Tag: sam stosur

2021 Adelaide International: Rogers downs Konta in day of upsets

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 Adelaide International WTA preview: Barty Party not over down under

THOSE Australians wanting more Ash Barty will get what they wished for after the world number one made a surprise late charge at the 2021 Adelaide International WTA 500 event. The tournament was initially featuring a stacked field, but with many of them reaching deep into the Australian Open, withdrawals had left the tournament without a Top 10 player. Then came Barty.

The Australian reached the quarter finals of her home Grand Slam during the week, and has opted to play another tournament Down Under having missed out on so much tennis in the past 12 months. Unsurprisingly, the tournament committee was more than happy to hand her a wildcard alongside fellow Australians Olivia Gadecki – coming off a stunning win over Grand Slam winner Sofia KeninSam Stosur and Ajla Tomljanovic.

The field for the Adelaide International is not the strongest one, but still features some great young talent alongside some players really hoping to build better form in 2021. Roland Garros reigning champion Iga Swiatek could loom as one of the main threat’s to Barty’s crown, with the 17th ranked Pole coming in as the fifth seed. Fellow young gun, Yulia Putintseva is seventh seed and one of seven Top 30 competitors at the event.

Elise Mertens is the one to watch, with the tricky Belgian flying under the radar at times, but has the capacity to push for a Top 10 spot, currently ranked 16th and coming in as the fourth seed. Belinda Bencic and Johanna Konta round out the top four players at the event, with both the Swiss up-and-comer and British talent looking to have better outings than their third and first round exits at Melbourne Park. Sixth seed Petra Martic is in the same boat, exiting the first Grand Slam of the year in the Round of 128 and now the world number 19 is hoping to impress here.

The withdrawals from the tournament include Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady, and young guns Bianca Andreescu, Elena Rybakina, Dayana Yastremska and Marketa Vondrousova. Instead a number of Chinese and French hopes have come into the tournament, with Zhang Shuai, Zheng Saisai and Wang Qiang joining eighth seed Qiang Wang in the draw, as well as Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. American duo Danielle Collins and Shelby Rogers are also among the inclusions following the withdrawals.

While the Australian Open did not go to plan for the world number one, the Barty Party is predicted to roll on in Adelaide, with the Australian star a winner her 12 months ago and is clearly the best player in the draw. Mertens and Swiatek are the biggest threats to her crown based on their form, while one of the other seeds could finally click into gear in 2021 and cause some headaches.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Australian Open Women’s Round of 128 wrap: Barty dominates as Sherif first Egyptian woman to make it to grand slam second round

A flurry of exciting players joined the Australian Open fray on Day 2 of proceedings at Melbourne Park, with world number one Ash Barty making her Open return in smashing fashion, while the likes of Sofia KeninElina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova all came out flying as the top seeds of the day. In a highly competitive day of action – with nine matches going to three sets and four of those hitting the two-hour and 30-minute mark – just a couple of seeded competitors fell, with 12th seed Victoria Azarenka leading the pack after an excellent outing from American Jessica Pegula, while Johanna Konta retired from her 6-4 0-2 encounter with Slovenian Kaja JuvanPetra Martic struggled to maintain composure after Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic took out the first set tiebreaker, eventually going down 7-5 3-6 6-4, while Maria Sakkari was error-ridden in defeat, and 31st seed Zhang Saisai was exposed by American Ann Li who hit 22 winners to Zhang’s two to come away with a 6-2 6-0 victory in 47 minutes.

But while a 47-minute victory was one thing, Barty’s 6-0 6-0 utter domination of Danka Kovinic was another, with the Australian disposing of the world number 82 in just 44 minutes. Collecting 10 winners for five unforced error’s compared to Kovinic’s three and 28, Barty dismantled her opposition on home soil and proved far too good for the Montenegrin, who spent 20,120 minutes in hotel quarantine in Melbourne for a devastating 44 minutes of play. Barty is joined by a couple of compatriots in the second round, as Daria Gavrilova and Sam Stosur were both successful on their opening day. World number 387 Gavrilova stunned 64th ranked Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo on return with a 6-1 first set setting up a straight sets 6-1 7-5 victory, while Stosur downed compatriot Destanee Aiava 6-4 6-4. Kenin’s outing against fellow Australian Maddison Inglis may not have been quite as dominant, but she still came away with a classy 7-5 6-4 victory over the Australian who is still yet to win an match on the WTA Tour, while a duo of green and gold wildcards in Astra Sharma and Arina Rodionova will join Inglis and Aiava on the sidelines.

Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian woman to make it past the first round at a Grand Slam with her 7-5 7-5 victory over Frenchwoman Chloe Paquet, joined by Danilovic and Liudmila Samsonova as the only qualifiers to make it through the day, while young gun Coco Gauff continued her running grand slam form with a 6-3 6-2 sweep of Jil Teichmann to head into yet another second round at a major tournament. Powerhouses Pliskova and Svitolina may have had supremely different playing times – 47 minutes and two hours, respectively – but both also head into the second round, after disposing of Jasmine Paolini and Marie Bouzkova, while the seeded duo is joined in the second round by a flurry of top talent as 2020 Australian Open runner up Garbine MuguruzaBelinda BencicElise Mertens and Anett Kontaveit all came away with excellent wins, as did Jennifer Brady, Karolina MuchovaYulia PutintsevaDonna Vekic and Ekaterina Alexandrova with all bar five seeds making it out alive on Day 2 of the Open.

The second round of action begins at Melbourne Park today, with the day session headlined by the likes of Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu, while the night session will see Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep take the court against unseeded opposition in Caroline Garcia and Ajla TomljanovicVenus Williams will look to continue her run when she takes on Italian qualifier Sara Errani, while Iga Swiatek will take on Errani’s higher ranked compatriot Camila Giorgi.


[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-0 6-0
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated [WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 7-5 6-4
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-3 7-6
[6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-0 6-2
[11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-3 4-6 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 7-5 6-4
Kaja Juvan (SLO) defeated [13] Johanna Konta (GBR) 4-6 2-0 RET
[14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [LL] Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Olga Danilovic (SRB) defeated [16] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-5 3-6 6-4
[18] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [20] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-2 0-6 6-3
[21] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-5 6-2
[22] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-1 6-3
[25] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5 6-2
[26] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 4-6 6-2 6-3
[28] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated Wang Yifan (CHN) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[29] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Ann Li (USA) defeated [31] Zhang Saisai (CHN) 6-2 6-0
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3 6-2
[WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-1 7-5
Danielle Collins (USA) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 6-3 6-1
Nao Hibino (JPN) defeated [WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) 2-6 6-3 7-5
Madison Brengle (USA) defeated [WC] Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-1 6-2
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (EST) 6-3 6-1
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-4 6-4
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-2 6-2
Zhu Lin (CHN) defeated [Q] Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-1 6-1
[WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) defeated [WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Mayar Sherif (EGY) defeated [Q] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 7-5 7-5
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated [Q] Clara Burel (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Francesca Jones (GBR) 6-4 6-1
Mona Barthel (GER) defeated [Q] Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 3-6 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.


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.


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

2020 WTA Volvo Car Open fantasy tennis: Bencic fights off Anisimova as Swiatek takes down Stephens

WHILE ultimately the four seeded players made their way through to the second round of the 2020 WTA Volvo Car Open fantasy tennis tournament in Charleston, there were a mixture of expected and surprise results from day one of the tournament. For starters, the match between 10th seed Swiss talent, Belinda Bencic and fellow up and comer, Amanda Anisimova was a thriller. Bencic had to fight back from a set down to win 3-6 6-4 6-4 in two hours and 36 minutes against her top 30 opponent. Other seeds, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova and Croatia’s Petra Martic all made their way through to the Round of 32 with easier encounters.

Martic had the biggest challenge of the trio up against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson, but managed to hold on in a flat two-hour two-set contest, 6-4 7-6. Muguruza and Kvitova were drawn against much lower ranked opponents in American wildcard Danielle Collins and Australian qualifier Sam Stosur respectively and both matches were the same scoreline – 6-4 6-1. In another massive clash, Kazakstan’s Elena Rybakina – who just missed out on being a side at Charleston – defeated the returning Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-4, while Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova knocked out Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-3 6-2.

In the lower quarter of the draw, there were four three-set matches which made for entertaining tennis. Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva joined Rybakina in the second round with a come-from-behind 1-6 6-4 6-4 victory over Russian qualifier, Daria Kasatkina. It was better news for Veronika Kudermetova with the Russian making her way through to the Round of 32 courtesy of a 6-4 4-6 6-2 win over Magda Linette. The Pole went down in that clash, but her compatriot got one up over Sloane Stephens with wildcard, Iga Swiatek winning 7-6 4-6 6-4. Meanwhile Stephens’ compatriot had better luck herself, with qualifier Bernarda Pera triumphing in an upset over China’s Saisai Zheng, 7-6 2-6 6-4.

In the remaining couple of matches, Greece talent Maria Sakkari knocked off Great Britain’s Heather Watson, while Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit defeated Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both matches were in straight sets, but were tight contests.

In tomorrow’s day of action, ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka takes on the in-form Elise Mertens in an encounter not to be missed, while the likes of 16th seed Johanna Konta and 12th seed Bianca Andreescu have tough first round clashes. In a repeat of the Miami match up in which Kristina Mladenovic won, the Frenchwoman faces American Alison Riske in the first round.


[10] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Amanda Anisimova (USA) 3-6 6-4 6-4
[11] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [WC] Danielle Collins (USA) 6-4 6-1
[13] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-4 6-1
[15] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-4 7-6
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-3 6-2
Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 7-5 6-3
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-4 6-4
Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 7-6 6-3
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated [Q] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 1-6 6-4 6-4
[Q] Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated Saisai Zheng (CHN) 7-6 2-6 6-4
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 6-4 4-6 6-2
[WC] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-4

Fed Cup fantasy tennis: Reigning champs out as Aussies survive scare

IT was the most dramatic day of the Fed Cup fantasy tennis tournament so far with reigning champions, France out of the running after losing to an impressive Russian outfit on day five. Meanwhile in the second tie, it took all three matches to decide a winner with not much difference between the nations, but Australia advanced through to the semi-finals with a 2-1 win over Belarus.

RUSSIA (2) defeated FRANCE (0)

With the match being the final one of the group stage, it was decided prior that if a nation went 2-0 up then the doubles would be scrapped. That is exactly what happened with the Russians getting the job done in two. The in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova had a massive tussle with last year’s Fed Cup saviour, Kristina Mladenovic and it proved form is a better indicator than history with Alexandrova, winning 6-2 1-6 6-4. The Russian talent started strongly winning the first four games, before Mladenovic won the next two to reduce the deficit back to a break. Despite this, Alexandrova picked up the bid again to win the next three games – the set 6-2 and the opening game of the second set. Something clicked in Mladenovic from then though, as the Frenchwoman went on a six-game tear to dominate the second set and level the match at a set apiece. The deciding set was even with ebbs and flows, as Alexandrova led 3-1 and then Mladenovic took the lead 4-3. It was how the best player finished though, with the world number 27 winning the final three games of the match to hand her nation the early lead in the tie.

The crucial win helped Russia gain the advantage with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova heading into the second match as favourite against experienced Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia. It all seemed to be going to plan early for the Russian, leading 3-1 and then 5-3, before a crucial break from Garcia extended the first set, before Pavlyuchenkova won a huge break game and took out the set, 7-5. From there it was all Pavlyuchenkova as she won five consecutive games after being 1-1 in the second set to take out the match 7-5 6-1. It meant the reigning champions would be bundled out of the competition and Russia would go on to play the winner of the Czech Republic and Germany in the semi-finals.

Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2 1-6 6-4
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5 6-1

AUSTRALIA (2) defeated BELARUS (1)

Anticipated as an equally huge match-up, all three matches between Australia and Belarus ended up straight sets, but far from one-sided. World number one Ash Barty knew the importance of winning her match but Aryna Sabalenka would be no pushover ranked just 10 places lower. It seemed to be a Barty party early with the dual sportsperson winning the opening four games and racing to a 5-1 lead. Sabalenka refused to throw in the towel though and made it interesting at 3-5, before Barty broke immediately back to win 6-3. Again Barty started strongly in the second set, winning three of the first four games before the Belarusian bounced back to take the lead herself 4-3. Three consecutive games of pure tennis resulted in the Australian claiming the match in just over two hours and handing her nation the crucial buffer.

The experience of Victoria Azarenka showed out in the second match when she took on Ajla Tomljanovic. The pair are both ranked in the 50s and were evenly matched, but it was Azarenka who was able to close out each set. She trailed 2-3 at one stage in the first set, but won four of the last five games to snatch the lead at 6-4. She then held serve strongly to start the second set, but was broken in the sixth game, only to break immediately back – twice – as well as hold her serve to go 5-3 up and serve for the match. Tomljanovic had another burst of energy in the ninth game of the set, breaking Azarenka and serving it out to level the set at 5-5, only for the Belarusian to hold comfortably and then win the match off back-to-back forehand winners, 6-4 7-5.

Now the tie was level, Barty and Sam Stosur would face off against Sabalenka and Azarenka hoping that Stosur’s freshness and Barty’s form would be an advantage. They trailed early in the first set, after being broken in the sixth game to be 2-3 down. Finding something special, the Australian duo won four consecutive games – breaking twice including Sabalenka in the 10th game to take the first set 6-4. Frustrated at the missed opportunity, the Belarusians stepped it up a notch in the second set, as each pairing held serve until the seventh game. Belarus broke Stosur’s serve to lead 4-3, only for them to break Azarenka straight back and then move to 5-4 by holding serve. Neither side broke again as the match was forced into a second set tiebreaker, which went all the way to 14-12 before Barty timed a perfect lob and Stosur hit the easy volley into the open court off the Sabalenka return. Australia was through to the final four with an impressive, yet tight overall victory.

Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-3 6-4
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-4 7-5
A. Barty / S. Stosur (AUS) defeated A. Sabalenka / V. Azarenka (BLR) 6-4 7-6

2020 WTA Qatar Open preview: Barty hopeful of return in stacked field of entrants

AN AMAZING field has signed up for what promises to be a memorable Qatar Open on the WTA Tour with world number one Ash Barty set to play alongside at least six other top 10 stars. With others in serious form and depth like few other tournaments, this promises to be a huge event with plenty on offer for the winner.


Ash Barty (AUS)

The world number one seems to for some reason be copping it for her semi-final loss and consequent press conference where she brought here niece into it. The tour’s golden girl has nothing to apologise for on either front having won in Adelaide and performed well throughout the Australian Open campaign. Her first tournament since that loss will come here in Qatar, with the major question mark coming over her fitness, having withdrawn from Dubai with a foot injury. Still number one with a bullet, the Australian will have plenty to prove here in a stacked field of entries that will see a remarkable 64 players take to the courts in such a prestigious event. Barty did not play here last year so does not have the points to defend.


Simona Halep (ROU)

Last year’s runner-up returns in-form after a semi-finals loss at Melbourne Park and a strong performance in Dubai. She will be seeded number two this year – unless Barty withdraws handing her top billing, which will suit the Romanian just fine. Last year, Halep went down to Belgian Elise Mertens in three sets, but triumphed over Ukranians, Elina Svitolina and Lesia Tsurenko, and German Julia Goerges on her way to the final.

Petra Kvitova (CZE)

Reaching a quarter final in Melbourne back in January, Kvitova ran into world number one, Barty in a straight sets loss in the Grand Slam. Prior to that, the crafty left-handed Czech downed in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova – who had won back-to-back tournaments heading into the match – and 22nd seed Maria Sakkari. She fronted up at St Petersburg, but illness forced her to retire in the quarter finals against Alexandrova.

Elise Mertens (BEL)

Last year’s reigning champion would be a highly rated chance to go back-to-back with some good form coming in excluding her straight sets loss to Aryna Sabalenka at Dubai. That tournament was her first-up from the Australian Open, where she reached a fourth round and went down to Halep, the player she defeated in this final 12 months ago. With points to defend, Mertens will need to rekindle that form that saw her win the title. With five titles to her name, the Belgian will be keen to back it up with a strong performance here.


Kiki Bertens (BEL)

A consistent player over the past few years, the 28-year-old Dutchwoman has worked her way to eighth in the work having taken out the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy back-to-back, defeating Alexandrova among three Russians, and Elena Rybakina on her way to the trophy. An impressive straight sets win over top 15 player, Sabalenka and a fighting three-set loss to Naomi Osaka earlier in the year at Brisbane, and Bertens is in some strong form. She did lose to Garbine Muguruza at Melbourne Park on the Spaniard’s way to the final, but Bertens should be feeling confident against the world’s best heading in here.

Angelique Kerber (GER)

The Grand Slam winner is making her way back up the rankings with the former world number one back in the top 20 after a Round of 16 Melbourne Park showing. She reached the fourth round before being stopped in her tracks by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a disappointing loss, but it was also hard to read her performance as a whole, with her three wins coming against players outside the top 100. A forgettable loss against Sam Stosur and forced to retire in Adelaide against Ukrainian teen and eventual finalist, Dayana Yastremska, her 2020 season still has a question mark on her form thus far.

Garbine Muguruza (ESP)

The Spanish Grand Slam winner came agonisingly close to winning her third Grand Slam at Melbourne Park, reaching the final on the back of some inspired tennis. What will give her confidence is the fact she was able to knock off the likes of Halep, Pavlyuchenkova, Bertens and Svitolina, all of whom have signed up here for the same surface as the Australian Open. Whilst she had to retire in Hobart and went down to Alexandrova in Shenzhen, she has already picked up her form again in Dubai, making a quarter final at the time of publishing.


Elena Rybakina (KAZ)

It is hard not to imagine the talented 20-year-old as a future Grand Slam winner with the way she moves and her shot play. She has that almost complete game when she is on, but at a level just below the elite talents. It is getting there though, and it showed with a huge come-from-behind win against fifth seed and Australian Open winner, Sofia Kenin at Dubai. If she can continue that form which saw her also reach finals in St Petersburg and Shenzhen – and winning at Hobart – then she is every chance to push inside the top 10 during the season.

Australian Open: Women’s Day 1 review – Barty fights as others breeze through to next round

IT was a huge opening day of the Australian Open with some simply outstanding individual performances. Plenty of seeds moved through to Round 2, while some matches were delayed due to adverse weather conditions. We recap all the matches that went down on Monday.

World number one, Ash Barty has advanced to the second round after a scare from former top 30 player Lesia Tsurenko to post a 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory. As predicted in the Day 1 must-watch matches piece yesterday, Barty was always going to have a fight on her hands from the Ukrainian. It showed in the first set when Tsurenko just made the most of her break point opportunities with three breaks to Barty’s two, and targeting the Australian’s second serve (77 per cent success). She won 45 per cent of her own second serves in that time, and while she hit less winners (five to 11) she also hit less unforced errors (11 to 19) in what proved to be an uncharacteristic set from Barty. The Australian resettled and got on with it after that, only hitting another 11 unforced errors for the match as her serve picked up, and she began to control proceedings with eight successful approaches at the net. She won 78 per cent of her first serves, losing just four points on her first serve in the last two sets. A total of 10 aces for the match sealed a solid first round win as Tsurenko’s nine double faults did not help the underdog.

In the bottom half of the eighth, 18th seed American Alison Riske leads her Chinese opponent, Wang Yafan 7-6 before the match was suspended. If Yafan can mount a comeback, she could set up an all-Chinese battle in the second round after Zhu Lin downed Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, 4-6 6-1 7-6. The match became so tight in the end the super tiebreak had to be enacted, with Lin getting up 10-5 in that tiebreak. Golubic was her own worst enemy in the match, producing eight double faults and winning just 44 per cent of her serving points. Usually this would spell a straight sets defeat, but she broke a remarkable seven times as Lin’s serving was far from perfect either with just over half of her on-serve points going her way. Golubic’s net work was superb with 81 per cent success rate, while Lin broke nine times and hit 13 more winners, though both players were sloppy with a combined 93 unforced errors in the match.

A couple of smashings rounded out the top eighth of the women’s draw with 13th seed Croatian, Petra Martic sending American Christina McHale packing, 6-3 6-0. Martic was solid across the board with 22 winners and as many unforced errors, taking her chances with her serve and volley game. She won 75 per cent of her net points with 27 points to three compared to her opponent upon approach. She broke four times from eight opportunities, while McHale could not capitalise from four of her own break point opportunities. It was one-way traffic for the majority of the match and Martic comfortably ran out the winner to advance through to the next round.

Martic now takes on Germany’s Julia Goerges who will not be an easy task after Goerges down Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova, 6-1 6-2 in 56 minutes. Ten years her senior, Goerges showed all her experience and ability on her way to serving nine aces and hitting 21 winners on the day. She also only dropped 10 points on-serve and did not provide a break point opportunity for her 21-year-old opponent, instead breaking four of a possible six times herself. She was sensible with just 10 unforced errors for the match, and was so dominant that she only hit eight less winners than Kuzmova won in total points. It sets up a ripping contest between Goerges and Martic in the second round to be played tomorrow.

[1] A. Barty (AUS) defeated L. Tsurenko (UKR) 5-7 6-1 6-1
P. Hercog (SLO) vs. R. Peterson (SWE)
A. Sasnovich (BLR) vs. [Q] G. Minnen (BEL)
B. Pera (USA) vs. [29] E. Rybakina (KAZ)
[18] A. Riske (USA) leads Y. Wang (CHN) 7-6 SUSPENDED
L. Zhu (CHN) defeated V. Golubic (SUI) 4-6 6-1 7-6
J. Goerges (GER) defeated V. Kuzmova (SVK) 6-1 6-2
[13] P. Martic (CRO) defeated C. McHale (USA) 6-3 6-0

The second eighth of the women’s draw had four completed matches – allowing all the second round matches from that section to be able to go ahead in the coming days if need be. The in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova toppled Switzerland’s up-and-coming 22-year-old in Jil Teichmann 6-4 4-6 6-2 to move clear of their head-to-head battles. It was far from the domination she has showed in recent weeks, but the Russian was able to get the job done, smashing her way to an impressive 36 winners – including five off the return – while claiming 71 per cent of her net points. Teichmann hit 18 winners but was loose with her shotmaking, producing 35 unforced errors at the same time. She also only won 51 per cent of her first serve points, with Alexandrova’s serving game not one the Russian will be fond of. She only recorded a first serve percentage of 49 per cent, and while she was able to win 70 per cent of her first serve points, capitalised mostly off her break point opportunities, where she broke eight times throughout the match.

Alexandrova now takes on Czech qualifier, Barbora Krejcikova who defeated Estonian, Kaia Kanepi in the first round. She only just got there with a narrow tiebreaker win in the first set, then bounced back from a disappointing second set to triumph, 7-6 2-6 6-3 in two and a half hours. Both players served six aces, and Kanepi had more break points, as well as less unforced errors, but was not as consistent on her serve. Krejcikova won 68 per cent of her first serve points, and was stronger at the net with 65 per cent success. She also hit 44 winners from her 99 total points, taking her chances when they came with four breaks from six opportunities. It was not the most clinical performance but she moves through to the Round of 64.

