Doha 2016 Day 3, Set Points: Another wacky WTA day, seven seeds out

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.

Set Points

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…

Featured image in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

25 thoughts on “Doha 2016 Day 3, Set Points: Another wacky WTA day, seven seeds out

  1. James I am totally convinced there ‘must be something in the air’ Dubai and Doha:) with these seeds falling.
    I give Lucie Safarova a pass this was her first match in 2016.Halep? Hmm lets see if she can defend her title at IW? not a very good start to 2016 season at all from Halep,maybe her medical issues are again surfacing,still it was her choice to continue playing.Good to see Garbine with a good first rd result at Doha.

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    • Haha with the greatest of respect to Dubai and Doha, I don’t think these tournaments are viewed as high priority by the players. I’m biased but I think Lucie can be cut some slack with it being her first match. Halep’s form this year has been shocking but she’s managed to get out of these runs before, normally with a lengthy break.

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      • that means that most of these so called seeds and top ranked players “Halep, kerber, jankovic, bencic, errani, safarova, pliskova, svitolina. kuznetsova….” tank or loose their matches on purpose this sounds awful

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      • Exactly my thoughts James, everyone has caught on to the fact that, like Maria and Serena , you aught to pick and choose in order to peak. I think players like Daria or Pliskova may have done well, but they have been ‘tennis-ing’ too much. I’m sure you will see the seeds at Indian wells and Miami. Now, I understand why Vika hopped over to Acapulco, she can also catch some tropical sun afterwards instead of the desert sand..lol. Glad about Timea, makes me miss those days when insults were hurled at Caroline for consistently playing and winning these tournaments. Some even called it ‘ winning bush leagues’. At least she used to show up to play.

        I’m a bit miffed about Halep though, it’s like if you are carrying an injury, woman, please go and get it fixed. I’m worried she maybe making something worse than it already is. Tennis injuries can be unforgiving on your longevity.

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  2. James where is ur most reliable of all pick here in the article. Why didn’t u mention her defeat. Ur champion bencic. Didn’t u know she lost as well?

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    • haha a lot happened yesterday and I mistakenly didn’t mention a few matches, also Muguruza, Bouchard and Kuznetsova’s matches. The Bencic-Vandeweghe match was not streamed so there wasn’t a great deal of information about it. And Bencic was my finalist, I went for Radwanska this week.

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  3. I bet on Halep to lose. I went to sleep after she led 4-1 in the second set. I woke up then I saw the winning bet transferred to my bank account….God helps me!

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  4. Kerber is having this so-called “Grans Slam Champion Sustainability” syndrome. She is like Li Na now. She expects herself to be a winner every time she walks on and off the court. She would end up defeat herself because she couldn’t handle the pressures.

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    • I called it. This is why Serena is still #1 and probably will remain there for another year… there isn’t one player who can consistently win big titles anymore. Not Sharapova. Not Halep. Not Radwanska. Not Kerber. And not Muguruza either.

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      • I think give Kerber a chance. This was just one match and in hindsight, perhaps it would have been best for her to skip Doha and come back afresh at IW.

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      • I think Kerber is a little old to be a genuine contender at dethroning Serena. One win doesn’t put her atop the pile. You can bet Serena won’t let her off lightly in their next meetings.

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      • I’m also not sure about Kerber being No.1 material but I was more responding to whether she’s going to have a lull in form and deal with the added pressure from winning the Slam. To me it just feels far too soon to be making judgements after only one tournament.

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      • Ah ok. I think she’ll be fine in the long run, but even she admitted to being mentally drained. Shes older and more experienced than the likes of Sharapova, Ivanovic and Kvitova, who all struggled with expectations (to varying degrees) after their wins, so I don’t see her going on a losing streak or anything.

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    • Well, this was what I kept saying about when Serena leaves the tour. I don’t think there will be a a dominant player on the women’s side like Djokovic, but like a revolving door they come and go and so will the number 1 ranking, albeit to a lesser extent. I think by virtue of being experienced and a multi slam winner, a player like Maria will pick and choose her events to maintain her ranking. I don’t see dominance in any of the young girls, not Belinda, Ana Konjuh, none really. Anyway, if Serena’s example is anything to go by, I think most of the girls realise that you must tune and peak for the major tournaments where it counts. The lesser tournaments may well just be ‘canon fodder’.

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      • Andrew and Let’splay that is why I prefer the Women’s tour at the moment compared to the Men’s tour,totally unexpected:)

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      • I think i’m somewhere in the middle… it’s one of the reasons why I like the WTA so much because you never know what’s around the corner, but I would like to see a little more consistency with the top 10 as it has been particularly wild of late. February’s a weird month so i’m more interested to see what happens in IW and Miami.

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    • IMO, it’s far too early to being making judgements about whether Kerber is handling the pressure… it’s one match! Let’s see how she goes through IW and Miami. Winning a Slam is a big deal and it will take time to adjust.

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  5. I know you have a very busy schedule but I think a good thing to add to your posts should be the points defending for each player at the beginning of the draw. It’s hard to remember who did what and got what at last years tournaments. I probably sound stupid but that would be very interesting and helpful haha. Just an idea

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    • Always appreciate suggestions so thanks, Andrew! I’ll have a think to see if I can incorporate it into future previews. And not stupid at all, it is something I have loosely considered but yes, time is always against me.

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