Tag: misaki doi

2021 Adelaide International: Collins gatecrashes Barty Party as Storm Sanders becomes the last Aussie standing

DANIELLE Collins has sought revenge on world number one Ash Barty, overturning the result between the pair at last year’s Adelaide International to win in straight sets and book her place in the last eight. The American went down in three sets in last year’s semi-final showdown which saw Barty go on to win the title, but in the Round of 16, it was Collins who got the better of the Australian, stunning her 6-3 6-4 and condemning Barty to her second consecutive loss.

“I think I was really familiar with her game after losing to her three times,” Collins said post-match. “So I certainly got some great tennis lessons out of that and have learned from it.”

The American was the third from her nation to make her way into the quarter finals following Shelby Rogers‘ victory the day before, and young gun Coco Gauff‘s come-from-behind win over sixth seed Croatian Petra Martic. Gauff had to fight back from a set down to win 5-7 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes, saving seven of her 10 break points, whilst breaking her opponent four times in a nail-biting encounter. She now takes on Rogers in an all-American affair.

For Collins, having disposed of one Grand Slam winner in Barty, she now has another to overcome. The unseeded American faces Iga Swiatek in the quarter finals after the Pole Roland Garros winner defeated Australian Maddison Inglis in straight sets, 6-1 6-3. On a day that was a disaster for seeds, Swiatek held firm and won through to the final eight, joining second seed Belinda Bencic as the only other seed through to the quarter finals.

The biggest upset of the day – even more so than Collins over Barty – was Storm Sanders‘ triumph over Yulia Putintseva. The 26-year-old world number 292nd had no fears against the seventh seed and world number 28, winning 6-4 5-7 6-1 in a tight affair. In a remarkable second match since they last played nine years ago when they were teenagers, the now 26-year-olds engaged in a two-hour and 18-minute battle which saw Sanders emerge victorious. She saved eight of 10 break points, whilst capitalising on four of nine herself to make her way into the quarter finals to take on Bencic.

In the other results, Latvian Anastasia Sevastova will lock horns with Swiss rising talent Jil Teichmann after both won their respective matches. Sevastova knocked out Christina McHale in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, while Teichmann came from behind to defeat eighth seed Chinese talent, Wang Qiang, 3-6 6-3 6-3.

ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Danielle Collins (USA) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 6-3 6-4
[2] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-1 6-3
[5] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Maddison Inglis (AUS) 6-1 6-3
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [6] Petra Martic (CRO) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Storm Sanders (AUS) defeated [7] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 5-7 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [8] Wang Qiang (CHN) 3-6 6-3 6-3
Anastasia Sevastova (LAT) defeated Christina McHale 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Tennis Australia/James Elsby

2021 Adelaide International: Rogers downs Konta in day of upsets

DAY 3 at the Adelaide International saw a couple more upsets make their way through to the Round of 16, with one seed disposed of in straight sets and a duo of Aussie qualifiers winning their third straight win to head to the second round.

It was Johanna Konta who fell at the first hurdle, absolutely obliterated by American Shelby Rogers 6-2 6-2 in one hour and 16 minutes. Konta retired early from the Australian Open – during the first round in fact – from injury and looked the goods heading into Adelaide, but struggled to maintain her form and failed to have an impact on serve and more so on return. With just 10 unforced errors to her name throughout the contest, Rogers was clean and clinical, registering her third career Top 10 victory. The results of Rogers’ compatriots Coco Gauff and Madison Brengle went in two different directions though, with Gauff overcoming fellow qualifier Jasmine Paolini in a two-hour and 33-minute 6-4 7-6 6-2 battle, whilst Brengle was unfortunate to draw Polish fifth seed Iga Swiatek, and was disposed of in straight sets.

Maddison Inglis fought off former champion Sam Stosur, coming back from the brink in a tight 6-7 7-5 6-4 marathon, winning in two hours and 46 minutes. Whilst Stosur was marginally more effective on serve, Inglis saved seven of her 10 break points and when it came down to overall points won, just pipped her compatriot at the post. In the other all-Australian battle it was underdog Storm Sanders who got the chocolates over Alja Tomljanovic, as Sanders’ fine recent form continued with another straight sets victory, 6-1 6-2 in 63 minutes.

