Tag: Yaroslava Shvedova

WTA Tour wrap: Jabeur and Sharma to face off in Charleston as Billie Jean King Cup playoff winners decided

ONS Jabeur and Astra Sharma will face off in the MUSC Health Women’s Open final after the respective players toppled their opponents overnight in the semi-finals. Top seed Jabeur continued her steam-rolling of opponents with a 6-3 6-0 smashing of Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, reversing the result of last tournament, when Kovinic won in straight sets. The one-sided result threw back to Budapest in 2018 when Jabeur won in their other encounter 6-2 6-1.

In this match, Jabeur needed 89 minutes to win and dominated from midway through the first set to cruise to the easy victory, breaking a hopping seven times – bringing up 17 break point chances – whilst only dropping her own serve twice. She won 65 per cent of her first serve points to Kovinic’s 45 per cent, and whilst she struggled off her second serve (43.3 per cent), Kovinic won even less with just a 32.3 per cent success rate.

Sharma had a tougher first set against Colombian teenager Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano. The latter was coming off her maiden title last start, and was bringing it to Sharma in the first set, as the Australian needed to win 7-5 in the tiebreaker. From there she won six of the next seven games to get up 7-6 6-1 and book her spot in the final. Also yet to win a title at WTA Tour level in the singles format, Sharma is a one-time finalist at Bogota in 2019, where she also won the doubles title at that event. At 25-years-old, Sharma still remains outside the the Top 100, but will be eyeing off a place inside with this run at the tournament.

MUSC HEALTH WOMEN’S OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Danka Kovinic (MCE) 6-3 6-0
Astra Sharma (AUS) defeated Maria Camilla Osorio Serrano (COL) 7-6 6-1

 

BILLIE JEAN CUP:

The favourites managed to get up on the second day of the Billie Jean King Cup, with Poland, Kazakhstan and Netherlands holding off some stiff resistance from underdogs, Brazil, Argentina and China to advance through to the next stage where they will have the chance to enter the World Group of the 2022 cup.

Youngster Maria Lourdes Carle almost single-handedly defeated Kazakhstan with a win over Yulia Putintseva to back up her upset of Elena Rybakina the day before, but unfortunately Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska went down in both of her singles matches. The pair were then outclassed by more experienced doubles combination Anna Danilina and Yaroslava Shvedova in the deciding doubles, 6-0 7-5.

Netherlands took the risk of not having Kiki Bertens play out the day two singles and it almost cost them, with Wang Xiyu knocking off Lesley Pattinama Kerkhov after defeating Arantxa Rus on day one to lead China to a 2-1 lead. Luckily Rus bounced back with a win over Wang Xinyu, then teamed up with Demi Schuurs to win the doubles match, and the tie for her nation, 3-2.

Meanwhile Poland got up over Brazil in a five-tie result, with Magdalena Frech doing all the heavy lifting, defeating Laura Pigossi – who knocked off Urszula Radwanska on day one – and then combined with Katarzyna Kawa to triumph in the doubles, while Carolina Melgeni Rodrigues Alves won her singles against Kawa and the opening set of double with Luisa Stefani, but the Brazilian pairing fell in three sets, 1-6 6-2 6-4.

Meanwhile in more one-sided results, Great Britain wrapped up its tie against Mexico despite Marcela Zacarias upsetting Heather Watson. Katie Boulter brought the team home with a straight sets win over Giuliana Olmos. Anastasija Sevastova wrapped up an easy tie for Latvia against India, as Elisabetta Cocciaretto did the same in a tight encounter against Colombia’s Mihaela Buzarnescu, 7-5 7-6 following Elena Gabriela Ruse‘s win over Jasmine Paolini.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine and Canada both won 4-0 in comfortable wins over Serbia and Japan, though Elina Svitolina was forced into three sets by Japanese talent Yuki Naito with the match going 6-2 4-6 7-6, while Leylah Fernandez came from behind against Nina Stojanovic to hand the North American nation the victory 6-3 3-6 6-4.

 

Picture credit: Adam Nurkiewicz

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: Mertens fights tough as six of seven seeds advance to Dubai second round

SIX of the seven seeds advanced at Dubai in what was largely a predictable day, but a couple of past Top 30 players were knocked out early on. With the top eight seeds having a bye from the first round, seven of the other seeds took to the court on day two of the main draw singles, with the majority having successful outings.

