Tag: paula badosa

How a star was born: Emma Raducanu’s journey from junior talent to Grand Slam champion

EMMA Raducanu is the name on every tennis fans lips at the moment, after the 18-year-old Brit took the world by storm and claimed the US Open title in what was effectively her debut season on Tour, and only her fourth major tournament main draw event. But like every amazing story, there is always a journey to accompany it, and this is Raducanu’s; from an international debut at just 13-year-old, to a Grand Slam champion on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows.

JUNIOR HISTORY

2015-16

Raducanu made her official international debut at the Nike Junior International in Liverpool, November 2015. The then recently turned 13-year-old player mostly British opponents and stormed to the Grade 5 title – the lowest official ITF tour grade – without dropping a set. She did not play another tournament until 2016, where she reached the final of another local International in Bournemouth, this time on clay, where she went down to Hannah McColgan, three years her senior. She reached another final in Luxembourg, her first tournament outside her home nation, going down to German Eva Marie Voracek in a third set tiebreaker. Now playing Grade 4 tournaments, she reached another quarter final in October to make it three tournaments for the year.

Raducanu winning her debut tennis tournament in Liverpool. Picture credit: via Liverpool Echo

2017

Fast forward to February of the following year, and Raducanu, having turned 14 the previous November, cruised to her first Grade 4 title on the hard courts of Hamburg. Not dropping a set along the way, Raducanu defeated the then 18-year-old German Anastazja Rosnowska in the final. A week later Raducanu lost to Dane Clara Tauson in the first round of Tauson’ home tournament in Copenhagen. It would not be the last time the players would face off. Travelling to Noway, Raducanu claimed her second ITF Grade 4 title in Oslo, and reached the main draw of a Grade 2 tournament in Spain before going down in straight sets.

Now settling in to the Grade 2 level, Raducanu reached a couple more quarter finals on clay by April, and on debut in her first Grade 1 tournament – the Belgium International Junior Championships – in May, the Brit reached the second round after coming through qualifying. Her performances allowed her to compete at the 2017 Wimbledon Junior Championships where she reached the second round before going down to Chinese Taipei’s En-Shuo Liang, a couple of years older than her, before ending her year there.

2018

The year that really saw Raducanu become a household name on the junior ITF Tour was 2018, where she started off with a bang, winning a Grade 3 tournament in India without dropping a set. A week later she dominated in the Grade 2 tournament in New Delhi, and then scooped two more titles on the hard courts to make it a mind-boggling 20-straight wins to start the year. At this point, Raducanu was playing senior tournaments on the ITF Tour, winning a title at Tiberias in May, and pushed Harriet Dart to three sets in an ITF 100 tournament in Manchester. It was time for her first Roland Garros. Winning through the first round, she suffered defeat at the hands of Tauson yet again, losing 6-2 6-1 in what was Raducanu’s first loss of the year – in June – in her first clay court tournament of the year.

Raducanu at the 2018 Wimbledon Junior Championships. Picture credit: via The Telegraph

The next tournament was straight onto the grass at Wimbledon where she cruised through the first two rounds, including defeating a young Canadian by the name of Leylah Fernandez in the second round, 6-2 6-4. Few that day would have expected that in just over three years the pair would be facing off for a senior Grand Slam title. Two matches later Raducanu was out, destroyed by a future WTA Tour star in Iga Swiatek with the Pole winning 6-0 6-1 in the quarter final. Swiatek went on to win that title, and of course surprise the Tour with a win at 2020 Roland Garros. At the US Open Junior Championships, Raducanu went down to Frenchwoman Clara Burel 6-2 6-0 in the quarter finals, with Burel reaching the final. In the same year on the senior women’s ITF Tour, Raducanu won an ITF 15 event in Antalya and reached the semis of an ITF 25 event in November.

2019

Raducanu headed Down Under for the first time in 2019, having just turned 16-years-old. She reached the semi-finals of the Grade 1 tournament in Traralgon, where yet again she lost to Tauson. This time it was far closer, going down in three sets. A disappointing straight sets loss in the first round of the Australian Open Juniors was not ideal for the Brit, and then she was forced to retire at Roehampton and lost first round at Wimbledon Juniors after losing to Liang in the first round of qualifiers at the senior Wimbledon. That would be her last Junior ITF tournament. Throughout earlier in the season, she reached a final at Tel Aviv in March, and semis at Bolton in April, defeating talented Spaniard Paula Badosa along the way.

Raducanu wins her first senior ITF 25 event in Pune, 2019. Picture credit: via Tennis World USA

Post her junior career, her first senior tournament in the second half of the season was an ITF 25 event in Roehampton, September 2019 where she knocked off another talented young player in Switzerland’s Leonie Kung on her way to the quarter finals. A semi-finals appearance in the higher ranked ITF 25 event in Roehampton saw her go down to the experienced Anna-Lena Friedsam, and then she reached a quarter finals and a Round of 16 over the next two tournaments, having to retire to compatriot Katie Boulter when 6-2 2-1 down. A week later she showed no signs of injury, storming to her first senior ITF title, winning the ITF 25 event in Pune in December ranked 522 in the world. It bolted her up to 367 to start the following year.

