Tag: victoria azarenka

WTA Tour wrap: Mixed bag at Madrid as Muchova and Pavlyuchenkova claim scalps

DAY 6 at the Mutua Madrid Open saw plenty happen around the courts, as second seed Naomi Osaka was ousted in the lone three-setter of the day, while it was also not sixth seed Karolina Pliskova‘s day as the Czech talent fell in straight sets.

It was an excellent effort from Karolina Muchova that saw her inhibit Osaka in their clash, seeing the Czech claim victory 6-4 3-6 6-1. Whilst Osaka worked her way back into the contest after dropping the first set, Muchova commanded control to run home with a whopping 92.9 per cent winning rate off her first serve in the final set, including two of her five aces.

“It was a tough match today, but we had some preparation,” Muchova said post-match. “I was ready to play with all I had today, and to use all the weapons I could and [do] what I can. I’m definitely happy it worked out today.”

Muchova is the newest member of the WTA world top 20, and in this contest it showed. Overall, she hit 29 winners off a fairly efficient 66.2 per cent first serve, as well as converting four of eight break points.

“I was trying to move [Osaka] as much as possible,” Muchova said. “That was the tactic. It sounds easy like that, but, you know, she’s playing really fast so it’s not that easy on the court.

“In the second set especially, she started to be very aggressive. I got back to what I did in the first set in the third set, and again, tried to move her left, right, dropshots, but still in a fast way. In the third set, it went my way.”

Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the third round with a clean 6-0 7-5 sweep of Pliskova, credit to her 20 winners for just 14 unforced errors. Whilst Pliskova bit back in the second set, she was undone by her own 28 errors which spelled trouble, before Pavlyuchenkova commanded control once more to run out victor in just under 75 minutes. Third seed Simona Halep and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka retained control throughout their respective contests to claim respective one hour and 19-minute wins, while a couple of Americans joined the fray as Jennifer Brady downed Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-1, and Jessica Pegula was dealt a walkover from 12th seed Victoria Azarenka.

The remaining two games ended in fairly predictable circumstances as 13th seed Elise Mertens and 16th seed Maria Sakkari proved too good, and while Mertens was challenged in her two hour and 13 minute matchup with Elena Rybakina, Sakkari skated home against Anett Kontaveit with ease.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Karolina Muchova (CZE) defeated [2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-4 3-6 6-1
[3] Simona Halep (ROM) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-0 6-4
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Daria Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) defeated [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-0 7-5
[11] Jennifer Brady (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-2 6-1
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [12] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) W/O
[13] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 7-6 7-5
[16] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-3 6-1

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 Tour wrap: Barty’s clay court court campaign recommences with 61-minute demolition

ASH Barty continued her red-hot form to completely dismantle unseeded Japanese talent Misaki Doi 6-2 6-1 to advance through to the Round of 16 at the Volvo Car Open. The world number one moved to a 15-2 record on the 2021 WTA Tour, which also stretches out to 27-4 since her first-up match at the 2020 Adelaide International 15 months ago.

She went on to win that Adelaide International, and after sitting out the 2020 WTA Tour season once it returned in the second half of the year, Barty remained world number one and started off 2021 as if she had not ever stopped. Her first tournament of the year she won in Melbourne, defeating Garbine Muguruza in the final, a player who had competed throughout the past 12 months.

A shock loss to Karolina Muchova at the Australian Open, followed by another defeat at the hands of Danielle Collins might have momentarily caused some unwarranted questions towards the world number one and how she would go this year. Like true champions do, Barty answered those critics with a stunning run in Miami to defend her title there and claim the WTA 1000 event. It was not just winning the event that mattered, but it was the quality of opposition she beat.

After drawing a qualifier in the second round – following a first round bye – Barty took out former Top 5 talent Jelena Ostapenko, then proceeded to dismiss Top 10 players and Grand Slam champions alike on the way to the Miami Open title. She moved past Belarusian duo Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka – the former being the runner-up at the 2020 US Open and the latter being the most in-form player entering 2021 – before defeating Elina Svitolina and Bianca Andreescu – albeit the Andreescu win was due to retirement, though Barty was in control – to make it six wins on the trot.

