Match Points, 10th of April 2016: Highlights from the WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston

The lone WTA week on green clay came to a conclusion on Sunday with Sloane Stephens crowned the champion in Charleston. April is a pretty awesome month of tennis with Charleston, Monte-Carlo and Stuttgart all back-to-back. I’ll be taking a much-needed break from blogging next week and be back for Stuttgart (YAY). Read on for Match Points from the 2016 Volvo Car Open in Charleston including the best matches, tweets, pictures, shots and plenty more…

Match Points

Singles Champion

When Sloane Stephens has won a match at a WTA tournament this year, she has gone onto win the title… that’s an insane stat! Stephens defeated Elena Vesnina in Sunday’s final, 7-6(4) 6-2. The first set was awesome… Vesnina had a set point (having come back from 2-5 down) but Stephens was too good in the first set tiebreak. Vesnina ran out of steam a little in the second set as Stephens came through to win her fourth WTA title and third this year. The trophy ceremony was fun when they wheeled out the car haha!

Doubles Champions

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic won the doubles title in Charleston, defeating Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova in the final, 6-2 7-5.

Completed Singles Draw

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Tennis worth catching up with…

Angelique Kerber d. Lara Arruabarrena (6-2 5-7 7-6(3), R2)

Just finished catching up on this one… what a tremendous match! The final two sets were pure quality from both players and it felt like most of the rallies were being won rather than lost. Arruabarrena surely played one of her best ever matches. The 10-deuce game at 2-1 in the third set was sensational. One of the best matches of 2016 so far…

Sloane Stephens d. Daria Kasatkina (6-1 5-7 7-5, QF)

In a fascinating quarter-final, Stephens saved a match point to survive. It was another plucky display from Stephens as the match looked to have got away from her in the third set. The American played well enough to win in straights, but Kasatkina battled hard, saving all seven break points she faced in the second set, to force a decider. It was a tough loss in the end for Kasatkina, but she’s showing so much promise on the WTA tour this year…

Elena Vesnina d. Sara Errani (6-4 4-6 6-2, SF)

After the first semi-final was cut short by Kerber’s illness, the crowd were rewarded with a thoroughly entertaining second semi-final. Errani played some decent tennis, mixing in drop shots, lobs and a surprising amount of aggression from the baseline. However, Vesnina was rewarded for her proactive gameplan, playing a fantastic third set, and reaching her first WTA singles final since 2013.

Yulia Putintseva d. Venus Williams (7-6(5) 2-6 6-4, R3)

THREE HOURS… this was a gripping watch with so many long games and quite a few swings in momentum. Putintseva came up with some cracking winners while Venus, clearly impeded with a leg injury, fought like a champ to stay alive. She is such a shining example to any up-and-coming tennis players. It was a big win for Putintseva, winning not only her first match but first set against Venus.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni d. Kristina Mladenovic (4-6 6-4 7-6(13), R2)

And finally, this match won’t be winning any awards for quality, but certainly had one of the most dramatic conclusions. Ten match points were missed, including eight in a frenetic final set tiebreak (and two on consecutive double faults at 11-11!). In the end, Lucic-Baroni, who came up with magnificent tennis on a few of the match points, was the one to convert a match point.

Tweets I liked

Pictures

Funny moments and GIFs

Love her or hate her, Putintseva is certainly entertaining!

The trophy ceremony was a hoot…

Stats

Break point conversions for Aleksandra Krunic…

Stosur Krunic Stats

Kerber-Arruabarrena was a fantastic match… these are superb stats!

The first set of Stephens-Kovinic was rough… Danka had a bad day at the office.

Rare to see such high conversions on break points… Errani was a perfect eight out of eight!

I paid FAR too much attention to this stat with my predictions!

Best points/shots

This was a magnificent tweener lob from Irina Falconi that did not get nearly as much attention as it deserved.

 

One of many fantastic points in the Kerber-Arruabarrena match.

Putintseva played a superb first set tiebreak against Wiliams, closing on this excellent point.

Here’s a one-handed backhand passing shot from Daria Gavrilova during her second round win over Shuai Zhang.

 

And finally, an amazing all-court point in the final between Stephens and Vesnina.

Handshake watch

This was lovely between Alison Riske and Frances Altick.

Plenty of respect between Sloane Stephens and Daria Kasatkina… Daria’s reaction at the net was adorable (see tweet below)

 

The look from Vesnina here makes me laugh!

Interviews

My favourite thing from Charleston for the second straight year… JJ AND PETKO!

