There weren’t many people in the stands in Istanbul today and the organisers face an uphill struggle to fill seats for the rest of the week as the top three seeds all fell in first round action at the 2015 TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup. It’s such a shame because it’s an awesome stadium and they even managed to add a roof for this year’s tournament!
The number two seed, Elina Svitolina lost on Monday to Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1 6-3 and Jelena Jankovic followed on Tuesday afternoon with a three set loss to Urszula Radwanska. After the first of Tuesday’s night matches the top three seeds were all gone as Kateryna Bondarenko upset the number one seed, Venus Williams, 6-4 7-6(4). It was Bondarenko’s most high profile win since coming back to the tour last year in Katowice following the birth of her first child. Previously, Bondarenko’s best win of the year before today had come against Alison Riske (#45 at the time) in Charleston. For a set and a half of this encounter, Bondarenko played very well. Although her serve isn’t the biggest, she was very accurate with it as she got 83% of first serves in compared to just 48% for Venus during the first set. Bondarenko won the first set, 6-4, which concluded with four consecutive breaks of serve. It was Bondarenko’s superb start that made the difference.
Venus struggled on serve and looked sluggish throughout, committing more and more unforced errors into the net as the match wore on. She looked increasingly agitated as she teetered on the brink of defeat. Bondarenko led 6-4 5-2* but Venus mounted a gritty fightback, winning four games in a row. Venus finally managed to stay in some rallies as Bondarenko started to make a ton of errors. Bondarenko double faulted down break point serving for the match at *5-4 in the second set, but Williams returned the favour serving for the set herself at *6-5. The errors came back in abundance for Venus in the second set tiebreak as Bondarenko steadied herself for a big win.
Bondarenko was sweet in her post-match interview and looked understandably emotional. It was her second consecutive win over Venus having defeated the American player in Toronto back in 2009. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, Bondarenko will play either Mona Barthel or Olga Savchuk in the second round on Thursday.
As predictions go, this has to be my worst week ever… both my finalists are out already hahahahaha! Five seeds are already out and the three that remain are probably the three I would have said were most vulnerable! Tomorrow’s matches don’t do much for me so i’ll be back tomorrow to preview Thursday’s second round matches.