Tag: petra martic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

VIKING CLASSIC ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: 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: 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: Gauff wins teen battle as Stephens and Wang enter first semi-finals in years

WITH two events currently in progress, the Serbia Ladies Open continues to be plagued by rain delays seeing no Day 6 matches go ahead, while the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, Italy, went full steam ahead with four huge quarter finals setting up a massive day of semi-finals action tomorrow.

There were two entirely seeded clashes for the day, with one a battle between American teens and the other a three-hour blockbuster. The first saw third seed 17-year-old Coco Gauff continue her excellent form with a victory over 19-year-old Amanda Anisimova, clinching the quickest win of the day in one hour and 21 minutes, 6-3 6-4.

“I was pretty satisfied with the way I played,” Gauff said post-match. “I do think I could have served a little bit better, but other than that, I was pretty happy with the way I played today.”

Whilst the duo have gone toe-to-toe before, this encounter marked their first meeting since 2017, and the first time they have met on the professional circuit. Gauff won 73.7 per cent of her first serve points off a 60 per cent clip, and whilst it was not her best efficiency hitting four aces for five double faults, it was much mroe effective than Anisimova’s 40 per cent off a 53.6 per cent clip.

“In the second set, I was actually missing a lot of balls in the first three games, I think I lost like seven or eight points in a row,” Gauff said. “And then I honestly decided to go for bigger targets, and just focus on hitting the ball deeper instead of trying to hit winners.”

The second seeded clash saw sixth seed Wang Qiang defeat second seed Petra Martic in three hours straight, requiring three sets to claim the 7-6(4) 3-6 7-5 victory. The Chinese talent was both more effective and more consistent on serve, and hit 25 winners, making her way into her first WTA semi since mid-2019. Martic struggled to perform despite the shaky scoreline, hitting a whopping 41 unforced errors throughout.

An in-form Sloane Stephens will take on Wang in the semi finals, after claiming a solid one-hour and 25-minute victory, 6-3 6-0 over Italian Sara Errani. Stephens hit 26 winners to Errani’s 10, and won 60.7 per cent of the total points along with the last eight games of the match to claim victory. Katerina Siniakova is the final player to head into the semis, taking on Gauff following a 7-5 6-1 sweep of eighth seed Caroline Garcia.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS: 

[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated [2] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [5] Amanda Anisimova (USA) 6-3 6-3
Katerina Sinakova (CZE) defeated [8] Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Sara Errani (ITA) 6-3 6-0

Picture credit: Marta Magni / MEF tennis

WTA Tour wrap: Rain delays in Belgrade as Gauff sets up blockbuster quarter final

ANOTHER big day of proceedings were had at both the Serbia Ladies Open in Belgrade and Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, with one event interrupted by rain, delaying entrants to the quarter finals, and the other completing its Round of 16 results.

In Serbia, Ana Konjuh was the big winner of the day downing second seed Yulia Putintseva. The Croatian was just too strong showcasing her repertoire and winning 57 per cent of the overall points in a comprehensive 6-3 6-4 victory in just under an hour and a half. Seventh seed Rebecca Peterson was fortunate to proceed by default following an excellent first set from Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, who came out flying but was forced to retire early in the third with injury. While Peterson was on the incline in their encounter, winning the second set fairly easily and leading the third, the Swedish talent will want to improve her service game ahead of her quarter final clash.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich overcame Cristina Bucsa in a bizarre 6-4 5-7 6-0 clash, which saw the Spaniard fight back valiantly in the second but completely drop the ball and the momentum in the bagel third set as Belarusian Sasnovich claimed the victory. Meanwhile, Kamila Rakhimova leads Maria Camila Osorio Serrano 6-4 and will continue their matchup tomorrow, whilst undercover the delayed match between Reka-Luca Jani and Ana Kalinskaya has gotten underway, with Jani leading 2-0 in the first.

In Parma, four of the five seeds survived the day with the lone loss going to retiree, Sara Sorribes Tormo. While the Spaniard led the charge early, she was forced to retire at 2-2 in the third, giving hometown hopeful Sara Errani another chance as she enters the quarter finals. All four winning seeds proceeded to the next round following straight set wins, with the longest playing out between second seed Petra Martic and Liudmila Samsonova, as the Croatian reigned supreme, whilst Wang Qiang was not far behind with a 6-4 6-4, one hour and 40-minute matchup with Martina di Giuseppe, snatching victory with a couple of breaks.

