Ramblings from St. Petersburg: Gasparyan v Ivanovic lights up Wednesday’s schedule

Margarita Gasparyan

Main draw action finally got underway on Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Margarita Gasparyan both progressing into the second round with victories in the evening session. These were the first matches that I watched from St. Petersburg; I really like the main stadium and the court seems fast, which is great to see. I’m fed up of all the slow indoor courts we’ve seen of late, particularly Singapore and Paris/London for the men so it’s nice to see what, appears to me at least (!), to be a speedy court and a nice colour too. It’s a shame about the attendance not being great but to be honest, that’s not much of a surprise.

After Pavlyuchenkova laboured her way past Klara Koukalova in three sets, Gasparyan followed with a routine 6-1 6-2 win over Bojana Jovanovski in 56 minutes. It’s quite a stat to say that this result matched Jovanovski’s best result of 2016 in terms of games won…

Shenzhen, R1: Friedsam d. Jovanovski, 6-0 6-3

Hobart, QR1: Cepede Royg d. Jovanovski, 6-0 6-0

Australian Open, R1: Cornet d. Jovanovski, 6-1 6-0

St. Petersburg, R1: Gasparyan d. Jovanovski, 6-1 6-2

Jovanovski was clearly struggling with a shoulder injury, which was heavily strapped… she wasn’t even doing her customary grunt! Her serve was lacklustre and it seemed to be affecting her groundstrokes too as she was making some really wild unforced errors. Jovanovski pulled out of Fed Cup action at the weekend, I assume for the same reason. Hopefully she will take some time to heal her shoulder because playing through it with her current results is clearly not working…

Despite Jovanovski not offering up much resistance, Gasparyan played a good match. She was very solid with her groundstrokes and her backhand continues to be a fascinating stroke; it’s such a funky shot but when she connects and hits that winner down-the-line, it’s pretty wonderful to watch. The one weakness in this match was her serve, which she lost rhythm on in the second set. Gasparyan served up seven double faults; however she was still much more stable compared to Jovanovski who won just one point on serve in the first set and was broken on six occasions.

Gasparyan is currently at number 43 in the world and looks set to continue rising in 2016. The 21-year-old Russian didn’t play any WTA main draws through the first half of 2015 and while she did manage to win 3 ITF titles, she isn’t defending a large amount of points. If you want to hear more from Gasparyan, check out this week’s edition of the WTA Insider podcast. I really enjoyed this episode which also features interviews with Daria Kasatkina and Elizaveta Kulichkova. They all came across well but particularly Kulichkova who was really endearing and sounds like a fun character.

Gasparyan progresses to a super intriguing second round match against another Serb in the number four seed, Ana Ivanovic. While Ivanovic improved match-by-match in Melbourne, she’s still had a troubled start to the year and will be vulnerable. The one concern for me though for Gasparyan would be the serve; if it’s as disrupted as it was against Jovanovski, it could get the Ivanovic treatment. Therefore, while i’m very tempted to go for an upset, I would give the edge to Ivanovic. As a note, I alwayssss pick the wrong upsets! Anyway, that’s the match of the day at 6.30pm local time in Russia and i’ll be rushing back from work to hopefully catch some of it…

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Can Gasparyan upset Ivanovic? As always, i’d love to hear your thoughts!

18 thoughts on “Ramblings from St. Petersburg: Gasparyan v Ivanovic lights up Wednesday’s schedule

  1. James,if my memory is correct didn’t Jovanovski make the final one year at Apia International? that would have been 5 years ago I think.I was impressed with her tournament,though quite frankly she has not done much since then.She should have time off for her injured shoulder,insanity to keep playing she could do more damage.

    Ana to win,I think she has too much overall power in her game.

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  2. All of share the same distaste for slow granny indoor courts lol, sighh tough luck for the big hitters 😦 Didnt know London’s court is slow, slower than S’pore’s?

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  3. Hi Guys, after looking at the first 14 matches played on the surface the women are holding 57.1% of the time, the WTA Indoor Hard mean is 64.1%, I know its a small sample but its looking like another pudding court.

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  4. I really want Ana to have a good run here. Even though shes had a poor start to her year, I wouldn’t say that any of her losses have been real stinkers. Her serve has been poor but she’s just had the misfortune of playing women who have served REALLY well in these matches and thus put more pressure on her own. I believe she’d have won against Keys had Nigel not collapsed.

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    • I think the loss to Broady was pretty rough. Granted, she was serving exceptionally well but Ivanovic did fall apart somewhat at the ends of each sets. She’s been improving with every match so i’m really intrigued to see how she gets on against Gasparyan.

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      • The problem with Kuznetsova and Ivanovic is that neither of them seem to be 100% committed to winning. Its what made players like Henin and Serena so dominant is that they just refused to lose. Its one reason I think Bencic will be such a star- she seems so hungry to be a champion, like a young Sharapova!

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      • It seems to me that Ivanovic wants to win too much sometimes! She can be so emotional and uptight at times. I agree about Bencic, she often seems to find a way to win even when not playing well and that is pretty huge, particularly with the tour being so wide open right now behind Serena.

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      • Ana made a comment recently that she doesn’t like tennis to be her whole life. Its been clear for a while that she enjoys the media side of her job a lot and shes had an awful lot of relationships over her career. I dont begrudge anybody having a personal life but when it comes to sports your priorities have to be your game and im not sure Ana has that balance down.

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  5. Don’t know if someone can confirm this for me, but I believe Ana is one of the very few top female players (in fact, the only one I can think of) who doesn’t come from a tennis playing family. Apparently, when she was a young girl she saw Monica Seles playing tennis on TV and decided on the spot that she wanted her own tennis racket. Her parents (and her mother in particular, who wanted her to learn ballet instead) weren’t happy but went along with it.

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    • There have been a few. Kuznetsova comes from a family of professional cyclists. She even did a few races herself but found it boring and asked to be trained to play tennis instead.

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