seed Sofia Kenin and 28th seed Jessica Pegula going the whole hog, as Kenin claimed victory in one hour and 56 minutes. While the fourth seed has been in shaky form thus far in 2021, Kenin bit back after the first set to

“I’m happy with the way I’m playing. Of course it gives me confidence. I’m finally not on a one-match winning streak. Because this whole year, it was like the second time I won two matches in a row,” Kenin explained. “I was obviously really happy. It was a tough match. It was a lot of ups and downs, emotions. I’m just really happy with the way I’m playing.”

“I’ve worked hard on my fitness and my game the past few weeks, so I feel like it’s obviously improving,” Kenin said. “Of course, the more matches that I’m playing, more confidence I’m getting. Of course, I’m happy that it’s clicking during French Open. I’m not going to complain about that.”

The second blockbuster between teen sensation and 24th seed Coco Gauff and 13th seed Jennifer Brady was unfortunately cut short – after just 23 minutes – by an aggravated foot injury to Brady, who explained post-match that she has been suffering from plantar fasciitis and bone bruising following the Rome WTA 1000 event last month.

“I actually was considering not even playing here,” Brady said. “I wasn’t going to step out there unless I could finish the match in the first round. Happy that I was able to get a couple of matches in.

“Then today, I woke up and it was, you know, just worse. I couldn’t really play my game. I was about 20 percent moving. So unfortunate.”

“It’s unfortunate because I have known Jenny very well, and she’s such a nice person,” Gauff said. “If you ask every player on tour, no one is going to say anything bad about her because she’s always laughing and joking around. So I just hope that by the time Wimbledon comes she’ll be healed up and ready to compete at 100 percent again.”

Meanwhile, unseeded duo Barbora Krejcikova and Sloane Stephens executed upsets to set up a huge Round of 16 clash, as Czech talent Krejcikova downed fifth seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets, 6-3 6-2, with last week’s maiden title at Strasbourg clearly crucial for the Czech’s confidence and success.

“I’ve been playing a lot of matches where I actually was leading, and then I just started to play really passive and then I lost,” Krejcikova said. “So I don’t want to make the same mistake again. I was just saying to myself, okay, you go, you’re going to play your shot and you win or you lose. There’s nothing wrong about not really actually closing the match because that’s normal. It happens to so many other players, so many higher players.

“So I just felt, okay, I’m going to go. I’m going to try to play my tennis, my best shots, and let’s see, and if I close it, it’s going to be perfect.”

Krejcikova made more unforced errors but made up for it with her 38 winners to Svitolina’s 20, slamming three winners to complete the match, while Stephens required almost two hours to claim her 6-3 7-5 victory over 18th seed Karolina Muchova.

“My first big fourth round or whatever at a slam was here,” Stephens said. “And obviously consistently making fourth round here has been kind of a staple for me, which has been great. Obviously one of my favourite tournaments of the year, so peaking here has always been really important. The consistency of always doing well here has always brought back good memories.”

Reigning champion Iga Swiatek and Greek talent Maria Sakkari both also got the chocolates in all-seeded encounters, with the former defeating Estonian Anett Kontaveit 7-6 6-0 in 82 minutes, as the latter claimed the longest match of the day, downing 14th seed Elise Mertens 7-5 6-7(2) 6-2 in two hours and 52 minutes. The remaining two winners of the day were Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who continued her excellent run with a one hour and 26-minute victory over Pole Magda Linette, setting up an intriguing clash with Gauff next, as 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk claimed a snappy 61-minute victory over Varvara Gracheva to head into her maiden fourth round appearance at a grand slam, tasked with Swiatek next.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated [28] Jessica Pegula (USA) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-3 6-2
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [30] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 7-6 6-0
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [13] Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-1 RET
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [14] Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-5 6-7 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [18] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 6-3 7-5
[25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 3-6 6-0 6-1
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-1 6-2

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Barty withdraws, teens prevail on Day 5

JUST two unseeded matches played out on a huge Day 5 in the Roland Garros Round of 64 women’s draw, as predominantly seeds reigned supreme to head into a hugely competitive third round of action. The big news of the day saw Ash Barty withdraw with injury, while reigning champion Iga Swiatek was one of five players to execute a speedy hour-long win.

It was a flared-up hip injury that forced Barty to retire from her encounter with Pole Magda Linette, who swept the world number one in the first set before the Australian retired at 6-1 2-2, only managing to play out 48 minutes on court.

