Tag: sloane stephens

WTA Tour wrap: Krejcikova claims maiden Roland Garros singles title

THE 2021 Roland Garros singles final played out overnight, with unseeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova claiming the silverware over 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The huge one hour and 58-minute clash went down to the wire as Krejcikova’s Russian opposition bit back in the second, before the tight third set cemented the Czech in the history books.

The first set saw Krejcikova gain the early ascendancy, with a huge 6-1 opener showcasing her intent and willingness to pressure hard in the contest. But Pavlyuchenkova would not back down, stealing the second 6-2 to ensure the duo had a real game on their hands, as the third set saw neither player give an inch. Both breaking serve and holding once more in the early stages of the third, it was Krejcikova who broke the mold and claimed three straight games to take herself to 5-3, with Pavlyuchenkova winning the next before the Czech served for the match and did not stutter, claiming the 6-1 2-6 6-4 clash.

“I’m extremely happy. It’s a dream come true, for sure,” Krejcikova said. “I’m just really happy that I was able to handle it as I did, that mentally I think that was the biggest key.”

Ranking outside the top 100 just nine months ago, Krejcikova has enjoyed a remarkable rise up the rankings and will make her top 20 debut on Monday, coming in at number 15, following an exciting past few weeks which saw her win her maiden singles title in Strasbourg just two week ago and afford her a current 12-match winning streak.

While the 25-year-old has outwardly struggled with confidence issues throughout the past week, she said her psychologist has been critical in her stepping on court each match, and mentally has been all the better for it.

“I’ve been actually talking to [my psychologist] before every single match that I play since I played Sloane (Sloane Stephens). It was really difficult. I’ve never been in a situation like this, not in the singles. I was a little bit panicking. I really wanted to win,” Krejcikova said.

“Also she gave me a lot of courage to actually go on court, just be happy that I’m actually there. All of this… it’s a big achievement that nobody really expected, not even me. She just told me, Just be happy, just go out there. It’s going to be finals, but just take it as a regular match, pretty much as a practice match that you just want to improve. Just go with this attitude and you see. You’re going to make it or it’s going to come next time.

“I knew that if I really want to win, I’m just going to put so much pressure on myself, it’s not going to happen. We had the conversation about this. She just told me just to go and enjoy. We spoke about how to talk to myself, what to do when I’m going to feel nervous on court. Like simple things, what to do.”

This is not the former doubles number one’s first major title, having registered eight doubles titles across three of the four grand slams in juniors, women’s and mixed divisions. Krejcikova says that this is a dream come true – especially given she will contest the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova on Monday.

“It’s something I have always dreamed about,” she said. “Winning here, my first doubles title, then winning the mixed ones. Now I was just telling myself, It would be really nice if I can get the Grand Slam in all three categories. Now it’s happening. I cannot believe it. Wow.”

Krejcikova is the first Czech woman to lift the Roland Garros singles trophy since Hana Mandlikova in 1981 – playing for the former Czechoslovakia – and the third unseeded champion in the past five years, following the footsteps of Jelena Ostapenko (2017) and Iga Swiatek (2020).

Pavlyuchenkova held no hard feelings for her opposition, telling media post-match that she has been suffering from a minor leg injury throughout the event, but was not willing to give her potential opponents any indication of her pain.

“I have to be honest, I wasn’t mentioning because I was still in the tournament,” said Pavlyuchenkova. “I didn’t want my opponents to hear. But the Sabalenka match, I was actually in a really bad shape physically. I don’t know how I even won that match because I also had a medical treatment there, I had to wrap my leg.”

“I’ll keep on going,” she said. “Hopefully, you know, next time if I have a chance to be in the final I’ll handle it better and I’ll be more fresh and I’ll play better. That’s the goal right now. I want to believe that the best is yet to come, so I think that’s how I should approach the whole situation.”

ROLAND GARROS FINAL RESULT:

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-1 2-6 6-4

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Krejcikova and Pavlyuchenkova set up maiden slam final

BARBORA Krejcikova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have set up a huge Roland Garros final this week following victories during the semis, coming in hot during their successful Grand Slam campaigns with a shot at a maiden major title edging ever closer.