Ninth seed Garbine Muguruza bounced back from her sheepish Qatar Total Open final loss to record a solid 6-3 7-5 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu. Eleventh seed Madison Keys was even swifter with a 6-1 6-1 rout of Chinese Taipei’s Liang En-Shuo in just 64 minutes. It was the not the quickest rout of the day for seeds however, with 15th seed Anett Kontaveit smashing Hungarian doubles star, Timea Babos 6-2 6-1 in 57 minutes.

Also through to the next round were 14th seed Elena Rybakina and 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova who both won in straight sets, while 10th seed Elise Mertens had a fight on her hands. The Belgian won from a set down against Bulgarian lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova, 4-6 6-2 6-4. Despite having to win in three, Mertens still at last booked her spot in the second round, which was not the case for 13th seed Petra Martic. The Croatian’s poor form in 2021 continued, going down to Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, 7-6 6-4.

The quickest match of the day by far was Amanda Anisimova‘s 6-2 6-2 smashing of Croatian qualifier Ana Konjuh in 52 minutes, as the American put in her best performance of the past 12 months. Fellow Americans, Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula booked their spots in the second round, with Rogers overcoming Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi 7-6 6-2, and Australian Open quarter finalist Pegula defeated Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-2 6-1. Swiss talent Jil Teichmann and Latvian Anastasija Sevastova also blitzed their respective opponents to move into the Round of 32.

Fellow Latvian Jelena Ostapenko knocked out another Romanian in Patricia Maria Tig, whilst the sole Romanian through to the second round was Sorana Cirstea who accounted for former Top 30 player, Lesia Tsurenko 6-4 6-4. Amongst the other matches were a host of three-set battles. Lucky loser Misaki Doi won her second consecutive first round match after losing in qualifying, defeating Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-2 4-6 6-3 to make her way through to the next stage. Meanwhile Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia accounted for German Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber 3-6 6-2 6-4 in a come-from-behind win, while Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova upset her higher ranked compatriot Kristyna Pliskova in a three-set epic, 7-6 6-7 6-3.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated [Q] Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-3 7-5
[10] Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [LL] Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) 4-6 6-2 6-4
[11] Madison Keys (USA) defeated Liang En-Shuo (TAI) 6-1 6-1
[12] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) defeated [Q] Ana Bogdan (ROU) 6-4 6-4
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated [13] Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6 6-4
[14] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Zheng Saisai (CHN) 6-0 6-4
[15] Anett Kontaveit (EST) defeated [WC] Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2 6-1
Shelby Rogers (USA) defeated [Q] Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 6-2
Amanda Anisimova (USA) defeated [Q] Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-2 6-2
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated [Q] Katarina Zavatska (UKR) 6-1 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Tereza Martincova (CZE) defeated Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 6-7 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Angelique Kerber (GER) 3-6 6-2 6-4
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-4 6-4
[LL] Misaki Doi (JPN) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-2 4-6 6-3
Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-2 6-1
[WC] Anastasia Potapova (RUS) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-0 6-3

Picture credit: WTA/Jimmie48

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 Abu Dhabi Round of 64 wrap: Top six through without a hitch, young guns also advance

OF the 16 seeds on show in the brand new WTA Abu Dhabi 500 event, 12 reached the second round. Kicking off 2021 in style, the top six seeds advanced without dropping a set, whilst 2020 in-form players, Anett Kontaveit and Jennifer Brady were amongst the seeds to fall in the opening round of play.

Top seed Sofia Kenin led the way with a straight sets win over China’s Zhaoxuan Yang who put up a fight before going down, 7-6 6-3. Joining her in the next round was second seed Elina Svitolina, toppling tough American Jessica Pegula, 6-4 6-3. Needing tiebreakers to advance, third and fourth seeds, Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka won their way through, defeated Greece’s Despina Papamicail and Slovenia’ Polona Hercog. Having a much easier time, Garbine Muguruza cruised to a surprising easy win over French battler Kristina Mladenovic, while young gun Elena Rybakina continued her great 2020 form with an easy first-up victory in 2021 over Italian Lucrezia Stefanini.