The critics have quietened down for now, but Barty is a player that somehow draws criticism for one bad loss amongst double-figure impressive wins. The world number one will always have extra pressure on them, but Barty answers those questions with class and grace. Her 61-minute rout of Doi was the most impressive of any Round of 16 match at the Volvo Car Open. Keeping in mind it was Barty’s first clay match in almost two years, and the Australian looked at home on the red dirt. The Australian now takes on Shelby Rogers in the next round after she toppled Amanda Anisimova in an upset.

In other results, the next highest seed behind Barty to advance to the Round of 16 was Tunisian Ons Jabeur (12th), with compatriot Coco Gauff, and 15th seed Russian Veronika Kudermetova the others. It was carnage in the top end though, with American duo Sofia Kenin and Madison Keys both bombing out to compatriots Lauren Davis and Sloane Stephens respectively. Spain’s Paula Badosa also took care of Belinda Bencic in three sets, while Frenchwoman Alize Cornet won against Elise Mertens in straight sets. In terms of the unseeded players, Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, United States’ Cate McNally and Japan’s Kurumi Nara all advanced to the next round.

In the lower seeded Copa Colsanitas, all the seeds had a forgettable day, with the first, third, sixth and eighth seeds all knocked out in the Round of 16. Zheng Saisai, Arantxa Rus, Jasmine Paolini and Wang Yafan all departed prior to the quarter finals, as Spanish qualifiers Nuria Parrizas Diaz and Lara Arruabarrena, Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele and Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova all booked their spots in the final eight. In the sole unseeded match, Italian Sara Errani knocked off Aliona Bolsova in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.

VOLVO CAR OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Lauren Davis (USA) defeated [2] Sofia Kenin (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [5] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 6-7 6-1
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated [7] Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-5 6-3
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated [8] Madison Keys (USA) 6-4 6-4
[12] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [WC] Hailey Baptiste (USA) 6-3 6-3
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [13] Amanda Anisimova (USA) 1-6 7-5 6-4
[14] Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 4-6 6-1 6-4
[15] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [WC] Emma Navarro (USA) 6-4 6-4
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Marie Bouzkova (RUS) 4-6 7-5 7-5
Danka Kovinic (MNE) defeated Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Cate McNally (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 7-6 2-6 6-4
Kurumi Nara (JPN) defeated Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-1 6-4

COPA COLSANITAS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Stefanie Voegele (SUI) defeated [1] Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) defeated [3] Arantxa Rus (NED) 7-6 2-6 6-1
[Q] Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) defeated [6] Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 2-6 6-4 6-2
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) defeated [8] Wang Yafan (CHN) 6-3 6-3
Sara Errani (ITA) defeated Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: Volvo Car Open/Chris Smith

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: Top talents prevail in majority seeded battles

THE WTA Miami Open 1000 Round of 16 fielded majority seeded encounters on Day 8 in the United States, and while a couple of matches went exactly to plan for top talents, results went awry for others in a couple of three set battles.

Top two seeds Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka both came away with wins on Day 8, with Osaka downing 16th seed Elise Mertens 6-3 6-3, though the world number one was certainly issued a more intriguing and tough battle than the recent Australian Open champion, taken to three sets by Belarusian Victoria Azarenka. Whilst Barty took out the first set efficiently, 6-1, Azarenka bit back and gave back Barty the flipped result in the second to go one apiece. The decider saw Barty come away with the 6-1 1-6 6-2 victory as she regained momentum and sped home, hitting six aces off a 66.7 per cent clip, but was inconsistent off her second serve winning just 11 points and hitting two double faults to Azarenka’s five. The Belarusian’s compatriot in seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka had a much easier time of it, exploding out of the blocks in a one hour and seven minute encounter with Czech Marketa Vondrousova, 6-1 6-2. Sabalenka won 76.3 per cent of her first serve points on her way through to the quarter finals, hitting five aces as she did so.

It was a rough day for the Czech Republic with left-hander Petra Kvitova also falling, although she fought to the bitter end after taking out the first set with ease over Elina Svitolina. The two hour and 22-minute matchup was the second-longest of the day with both the second and third sets going to seven games, resulting in the 2-6 7-5 7-5 victory for the Ukrainian. Whilst both players were error-ridden in patches, Svitolina limited her double faults comparatively (4-9) and was marginally more effective off her first serve despite a lack of efficiency. The longest match honours went to a huge clash between 20-plus seeds Jessica Pegula (29th) and Maria Sakkari (23rd), with the Greek talent reigning supreme in a hotly contest 6-4 2-6 7-6(6) battle. Whilst Pegula appeared to have the upper hand throughout the third set, the higher-ranked Sakkari was more consistent on serve to retain victory despite the loss of momentum during the second.