Unseeded Czech Krejcikova was forced to battle hard in a huge clash with 17th seed Greek Maria Sakkari, taking out the tight first set before Sakkari broke back to win the second. She was then forced to save a match point to claim the eventual 7-5 4-6 9-7 encounter, requiring a whopping three hours and 18 minutes to do so – the longest ever women’s semi final at the Roland Garros.

“I think the match was really up and down,” Krejcikova said. “I just told myself, ‘Just fight, fight, fight until the last point’. I’m happy that I was really fighting.”

“I cannot believe it’s actually happening,” Krejcikova said. “I cannot believe it.”

Whilst the two competitors had similar winner (31-27 the way of Krejcikova) and unforced error counts (58-53), the stats proved just how closely fought the matchup was with the Czech only marginally leading off her own service games given Sakkari’s quicker serve, and overall winning 126 total points to Sakkari’s 118.

“I always wanted to play matches like this,” Krejcikova said. “I always wanted to play tournaments like this, big tournaments, big opponents, last rounds. It was always something that I wanted to achieve. It was just taking so long.

“It just took me some time, but I think right now it’s actually right moment. Especially mentally I think I’m just there. I really matured. I just really appreciate things a lot, especially after what I’ve gone through.”

While Sakkari is proud of her run to the semi-finals, which included a milestone becoming the first Greek woman to ever reach a grand slam semi, she was disappointed that she “got stressed” when serving for the match on two separate occasions.

“I have to be deadly honest: I got stressed, starting thinking that I’m a point away from being in the final,” Sakkari said. “I guess it’s a rookie mistake. Good thing is that if I give myself a chance again to be in that position, then I know that I don’t have to do it again.”

“I’m proud of my run here, but it hurts,” she said. “Today’s loss hurts a lot because I was so close. I was just one point away. “But what can you do? “There are lots of positives and some negatives, as well. I just have to embrace it and just move forward and see how am I going to do it the next time.”

Krejcikova also defeated Kristyna Pliskova, 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, fifth seed Elina Svitolina, Sloane Stephens and 24th seed Coco Gauff – in that order – on her way to the semi-final.

Pavlyuchenkova had a similarly tough run to the final, coming up against a couple of top seeds and showcasing just how impressive her last week has been. Christina McHale, Ajla Tomljanovic, third seed Aryna Sabalenka, 15th seed Victoria Azarenka and 21st seed Elena Rybakina, before taking on Slovenian Tamara Zidansek for her first chance at a grand slam major – which came after just one hour and 34 minutes.

“It’s been a long road. It’s been a lot of ups and downs. It’s been a tough one,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I definitely didn’t expect this year being in the final. I guess you can’t expect those things.

“I was just there working hard, doing everything possible. I just said to myself, ‘You know what, this year let’s do whatever it takes, anything you can do to improve your game, your mentality’.”

The Russian raced ahead to an early break 5-3 before her Slovenian opposition bit back, taking the first set to a decider before Pavlyuchenkova claimed the momentum clinching the first set 7-5 and raced away to complete the 6-3 second set.

“Like this something I’ve been thinking about every single time. I think as tennis players, that’s the only goal I think we have in the head. That’s why we playing tennis,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “That’s for us the biggest achievement you can get. That’s what you’re playing for… I think about it all the time. Like been thinking about it since I was a junior, since I was a little kid, since I started playing tennis… It’s been there in my head forever.”

Zidansek will debut in the top 50 following her excellent run to the semi-finals, and left nothing to chance in what ended up being her final encounter for the week.

“I’ve learned that sometimes when I was younger, I was always looking at big players, ‘Wow, they’re hitting so good’. Maybe I want to have a shot like that or something,” Zidansek said.

“But I think I showed myself and I’ve learned that at this stage it really is, I’m going to say, 90 per cent a mental game, just about going out there and believing in yourself, believing in your game. At the end being able to go out there and show your best game.”