The first big upset saw eighth seed Czech and 2019 Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova out of the Abu Dhabi event, going down to Chinese T’s Hsieh Su-Wei. Also bowing out were Kontaveit and Brady, who went down to Russian Veronika Kudermetova and Slovenian Tamara Zidansek respectively. Brady’s loss was particularly brutal considering the US Open semi-finalist won the first set 6-0 before losing 0-6 6-3 6-4. The only other seed to be eliminated was 16th seed Donna Vekic, who lost to United States’ Bernarda Pera 7-6 2-6 6-4. The four other seeds to secure a Round of 16 place were Karolina Muchova (12th), Yulia Putintseva (13th), Ons Jabeur (15th) and Ekaterina Alexandrova (17th).

In terms of the unseeded players, teenagers Coco Gauff and Leylah Fernandez both shone in their wins, as Gauff destroyed Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri 6-0 6-1, while Fernandez made light work of respected Italian Jasmine Paolini, 6-4 6-2. Italian Bianca Turati was a fresh face to the winners list with the 23-year-old predominantly an ITF player but moved through to the next round easily. Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich joined compatriot Sabalenka in the Round of 16, while Heather Watson came from behind to defeat her only other compatriot in the draw, Jodie Burrage. Australia Ajla Tomljanovic made a great start to 2021 with a straight sets win, while Sara Sorribes Tormo enjoyed an important victory over Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska.

The full results are below.

ABU DHABI ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Zhaoxuan Yang (CHN) 7-6 6-3
[2] Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4 6-3
[3] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated Despina Papamicail (GRE) 6-2 7-6
[4] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 6-2
[5] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) defeated Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[6] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated Lucrezia Stefanini (ITA) 6-1 6-3
Su-Wei Hsieh (TAI) defeated [8] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 3-6 6-3 7-6
[9] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-4 6-2
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [10] Anett Kontaveit (EST) 7-5 6-1
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) defeated [11] Jennifer Brady (USA) 0-6 6-3 6-4
[12] Karolina Muchova defeated Danka Kovinic (MON) 6-4 6-1
[13] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-3
[15] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 7-6 6-3
Bernarda Pera (USA) defeated [16] Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-6 2-6 6-4
[17] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-4 6-4
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) defeated Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 6-4 6-2
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated Jamie Loeb (USA) 6-1 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-2 5-7 6-2
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Lin Zhu (CHN) 6-2 7-6
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) defeated Laura Siegemund (GER) 5-7 7-5 6-4
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated Qiang Wang (CHN) 6-2 3-6 6-3
Anastasia Gasanova (RUS) defeated Mona Barthel (GER) 6-2 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) defeated Valentini Grammatikopoulou (GRE) 6-2 6-2
Bianca Turati (ITA) defeated Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-1 6-2
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Anna Bondar (HUN) 6-2 6-2
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 6-2 6-4
Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-3 6-3
Xiyu Wang (CHN) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-3 3-6 6-4
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) defeated Yafan Wang (CHN) 6-3 2-6 6-3
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Jodie Burrage (GBR) 4-6 6-2 7-5
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) defeated Amandine Hesse (FRA) 6-3 6-4
Coco Gauff (USA) defeated Ulrikke Eikeri (NOR) 6-0 6-1

Picture: Getty Images

Qatar Open: Anisimova finds form against red-hot Alexandrova, as Muguruza survives tough challenge

AMANDA Anisimova has won her first match since the ASB Classic a month and a half ago by downing in-form Russian, Ekaterina Alexandrova in the Qatar Open Round of 64. The Doha event began with the first 12 matches getting underway, most of which were one-sided affairs.

Anisimova’s win was in straight sets, but after back-to-back losses at Melbourne Park and in Dubai, the 6-3 7-6 victory was crucial for her confidence. The 21-year-old battled hard to get past the determined Russian, in a match that took 93 minutes. She won 70.7 per cent of her first serve points and 56.5 per cent of her second serve points, breaking twice compared to once. It was far from a terrible performance from the Russian, who was solid but not able to play the same form that saw her win back-to-back tournaments and go reach the semi-finals in St Petersburg last week. Anisimova now has a massive clash against fifth seed Ukrainian, Elena Svitolina in the Round of 32.

Also no doubt relieved with the win was eleventh seed and Australian Open runner-up, Garbine Muguruza who just survived against 73rd ranked Russian, Daria Kasatkina. The Grand Slam-winning Spaniard took almost three hours to finally get rid of the 22-year-old, downing her 7-5 5-7 6-3 in an entertaining contest. She held off a whopping 22 break point opportunities during the match, but did concede on eight occasions. By contrast, Muguruza was much more clinical with her chances, breaking nine times from 12 opportunities and winning a massive 73.9 per cent off Kasatkina’s second serve. There was not much to separate the players, with Muguruza moving through to the next round to face Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, as a potential Australian Open rematch is on offer in the Round of 16 if sixth seed, Sofia Kenin can make it there.

Tomljanovic made her way through to the Round of 32 with a 6-2 6-4 win over compatriot, Priscilla Hon. She joined Ash Barty in the second round with the number one seed having a bye and will now face Germany’s Laura Siegemund who defeated Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-3 6-2. Also through to the next round is Belgian, Alison Van Uytvanck, Turkey’s Ons Jabeur and Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko who all recorded wins. United States’ Bernarda Pera is up against third seed, Karolina Pliskova following an upset 6-3 6-1 victory over Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, while Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Veronika Kudermetova also booked spots in the Round of 32. To round out the results, 16th seed Elise Mertens and Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova breezed through to the next round.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] G. Muguruza (ESP) defeated D. Kasatkina (RUS)
[16] E. Mertens (BEL) defeated Q. Wang (CHN) 6-2 6-1
J. Ostapenko (LAT) defeated K. Teichmnn (SUI) 7-5 2-6 7-5
A. Van Uytvanck (BEL) defeated P. Hercog (SLO) 6-2 6-2
A. Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated P. Hon (AUS) 6-2 6-4
L. Siegemund (GER) defeated Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 6-3 6-2
O. Jabeur (TUN) defeated K. Siniakova (CZE) 6-3 6-2
B. Pera (USA) defeated C. Garcia (RA) 6-3 6-1
K. Muchova (CZE) defeated M. Linette (POL) 6-3 6-1
V. Kudermetova (RUS) defeated K. Mladenovic (FRA) 7-6 0-6 6-3
A. Anisimova (USA) defeated E. Alexandrova (RUS( 6-3 7-6
S. Kuznetsova (RUS) defeated C. Buyukakcay (TUR) 6-2 6-2

Fed Cup qualifiers wrap: Eight nations book spot in Finals

SIX of the eight seeded nations have booked a spot in the Fed Cup finals following the round’s qualifying action over the weekend. Plenty of top 20 WTA Tour players were running around the courts across the world in a number of tight contests. Fourth seed Germany was the only side to sweep the opponent with a massive 4-0 win over Brazil, while all the seeds got up with the exception of understrength Romania and Great Britain who lost to Russia and Slovakia respectively. The other winners were the United States, Belarus, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium, all of whom join last year’s finalists, France and Australia, the top ranked nation Czech Republic, and the home nation Hungary at the new-style Finals in April.

[1] USA (3) defeated Latvia (2)

Despite an almost unbelievable fightback from the Latvian visitors, the number one seeds, United States advanced through to the finals with a 3-2 victory in Washington. Not many expected Latvia to put up too much of a fight despite a couple of improved players in Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasija Sevastova, with both succumbing to Grand Slam winners, Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin on Day 1. But out of nowhere in the opposite singles, the Latvian pair turned it around winning the reverse singles both in three sets with the nation’s number one player, Ostapenko defeating Kenin, and then Sevastova stunning 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams in the tightest of matches so far. The result led to a live doubles match, but the familiar pairing of Kenin and Bethany Mattek-Sands ensured the home crowd left happy as the United States booked its spot in the finals.

Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-2 6-2
Serena Williams (USA) defeated Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-6 7-6
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-3 2-6 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) defeated Serena Williams (USA) 7-6 3-6 7-6
S. Kenin / B. Mattek-Sands (USA) defeated J. Ostapenko / A. Sevastova 6-4 6-0

Netherlands (2) defeated by [2] Belarus (3)

Despite Kiki Bertens‘ best efforts, Netherlands was unable to upset Belarus in the two nations tie. Held in Netherlands, Bertens won both her matches against fellow top 15 player, Aryna Sabalenka, and the plucky improving Aliaksandra Sasnovich, but both players took down Arantxa Rus in their respective singles. The pair then combined in the doubles to defeat Bertens and Demi Schuurs, but not without an almighty fight, as the finals spot came down to an epic tiebreaker. In the end, Sabalenka and Sasnovich got up 10-8 in the third set tiebreaker over Bertens and Schuurs, winning 4-6 6-3 7-6 in a thrilling finish to a terrific couple of days.

Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-7 6-2 6-1
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 6-2 6-3
Kiki Bertens (NED) defeated Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 6-4 6-4
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) defeated Arantxa Rus (NED) 0-6 7-5 6-2
A. Sabalenka / A. Sasnovich (BLR) defeated K. Bertens / D. Schuurs (NED) 4-6 6-3 7-6

[3] Romania (2) defeated by Russia (3)

World number 38, Veronika Kudermetova will owe her teammates after the 22-year-old had a weekend to forget against an understrength Romanian side. Playing her first singles match in the competition since 2014, the top 50 player lost to both world number 90 Ana Bogdan, and more shockingly, world number 197 Jacqueline Adina Cristian. Luckily for Kudermetova, her teammate and in-form Russian top 30 player Ekaterina Alexandrova stepped up, winning against Elena Gabriela Ruse and Bogdan, before recently 21-year-olds Anna Blinkova and Anna Kalinskaya booked a spot in the finals with a straight sets doubles win over Cristian and Ruse.

Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Elena Gabriela Ruse (ROU) 6-1 6-4
Ana Bogdan (ROU) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) defeated Ana Bogdan (ROU) 7-5 3-6 7-5
Jaqueline Adina Cristian (ROU) defeated Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-5 6-3
A. Blinkova / A. Kalinskaya (RUS) defeated J. Cristian / E. Ruse 6-3 6-2

Brazil (0) defeated by [4] Germany (4)

Home court advantage did little for Brazil to cause an upset against Germany who did not even bother to play its best side in the qualifying tie. The South American nation was the lowest ranked side of any that competed in the qualifiers, and neither Teliana Pereira or Gabriela Ce – both ranked outside the top 200 could compete against top 100 players, Laura Siegemund and Tatjana Maria. With the tie wrapped up quickly at 3-0, the Pereira-Maria singles did not go ahead, and instead the tie went straight to the doubles, where Anna-Lena Friedsam and Antonia Lottner finished off the tie with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani.

Laura Siegemund (GER) defeated Teliana Pereira (BRA) 6-3 6-3
Tatjana Maria (GER) defeated Gabriela Ce (BRA) 6-3 7-6
Laura Siegmund (GER) defeated Gabriela Ce (BRA) 6-1 6-2
A. Friedsam / A. Lottner (GER) defeated L. Pigossi / L. Stefani (BRA) 6-1 6-4

[5] Spain (3) defeated Japan (1)

A stunning performance from Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo set the tone for the home nation’s win over Japan. Sorribes Tormo took down top 10 star and Grand Slam winner, Naomi Osaka 6-0 6-3 in a performance for the ages in front of home fans, before Carla Suarez Navarro doubled down on the performance with a 6-3 6-4 triumph over top 100 player, Misaki Doi. Opting not to play Osaka in the second match, Japan threw in 137th ranked Kurumi Nara who also suffered defeat at the hands of Suarez Navarro and hand Spain the tie victory. It meant Sorribes Tormo and Doi’s match did not need to be played, instead skipping straight to the doubles, where top 30 pairing, Ena Shibahara and Shuko Aoyama got Japan a consolation match with a 6-2 6-3 win overly Lara Arruabarrena and lowly ranked Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov.

Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6-0 6-3
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-3 6-4
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) defeated Kurumi Nara (JPN) 6-1 6-3
S. Aoyama / E. Shibahara (JPN) defeated L. Arrubarrena / A. Bolsova Zadoinov (ESP) 6-2 6-3

[6] Switzerland (3) defeated Canada (1)

Switzerland has triumphed over visitors, Canada with the latter nation opting not to use its top star, Bianca Andreescu who was returning from injury. Initially picked to ease her back in via the doubles, the final rubber was not required after the home nation picked up the win 3-1. It did not come without an upset however, as teenager, Leylah Annie Fernandez stunned world number five, Belinda Bencic in straight sets. The 17-year-old is ranked 185th in the world, but she did not look out of place on the world stage, going close to Jil Teichmann in the first match, before upsetting Bencic to keep the tie alive. Unfortunately due to the unavailability of both Andreescu and former top 10 player, Eugenie Bouchard, Canada relied upon specialist doubles player (ranked seventh in doubles but 448th in singles) Gabriela Dabrowski to win a match, but was not surprisingly bowled over in both her singles against Bencic and Teichmann. The tie showed that Fernandez – who does not turn 18 until September – could be one to watch in the future.

Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN) 7-6 6-4
Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) 6-1 6-2
Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN) defeated Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-2 7-6
Jil Teichmann (SUI) defeated Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) 6-3 6-4

[7] Belgium (3) defeated Kazakhstan (1)

Missing their top ranked young star in Elena Rybakina, Kazkhstan was unable to defeat Belgium on the road, going down to an Elise Mertens-inspired effort. Mertens defeated Zarina Diyas from a set down 1-6 6-2 6-1, before Yulia Putintseva came from behind to knock over Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure in three sets, 3-6 7-6 6-2. On the second day, Mertens and the inclusion of Kirsten Flipkens – who replaced Bonaventure – needed just two sets to down Putintseva and Diyas respectively to move through to the next round. With the tie all wrapped up, the doubles was not required as Flipkens and Greet Minnen were heavy favourites against Anna Danilina and Yaroslava Shvedova.

Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 1-6 6-2 6-1
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) defeated Ysaline Bonaventure (BEL) 3-6 7-6 6-2
Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-1 7-6
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-3 6-4

Slovakia (3) defeated [8] Great Britain (1)

Slovakia has taken full advantage of an understrength Great Britain outfit, and a home court to defeat the eighth seeds in fairly comfortable fashion 3-1. Slovakia’s top ranked singles player is Viktoria Kuzmova, who defeated Harriet Dart in three sets on Day 1, following on from Anna Karolina Schmiedlova‘s triumph over top ranked Brit, Heather Watson in straight sets. The former top 30 player has had injury and form concerns over the years, and is now ranked outside the top 100. But she was on song over the weekend, collecting two wins including Watson and Dart without too much trouble. Watson did knock over the lowly ranked Rebecca Sramkova, who was subbed in for Kuzmova after the 21-year-old was rested in case she was required for doubles. That was never needed with Slovakia securing the win in just four matches. The storyline could have been different had the visitors had top 15 player, Johanna Konta, but instead they bow out with Slovakia being the ultimate underdogs at the Fed Cup finals.

Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-2 6-3
Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) defeated Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-7 6-3 7-5
Heather Watson (GBR) defeated Rebecca Sramkova (SVK) 6-0 7-5
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) defeated Harriet Dart (GBR) 7-5 6-3

2020 Fed Cup qualifiers preview: Nations load up on star talent

MUCH like the Davis Cup last year, the Fed Cup in 2020 has undergone a revamp with a World Cup-style tournament planned for Budapest in April. In it, 12 nations will compete for the title, with last year’s grand finalists, France and Australia automatically qualifying, as well as host nation Hungary, and wildcard Czech Republic (highest ranked nation not from last year’s finalists). Those four teams will be joined by eight other nations which will be decided by the qualifiers taking place next weekend.

[1] USA vs. Latvia

USA: Serena Williams, Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Coco Gauff, Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Latvia: Anastasija Sevastova, Jelena Ostapenko, Diana Marcinkevica, Daniela Vismane

A full-strength American outfit will not show any mercy on its Latvian opponents in the Fed Cup qualifiers, with the unfortunate visitors running into the number one seed. The United States lost to Australia last year, but were without both Williams and Riske who have nominated to play, while Gauff could unbelievably make her Fed Cup debut before her 16th birthday. The 12th placed Latvians are not out of place at this level, with two top 50 players who will contest the singles and not make it easy for the home side. Last year they lost to Germany before sweeping Slovakia, but have struggled given they realistically have the four players to pick compared to United States’ smorgasbord of talent. Unfortunately for Sevastova and Ostapenko, a sweep is in the works in this event, with Williams and Kenin likely to take the singles, though Riske and Gauff both impressed at the Australian Open, so expect Gauff if any to pick up a singles if it is a dead rubber by Day 2. Ostapenko will play all three as the only star doubles player – unless Latvia somehow go 2-0 up – while Mattek-Sands will potentially team up with Riske in the doubles. It is an embarrassment of riches for the home team and expect them to potentially win 5-0 in this head-to-head.

