Just three seeds remain in Linz with a huge opportunity for those players left in the depleted top half of the draw. Two more seeds fell on Wednesday with Roberta Vinci losing her third consecutive match to Aleksandra Krunic in a wacky WTA scoreline, 6-1 6-7(3) 6-1. She was followed out of the tournament by Camila Giorgi who came up second best against an impressive perofrmance by Margarita Gasparyan. I’ve only seen nuggets of Gasparyan play before and she’s been at the top of my watch list for some time. Gasparyan took some time to adjust to Giorgi’s deep and penetrating groundstrokes but settled into a groove. Gasparyan has a decent serve, particularly hitting it down the tee, and really seemed to surprise Giorgi with her level of play. Gasparyan was dictating a lot of rallies but when she was on the defence, managed to get a lot of balls back and make life very difficult with some short backhand slices. It didn’t look comfortable but she got the ball back into play!
Gasparyan won the first set, 6-3, but had a mid-match walkabout before recovering her form in the deciding set. The big talking point about Gasparyan is her one-handed backhand. It looks slightly awkward but it is very effective! Gasparyan sealed the all-important break at 4-3 with a magnificent backhand down-the-line after a high quality rally. Quality serving helped her across the finish line to secure her best win of the year ranking wise.
Thursday’s schedule opens with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova up against Stefanie Voegele. Pavs failed to serve out the first set of her first round match against Katerina Siniakova but after winning it on the tiebreak, won the last six games in super quick time. While you are never safe in backing Pavs for a win, I do like her chances in the draw and based on the way she has been playing over the last few months.
The second match on Centre Court features Mona Barthel and Aleksandra Krunic in a first career match-up. Barthel enjoyed a ninth win over Kiki Bertens in the first round. Krunic has had a handful of great results over the last 18 months but continues to blow hot and cold. The highest seed remaining in the draw, Caroline Wozniacki goes up against Kirsten Flipkens in the first of the night matches. Wozniacki survived Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round, coming from behind to win, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-3. I’d fancy this to be a much more straightforward match for Caro. The final match of the day features two Czech players, Barbora Strycova and Denisa Allertova. Strycova took many detours before finally seeing off the Austrian wildcard, Barbara Haas in her first round match on Tuesday, 6-0 6-7(5) 6-4 (see full recap HERE). I’d fancy Allertova, who reached her first WTA final in Guangzhou a few weeks ago, to bag the upset in this one.
The WTA officially announced tonight that Petra Kvitova has qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore… yay! That’s four players confirmed and i’m hoping there will be more by the end of the week otherwise it’s going to get a bit messy next week.