I forgot how difficult the Asian Swing is to follow when i’m working… play starts at 4am when i’m sound asleep. I could get up to watch some tennis but sleeeeeep. Then i’m at work while everything is going on. I’ve managed to find nuggets of time in the morning and during my lunch hour to watch some of Wuhan and keep the posts coming. Tuesday’s slate of results are giving off some pretty fresh end-of-season vibes with some retirements and seeded upsets. Azarenka, who retired with a leg injury after losing the first set to Johanna Konta, was quoted as saying that her mind is already focussing on next season. This isn’t a surprise and to be honest, as a tennis fan I always feel that way at this time of the year because it is so difficult to follow the Asian Swing.
I’ve got also issues with the overlapping of tournaments. I find this a pain all year round but particularly this weekend. Belinda Bencic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Irina-Camelia Begu were all forced to play their first match in Wuhan without any rest days after the finals in Tokyo and Seoul on Sunday. I don’t think this is the fault of the Wuhan schedulers since the final is on Saturday and they HAD to finish first round matches by Monday. It does though seem an inherent flaw in the overall scheduling of these tournaments.
Furthermore, Beijing normally starts pretty sharpish and i’m sure the main draw has begun on Saturday before. According to the WTA dates, it would appear that main draw play is set to start on Saturday again. I wonder if Tokyo could have finished a day earlier, like Guangzhou, to give Bencic and Radwanska at least a day off but generally, I wish there was more time between tournaments. It’s just impossible with such a packed calendar and the need for a lengthy off-season (although some players don’t seem to use it but that’s another issue!). It’s not a good advertisement for the tour to see last week’s finalists struggling when they could potentially have gone deep with a bit more time. I digress…
Many seeds have fallen but the line-up for Wednesday is still pretty impressive. I’ve already previewed Ivanovic-Muguruza HERE which is my match of the day and that post also includes a few thoughts about Schmiedlova-Mladenovic although my bottom is firmly wedged on the fence with picking a winner. It’s great to see a lot of new match-ups that we haven’t seen happen before this year (and in many cases never happen before). One result i’ll be keen to find out is from the second match on court 1 featuring Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina. Pliskova has spoken openly about being tired and it’s been evident with some of her results. She’s had a great year but I think it is fair to say that all those matches in the first half of the year are catching up with her and she has overplayed.
That said, Pliskova’s three set win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni on Monday was a notable one as the Czech player had lost from all kinds of leads when the pair played earlier this year in Toronto. In Canada, Lucic-Baroni prevailed, 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2. This time round in Wuhan, Pliskova eeked out a third set tiebreak win, akin to the types of wins she was picking up at the start of the year where she was mentally toughing out matches. The last two points from Pliskova were a booming return and an ace on match point. Pliskova leads the head-to-head against Svitolina, 2-0 although both matches were on clay. Pliskova’s had a day off but I feel like she needs a month off to be ready! She could boom her way to a straight sets victory but if Svitolina can make it physical and get plenty of balls back, I think the Ukranian player can post another good result in Wuhan.
The winner of Pliskova-Svitolina will play Petra Kvitova or Roberta Vinci. Kvitova recovered from a 3-5 third set deficit against Daria Gavrilova to win the last four games. I just watched back the end which was a fun one. I loved seeing the Petra fan in the front row who was like all the fans on Twitter, living every point. Dasha missed a big opportunity although she did well to get into that position. Kvitova looked tired and it wasn’t fun to see her grimacing, but she played some good stuff as well as accepting a few gifts from Gavrilova. Kvitova-Vinci definitely feels like a potential upset alert with Vinci having beaten Kvitova twice before. Again, i’ll give Petra the slight edge, assuming P3tra doesn’t come into play, but heat, humidity and tiredness may spell the end of her week in Wuhan. It really wouldn’t be a surprise…
The final match of the day on Wednesday is ANOTHER first time meeting featuring Angelique Kerber and Camila Giorgi. Finallyyyyy a draw has opened up for Kerber who would not have to play a seed before the semi-finals. She needed three sets to beat the Guangzhou champion, Jelena Jankovic on Tuesday. Giorgi’s a dangerous opponent, one of those players who can outhit Kerber and literally take the match out of her hands. However, it can go one of two ways because if Giorgi’s off then Kerber can make her life miserable. I’m actually fancying Kerber in straight sets for this one.
The winner of Kerber-Giorgi plays the winner of the match at the bottom of the draw between Barbora Strycova and CoCo Vandeweghe. This could be glorious for many reasons. CoCo beat Caroline Garcia in what was a dramatic live scoreboard watch. Vandeweghe failed to hold onto a 6-3 4-1 lead and then Garcia took the ascendancy in the decider, serving for the match at *5-4… the Frenchwoman suffered another tough loss as she failed to serve it out and missed two match points in the ensuing third set tiebreak.
The final quarter-final will come from a quartet featuring Simona Halep, Johanna Konta, Carla Suárez Navarro and Venus Williams. Konta’s recent form has been superb and she had a slice of luck on Tuesday with Azarenka’s withdrawal. It was Konta’s 20th win in 21 matches and she will be the British number one come Monday when the new rankings are released. I’d fancy Halep to be too strong for Konta though. Venus and Carla will meet for the second time this year after Carla won in Miami, 0-6 6-1 7-5. The Spaniard looked frazzled after securing a hard fought, 5-7 6-3 6-4 victory over Monica Niculescu in two hours and 36 minutes. A trio of Niculescu GIFs were just THE BEST.
I’ve watched a few of Carla’s recent matches and she has looked really low on confidence and not hitting the ball with convinction or depth. Surprisingly, she leads the head-to-head against Venus, 3-2. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went three but i’d probably go for Venus in two as the world number 24 has looked in fine form so far this week with straight set wins over Agnieszka Radwanska and Julia Goerges.
As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section with your opinions! 🙂