“It’s disappointing to end like this,” said Barty. “I’ve had my fair share of tears this week. “It’s all good, everything happens for a reason. “There will be a silver lining in this eventually. “Once I find out what that is, it’ll make me feel a little bit better, but it will be there, I’m sure.”

The Australian leads all-comers for wins on tour this season, with three titles to her name already in 2021.

“It’s just a bridge too far this week,” Barty said. “We had a fantastic lead-up and for my body to let me down is really disheartening, but knowing that we also, we did nothing wrong. It’s something that can’t be explained at this time. “It was just becoming too much. “Right from the first game I was battling the pain, and it just became too severe… it was becoming unsafe.”

“It’s disappointing but not panic stations,” she said. “We know what’s going on. “We just need time to manage it to get back on the court as quickly as we can.”

Linette moves onto the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time, and is joined by teen compatriot Swiatek, who needed just 61 minutes to dispose of Swede Rebecca Peterson, hitting 22 winners to seven throughout the 6-1 6-1 encounter.

“I had a good day today since I woke up, so I knew that I’m going to be in the right mood,” Swiatek said. “I just kept that. I did my routines before the match. “Then when I was on the court, I just felt the ball perfectly. I felt like I could do anything with it. So I’m pretty happy that I had this, you know, this attitude right now.”

Despite Barty and Osaka already out of the running and leaving a clear vision to the finish line, Swiatek is not overthinking her chances on the clay and instead looking straight to her third round matchup.

“I’m just focusing on my next round,” she said. “Actually, I’m gonna play against Anett Kontaveit. “She’s, like, super experienced. “I already lost against her two times. “So it’s going to be a tough match.”

Maria SakkariOns Jabeur and Kontaveit also executed quick victories, with the three seeds finding their form quickly to clean up their respective unseeded opposition. Unseeded Czech Barbora Krejickova joined the hour-long winners group, defeating 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, while 14th seed Elise Mertens also claimed victory.

Eight Americans took the court on Day 5, seeing five competitors reign supreme as the four seeds proved too good. Fourth seed Sofia Kenin appears to have found her groove at the perfect time, downing compatriot Hailey Baptiste, as 13th seed Jennifer Brady, teen 24th seed Coco Gauff and 28th seed Jessica Pegula all claimed wins. While Varvara Lapchenko went down in straight sets to 18th seed Czech Karolina Muchova and Ann Li was shaky against fifth seed Elina Svitolina, proceedings went far different for former finalist Sloane Stephens, who stepped up to the tough task of ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, coming away with a 7-5 6-1 victory in 91 minutes.

The remaining two competitors in teen Marta Kostyuk and 20-year-old Varvara Gracheva earn a chance to reach the second week of a grand slam for the first time when they go head to head in the third round.

“I think we are at times where anyone in women’s tennis can win a slam, kind of,” Kostyuk said. “Not like anyone, anyone, but a lot of girls. Let’s call it that way. It’s not that I have this strong feeling inside me that I’m coming into a Grand Slam believing that I can win it, but this time I feel really good. I believe anything is possible.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS: 

Magda Linette (POL) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 6-1 2-2 RET
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 7-5 6-3
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Ann Li (USA) 6-0 6-4
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-1 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-5 6-1
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 6-4 2-6 7-5
[14] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 4-6 6-2 6-4
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 6-3
[18] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-3 6-4
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-3 7-6
[25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-2 6-4
[28] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-3 6-3
[30] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2 6-0
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [32] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Camila Giorgi (FRA) 7-5 1-6 6-2
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-3 6-4

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds falter on Day 2 as Osaka withdraws

PLENTY went on across Day 2 of the 2021 Roland Garros, with plenty of huge clashes seeing quality talent disposed of in the opening round, as Naomi Osaka officially withdrew from the event following criticism this week. Of the 12 seeds, five fell on the second day on clay, with the biggest name Bianca Andreescu amongst a number of competitive names.

Andreescu’s questionable lead-up to the Roland Garros saw the Canadian come into her first round match-up with plenty of confidence, even sitting out the remainder of last week’s Internationaux de Strasbourg event but was unfortunate in her draw coming up against fighter Tamara Zidansek, who did not allow Andreescu’s sixth seeding to hand her an early opener. The Slovenian may have dropped the first set in a 7-1 tiebreaker, but forced her way back into the contest to eventually claim the 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 victory in three hours and 20 minutes.

“Obviously, the first Top 10 win is a big one. It shows me that I can play with players like that, and I showed today that I can beat them,” Zidansek said post-match.

“I didn’t start really well, but the conditions out there are tough. It’s windy so you have to get used to it. I just kept getting into the match more and more.”