2020

Raducanu entered the new year with a first round loss in Glasgow at the ITF event in February, but a week later reached the final in Sunderland. Whilst the 17-year-old went down to Bulgarian top seed Viktoriya Tomova in the final, it was her relieving straight sets win over Tauson in the semi, that finally saw the Brit overcome her equally-talented nemesis. It would be the last tournament of the year for Raducanu who would reappear just over 12 months later in Nottingham.

2021

Raducanu started her real breakout senior year with a first round loss on the grass at Nottingham, losing to Dart in straight sets, still rusty from the time off. She bounced back at Nottingham a week later to defeat Storm Sanders and the experienced Timea Babos on her way to a quarter final. A couple of wins under her belt and a tight loss to Bulgarian US Open quarter finalist Tsvetana Pironkova prepared her for the main draw debut at her home Grand Slam at Wimbledon. But few would know what was about to come for the 18-year-old.

A straight sets win – including a bagel set – over Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko, which followed with the biggest win of her career against world number 42 and 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova. She defeated the Czech 6-2 6-4 to really announce herself, then cruised past Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-3 7-5, before feeling the effects of limited preparation prior to the past month, forced to retire to Australian Ajla Tomljanovic midway through the second set.

She was then bundled out in the first round at San Jose as a wildcard a month later, then reached a quarter final of an ITF 100 event and the final of a WTA 125 warmup tournament in Chicago. The highest ranked player there was 58th ranked Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck who Raducanu beat in the first round, making it all the way through to the final before losing to fellow 18-year-old Tauson again in three sets. She then entered the qualifying draw of the US Open.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Raducanu’s remarkable US Open title. Picture credit: Darren Carroll/USTA

US OPEN RESULTS:

F: def. Leylah Fernandez (CAN, 73) 6-4 6-3
SF: def. [17] Maria Sakkari (GRE, 18) 6-1 6-4
QF: def. [11] Belinda Bencic (SUI, 12) 6-3 6-4
R16: def. Shelby Rogers (USA, 43) 6-2 6-1
R32: def. Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP, 41) 6-0 6-1
R64: def. Shuai Zhang (CHN, 49) 6-2 6-4
R128: def. [Q] Stefanie Voegele (SUI, 128) 6-2 6-3
Q3: def. [4] Mayar Sharif (EGY, 96) 6-1 6-4
Q2: def. Mariam Bolkvadze (GEO, 167) 6-3 7-5
Q1: def. Bibiane Schoofs (NED, 285) 6-1 6-2

WTA Tour wrap: Andreescu and Barty continue strong form

IT was a fairly comprehensive day for the US Open’s top seeds, as the Round of 64 came to a close with some intriguing results coming to light. Not only that, but yesterday’s delayed matchup was completed with 16th seed Angelique Kerber earning her third round berth, albeit a day later than expected.

It was a mostly successful day for the top talent as world number one Ash Barty continued her form as Karolina Pliskova and Iga Swiatek overcame deficits to claim wins in three sets. 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu and another grand slam champion in Petra Kvitova both also claimed second round wins in straight sets, with Andreescu one of the last results of the day and proving it was worth the wait, cleaning up American Lauren Davis 6-4 6-4.

“This match wasn’t easy at all,” Andreescu said on court. “There were a lot of close games. “There was just a point here and there that counted.

“I’m feeling very good out there. I think as the matches are progressing, I’m starting to feel my tennis more and more. “I haven’t had easy matches. “Even today I know was straight sets, but the games were very tight.

“What I’m very happy about mostly is my serving because I’ve been working a lot on that. “Also my movement on the court, I’ve been putting a lot of work in the gym and it’s really paying off.”

Barty fended off Danish teen Clara Tauson to earn her third round berth, overcoming Tauson’s second set fight back to claim an eventual 6-1 7-5 victory. The Australian fired off 11 aces for 33 winners and 26 unforced errors, winning a classy 80 per cent of points off her first serve in the process.

“Today was tricky, I think, to navigate through that second set and just trust myself and hit out,” Barty said. “Being able to respond straightaway was a big part of that match.”

“Just refocusing, and narrowing my focus, and remembering what I needed to do to win the match as opposed to getting flat and passive, where I was letting her control a little bit too much.”

Barty will face Shelby Rogers in the Round of 32 for the fifth time this season, after the American rallied from 1-4 down in the first to overcome Romanian Sorana Cirstea 7-5 6-2. Barty has won all four of their 2021 meetings, paving the way for an intriguing clash here. Elsewhere, Pliskova had it slightly tougher, firing off a whopping 24 aces against Amanda Anisimova but requiring two hours and 21 minutes to take down the American 75 6-7(5) 7-6(9). Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna managed to force a first set tiebreaker against Kvitova, but ultimately went down to the fellow left-handed Czech and 10th seed. Meanwhile, Swiatek overcame a shaky start to claim a 3-6 7-6(3) 6-0 victory over Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, cleaning up her act throughout to finish with 37 winners to 35 unforced errors overall.