Netherlands vs. [2] Belarus

Netherlands: Kiki Bertens, Arantxa Rus, Lesley Kerkhove, Indy De Vroome, Demi Schuurs
Belarus: Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Olga Govortsova, Lidziya Marozava

Netherlands had a 2019 to forget, swept by both Japan and Canada, and the Dutch will want to put in a much better effort here. The 19th ranked nation is perilously close to dropping out of the World Group, but at least have Bertens back for this year. Belarus swept Germany in 2019, before falling to a strong Australian side, 3-2. All eyes will be on the clash between Bertens and Sabalenka – expected to be Day 2 – which could potentially decide the clash. For Netherlands to win, they will need Bertens to win both singles, with the second option being the 93rd ranked Rus, who will struggle against Sabalenka and veteran Grand Slam winner, Azarenka. Azarenka and Sabalenka might monopolise the two days as the top two singles and doubles players, though expect Sasnovich – who is in good form herself – to potentially get a role. Schuurs is ranked 14th overall in doubles and will team with Kerkhove or potentially Bertens depending on fitness, though if they do go 2-0 up, one of De Vroome or Kerkhove would be expected to take that spot as the fresh player. This match should go the way of Belarus, but it will be close if Bertens is on song, so expect a 3-2 result to the visiting side and number two seeds, though it could be 4-1 if Sabalenka fulfils the promise she has shown at times.

[3] Romania vs. Russia

Romania: Ana Bogdan, Irina Maria Bara, Elena Gabriela Ruse, Jaqueline Adina Cristian, Raluca Olaru
Russia: Ekaterina Alexandrova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudermetova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anna Kalinskaya

Romania stunned top seeds Czech Republic last year with an upset win in the first round of the competition, before going down to France 2-3 in the semi-finals. Unfortunately for the Romanians, the team that won through to a semi-final is completely different to the one that will host the strongest Russian side in a number of years. Russia had a remarkable run last year, winning through from Ground 1 to the World Group after sweeping Italy 4-0 – its third sweep of last year. Simona Halep has chosen to withdraw from the tie citing the upcoming 2020 Olympics as her main focus away from the individual events, which means the Romanians have to rely on 98th ranked Bogdan and 160th ranked Bara to get through the singles. Their doubles combination is also completely different with Bara potentially playing with Olaru in the doubles, allowing Ruse to take over the singles. It is hard not to see Russia completely sweeping Romania in this clash, with four top 60 players, including top 30 singles players Alexandrova and Pavlyuchenkova. They should win all four singles, though with it done and dusted after three, expected either Kudermetova or more likely Kalinsaka to get a gig on the second day, with the pair also potentially playing the doubles tie. Russia 5-0 is one of the more comfortable assumptions in this qualifying round.

Brazil vs. [4] Germany

Brazil: Gabriela Ce, Telina Pereira, Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, Laura Pigossi, Luisa Stefani
Germany: Laura Siegemund, Tatjana Maria, Anna-Lena Friedsam, Antonia Lottner

Without a top 50 player on show, the Brazil-Germany clash is not one of the more intriguing clashes, with Germany’s Siegemund ranked 72nd in the world and heading into the tie as the top ranked player. She and 87th Maria should make light work of Ce and Pereira who are both ranked outside the top 200. Stefani is ranked in the top 70 for doubles and might lead the home nation to a match win in the final rubber, though Friesam is ranked in the top 50 and will give up stiff competition. The South American nation made the qualifiers after winning through Group 1, but falling to Slovakia meant it was not an automatic selection. Germany will miss a number of key players from last season with Julia Goerges the top ranked player opting not to play, along with Mona Barthel and Andrea Pekovic who were other winning singles players. Instead the fourth and fifth choices will lead the charge, though it should not be a problem, earning the spot in the World Group after a 3-1 win over Latvia in the playoffs last year. Germany to win 4-1 at least in this tie.