Looking to seeded contests, and both Yulia Putintseva and Petra Martic head through to the second round relatively unscathed, but were both pushed by their respective opposition in Laura Siegemund and Liudmila Samsonova, coming away with 6-4 6-4 and 4-6 6-0 7-5 margins over their respective foes. The remaining matches saw Misaki Doi and Jil Teichmann also join the second round club.

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 Adelaide International: Qualifiers share spotlight as main draw takes the court

DAY 2 of the Adelaide International qualifying round saw the WTA 500 tournament’s main draw begin, with plenty of hotly contested matches on centre court during the first day of the official competition, as Anastasija Sevastova, Wang QiangShelby Rogers and Danielle Collins headed into the Round of 16 with relative ease.

Sevastova was the first to win through to the Round of 16, defeating Caroline Garcia in 81 minutes 6-2 6-4. It was a solid first serve efficiency that saw the Latvian take out the victory, winning 65 per cent of first serve points off a 72.7 per cent clip, controlling the match despite the Frenchwoman fighting back in the second. A game-for-game first set between eighth seed Wang and wildcard Olivia Gadecki – who sits barely within the top 400 at 399th in the world – drew plenty of eyes as the Australian challenged Wang, before the Chinese talent ran away with the second set and eventual victory with her ability to win off her first serve paying dividends with an effectiveness of close to 88 per cent.

On the first and second show courts, it was the underdogs that showcased their form as the likes of Storm Sanders and Liudmila Samsonova reigned supreme and headed into the main draw. Sanders had an excellent outing against American Caty McNally, downing the ninth seed in 75 minute 6-2 6-3. Whilst not as huge a scalp as Sanders’ victory – ranking 292nd in the world to McNally’s 118th – 10th seed and 117th ranked Samsonova got the chocolates over Japanese fifth seed and world number 86 Misaki Doi, 7-6 6-3. Meanwhile, an excellent showing from Latvian Kaja Juvan saw the 20-year-old speed away to an early lead, before 16-year-old top seed Coco Gauff clapped back midway through the second to force a deciding set after a huge come from behind effort, eventually winning 3-6 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes.

A mammoth effort from Maddison Inglis saw the Australian join the winners list with an excellent outing against third seed Christina McHale. Whilst the American seemed to have all proceedings going her way early, a stellar comeback across the second and third sets handed Inglis her entry into the main draw and a chance at her maiden WTA Tour win. With a 65.6 per cent win rate on her first serve off a 78 per cent clip, Inglis was far more effective on serve and utilised her service speed to knock off the world number 85, 4-6 6-2 6-1 in just under two hours.

The remaining two Round of 32 encounters saw a fired-up Rogers fly through the first set against Veronika Kudermetova, before the Russian bit back in the second to force a tiebreaker but unable to rein in the American, as Rogers’ compatriot Collins downed Zheng Saisai and Madison Brengle won through to the main draw alongside Italian Jasmine Paolini.

2021 Adelaide International: Day 1 of qualifiers sees Americans and Aussies dominate

THE Adelaide International qualifying rounds have begun, with a flurry of American and Australian competitors taking the court in South Australia and at least one player from each of the two nations playing in each match. They combined for eight of the 12 winners on the day, including top seed youngster Coco Gauff and unseeded wildcard Storm Sanders, who disposed of second seed American Bernarda Pera in three sets.

In an interesting stat, the top four seeds all hailed from the United States, with just Pera falling from that group. Gauff was clinical in her encounter with Great Britain’s Francesca Jones, disposing of the Brit in 64 minutes and joined by Madison BrengleChristina McHale and Caty McNally on the winners list. Also hailing from the United States but falling in the first round was Asia Muhammad, who stole the first set from Italian Jasmine Paolini but eventually fell in the lone two-plus hour encounters of the day, going down to the sixth seed 4-6 6-3 7-6.