“It was a tough match,” Swiatek said. “I think I didn’t start it properly, because I felt like I couldn’t properly feel my legs. “But it’s not the first time, so I’m trying to work on that. “In the second set, I loosened up a little bit, kind of changed tactics.”

Just two seeds fell on day four of action as Russian Varvara Gracheva overcame 24th seed Paula Badosa and Australian Ajla Tomljanovic downed Croatian Petra Martic, with Gracheva equaling her prior 2020 best at the event by making it to the third round, and Tomljanovic going one better than her four-time personal best (Round of 64). The day’s remaining five seeds had little issue though, as Belinda BencicMaria Sakkari, Jessica Pegula and Anett Kontaveit all went through in straight sets, as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova rounded out the group with a 6-2 5-7 6-2 victory over Anna Schmiedlova.

Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu is the youngest player remaining in the draw following Tauson’s and Coco Gauff‘s loss yesterday, disposing of Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-4. The talented teen hails from Great Britain and is yet to drop a set here after coming through qualifying, joining fellow 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez in the third round. Sara Sorribes Tormo and Greet Minnen round out the day’s list of winners, both claiming straight set victories to head into the Round of 32.

US OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-1 7-5
[4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 7-5 6-7 7-6
[6] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-4 6-4
[7] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 3-6 7-6 6-0
[10] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-1
[14] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-2 5-7 6-2
[16] Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-3 6-2
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-4 6-2
[23] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-3 6-2
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated [24] Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-4 6-4
[28] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-4 6-1
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated [30] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6 6-4
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-1 6-3
Emma Raducanu (GBR) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 6-4
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 7-5 6-2
Greet Minnen (BEL) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-4 6-4

 

Picture credit: Adam Glanzman/USTA

WTA Tour wrap: Seeds continue to star as Andreescu fights to remain

THE US Open women’s draw has already seen plenty of intriguing results shake up the competition, but once more it was the seeds that stepped up to the pressure with just two more joining Yulia Putintseva on the sidelines following the first round.

The likes of Ash BartyKarolina PliskovaIga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova had little issue getting over their first round opposition, with all four seeds proceeding in straight sets. Despite her number one seeding handing her a relatively low risk start to the event, Barty did not have it easy against former Russian finalist, Vera Zvonareva. The Australian sped through the first set but had to adjust in the second, eventually claiming the 6-1 7-6(7) result in just under 90 minutes.

“Obviously a tough one against Vera straight up,” Barty said. “She’s an experienced campaigner. She knows how to get herself into matches. I think all in all, adapting to conditions was a little bit slower than I probably would have liked [but] we’re through. We have another chance to improve on that in the next round.”

“I think when my back was against the wall late in that buster, I came up with some really good stuff,” Barty added. “That’s all we can ask is when your back is against the wall, you trust yourself, you go out there and pick your spots and hit them.”

Kvitova was just about unstoppable, flying through her 6-1 6-2 encounter with Polona Hercog in 61 minutes off the back of an 81 per cent win rate off her first serve. Compatriot Pliskova and Polish talent Swiatek both overcame American competitors in respective 6-3 6-4 results. Sixth seed Bianca Andreescu had a tougher time against Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, who did not relent throughout the entire 7-5 4-6 7-5 contest. A 73 per cent win rate off a 66 per cent clip did the trick though, as the Canadian fired off 40 winners and 36 unforced errors with plenty to improve on now she has that first match out of the way.

“I definitely haven’t had a lot of matches in but I feel very comfortable playing on this court,” Andreescu said post-match. “I’m able to go back to the feelings that I had in 2019 and that confidence a little bit more than other tournaments, maybe it’s the court, the tournament, all of that.

“I channeled a lot in the match and honestly, it was super, super close. It really came down to a couple of points. I just fought the hardest, honestly. It could have gone both ways.”

“She was playing incredible tennis,” Andreescu said. “She was getting to many balls, she was really putting the ball in the court, it was incredible. For me I just really wanted to step up my game and try to be better than that, kind of play her at her own game – not so much with rhythm, but with power – and I think that really helped.”

While Andreescu had to fight hard for her three set victory, she was the only seed to claim a win in three sets on the day with the remaining seeded competitors all proceeding in two. Seeds 11, 14 and 17 in Belinda BencicAnastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Maria Sakkari found themselves relatively unscathed, while moving into the 20’s it was Jessica Pegula (23rd seed), Paula Badosa (24th) and Anett Kontaveit (28th) who found their winning form. 30th seed Petra Martic was the remaining seeded winner on the day, disposing of Hungarian Dalma Galfi 6-3 6-2.

It was a different story for 22nd seed Karolina Muchova and 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova though, with Kudermetova falling in three to Romanian Sorana Cirstea, marginally losing the first set tiebreaker before latching onto that momentum to steal the second set away from Cirstea. But the Romanian stepped up from there on out, firing on all cylinders in the last to claim the 7-6(5) 3-6 6-0 victory. Meanwhile, Muchova was the only Czech to not make it through the day with a 6-2 7-6(3) loss to Sara Sorribes Tormo. The Spaniard may not have retained control throughout the entire clash, but was much more comfortable with just 14 unforced errors to Muchova’s 48. Kristyna Pliskova joined twin sister Karolina in the second round alongside Kvitova and Katerina Siniakova.