The final two matches in the section were complete blowouts with seventh seed, Petra Kvitova needing just 50 minutes to send 23-year-old Czech, Katerina Siniakova home, 6-1 6-0. It was a complete domination by Kvitova who dusted off the cobwebs at Melbourne park with a ridiculous number of winners (20) and serving percentages that anyone would be proud of. Kvitova won 78 per cent of her first serves and 83 per cent of her second serve points, only losing a total of seven points on serve for the whole match. She saved Siniakova’s only break point opportunity, while pouncing on six of nine for her self in the rout. Her net work was superb with 11 of her 12 approaches successful, while winning a massive 57 per cent of her receiving points.

Despite the domination by Kvitova, her next opponent had just as easy time, with Spain’s Paula Badosa shocking former top 20 player, Johanna Larsson 6-1 6-0. The result was not so much a shock for the 95th ranked Spaniard, but the manner of how it came about was, with Larsson showing great form in qualifying only to be bundled out in just 57 minutes of action. Badosa looked good on serve, winning 81 per cent of her first serves, and saving all three break point opportunities from the Swede. The Spaniard hit 27 winners and only 13 unforced errors, while claiming 71 per cent of her net points. She has a huge task in the next round but comes in with good form.

[10] M. Keys (USA) vs. D. Kasatkina (RUS)
M. Linette (POL) vs. A. Rus (NED)
[Q] N. Hibino (JPN) vs. S. Peng (CHN)
M. Gasparyan (RUS) vs. [22] M. Sakkari (GRE)
[25] E. Alexandrova (RUS) defeated J. Teichmann (SUI) 6-4 4-6 6-2
[Q] B. Krejcikova (CZE) defeated K. Kanepi (EST) 7-6 2-6 6-3
P. Badosa (ESP) defeated [Q] J. Larsson (SWE) 6-1 6-0
[7] P. Kvitova (CZE) defeated K. Siniakova (CZE) 6-1 6-0

Of the 128 scheduled matches between the men’s and women’s draw, the third eighth of the women’s Day 1 schedule was the only completed section. It helped that seven of the eight games were in straight sets, with only 24th seed Sloane Stephens‘ disappointing loss the exception. The American went down to Zhang Shuai of China after winning the first set 6-2, losing 2-6 7-5 6-2 in a capitulation not overly surprising considering the 26-year-old’s recent form. Shuai was simply better and full credit to the Chinese hitter, producing 41 winners to Stephens’ 28, dialing it back after the first set with 13 unforced errors costing her. Shuai broke six times to Stephens’ five, but ran away with the contest in the last set, serving at 87 per cent, breaking three times from three opportunities, and hitting a massive 14 winners and zero unforced errors in a clean display.

Shuai booked a spot in the second round against American qualifier Christine McNally who had the fortunate luck of drawing Sam Stosur in the first round of the Australian Open. Unfortunately for Stosur, her struggles at Melbourne Park are well documented and often the criticism is unfair of those who only watch her over the Australian summer. She is a US Open winner – defeating Serena Williams no less – and has made a Roland Garros final. Unfortunately for Stosur, this year marks the fifth consecutive year she has bowed out in the first round of her home Grand Slam and it seems unlikely the external, and clearly by now, internal pressure valve will ever be released. That is not to take anything away from McNally who won 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 39 minutes. She hit 22 winners and 22 unforced errors, breaking five times and being more consistent on her first serve than Stosur. The Australian hit one additional winner, but a clumsy 39 unforced errors, breaking just once from the same amount of opportunities as her opponent – 12 – while recording winning serve percentages of just 52 and 43 on her first and second serve.

It was a good section for the Americans and not so much the home nation, as qualifier Ann Li doubled down on the success with a 7-6 7-6 victory over Australian wildcard, Lizette Cabrera. The Australian had a couple of set points in the second set and had a led by as much as 5-2 at one stage in that set, but the Wimbledon Junior runner-up kept coming and twice forced her way back into the second tiebreaker, claiming victory 12-10 in the end to advance through to the next round. Neither player was clean with the match at times resembling more of a whoever missed least would win. A combined 97 unforced errors showed that both players were going for too much, but at least Li hit 32 winners to Cabrera’s nine. In the end though, Li won just six more points in a thriller not for the quality but for the closeness, though the 19-year-old will want to be a lot cleaner in the next round when she faces countrywoman Sofia Kenin.

The 14th seed was strong in her first match downing Italian qualifier, Martina Trevisan 6-2 6-4. Kenin only hit the 13 winners but produced just the 21 unforced errors, breaking her opponent five times to keep her at bay. Trevisan had her share of winners too – 11 – though she struggled on-serve, winning just 52 and 38 per cent of her first and second serve points respectively. She showed good strength at the net, but just lacked the extra class that the American had. It sets up an all-American battle in the Round of 64, with Kenin predicted to use all her experience to see off Li.