The only unseeded matchup of the day saw victory go the way of Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, who cleaned up Croatian Ana Konjuh 6-1 7-5. Konjuh’s dream return was almost retained with the tight second set taken to seven games, but her 11 double faults let her down as Sevastova made the most of the Croatian’s missed chances. The remaining two matches of the day will play out between Sara Sorribes Tormo and Ons Jabeur, and Bianca Andreescu and Garbine Muguruza, respectively.

WTA MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [14] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-11-6 6-2
[2] Naomi Osaka (JPN) defeated [16] Elise Mertens (BEL) 6-3 6-3
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 2-6 7-5 7-5
[7] Aryna Sabakenka (BLR) defeated [19] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-1 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-1 7-5
[23] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated [29] Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 2-6 7-6

Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) v. [27] Ons Jabeur (TUN)
[8] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) v. [12] Garbine Muguruza (ESP)

WTA Miami Open 1000: Ana Konjuh’s up some magic to power past Swiatek

CROATIAN former Top 20 talent Ana Konjuh has upset Roland Garros reigning champion Iga Swiatek in the third round of the WTA 1000 Miami Open overnight. The Croatian world number 338th turned 23 in December last year and still has a bright future ahead of her, smashing 40 winners on her way to a three-set win, 6-4 2-6 6-2.

Konjuh served 10 aces to five and only four double faults to six, winning 71.4 per cent of her first serve points to Swiatek’s 62.9 per cent. The Polish player broke her lower ranked opponent three times from seven chances, while the Croatian created 14 break point opportunities, but only converted four of them. The final two were enough to secure the third set victory comfortably and advance through to the next round.

“I knew it was going to be tough,” Konjuh said post-match. “I just told myself I need to stay and be offensive and not give her many chances. That second set maybe I screwed up a little bit, but overall, credit to her. You know, she stepped up her game. But I just wanted to stay mentally in it in those key moments just to be able to, you know, produce some great shots. I did that.”

It was a mixed bag for the two Latvians in Miami, with Anastasija Sevastova not even needing to take the court in order to advance to the Round of 16, after third seed Simona Halep pulled out. Top seed Ash Barty won comfortably against the other Latvian in Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-2 in her first match outside Australia in more than 12 months.

Meanwhile both Belarusian’s advanced to the Round of 16, with Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka winning in straight sets against their respective opponents. The seventh seed Sabalenka won 7-6 6-4 defeating 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova, while Azarenka trumped 24th seed Angelique Kerber, 7-5 6-2.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina forced her way past 30th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in a first set tiebreaker and overall tight match 7-6 6-4, while two Czechs featured in the remaining two matches. Earlier in the day, Marketa Vondrousova toppled 11th seed Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-4 6-4, while Petra Kvitova smashed Great Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-1 6-2 in just 58 minutes on court.

WTA MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-3 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated [3] Simona Halep (ROU) W/O
[5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated [30] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-6 6-4
[7] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [32] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6 6-4
[9] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [17] Johanna Konta (GBR) 6-1 6-2
[19] Marketa Vondrousova ( CZE) defeated [11] Belinda Bencic (SUI) 4-6 6-4 6-4
[14] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) defeated [24] Angelique Kerber (GER) 7-5 6-2
Ana Konjuh (CRO) defeated [15] Iga Swiatek (POL) 6-4 2-6 6-2

Picture credit: WTA Tour

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

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

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

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

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

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Getty Images

WTA Tour wrap: Muguruza claims eighth title with Dubai success

TWO-TIME Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza has added more silverware to her cabinet, claiming victory in the 2021 WTA 1000 Dubai Tennis Championships overnight. The Spaniard defeated Junior and WTA Tour Grand Slam doubles winner Barbora Krejcikova in the final, with a tight 7-6 6-3 victory. It was Muguruza’s first title in four years after coming runner-up last month in Melbourne, and her first at a tournament not in Monterrey in four year.

“It was such a tight match,” Muguruza said post-match. “It could have gone either way. I feel like the finals are very hard, the two best players of that week, and I had to work hard for it tonight. Very happy about it.”

“I always believed every time that I go out there, I’m one of the players that can get the trophy,” Muguruza added. “There is proof this week, yes, but I’ve always believed that, in good moments and in bad moments.”