Coco Gauff has set up a huge quarter finals stoush with compatriot and fellow young talent Amanda Anisimova following a speedy 71-minute victory over Italian Camila Giorgi, while Caroline Garcia is the final entrant to the quarter finals following her 6-2 6-4 75-minute sweep of German, Anna-Lena Friedsam.

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS: 

Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated [2] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-3 6-4
[7] Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-2 2-1 RET
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Cristina Bucsa (ESP) 6-4 5-7 6-0

Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) leading Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) 6-4
Reka-Luca Jani (HUN) leading Ana Kalinskaya (RUS) 2-0

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 7-6 6-3
[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-2 6-3
[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Martina di Giuseppe (ITA) 6-4 6-4
Sara Errano (ITA) defeated [7] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 4-6 7-5 2-2 RET
[8] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 6-2 6-4

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

WTA Tour wrap: Williams downed as first and second rounds continue

THE WTA Tour saw a mixed bag of results on Day 4 of the respective events in Parma, Italy and Belgrade, Serbia, with both tournaments playing out a combination of first and second round matches.

At the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, the eldest and youngest Americans came away with dastardly different results, as veteran and top seed Serena Williams fell at the second hurdle to Czech talent Katerina Siniakova, 7-6 6-2.

“Not every day is really amazing,” Siniakova said following the victory. “If you go to play against a player like this, you really have nothing to lose, so I came up and wanted to enjoy it.

“I should be more proud of them,” she said. “My statistics against top players are really good, and a lot of players would want this. I should be really proud and believe more in myself – this match can open my eyes and I will try to keep it like this.”

“I didn’t do a lot of mistakes, and I think she felt it,” Siniakova said. “I think she was trying to go harder and doing a lot of mistakes, which helped me – I’m really happy I could keep my level all match.”

Things went supremely different for 17-year-old third seed Coco Gauff, who came away unscathed in her first round clash with Kaia Kanepi, 7-6(6) 7-6(7). It seemed to be the way of the day as second seed Petra Martic downed Varvara Gracheva in another Round of 32 matchup, while fourth seed Daria Kasatkina started strong but could not retain control against a fighting Sloane Stephens in the Round of 16.

Finishing off the day’s Round of 32 saw Sara Errani win on home soil in a 7-5 4-6 6-1 fightback over Ana Bogdan, as Anna Lena Friedsam was tested throughout by a feisty Viktorija Golubic on a mission, 6-4 6-7(1) 6-2. In the second round’s last two matches, fifth seed Amanda Anisimova is the only seed thus far to have reached the third round after defeating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova while Liudmila Samsonova defeated Italian wildcard Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-2 6-2 in the quickest match of the day.

At Belgrade, just two Round of 16 matches played out as fourth and fifth seeds Paula Badosa and Nadia Podoroska both made their mark, claiming respective straight set wins in under 85 minutes over Mihaela Buzarnescu and Oceane Dodin. Just two more seeds took the court throughout the day’s Round of 32 proceedings, with one proceeding and one falling in another intriguing twist. Frenchwoman and sixth seed Kristina Mladenovic struggled against Russian Anna Kalinskaya, fighting back well after giving away a bagel for a first set, but unable to clinch victory eventually falling 6-0 7-6(6). Proceedings went much better for seventh seed Swede Rebecca Peterson, who overcame a sloppy first set and flew out of the blocks for the remainder of her clash with Serbian Nina Stojanovic, claiming the 5-7 6-1 6-0 victory in just under two hours.

It was not a good day for homegrown talent with neither of Stojanovic’s compatriots making it through to the second round, as Olga Danilovic and Lola Radivojevic  both fell to higher ranked opposition in under 90 minutes to Kamilla Rakhimova and Viktoriya Tomova respectively. In the remaining matches, Hungarian Reka-Luca JaniAna Konjuh and Aliaksandra Sasnovich all overcame tough efforts from their opposition to book spots in tomorrow’s Round of 16 proceedings.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-4 6-2
[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 7-6
Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 7-5 4-6 6-1
Anna Lena Friedsam (GER) defeated Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-4 6-7 6-2

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated [1] Serena Williams (USA) 7-6 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 1-6 6-4 7-5
[5] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-2 6-4
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Giulia Gatto-Monticone (ITA) 6-2 6-2

