Tag: sorana cirstea

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur makes history as Samsonova makes breakthrough

TWO huge results came to fruition overnight, as qualifier Liudmila Samsonova went all the way, claiming the Bett1Open WTA 500 title in Berlin, whilst Ons Jabeur made history at the WTA 250 Viking Classic Birmingham, becoming the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

For Jabeur, it was about “going for it” as much as making her third tour-level single final, overcoming Russian Daria Kasatkina 7-5 6-4. This is the second time the two have gone head-to-head in a final, with the first going the way of Kasatkina, as did their third clash at the 2016 Olympics.

“I knew I had to go for it, I had to win this title to at least breathe, and give an example,” Jabeur said on court. “There’s not a lot of Tunisian or Arabic players playing, so I hope this could inspire them, and I want to see more Arabic [players] and Tunisians playing with me on tour.”

“Last time we played was in Moscow, she won, and I was crying, it was a great battle,” Jabeur said. “I told her, ‘Can you please share some titles with me, at least, let me win my first WTA?'”

Jabeur won 74 per cent of her first serve points off just a 46.3 per cent clip, but made it work by utilising her second serve and converting five break point opportunities, as well as saving four of Kasatkina’s seven attempts.

“You know Dasha, you have to win every point you have,” Jabeur said. “I knew it was going to be difficult, but then when I lost my serve again, I just thought I’d continue focusing on breaking her again, just playing my game.”

In Berlin, Samsonova completed a huge week of upsets after coming through the qualifying stages to execute her 1-6 6-1 6-3 victory over fifth seed Belinda Bencic in on hour and 37 minutes. Whilst the Russian was shaky in the opening set, she fired up to reverse the 6-1 result in the second and maintained momentum throughout the remainder of the clash.

“It’s unbelievable,” Samsonova said post-match. “I didn’t expect it. I [did] dream it, but it’s amazing.”

Samsonova hit 28 winners for 15 unforced errors, with her 14 aces for six double faults playing a big role in her service game dominance. She won 80 per cent of her first serve points and backed up with a 51.6 per cent second serve winning rate, whilst also saving five of seven break points and converting four of eight attempts.

“I was so, so nervous today, even before the match, during the first set,” Samsonova said. “I said ‘Okay, let’s try to put more aggressive game.’ And it worked.”

“I was trying to continue to do my game, to try to be aggressive on the first shot, on my serve, on the return, and that was my focus,” Samsonova said.

Meanwhile in Germany, the Bad Homburg WTA 250 event began with seven matches playing out on the opening day, with fifth seed Nadia Podoroska cleaning up her opposition as sixth seed Sorana Cirstea was dealt the first upset by home hopefuly Andrea Petkovic. Amanda Anisimova executed a 50-minute victory as Misaki Doi followed suit in 58 minutes, whilst German Tamara Korpatsch claimed the lone three-setter of the day, a huge two hour and three minute victory over Rebecca Peterson, while in other games, Patricia Maria Tig and Katerina Siniakova both earned first round wins.

BETT1OPEN FINAL RESULT:

Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated [5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 1-6 6-1 6-3

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM FINAL RESULT:

[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-5 6-4

BAD HOMBURG ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Nadia Podoroska (ARG) defeated Mara Guth (GER) 6-0 6-3
Andrea Petkovic (GER) defeated [6] Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 6-4
Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Anna Danilina (KAZ) 6-2 6-2
Tamara Korpatsch (GER) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 7-5 2-6 7-6
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-2 6-1
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-3 6-2
Patricia Maria tip (ROU) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 7-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: Getty Images for LTA

WTA Tour wrap: Azarenka and Kerber set up second round clash, Tomljanovic outlasts Mertens

THE two grass event continued in Germany and England overnight, with the WTA 500 bett1open in Berlin and WTA 250 Viking Classic in Birmingham both seeing one big seeded upset apiece amongst relatively  predictable results.

In Germany, a huge second round has been set with a couple of former world number ones in Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber both claiming wins in the Round of 32. Whilst Azarenka was somewhat tested by Kerber’s compatriot Andrea Petkovic, Kerber had little to no issue disposing of Japanese left-hander Misaki Doi in one hour flat.