The match lasted two hours and eight minutes, with the first set going all the way deep into a tiebreaker before Muguruza emerged successful, taking it out 8-6 in the tiebreaker. Both players were broken in the opening two games of the match, before Nuguruza moved a break ahead in the sixth game, and then Krejcikova returned serve with a break of her own. Once again the Spaniard had a chance to capitalise off three set points in the twelfth game of the first set, but again the Czech stood up, forcing a tiebreaker. Thi time it would be Muguruza on the back foot, facing a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreak, but won three of the next four points to claim the set.

“I had to work so hard for it in the first set, the difference of one point, and I’m happy that it went my way,” Muguruza said.

Much like the first set, the Spaniard broke her opponent in the opening service game, but this time saved three break points to ensure she went to 2-0 rather than another 1-1 battle. That would be the last break until the last game of the match when she dominated Krejcikova’s serve for three match points and took advantage to become the WTA 1000 title winner.

“Everybody that is playing well and feels good [any] week can get the trophy, this is how hard women’s tennis is now,” Muguruza said. “Very happy that I managed for two weeks to be able to reach the last match, because it’s never easy.

“You have all these opponents, having to play ten matches in a row, makes it difficult. It’s very hard, and I’m happy that I managed well. “Physically it was hard but I was happy that I could handle that.”

Overall, Muguruza served seven aces to one, and only one double fault to three, capitalising on 64.9 and 53.3 per cent of her first and second serve points off a 65.5 per cent clip. Krejcikova managed to still win 61.9 and 52.9 per cent of her points respectively, but was lower off a 55.3 per cent first serve efficiency, and was broken four times to two.

The result has seen Muguruza move up to 13th in the world, leap frogging three players in Jennifer Brady, Victoria Azarenka and Iga Swiatek, but still sits more than 800 points off world number 12, Belinda Bencic. Krejcikova on the other hand made massive strides uo the world rankings to jump into 37th overall (a rise of 26 places) to now be the fourth highest ranked Czech singles player.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL RESULT:

[9] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 7-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 WTA 1000 preview: Dubai Tennis Championships

THE 2021 WTA Tour Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are set to begin on the weekend, with plenty of top talent expected to take the court in the United Arab Emirates. Reigning champion Simona Halep and world number one Ash Barty both withdrew from the tournament during the week citing injuries, whilst Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka (2021) and Sofia Kenin (2020) will also not compete.

Nevertheless, the WTA 1000 event will still boast a draw featuring 12 of the world’s top 20 players, making for a huge week of competition and plenty to play for with such a tight race amongst the WTA world rankings.

Coming in as top seed is Ukrainian and 2017 champion Elina Svitolina, and she is joined by top 10 talents Karolina PliskovaAryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova with Kiki Bertens rounding out the top five seeded positions. Czech duo Pliskova and Kvitova – another former champion here in 2013 – are always dangerous, capable of beating anyone on their day whilst Svitolina is more than capable of going far despite her recent form, which has seen her fail to make it past the quarter finals of a tournament since winning the Internationaux de Strasbourg last September. Meanwhile, Sabalenka has already put a title win on the board in 2021, taking out the first tournament of the year – the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open – and Bertens comes in completely fresh, hitting the court for the very first time this year.

There are a number of other top 20 players who are sure to set the competition alight, with the ever consistent Iga Swiatek coming into Dubai off the back of her second major title and current career high ranking of 15th in the world. Still only 19-years-old, she will be joined in the draw by a resurgent Victoria Azarenka whilst American Jessica Pegula will look to back up her excellent Australian Open quarter finals run with another strong effort here. Elena Rybakina will look to back up her 2020 effort, with the 2020 Dubai Tennis Championships runner up sure to fly out of the gates this time around.

When it comes to nations well within their chances of going far, the United States has six competitors – with world number 19 Madison Keys leading the charge – whilst Czech Republic is not far behind with five. Russia and France boast four participants apiece, though neither nation features within the top 30. Perhaps one of the most intriguing entrants is Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova, who comes in at world number 1029, and joins compatriot Rybakina in the main draw. Tunisian Ons Jabeur will look to keep climbing up the rankings, whilst a couple of early knockouts from the Australian Open will hope to recapture their form at Dubai.

WTA Tour wraps: Kvitova out to go one better

THE stage is set for a brilliant final in Doha, while the Lyon semi-finalists are locked in following a mixed bag of results.