The most talked about women’s match of the day was 15-year-old Coco Gauff’s rematch with 39-year-old Grand Slam winner, Venus Williams. Much like the first round of Wimbledon, Gauff came out on top in straight sets, downing Williams 7-6 6-3 to move through to the next round. Both players won 77 per cent of their first serve points, but it was Gauff who was stronger on her second serve, triumphing 61 per cent of the time to Williams’ 40 per cent. She also hit less unforced errors (30 to 41) and while she hit less winners (17 to 24), showed power with her serve and continued to give the expectation that she will be a Rising Star in the tennis world soon enough.

Gauff’s next task is against Romania’s Sonia Cirstea who bundled out 32nd seed, Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. The world number 74 won 6-2 7-6, just getting up in the second set tiebreaker to avoid a deciding set. It was a case of taking her chances, and Cirstea broke four times while hitting 32 winners and winning 43 per cent of her receiving points. Both had a terrific battle when approaching the net, winning more than two thirds of their points, but Strycova could not capitalise on her high 77 per cent first serve ratio, with just over half of her first and second serve points won.

It was no surprise to see world number three and reigning champion Naomi Osaka advance through to the second round without too much trouble. She downed 21-year-old Czech, Marie Bouzkova 6-2 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes, seven seven aces and dominating the play off her racket. She hit 29 winners and 28 unforced errors to her opponents’ 12 and 13 respectively, but the up-and-coming Japanese star was impenetrable off her serve with a 74 per cent winning ratio on her first serve and then capitalising with 88 per cent of her net points. She also broke four times to her opponents’ one, and looked in control most of the time. Osaka advanced through to face Zheng Saisai who knocked off Russian qualifier, Anna Kalinskaya.

Saisai is ranked 41st in the world and showed some powerful hitting in her 6-3 6-2 win over Kalinskaya to give Osaka the indication not to underestimate her. She hit 27 winners and only 14 unforced errors as she dominated first serve points (77 to 51 per cent), while breaking four times and controlling the play at the net with a 74 per cent success rate when appraching. Kalinskaya managed to get 77 per cent of her first serves in, but struggled with only half of her service points won.

[3] N. Osaka (JPN) defeated M. Bouzkova (CZE) 6-2 6-4
S. Zheng (CHN) defeated [Q] A. Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-3 6-2
C. Gauff (USA) defeated V. Williams (USA) 7-6 6-3
S. Cirstea (ROU) defeated [32] B. Strycova (CZE) 6-2 7-6
S. Zhang (CHN) defeated [24] S. Stephens (USA) 2-6 7-5 6-2
[Q] C. McNally (USA) defeated S. Stosur (AUS) 6-1 6-4
[Q] A. Li (USA) defeated [WC] L. Cabrera (AUS) 7-6 7-6
[14] S. Kenin (USA) defeated [Q] M. Trevisan (ITA) 6-2 6-4

The last eighth that was started had just three completed matches – all one-sided smashings – which saw two past Australian Open winners advance through to the next round. Eighth seed and tournament favourite, Serena Williams barely broke a sweat winning the first set 6-0 in 19 minutes before completing the 6-0 6-3 rout of Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in just under an hour. In that time, Williams served nine aces and hit 24 winners – including four off the return – as well as breaking five times from six opportunities. Potapova was helpless to stop the up-and-about Williams who was simply clinical, particularly in the first set where she sent a message to her rivals.

The 2018 Australian Open winner, Caroline Wozniacki cruised through in similar circumstances, downing Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3 in an hour and 25 minutes. Wozniacki does not have the same powerful serving ability that Williams has, but she is a clean shot maker who is able to return well and put pressure on her opponent. She created 15 break point opportunities, seizing five of them, while hitting just 11 unforced errors for the match, despite only seven winners. Wozniacki did what she had to do in the victory, while Ahn tried her best with 19 winners, though hit 34 unforced errors as she tried to find a way to outsmart the former world number one.

In the other match, Tamara Zidansek has the fruitless task of trying to stop Williams following her win over South Korean, Na Lae Han 6-3 6-3. Ranked 64th in the world, the Slovenian had no troubles defeating the world number 177th who earned a spot in the main draw via an Asian wildcard. It was far from clinical however, as Zidansek hit 20 unforced errors to accompany her 15 winners. It was more the case of Han being more error-riddled, producing 31 unforced errors for 11 winners. Zidansek was strong at the net, winning 67 per cent of the time, while breaking six times to her opponents’ three. If she has any chance of upsetting Williams however, she will need to improve substantially.

[12] J. Konta (GBR) vs. O. Jabeur (TUN)
M. Brengle (USA) vs. C. Garcia (FRA)
C. Wozniacki (DEN) defeated K. Ahn (USA) 6-1 6-3
[23] D. Yastremska (UKR) vs. [Q] K. Juvan (SLO)
[27] Q. Wang (CHN) vs. [WC] P. Parmentier (FRA)
F. Ferro (FRA) vs. A. Van Uytvanck (BEL)
T. Zidansek (SLO) defeated [WC] N. Han (KOR) 6-3 6-3
[8] S. Williams (USA) defeated A. Potapova (RUS) 6-0 6-3

Hobart International: Day 1 – Kuzmova wins thriller as Aussies bow out

VIKTORIA Kuzmova has survived an epic match to down China’s Lin Zhu in the opening round of the Hobart International yesterday. In a match that lasted almost three hours, the 21-year-old Slovakian came from a set down to advance through to the second round with a 5-7 6-2 7-6 victory. It was a powerful statement from the young gun, with a serve that was hit and miss at times, producing eight aces but three double faults. While Kuzmova was broken five times, she broke her opponent six times to eventually grind out the win. The victory set up a potential Round 2 clash with number one seed Belgian and defending champion, Elise Mertens who takes on American Christina McHale today.

Kuzmova was far from the only player to come from a set down to advance through to the next round with Brit, Heather Watson following suit. Watson was rolled in the opening set 6-1, before coming back against Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann, 1-6 6-4 6-4 to set up a date with Fiona Ferro who had the least time on court of anyone following a 4-4 win after seventh seed Swedish opponent, Rebecca Peterson had to retire following the eighth game. In an almost identical scoreline to the Watson-Teichmann clash, Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova – whose twin sister Karolina celebrated a title at Brisbane over the weekend – came back from a set down to defeat 84th ranked Serbian, Nina Stojanovic 1-6 6-4 6-3.

In a couple of tight tiebreakers, sixth seed Magda Linette polished off experienced Grand Slam veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 7-6 with the second tiebreaker going to 11-9 before Linette could celebrate. The Polish seed will now take on United State’s Lauren Davis who downed Australian, Astra Sharma 6-3 3-6 7-6 in a thrilling contest that lasted more than two and a half hours. The remaining two matches were not as engaging with local hope, Sam Stosur bowing out in straight sets 6-2 6-2 at the hands of fifth seed Russian, Veronika Kudermetova, while Kateryna Kozlova rolled Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2 6-1 to advance through to the round of 16.

The major seeds are in action today with second seed and Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza taking on China’s Yafan Wang for a spot in the second round against up-and-coming Russian, Anna Blinkova or Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. Likewise, third seed Elena Rybakina will hope to go one better than her runners-up status in Shenzhen when she takes on Tamara Zidansek today, with the winner to face either Belgian, Alison Van Uytvanck or Frenchwoman, Alize Cornet. The other two matches to take place are fourth seed, Shuai Zhang meeting Kirsten Flipkens and eighth seed, Caroline Garcia hoping to finally find some form after a disappointing couple of months, taking on local hope Lizette Cabrera.

Day 1 Results:

[5] V. Kudermetova (RUS) defeated S. Stosur (AUS) 6-2 6-2
[6] M. Linette (POL) defeated S. Kuznetsova (RUS) 7-6 7-6
F. Ferro (FRA) defeated [7] R. Peterson (SWE) 4-4 RET
K. Kozlova (UKR) defeated S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-2 6-1
L. Davis (USA) defeated A. Sharma (AUS) 6-3 3-6 7-6
H. Watson (UK) defeated J. Teichmann (SUI) 1-6 6-4 6-4
V. Kuzmova (SVK) defeated L. Zhu (CHN) 5-7 6-2 7-6
K. Pliskova (CZE) defeated N. Stojanovic (SRB) 1-6 6-4 6-3

Brisbane International: Day 5 – Keys storms into quarter finals

DAY 5 of the Brisbane International saw only three Round of 16 matches play out, with three Americans taking on their respective opposition. The USA had a successful day on court with all three proceeding to the quarter finals in straight sets.

Australian Sam Stosur stunned former number one Angelique Kerber in the first round of the competition before taking on eighth seed Madison Keys in Round 2. Stosur got off to a solid start against the American in front of a hostile home crowd before a tiebreaker saw Keys win the first set, with the pair fairly well matched and unable to be separated early. Both players used their powerful serve to take control, with Keys making it clear in the second set that she will fight for her chance to remain in the tournament. While Stosur did not play poorly against the eighth seed, she was well and truly outplayed in the second set, eventually going down 5-7 3-6.

Czech, Barbora Strycova could not continue her strong start to the tournament, falling to Alison Riske in straight sets, 3-6 4-6. Riske was clinical, winning 70 per cent of her first serve points and capitalising off Strycova’s errors. Meanwhile, American Danielle Collins was just too good against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva, collecting a second straight sets win in three days and only dropping one game for the entire match, 6-1 6-0 – meaning she has only dropped three games throughout the tournament so far and not one set. That being said, Putintseva put up an impressive fight on her fifth consecutive day on court, having played three days of qualifiers prior to joining the main group.