Heading to the Australian winners, and it was Maddison InglisAstra Sharma and Ellen Perez who joined Sanders in the second round, with Inglis knocking compatriot Belinda Woolcock out of the running. Destanee AiavaArina RodionovaLizette CabreraIvana Popovic and Kimberly Birrell will all remain on the sidelines on home soil, unlucky to all draw seeds. Sanders and Sharma impressed with their three set victories over Pera and Lesia Tsurenko showing plenty of intent ahead of the second round.

The remaining non American or Australian winners included Liudmila SamsonovaMisaki Doi and Kaja Juvan, as all three competitors claimed straight set wins over homegrown talent.

The qualifiers will continue today with the first round beginning on Tuesday.

Teenager Tauson wins on Grand Slam debut as Pliskova and Kenin challenged

DAY three of the 2020 Roland Garros saw the remainder of the Round of 128 finish up their matches, with some predictable top seeds in Karolina Pliskova, Sofia Kenin and Aryna Sabalenka making their way through to the second round although the former two had to fight back after strong showings from their opposition.

The longest match of the day – and ultimately one of the biggest upsets too – went to the battle between 21st seed Jennifer Brady and Danish teenager Clara Tauson, seeing the 17-year-old come away with a 6-4 3-6 9-7 victory in a whopping two hours and 45 minutes on court in her grand slam debut and only her second appearance on the WTA Tour. 

“We played an amazing match today, probably the highest-quality tennis I’ve ever played in my life,” Tauson said post-match. “I was just grateful to be there and just happy that I could play a girl like her on a big court. It was a dream come true, of course, and then winning the match, I don’t have any words yet. It was so great, I’ve never really experienced a match like that.”

The youngster may have topped the unforced error tally with 46, but she also hit 48 winners to Brady’s 39, also coming away with a better winning ratio on break points. The final set took almost 70 minutes to decide, with neither player willing to back down and Tauson able to weather the storm after a couple of early opportunities prior to the tiebreaker. 

Other seeded upsets on the day came from Irina Bara – who defeated 26th seed Donna Vekic 6-3 6-4 – and Julia Goerges – who defeated 19th seed Alison Riske in a huge 6-3 6-7 6-1 battle in two hours and 17 minutes. Meanwhile, Qualifier Mayar Sherif put Pliskova through her paces in the first set, taking out the first set tiebreaker before Plskova bit back in the second to steal momentum. Despite a better third set, Sherif could not compete with the Czech second seed, seeing Pliskova run away victory 6-7 6-2 6-4 in two hours and 15 minutes. Liudmila Samsonova also got a good look in against Australian Open champion Kenin, stealing the second set after a tight first set before Kenin came out flying in the third to come out victor in just under two hours. 

Sabalenka was much more convincing in her 6-3 6-1 victory over American Jessica Pegula, claiming the early ascendancy before dominating the second set. 14th seed Elena Rybakina was clinical against Sorana Cirstea in a 6-0 6-3 demolition in 65 minutes, while 29th seed Sloane Stephens continued her solid form with a 66-minute 6-2 6-2 victory over Vitalia Diatchenko. 30th seed Ons Jabeur overcame a difficult start against Kazakh Zarina Diyas for a three set 4-6 6-3 6-1 finish, while the final seeded match saw 13th seed Petra Martic deal with a tough effort from Japanese talent Misaki Doi who was relentless in pursuit, seeing Martic come away with a 7-6 7-5 victory in an hour and 48 minutes.

Doi’s compatriot Nao Hibino continued her excellent run of form with a 6-4 6-0 victory over qualifier Marta Kostyuk in just 58 minutes – the quickest of the day – while in other unseeded matchups Alison van Uytvanck, Jelena Ostapenko, Paula Badosa, Danielle Collins, Daria Kasatkina, Ana Bogdan, Veronika Kudermetova, Fiona Ferro and Laura Siegemund all joined the winners list.

