Tag: venus williams

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: 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: 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

WTA Tour wrap: Emilia-Romagna and Belgrade begin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

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

BELGRADE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

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

Picture credit: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Jimmie48/WTA

WTA Miami Open 1000: Barty goes back-to-back as Andreescu retires injured

WORLD number one Ash Barty has defended her 2019 WTA Miami Open 1000 crown with a straight sets win over a sore Bianca Andreescu. The Australian top seed got up 6-3 4-0 in the match to make it 12 consecutive wins in Miami. Having defeated Top 20 talents, Belarusian duo Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka, and Ukrainian Elina Svitolina on the way to the title in 62 minutes against the Canadian eighth seed.

“I felt like with each match I have been playing better and better, which is ultimately what we are after,” Barty said. “To be able to have the title at the end is a bonus, and to be able to defend my title the first time in my career I’ve been able to do that is really, really special too.”

Barty served four aces to two for the match, and won a whopping 77.8 per cent of her first serve points, off a 61.4 per cent clip. Andreescu was efficient with getting her first serve in 73.8 per cent of the time, but won just 45.2 per cent of her points off her first serve, and could not consistently crack through on her opponents’ serve. Barty broke four times from eight chances to Andreescu’s one from two. Unfortunately a “freak accident” in the second game of the second set forced the Canadian to retire two games later.

“It’s never the way you ever want to finish a match, particularly in a final,” Barty said post-match. “I really do feel for Bianca. “I think she’s had such a rough trot with injuries in the past.

“I think that’s going to be one of the first of many battles for us. “I just hope from now on they are healthy and we can both stay out on the court and fight for everything that we can give. “Obviously I feel for her having to pull out today.”

Andreescu’s dominance in North America since the start of 2019 still remains strong, with the retirement just her third loss in 36 matches, and the Canadian was pleased with how she had performed throughout the tournament.

“I really fought through very tough matches,” Andreescu said post-match. “My body seemed to be good up until today. I think it was just, like, a freak accident.

“But other than that, I’m super grateful. “One of my first tournaments back in a really long time, and all I can say is that I’m super grateful.”

The Australian became just the sixth woman to successfully defend a Miami Crown, following in the footsteps of the Williams sisters – Venus and SerenaMonica Seles, Stefanie Graf and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario who are also past world number ones.

“They are genuine champions of our sport, legends of our sport,” Barty said. “I feel very privileged to be mentioned in that sentence, and it’s very cool and something I was unaware of. “But I think it’s extremely humbling to be mentioned in the same sentence as those champions, [and] I feel like I’ve got a long, long way to go yet before I can be in discussion with those names.”

The Miami Open title means Barty has now hit double-figure WTA Tour titles, following on from her Yarra Valley Classic win earlier this year. The 24-year-old will enter the clay court season full of confidence having collected a number of Top 20 scalps along her way to the title.

WTA MIAMI OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-4 2-0 RET

WTA Miami Open 1000: Americans fall on day one as qualifiers continue hunt for main draw entry

WHILST qualifying rounds are still being complete, the WTA Tour Miami Open 1000 event has officially begun, with intriguing results pouring out already on the first day of competition.

The top ranked player of the day was Shelby Rogers, and the homegrown hope was the only United States talent to proceed to the second round as a whopping six compatriots fell. While the fall of Madison Brengle was down to Rogers’ 6-3 6-3 sweep, the most high profile loss went to three-time Miami champion Venus Williams who was disposed of by Kazakh Zarina Diyas 6-2 7-6(10), as 16-year-old Katrina Scott went down 6-2 6-2 in the quickest match of the day to Sorana Cirstea, with the Romanian needing just 60 minutes to collect the win. Losses to Lauren DavisRobin Montgomery and Christina McHale completed the United States’ day, with Russia also proving unlucky on day one as Anastasia Potapova and Anna Blinkova both fell.

Looking to successful performers on the opening day, and the likes of Paula Badosa were fortunate to remain in the draw, with the Spaniard winning through in strange circumstances as her Swiss opposition in Jil Teichmann retired despite leading the first set, whilst Barbora Krejcikova and Magda Linette completed the only three set wins of the day against Blinkova and Montgomery, respectively. Krejcikova’s victory was the only match to go over two hours at two hours and three minutes, though the 6-3 7-5 matchup between Laura Siegemund and McHale came close coming down to one hour and 58 minutes.