Petra Kvitova will take on Garbine Muguruza in the 2021 Qatar Total Open final today after ending the run of American qualifier Jessica Pegula yesterday. The fourth seed Czech won 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 21 minutes to book her place in the final, her first in 12 months since losing the Doha final to Aryna Sabalenka last year. She said she enjoyed playing in Doha, but hoped to build that form elsewhere around the WTA Tour.

“I would love to know it, as well, why I’m playing well in Doha,” Kvitova said post-match. “I would love to play everywhere very well, but of course sometimes it’s not easy.”

Kvitova served the only two aces of the match, and did not procude a double fault, commanding a strong position on serve with 58.5 and 50.0 per cent of her first and second serve points off a 77.4 per cent efficiency. It far eclipsed an efficient, yet unable to capitalise, Pegula who served at 71 per cent, but only won 49 and 40 per cent of her first and second serve points. Still broken four times, Kvitova managed to break Pegula six times to have the additional break in each set, and win in straight sets.

“Today was so windy, and I’m not sure if it was a matter of tennis, but it was really about putting lot of balls into the court,” Kvitova said. “But then Jessica played really great, and I really have to play great, as well.”

In the end, Kvitova hit a balanced 26 winners and 26 unforced errors, which while not overly impressive, was better than her opponents’ 17 winners to 28 unforced errors. It ended the run of Pegula who went all the way through qualifying to the semi-final, the first player to do so at Doha. Now she sets her sights on Muguruza who won following a withdrawal from opponent and fellow Grand Slam winner, Victoria Azarenka.

“First of all, just being in the final for me, it’s great,” Kvitova said. “We played many times already against Garbiñe. We played a final here 2018, as well, which was a roller-coaster. I know she’s really in great form. She’s playing really well. “We play a similar game. So it will be really, I think, about a few points, as it was in the past.”

Kvitova will be going for her 28th WTA Tour title when she steps out on court against Muguruza – whom she has a 4-1 head-to-head record against – and she has already entrenched herself inside the Top 10, to sit eighth, having risen above Sabalenka and Bianca Andreescu. Pegula’s rise up the order continued with the 27-year-old now inside the Top 40 moving up eight spots to be 36th in the world.

QATAR TOTAL OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 6-4
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [8] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) W/O

 

In Lyon, a couple of seeds and a couple of qualifiers have booked their places in the semi-finals after the completion of the quarter finals overnight. The top ranked remaining player in the draw, Fiona Ferro took down French wildcard Clara Burel after a nervous start, while seventh seed Spaniard Paula Badosa became the villain when she knocked out fourth seed Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic in three sets.

Ferro needed 91 minutes to defeat Burel, falling behind with a disappointing first set to drop it 6-2, before finding her groove and winning the next two 6-1 6-3 to advance through to the semi-finals. Burel served at an elite 82.4 per cent efficiency, but could only capitalise off 5.14 and 26.7 per cent of her first and second serve points respectively, as Ferro broke her serve times to the wildcard’s five. Ferro won 63 and 42.9 per cent of her first and second serve points in the match to set up a semi-final clash with Vikrtorija Golubic.

Meanwhile Badosa took part in an epic three setter against Mladenovic, having to bounce back from a second set tiebreaker loss to win, 7-5 6-7 6-2 in two hours and 36 minutes. The win included Badosa claiming 72.1 and 31.3 per cent of her first and second serve points, breaking nine times from 12 chances, and bravely defending 12 break point opportunities as the fourth seed capitalised six times.

Now Badosa will go on to play Danish qualifier and teenager, Clara Tauson who continued her giant-killing run to the semis with a straight sets win over Italian Camila Giorgi. Tauson won 6-3 6-1 in just 70 minutes to advance to a semi-final in her first ever WTA Tour event. The Dane now sits at 117th in the world having moved up 22 spots on the world rankings. She takes on Golubic who won their semi-final over Belgian Greet Minnen. The Swiss qualifier won 6-3 7-6 in an hour and 41 minutes to set up a clash with Tauson. The Dane won a clash a few starts back on the ITF Tour for her most recent title so will be keen to repeat the dose again.

LYON OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Fiona Ferro (FRA) defeated [WC] Clara Burel (FRA) 2-6 6-1 6-3
[7] Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated [4] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 7-5 6-7 6-2
[Q] Clara Tauson (DEN) defeated Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Viktorija Golubic (SUI) defeated Greet Minnen (BEL)