“I think my serve was a great example of that. I didn’t start well, but in the second set, I was serving better. In the third set, I was serving really well, which helped me save those break points at 7-7. I was serving really well when I was break point down, and I remember she hit a great return crosscourt, very deep, and I managed to get it back.”

Despite serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, Andreescu was unable to take advantage of her momentum. While Zidansek only hit one more winner throughout the contest (41-40), Andreescu made a whopping 63 unforced errors to Zidansek’s 46. Despite leading in service efficiency, Andreescu was not as effective winning off her first serve, also allowing Zidansek to win 64 points off her return.

“From my part, I didn’t feel like I played good tennis today. But at the same time, she played really, really well,” Andreescu said. “She threw me off a lot with her heavy, spinny shots and her variety. But at least thinking on the positive side I’m healthy, and I was able to fight as hard as I could.”

“During these tough moments, like I want to show a good example to a lot of people. It sucks right now for me and I can just right now learn from it, because that’s what life’s all about, you learn from your mistakes.

“I just want to keep my head up, feel what I feel right now. I might cry a lot tonight, but tomorrow is a new day.”

Among the other seeds to fall were former champion Garbine Muguruza, ousted by 18-year-old Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, with 16th seed Kiki Bertens, out of form 19th seed Brit Johanna Konta and 22nd seeded Croatian Petra Martic.

It took a career-best outing against Muguruza for Kostyuk to earn her first career Top 20 win, claiming the 89 minute clash 6-1 6-4. While Muguruza has been managing an ongoing back injury, it still took plenty of grit and determination from the Ukrainian teen, hitting only 24 unforced errors to Muguruza’s 40.

“I was so ready and so prepared,” Kostyuk said post-match. “My aggressive game today, I’m really glad it worked. I want to keep on going with this game.”

“I’m really, really happy with my performance today,” Kostyuk said. “I’m just trying to focus on the next one. I have two days off and I’m going to try and work again. The work doesn’t stop, so let’s go!”

Meanwhile, 2020 champion and birthday girl Iga Swiatek was one of the flurry of top 10 seeds to prevail, joined by Sofia KeninSerena Williams and Belinda Bencic. The now-20-year-old Pole in Swiatek overcame close friend Kaja Juvan to head into the second round, while Williams and Bencic both also claimed straight set wins to head into the second round. Kenin was well and truly tested by Jelena Ostapenko in their 6-4 4-6 6-3, two hour contest, as Williams improved her winning rate to 77-1 in the opening round at grand slams in the first ever night session at the Roland Garros.

“It’s never easy to play against your best friend,” Swiatek said. “I have some experience because I played with Kaja for a few times. I played with my other friends on junior level. You just try to block this friendship for two hours, just focus on the game. I think I’m doing that pretty well. It’s nice to have that skill.”

“I feel like my game is better and better,” she said. “My coaches were planning everything for me to have the peak of my shape right now. Hopefully it’s going to be here. But still even though I have big confidence and I’m feeling really good, we still have to remember that every match has a different story and many things can happen on court.”

“I have to say it was pretty cool to be able to play the first night session ever here at Roland Garros,” Williams said. “That was something I thoroughly enjoyed.”

Elise MertensMarketa Vondrousova and Jessica Pegula were the remaining seeds to remain supreme, with Pegula ensuring all three seeded Americans remained in the draw, as qualifier Hailey Baptiste and Madison Brengle rounded out the United States’ winners, with just Shelby Rogers falling at the first hurdle.

In the remaining unseeded clashes, wildcard Harmony Tan overcame compatriot Alize Cornet in straight sets to join fellow Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the second round, as a couple of Russians in Varvara Gracheva and Daria Kasatkina also claimed wins, with the former all joined by Zhang Saisai, Martina Trevisan, Zarina Diyas, Tereza Martincova and Mihaela Buzarnescu in the Round of 64.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-4 4-6 6-3
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated [6] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 7-6 7-6 9-7
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Irina Camelia Begu (ROU) 7-6 6-2
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Kaja Juvan (SLO) 6-0 7-5
[10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-0 6-3
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated [12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-1 6-4
[14] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [Q] Storm Sanders (AUS) 6-4 6-1
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated [16] Kiki Bertens (NED) 6-1 3-6 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [19] Johanna Konta (GBR) 7-6 6-2
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 4-6 6-3 6-0
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated [22] Petra Martic (CRO) 6-2 6-7 6-4
[28] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Zhu Lin (CHN) 6-4 4-6 6-4
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3 6-1
[WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Hailey Baptiste (USA) defeated Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-1 6-4
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated [Q] Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6-2 6-3
Zheng Saisai (CHN) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 4-6 6-4 6-4
Martina Trevian (ITA) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 7-5 4-6 6-5
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-3 5-7 6-3
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 7-5
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Ivana Jorovic (SRB) 6-3 7-6
Madison Brengle (USA) defeated [Q] Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) 7-5 6-4
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 7-5 7-5
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-7 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Julien Crosnier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Sorribes Tormo outlasts in longest match of the season

A BIG first day of women’s proceedings at the 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia saw the longest match of the year so far, as all four of the day’s seeds head into the second round.

It took a marathon three hours and 51 minutes, but it was Sara Sorribes Tormo who came out victor in her huge clash with Italian wildcard Camila Giorgi, 7-6(4) 6-7(7) 7-5. The seesawing contest saw neither player really able to make the most of their momentum or claim a significant ascendancy, as the Spaniard and Italian went toe-to-toe and were unable to be split. But with six double faults to her name compared to Giorgi’s 12, Sorribes Tormo was marginally cleaner on serve and won 52.8 per cent of the match’s total points to reign supreme. It was not the only three-setter of the day, as Petra MarticAnastasija Sevastova and Coco Gauff all ground out wins in three, with the last of the three seeing 17-year-old Gauff require two hours and 57 minutes to dispose of Kazakh, Yulia Putintseva as Sevastova turned around a sloppy start and Martic claimed her first top 50 win of the season.

Petra Kvitova and Maria Sakkari were the remaining three set winner of the day, as the 11th and 17th seeds were tested by their respective opposition. For Kvitova, it ended up being a fairly comprehensive victory despite dropping the first set 1-6. Her opposition in Magda Linette flew out of the blocks but could not continue the same form once the Czech left-hander worked her way into the contest and reduced her unforced errors, eventually reigning supreme 1-6 6-0 6-2 in 95 minutes.

“The first set I started very badly. I was missing almost everything. On the court… [the ball] was bouncing everywhere as well. A little bit windy. I just had to used to probably everything,” Kvitova said post-match. “The beginning of the second set when finally I held my serve and broke her serve, I think since then it was much, much better.”

Four of Kvitova’s six double faults were hit in the first set, before the Czech broke back to eventually claim five aces and win 75.6 per cent of her first serve points off a 66 per cent clip. Sakkari’s matchup went slightly different as she claimed the opening set, before her opposition in Polona Hercog bit back to take it to three. The 17th seed claimed the ascendancy once more though, running out 7-6 3-6 6-2 victor in two hours and 48 minutes.

Proceedings went very different for the remaining two seeds on the day, as Iga Swiatek worked from a 1-4 deficit to eventually claim a 5-4 victory over retiree Alison Riske, who battled an ongoing injury throughout the contest and could not maintain intensity or mobility to continue the matchup. While Swiatek had a horror start, recording 18 unforced errors throughout the 52 minutes of play, she was fortunate to proceed as Riske jarred her left foot, and was forced to retire following medical attention. The 13th seed in Jennifer Brady continued her run after claiming a 6-1 6-4 victory over Zhang Shuai, winning 72 per cent of her first serve points off a sloppy 43 per cent clip and converting five break points and saving three in the process.

The remaining matches of the day saw two more Americans in Jessica Pegula and Amanda Anisimova join the winners list, whilst one more in Christina McHale fell to Vera Zvonareva, whilst Ekaterina Alexandrova claimed the quickest win of the day – bar Swiatek’s early finish – over Marta Kostyuk, needing just 75 minutes to claim the 6-3 6-1 victory.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 1-6 6-0 6-2
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-1 6-4
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 5-4 RET
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 3-6 6-2
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 7-6 6-7 7-5
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-3 6-0
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-5 6-3
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 7-5 6-3
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUN) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-3 6-1
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 3-6 6-1 6-3
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 7-5 4-6 6-4

WTA Tour wrap: Barty birthday treat in come-from-behind win

WORLD number one Ash Barty has produced a sterling come-from-behind win for the best possible birthday present – to book a spot in the 2021 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final. The Australian dynamo won 4-6 7-6 6-2 in two hours and five minutes against fourth seed Ukrainan Elina Svitolina, to set up a decider date with fifth seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.

On her 25th birthday, Barty weathered the Svitolina serving storm of nine aces, whilst only serving the one ace herself. She won 79 per cent of her first serve points off a 69.7 per cent clip, matching it with her opponent who had a high 75 per cent success rate off a 72.3 per cent clip. Barty did put pressure on the Svitolina second serve however, with the Ukrainian successful just 34.6 per cent of the time, and the Australian broke four times from 10 chances, as Svitolina broke three from five.

“I think you learn from every single match regardless of who the opponent is, but I think the Top 10 players and particularly the WTA Top 10 have, in the last five or six years, been exceptional quality,” Barty said post-match having beaten the Ukrainian for the third straight time after five straight losses to begin their head-to-heads.

“I think you have to bring your best to be able to compete,” she said. “You know when it forces some of your best tennis out of you. So, it’s nice, in the critical moments, to come up with some pretty good stuff yesterday and today again. But obviously you enjoy the challenge of playing against the world’s best as well.”

Barty will now take on Sabalenka, who took care of second seed Simona Halep in straight sets, 6-3 6-2. The win was a huge one for the Belarusian, who hit 28 winners to Halep’s 12, and only had four more unforced errors (21-17), whilst winning 38 of her 50 service points to blow away one of the top clay courters in the world. Sabalenka has been criticised in the past for not winning big tournaments, having claimed nine in total – including Abu Dhabi earlier this year, but a WTA 500 title would be a huge step in the right direction for the talented European.

Meanwhile in Istanbul, Belgian Elise Mertens cruised closer to another title, taking care of her biggest danger, third seed Russian Veronika Kudermetova. Mertens won 6-1 6-4 to book her spot in the final against Romanian Sorana Cirstea, after the latter knocked off Marta Kostyuk in straight sets 6-4 6-4.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [4] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 4-6 7-6 6-2
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [2] Simona Halep (ROU) 6-3 6-2

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL SEMI-FINAL RESULTS:

[1] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [3] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-1 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Big guns book spots in Stuttgart

FOUR of the top five players at the 2021 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, setting up a blockbuster pair of semi-finals. Top seed Ash Barty came from behind to post a three-set win over sixth seed Karolina Pliskova in an impressive 2-6 6-1 7-5 victory, one of three full-length quarter finals matches.

The match lasted two hours and one minute before Barty could book her spot in the final four, serving seven aces to five and winning 30 of 38 points off her first serve, as she punished Pliskova’s second serve (35.9 per cent success rate). Pliskova did break Barty three times from her only chances, but Barty set up a whopping 19 break point chances. She did only break five times in the end, but the pressure was immense.

“In a sense it was probably a match of two sets,” Barty said post-match. “In the first set I wasn’t able to build any pressure. Kaja was getting in and out of her serving games too quickly, and in turn was then having freedom on my service games. But being able to flip that switch right from the first game of the second set was important. To then make it more of a physical match was what we were after, and over time we were able to get the match back on my terms as much as we expected.”

Fourth seed Ukrainian Elina Svitolina also had to come from behind, fighting off two match points from seventh seed Czech Petra Kvitova to win in three sets, 6-7 7-5 6-2 to secure a semi-finals spot. The match lasted two hours and 37 minutes, and Svitolina dropped the first set tiebreaker 7-4, before managing to win eight of the last 10 games of the match to secure the victory.

“A big battle is always very satisfying, and you know that the hard work pays off,” Svitolina said post-match. “It’s always an unbelievable feeling to go through this kind of match.”

Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka also had to battle through in three sets, eventually overcoming Estonian Anett Kontaveit, 7-5 4-6 6-1. The Belarusian won in two hours and 28 minutes in another epic struggle, serving seven aces to four, and winning 70.7 per cent of her first serve points off a 60.5 per cent clip. She broke five times from 10 chances against the Estonian, but more impressively saved 15 of 18 break point opportunities for her opponent.

Meanwhile over in Istanbul, top seed Elise Mertens breezed through in straight sets over Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-4 6-4, joining third seed Veronika Kudermetova in the final four after the Russian won in a come-from-behind victory over Romanian Ana Bogdan, 2-6 6-3 6-3. Also through to the semi-finals were Romanian Sorana Cirstea and Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk. Cirstea defeated Fiona Ferro 6-4 0-0 with the Frenchwoman having to retire after the first set, while Kostyuk went the full distance to win 7-5 4-6 6-3 over Croatian Ana Konjuh.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 2-6 6-1 7-5
[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-1 6-4
[4] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [7] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-7 7-5 6-2
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) 7-5 4-6 6-1

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-4 6-4
[3] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 2-6 6-3 6-3
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 6-4 0-0 RET
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Ana Konjuh (CRO) 7-5 4-6 6-3

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA