Tag: polona hercog

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: Sabalenka fails again as Grand Slam champions advance

IT was unfortunately a case of history repeating itself, as Belarusian third seed Aryna Sabalenka bowed out in the third round of Roland Garros. Despite a brilliant 2020 season where she collected just about every title she could in the finale of the interrupted year, going deep in a Grand Slam still eludes the world number four, failing to advance past her previous best Round of 32 result in Paris. It is something that has been a trend for Sabalenka across the Grand Slams, with four round exits at the Australian Open the best result of the lot. Against 31st seed Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the Belarusian faded in obscurity after fighting back to win the second set.

Pavlyuchenkova won 6-4 2-6 6-0 in one hour and 40 minutes to advance through to the fourth round of Roland Garros, playing a sensible game of only 16 unforced errors for 22 winners, whilst the powerful Sabalenka hit 39 for 41. The Russian only served two double faults to Sabalenka’s eight, and won 62 per cent of her first, and 50 per cent of her second serve points. By contrast, while Sabalenka managed to win a higher first serve percentage of points (72 per cent), she was a lowly 33 per cent from her second serve, and this came off a 55 per cent clip. Whilst it looked like Sabalenka had regained control with the second set win, Pavlyuchenkova powered home breaking in all three games in the final set as the Belarusian hit 17 unforced errors to just six winners, whilst the Russian only had the three unforced errors to the same amount of winners.

It was much more clinical from the two veteran Grand Slam winners left in the bottom half of the draw, with seventh seed Serena Williams and 15th seed Victoria Azarenka both winning in straight sets. Williams won 6-4 6-4 against compatriot Danielle Collins, hitting 22 winners to 18 and having one less unforced error (20-21), whilst serving five aces to one and winning 80 and 38 per cent off her first and second serves. Collins battled hard to win 79 and 34 per cent herself, but was broken four times to two which was the difference. Azarenka won 6-2 6 6-2 in 70 minutes over another American in 23rd seed Madison Keys. The American produced the majority of the play one way or another with 17 winners to 33 unforced errors, whilst the conservative Azarenka had six to 12. The Belarusian did win 67 and 57 per cent of her points off her first and second serves, compared to a disappointing 51 and 37 per cent off Keys’ respective serves.

The 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova also advanced through to the fourth round and remains the danger player to watch in the draw, defeating Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-3 6-3. The match lasted 71 minutes, with Vondrousova far more consistent off her first serve (73 to 58 per cent), whilst also winning 59 to 57 per cent off her second. The winners were fairly even (13-12 in Hercog’s favour), but the Slovenian was loose with her shots, hitting 35 unforced errors to Vondrousova’s 14. Meanwhile another rising star of the WTA Tour in Elena Rybakina also advanced through relatively easily with a 6-1 6-4 win over Elena Vesnina. The match only went 63 minutes, as Rybakina produced 12 aces to one, and won 83 and 65 per cent of her first and second serve points – dropping just 11 points in total – compared to Vesnina’s 49 and 50 per cent. The young gun also hit 26 winners to nine, and had five less unforced errors (13-18) in a well-rounded performance.

In other results, Paula Badosa and Tamara Zidansek both fought back from disappointing first sets to post respective wins over opponents. The 33rd seed Spaniard came from behind to knock off Romania’s Ana Bogdan 2-6 7-6 6-4, while Zidansek did not win a game in the first set, before just scraping through in a second set tiebreaker, and eventually running away with it over Czech Katerina Siniakova, 0-6 7-6 6-2. In the other singles result, Romanian Sorana Cirstea defeated Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-3 to advance through to the Round of 16.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 2-6 6-0
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Danielle Collins (USA) 6-4 6-4
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated [23] Madison Keys (USA) 6-2 6-2
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-1 6-4
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 2-6 7-6 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 0-6 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Kasatkina destroys Bencic for Roland Garros third round spot

DARIA Kasatkina caused the upset of the day by ousting 10th seed Belinda Bencic from Roland Garros in their second round clash. The Russian took no prisoners in a one-hour and 16-minute beating, running out a 6-2 6-2 winner over the talented Swiss player. Bencic was one of only two seeds to fall outside of a couple of walkovers, as Kasatkina served eight aces to one and hit seven more winners (27-20) and six less unforced errors (14-20) in a clinical display. Kasatkina also only dropped eight points off her first serve, and did not even face a break point, whilst breaking Bencic four times from nine chances.