Muguruza reigns over Stephens despite rain delay, Kerber out in straight sets

THE second day of Internazionali BNL d’Italia Round of 64 action saw just the one seed lose to a lower ranked opposition in what was a fairly predictable end to the first round. 

Of the four seeds on court, it was former world number one Angelique Kerber who went down to Czech talent Katerina Sinakova in straight sets in the quickest battle of the day, just one hour and nine minutes. While all the stats looked to be favouring Kerber, the Czech 24-year-old was much more effective winning points off Kerber’s service games and stepped up in the second set when Kerber could no longer maintain her 72 per cent win rate off her first serve, dropping down to just 33 per cent in the second. Siniakova ran away with a 6-3 6-1 victory and her first WTA main draw win since February. 

American Sloane Stephens drew Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza on the first go, with a huge battle ensuing and the Spaniard getting the chocolates in a 6-3 6-3 finish. Despite an hour long rain delay between the two sets, Muguruza held strong and saved all but one of her eight break points, powering through with her ability to win consistently off her own serve.

“It was a very tough first round,” Muguruza said post-match. “I think I played well and I had the right game plan today against her. “You never know how it’s going to go because it’s been a while since I’ve played, and it’s my first match on clay, and the conditions were difficult. “Despite all of that, I still managed to play at a high level and stay solid throughout the match.”

Muguruza will take on another American in the second round, after youngster Coco Gauff defeated Ons Jabeur 6-4 6-3. Just her first main draw clash on clay, Gauff came back from a 4-2 start the way of the Tunisian, winning off Jabeur’s unforced error count. Gauff’s seven double faults did not do her any favours though, meaning she will have to clean up her act in the second round. 

Hometown hope Elisabetta Cocciaretto was among the players who went down in straight sets, as was in-form Frenchwoman Carolina Garcia and youngster Iga Swiatek. Cocciaretto went down to Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2 6-2, while Garcia had an impressive comeback against Anett Kontaveit to go to a second set tiebreaker, but it was not enough going down 6-3 7-6. Swiatek could not compete with the experience of Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus despite a fantastic first set, downed 7-6 6-3. 

In other games, 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova heads through to the next round despite a second set challenge from Japan’s Misaki Doi, while Polona Hercog and Svetlana Kuznetsova also reigned supreme in three setters, all taking well over two hours to dispose of their opposition. Daria Kasatkina and Yulia Putintseva also continue into the second round to finish off the day’s proceedings.

Carnage in Austria while Bouchard stuns top seed

JETLAG certainly became a topic of conversation in both Austria and Turkey as key players dropped matches in uncharacteristic fashion, backing up for their Round of 16 matches today.

FOGNINI BELTED AS SCHWARTZMAN SOLE SEED THROUGH IN AUSTRIA

Returning to the circuit after opting to miss the US Open, world number 12 Fabio Fognini had a match he would rather forget in Kitzbuhel, copping an absolute shellacking from 303rd ranked Marc-Andrea Huesler in the Round of 16. The Italian was fresh off a seven-month break after not taking to the court since Dubai in February, but he was miles from his best, suffering a 6-1 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Swiss qualifier. In fairness to the firebrand, he had surgery on his ankles back in May, but if he is to challenge at Roland Garros will need to pick up real quick.

Fognini was far from the only seed to fall on a day of upsets, with third seed Dusan Lajovic, fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz and seventh seed Guido Pella all going down. All four players travelled to the US Open and might be suffering some form of jetlag, but it was great work by their opponents to open up the draw. German qualifier, Yannick Hanfmann knocked off Lajovic in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 6-3 6-4 to take on fellow German qualifier, Maximilian Marterer in the quarter finals. Marterer took care of Hurkacz in straight sets, 6-1 6-4 in a huge upset.

Meanwhile Feliciano Lopez will get a crack at Huesler in the last eight, defeating seventh seed Pella in three tight sets, 7-5 6-7 7-6 to book his spot in the next round. The final upset was Federico Delbonis who took out Basilashvili in straight sets, 7-5 6-3. Meanwhile Miomir Kecmanovic had no troubles against an in-form Jordan Thompson to win 6-2 6-2 and move through to the last eight, whilst Laslo Djere also booked safe passage with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Jannik Sinner.