Straight set victories were the theme of the day, with just four more three-set victors in Greet MinnenVarvara GrachevaAnna Schmiedlova and Lauren Davis joining Andreescu and Cirstea on the three set winners list. Amanda Anisimova and Shelby Rogers joined Pegula and Davis on the day’s American winners list, with Rogers disposing of compatriot Madison Brengle, and the likes of Hailey Baptiste, Coco VandewegheAnn Li and Katie Volynets all missing out on a place in the Round of 64.

It was a battle between shared names and former junior number one ranking as 20-year-old Dane Clara Tauson overcame 18-year-old French talent Clara Burel, while 18-year-old Brit Emma Raducanu only required 78 minutes to dispose of Stefanie Voegele, 6-2 6-3. Raducanu is looking to press her case at her second grand slam, making her way through qualifiers to earn this Round of 64 position. Voegele’s compatriot Jil Teichmann continued her solid form to earn a second round berth while it was the opposite for Brit Katie Boulter who fell to Russian Liudmila Samsonova. The last two matches both featured Japanese talents, with Misaki Doi joining Naomi Osaka in the second round following a solid victory over Australian Storm Sanders, while Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro overcame Nao Hibino 6-1 6-4.

US OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS: 

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-1 7-6
[4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 6-3 6-4
[6] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 7-5 4-6 7-5
[7] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Jamie Loeb (USA) 6-3 6-4
[10] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-1 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-4 6-4
[14] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 6-4 6-2
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-4 6-3
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated [22] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 6-2 7-6
[23] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-2 6-2
[24] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-4 6-3
[28] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-3 6-0
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [29] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 3-6 6-0
[30] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Dalma Galfi (HUN) 6-3 6-2
Emma Raducanu (GBR) defeated Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-2 6-3
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4 6-3
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 7-5 6-2
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-0
Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) defeated Claire Liu (USA) 6-1 6-4
Greet Minnen (BEL) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-4 1-6 6-3
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-1 6-4
Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Storm Sanders (AUS) 7-6 6-3
Zhang Shuai (CHN) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-3 6-4
Martina Trevisan (ITA) defeated Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-1 7-5
Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated Clara Burel (FRA) 7-5 6-0
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Anna Sevastova (LAT) 7-6 6-3
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) 5-7 6-0 6-2
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-3 6-2
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Katie Volynets (USA) 6-3 6-1
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Ashlyn Krueger (USA) 7-5 6-7 6-3
Lauren Davis (USA) defeated Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) 6-2 2-6 6-3
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Cristina Bucsa (ESP) 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: Darren Carroll/USTA

WTA Tour wrap: Retirements close out quarters quickly as Barty Party maintains rage

TWO retirements marred the quarter finals of the Western and Southern Open women’s draw, with only two matches fully completed. It was a shorter day for Czech seeds Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, with Pliskova winning against an injured Paul Badosa, as a stomach issue forced Kvitova out of the WTA Tour 1000 event. German Angelique Kerber made her way into the semis by Kvitova’s withdrawal, to face world number one Ash Barty, as unseeded Swiss talent Jil Teichmann upset a higher ranked compatriot.

The Kerber-Kvitova clash lasted a set and a half before the 11th seeded Czech had to retire, as the German was leading at the time 6-4 3-3 following an hour and 18 minutes of action. Kerber won 70.3 per cent of her first serve points off an impressive 69.8 per cent serving efficiency, whilst only being broken once. She broke Kvitova twice during the match, and in the end held off the seed long enough before Kvitova eventually had to pull the pin and hand Kerber a semi-finals spot.

Kerber will now face Barty in the semis after the Australian top seed defeated another Czech in Barbora Krejcikova. In a battle of two of the last three Roland Garros champions, Barty made light work of the ninth seed, winning 6-2 6-4 in 71 minutes on court. Barty served seven aces to two and only dropped four points off her first serve. She was inefficient on serve with just a 52.1 per cent clip, but was only broken once and instead broke Krejcikova four times during the match.

“Angie, she’s never been far off her best,” Barty said post-match of Kerber’s form. “She never is. “Even on some days where she’s not having or playing her best tennis, she finds a way to scrap and fight and stay in matches and give herself an opportunity. “She’s one of the best competitors in the world. “She knows how to play big tournaments, knows how to play big matches.

“She’s really locked down into the Angie of old, I think, in a sense where she’s confident, she’s aggressive, but she’s able to run and to move and put the ball in tricky spots, to not let you dictate too much. “That’s a challenge of when you play against Angie – you have to ride a fine line of not pressing too much, but not being too defensive where she can move you around the court. ”

The sole Czech to win on the day was Pliskova who took home the victory courtesy of Badosa’s retirement early in the second set. By that stage the fifth seed was leading 7-5 2-0, with Badosa apologising for having to pull out due to a right shoulder injury. In the one-hour and 14-minute clash, Pliskova broke the unseeded Spaniard four times to two, and won 65.6 per cent of her first serve points, and served the only five aces of the match.

