An all Babs battle in Linz: Strycova takes many detours but wins in three sets

StrycovaThe first match of Tuesday’s evening session at the 2015 Generali Ladies Linz saw Barbora Strycova resist a tenacious effort from the 19-year-old Austrian wildcard, Barbara Haas, 6-0 6-7(5) 6-4. This was the first match i’ve watched from Linz this year and like a lot of people on Twitter, I find the new court surface pretty depressing…

LinzScreencap from British Eurosport coverage

Strycova wrapped up the first set in just 23 minutes. It was one of the most one-sided sets i’ve seen all year with Haas, playing just her third WTA main draw match, having an absolute mare. After missing a break point in the first game, Haas’s challenge evaporated as she made a shedload of errors and stayed behind the baseline, looking extremely timid and nervous. Strycova absolutely dominated, using the drop shot and superior net skills to great effect.

Haas looked in need of a hug. She missed three break points at the start of the second set but played her best game, finally stepping in and dictating a rally. There was a nice reaction to winning her first game.

Barbara HaasScreencap from British Eurosport coverage

The second set was quite enjoyable. Haas relaxed after finally getting a game and competed extremely well. She was ahead in all of Strycova’s service games at one point but the Czech player was classy, using all her options, looking composed and owning it at the net. Strycova was winning the big points and got the all important break to lead 5-3. However, Strycova took a little detour as Haas hung in, securing her first break of serve with an excellent pass. Haas was becoming more and more confident, and was starting to dictate the points, finding her moment to come forward and take the ball out of the air. The difference between the two sets was quite remarkable and Haas was a completely different player to the first.

The second set ebbed into a tiebreak where the Austrian’s inexperience showed when she missed two shots down-the-line. Strycova though, was unable to capitalise on a 5-3 lead in the tiebreak. Strycova looked edgy as she hit a tight backhand at 5-5 and then played one too many serve and volleys with Haas picking her off at the net to force the decider. Strycova is so much fun to watch though and it was great to see some serve and volley, which was successful most of the time.

The final set saw Strycova race out into a 4-0 lead with a bagel sandwich looking a distinct possibility. However, Haas staged yet another comeback with Strycova labouring once more when trying to serve it out. Haas pulled out some great winners towards the end but Strycova finally served out the match at the third time of asking. In the end, it was the Czech player’s variety and experience that just about saw her through. Strycova advanced to the second round where she will play Denisa Allertova.

In other matches, Mona Barthel extended her lead in a crazy head-to-head with Kiki Bertens to 9-2, winning the last six games to win their 11th encounter, 7-5 3-6 6-2. Andreea Mitu defeated Lucie Safarova in her first match back since suffering from a bacterial infection. It wasn’t to be for Lucie but it’s great to see her back on the court. Hopefully with another week of training she will be stronger when she’s due to play in Moscow next week. Singapore qualification remains up in the air and depends on how others do. Johanna Konta, in as a lucky loser after Anna Karolina Schmiedlova pulled out, comfortably beat Annika Beck, 6-1 6-3. Lucky losers tend to do well with a second chance and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Konta go deep in Linz. She plays Madison Brengle in the second round, who has looked decent of late after a mid-season slump.

Caroline Wozniacki and Roberta Vinci will play their first round matches on Wednesday with Caro facing a tricky match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. I went for the Dane in the end. The night session features two second round matches with last year’s finalist, Camila Giorgi going up against Margarita Gasparyan (sounds super intriguing on paper) and then Lucie’s conqueror, Mitu taking on Anna-Lena Friedsam.

 

For all Petra fans, I recommend looking at this super magazine produced by @Pojd_Petra (PetraKvitovaHeadband) on Twitter. This is an awesome idea and beautifully executed. It also got a response from Petra! 🙂

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