In the only predictable result of the day, second seed Diego Schwartzman became the only seeded player to advance into the quarter finals. The world number 13 had to overcome a real right from Austrian wildcard Sebastian Ofner, winning 6-2 2-6 7-5 in two hours and 16 minutes. Neither player was particularly clinical, with Schwartzman being more consistent, winning 71 per cent of his first serve points, and breaking five times to four on his way to winning three more points than the 159th ranked Ofner.

“It was difficult for both of us, too many mistakes in the first set,” Schwartzman said post-match. “But I got lucky at the end and I’ve very happy to be in the next round. “I’m trying to get my confidence back after a difficult US swing.”

BOUCHARD STUNS TOP SEED KUZNETSOVA TO KEEP FORM ROLLING

Canadian qualifier Eugenie Bouchard continues to make the right strides towards getting back to her best, after the former top five player knocked off top seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova at the BNP Paribas Tennis Championships. Ranked just inside the top 300, Bouchard took a couple of tiebreakers before she could get some freedom, winning 7-6 6-7 6-2 in two hours and 50 minutes.

Bouchard served at a 69.3 per cent efficiency, winning 67.1 per cent of her first serve points, and 61.3 per cent of her second serve points. She broke five times to three to be the difference, and was more consistent than Kuznetsova, who was playing her first tournament since the break due to Russia’s strict COVID-19 regulations. Bouchard had three match points in the second set and led by 4-1 at one stage, then had to overcome the pressure of potentially choking from a winning position to settle and take out the win.

“That was extremely tough mentally,” Bouchard said post-match. “I honestly just tried to not think about [losing a lead] at all, to block it from my mind – because if I did think about it I would be frustrated and angry, and that wasn’t going to help me. “I literally tried to have amnesia and forget about it.”

The number one seed was joined on the sidelines by fourth seed Caroline Garcia whose great form of late came to an end at the hands of Tereza Martincova. The Czech qualifier needed just 69 minutes to knocked off the US Open third round competitor, 6-1 6-4. It showed that Garcia could do with a break after the long trip back to Europe.

Meanwhile Macedonian hope Danka Kovinic moved through to face Bouchard in the quarter finals after defeating sixth seed Alison Van Uytvanck. Kovinic won 6-3 6-4 in 90 minutes of matchplay to book her spot in the final eight, as did Romanian Patricia Maria Tig who destroyed eighth seed Misaki Doi 6-2 6-0 in just 64 minutes. In the other seeded matches, Rebecca Peterson won after just five games following opponent Margarita Gasparyan‘s retirement at 2-3, while third seed Polona Hercog also made it into the quarter finals after defeating Jasmine Paolini 7-5 6-4.

In other results, Aliaksandra Sasnovich needed three sets, but overcame Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-7 6-4 6-3 to take on Martincova in the quarter finals, while Paula Badosa won the battle of the Spaniards, defeating Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1 6-4 to now lock horns with Hercog.

Picture: Gokhan Taner

Kei returns in Kitzbuhel as Garcia overcomes quick turnaround to win in Istanbul

A STAR-studded Generali Open in Kitzbuhel, Austria kicked off mid-week with a host of top 30 players who were ousted from the US Open on show, whilst the BNP Paribas Tennis Championships got underway in Istanbul. Both tournaments had players who lasted as long as the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, meaning they had as little as 48 hours to fly to Europe and get on court for their first round encounters.

KEI RETURNS IN KITZBUHEL

The top seed in the Generali is Fabio Fognini, who opted to forgo playing in the United States, whilst another seed to earn a Round 1 bye was Diego Schwartzman who lost in the first round at Flushing Meadows.

There were a number of interesting results throughout the first round, with the biggest returnee, Kei Nishikori playing his first match since the US Open. Unfortunately for the Japanese star, his return was abruptly ended by rising Serbian, Miomir Kecmanovic who won in three sets, 4-6 6-4 6-2. He now goes on to play the improving Jordan Thompson who took down compatriot John Millman in three sets, 6-3 4-6 7-6 in what was only a couple of days turnaround for Thompson since exiting the US Open in the fourth round on Monday.

Other seeds who move through to the second round were Dusan Lajovic (third) and Nikoloz Basilashvili (fourth) who both had first round byes, as well as fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz and seventh seed Guido Pella. Austrian wildcard Sebastian Ofner will take on Schwartzman in the Round of 16 following a 6-7 6-4 7-6 epic triumph over Macedonia’s Radu Albot. At the other end of the draw, Swiss wildcard Marc-Andrea Huesler will face top seed Fognini in a tough challenge for the 303rd ranked 24-year-old. He made his way into the second win courtesy of a come-from-behind win over Finn Emil Ruusuvuori, 3-6 6-4 7-6.

Other winners from Round 1 included Argentinian qualifier, Federico Delbonis who upset compatriot Juan Ignacio Londero in a one-side 6-4 6-0 triumph, as well as Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, German qualifier Maximilian Marterer, Serbian qualifier Laslo Djere, and Italian young gun Jannik Sinner.

For Sinner, it was his first match on clay in 14 months, and coming up against German Philipp Kohlschreiber – who is a two-time past winner of the Generali Open and actually lives in Kitzbuhel – it was always going to be tough. But Sinner made it look easy, winning 6-3 6-2 to book a spot in the second round against Djere.

“Obviously, it has not been easy for both of us,” Sinner said post-match. “We played the US Open one week ago. “We are maybe still jetlagged. “It has not been easy. “I have not been playing on clay for more than one year, so it is a little bit different… I tried to push from the back [of the] court and tried to play my game. “Today, I am very happy.”

GARCIA FORCED TO WORK, BUT SURVIVES FIRST-UP ENCOUNTER

Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, fresh off her third round appearance at the Australian Open – and upset win over Karolina Pliskova – is through to the second round at Istanbul after defeating Turkish wildcard, Cagla Buyukakcay. Garcia dropped the second set to love, but won 6-4 0-6 7-5 in two hours and 31 minutes. She was seeded fourth at the tournament, with top two seeds, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Rebecca Peterson having first round byes.

It was a promising first round for the seeds, with third seed Polona Hercog defeating another Turkish wildcard in Berfu Cengiz, leaving the home nation without a representative in the second round. The Slovenian won 6-2 6-3 to advance through to the second round, while unseeded Russian Margarita Gasparyan took just 64 minutes to send the third Turkish talent, Pemra Ozgen home 6-2 6-0 and face Peterson in the Round of 16.

Other seeds to advance were sixth seed Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck and eighth seed Japanese talent Misaki Doi who both enjoyed good wins over Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova and Australian qualifier Ellen Perez respectively. The news was not as good for seventh seed Kazakh, Zarina Diyas who fell to in-form Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, while fifth seed Heather Watson was forced to retire against Sara Sorribes Tormo in the fifth game of their first round match.

In other Round 1 results, rising Italian talent Jasmine Paolini, Spaniard Paula Badosa and Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova all won on the opening day. Meanwhile on the second day of Round of 32 results, unseeded hopes, Tereza Martincova, Danka Kovinic and Patricia Maria Tig all won, as did Canadian qualifier, Eugenie Bouchard. The world number 272 won in 96 minutes against Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova 6-2 6-4 to continue her rise up the rankings in the hope of a top 200 berth ahead of Roland Garros.

Martic survives thriller to advance through to US Open Round of 64

PETRA Martic had some nervous moments but eventually came up trumps in a three-set win over former top 30 player, Tereza Martincova. Not the easiest of first round matches, Martic came from a set down to post the 5-7 6-4 6-2 win in two hours and 27 minutes. The Croatian, who was a top eight seed for the first time at a Grand Slam event, was just grateful to get through the match knowing how potent the Czech could be.

“I expected a tough match, because she’s very aggressive and likes this surface, which is playing quite fast this year,” Martic said post-match. “It took me a bit of time to adjust, and I was really happy that after the first set I could find my game and play better. It wasn’t easy but I’m glad I managed to get through.”