ROLAND GARROS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) 7-5 4-6 9-7
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 7-5 6-3

 

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Historic victories pile up as quarter finalists emerge

IT was a clean sweep on Day 9 of Roland Garros action, with the women’s draw seeing all four matches play out in straight sets and relatively confident wins at that. A couple more seeds fell, as one unseeded player remains in this half of the draw.

In a day of fast finishes, it was teen Coco Gauff who completed her victory the quickest as the 17-year-old slammed home a 6-3 6-1 result in just 53 minutes over 25th seed Ons Jabeur. Gauff reached her first grand slam quarter final in the process – and is the youngest in Paris to do so since 2006 – hitting just nine unforced errors to 21 throughout the encounter, and 15 winners for two aces.

“It means a lot to me,” Gauff said post-match. “I have lost in the fourth round a couple times so it feels good to get over that hurdle. Today I played probably my best match so far in the tournament.”

“I feel like all my matches have been — I don’t know how to say it, but straightforward wins, like no crazy three sets and stuff,” she said. “As we know, I have had a lot of those in the past.”

“I just feel like this has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level. Hopefully I can keep that going.”

Gauff, seeded just one ahead of Jabeur in at 24th, is also the youngest American to reach the quarters of any major slam since Venus Williams in 1997, who prevailed to make the US Open final.

“I’m definitely still learning [on clay], I’m going to always still be learning no matter how many matches I win,” Gauff said. “But for me, it’s just being patient. And shot selection I think is really important on clay because you’re not going to have too many outright winners on clay just because it’s slower and gives more time for your opponent to get the ball.”

“I think clay is probably the surface you can use the whole court the most. I think it’s important that I continue to mix up how I play so my opponents don’t really know what to expect.”

The young gun takes on Barbora Krejcikova in the next round, with the Czech unseeded but only ranked eight behind Gauff on the current WTA rankings, slotting in at number 33 in the world following her maiden title clinch at Strasbourg last week. That form has stuck with Krejcikova, who despite having to overcome severe nerves and stress prior to her Round of 16 encounter, put out a huge 6-2 6-0 performance to sweep former finalist Sloane Stephens in 67 minutes.

“I woke up and I just felt really bad,” Krejcikova told media post-match. “I just felt really stressed. I don’t know why or what for. Half an hour before the match, I didn’t even want to step on the court. I had to lock myself in the physio room and I had to talk to my psychologist. I was actually crying. I just felt really, really bad, and I don’t know why. It just happened.”

“I went there on the court, and I know that it didn’t look like it, but I just felt really, really bad. I was just happy that I started well. I think after the first point, things got a little bit better, a little bit easier. Then I broke her. I just felt like, yeah, you know, I can actually play her.”

“I think I was just more stressed that I’m just not gonna be good enough. I think that’s what happened.”

But Krejcikova was more than good enough, hitting more winners (10-9) and less unforced errors (19-26), as well as winning an huge 82 per cent of her first serve points off a 61 per cent clip.

“We talked about it a lot, and she told me, ‘You know, if you can overcome this, what you feel right now, it’s going to be a huge win. It doesn’t matter if you’re gonna win on the court or lose on the court, because it’s going to be a personal win.'”

The second quarter final from this half of the draw will see reigning champion and eighth seed Iga Swiatek take on 17th seed Maria Sakkari, with the latter another player who booked her maiden grand slam quarter final with a swift 68-minute victory over fourth seed Sofia Kenin. Sakkari’s 6-1 6-3 sweep of Kenin also makes her the first Greek woman to reach the final eight of a grand slam in the Open Era.

“I knew it was going to come,” Sakkari said about her historic milestone. “I didn’t know when. But I think that I’ve been playing very good tennis, especially this year, and I don’t see why [I can’t go] further, as well.”

The Greek talent just about blew Kenin off the court during the first set, before backing it up with a clean second. She forced a whopping 32 unforced errors including nine double faults from the American, whilst hitting 19 winners to Kenin’s 14 and just 15 unforced errors to go with her 84 per cent win rate off her first serve.

“I was stressed before the match,” she said. “I was nervous because it’s a tennis match, so I want to win. But then on the other hand, I told myself, just go out there and enjoy. I know it sounds very calm and easy thing to do, but that’s actually one of the few times I’ve told myself to enjoy a match.”

