Match Points, 14th of February, 2016: Highlights from St. Petersburg, Kaohsiung and Rotterdam

Missed out on the tennis this last week? Match Points is here to bring you up to speed with all the happenings from St. Petersburg and Kaohsiung, other WTA news and the occasional snippet of ATP tennis that caught my eye. I’ll also be using this weekly feature to keep you updated with Racket Rally and Tennis Draw Challenge standings for the Moo’s Tennis Blog leagues.

Match Points

Tennis worth catching up with…

Zverev d. Simon, 7-5 3-6 7-6(4) (Rotterdam, R2)

Time for a burst of ATP… while I also enjoyed the Cibulkova-Kasatkina match from St. Petersburg, my favourite match of the week came from Rotterdam. In fact, aside from Serena-Angie in the AO final, this was my favourite match of the year so far. I’m all in on Zverev right now and he’s further consolidated the claim these past two weeks that he is the real deal.

The 18-year-old German player produced an extraordinary display to beat Simon, coming from a break down in the third set and fighting through what looked like cramps. His point construction, at times, was sensational. He’s solid off both wings, has an excellent serve and for a big guy, moves exceptionally well. He still needs to work on his stamina and his attitude is pretty petulant. He reminds me a little of Belinda Bencic but much more argumentative! I’m thrilled though to see some fresh new talent (Taylor Fritz also has had a super week in Memphis) coming through on the ATP circuit. Zverev has almost single-handedly kept me interested in the ATP these last two weeks and i’m looking forward to watching more of his matches this year.

Singles Champions

Roberta Vinci defeated Belinda Bencic, 6-4 6-3 to win her first Premier title in St. Petersburg. I missed the final but those stats from Vinci are stunning – 32 winners to 12 unforced errors! It was a wonderful week for the Italian player who is knocking on the door of the world’s top ten.

Full credit to Venus Williams for coming through the draw in Kaohsiung, beating Misaki Doi in the final. I was half expecting a withdrawal after she played Fed Cup in Hawaii but she made her way through the draw without dropping a set.

Didn’t expect that to happen…

Mandy Minella d. Naomi Osaka, 6-2 7-6(4) (Kaohsiung, R1)

Laura Siegemund d. Kristina Mladenovic (7), 1-6 7-5 6-1 (St. Petersburg, R1)

Kateryna Kozlova d. Barbora Strycova, 6-3 6-4 (St. Petersburg, R1)

Daria Kasatkina d. Dominika Cibulkova, 4-6 7-5 6-3 (St. Petersburg, QF)

WTA rollercoaster scorelines

Laura Siegemund d. Kristina Mladenovic, 1-6 7-5 6-1 (St. Petersburg, R1) – Mladenovic had led 6-1 4-2 30-30

Yulia Putintseva d. Miyu Kato, 6-4 5-7 6-0 (Kaohsiung, R2) – Putintseva had led 6-4 *5-0 and even had a MP serving at *5-4 before winning in three sets

Anastasija Sevastova d. Donna Vekic, 7-5 2-6 7-5 (Kaohsiung, R2) – Vekic had led 4-0 40-30* in the third set

Favourite tweets of the week

Facebook Posts

Pictures

Tatiana (@_Tatinka on Twitter) posted some great photos from St. Petersburg.

GIFs/Vines of the week

Best points/shots of the week

DUSTIN BROWN

This was a superb set point save from Vinci in her second round match against Yanina Wickmayer.

Kateryna Kozlova hit a cracking winner to reach her first Premier quarter-final in St. Petersburg.

This was the best point of what was a dire quarter-final between Bencic and Pavlyuchenkova.

Dipping back into ATP action, this was an incredible match point in the Goffin-Baghdatis match in Rotterdam.

Memorable handshakes

Lovely embrace by Bencic and Kasatkina!

A couple of years ago this would have been Wickmayer but respect to her, she seems to have mellowed with the handshakes!

Interviews/Press conferences

I’m strongggg! This was a fun interview with Vinci after she won her semi-final match against Ivanovic.

Here’s Bencic’s interview after beating Kasatkina in the semi-finals and confirming her place in the world’s top ten.