It was a relatively straightforward day for the seeds, with only the last placed seed – world number 48 and 32nd at the tournament – Rebecca Peterson bundled out, going down to Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, 7-6 6-4. The world number 72 took two hours and two minutes to get up in the straight sets win, and move through to the next round to face American, Jessica Pegula who won against Czech, Marie Bouzkova.

It was a good day for the Americans, with 28th seed Jennifer Brady and return queen, CiCi Bellis both winning their respective matches to book a head-to-head clash in the second round. It will not be the only all-American Round of 64 clash after 18th seed Alison Riske made her way through to the second round, to now take on young gun, Ann Li. The latter overcame an in-from Arantxa Rus – fresh off an upset win over Karolina Pliskova at the Western & Southern Open – in a 6-4 2-6 6-1 triumph in just under two hours.

Shelby Rogers and Madison Brengle both advanced through to the Round of 64, while it was not as positive for teenage sensation Coco Gauff. The 16-year-old went down in three sets to 31st seed Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3 5-7 6-4. It was a danger game for the Latvian who had defeated Serena Williams earlier in the year at the Fed Cup. She said she was in awe of Gauff’s abilities at such a young age.

“I wish I would play like this when I was 16 years old,” Sevastova said, praising her opponent in the virtual post-round press conference. “Great player. “Nothing more to say. “I think she maybe started a bit slower than me, but she was getting better as the match went on. “That’s so important I think in tennis.

“In the end I think third set she played her best tennis. “She was serving better, moving better. “It was tough, yeah. “Fortunately I stayed calm in the third set and managed to win, to close it out.”

Also out at the hands of a seed was Danielle Collins who lost to Estonian 14th seed, Anett Kontaveit. After winning the first set, Collins was outclassed, going down 5-7 6-2 6-2 in what was a clinical performance in two hours and six minutes. The world number 21 said she never lost faith despite Collins’ strong play early.

“[Collins] came out playing great,” Kontaveit said post-match. “I think she was hitting it really strong, moving me around the court, hitting winners. I felt like I played the same the whole match, I was just really trying to stay tough, maintain my level, and I feel like I did that really well.”

“I never stopped believing that I could come back after the first set,” Kontaveit continued. “I just had to stay really tough and fight as hard as I could, and I managed to do that. It definitely helped that I had played a lot of matches and had to get through a lot of tough matches.”

Fourth seed Naomi Osaka overcame hamstring tightness that ruled her out of the Western & Southern Open final to knock over compatriot, Misaki Doi in straight sets, joining fellow top 10 players, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Martic in the next round. Other triumphant seeds included Angelique Kerber, Marketa Vondrousova, Yulia Putintseva, Kristina Mladenovic, Magda Linette, Elena Rybakina and Dayana Yastremska.

From an unseeded players perspective, Anna-Lena Friedsam won through to face off against compatriot Kerber, Belarusian duo Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Vera Lapko, Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, Russian Varvara Gracheva and Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko all moved through in the top quarter of the draw. As for the other half of the day’s action, Danka Kovinic, Kaja Juvan and Kateryna Kozlova joined the host of seeds and Americans running around in a couple of days.

Picture: Getty Images

Who is in the best position to take out the WTA Tour US Open trophy?

WHICH player is in the best position to take out the WTA Tour US Open title? In a compromised season of tennis action, really anything could happen here with the reigning champion out of the draw and plenty of the top talent missing out due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. But with rankings on the line and many itching to get back on the court, expect some huge battles over the coming weeks.

Looking at the draw, a number of things stick out – many of which were brought up in our US Open preview yesterday – such as some key withdrawals in terms of rankings and a heap of American competitors will take the courts at Flushing Meadows. With a couple of shock losses at the Western and Southern Open last week expect the women’s draw to have some interesting results given the inconsistency of court time and overall unknown of the competition this year. Six of the top 10 ranked in the world have withdrawn from the competition with the top two in Ash Barty and Simona Halep leading the pack as a huge 27 players from the United States contend for the title.