“It was a really solid match,” Kerber said. “It’s never easy to play a first match on grass courts, especially against a lefty as well. So I’m really happy about my performance and how I started the grass-court season.”

“It’s really nice being back on grass, that’s my favourite surface,” Kerber said. “It’s never easy to start a grass-court season because it’s completely different from the clay courts, but it’s great for me to play in Germany, it’s always really special. That gives me a little bit more motivation.”

Whilst Azarenka leads the duo’s head-to-head 9-1 and is seeded seventh here in Berlin, Kerber is on home soil and looking forward to the clash.

“I will try to play my game, and try to take another chance, and play as many matches as I can before I go to Wimbledon,” Kerber said. “It’s another good match at a high level, and this is why I’m here. The draw is really strong, so it’s good to have another good match.”

“I was sometimes dropping my level a bit with not being aggressive enough,” said Azarenka following her clash with Petkovic, which resulted in a 6-4 7-6(2) finish. “I was getting too frustrated in some moments when I had opportunities and didn’t take them, so I want to learn from that for my next round. I think I was putting myself into too much of a dangerous situation when I could have been more disciplined.”

Sixth seed Garbine Muguruza found success against Romanian Sorana Cirstea, 6-3 6-2, and whilst Muguruza and Cirstea hit a similar amount of winners (15-12), Cirstea registered a whopping 35 unforced errors throughout the one hour and 19-minute clash.

“Very pleased,” Muguruza said. “You never know how it’s going to go in the first match, especially on grass after two years, so I’m very excited to win in two sets against Sorana. We’ve played many times, and it’s always difficult.”

Things did not quite go to plan for eighth seed Czech Karolina Muchova, who fell to Russian Veronika Kudermetova in three, 7-6 5-7 6-2. Kudermetova said she drew on her third round loss at the Roland Garros to another Czech in Katerina Siniakova to get over the line in this encounter.

“I don’t know how to explain it but at the French Open I lost a very close match,” Kudermetova said. “I was 5-1 up, 5-2 up in both sets and I lost. Today I was a little bit thinking about it when I was up and serving. Mentally, it’s not really easy because I think and think about my serve. But I am really happy I stayed in the match in the third set.”

Another Russian-Czech matchup played out with the results going the way of the Russian once more with Liudmila Samsonova claiming the victory over Marketa Vondrousova and set to take on Kudermetova in the second round. Just one of four Americans claimed wins, as Jessica Pegula claimed a straightforward win over compatriot Hailey Baptiste who retired at the latter stage of the first set, while Roland Garros quarterfinalist Elena Rybakina and Croatian Petra Martic both took out wins over Shelby Rogers and Asia Muhammad, respectively.

At Birmingham, a huge upset was orchestrated by Australian hard-hitter Ajla Tomljanovic, disposing of top seed Belgian Elise Mertens in a marathon three hour and nine-minute clash, requiring three tiebreakers before the 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-6(4) result was decided. Fourth seed Daria Kasatkina overcame a slow start to steal victory off Polona Hercog, whilst second seed Ons Jabeur, fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko and sixth seed Zhang Shuai all dominated their respective contests to win in two. Meanwhile, Anastasia PotapovaMarta Kostyuk and Leylah Fernandez all found wins on their opening day of action.

BETT1OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 6-2
[7] Viktoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-4 7-6
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [8] Karolina Muchova (CZE) 7-6 5-7 6-2
Angelique Kerber (GER) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 2-6 6-3 6-4
Petra Martic (CRO) defeated Asia Muhammad (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-3
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-6 RET
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-4 7-6

VIKING CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated [1] Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-6 6-7 7-6
[2] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Caty McNally (USA) 6-4 6-2
[4] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 4-6 6-3 6-3
[5] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-4 6-1
[6] Zhang Shuai (CHN) defeated Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 6-2 7-5
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 5-7 7-6 6-4
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 4-6 7-5 6-3
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Wang Yafan (CHN) 7-5 6-3

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Serena denied on day of upsets

DAY 8 of the Roland Garros women’s draw saw upsets aplenty as all four Round of 16 encounters went the way of the underdog, setting up two intriguing quarter finals clashes.