“A lot has changed between 2018 and now,” Kasatkina said post-match. “There was one amazing year for me, which was important in a good and in the bad way. “I learned a lot, and I think I become a little bit different, maybe more experienced, a bit more serious. “Let’s say I understand more why I’m winning or why I’m losing.

“At that time everything was just going with the wave, and I was not thinking that much.” Now I’m analysing more what’s going on in the situation I’m in. “Getting maybe a bit more mature.”

Aside from the withdrawals of Naomi Osaka – which was announced after her first round win – and Petra Kvitova – which handed Romanian Ana Bogdan and Russian Elena Vesnina safe passage into the third round, 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova was the only other seeded talent to fall in the Round of 64. Kudermetova went down to Czech Katerina Siniakova, losing in three tight sets 7-6 5-7 7-5 in an epic two-hour and 52-minute match, the clear longest of the day. Kudermetova hit 18 more winners (45-27) but was far too inconsistent with 67 unforced errors to 43, as Siniakova was more efficient off her serve, and despite serving 10 double faults, made the most of her chances when they went in.

One of only two other matches that lasted beyond the two-hour mark was Sorana Cirstea‘s two-hour and 37-minute victory over Italian Martina Trevisan. Cirstea got up in three sets, 6-4 3-6 6-4 in what was a real arm-wrestle for the most part. The Romanian was far from her best, hitting 46 unforced errors to 28, and only had three more winners than her opponent (29-26), but won 50 per cent of her receiving points, and had higher success rates on her first and second serve. The Romanian won through to take on Kasatkina in the Round of 32.

The other epic was seventh seed Serena Williams needing to shake off a second set fight from another Romanian in Mihaela Buzarnescu to win in three sets in two hours and three minutes. Williams got up 6-3 5-7 6-1 to run away with the contest in the end, but not without some tough moments midway through the game. Williams hit one more winner (26-25) and had one less unforced error (27-28) in a relatively even contest, but it was her much higher first serve success rate (75 to 61 per cent) that proved the difference, as she broke five times to two and served the only five aces of the match.

A number of other contenders breezed through with 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova showing no mercy to French wildcard Harmony Tan, winning 6-1 6-3 in 62 minutes on court. The quickest match of the day was 33rd seed Paula Badosa‘s 6-2 6-0 destruction of Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in a lightning 52 minutes, while 21st seed Elena Rybakina defeated Nao Hibino 6-3 6-1 in 63 minutes. Danielle Collins breezed past Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-0 in 62 minutes, and Tamara Zidansek rolled into the third round with a 65-minute 6-4 6-1 trouncing of American Madison Brengle.

Elsewhere, Belarusian duo Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka both advanced through to the the next round in two tight sets, with Madison Keys and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova the other two seeds to make their way into the Round of 32. The only other match was Slovenia’s Polona Hercog taking care of France’s Carolina Garcia in straight sets, to complete the first 16 players through to the third round.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) W/O
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-3
[7] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-3 5-7 6-1
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated [10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 6-2
[PR] Elena Vesnina (RUS) defeated [11] Petra Kvitova (CZE) W/O
[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Clara Tauson (AUT) 7-5 6-4
[20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-1 6-3
[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-3 6-1
[23] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 7-5
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated [29] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 5-7 7-5
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-2 6-4
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [LL] Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-2 6-0
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-2 6-0
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-1
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-4
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5 6-4

Picture credIt: Jimmie 48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Emilia-Romagna and Belgrade begin

THE second day at both the Emilia-Romagna Open and Belgrade WTA 250 events saw plenty of intriguing results, following predictable opening days at each tournament.

Of the eight Day 2 matches which played out at Parma, all three seeds proceeded joining the opening day’s winners in Daria KasatkinaAmanda Anisimova and Wang Qiang. Top seed Serena Williams was the big entrant to the event and did not disappoint in her opening day on court, downing qualifying Italian teenager Lisa Pigato 6-3 6-2 in just 68 minutes, as seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo downed Bernarda Pera with a similar result.

Pigato may have been unlucky to draw Williams in her maiden WTA Tour main draw entry, but said that despite the result it was a dream to play the champion, even asking for a photo with Williams – while they were still on court.

“Playing against her, it was my dream,” Pigato said post-match. “When we finished, I thanked her, because it was an honour playing agaist her. “She told me that I’m a good player, and it was fantastic to talk to her.”

“Lisa played really well,” Williams said in her on-court interview. “She told me she was only 17. Her future is super-bright – she handled the moment well, so I look forward to cheering for her in the future.”

“It’s usually after the match, in the locker room, I take photos,” Williams said. “It was really cool and gutsy. “It was her first WTA main draw match, so I thought it was a really good opportunity to take a photo – she’ll be able to look back on that in years. “I wish I had done that with my first match, it would have been really cool.”

The remainder of the United States’ competitors results went shakily as Caty McNallyChristina McHale and Venus Williams both fell in the opening round, with the former downed by compatriot Sloane Stephens. McHale and Williams were both disposed of in the only three-setters of the day, as hometown hopeful Camila Giorgi heads into the second round, while Williams won the first set before being outclassed for the remainder of her 5-7 6-2 6-2 clash with Anna Schmiedlova.

Eighth seed Caroline Garcia was tested by Argentinian Paula Ormaechea in their 6-4 6-4 matchup, while in the remaining matches at Parma another Italian in Martina di Giuseppe heads through to the Round of 16, joined by the final winner of the day in Katerina Siniakova.

At Belgrade, one seed in Yulia Putintseva joins yesterday’s seeded winners in Paula Badosa and Nadia Podoroska in the Round of 16, whilst both Oceane Dodin and Mihaela Buzarnescu also proceeded. Whilst Putintseva suffered a slow start against Kaja Juvan, requiring three sets to dispose of the Slovenian, Belgrade’s two remaining seeds in Zhang Shuai and Danka Kovinic were not quite as lucky as the third and eighth seeds fell in three to Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Cristina Bucsa, respectively. The final winner of the day was Leylah Fernandez, as the 18-year-old Canadian downed another Slovenian in Polona Hercog.

Four more Round of 32 matches will play out at Parma tomorrow, as the remaining eight matches take the court at Belgrade, while both events also see the beginning of the Round of 16.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Lisa Pigato (ITA) 6-3 6-2
[7] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 6-2
[8] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Paula Ormaechea (ARG) 6-4 6-4
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 7-6 6-4
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Clara Tauson (DEN) 6-1 6-3
Martina di Giuseppe (ITA) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 7-5 7-6

[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-4 6-3
[5] Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 5-7 6-1

BELGRADE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Kaja Juvan (SLO) 4-6 6-2 6-1
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated [3] Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 1-6 7-6
Cristina Bucsa (ESP) defeated [8] Danka Kovinic (MNE) 3-6 6-4 6-1
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-5 6-1

[4] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-2 6-3
[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 4-6 6-3
Oceane Dodin (FRA) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-3 7-5
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 4-6 7-5 6-2

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

WTA Tour wrap: Top seeds all survive day two in Madrid

NAOMI Osaka was among all eight seeds to book their spot in the Madrid Open second round, following a straight sets win over compatriot Misaki Doi. In her first clay event in almost two years, Osaka overcame some early resistance from Doi to post a 7-5 6-2 victory and move through to the Round of 32.

“When I was playing on clay that year, I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all,” Osaka said post-match. “The two matches that I lost, it was more mental than it was physical. “Like, I didn’t feel uncomfortable sliding or I didn’t feel that tired. “So I’m actually really excited to get that mindset back and to start feeling more comfortable on clay.”

Osaka was one of four Top 10 seeds to advance through to the second round, with sixth seed Karolina Pliskova coming back from a set down to shake off teenage talent Coco Gauff in three sets. Pliskova won 5-7 6-3 6-2 in a tight contest to eventually finish the stronger of the pair and post a comfortable victory.

“We never played so it was definitely a difficult match. “I think I didn’t start really well, but later in the match, I was finding by game and finding my serve. “This was very important in this match because she can also serve very big,” Pliskova said post-match.

“I’m super happy that I’m through. “I’ve played one semifinal here, so I’ve had a couple of good matches here in the past, but I’m hoping to hopefully improve my game in the next match.”

Third seed Simona Halep started like a house on fire by racing to a 6-0 first set win, before having more of a struggle against Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second set, eventually getting up 6-0 7-5. The other Top 10 seed to advance was fifth seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka who destroyed Russian Zera Zvonareva in 66 minutes, 6-1 6-2.

Fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka won in three sets over Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, with 13th seed Elise Mertens and 16th seed Maria Sakkari also advanced into the Round of 32, with Sakkari remarkably going 6-0 down against American Amanda Anisimova before getting up 0-6 6-1 6-4.

In other results, Russian duo Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina both won through to the next stage, with a mixed bag for the Chinese hopefuls. Saisai Zheng defeated Poland’s Magda Linette in three sets, before Wang Qiang went down to Karolina Muchova in a disappointing 6-1 6-3 loss. Also through to the second round were Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, Estonia’ Anett Kontaveit and United States’ Jessica Pegula.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 7-5 6-2
[3] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-0 7-5
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-1 6-2
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 5-7 6-3 6-2
[11] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 6-4
[12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-5 3-6 6-1
[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3 6-3
[16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 0-6 6-1 6-4
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-4 6-0
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3 6-1
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Madison Keys (USA) 7-5 6-2
Saisai Zheng (CHN) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 6-2 3-6 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 7-6 6-3
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 7-6 7-5
Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-1 6-3
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 4-6 6-4 7-6

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Mertens fights tough as six of seven seeds advance to Dubai second round

SIX of the seven seeds advanced at Dubai in what was largely a predictable day, but a couple of past Top 30 players were knocked out early on. With the top eight seeds having a bye from the first round, seven of the other seeds took to the court on day two of the main draw singles, with the majority having successful outings.

Ninth seed Garbine Muguruza bounced back from her sheepish Qatar Total Open final loss to record a solid 6-3 7-5 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu. Eleventh seed Madison Keys was even swifter with a 6-1 6-1 rout of Chinese Taipei’s Liang En-Shuo in just 64 minutes. It was the not the quickest rout of the day for seeds however, with 15th seed Anett Kontaveit smashing Hungarian doubles star, Timea Babos 6-2 6-1 in 57 minutes.

Also through to the next round were 14th seed Elena Rybakina and 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova who both won in straight sets, while 10th seed Elise Mertens had a fight on her hands. The Belgian won from a set down against Bulgarian lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova, 4-6 6-2 6-4. Despite having to win in three, Mertens still at last booked her spot in the second round, which was not the case for 13th seed Petra Martic. The Croatian’s poor form in 2021 continued, going down to Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, 7-6 6-4.

The quickest match of the day by far was Amanda Anisimova‘s 6-2 6-2 smashing of Croatian qualifier Ana Konjuh in 52 minutes, as the American put in her best performance of the past 12 months. Fellow Americans, Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula booked their spots in the second round, with Rogers overcoming Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi 7-6 6-2, and Australian Open quarter finalist Pegula defeated Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-2 6-1. Swiss talent Jil Teichmann and Latvian Anastasija Sevastova also blitzed their respective opponents to move into the Round of 32.

Fellow Latvian Jelena Ostapenko knocked out another Romanian in Patricia Maria Tig, whilst the sole Romanian through to the second round was Sorana Cirstea who accounted for former Top 30 player, Lesia Tsurenko 6-4 6-4. Amongst the other matches were a host of three-set battles. Lucky loser Misaki Doi won her second consecutive first round match after losing in qualifying, defeating Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-2 4-6 6-3 to make her way through to the next stage. Meanwhile Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia accounted for German Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber 3-6 6-2 6-4 in a come-from-behind win, while Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova upset her higher ranked compatriot Kristyna Pliskova in a three-set epic, 7-6 6-7 6-3.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [Q] Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-3 7-5
[10] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [LL] Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) 4-6 6-2 6-4
[11] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Liang En-Shuo (TAI) 6-1 6-1
[12] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [Q] Ana Bogdan (ROU) 6-4 6-4
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [13] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6 6-4
[14] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-0 6-4
[15] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated [WC] Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 6-1
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 6-2
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated [Q] Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-2 6-2
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [Q] Katarina Zavatska (UKR) 6-1 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 6-7 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 3-6 6-2 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-4 6-4
[LL] Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-2 4-6 6-3
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-2 6-1
[WC] Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-0 6-3

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

2021 WTA Tour Qatar & Lyon previews

DESPITE losing four Grand Slam winners to-date, the 2021 WTA Tour Qatar Ladies Open still looms as a quality event to take place next week. Top five players, Ash Barty, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin, as well as US Open winner Bianca Andreescu and Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrosova all withdrew from the 500 tournament, but four Top 10 players still remain.

Elina Svitolina has been upgraded to the top seed with the world number five taking advantage of Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka also not attending the event, while Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova round out the top four seeds. Both Pliskova and Kvitova have been in a funk of late, and need to find a way to get back into form. Sabalenka, on the other hand has had nothing but scintillating form, going on a massive winning streak that included a couple of titles late last year, and will look to pick up that again after again falling short of the target at the Australian Open.

Kiki Bertens returns to the Tour at Doha as the fifth seed, while Belinda Bencic has hit her straps in Adelaide and will look to face a host of reinvigorated talents of late. Jennifer Brady is fresh off an Australian Open final to head into the event, while Victoria Azarenka made a Grand Slam final just last year, has rekindled her career-best form and is back inside the Top 20.

The lower end of the draw is still yet to be determined, but the likes of Jelena Ostapenko, Ons Jabeur, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva are all expected to take to the court in the 2021 event. Sabalenka is the reigning champion, but Kvitova (2018) and Pliskova (2017) are both past winners here in Doha. Azarenka is a back-to-back winner, having lifted the trophy in 2012-13.

 

Lyon Open:

A second-time event after last year’s debut, the Lyon Open does not quite have the prestige of the Qatar Ladies Open, with world number 33, Ekaterina Alexandrova the top seed. She loves to beat up on lower ranked tournaments and should really get the job done here against a weakened and predominantly European field in France. Though in saying that, there are some good talents here that will push her all the way.

The top two that jump off the page are Argentinian Nadia Podoroska who reached the semi-final at Roland Garros, while rising American teenager Coco Gauff will cause headaches. French trio, Fiona Ferro, Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic are also among the Top 50 players at the event, as is Slovenian Polona Hercog.

Lower down the order, United States’ Shelby Rogers, Romanian Sorana Cirstea, Italian Camila Giorgi and Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich are all among the bigger dark horses that could surpass their lower rankings against Top 50 opponents in France.

WTA 500 wraps: Ash Barty returns to the court as 2020 Grand Slam champions make their mark

ANOTHER huge day at the two WTA 500 tournaments was had as the Round of 32 continued in the lead up to the Australian Open next week. Ash Barty made a triumphant return to the court at the Yarra Vally Classic for the first time since early 2020, while a number of seeds fell at the Gippsland Trophy in a less predictable day on the track.

At the Yarra Valley Classic, Barty led the charge as the top seed and did not disappoint with her 6-3 6-3 sweep of Romanian Ana Bogdan. She will be joined in the Round of 16 with all six other seeds from the day after a successful showing from the top talent on the park, with 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin ultimately having the easiest outing of the day with a one-set victory after Italian Camila Giorgi retired. The second seed American’s Australian Open runner up Garbine Muguruza came away with a classy 6-2 6-0 victory over Belgian Alison van Uytvanck, while Kenin’s compatriot Jessica Pegula joined the Round of 16 after disposing of German Mona Barthel. Meanwhile, Argentinian Nadia Podoroska was also successful downing Greet Minnen.

A couple of Czech Republic and Russian representatives were also successful, seeing Czech seeds Petra Kvitova (fourth) and Marie Bouzkova (16th) dispose of Venus Williams and Aliona Bolsova respectively, while Russians Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (11th seed) and Vera Zvonareva also reigned supreme, albeit in less tighter matches than the Czech duo, who were both taken to two hours before shaking their respective opposition.

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROM) 6-3 6-3
[2] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 7-5 RET
[4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 7-6 7-5
[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2 6-0
[11] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-0 6-3
[14] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-3 6-4
[16] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-3 6-7 6-2
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Caroline Dolehide (USA) 6-2 6-4
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-4 7-5

At the Gippsland Trophy, results were far less predictable with the big loss of the day coming from fourth seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who was upset by 94th ranked Estonian Kaia Kanepi in a blistering 6-1 2-6 6-1 outing. Elsewhere, a couple of 2020 Grand Slam title-holders continued their excellent runs as Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka got their 2021 seasons on track straight away. Roland Garros champion Swiatek had a sloppy first set, before regaining confidence and the upper hand over Slovenian Kaja Juvan to come out victorious, 2-6 6-2 6-1 in one hour and 45 minutes. US Open victor Osaka completed her 6-2 6-2 sweep of Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in just 71 minutes, collecting her 12th straight win and her first since the US Open final last September.

Sabalenka was not the only seed to fall during the Round of 32, with young gun Coco Gauff going down to 24-year-old Brit Katie Boulter, who stands a whopping 323 ranks behind the 16-year-old American prodigy. Polona Hercog also fell to a lower ranked opposition in Russian Daria Kasatkina, while turning to successful seeds, and it was go, go, go for the likes of fifth seed Johanna Konta and 16th seed Laura Siegmund who came away with two of the quickest victories of the day over Bernarda Pera and Destanee Aiava, respectively. In other games, Carolina Garcia downed Timea Babos and Irina-Camelia Begu outlasted a hungry Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the only match of the day that went more than two hours, coming away with the 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory in two hours and 35 minutes.

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 6-2
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated [4] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-1 2-6 6-1
[5] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-2 6-3
[6] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Kaja Juvan (SLO) 2-6 6-2 6-1
[12] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Timea Babos (HUN) 6-4 6-4
Katie Boulter (GBR) defeated [14] Coco Gauff (USA) 3-6 7-5 6-2
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated [15] Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-4 6-3
[16] Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-2 6-2
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 5-7 6-4 6-4

WTA 500 wraps: Seeds stumble in Yarra Valley Classic as Australians fall across the board

ON the opening day of the WTA Tour’s Summer Series in Australia, all bar one of the host nation’s players fell, while a couple of French seeds bowed out in the first round at the Yarra Valley Classic.

Kicking off the 2021 Summer Series in the Yarra Valley Classic, a couple of Americans in Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula both made life difficult for their French opponent’s Australian Open preparations. Rogers defeated 12th seed Fiona Ferro 6-2 7-5, while Pegula was too good for 15th seed Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-1. Only one of the three seeds on day one secured a spot in the second round, as 16th seed Czech Marie Bouzkova smashed local hope Sam Stosur, 6-2 6-0.

It was one of a number of Australians who fell across the day’s play with Kimberley Birrell, Lizette Cabrera and Maddison Inglis all losing out in first round encounters. Birrell and Inglis fell in straight sets to German Mona Barthel and Swede Rebecca Peterson respectively, whilst Cabrera pushed Russian Varvara Gracheva, but went down in three sets, 2-6 6-4 6-2. Other one-sided contests included Australia’s sole winner on day one, Daria Gavrilova, having a 6-2 6-0 smashing of Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova.

In other results, Ana Bogdan took care of Russian Kamila Rakhimova, Grand Slam winner Venus Williams proved too good for Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, fellow veteran Tsvetana Pironkova won over Liudmila Samsonova, and Anastasia Sevastova defeated American Madison Brengle in straight sets. In only one of two three-set matches, Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto came back from the brink after losing the first set 6-0 to China’s Lin Zhu, to win the second set, but then find herself down in the third, but bounced back to win 0-6 6-3 7-5 and advanced through to the Round of 32.

YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [12] Fiona Ferro (FRA) 6-2 7-5
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [15] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[16] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-2 6-0
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-2 6-1
Venus Williams (USA) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-1 6-3
Mona Barthel (GER) defeated Kimberley Birrell (AUS) 7-5 6-3
Daria Gavrilova (AUS) defeated Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-2 6-0
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 2-6 6-4 6-2
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Maddison Inglis (AUS) 6-2 6-1
Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS) 6-2 6-2
Anastasia Sevastova (LAT) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4 6-2
Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) defeated Lin Zhu (CHN) 0-6 6-3 7-5

In the Gippsland Trophy which was also held in Melbourne Park, three of the four seeds got up to win their first round matches, but it was more disappointment for the home nation across the board, with the three Australians out on court losing their Round of 64 encounters.

Seeds, Jelena Ostapenko and Polona Hercog both recorded three-set wins over their respective opponents after slow starts, as the 13th seed Latvian toppled former Top 5 player Sara Errani 4-6 6-3 6-1, while Hercog knocked off Russian Margarita Gasparyan 2-6 6-3 6-3. Caroline Garcia became the only Frenchwoman to win across either tournament when she knocked off Australia’s Arina Rodionova 6-3 6-4, whilst Rodionova’s compatriots, Olivia Gadecki and Astra Sharma both went down in three-set losses.

Gadecki was brave against Bernarda Pera before losing 6-7 6-3 6-3 in a tight contest, while Sharma stunned Estonian Kaia Kanepi in the first set 6-1, before ultimately being overrun 1-6 7-5 6-2. In another three-set match, Irina-Camelia Begu came from behind to knock off China’s Saisai Zheng. The 11th seed won the first set 6-3, but Begu managed to get it back on her terms and hold off her Chinese opponent to win 3-6 7-5 6-4 in and impressive victory.

Other three-set winners included Slovenian Kava Juvan who knocked off China’s Yafan Wang, 4-6 6-1 6-4, while German Andrea Petkovic got over Italian Martina Trevisan, 6-1 3-6 7-5. Over to the straight set winners and Hungarian Timea Babos defeated Romania’s Patricia Tig, Anna Schmiedlova toppled Valeria Savinykh 6-1 6-3, Jasmine Paolini won a hard-fought tussle over Canada’s Rebecca Marino 7-6 6-3, while Daria Kasatkina and Danka Kovinic won comfortably against Mihaela Buzarnescu and Tamara Zidansek respectively.

GIPPSLAND TROPHY ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) defeated [11] Saisai Zheng (CHN) 3-6 7-5 6-4
[12] Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-3 6-4
[13] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Sara Errani (ITA) 4-6 6-3 6-1
[15] Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 2-6 6-3 6-3
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated Yafan Wang (CHN) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Timea Babos (HUN) defeated Patricia Tig (ROU) 7-6 6-3
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-1 3-6 7-5
Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Valeria Savinykh (RUS) 6-1 6-3
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Olivia Gadecki (AUS) 6-7 6-3 6-3
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 1-6 7-5 6-2
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated Rebecca Marino (CAN) 7-6 6-3
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-1 6-1
Danka Kovinic (MCE) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Getty Images