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated [6] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-0 7-6
[7] Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 5-7 6-1 6-0
Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) defeated Olga Danilovic (SRB) 6-2 6-4
Reka-Luca Jani (HUN) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-2 0-6 7-5
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Wang Xiyu (CHN) 6-7 6-0 6-2
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2 1-6 7-5
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated Lola Radivojevic (SRB) 6-2 6-3

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-0 6-4
[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-2 6-3

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

WTA Tour wrap: Pliskova into third straight Rome final against clay talent, Swiatek

DAY 8 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia saw three matches take place, with one player taking the court twice and reigning supreme on both occasions to head into the Rome final. Expect a huge clash between ninth seed Czech Karolina Pliskova and 15th seed Pole Iga Swiatek in the final, with the former a well-established winner and the latter continuing to build off excellent form this season.

Rain delays during the quarter finals pushed back Swiatek’s clash with fifth seed Elina Svitolina, but that did not stop the 19-year-old Pole from dominating the early stage of their matchup to claim the 6-2 7-5 victory and set up a battle of the teens in the semi finals.

Despite everything 17-year-old Coco Gauff threw at Swiatek – including seven aces – it was not quite enough to steal a win against her fellow teen, just falling short in their 7-6(2) 6-3 matchup.

“I’m still kind of pumped up, so it’s hard to say because adrenaline is still here,” Swiatek said post-match. “I’m still pretty young so hopefully I’m going to be ready for tomorrow. I think so.”

“I felt really good today; it’s a big difference between my previous matches and today,” she said. “I was able to beat Elina, so that shows that my game is here, I’m ready for anyone. It gave me a real confidence boost.”

It was the teen duo’s first WTA clash, and a tough one at that which saw Gauff hit 33 winners to 32 unforced errors, compared to Swiatek’s marginally cleaner 25 and 16. While Gauff claimed the better percentage off her first serve, Swiatek won more points and was more consistent off both her first and second serve, winning 54 per cent of the total points to take out the win.

“It’s always hard to play against a young superstar, especially when I’m not used to that because I was always the youngest one,” Swiatek said. “I just tried to have a high level of energy, even though it was my second match. I was feeling really good [receiving]. I know her biggest weapon is serve, so I tried to use that. Also tactically I did everything really well.”

Swiatek will take on hard-hitting Pliskova, as the Czech ninth seed returns for her third straight Internazionali BNL d’Italia final this week following a 6-1 3-6 6-2 victory over Petra Martic in the semis.

“I think the first and third set, they were super solid for me, playing the game I want to play, not really going for crazy shots, but super solid,” Pliskova said. “Quite good serve today. I think it was a good match.”

Pliskova required one hour and 54 minutes to overcome Martic, with only a shoddy second set getting in the way of victory. The Czech hit a whopping 37 winners but 30 unforced errors to go with it, as Martic’s excellent run of form was cut short by her own 34 unforced errors.

“I hope I will feel better, and maybe more relaxed a bit, to go to the other tournaments in the next couple weeks, months, with this kind of result,” Pliskova said. “With having the matches I had this week, overcoming some situations which I had this week, and beating some players: Martic, for example, I never beat on clay. For sure this gives me some strength.”

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 7-6 6-3
[9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Petra Martic (CRO) 6-1 3-6 6-2

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-2 7-5

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Pliskova hangs tough as Gauff books semis spot with Barty retirement

KAROLINA Pliskova has survived an almighty scare against Jelena Ostapenko, needing three sets, two hours and 20 minutes, and a couple of match point saving moments to post a victory over the Latvian. The Czech ninth seed had to save three match points in the 10th game of the the third set, before recovering to win in a deciding tiebreakers, 4-6 7-5 7-6.

“Just proud, I think mostly, how I fought,” Pliskova said post-match. “I’m just happy that I stayed in there and fought till the end.”

The match was clearly the match of the day, with the Czech getting a fair chunk of play in before rain impacted matches across the Rome clay courts. The pair has had quite the battles over the years, with Plisova extending the head-to-head lead out to 5-3 after the victory against the former Top 5 talent. It did not look like it early on as Ostapenko dominated early to go to a 4-0 lead with two breaks before the Czech broke back twice herself to level at 4-4, only for a third break for the Latvian to win the opening set 6-4.