In the remaining matches, Arantxa RusWang Xinyu and Nadia Podoroska all reigned supreme in their respective outings, with all three straight sets sweeps completed well within 90 minutes.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 5-6 RET
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 7-5 6-0
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated Madison Brengle (USA) 6-3 6-3
Arantxa Rus (NED) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-3 6-2
Kaia Kanepi (EST) defeated Lauren Davis (USA) 6-3 7-5
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 7-6
Wang Xinyu (CHN) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-2 6-2
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) Mayar Sherif (EGY) 6-3 6-1
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) defeated Katrina Scott (USA) 6-2 6-2
Magda Linette (POL) defeated Robin Mongomery (USA) 6-1 3-6 6-0
Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Christina McHale (USA) 6-3 7-5
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-1 3-6 6-3

For the remainder of the men’s and women’s qualifiers, results went as unpredictable as ever with just one of the women’s top 10 seeds heading through to the main draw, as seventh seed Nina Stojanovic defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands, while Kirsten Flipkens (fourth seed), Tamara Zidansek (fifth) and Varvara Gracheva (sixth) all fell at the second hurdle. The men’s proceedings were just as interesting, with top two Mackenzie McDonald and Thiago Seyboth Wild both reigning supreme, while four top 10 seeds fell. Both wildcards in Mischa Zverev and Shintaro Mochizuki proceed to the main draw.

Australian Open Women’s Round of 64 wrap: Cirstea stuns Kvitova as Halep holds on

A COUPLE of massive upsets and an almost even bigger upset were the talking points on day three of the Australian Open women’s competition. Eighth seed Bianca Andreescu‘s second match back from injury did not go to plan, losing in straight sets to Chinese Taipei’s Su-Wei Hsieh, while ninth seed Petra Kvitova‘s lacklustre form of late continued, losing out to unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea in three sets.

The world’s best doubles player – but ranked 71st in singles – Su-Wei showed no mercy against the Canadian US Open winner, claiming a 6-2 6-3 win in just 83 minutes on court. Su-Wei hit four less winners (16-20), but had 11 less unforced errors (14-25), as she broke six times from nine chances compared to Andreescu’s two from four. It meant that in the past 18 months, the Canadian young gun has played just the two matches – both here at Melbourne Park and back-to-back – for a net result of 1-1.

The more disappointing of the two results was Kvitova’s three-set loss to world number 68 Cirstea. Whilst making it a battle, Kvitova faded out in the deciding set to lose 6-4 1-6 6-1 in two hours and three minutes. One of, if not the best left hander in the world, the Czech has not been herself of late, and needs to rekindle the form soon or she could slip right outside the Top 10. Full credit to Cirstea who broke six times from 16 chances – compared to five from 13 – whilst hitting 14 less unforced errors (30-44) and only four less winners (17-21).

Almost witnessing the biggest upset of the tournament to-date, fans on Margaret Court Arena could hardly believe their eyes when Australian Ajla Tomljanovic was serving for the match against second seed Simona Halep. The home nation support tried to will on their competitor who won the first set, and then was 5-2 up in the third set. Unfortunately for Tomljanovic, that is where it all swung in the world number two’s favour, as Halep won the last five games of the match – crucially breaking in the ninth game of the set and booking her spot in the third round. After losing every singles match in the second half of last year – not an exaggeration – Tomljanovic has shown good form in 2021, winning two from five, with losses to Halep, Aryna Sabalenka and a three-set defeat to Alize Cornet last week.

Speaking of Sabalenka, she continued her great form of the past six months to post a straight sets win over Russian Daria Kasatkina. She joined other Top 10 players, Naomi Osaka, Sabalenka and Serena Williams in the next round without dropping a set. Other seeds to win in two sets were last year’s Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza, reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek, 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, and the resurgent Tunisian, Ons Jabeur.

In an all-Russian battle, 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova booked her spot in the Round of 32 courtesy of a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win over Varvara Gracheva. She joined Anastasia Potapova in the next round after the Russian took care of Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos, 6-2 6-4. The only other seed to drop out at the second round stage was Elena Rybakina with the rising Kazakh talent unable to repeat her early form last year, going down to France’s Fiona Ferro, 6-4 6-4.

One could have been forgiven if they thought they had time travelled 10 to 15 years. Italian qualifier and former Top 5 player Sara Errani easily overcame an injured Venus Williams 6-1 6-0, in what was a battle of the veterans. A much younger Ann Li continued her unbeaten run in 2021, defeating Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in straight sets, while Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas also made it through to the Round of 32.

The match of the third round has to be third seed Osaka up against 27th seed Jabeur, with the winner likely to play Muguruza in the Round of 16. The stunning upsets of Andreescu and Kvitova has opened the draw wide open for Vondrousova, who could easily make a quarter final if she can play at her best as the only Top 60 player in her section. Sabalenka takes on Li, whilst a potential fourth round clash between the power punchers in Sabalenka and Serena Williams would be a dream, much like a similar clash if Halep and Swiatek win their respective third round matches.