“I just trusted my game and I went for it, and it worked.”

Swiatek is into her second straight quarter final at Paris, and was given the hardest time in the Round of 16 by Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk, eventually reigning supreme 6-3 6-4 in just over an hour and a half during the Roland Garros night session.

“Playing the night session… is always hard, because you have to change the whole rhythm of the day, change the routines,” Swiatek said. “I like [being tested] because it keeps me constantly on my toes. It just keeps you focused all the time, because you don’t have that flow, so… you have to work all the time.

“With that flow, you sometimes can seem surprised that, ‘Hey, something is not good,’ and then you’re going to panic. But right now I’m getting tested, as you said. Still I’m moving forward, so that’s even better for me.

“It is a big achievement,” Swiatek said on court post-match. I won last year, but being in the quarter-final of a Grand Slam isn’t like an everyday thing. I’m really proud that I am doing good. I have good support with me.”

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [4] Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-1 6-3
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-3 6-4
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-3 6-1
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-2 6-0

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Americans dominate as young talent continues to shine

IT was an intriguing day of Round of 32 action in the Roland Garros women’s draw, as a number of American competitors took the court and upsets aplenty made waves.

Two exciting all-American clashes took place, with the first between fourth seed Sofia Kenin and 28th seed Jessica Pegula going the whole hog, as Kenin claimed victory in one hour and 56 minutes. While the fourth seed has been in shaky form thus far in 2021, Kenin bit back after the first set to

“I’m happy with the way I’m playing. Of course it gives me confidence. I’m finally not on a one-match winning streak. Because this whole year, it was like the second time I won two matches in a row,” Kenin explained. “I was obviously really happy. It was a tough match. It was a lot of ups and downs, emotions. I’m just really happy with the way I’m playing.”

“I’ve worked hard on my fitness and my game the past few weeks, so I feel like it’s obviously improving,” Kenin said. “Of course, the more matches that I’m playing, more confidence I’m getting. Of course, I’m happy that it’s clicking during French Open. I’m not going to complain about that.”

The second blockbuster between teen sensation and 24th seed Coco Gauff and 13th seed Jennifer Brady was unfortunately cut short – after just 23 minutes – by an aggravated foot injury to Brady, who explained post-match that she has been suffering from plantar fasciitis and bone bruising following the Rome WTA 1000 event last month.

“I actually was considering not even playing here,” Brady said. “I wasn’t going to step out there unless I could finish the match in the first round. Happy that I was able to get a couple of matches in.

“Then today, I woke up and it was, you know, just worse. I couldn’t really play my game. I was about 20 percent moving. So unfortunate.”

“It’s unfortunate because I have known Jenny very well, and she’s such a nice person,” Gauff said. “If you ask every player on tour, no one is going to say anything bad about her because she’s always laughing and joking around. So I just hope that by the time Wimbledon comes she’ll be healed up and ready to compete at 100 percent again.”

Meanwhile, unseeded duo Barbora Krejcikova and Sloane Stephens executed upsets to set up a huge Round of 16 clash, as Czech talent Krejcikova downed fifth seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets, 6-3 6-2, with last week’s maiden title at Strasbourg clearly crucial for the Czech’s confidence and success.

“I’ve been playing a lot of matches where I actually was leading, and then I just started to play really passive and then I lost,” Krejcikova said. “So I don’t want to make the same mistake again. I was just saying to myself, okay, you go, you’re going to play your shot and you win or you lose. There’s nothing wrong about not really actually closing the match because that’s normal. It happens to so many other players, so many higher players.

“So I just felt, okay, I’m going to go. I’m going to try to play my tennis, my best shots, and let’s see, and if I close it, it’s going to be perfect.”

Krejcikova made more unforced errors but made up for it with her 38 winners to Svitolina’s 20, slamming three winners to complete the match, while Stephens required almost two hours to claim her 6-3 7-5 victory over 18th seed Karolina Muchova.

“My first big fourth round or whatever at a slam was here,” Stephens said. “And obviously consistently making fourth round here has been kind of a staple for me, which has been great. Obviously one of my favourite tournaments of the year, so peaking here has always been really important. The consistency of always doing well here has always brought back good memories.”

Reigning champion Iga Swiatek and Greek talent Maria Sakkari both also got the chocolates in all-seeded encounters, with the former defeating Estonian Anett Kontaveit 7-6 6-0 in 82 minutes, as the latter claimed the longest match of the day, downing 14th seed Elise Mertens 7-5 6-7(2) 6-2 in two hours and 52 minutes. The remaining two winners of the day were Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who continued her excellent run with a one hour and 26-minute victory over Pole Magda Linette, setting up an intriguing clash with Gauff next, as 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk claimed a snappy 61-minute victory over Varvara Gracheva to head into her maiden fourth round appearance at a grand slam, tasked with Swiatek next.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated [28] Jessica Pegula (USA) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-3 6-2
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [30] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 7-6 6-0
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [13] Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-1 RET
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [14] Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-5 6-7 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [18] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 6-3 7-5
[25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 3-6 6-0 6-1
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-1 6-2

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Barty withdraws, teens prevail on Day 5

JUST two unseeded matches played out on a huge Day 5 in the Roland Garros Round of 64 women’s draw, as predominantly seeds reigned supreme to head into a hugely competitive third round of action. The big news of the day saw Ash Barty withdraw with injury, while reigning champion Iga Swiatek was one of five players to execute a speedy hour-long win.

It was a flared-up hip injury that forced Barty to retire from her encounter with Pole Magda Linette, who swept the world number one in the first set before the Australian retired at 6-1 2-2, only managing to play out 48 minutes on court.

“It’s disappointing to end like this,” said Barty. “I’ve had my fair share of tears this week. “It’s all good, everything happens for a reason. “There will be a silver lining in this eventually. “Once I find out what that is, it’ll make me feel a little bit better, but it will be there, I’m sure.”

The Australian leads all-comers for wins on tour this season, with three titles to her name already in 2021.

“It’s just a bridge too far this week,” Barty said. “We had a fantastic lead-up and for my body to let me down is really disheartening, but knowing that we also, we did nothing wrong. It’s something that can’t be explained at this time. “It was just becoming too much. “Right from the first game I was battling the pain, and it just became too severe… it was becoming unsafe.”

“It’s disappointing but not panic stations,” she said. “We know what’s going on. “We just need time to manage it to get back on the court as quickly as we can.”

Linette moves onto the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time, and is joined by teen compatriot Swiatek, who needed just 61 minutes to dispose of Swede Rebecca Peterson, hitting 22 winners to seven throughout the 6-1 6-1 encounter.

“I had a good day today since I woke up, so I knew that I’m going to be in the right mood,” Swiatek said. “I just kept that. I did my routines before the match. “Then when I was on the court, I just felt the ball perfectly. I felt like I could do anything with it. So I’m pretty happy that I had this, you know, this attitude right now.”

Despite Barty and Osaka already out of the running and leaving a clear vision to the finish line, Swiatek is not overthinking her chances on the clay and instead looking straight to her third round matchup.

“I’m just focusing on my next round,” she said. “Actually, I’m gonna play against Anett Kontaveit. “She’s, like, super experienced. “I already lost against her two times. “So it’s going to be a tough match.”

Maria SakkariOns Jabeur and Kontaveit also executed quick victories, with the three seeds finding their form quickly to clean up their respective unseeded opposition. Unseeded Czech Barbora Krejickova joined the hour-long winners group, defeating 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, while 14th seed Elise Mertens also claimed victory.

Eight Americans took the court on Day 5, seeing five competitors reign supreme as the four seeds proved too good. Fourth seed Sofia Kenin appears to have found her groove at the perfect time, downing compatriot Hailey Baptiste, as 13th seed Jennifer Brady, teen 24th seed Coco Gauff and 28th seed Jessica Pegula all claimed wins. While Varvara Lapchenko went down in straight sets to 18th seed Czech Karolina Muchova and Ann Li was shaky against fifth seed Elina Svitolina, proceedings went far different for former finalist Sloane Stephens, who stepped up to the tough task of ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, coming away with a 7-5 6-1 victory in 91 minutes.