Doubles partners Elena Rybakina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have set up a huge match next round following respective wins over Grand Slam champions Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.

“When I was small, of course I was watching her (Williams’) matches on TV, so many Grand Slams,” Rybakina said. “It’s difficult to expect anything, because you watch on TV and it’s completely different when you come on court and you feel the power and everything.

“I knew that the serve was going to be difficult for me to return. She’s powerful, but I was ready.”

The 21st seed Rybakina claimed the quickest win of the day, disposing of Williams in 77 minutes and stopping the American champion in her tracks, still searching for that elusive 24th Grand Slam title to match that of Margaret Court. The Kazakh talent got off to a huge start, leading 4-1 before Williams could break back, and eventually claiming the 6-3 7-5 victory, hitting more winners (21-15) and making less unforced errors (13-19).

“The end goal is always to win the tournaments and dream and go of course to win the Grand Slam. So every time I step in on court I try not to think against who I play,” Rybakina said. “Just try to do my work, follow the plan which we have. If it works well, I’m winning, and if it’s not, I’m just learning from the matches. It’s all like experience for me.”

Pavlyuchenkova may have dropped the first set to Azarenka, but the Russian did not let that stop her as she cleaned up in the remaining two sets to claim a 5-7 6-3 6-2 win, her first major quarter final at Paris in 10 years.

“Tough to remember what I felt 10 years ago. I’d say completely different. I’m very happy also now. I think I feel a little different. I feel like more mature. It’s a good moment, I’m enjoying it, but I’ve got work to do next matches,” Pavlyuchenkova said.

Like Rybakina, Pavlyuchenkova’s winner and unforced error counts were in her favour (45-31 winners, 27-30 unforced errors), winning marginally more points off the back of her first serve (63 per cent off a 71 per cent clip), and also converting eight of 15 break points and saving six of Azarenka’s 12 attempts.

“I’m kind of in the present, where before I was like, ‘Oh, my God, quarterfinal. Oh, what’s happening?’ When I was actually playing quarterfinal, I was so emotional.”

“[Pavlyuchenkova and I] also play doubles together,” Rybakina said. “We are a good team, good atmosphere. But for the [singles] match after [doubles] tomorrow, we come on court to work, and I’m gonna discuss again the tactics and everything with my coach.

“For sure, I have to serve well again because it’s my advantage, and then we’ll see how it goes.”

Meanwhile, maiden quarter-finalists Paula Badosa and Tamara Zidansek headline the second match following respective Round of 16 wins, with the latter the first Slovenian to reach the last eight of a grand slam. 33rd seed Badosa claimed a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory over Czech 20th seed Marketa Vondrousova in one hour and 50 minutes, overcoming a second set blip to head into the next round.

“I don’t think I envision all these kind of things,” Badosa said. “I wanted to do a good clay court season. I was feeling good. I was working hard. I think my game suits quite good on clay. I was wanting it so, so much. I was working hard for it. It’s coming. I didn’t expect doing all these results. I was expecting doing it quite good, but not like this.”

“I always thought that tennis is 80% mental,” she said. “I think when you’re in these rounds, of course the racquet is important, how you play, it’s very important. I think it’s a little bit more important how you manage all the nerves in the important moments. I think when you’re here, the mental thing, it’s a little bit the key.”

For Zidansek, a tight start and resulting first set tiebreaker against Romanian Sorana Cirstea could have been the end, however the Slovenian rallied to claim the 7-6(4) first set, before firing on all cylinders in the second to claim the 7-6 6-1 encounter in just under 90 minutes.

“I think that we both went into the match a little bit nervous, which is I guess normal,” Zidansek said. “A big opportunity for the both of us. It took me a couple of games to settle down. It was good that I got that first game on the scoreboard.

“I started serving better and better towards the end of the first set, which also helped me to save that break point, which was also a set point. From then on it was just in the tiebreak fighting for every point,” she said. “Once I managed to get the tiebreak, I started feeling more comfortable out there. I started feeling more comfortable about going after my shots. That showed well in the second set.”

“I’m getting a lot of messages that everyone is watching,” said Zidansek. “It means a lot to me that I’m able to get across to the message to young people and everyone in Slovenia that we can do it. We’re a small country, we don’t have that many players, but we have good players.”

