It was yet another eventful day on the WTA tour. Top seeds departed Doha but what’s new? I’m really struggling with Doha as I expected, thought, HOPED that the second round matches would be played over two days but then realised it’s a Saturday final… It all feels so rushed. So much happened today so get set for a sweeping Set Points to cover the highlights. Quick thoughts about all the matches can be found in the usual place on the Doha predictions page HERE.
The big result of the day was the number one seed and Australian Open champion, Angelique Kerber falling in straight sets to Saisai Zheng, 5-7 1-6. It was a surprising result and one that suggests Kerber may have been better off skipping the Middle East swing. There have been many instances where players have lost a tight set and then gone down like a stone in the second. I don’t see it as a particularly worrying loss for Angie; I think she just needs time to adjust, adapt and get back to some kind of tennis normality after a crazy start to the year. Full credit though to Zheng for a superb win. Her stats were indeed, cleannnn.
The upsets suddenly came thick and fast with the number two seed, Simona Halep departing this evening. This one was a real shocker because Halep led 7-6 *4-1 *40-40! From that game, Halep would go on to win just one more game with her opponent, Elena Vesnina flying back into a contention for a huge, 6-7(1) 6-4 6-1 victory. Vesnina seems like a lovely person so it’s really nice to see her having some success having dropped out of the world’s top 100 last year.
PETRA WON A MATCH! In fact, it was her 18th straight win against a Czech player (stat via @kfish_WTA on Twitter), defeating Barbora Strycova, 7-6(2) 6-4. The first set was, well, a struggle! Petra was down for most of it, saving two set points and coming through back-to-back deuce games down 3-5 and 4-5. After coming through the tiebreak to win the first set, Petra didn’t drop her set once in the second set.
Check out this interview with Petra… thanks to Silas for sharing on Twitter!
And yayyy to Bacsinszky also winning matches again! It has been a tough start to the year but Timea has won back-to-back matches for the first time since Beijing. The Swiss player had a torrid opening round against Bethanie Mattek-Sand, twice failing to serve out the first set and missing two set points. It looked like one of those matches that would slip through the net but Bacsinszky rebounded for a confidence-boosting, 6-7(9) 6-1 6-3 win. She backed that up on Tuesday with a straight sets victory over Yulia Putintseva, 6-2 7-6(0).
Roberta Vinci continues to rack up the wins, saving three match points to defeat Daria Kasatkina, 2-6 6-4 7-6(3). I went for Daria in this one and she was so close! A tough loss for the Russian player but at the same time, so many positives to take away. She was super competitive with a top ten player and with so little experience on the WTA tour, this will be one to learn from….
I got back from work in time to watch the end of Jankovic-Niculescu… it was a mess but I enjoyed every minute of it haha! The match featured 20, yes 20, breaks of serve. There were plenty of fun points up at the net and some of Niculescu’s defence was fantastic; there was one on-the-stretch lob that was pretty magical. Niculescu twice failed to serve out the match with Jankovic finally stepping in with her backhand down-the-line. However, as we so often see, once a player levels up, they then struggle to get ahead! It went downhill again as Niculescu broke straight back and then miraculously held (having been broken the last four times) to secure her second consecutive win over Jankovic.
It wasn’t to be for Lucie Safarova who lost out to Cagla Buyukakcay, 6-7(6) 5-7, in her first match of 2016. Lucie had a set point in the first set with a return that looked really, really close! She didn’t challenge and then a groundstroke long was the difference. The Czech player battled back from two breaks down in the second set and saved a match point in the process; however, like JJ, Lucie came back from 2-5 to 5-5 but couldn’t get ahead, losing the last two games. This was a big win for Cagla. It’s going to take time and patience for Lucie and I think it will be a while before we see her reaching a consistent level again. Lucie’s back though and that’s a huge positive 🙂
Timea Babos is quietly having a superb year. She defeated Madison Brengle in the first round, 3-6 7-5 6-0; Babos won a TEN deuce game down 3-6 5-5 and then didn’t drop another game! She backed up that win with a straight sets victory over the Dubai champion, Sara Errani.
The final match of a longgggggg day in Doha saw Caroline Wozniacki deliver a surprisingly assured display against Daria Gavrilova, 6-3 6-3. She did get a lot of help from Dasha though who had one inexplicable miss in the second set (see linked below) which is even worse the second time watching! Why Dasha why?! To be fair, the match went well after midnight and I think i’d do things like that at such a time…