Looking ahead to today, and top seed Ash Barty is back on court up against compatriot Daria Gavrilova in a must-watch for the home nation. Forget not dropping a set, Barty is yet to drop a game after her double-donut performance against Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the first round. Other matches that could provide some highlights include 11th seed Belinda Benci up against Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin take on Danielle Collins and Kaia Kanepi respectively. The match of the day is most likely fifth seed Elina Svitolina clashing with young gun Coco Gauff in a head-to-head not to be missed.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[3] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-2 6-3
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 7-6 6-3
Su-Wei Hsieh (TAI) defeated [8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 6-3 6-2
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-4 1-6 6-1
[10] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Nina Stojanovic (SRB) 6-3 6-0
[14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [Q] Liudmilla Samsonova (RUS) 6-3 6-1
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [17] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 6-4 6-4
[19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [Q] Rebecca Marino (CAN) 6-1 7-5
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [LL] Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-3 6-2
[32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Ann Li (USA) defeated Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 7-6
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [Q] Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 6-4
[Q] Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Venus Williams (USA) 6-1 6-0

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.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[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

Australian Open Women’s Round of 128 wrap: Top seeds skate through to second round as former Australian Open champion Kerber falls

THE Australian Open started with a bang on Monday, with the Grand Slam women’s circuit showcasing a heap of intriguing results in the Round of 128.

A number of the obvious candidates head through to the second round after excellent day one efforts, with top three seeds Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka skating through completely unscathed. While the second and third ranked players in the world produced almost identical wins, it was the ease with which both disposed of their opposition, seeing Halep defeat Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera 6-2 6-1 in 59 minutes, and Osaka needing just 10 minutes more to down Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-2. Serena Williams proved she is still on track for an equal record 24 singles Grand Slams, outstanding in her 6-1 6-1 sweep of Laura Siegemund in 56 minutes. The quick victory was only beaten by Anastasia Potapova who blew Williams’ compatriot Alison Riske out of the water, obliterating the 24th seed 6-2 6-1 in just 51 minutes to be the quickest victor of the day.

Bianca Andreescu made her triumphant return to the circuit after 15 months away from the court, and while her opposition in lucky loser Mihaela Buzarnescu put her through her paces in a tighter second set, the Canadian eighth seed survived the test to come out with the 6-2 4-6 6-3 victory – something she will be happy about after pulling out of last week’s Grampians Trophy to focus on her Australian Open return. The ever-consistent Petra Kvitova relished being back on Australian soil with a 6-3 6-4 sweep of qualifier Greet Minnen, while Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek both came away with solid victories to head into the second round.

But it was not all fun and games for seeds, as former Australian Open champion and 23rd seed Angelique Kerber was overcome by a fast-starting Bernarda Pera, as the American world number 63 disposed of the German champion in straight sets, 6-0 6-4.  An uncharacteristically down-and-out Qiang Wang could not compete with qualifier Sara Errani, with the 131st ranked Italian far cleaner than last year’s Australian Open giant slayer in the 2-6 6-4 6-4 win.

In other games, Tunisian 27th seed Ons Jabeur and a couple of Kazakhstan representatives head through to the second round with 17th seed Elena Rybakina joined by Zarina Diyas, while Russia boasted four more winners to join Potapova in the next round, but also saw four compatriots fall at the first hurdle. Venus Williams reigned supreme against Kirsten Flipkins, proving once more that age is just a number at 40 years old.

The women’s Round of 128 continues today at Melbourne Park, with world number one Ash Barty hitting the court following her maiden 2021 title on Sunday, while 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin also enters the draw, as does in-form Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and exciting young gun Coco Gauff.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) defeated [WC] Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 6-2 6-1
[3] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-1 6-2
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-0 6-4
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated [LL] Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-2 4-6 6-3
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Greet Minnen (BEL) 6-3 6-4
[10] Serena Williams (USA) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-1 6-1
[15] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-1 6-3
[17] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 4-6 6-4 6-4
[19] Marketa Vondrousova (RUS) defeated Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 2-6 7-5 7-5
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated [23] Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-0 6-4
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated [24] Alison Riske (USA) 6-2 6-1
[27] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-3 3-6 6-4
[Q] Sara Errani (ITA) defeated [30] Qiang Wang (CHN) 2-6 6-4 6-4
[32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-2 7-6
Venus Williams (USA) defeated Kirsten Flipkens (GER) 7-5 6-2
Ajla Tomljanovich (AUS) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) defeated Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 6-2 7-5
[Q] Rebecca Marino (CAN) defeated [WC] Kimberley Birrell (AUS) 6-0 7-6
[LL] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated [Q] Mayo Hibi (JPN) 7-6 6-4
Camila Giorgi (ITA) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Timea Babos (HUN) defeated Ysaline Bonaventure (BEL) 7-6 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [Q] Valeria Savinykh (RUS) 6-2 4-6 7-6
Hsieh Suwei (TPE) defeated [Q] Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 7-5 6-2
Nina Stojanovic (SRB) defeated Irina Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-3 6-4
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) defeated Ana Blinkova (RUS) 6-1 3-6 7-6
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-1 6-4
Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-7 6-2 6-4
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 6-3
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-2 6-1