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[21] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [7] Serena Williams (USA) 6-3 7-5
[31] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 5-7 6-3 6-2
[33] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [20] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-4 3-6 6-2
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 7-6 6-1

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

WTA Tour wrap: Sabalenka fails again as Grand Slam champions advance

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

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

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

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

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

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

Picture credIt: Jimmie 48/WTA

WTA Tour wrap: Krejcikova claims first title in Strasbourg

CZECH Barbora Krejcikova has won her maiden WTA Tour singles final in Strasbourg, defeating experienced Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the last tournament prior to Roland Garros kicking off today. The fifth seed won 6-3 6-3 in an hour and 39 minutes to salute on clay and head into the Grand Slam with plenty of confidence.

Krejcikova won despite having a shocking serving efficiency, producing 10 double faults and no aces for a 55.2 per cent clip, though when she did get it in she capitalised, winning 73 per cent of her first serve points. With Cirstea, the veteran might have served three aces and done it at a 62.5 per cent efficiency, but could not capitalise off her first serve, winning a poor 48.9 per cent of the points. She was also broken six times during the match and could only muster three breaks from seven chances against the fifth seed.

“There’s been a lot of emotions on the court,” Krejcikova said post-match. “I have so many things on my mind right now. “It’s really hard to put it in sentences.”

The 25-year-old Czech is at a career-high 38th in the world and is enjoying a really promising 18-8 start to 2021 as she eyes off a Top 30 spot. Known as a doubles player where she has won two Grand Slams among eight doubles titles, Krejcikova has risen from outside the Top 50 so far this year. Coming into the match, the players had played twice with a 1-1 head-to-head.

“I felt I was struggling with the serve already yesterday, and today I was struggling with the serve,” Krejcikova said. “But I just knew that it was going to be like this, and I was looking to find another way to win the match. To somehow fight for the ball each point, and just find a way to win the rally, somehow, even if my serve doesn’t work and it’s not really helping me.

“Actually at the end, at 5-3, I was serving really well! So I don’t know what happened, it’s been up and down.”

In the end, Krejcikova won 56.7 and 52.8 per cent of her service and return points, for an overall 54.7 per cent success rate to claim the breakthrough title ahead of Roland Garros. The most recent title winner will take on compatriot Kristyna Pliskova in the first round at Paris, with a potential second round clash against 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova. Cirstea has a tougher first-up match, locking horns with 19th seed Johanna Konta.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG FINAL RESULT:

[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-3 6-3

 

Picture credit: Internationaux de Strasbourg / Chryslène Caillaud

WTA Tour wrap: Krejcikova and Cirstea to battle in Strasbourg final

BARBORA Krejcikova and Sorana Cirstea will do battle in the 2021 Internationaux de Strasbourg final after both players won their respective semi-finals in the WTA Tour 250 event. The fifth seed Czech and the unseeded Romanian both won their penultimate tournament matches in tight three sets, with the former eyeing off her main Tour title, and the latter gunning for her third WTA trophy.

Needing two hours and 14 minutes, Krejcikova ended the run of 21-year-old German qualifier Jule Niemeier, defeating the talent 5-7 6-3 6-4. Overcoming a first set loss, the Czech managed to capitalise on the extra break with five from seven compared to Niemeier’s four from eight. She also pounced off the German’s second serve, winning 56.4 per cent of those points, though in reality just four points separated the players in the match (97-93).

“This week, [Niemeier is] doing really well,” Krejcikova said post-match. “I remember when I did something similar in Nurnberg 2017, when I was a qualifier and I reached the final, and I remember I was playing girls that were [ranked] way, way higher than I was. “She showed that she can play really big tennis, she’s serving very well, she’s very solid, and I just wish her all the best for the upcoming tournaments.”

The other semi-final was a similar story with the 31-year-old Romanian needing to fight back from a first set deficit against eighth seed Pole Magda Linette to win 3-6 6-4 6-2 in two hours and eight minutes. Cirstea won 71.4 and 58.3 per cent of her points, setting up 12 break points opportunities and capitalising on five, whilst Linette broke three times from four chances. Overall Cirstea was just a little better in each area and it showed in the end, with just another break the key difference between the two players.

“I thought from the beginning it was a very good match, very good level, both of us were playing well,” Cirstea said post-match. “I thought I was missing too many returns (in the first set), not putting the first serve in, and I think those were the two areas where I focused a bit more. “To try and start with the first serve, and put the return in, and don’t give those free points, and I think that made the difference.”

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [Q] Jule Niemeier (GER) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [8] Magda Linette (POL) 3-6 6-4 6-2

Picture credit: Chryslène Caillaud / Internationaux de Strasbourg

WTA Tour wrap: Upsets aplenty at Strasbourg

A BIG sixth day of action at the 2021 Internationaux de Strasbourg saw six matches play out, with two Round of 16 clashes joining the quarter finals. It was a day of pure upsets, with none of the higher ranked players winning in their respective clashes.

Two seeded clashes played out, with fifth seed Barbora Krejcikova downing third seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, while eighth seed Magda Linette claimed victory over fourth seed Yulia Putintseva. Linette won 77 per cent of her first serve points in her best run since February 2020. Krejcikova is now the highest ranking seed remaining in the draw, with her 7-6 6-1 victory over Alexandrova the first in her career following losses in all three prior encounters. Krejcikova said her win ratio allowed her to reflect on what she needed to put out on court to get the win this time.

“I’ve played her many times, and I always started really bad in the first set, and then she was always improving really, really well,” Krejcikova said post-match. “I felt like this time I had to start the first set really well, and I still lost serve and I was still down, but I was closer, and I felt the tiebreak was the deciding point of the match.”

Krejcikova won 72.2 per cent of her first serve points off a 53 per cent clip, also proving more efficient off her second serve than the Russian and hitting four aces for three double faults, compared to Alexandrova’s four and five.

“I see that I’m improving every shot, my physical, my mental, everything,” Krejcikova said. “I’m just happy that I can actually show it on court and play this high level and play all the top players. It’s something that I really like to do, so I’m happy that I’m here.”

Meanwhile, German qualifier Jule Niemeier continued her eye-catching run at Strasbourg with a second victory for the day, and with another win to follow up on her form which saw her win her first Tour-level main draw match in the first round here this week. She will take on Krejcikova in the semi-final tomorrow.

Still only 21-years-old, Niemeier said she knows what she is capable of but does not yet feel the pressure due to her ranking, which allows her to stand up and really push her opposition with no expectations.

“I don’t feel the pressure because I’m ranked [over] 200 at the moment, so I have nothing to lose,” Niemeier said. “I know what I can play, and what I can do on court, so that I can cause trouble!”

“I have the level, that I can keep up with all the players. “I’ve beaten two players who are in the Top 100 now, Shelby (Shelby Rogers) is in the Top 50. “I have the game, and I can beat them.”

“I was injured for such a long time in the past, so it was not easy for me,” she said. “I’m just enjoying being on court and playing against really good players.”

Like Niemeier, Sorana Cirstea was rostered to play two matches for the day, however drew number one seed Bianca Andreescu who withdrew following her second round win. This allowed Cirstea to focus all her energy on defeating her first task at hand in the last Round of 16 match, taking down sixth seed Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-1 in one hour flat. Cirstea will take on Linette tomorrow for a chance at the Strasbourg final.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [1] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) W/O
[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [3] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-6 6-1
[8] Magda Linette (POL) defeated [4] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-3 6-3
Jule Niemeier (GER) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-4 6-1

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [6] Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-2 6-1
Jule Niemeier (GER) defeated [7] Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-4 7-6

Picture credit: Chryslène Caillaud / Internationaux de Strasbourg

WTA Tour wrap: French fall like flies in Strasbourg

IT was not a good day for the French WTA Tour athletes in Strasbourg as all three players were bundled out in different circumstances following five Round of 16 matches overnight. Wildcard duo Harmony Tan and Clara Burel, as well as experienced Caroline Garcia were all knocked out of the WTA Tour 250 event, as higher ranked opponents proved too much on the day.

Tan unfortunately was forced to retire after 50 minutes, dropping the first set and only playing two games of the second before pulling the pin due to injury against Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, 6-1 1-1. Han was joined by fellow wildcard Burel on the sidelines after she suffered defeat at the hands of third seed Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova. The Russian trumped her younger opponent in 70 minutes on court, winning 6-3 6-4 to advance through to the quarter finals at the event.