In an equally tight second set, Pliskova failed to serve out the set at first opportunity when 5-4 up, but did so at 6-5 instead after breaking the Latvian in the next game. The third set went down to the wire in a tiebreaker, and after the Czech saved those three match points, strolled to victory with seven of the eight points played in the tiebreaker to win, 7-1.

Now Pliskova will take on the only other opponent to fully complete her match on the day, with Croatian Petra Martic taking care of American Jessica Pegula in straight sets. Martic won 7-5 6-4 in one hour and 40 minutes to advance through to the final four and book her chance of a final spot if she can take out the ninth seed.

“The key was to overtake, to not let her play and take control of the points of the rally and just make me run,” Martic said post-match. “So I tried to do that before her. I tried to use my serve. Obviously she didn’t like my kick so much, so I knew I had to really be sharp on those first shots after return of serve and not let her overtake. I think I did that pretty well for the most part.”

In other results, world number one Ash Barty was only on court 29 minutes, racing to a first set win of 6-4 against American teenager Coco Gauff, before having to retire with a right arm injury following the third game of the second set. While many retire being down, Barty was clearly in control of the match, but felt the pain had become too much to risk it with Roland Garros coming up on the horizon.

“It became worse while we were playing,” Barty said of the pain in her arm. “So I think that’s the challenging thing is to make the decision to stop. It’s never nice. It’s the thing that I hate the most is not being able to finish a tennis match.

“But the pain was becoming too severe, so it was important that I listen to my body and of course try and do the right thing, knowing that we have a Grand Slam in two weeks’ time.”

Gauff reached her first WTA 1000 semi-final with the win, and will take on either fifth seed Elina Svitolina or 15th seed Iga Swiatek who face off in the quarter finals after a rain-affected day forced their matches to be postponed.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 4-6 1-2
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) vs. [15] Iga Swiatek (POL)
[9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 4-6 7-5 7-6
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 7-5 6-4

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Teens impress as Rome final eight is revealed

THE final eight has been decided at the the WTA Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, with the draw evenly split for seeded and unseeded competitors following a couple of intriguing results, which saw two teenagers win their way through to the quarter finals.

The big upset of the day saw youngster Coco Gauff down in-form seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, striking while the iron was hot to clinch the 7-5 6-3 victory over the Belarusian who took home the Madrid trophy just last week.

“It’s one of those matches that for me as a fan, if I were to be able to watch myself play, that would be a match that I would want to watch,” Gauff said. “Because you know we’re going to bring everything we have from the beginning to the end. She brings the intensity on the court from the first point. I have to make sure that I manage that and bring even more intensity. I think you feel it the whole match.”

The 17-year-old American continues to impress on the big stage and this matchup was no different, winning 72 per cent of her first serve points off a 61 per cent clip, also saving four of five break points and converting four of nine chances herself.

“Now I really am trying to enjoy the pressure, enjoy the moment,” she said. “Today I definitely said to myself I’m really having fun out there, even though it was 6-5, 5-all in the first set, which is stressful. I think I have to make sure I enjoy those moments in the matches, because later on in life I’m probably going to wish I could come back to this moment and experience it again. I’m going to enjoy these moments while they’re happening.”

15th seed and 19-year-old Iga Swiatek joins Gauff in the quarters, following a tough encounter with Czech talent Barbora Krejcikova. Whilst it was not pretty, Swiatek was proud of how she battled through her own inconsistency and fluctuating game to come out on top with the 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory in two hours and 50 minutes.

“I just had a tough day mentally,” Swiatek said post-match. “It was hard for me to be positive. I’m really happy I could win that, I could turn the score around. Usually in this situation I was the kind of person that was kind of giving up mentally. Today, even though I wasn’t feeling completely perfect on court, I had some issues as well, I could manage with everything and just win points.”

“I had fun when I played dropshots because today I felt them really good. I asked myself a question, what would annoy me in that situation, so I tried to do that. So, yeah, sometimes it didn’t look pretty, but I’m happy that I could do that. One year ago I wouldn’t even come up with a solution like that. That’s a progress.”

The remaining three seeded victors of the day all skated through with straight sets wins, as top seed Ash Barty continues to bounce back well from her final loss to Sabalenka last week with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Russian Veronika Kudermetova, while both Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova proved too strong for their respective opposition in returnee Garbine Muguruza and Vera Zvonareva. 12th seed Muguruza has looked potent this week but was inefficient on serve, winning just 34.7 per cent of her total service points as fifth seed Svitolina reigned supreme.

In other games, Jelena Ostapenko ousted former champion Angelique Kerber in a two hour and 11-minute clash, 4-6 6-3 6-4, while Petra Martic won in three against Nadia Podoroska and Jessica Pegula claimed the quickest win of the day, with a one hour and 11-minute victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 16 RESULTS: 

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-3 6-3
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 7-5 6-3
[9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 7-5 6-3
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 3-6 7-6 7-5
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Petra Martic (SLO) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 3-6 6-1 6-2
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2 6-4

Picture credit: Paolo Bruno / Getty Images

WTA Tour wrap: No easy wins as seeds struggle in second round

IT was a horror day for the top seeds on Day 5 of the 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, as seven of the top talent fell including three of the top five. It was also a scrappy day for the United States, as just two of eight American competitors proceeded to the third round.

With so many huge outs on the day, it was the fall of Naomi OsakaSimona Halep and Sofia Kenin that had jaws dropping with the second, third and fourth seeds all unable to get wins on the board. While Osaka challenged unseeded American Jessica Pegula early on, she could not arrest back momentum and fell 7-6(2) 6-2 in just 87 minutes. Kenin has been in shaky form this year and has struggled to hit the height of her early 2020 form, something that was evident in her 6-1 6-4 loss to Czech Barbora Krejcikova. Meanwhile, former world number one Angelique Kerber got an easy look into the third round despite dropping the first set 1-6 to Halep, as the Romanian was forced to retire midway through the second set with a left calf injury – now confirmed to be a tear.

“In the first set I think my start was a little bit slow. I was not moving too good. I know that I have to move good against Simona, that the rallies are long. I was not serving actually too good in the first few service games on my serve,” Kerber said after the match.

“In the second set I knew, ‘Okay, now I have to fight for every ball, I have to move better, and maybe not overthink everything.’ Also not looking on the scoreboard. Just playing point by point. I was focusing more on my service game, because I start to play better in the second set. Then suddenly she called the trainer. I know that Simona is not calling trainers just like this.

“I knew, ‘Okay, something happened.’ But I really didn’t see the moment, so I don’t know what exactly happened in the moment. But, of course, I was feeling so bad with her, because this is not the way I would like to finish a tough match against also a friend on the other side.”

Eighth seed champion Serena Williams also had her tournament cut short by a rampaging Nadia Podoroska, who claimed her third career win over a top 10 player. Whilst Williams kept her guessing, Podoroska fought hard for the 7-6(6) 7-5 victory and claimed 52 per cent of the total points to claim the win.

“It’s special win. [To] play against her, it’s an honour for me. I saw her playing when I grew up, so it was a special match for me,” Podoroska said post-match.

“But most of all, I’m happy the way I played. I felt again comfortable on clay, on my game, and that’s most important for me. I think it was a very good match, high level. I knew that I have to play every point, fight for every ball. She didn’t play a tournament for a while, so I knew that maybe she did too many mistakes at the beginning or I have to push her to do them. But I think I played a great match.”

“It’s tough to have a first match on clay. It was definitely kind of good to go the distance and to try to be out there, but clearly I can do legions better,” Williams said.

“She has a good game, for sure, obviously. She’s very consistent. Overall, it was good for me to play such a clay court player on clay today, but it’s a little frustrating. But it’s all right. It is what it is.”

Petra KvitovaJennifer Brady and Maria Sakkari were the remaining three seeds to fall, with the second failing to take the court confirming a walkover prior, as the latter was downed by teenager Coco Gauff in a seesawing 6-1 1-6 6-1 affair. Meanwhile, top seed Ash Barty was joined by Elina SvitolinaAryna SabalenkaKarolina PliskovaGarbine Muguruza and Iga Swiatek in the next round, with three of the aforementioned names claiming wins over American talent.

The remaining winners on the day were Jelena OstapenkoPetra Martic and Veronika Kudermetova.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-4 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 7-6 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated [3] Simona Halep (ROM) 1-6 3-3 RET
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [4] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-1 6-4
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 2-6 6-3 6-4
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 7-5 6-1
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated [8] Serena Williams (USA) 7-6 7-5
[9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-2 6-3
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated [11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-4 3-6 6-4
[12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 2-6 6-0 7-5
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [13] Jennifer Brady (USA) W/O
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 7-5 6-1
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-1 1-6 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-2 7-6
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA