Tag: saisai zheng

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 Miami Open 1000: Collins wins against Mladenovic as Latvian duo advance

IN a blockbuster second day at the WTA Miami Open 1000, the Round of 128 was completed with some interesting results. It was a real mix of winners, with some experienced players and some young guns winning through to the second round in an action-packed day. The first Round of 64 match was also decided – albeit without a ball being served – after Laura Siegemund withdrew from her clash against Belarusian 14th seed Victoria Azarenka.

In a number of three-set battles, Australian Storm Sanders overcame Italian Elizabetta Cocciaretto 6-1 5-7 6-1, while Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo won 6-2 2-6 7-5 against American Bernarda Pera. Also needing three sets for victory were Belarusian US Open quarter finalists Tsvetana Pironkova, winning against Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 7-6 3-6 6-3. Meanwhile Latvian Anastasija Sevastova toppled Serbian Olga Danilovic 6-1 3-6 7-6 as compatriot Jelena Ostapenko knocked off China’s Xiyu Wang, 6-4 6-7 6-1. Other three-set winners were Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, Brit Katie Boulter, Mexican Renata Zarazua, Slovakian Kristina Kucova and Chinese duo Qiang Wang and Saisai Zheng.

In more straightforward clashes, Liudmila Samsonova toppled Italian Camila Giorgi in straight sets 6-2 6-4, as Serbian Nina Stojanovic proved too strong for Great Britain’s Heather Watson, 6-4 6-1. Also marching through to the second round was Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia‘s rout of Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-1 6-2, whilst Tereza Martincova knocked off Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shevdova. The Czech won 6-4 6-2 in that encounter, joining Russian Anna Kalinskaya, Croatian Ana Konjuh and German Andrea Petkovic in the second round after straight set victories.

The highly anticipated match of the day was between American Danielle Collins and Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic who drew each other in blockbuster Round of 128 clash. It went the way of the former, with Collins getting up 6-3 6-3 to advance through to the Round of 64 in 82 minutes in an inspiring performance. She will need to back up with a match against Veronika Kudermetova tomorrow, as Kucova takes on top seed Ash Barty, Konjuh locks horns with Madison Keys, and Sevastova meets Coco Gauff in a huge day of action on the Grandstand Court tomorrow.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Storm Sanders (AUS) defeated Elizabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-1 5-7 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-7 6-4 6-2
Kristina Kucova (SVK) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-4 2-6 7-5
Tsvetana Pironkova (BLR) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 7-6 3-6 6-3
Nina Stojanovic (SRB) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-1 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Olga Danilovic (SRB) 6-1 3-6 7-6
Qiang Wang (CHN) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-1 3-6 6-3
Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-4 6-2
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 2-6 6-2 6-1
Katie Boulter (GBR) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 4-6 6-3 6-3
Saisai Zheng (CHN) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 2-6 6-4 6-3
Renata Zarazua (MEX) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-4 4-6 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Xiyu Wang (CHN) 6-4 6-7 6-1
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated Irina Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-4 7-6
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-2 2-6 7-5
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 7-6 7-5
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated Shuai Zhang (CHN) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: Getty Images

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

Homegrown talent impresses at US Open

A COUPLE of intriguing winners will hit the court in the second round at the WTA Tour’s 2020 US Open after a huge second day of Round of 128 action. It was a stellar output from the United States homegrown talent, with nine American representatives skating through.

Serena Williams – who is hunting down an elusive 24th Grand Slam title – and youngster Katrina Scott who at only 16-years-old is a wildcard at her first major tournament – both made it through relatively unscathed to come out of the first round with convincing winz on the board. Williams’ opponent, compatriot Kristie Ahn had a solid start and rounded out the first set tiebreaker well, but fell at Williams’ impressive serve as the champion racked up 13 aces and an 85 per cent win rate off her first serve. For Scott, a huge 7-6 first set win gave her a wealth of confidence against her Russian opponent Natalia Vikhlyantseva, but will meet fellow American teenager and 22nd seed Amanda Anisimova in a huge second round after the now-19-year-old defeated Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova in two tight sets, 7-5 7-5.

All seeded Americans in Williams, Anisimova, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin were convincing on court with an average winning time of one hour and 13 minutes. Bernarda Pera and Casey McNally had dominant second sets to take out victory. With 15 American names in the draw, just a few of the USA talent were knocked from contention, including Venus Williams who was defeated by 20th seed Karolina Muchova, while the likes of Ahn and Taylor Townsend were unlucky to draw compatriots and sent home by Serena Williams and Sachia Vickery respectively. Lauren Davis forged an impressive second set comeback before being run down by in-form Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.

Western & Southern Open victor Victoria Azarenka continued where she left off, making it through unscathed on day two of the Grand Slam. Despite a strong start, former world number one Kim Clijsters was knocked aside by 21st seed Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, while Elise Mertens and Johanna Konta were also too strong, though Konta had to surpass a tough start from British compatriot Heather Watson to head through to the second round in an hour and 48 minutes.

Australian Open runner up Garbine Muguruza similarly ran away winners in two sets, with just six matches for the day take to three sets and just two of the 16 seeds – Veronika Kudermetova and Saisai Zheng – going down to unseeded opposition in 18-year-old Iga Swiatek and Ysaline Bonaventure. Despite a tough effort from Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin, fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka outlasted her opposition in 90 minutes, as did Donna Vekic in a three set battle against Czech Kristyna Pliskova and 15th seed Maria Sakkari despite a second set comeback from Stefanie Voegele.

Joining the aforementioned players in the second round are Ons Jabeur, Margarita Gasparyan, Patricia Maria Tig, Tsvetana Pironkova, Olga Govortsova, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Sorana Cirstea, Kaia Kanepi, Leylah Fernandez, Anna Kalinskaya and Aliona Bolsova.

Opinion: What would a WTA Tour version of the Laver Cup (Williams Cup) look like?

IN yesterday’s opinion article, we took a look at the current format of the ATP Tour’s Laver Cup, a team tournament which pits Team Europe off against Team World. We analysed how the current method is not the best way to have the closest contest, and some alternatives that the Tour could look at to mix it up.

The WTA Tour does not have an equivalent event of the Laver Cup. If it did and they followed the same format, it could be called the Williams Cup – after Serena –  who even though her career has not ended, has every right to be considered the greatest singles player of all time. Unlike the ATP’s Laver Cup, the format of Team Europe against Team World works perfectly for the WTA Tour given the current state of play in the women’s world rankings.

Let us take a look at the teams.

Team Europe:

#2 Simona Halep (Romania)
#3 Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)
#5 Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
#7 Kiki Bertens (Netherlands)
#8 Belinda Bencic (Switzerland)
#11 Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus)

Team World:

#1 Ash Barty (Australia)
#4 Sofia Kenin (USA)
#6 Bianca Andreescu (Canada)
#9 Serena Williams (USA)
#10 Naomi Osaka (Japan)
#13 Madison Keys (USA)

Looking at those teams, Europe is a touch stronger, but World has the current world number one in Barty, as well as the greatest player to have played the game in Williams. It also has Grand Slam winners in Kenin, Andreescu and Osaka who are all young, and in fact after Williams (38-years-old), the next oldest is Keys (25). Europe has a mix of older and younger players with the likes of Halep, Pliskova and Bertens leading the way for the younger players coming through such as Bencic and Sabalenka.

The main message from this is that unlike the men’s which is so heavily slanted to Team Europe (the top 12 players in the world are from the European region) the teams would be even and it would be a team event that would be highly anticipated.

So is there a potential for it to get disproportionate in talent?

There is no doubt the World talent drops off significantly after that top half dozen, with Alison Riske (#18) the next highest – the five between Riske and Keys are all European as well as 12th ranked Czech, Petra Kvitova – so if the ‘B’ sides faced off it would be more one-sided. This is not so much of a problem until players from that main side become unavailable.

Both Andreescu and Osaka have had injury issues, and Williams herself is in the twilight years, so if they left, who replaces them? Well aside from Riske, who is 30 herself, the next highest is world number 28 Amanda Anisimova. Then there are the trio of Chinese talents in Qiang Wang, Saisai Zheng and Shuai Zhang, while Sloane Stephens would round out the ‘B’ side. All of a sudden the World Team looks a little shaky. Inconsistency and uncertainty would describe that team. You do not want to look at the comparable ‘C’ teams either.

But the main message at this stage is, if the players were able to compete, the Williams Cup would be something they could get around. Furthermore, imagine when Williams herself retires and she could coach the team – perhaps Venus could do it before that happens – while for Team Europe, it could be someone like Amelie Mauresmo or Kim Clijsters for example.

Either way, it is time the WTA Tour at least had the same opportunities as the ATP Tour if that is something the players would get behind.

2020 WTA Roland Garros fantasy tennis: Strength in numbers as top seeds continue to flourish

THE second half of the Roland Garros fantasy Round of 64 saw plenty of interesting matchups, with five top ten players taking the court. But while majority of the competition’s seeds were too good this time around, a couple fell to unsuspecting foes.

Ash Barty continued her strong run, defeating China’s Saisai Zheng in straight sets to show she will not be going easy on her pursuit for a second Roland Garros title. Saisai could not compete with the world number one, going down 6-2 6-1. Fourth seed Sofia Kenin, sixth seed Naomi Osaka and ninth seed Petra Kvitova all came out on top in similarly straightforward contests, though eighth seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka did not have the same lucky, going down to Czech talent Barbora Strycova in a three set battle, 6-3 2-6 7-6. Joining the top seeds in the Round of 32 are the likes of fellow seeded talent Bianca Andreescu and Elena Rybakina, after both survived tighter affairs against Pauline Parmentier and Heather Watson respectively. Fourteenth seed Petra Martic was the second seed to be knocked out on day five, unable to compete with a feisty and attack heavy Polona Hercog.

A couple more Americans continued the nation’s dominance, with both Bernarda Pera and Sloane Stephens joining Kenin in the next round, though Jessica Pegula, Shelby Rogers and Danielle Collins were not quite so lucky. Pera had a solid outing against Romanian Patricia Maria Tig, defeating her in a three-setter, while Stephens was dominant against frenchwoman Caroline Garcia. Rogers went down to 21st seed Dayana Yastremska and Collins to quick footed Alize Cornet, while Pegula was unlucky to draw compatriot Kenin.

The final four games saw seeded duo Johanna Konta and Iga Swiatek both survive tight three set battles against Tamara Zidansek and Anastasia Potapova respectively, both dropping the second set before recording identical 6-3 final set wins to take the win. Qualifier Lesia Tsurenko overcame a rough start against Russian Varvara Gracheva before building to a 0-6 7-5 6-3 win, while Carla Suarrez Navarro joined the Round of 32 in the final match of the day with a straight sets win over Alison Van Uytvanck.

Tomorrow sees the beginning of the Round of 32 and the first few seed versus seed outings, with three tantalising matchups taking the court.

ROUND OF 64:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Saisai Zheng (CHN) 6-2 6-1
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 6-2
[6] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Anna Lena Friedsam (GER) 6-2 6-1
Barbora Strycova (CZE) defeated [8] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-3 2-6 7-6
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-2 6-4
[11] Bianca Andreescu (SUI) defeated [WC] Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated [14] Petra Martic (COR) 6-3 6-4
[15] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4 6-4
[20] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-1 4-6 6-3
[21] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) defeated [Q] Shelby Rogers (USA) 7-6 6-0
[27] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-2 3-6 6-3
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Danielle Collins (USA) 7-5 6-3
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 5-7 6-1 6-3
[Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 0-6 7-5 6-3
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-4 6-3
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 7-6 6-4

2020 WTA Roland Garros fantasy tennis: Ash Barty joins the fray

THE final day of Round of 128 saw reigning titleholder and world number one Ash Barty hit the court for the first time, and doing it in style with a threatening straight sets defeat of young talent Coco Gauff who is capable of defeating anyone on her day.

The 6-2 6-2 victory started a slew of threatening wins from top seeds, with Aryna Sabalenka, Petra Kvitova, Petra Martic and Johanna Konta all coming out unscathed in quality wins over unseeded opposition. Sabalenka had the toughest time, only just defeating Shuai Peng who took the Belarusian to a second set tiebreaker, 6-4 7-5. Fellow seeds Ekaterina Alexandrova, Karolina Muchova and Qiang Wang were not so lucky however, all coming out second best to their lower ranked opposition – two of whom have been fairly consistent performers on the clay circuit in the leadup in Carla Suarez Navarro and Sloane Stephens making for an interesting second round. 

Just two matches went to three sets, seeing Viktoria Kuzmova and Danielle Collins join the next round thanks to solid performances. While Collins’ come from behind victory ultimately ended well for a 2-6 6-4 6-4 final score, keeping Su Wei Hsieh at bay relatively easily, Kuzmova had the hardest slog of the day after a stellar first set, taken to two tiebreakers by Estonian Kaia Kanepi, eventually reigning supreme for the 6-2 6-7 7-5 victory. Saisai Zheng was the only Chinese competitor to run out victor on day four – and ultimately the only Chinese competitor left in the draw – after defeating Paula Badosa in straight sets to head into the Round of 64. Unlike her compatriots in Shuai Peng, Yafan Wang and 30th seed Qiang, Zheng had the upper hand from the get-go and never looked like losing to her Spanish opposition. 

The remaining four matches saw Carolina Garcia, Alison Van Uytvanck, Polona Hercog and Barbora Strycova all dominate on the court, with Strycova managing one of the better wins of the day, downing wildcard Jessika Ponchet 6-0 6-0. Day five will see 14 seeds take the court, with some top names hoping to continue their winning ways into next week.

ROUND OF 128:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 6-2 6-2
[8] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Shuai Peng (CHN) 6-4 7-5
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-1 6-1
[14] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated [Q] Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-3 6-4
[20] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-1 6-0
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated [24] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-6 7-6
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [28] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 6-4 7-6
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [30] Qiang Wang (CHN) 6-3 6-4
Saisai Zheng (CHN) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-3 6-2
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Darya Kasatkina (RUS) 6-4 6-4
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-3 7-6
Viktoria Kuzmova (CZE) defeated [Q] Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6-2 6-7 7-5
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated [Q] Monica Puig (PUE) 6-4 6-3
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Yafan Wang (CHN) 6-4 6-1
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Su Wei Hsieh (TAI) 2-6 6-4 6-4
Barbora Strycova (CZE) defeated [WC] Jessika Ponchet (FRA) 6-0 6-0

2020 WTA Strasbourg and Rabat Open fantasy tennis: Americans dominate on day one

IT was a stellar start to the United States at both the Strasbourg Open and Rabat Open fantasy tournaments with nine of the eleven American competitors making it through to the second round amongst a plethora of talented players. Meanwhile, Australia struggled to produce a win across both tournaments and plenty of matches came down to the wire.

At Strasbourg, six of the eight seeds remain after Elena Rybakina and Donna Vekic went down to their respective foes, shockingly both in straight sets and fairly convincingly at that. The duo’s results were reversed, with Rybakina having a strong start and petering off, while Vekic fought back but to no avail, seeing Camila Giorgi and Shuai Zheng proceed to the next round. Where Rybakina and Vekic failed, the likes of Aryna Sabalenka and Bianca Andreescu both collected solid victories in under an hour, while Dayana Yastremska had a tougher time against Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko though eventually came out on top, 7-5 3-6 6-2.

All three seeded Americans in first seed Sofia Kenin, Serena Williams (second seed) and Madison Keys (sixth) collected wins over quality opponents and will be joined by compatriots Amanda Anisimova, Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens in the Round of 16. All three seeds had tough matches as both Williams and Keys were taken to three sets by their respective opposition in Sam Stosur and Saisai Zheng, while Kenin only just prevailed in a two hour two-setter, defeating Greet Minnen 7-5 7-6. Gauff and Stephens had similarly difficult matches while Anisimova dominated against French qualifier, Chloe Paquet. Meanwhile, Stosur’s compatriot in Astra Sharma met a similar end to her experienced company, going down to Xiyu Wang, 6-1 6-4.

A mixed bag of results finished off the round as young talent Iga Swiatek proved too strong for Polona Hercog despite a tight first set, while Caroline Garcia had a similarly solid match to defeat qualifying Italian, Francesca Di Lorenzo. Fellow qualifier Fiona Ferro pushed Victoria Azarenka to the brink however, as the Belarusian only just remained above water for the 7-6 7-5 victory, while Qiang Wang and Kateryna Kozlova battled it out in the marathon three hour match for the day, with Qiang eventually reigning supreme for the 7-5 5-7 7-5 victory.

While Strasbourg saw American competitors dominate and all six proceed to the next round, at Rabat the story went a little differently with two of the five going down. Fourth seed Alison Riske was the big shock of the day going down to qualifier Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets, while Ann Li put up a strong fight but could not compete with Russian eighth seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Meanwhile, Venus Williams prevailed in a tight three set contest against Kristina Mladenovic and fellow compatriots in Taylor Townsend and Coco Vandeweghe continued their solid form with respective straight sets victories.

As for seeds, the remaining top five competitors reigned supreme, though three had tough battles to get through first. Among the tough matches, Maria Sakkari impressed against Spaniard, Sara Sorribes Tormo, showcasing some real depth to her game and coming back from the brink four games down to win the first set in a tiebreaker. The second set came much easier for the Greek competitor who eventually won 7-6 6-3, though not so much for the likes of fellow top talents in Johanna Konta, Elise Mertens and Marketa Vondrousova. Mertens had the easiest match of the trio but  was well and truly tested in the second by her wildcard opposition in Usue Maitane Arconada before putting out a stellar third set to take the win. Meanwhile, both Konta and Vondrouova had to fight a bit harder for their respective wins against formidable German talents in Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber but will surely be brimming with intensity ready for the second round.

Joining Riske on the sidelines were Magda Linette and Yulia Putintseva after frankly disappointing outputs against their respective opposition. Linette had a rough start against Jill Teichmann, and despite competing well in the second set was unable to catch up to the Swiss competitor after she pulled out to a confident lead early, winning 6-2 7-6. Putintseva competed well but was not strong or consistent enough to keep up to Alison Van Uytvanck who seemingly came out with a point to prove, reigning supreme for the 6-4 6-4 victory. 

Where Americans were consistent on day one, Australian duo in Ajla Tomljanovic and Priscilla Hon both had shaky starts on the clay after not competing for much of the season, eventually going down in respective straight sets losses. In other games, Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Nina Stojanovic in a 7-5 2-6 6-1 marathon, while Julia Goerges was clinical against Jasmine Paolini, defeating the Italian in just 40 minutes, 6-2 6-1.

Tomorrow’s draw will surprisingly not see any of today’s American winners compete against each other, meaning there is a real chance of the United States continuing their domination after day one,

STRASBOURG OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Greet Minnen (BEL) 7-5 7-6
[2] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Sam Stosur (AUS) 4-6 6-1 6-2
[3] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-2 6-4
[4] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-2 6-3
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated [5] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
[6] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Saisai Zheng (CHN) 3-6 7-5 6-1
[7] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5 3-6 6-2
Shuai Zhang (CHN) defeated [8] Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-2 6-4
[Q] Xiyu Wang (CHN) defeated [WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-1 6-4
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated [WC] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 6-3 6-1
Qiang Wang (CHN) defeated [Q] Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 7-5 5-7 7-5
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 7-6 7-5
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 7-5 2-6 6-4
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated [Q] Francesca Di Lorenzo (ITA) 6-2 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Polona Hercog (ROU) 7-5 6-2

RABAT GRAND PRIX ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 3-6 6-1 7-5
[2] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [WC] Usue Maitane Arconada (ESP) 6-2 4-6 6-1
[3] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[Q] Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) defeated [4] Alison Riske (USA) 6-1 7-6
[5] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 7-5 6-3
[Q] Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [6] Magda Linette (POL) 6-2 7-6
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated [7] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 6-4
[8] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [Q] Ann Li (USA) 5-7 6-4 6-1
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3 6-2
Venus Williams (USA) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 4-6 6-3 7-6
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 7-5 2-6 6-1
Julia Goerges (GER) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
Taylor Townsend (USA) defeated Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-4 6-3
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated [Q] Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-4 6-2
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Su Wei Hsieh (TAI) 6-3 6-2

2020 WTA Italian Open fantasy tennis: Andreescu first seed out as Slovenians take control

THE second half of the Italian Open fantasy draw saw day two go much the same as the first, as all bar one seed head through to the Round of 32.

Thirteenth seed Bianca Andreescu was the first seed to fall across the tournament, going down to Swiss qualifier Jil Teichmann. Andreescu managed to pull back momentum to stop Teichmann in her tracks in the second but could not compete with the tenacious player for much of the match, eventually going down 6-3 1-6 6-1 in a disappointing finish. Where Andreescu fell short, her fellow seeds all had much easier goes of it, collecting respective straight sets victories. Kiki Bertens came out top dog with her phenomenal 35 minute domination of Argentinian qualifier, Nadia Podroska, collecting the threatening 6-0 6-0 victory, while fourteenth seed Johanna Konta was challenged early but defeated wildcard Italian Camila Giorgi, 6-4 6-1 with relative ease. The day’s top seed in Aryna Sabalenka had the toughest challenge but still came out on top against China’s Qiang Wang to collect the 7-6 6-3 win.

Qiang’s compatriot Saisai Zheng was similarly unlucky, going down to Belgian, Elise Mertens in straight sets. While Saisai had a solid start, collecting the first few games of the first set, she failed to continue that form heading into the second and went down in a sloppy 6-3 6-0. While China had two competitors take the court, Slovenia was the only nation that saw two Round of 64 winners in this half of the draw, with both Tamara Zidansek and Polona Hercog reigning supreme. Zidansek starred against Kazakh, Yulia Putintseva, running out in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, while Hercog had a much tougher outing against Czech talent, Katerina Siniakova, with a mammoth match played out between the two. Siniakova was a tough battle, coming in red hot in the first and second, unlucky to not steal the first set away but getting the job done in the second. Hercog came off the better however, using her endurance to push for the 7-5 6-7 6-3 victory.

Angelique Kerber had a good day on the court, with the returning German struggling to find her form recently but making a statement in her come-from-behind win over Croatian, Donna Vekic. Kerber had a tough first set before making it up in the second, with Vekic still holding plenty of control but not on top of her game as she was early, as Kerber capitalised on her building momentum to steal away the match with the 1-6 7-6 6-3 victory. The last three-setter of the day saw Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova battle hard against Spanish qualifier, Carla Suarez Navarro. While her opponent had much of the control early, Kuznetsova was able to continue utilise her solid second set to swing the momentum in her favour for the 2-6 6-3 7-6 win.

United States’ Alison Riske failed to join her four day one compatriots in the second round, going down to Estonian, Anett Kontaveit in straight sets, with the American failing to apply enough pressure and going down 6-1 6-3. In other matches, Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic had a tough battle against Julia Goerges as the two-setter went for close to two hours before Mladenovic took the win, 7-6 7-5, while Maria Sakkari defeated Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 7-5.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[10] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Qiang Wang (CHN) 7-6 6-3
[11] Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated [Q] Nadia Podroska (ARG) 6-0 6-0
[Q] Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [13] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-3 1-6 6-1
[14] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated [WC] Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-4 6-1
Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-3 7-5
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Alison Riske (USA) 6-1 6-3
[Q] Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated Julia Goerges (GER) 7-6 7-5
Polona Hercog (SLO) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 7-5 6-7 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated [Q] Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 2-6 6-3 7-6
Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Saisai Zheng (CHN) 6-3 6-0
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Donna Vekic (CRO) 1-6 7-6 6-3

2020 WTA Madrid Open fantasy tennis: Americans struggle on day one

DAY one of Madrid Open fantasy tournament saw just the one big scalp, but it may just be the biggest one there could be in the Round of 64, as Serena Williams went down in straight sets. But other than the eighth seed and champion going down in the first round, the day was relatively predictable. Williams was one of five American competitors to go down in the first round, with only qualifier Taylor Townsend made it through to the Round of 32.

Of the 16 matches on day one, seven winners were seeded while three qualifiers also made their way through, with the most remarkable qualifying winner Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro. Suarez Navarro impressed not only with her win against Williams but also the way in which she did so, in a one-sided affair 6-0 6-3, not once letting the American record-breaker get a look in and forcing constant errors. Second seed Simona Halep and sixth seed Naomi Osaka achieved similarly threatening wins, with Halep defeating young gun Coco Gauff in just under an hour, 6-1 6-2, while Osaka dominated against Czech talent Karolina Muchova.

Prague champion Elina Svitolina had a slow second set but overall backed up her recent title well with a 6-4 1-6 6-4 win over American Amanda Anisimova, while Anisimova’s compatriots Coco Vandeweghe and Jennifer Brady had far tougher outings, going down in straight sets to Marketa Vondrousova and Jelena Ostapenko respectively. Townsend’s successful first round win over Marie Bouzkova was testament to her composure, coming back from a frustrating first set to gain the upper hand in the second and run out victor, 3-6 6-4 6-3. 

Czech Republic had a similar day to the United States, with their winning form outnumbered by losses as Barbora Strycova joined Muchova and Bouzkova on the sideline after going down to qualifier, Victoria Azarenka, though Katerina Siniakova had better luck against Alison van Uytvanck. Siniakova was in for a tough one from the get-go, with the pair relatively evenly matched and showing in the tight first set, though the Czech had a stronger second set to bring some real momentum into the final set to win 6-7 6-2 6-4.

Among the winners were four more seeds, with eleventh seed Belinda Bencic reigning supreme over Anett Kontaveit and sixteenth seed Petra Martic defeating Latvian, Anastasija Sevastova. Both matches went to three sets with the former surpassing the two hour mark, while fourteenth seed Brit Johanna Konta had a much stronger win over Croatian, Donna Vekic. Aryna Sabelenka joined compatriot, Azarenka in the second round after a stellar second and third set saw her take a fairly solid win over Qiang Wang, 5-7 6-2 6-0, while fellow Chinese talents in Shuai Zhang and Saisai Zheng went down in identical results to their respective opposition in Dayana Yastremska and Julia Goerges. The final match of the day saw Elise Mertens put in the hard yards against Rebecca Peterson, but could not retain control after a stellar first set, eventually going down 7-6 0-6 6-4.

Tomorrow’s draw will see first seed Ash Barty join the fray while 2019 Madrid champion Kiki Bertens and competition favourite, Petra Kvitova will also be threatening 

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated Coco Gauff (USA) 6-1 6-2
[3] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 6-4 1-6 6-4
[6] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Karolina Muchova (CZE) 6-3 6-2
[Q] Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated [8] Serena Williams (USA) 6-0 6-3
[10] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Qiang Wang (CHN) 5-7 6-2 6-0
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-2 4-6 6-4
[14] Johanna Konta (GBR) defeated Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-4 6-3
[16] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 1-6 6-4 6-1
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-7 6-2 6-4
Dayana Yastremska (UKR) defeated Shuai Zhang (CHN) 6-1 6-4
Julia Goerges (GER) defeated Saisai Zheng (CHN) 6-1 6-4
[Q] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Barbora Strycova (CZE) 2-6 6-2 6-2
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-2 6-2
[Q] Taylor Townsend (USA) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 3-6 6-4 6-3
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated [Q] Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-0 6-4
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) defeated Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-6 0-6 6-4