Monica Niculescu is very engaging… here’s an interview after her first round win over Vikhlyantseva.

Former WTA player, Ksenia Pervak was doing some of the interviews this week for the tournament and they were insanely awkward…

Podcasts

I really enjoyed this week’s edition of the WTA Insider podcast which had interviews with Margarita Gasparyan, Daria Kasatkina and Elizaveta Kulichkova. They all came across well, but Kulichkova in particular sounds like a lot of fun. She had a solid week in Kaohsiung, reaching the quarter-finals, but showed her inconsistency in a comprehensive defeat to Su-Wei Hsieh in the quarters, 0-6 2-6.

Here’s the post-AO episode from The Tennis Podcast. This particular podcast was interesting with plenty of WTA. However, I admit that I do struggle to listen when Simon Briggs is involved as unfortunately his lack of interest/respect for the WTA does come across…

Fantasy Games

Racket Rally: The week’s still going with Memphis and Buenos Aires but at the time of writing, zyxn52 is leading the way followed by me! I’m having a good year so far and Bencic, Zverev and Kasatkina have all been decent picks. My brother, ma01dp, is doing well again (currently in 4th) and is feeling smug with his 38 shares of Taylor Fritz. The top five is rounded out by bosiddon and Sergeus. To join RR or update your team, click HERE.

Tennis Draw Challenge: Congrats to lil_joey18 and 1HandBH for winning the draw challenges for Kaohsiung and St. Petersburg respectively in the Moo’s Tennis Blog league. 1HandBH also won Rotterdam! I was dead last in Kaohsiung and by quite some distance hahaha! However, I fared better in Memphis and Buenos Aires… i’m still chuffed to have picked a Berankis-Fritz semi-final in Memphis! ajdurso won Memphis and Rocket Roddick won Buenos Aires. If you’d like to join in the fun, it takes just a few minutes to enter a draw and i’ll be keeping track of draw winners each week. More details can be found HERE.

6 thoughts on “Match Points, 14th of February, 2016: Highlights from St. Petersburg, Kaohsiung and Rotterdam

  1. Good post James.

    Just a comment on the handshakes though. Some people who are much revered now as players were poor at pretending to be happy (or at least OK with it) when they lost, and they changed and became more gracious as they got older. I think it’s better to ignore the bad ones and just show the good ones (like Belinda and Daria this week).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There was a time when they said the russian armada was coming, just before Dementieva left. Safina, Vera, Vesnina, Svetlana, Makarova, Sharapova all through to Pavs and others but to be critical, nothing happened. Then it seemed like the germans could start a blitz with kerber, georges, lisicki, petkovic etc. If Fed cup is anything to go by, it has actually been the Czechs who have stood up. It’s too early to say these teens can do anything imo, the transition to the pros can be taxing. I guess time will tell, especially now that it seems 28 is the new age for settling slam scores.

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  3. Thanks for the great wrap-up posts, James, they’re always very enjoyable to read! The various draw challenges are also a lot of fun and I’m proud to have done well enough to get my name mentioned (and by “name” I mean a ridiculous moniker I made up for tennis websites). I do find it funny that while I placed first in the St. Petersburg draw, I was second last in the team picks! Sadly my Racket Rally is off to a disasterous start due to getting caught with a skeleton team at the AO cut-off – lots of single shares that will take ages to get rid of – and I’m also going to do laughably badly with this week’s draws: already under 50% overall, 3 of 4 Belray Beach quarterfinalists gone in the first round, and utter devastation in Dubai (Vinci over Bencic repeat – hah!). Alas, all part of the fun, and a great opportunity for those who’ve cracked open these rather formidable draws. Now if Francesca can just win that Rio title my pride will be restored…

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    • Thanks for the comment, Alexander and for joining all the leagues. It’s nice to know your name now! I’ve actually made a reasonable start in Racket Rally, but Draw Challenge has been a mixed bag so far! Dubai’s been dreadful as I had Pliskova to win (oops) but I don’t think anyone is having a great week. For Delray Beach, i’m hanging in there as my two finalists are still in. You could be on to something with Schiavone based on that first round result. I think i’m still in the game with my predictedchamp, Kovinic… for now at least!

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