In the other match, Teichmann became the lowest ranked player into the final four, set for a big rankings boost after a straight sets win over compatriot and 10th seed Belinda Bencic. Teichmann was ruthless during the 71-minute 6-3 6-2 victory, advancing through to the next round to face Pliskova for a spot in the final. The world number 76 won 84.6 per cent of her first serve points off a 66.1 per cent clip, also saving five break opportunities for the 10th seed, whilst breaking three times from eight chances to post the win.

“We hugged before the match; we hugged after the match,” Teichmann said post-match. “We know that once we step on court it’s business, it’s just another player I have to deal with, and she had the same mindset. At the beginning it’s obviously a bit special, but once we’re in it, we just look at the game, not looking at the opponent, or at least I do that way.”

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [9] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 6-2 6-4
[5] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 7-5 2-0 RET
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-3 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated [11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-3 3-3 RET

 

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Teichmann downs Osaka as Czechs prevail

IT was almost a clean sweep from Czech competitors on a blockbuster day of Western and Southern Open action in Cincinnati, as three of the four Czechs registered wins, and a Swiss wildcard upset second seed Naomi Osaka.

Jil Teichmann completed the biggest win of her career with a come from behind victory over Naomi Osaka, snatching a 3-6 6-3 6-3 result from under the second seed’s nose. While Osaka flew out of the blocks to claim an early 3-0 lead in the first set, Teichmann played her own technical game creating increasingly longer rallies and utillised everything in her arsenal to put Osaka in uncomfortable positions on court.

“I knew she’s a very tough opponent. She’s a Grand Slam champion. I’m the underdog, so… my plan was to just play my game,” Teichmann said post-match. “I move very good, I change up everything I can – directions, height, everything – and I think she didn’t really feel very comfortable about it, and I served very good.”

“I started actually really bad, two breaks down. I did breaks on my own. I wasn’t serving good. I was doing unforced errors. So when I sat down after first set I was, like, ‘Okay, I started off bad, but I’m actually close.’ I didn’t really feel like she’s much better than me today right now.

Despite being 6-3 2-1 down in the second, Teichmann drew on her patches of momentum to clean up her unforced error rate and take her chances, resulting in an improved 29 unforced errors to Osaka’s 41, and also leading winners 21-17 and aces 8-6.

“Literally, I’m shaking right now. I’m very, very happy with this win. I’ve had a very tough year: I started very well and I’ve had many, many injuries. But I felt like I’ve had a good level and I’m happy it’s working out now,” she said.

The Swiss wildcard will take on compatriot Belinda Bencic next, after the 10th seed earned a straightforward look into the quarter finals following a mid-set retirement from Czech Karolina Muchova.

“I’m just like really, really happy for Swiss female tennis. We really need that. We are very good players, and we are showing it. It’s perfect, actually. It has been perfect,” Teichmann said. “It’s gonna be tough. But either way I’m ready. I’m gonna just enjoy the match. Obviously I’m going to go [and want] to win, but for sure, it’s going to be emotional either way.”

Muchova was the only Czech competitor to not proceed to the quarter finals, with all three Czech seeds claiming victories. Ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova continued her exception form this season with a topsy-turvy three-set win over eighth seed Garbine Muguruza, 6-1 6-7(5) 6-2, while fifth seed Karolina Pliskova downed in-form American Jessica Pegula 6-4 7-6(5), and Petra Kvitova blitzed past Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-1 6-2 in just 63 minutes.

World number one Ash Barty appears to have returned to her dominant winning ways, blasting past 2020 champion Victoria Azarenka 6-0 6-2 in just 71 minutes. Barty fired 25 winners and broke Azarenka five times throughout the clash, winning the first 10 games of the match before Azarenka was able to get on the board, dealing the Belarusian her heaviest loss since 2007.

Angelique Kerber and Paula Badosa complete the day’s winners list, joining Teichmann as the unseeded players remaining in the draw. Kerber overcame Jelena Ostapenko in a hard-fought 4-6 6-2 7-5 clash, impressing on serve winning 61 per cent of her overall service points. Badosa claimed an 85-minute victory over Kazakh Elena Rybakina, 6-2 7-6(5).

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [14] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-0 6-2
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 3-6 6-3 6-3
[5] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 7-6
[9] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [8] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-1 6-7 6-2
[10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Karolina Muchova (CZE) 7-5 2-1 RET
[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-1 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 4-6 6-2 7-5
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-2 7-6

 

Picture credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

WTA Tour wrap: Badosa stuns erratic Sabalenka as seeds begin to fall

SPANIARD Paula Badosa has had to go the full distance to finally put away an erratic Aryna Sabalenka to advance through to the Round of 16 at the Western and Southern Open. In what was a contrast of two styles, the full throttle Sabalenka slammed home 41 winners to 20, and hit nine aces, but her inconsistency with accuracy hurt, also totalling 54 unforced errors and 12 double faults in Badosa’s 4-6 6-4 7-6 come-from-behind win.