With such a mix of competitors and little warm-up for many of the entrants, there is really no certainty of who will hold up well against their respective opposition. Looking at the first quarter of the draw, the is no doubt that Karolina Pliskova has lucked out with her top seeding but will come up against a couple of well-prepared players who have tried their hand at both the Prague Open and Western and Southern Open in recent weeks, whereas Pliskova only played at the latter. While she should get the chocolates over her first opposition in Anhelina Kalinina, with the Ukrainian ranked just within the top 150 and no more recent time on court than Pliskova. But with the likes of Carolina Garcia or Jasmine Paolini next up – and the chance of Alison Riske further down the line – Pliskova cannot afford to rest on her laurels, especially given the amount of homegrown United States talent that will hope to bring home the trophy.

Looking further the down the line, names like Petra Martic and Marketa Vondrousova also stick out with a couple of highly seeded players in the mix. Past US Open champion Angelique Kerber is also in this quarter of the draw and while the German talent has not been a huge threat in recent years with her form somewhat dropping she comes in as 17th seed at the US Open and will want to take advantage of that especially against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round.

While Naomi Osaka has been in the news for different reasons this week, she had to withdraw from the Western and Southern Open final on the weekend citing injury prior to taking the court which could really put her US Open chances in jeopardy. While her form ahead of the extended break was somewhat shaky, she had a very good run at the W&S Open and could be a huge threat here at the US Open if she competes – especially with 2019 victor Bianca Andreescu out – and could nab a second title. Sitting at fourth in the seeding, Osaka will take on compatriot, Misaki Doi in the first round and is likely to run out winner with little issues, but if she makes it past the early rounds could set up a huge battle against Petra Kvitova, who comes in as sixth seed but like many, has only taken the court once since the break in proceedings back in March.

Anett Kontaveit has also been in solid form but will take on American Danielle Collins in the first round potentially setting up some intriguing battles with Anastasija Sevastova and Coco Gauff also among that grouping, with the Latvian the second last seeding in at 31st but 16-year-old Gauff able to beat anyone on her day.

Leading the next quarter of the draw are Americans Madison Keys and Serena Williams, with this quarter having a fair few top-seeded Americans making for a tantalising couple of battles. Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza and Greek Talent Maria Sakkari are among this draw while former US Open champion Sloane Stephens is also in the mix. This quarter of the draw looks like it could be one of the tougher ones of the entire competition given the calibre of young and experienced talent and potentially setting up some huge matches down the track. If everything goes to plan, expect a huge battle between Stevens and Williams potentially in the third round, which would see one of the two Americans down and out and potentially put a huge hole in Williams’ plan to reach 24 Grand Slam titles.

Expect youngster Iga Swiatek to put in a tough batter in her match against 29th seed Czech talent Veronika Kudermetova, and while Swiatek has really stepped up her game recently Kudermetova is no easy beat and will benefit off Swiatek not having a great return at the W&S Open, bundled out in the opening round by then-qualifier Christina McHale – who will hope to continue on her good string of form when she takes on Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the opening round – while Belarusian Victoria Azarenka has a handy 2020 W&S Open title behind her – that she earned by default but still deserved given her fine form in the lead-up – so is no easybeat.

One of the headlines of the draw is second seed Sofia Kenin, with the 21-year-old American aiming for back-to-back grand slam titles, owning the Australian Open title back in February and still the most recent grand slam champion in 2020 given the lack of competition this year. Kenin seems to have a fairly straightforward draw when it comes to her competition with wildcard Kim Clijsters among the mix but only if the former champion can get over the line against Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, while Elise Mertens and Johanna Konta are also in the mix and should make it through the first round also with relative ease. Based on the rankings of Kenin’s fellow seven players in the bottom of the draw, expect her to at least make it to the Round of 16 with relative simplicity given 27th seed Ons Jabeur looks to be the toughest battle of the lot but ranked 31st in the world overall compared to Kenin’s placement in fourth on the world rankings.