Ramblings from Charleston: Vesnina overcomes Errani, reaches first WTA singles final since 2013

Vesnina 6Take a bow, Elena Vesnina… Coming through the qualifying draw in Charleston, the 29-year-old is into her first WTA final since 2013 after defeating Sara Errani, 6-4 4-6 6-2. In a thoroughly engaging semi-final, Vesnina produced a sensational third set display, aggressive and precise, and hitting 17 winners to 14 unforced errors. While she admitted in her post-match interview to getting a tad lucky with some of her shots (to Errani’s dismay!), the Russian played an all-round excellent match. She was able to demonstrate her doubles prowess, winning 23 out of 33 net points; she has great technique with her volleys and against Errani, it was a play that worked.

A word though for Errani who played her part in this match. It never ceases to amaze me the lack of respect towards the Italian player… The fact she has managed to achieve so much in her career, essentially without a first serve, is quite remarkable and in my opinion, highlights how effective the rest of her game is. The second set was some of the best tennis i’ve seen from Errani in some time. She was aggressive from the baseline and really held her own against Vesnina’s flat strokes. Errani has such touch with the drop shots and lobs, and holds her ground so well at the net. The serve is consistently criticised but her return, one of her assets, rarely gets the mention it deserves.

In the end, Vesnina was rewarded for her proactive play and deservedly won the match. When she’s on song, her game is dynamite. Vesnina’s mental toughness has come under fire before but she seems to be in a very healthy place right now and her recent marriage in the off-season has been mentioned. Vesnina was as high as number 21 in the rankings back in July of 2013 after she won her biggest title in Eastbourne. After a rough 2015 season that saw her drop out of the world’s top 100, Vesnina is currently thriving in her role as the underdog and with little pressure to defend points. By virtue of her exploits this week, she will be close to cracking the world’s top 50.

And add to that, Vesnina is a lovely person and comes across as so warm and generous in her post-match interviews. It’s great to see her doing so well!

Vesnina advances to her second Charleston final having reached the last two in 2011 when she took on Caroline Wozniacki. This time round, Vesnina will play Sloane Stephens; the American went through after her semi-final opponent, Angelique Kerber was forced to retire at 6-1 3-0. It’s an unlikely final, but should be intriguing nonetheless. One concern will be whether fatigue plays an issue for Vesnina after winning SEVEN matches this week…

QR1, Saturday 2nd April: Vesnina d. Soler-Espinosa, 6-4 6-0 (1h 09)

QR2, Sunday 3rd April: Vesnina d. Sorribes Tormo 6-4 6-4 (1h 36)

R1, Monday 4th April: Vesnina d. Burger, 7-5 6-2 (1h 25)

R2, Wednesday 6th April: Vesnina d. Bencic, 6-1 6-1 (0h 56)

R3, Thursday 7th April: Vesnina d. Dominguez Lino, 6-1 6-3 (1h 19)

QF, Friday 8th April: Vesnina d. Siegemund, 7-5 6-4 (1h 31)

SF, Saturday 9th April: Vesnina d. Errani, 6-4 4-6 6-2 (2h 19)

F, Sunday 10th April: ???

Vesnina beat Stephens in their only previous match in the semi-finals of Hobart in 2013, 6-2 6-2, en route to winning her first singles title. It’s worth noting that when Stephens has won a match at a WTA tournament this year, she’s gone onto the win the title! Furthermore, she’s 3-0 in WTA finals and seems to be finding her best form again with confidence surely high after saving a match point in her quarter-final win over Daria Kasatkina.

If Vesnina can draw on the form she displayed in the third set against Errani, this could be a cracker. It’s going to be a tough ask though against a player of Stephens’s calibre… whatever happens, it’s been a fabulous week for Vesnina!

13 thoughts on “Ramblings from Charleston: Vesnina overcomes Errani, reaches first WTA singles final since 2013

  1. Great tournament for Vesnina playing qualies and making the final.Watched the 3rd set she was so precise with her shots.I still favour Sloane who played just delightful tennis against Kerber,especially in the 1st set,hopefully Angie will recover ASAP,having to retire early in the 2nd set.

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      • I did tell you James at the start of the tournament that this was the kind of tournament that Sloane will sneak through. To be honest I don’t know what issues she has with the big ones where she doesn’t want to earn her keep. She probably starts of too slow mentally, and in slams and such, everyone is basically hot and fighting from the get go. It’s just my thinking, she needs to embrace the pressure and ascend.

        Vesnina is playing good tennis, I really like this. With Lucie and Beth back in the final, it seems the season has self corrected now. Seeds are where they should be. Maybe the exception being Kvitova, Caroline and Ana. Not surprised about Kerber, I wish she had retired mid tournament to save her tired body, she did show up as defending champion and that was good enough imo. I want her to repeat at the Porsche Grand Prix if she can. With Cibulkova making the Katowice final, I really looking forward now to how the season shapes up now. Hopefully the singles version of Lucie recovers quickly and joins the race before Roland Garros.

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      • Yes you did, I bow down to you, let’splay haha! Yes, Sloane has just been caught out early and to be honest, that would have been the case in Charleston if she hadn’t played a terribly erratic, Danka Kovinic in the second round. Once she finds her rhythm and raises her intensity, she looks great! Hopefully Kerber will be fit and healthy again for Stuttgart… Favourite WTA tournament of the year, can’t wait!

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      • I like Stuttgart a lot too. I’ll be interested to see which Svetlana Kuznetsova shows up because if its Sydney/Miami Sveta then its hers to lose really.

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      • Oh… it looks like Sveta isnt even playing Stuttgart? Weird! Probably good for her to rest and regroup before Madrid though.

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      • Oh fab! Shes not listed on wikipedia so I feared she wasnt playing. She didnt play last year so its a good chance for her to pick up points.

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  2. Kerber played well in the semi-final to beat Begu. I didn’t think she has injury or illness, otherwise, the WTA medical doctor would not allow her to proceed the match. She was absolutely being outplayed by the sudden surge Sloane. She retired to avoid humiliation since she won a slam. Nobody wants to see a headline like – AO Slam Champion bagels by American Sloane”.

    Vesina, please take the title. I have enough with this Sloane kind of on-and-off the court diva attitude.

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  3. I agree on Errani and actually dont think her serve should be so criticised because it lacks so much pace and weight its almost impossible to attack unless you’re able to really generate your own pace which the majority of players on the wta cant do consistently without over hitting.

    Made up for Vesnina though. I think Stephens will probably win but nothing is ever certain with Sloane.

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  4. Overall, Vesnina has been playing well this year, Errani is a fighter, at the top level the game is more mental than who has better skill set!

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