The match of the day went to the epic three-set battle between Garcia and fifth seed Czech Barbora Krejcikova. The Frenchwoman seemed to be in control in the first set, winning it 6-3 to take the early advantage, but Krejcikova hit back in a big way over the next two sets, only dropping three games between the two sets to win 3-6 6-2 6-1 in one hour and 49 minutes.

Despite being inconsistent off her serve – Krejcikova only served at a 55.2 per cent clip compared to Garcia’s 69.2 per cent – she won 31 of her 37 first serve points, and only dropped 19 points off her serve in total for the match. Garcia by contrast was fairly efficient in getting her serve in – 69.2 per cent of the time off her first serve – but she was much lower with taking advantage in those points, winning 61.1 and 54.2 per cent of her first and second serve points respectively. Furthermore, she could only break Krejcikova one from three chances, while the Czech set up five break point opportunities and capitalised an impressive four times.

In the late match, German qualifier Jule Niemer looked ready to cause a shock against seventh seed Shelby Rogers, up 6-4 2-1 before it was suspended. Krejcikova will face Alexandrova in an all-seeded battle, while fourth seed Yulia Putintseva – who won against Swiss talent Jil Teichmann following Teichmann’s retirement after two games – will take on eighth seed Pole Magda Linette. Top seed Bianca Andreescu awaits the winner of sixth seed Shuai Zhang and Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the other quarter final.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated [WC] Clara Burel (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[4] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 2-0 RET
[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 3-6 6-2 6-1
[7] Shelby Rogers (USA) [Q] Jule Niemer (GER)
Arantxa Rus (NED) defeated [WC] Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-1 1-1 RET

Picture credit: WTA Tour

WTA Tour wrap: Andreescu returns

BIANCA Andreescu made her return at the Internationaux de Strasbourg Round of 32 and did not skip a beat, leading the charge as all four seeds reigned supreme in an intriguing day on the clay.

For Andreescu, this win was a long time coming after putting her season on pause since March – and the full 15 months before that – and the top seed did not disappoint as she executed a speedy 6-1 6-2 victory over Spaniard Andrea Lazaro Garcia in 61 minutes. Intriguingly, this match marked just Andreescu’s second WTA Tour level clay court win, but she starred against the qualifier with an excellent 84 per cent win rate off a 75.6 per cent clip. She was joined in the second round by all three of the the day;s remaining seeds in Zhang ShuaiYulia Putintseva and Barbora Krejcikova, with the last technically completing the quickest win of the day by default as a 55 minute matchup with Oceane Dodin was cut short by the Frenchwoman’s injury retirement.

Zhang claimed the win over Japanese talent Misaki Doi in one hour and 40 minutes, while Putintseva took part in one of just two three setters for the day, tested by Swede Rebecca Peterson before eventually taking out the 6-4 3-6 7-6 victory in a whopping three hours and 20 minutes. The second three-setter played out between Romanian Sorana Cirstea and Venus Williams, with the former claiming her first victory over Williams from three prior outings, overcoming a showy second set from the former champion to reign supreme 6-1 2-6 6-1 in just one hour and 45 minutes.

All three remaining matches for the day were decided fairly comprehensively, as Belgian Maryna Zanevska claimed the next quickest result of the day over Belarusian Yuliya Hatouka, completing the 6-2 6-1 sweep in jut 57 minutes. Frenchwoman Carolina Garcia overcame a tight start to take the win over Kazakh Zarina Diyas, whilst Jil Teichmann also joined the winners list with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Anna Blinkova.

INTERNATIONAUX DE STRASBOURG ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated Andrea Lazaro Garcia (ESP) 6-1 6-2
[4] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[5] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-3 3-0 RET
[6] Zhang Shuai (CHN) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 7-5 6-4
Maryna Zanevska (BEL) defeated Yuliya Hatouka (BLR) 6-2 6-1
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 7-5 6-2
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-1 2-6 6-1

Picture credit: Internationaux de Strasbourg/C’est qui Maurice?/Michel Grasso