The Spaniard had to fight back from a set down, and then a break down in the third to force a tiebreaker and post an eventual win 11-9 in an epic three-set contest. Saving five match points in that tiebreaker, Badosa backed up her win over Petra Martic in the first round, with a memorable second round upset over Sabalenka. The Spaniard said what she enjoyed most was the fan support.

“I think with fans, I played even better,” Badosa said post-match. “I wasn’t expecting [success like this] at the beginning of the year. I knew I was working hard, but everything is coming very fast. I think it’s a little bit of self confidence and believing in myself and trusting every ball, like I did today.

“Aryna is an amazing player. I used to see her on TV, so at the beginning, it was a little bit surprising. She has amazing shots. I knew I had to fight until the last moment, and that’s what I did.”

In another major upset, Tunisian Ons Jabeur‘s form continued, defeating 2020 Roland Garros winner Iga Swiatek in straight sets. It backed up her Wimbledon win over the sixth seed Pole, this time only needing 78 minutes to win, 6-3 6-3. It came after the pair had engaged in a couple of long three-setters, and Jabeur’s style is known to be conducive to longer contests.

“That was surprising, me getting it done in straight sets!” Jabeur said post-match. “Honestly, I was really ready for this match for a long time. I finished late yesterday and playing late today, I was ready. I didn’t make the same mistakes I made at Wimbledon and closed out the first set.

“She’s a great player. She has tricky shots. She doesn’t give you the same rhythm and always changed it up. It wasn’t easy to play her, so me being aggressive today and putting a lot of pressure on her serve helped me a lot.”

Not so much as an upset as it was the old toppling the new, former Top 10 player Angelique Kerber won against fourth seed Elina Monfils to tumble out the Ukrainian from the second straight tournament. Monfils’ form since her Bronze Medal at the Olympics has been a little shaky, and Kerber pounced in a three-set win, 7-5 2-6 6-2. The German was joined Czech Karolina Muchova and Kazakh Elena Rybakina as two unseeded players to complete matches and take down seeds. Muchova knocked over Canadian Bianca Andreescu 6-4 6-2, while Rybakina won 6-3 6-2 over 15th seed Elise Mertens.

In other results, American Jessica Pegula achieved a walkover after Simona Halep retired prior to the match, while Latvian Jelena Ostapenko advanced to the third round after her opponent Jennifer Brady retired towards the end of the second set when Brady was a set up, but 4-5 down in the second. Switzerland had a good day out on court too, with Belinda Bencic and Jil Teichmann knocking over a couple of home nation competitors in Shelby Rogers and Bernarda Pera in straight sets.

Elsewhere, the top two seeds in Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka had to fight hard for a Round of 16 spot, with the Australian top seed winning 6-4 7-6 against Brit Heather Watson, and Osaka’s return after a couple of months off yielding a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over the player that knocked her out of the 2020 Australian Open as reigning champion, Coco Gauff. Czech seeded trio, Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Krejicikova and Petra Kvitova all advanced to the third round, as did eighth seed Garbine Muguruza and 14th seed Victoria Azarenka.

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 7-6
[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 5-7 6-2 7-6
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated [4] Elina Monfils (UKR) 7-5 2-6 6-4
[5] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-3 6-2
Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [6] Iga Swiatek (POL) 6-3 6-3
Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [7] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-4 6-2
[8] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-4 6-3
[9] Barbora Krejicikova (CZE) defeated Dayana Yastremska (UKR) 6-1 7-6
[10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 7-6 6-1
[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-2 6-4
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Simona Halep (ROU) W/O
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated [13] Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-7 5-4 RET
[14] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 6-2 7-5
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [15] Elise Mertens (BEL) 6-3 6-2
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-1 6-4

Picture credit: WTA Tour

WTA Tour wrap: Proceedings underway in rain-plagued Cincinnati

THE opening day of main draw action at the Western and Southern Open saw plenty of matches get underway with a number of hometown hopefuls taking the court and each of the seeds surviving. With a couple of matches still yet to play due to rain delays, majority of the results saw predictable outcomes in the Round of 64.

The top seed of the day in Barbora Krejcikova got her run off to a great start, blitzing past Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-2 in her first match as a top 10 player. She had little trouble throughout her 72-minute victory over the Russian, firing on serve winning 81.5 per cent of her first serve points, and backed it up with a solid 68.2 per cent second serve effectiveness. Compatriot and fellow seed Petra Kvitova also had little issue, disposing of former champion Madison Keys in just over 90 minutes, 7-5 6-4. Whilst Keys only fired one less ace (8-9), she could not match the left-hander for efficiency, as Kvitova won 76 per cent of her first serve points off a 64 per cent clip.

Of the remaining four American competitors for the day, only three have taken the court thus far with Danielle Collins and Shelby Rogers going head-to-head in an intriguing clash and the latter leading despite Collins’ excellent recent form. 13th seed Jennifer Brady and Alison Riske will also look to head into the second round, with Brady hoping to make it a clean sweep from seeds after 15th seed Elise Mertens earned a first round win over Nadia Podoroska, joining the two Czechs on the winners list. Mertens required n hour and 40 minutess to claim the victory over the Argentinian, also capitalising well off her serve and saving six of seven break points in the process.