The remaining two competitors in teen Marta Kostyuk and 20-year-old Varvara Gracheva earn a chance to reach the second week of a grand slam for the first time when they go head to head in the third round.

“I think we are at times where anyone in women’s tennis can win a slam, kind of,” Kostyuk said. “Not like anyone, anyone, but a lot of girls. Let’s call it that way. It’s not that I have this strong feeling inside me that I’m coming into a Grand Slam believing that I can win it, but this time I feel really good. I believe anything is possible.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS: 

Magda Linette (POL) defeated [1] Ash Barty (AUS) 6-1 2-2 RET
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 7-5 6-3
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Ann Li (USA) 6-0 6-4
[8] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-1 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [9] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-5 6-1
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Fiona Ferro (FRA) 6-4 2-6 7-5
[14] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 4-6 6-2 6-4
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-2 6-3
[18] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-3 6-4
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-3 7-6
[25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-2 6-4
[28] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Tereza Martincova (CZE) 6-3 6-3
[30] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2 6-0
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [32] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Camila Giorgi (FRA) 7-5 1-6 6-2
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-3 6-4

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Suarez Navarro makes return, Kvitova pulls out

DAY 3 of the 2021 Roland Garros women’s draw produced some huge result, as Carla Suarez Navarro made her triumphant return to tennis following cancer treatment, while Ash Barty was tested in her opening round clash and Petra Kvitova pulled out ahead of her second round matchup with an ankle injury.

“Unfortunately, after an MRI and much discussion with my team, I have made the tough decision that it would be unwise to play on it,” Kvitova confirmed on social media. “It’s incredibly bad luck, but I will stay strong and do my best to recover in time for the grass-court season.”

Suarez Navarro put up an impressive fight against Sloane Stephens in her first outing for the year since undergoing treatment, but despite an excellent first set was unable to complete a victory as the American fought hard in the second and third to take out the 3-6 7-6 6-4 win.

“Was a long time, really tough moments, tough months,” Suárez Navarro said. “But, well, every time I had on my mind that I want to be here, I want to come back. Roland Garros is one of my favourite tournaments, so [it was] really clear that my first tournament will be this one.”

“I tried to prepare myself for my best tennis that I can,” Suárez Navarro said. “Obviously I need more time, but I think I had a good time this week practicing, I have good level in my match. Of course I feel tired at the end. I know that if I don’t close the match in two sets, it will be so difficult for me. But I’m really proud, too, of myself and really happy to have the chance to play here one last time.”

“She’s a great player, so she obviously is going to come out and play some really good tennis,” Stephens said. “I thought she played her normal Carla tennis, up on the baseline with that one-handed backhand. I thought she played like she normally does. She brought it to me today, and I thought she played a great match.”

“Obviously she’s been through a lot and we’re all happy that she’s better and healthy and being able to play again, which I think obviously is the most important thing.

“We all love her and love having her around.”

No seeds fell on the day, however it was a close shave for two with world number one Barty taken to three by American Bernarda Pera, and requiring medical attention between the second and third sets, while Karolina Muchova suffered a slump in the first before dominating the remainder of her three setter with Andrea Petkovic.

“It’s so special to be back. I was disappointed not to be able to play last year, but this court is incredible for me, it’s very close to my heart and it’s very nice to be able to play here in front of fans,” Barty said post-match.

“You can’t win a match if you give up, so today was about going out there and not giving up.”

Barty required two hours flat to shake Pera in a 6-4 3-6 6-2 result, with her excellent unforced error count (25-49) paving the way despite Pera dominating the winner count 36-18.

“I think every match that I play in, every different experience, whether it’s an opponent or a physical challenge, I feel like you learn to overcome it and you learn to accept it,” she said.

“That was a massive part of today, was accepting the fact that, yes, I may not be absolutely 100 per cent but I’m certainly good enough to go out there and fight and do the best I can and give myself a chance to win matches.”

All the remaining seeds proceeded to the second round, with Elina SvitolinaKarolina Pliskova, Jennifer Brady and Maria Sakkari leading the pack, while a couple of top 30 talents in young gun Coco Gauff and Tunisian Ons Jabeur trail and 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova downed Venus Williams in 56 minutes.

Plenty of exciting talent also heads into the second round, as two more Americans in Ann Li and qualifier Varvara Lapchenko, as well as a couple of Frenchwomen in Fiona Ferro and Kristina Mladenovic claimed wins, while Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna fell to compatriot Barbora Krejcikova, and a second Australian in Astra Sharma heads to the second round. The remaining winners on the final day of first round action were in-form Pole Magda Linette, Italian Jasmine Paolini and Chinese talent Wang Qiang.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-2
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [Q] Oceane Babel (FRA) 6-2 7-5
[9] Karolina Pliskova (UKR) defeated Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-5 6-4
[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-3 6-3
[17] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [Q] Katarina Zavatska (UKR) 6-4 6-1
[18] Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 1-6 6-3 6-4
[24] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated [Q] Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 7-6 6-4
[25] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 7-5 6-2
[32] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-3 6-1
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [Q] Liang En-Shuo (TPE) 6-1 1-6 6-4
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [Q] Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-4 6-0
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 3-6 7-6 6-4
Magda Linette (POL) defeated [WC] Chloe Paquet (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Wang Qiang (CHN) defeated Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 2-6 6-4 7-6
Ann Li (USA) defeated Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-0 6-1
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 5-7 6-4 6-2
Jasmine Paolini (ITA) defeated [Q] Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-7 7-6 6-0
[WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated [Q] Irina Bara (ROU) 7-6 6-2
[Q] Varvara Lepchenko (USA) defeated Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Julien Crosnier/FFT

WTA Tour wrap: Gauff bounces back to reach Parma final as Serbian semis decided

AMERICAN teenager Coco Gauff will contest the Emilia-Romagna Open final against Wang Qiang after the Chinese sixth seed took care of Gauff’s compatriot Sloane Stephens. Wang won 6-2 7-6 in the one-hour and 46-minute match to reach the Parma final, as Gauff had to bounce back from a shocking second set to win in three sets over Katerina Sinaikova in two hours and eight minutes, 7-5 1-6 6-2.

“It definitely gives me more experience, just the fact that I’ve been in a final before, so I know how the nerves feel, and I know how to handle it a little bit better,” Gauff said post-match. “Tomorrow, I’m just going to go out there and have fun.”

Gauff said playing Siniakova – which not only included losing the second set but going down 2-0 in he third – was difficult, before Gauff piled on six consecutive games to dominate the last part of the match and win 7-5 1-6 6-2.

“[Siniakova is] a super tricky player, she obviously had some great wins this week,” Gauff said. “To be honest, I just kind of hung in there, and although in the second set my level went down a little bit, I was glad that I was able to pick it up for the third.”

Wang had a lower serving efficiency than Stephens (59.7 to 75.3 per cent) but served one more ace (2-1) and was far more consistent on serve, with a 63 to 55.2 first serve winning percentage, and 5.48 to 36.8 second serve winning percentage. Still, Stephens raced out to a 5-1 lead in the second set, but Wang closed her down to win five of the next six games, force a tiebreaker and take out he match in straight sets.

Over in the Serbia Open, Paula Badosa remains the only seeded player in the final four, defeating seventh seed Rebecca Peterson in straight sets 6-2 6-3. The fourth seed Spaniard was far too good and continued her ripping 2021 form to book a spot in the final four. Also making their way through to the semi-finals were Croatian Ana Konjuh who has also been impressive this season, Colombian Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova.

SERBIA LADIES OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[4] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [7] Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-2 6-4
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated [5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-4 6-3
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-4 6-2
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-3 4-6 6-2

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[3] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 7-5 1-6 6-2
[6] Wang Qiang (CHN) Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-2 7-6

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS: 

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

Picture credit: Marta Magni / MEF tennis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

SERBIA LADIES OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

WTA Tour wrap: Emilia-Romagna and Belgrade begin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

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

BELGRADE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

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

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events