[5] Spain vs. Japan

Spain: Carla Suarez Navarro, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, Lara Arruabarrena, Georgina Garcia-Perez
Japan: Naomi Osaka, Misaki Doi, Kurumi Nara, Ena Shibahara, Shuko Aoyama

Spain has been a nation down on its past which saw it net five Fed Cup titles in the 90s, but returns to the World Group after back-to-back wins over Japan and Belgium last year. Ironically now Spain must do it all against Japan, except now the Japanese have a fairly handy inclusion in world number four, Osaka. Against a retiring Suarez Navarro in her final Fed Cup, and a top 100 improving Sorribes Tormo, Osaka should have no troubles in her two singles, though Spain could triumph in the others against Doi. Japan has a strong doubles pairing of Shibahara and Aoyama which could prove important, while Arruabarrena and Garcia-Perez are expected to front up for the doubles for Spain. The home court advantage could prove advantageous, especially given Osaka’s strength on hard court, though Japan should turn the tables on their European opponents and win 3-2 in a close one.

[6] Switzerland vs. Canada

Switzerland: Belinda Bencic, Jil Teichmann, Viktorija Golubic, Stefanie Voegele, Timea Bacsinszky
Canada: Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Annie Fernandez, Eugenie Bouchard, Gabriela Dabrowski

Switzerland come into this clash having rolled Italy last year in World Group 2 before going down to top seeds, United States in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the North American nation, Canada ran into top seeds Czech Republic last year and was swept 4-0. Having not played since last year, Andreescu will try and carry the hopes of Canada on her shoulders with an upset win over Switzerland. The world number six is still only 19-years-old and her clash with 22-year-old Bencic should be a must-watch match. Bencic has had an up-and-down year already in 2020, but having at least had runs on the board, she should have the advantage and lead her side in the singles. Teichmann is a developing talent who should have no troubles against the Canadian second singles player, while Bouchard is a better player than here 212th ranking gives her a fighting chance to cause an upset. Dabrowski is ranked eighth in the doubles, and could give Canada the edge if Andreescu can win both her singles, though chances are it will go the way of the home team sixth seeds, with Switzerland winning 3-2.

[7] Belgium vs. Kazakhstan

Belgium: Elise Mertens, Kirsten Flipkens, Ysaline Bonaventure, Greet Minnen
Kazakhstan: Yulia Putintseva, Zarina Diyas, Anna Danilina, Yaroslava Shvedova

Seventh seed Belgium will head into its home clash against Kazakhstan as warm favourites given top player, Mertens has nominated to play, while 20-year-old young gun, Elena Rybakina will not take the court for the visitors. Belgium faced a tough draw last year, losing to Spain and then France. For Kazakhstan, they moved through Group 1 with three consecutive wins including one over China, before falling to Great Britain 3-1 in the World Group playoff. In this clash expect Mertens to triumph in both her singles to give Belgium the edge, though both Putintseva and the in-form Diyas will start favourite against Flipkens in the second singles. Belgium could well team-up Mertens and Flipkens in the doubles or opt for 22-year-old Minnen. They are likely to claim the win there and lead Belgium to at least a 3-2 victory, if not 4-1.

Slovakia vs. [8] Great Britain

Slovakia: Viktoria Kuzmova, Jana Cepelova, Rebecca Sramkova, Magdalena Rybarikova, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
Great Britain: Heather Watson, Harriet Dart, Naiktha Bains, Katie Swan, Emma Raducanu

An understrength Great Britain will travel to Slovakia with a much greater challenge on its hands than first thought. Its two preferred singles players, Johanna Konta (resting) and Katie Boulder (injured) will not take part, leaving Watson and Dart as the preferred options. Last year Great Britain earned a spot in the World Group courtesy of five consecutive wins, defeating Slovenia, Greece, Hungary, Serbia and Kazakhstan, dropping just one singles match as Konta and Boulter combined for an 11-1 record in 2019. Dart and Swan was the preferred doubles combination, while the 17-year-old Raducanu has also earned a call-up to the squad along with 22-year-old Bains. With four of the five players 23-years-old or younger, it is certainly a changing of the guard for the British side. Slovakia on the other had have just two in that age bracket, led by top 100 player, Kuzmova. Cepelova will likely play the second singles, with Kuzmova teaming up with Schmiedlova or Sramkova in the doubles. Despite having the key outs, Great Britain would still fancy its chances and could well get up 3-2, though this is likely the closest match of all and Slovakia could surprise the eighth seeds.