A flurry of unseeded matches played out, with Jelena Ostapenko ending a three-match losing streak with a victory over Tamara Zidansek, fighting for the win throughout an intriguing and topsy-turvy clash, which saw Ostapenko race out to a 5-1 lead in the first before Zidansek worked in overdrive to cause a seventh game. Ostapenko was able to get the match back on her terms though, eventually claiming a 7-5 6-1 victory. Elsewhere, Jil Teichmann and Yulia Putintseva both won in under 60 minutes, with the latter requiring just 45 minutes to shake off Zhang Shuai, while Heather Watson and Paula Badosa encountered the only two three-setters of the day. A clash between Maria Sakkari and Angelique Kerber is also yet to begin to finish off the day’s proceedings.

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-2
[11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 7-5 6-4
[15] Elise Mertens (BEL) vs Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-3 6-4
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 7-5 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-2 6-0
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-2 3-6 6-1
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Petra Martic (CRO) 4-6 6-4 7-6
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 6-0

Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) vs [13] Jennifer Brady (USA)
Danielle Collins (USA) vs Shelby Rogers (USA)
Alison Riske (USA) vs Leylah Fernandez (CAN)
Maria Sakkari (GRE) v Angelique Kerber (GER)

 

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: In-form Americans upset seeds

TWO in-form Americans have caused a couple of upsets at the National Bank Open in Montreal, Canada as three Top 10 seeds were knocked out in the second round of the tournament. Unseeded duo Danielle Collins – coming off back-to-back titles in the lead-up to the event – and Jessica Pegula claimed wins over sixth seed Simona Halep and 10th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to advance through to the Round of 16.

Collins had a real fight on her hands having played in lower tournaments the last fortnight, but earned her three-set win over the highly touted Halep, needing two hours and 55 minutes to defeat the Romanian, 2-6 6-4 6-4 and book her spot in the third round. She was joined by Pegula who came back from a shocking first set to take care of Pavlyuchenkova, 1-6 6-3 6-2 in an hour and 51 minutes.

It was a great day overall for the Americans, with highest seed Coco Gauff posting a very quick win in 22 minutes after Russian Anastasia Potapova unfortunately had to retire just five games into the match. Qualifier Amanda Anisimova booked her spot in the Round of 16 with a straight sets victory over Frenchwoman and fellow qualifier Oceane Dodin, 6-3 6-3. The only American to fall in the Round of 16 was Sloane Stephens, with the former US Open winner and wildcard pushing top seed Aryna Sabalenka all the way before the Belarusian stood up to win in two hours and 25 minutes, 7-6 4-6 6-4.

“It was a tough match and she played so well. She pushed me like crazy in this match and I don’t know actually how I won this won this one,” Sabalenka said post-match.

“I’m really happy with this win. I was already in the locker room thinking what was going to happen next – doubles here, planning for the next weeks. I don’t know if that’s why I cooled down, and I was just playing and didn’t think about anything else.”

The only other Top 10 seed to join Sabalenka in the Round of 16 from the day’s action was fourth seed Karolina Pliskova, and even her victory was far from easy. She had to fight out a third set tiebreaker against Croatian Donna Vekic, before saluting in two hours and 35 minutes, 4-6 6-3 7-6. Eleventh seed Greek talent Maria Sakkari won through courtesy of another hard-fought three-set contest 6-4 5-7 6-4, over Russian Veronika Kudermetova.

Ukrainian third seed Elina Svitolina was the highest ranked casualty of the day, going down to Great Britain’s Johanna Konta. After losing the first set, Konta held her nerve to bounce back and win the next two and post the 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory in two hours and 11 minutes.

“That was definitely not an easy match. I’ve never beaten her in my career, so for me personally, this was a massive win,” Konta said. “She’s probably the toughest player for me on tour so I’m quite pleased with myself.”

Joining Konta in the third round were unseeded duo Italian Camila Giorgi and Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo. Meanwhile Canadian wildcard Rebecca Marino upset Spaniard Paula Badosa in front of home fans, coming back from a bad first set to win 1-6 7-5 6-4. In the final match of the day, 13th seed Tunisian Ons Jabeur came from a set and a break down against Silicon Valley Classic finalist, Russian Daria Kasatkina to post a 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory in two hours and eight minutes to survive the clash and book her spot in the third round.

NATIONAL BANK OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [WC] Sloane Stephens (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-4
Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated [3] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 3-6 6-3 6-2
[4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Donna Vekic (CRO) 4-6 6-3 7-6
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated [6] Simona Halep (ROU) 2-6 6-4 6-4
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [10] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 1-6 6-3 6-2
[11] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-4 5-7 6-4
[13] Ons Jabeur (TUN) vs. Daria Kasatkina (RUS)
[15] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [Q] Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 5-0 RET
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-2 6-4
[WC] Rebecca Marino (CAN) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 1-6 7-5 6-4
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-4 6-3
[Q] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated [Q] Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA Tour wrap: Retirements flood National Bank Open first round

THE National Bank Open has begun in Montreal, Canada, with a flurry of top talents expected to take the court this week as the US Open draws ever closer.

In intriguing circumstances, three match results came down to injury retirements, as two Czechs in Marie Bouzkova and Tereza Martincova both dropped the first set before closing out the incomplete matches and handing second round berths to 11th seed Maria Sakkari and American Amanda Anisimova, respectively, while Ajla Tomljanovic dominated the first set against Fiona Ferro before retiring upon completion of the second set, which went the way of the Frenchwoman. The Greek seed said she was happy to be back playing in front of fans.

“It was shocking when I walked on the court and saw a crowd,” Sakkari said. “I haven’t seen that since Roland Garros. “That was a very nice thing.”

The two Czechs were joined on the sidelines by 14th seeded compatriot Karolina Muchova, who was outclassed in a topsy-turvy clash by qualifier Oceane Dodin in the lone three setter of the day, going down 6-3 1-6 6-2 to the Frenchwoman. The upset saw Dodin weather Muchova’s heavy serve and her own error rate to command control, winning 70.8 per cent of her first serve points despite a 44.2 per cent clip and 10 double faults. Katerina Siniakova was the only Czech of the day to come away with a win, overcoming Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in 74 minutes.

Meanwhile, the day’s third French competitor in qualifier Clara Burel was well and truly outclassed by 13th seed Ons Jabeur, who completed a 6-1 6-3 sweep of the 20-year-old in just 55 minutes. Jabeur reigned supreme in one of two sub-60-minute clashes – not including Anisimova’s default victory – as Nadia Podoroska dominated against Magda Linette to complete a 6-1 6-2 sweep of the Pole in just 59 minutes to proceed.

A flurry of straight sets victories finished off the day’s results, as Sorana CirsteaPaula Badosa and Anastasia Potapova all claimed wins, with the former and latter both defeating Americans in Alison Riske and Shelby Rogers, respectively. Two matches remain with results not yet decided, as Harriet Dart leads Leylah Fernandez midway through the second set, and a clash between 16th seed Madison Keys and Canadian Rebecca Marino yet to begin.

NATIONAL BANK OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS: 

[11] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-4 3-1 RET
[13] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Clara Burel (FRA) 6-1 6-3
Oceane Dodin (FRA) defeated [14] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 6-3 1-6 6-2
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 6-3 6-4
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-1 4-3 RET
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 6-1 6-2
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-1 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-2 6-3
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 2-6 6-2 RET
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 7-6 6-3
Harriet Dart (GBR) vs Leylah Fernandez (CAN)
Rebecca Marino (CAN) vs [16] Madison Keys (USA)

 

Picture credit: Sarah-Jade Champagne / Tennis Canada

Olympics Women’s wraps: Monfils favourite amongst rising star semi-finalists

THREE of the four remaining women’s singles Olympic tennis competitors will be crowned the medallists after the semi-finals were determined through results yesterday. Just one top eight seed survived the draw thus far, with three of the four remaining competitors seeded. Three of those four are 24-years-old or younger, with the oldest being Elina Monfils who heads into the last four as the Gold Medal favourite.

Monfils knocked off Italian Camila Giorgi in straight sets 6-4 6-4 to advance through to the semi-finals. The match lasted 91 minutes, with Monfils hitting six aces to one, and winning 77 per cent of her first serve points, compared to the Italian’s 62.5 per cent. Despite hitting five less winners (11-16), she had nine less unforced errors (27-36), which was the same difference as the points won (63-54). Monfils is trying not to think about the fact that she could become the first Ukrainian to win a medal at the Olympics.

“For sure, it’s exciting, but I have to not think too much about that,” Monfils said post-match. “My goal is to focus on myself, my game and my recovery and be ready for tomorrow.

“You know when you are higher ranked everyone wants to beat you, and everyone is extremely motivated to beat you,” the No. 4 seed said. “I’ve had that for the past three or four years already, when I entered the Top 10: you step on the court, and everyone is just there to try to beat you.”

Now the Ukrainian will face Czech Marketa Vondrousova, with the 2019 Roland Garros runner-up the lowest ranked player in the semis. The 22-year-old Czech backed up her superb wins over Kiki Bertens and Naomi Osaka so far, with a strong performance in the first set against Paula Badosa, before the Spaniard retired at a set down. Vondrousova only dropped seven points on serve for that first set, hitting 10 winners to eight and only having three unforced errors to seven.

“I think she was exhausted,” Vondrousova said of Badosa. “It’s sad the way it ended. For me it’s good that I have some rest now, but it’s sad to see her like this.”

In the other quarter finals, Belinda Bencic set up a clash with Elena Rybakina after the Swiss talent knocked off Russian 13th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets. Storming to a 6-0 lead, Bencic was forced to work for it against her opponent who won the second set, before the Swiss star claimed the win in three sets, 6-0 3-6 6-3. She now takes on Rybakina who upset seventh seed Garbine Muguruza, 7-5 6-1 in the other quarter final.

OLYMPICS WOMEN’S QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[4] Elina Monfils (UKR) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-4 6-4
[15] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [7] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 7-5 6-1
[9] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated [13] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-0 3-6 6-3
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-3 RET

 

Picture credit: Daniel Kopatsch / ITF