This was a nice interview from Tennis Atlantic with Yulia Putintseva after her first round win.

Kasatkina’s response here haha!

It was nice to see Sabine Lisicki smiling again on court after defeating Irina Falconi in the first round.

All the players seemed so relaxed and at ease in Charleston. Here’s Venus after her second round win.

And lovely to see Elena Vesnina doing so well. She’s always so giving in her post-match interviews.

Favourite articles

This article from Nicole Gibbs was FANTASTIC.

And if you wondered what happened to Patty Schnyder, she was in qualifying for Charleston this week! Here’s a Q&A from her on the WTA website.

Fantasy Games

Tennis Draw Challenge: Over 50 people now in the league, thanks all for joining! This week’s winners were WTA Addict (Charleston), FanofBencic (Katowice), IIguy27 (Marrakech) and abhi (Houston). Enter predictions by joining HERE.

Racket Rally: At the time of writing, Bosiddon not only top scored for the week but also is the overall leader of the Moo’s Tennis Blog league. To join RR or update your team, click HERE.

17 thoughts on “Match Points, 10th of April 2016: Highlights from the WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston

  1. Really enjoyed the final,just think Vesnina ran out of gas a bit in the 2nd set,still a great tournament for her coming through qualies and making the final.

    Hopefully Sloane can continue in the clay season to play well,she seems to like the clay conditions,well done Sloane!

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  2. Pleased for Sloane…even more thrilled that Mladenovic and Garcia win their first title as a pair, was getting a bit worried because they should be doing much better than they have been really! I thought at the start of the year that the Gold would be theirs but…

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    • I remember we talked about this earlier in the year. I’m glad they are getting it together although the Rio courts are hard courts cause that may still be a factor. When the Vesnina/Kasatkina pairing beat Mirza/Hingis earlier in the year, I was hoping it was also a start of something big. There is so much potential there in my mind. With Maria’s suspension, I’m thinking there will be some shuffling on the russian side so we’ll see what happens.

      I wonder if Andrea/Lucie have either ever considered pairing with Safarova. It does feel like breaking up some ‘holy union’ but Safarova with Andrea may actually work.

      Sania Mirza is the one I feel for, she is such a good partner she deserves at least one other decent female partner. In a nation of 1.3 billion plus, why can’t they find another!?! Anyway mixed doubles can be had.

      Hingis/Bencic is like mother and daughter combo, lol !

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      • The Russians just have so many great women who could make good doubles partners.
        Are Vesnina and Makarova done now? I’d kind of like to see Ekaterina paired with Svetlana. People forget that Kuznetsova was one of the hottest doubles players for quite a long period of time before she scaled it back to work on singles.

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      • Not sure about Makarova but she did play singles with Svetlana for Russia at the last FED cup meet. Since there is a max restriction of 6 players per nation, I think she may want to focus on singles, Anastasia(weak link) can’t even get to the quarters these days.. I agree both players can also do the doubles easily. They really are spoilt for choice. Hopefully Kasatkina gets picked (bias).

        At this point, the only pairs I feel are certain are the Chans for TPE, Beth/Coco for USA, Mled/Garcia for France and Mugu/Navarro for Spain and the Czechs, Andrea and Lucie.

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      • I would hope so, but ultimately she’s at the ‘mercy’ of the LTA. By ranking she qualifies. What I’m not sure of is if she has been part of (nominated) 3 FED cup events for the country seeing as she withdrew from the February FED cup event with an intestinal issue. Plus, she said she was going to partner with Heather, but I’ve not seen much ‘real’ tournament practice from them compared to say Mladenovic and Garcia. Maybe they’re just being practical about their real chances at the tournament as a team, but at least give they ought to give it a good try, who knows what could happen. If Judy has her say, I reckon she will be in Rio.

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    • I like the fact that Sloane didn’t even know she was going to get a car if she won the title in Charleston; there’s something appealing about that kind of unworldliness.

      All the same, Elena had a great run to come runner-up in that tournament. Maybe the tournament director (whose name I forget) was right to say it was the honeymoon factor – Elena got married at the end of last year!

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    • I’ve gone for Svitolina… Not entirely convinced as she struggled in some of her matches against lower ranked opponents in Kuala Lumpur. I feel clay should/is becoming a good surface for her, but hasn’t had her best results on it aside from 2015 I think.

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      • I think this year she’s done a really good job at playing the women she *should* beat, with the exception of Osaka at the Australian Open and Allertova at Doha, but both of those players can be very dangerous on their day. My only reservation is this being her first clay tournament of the year and her being such an overwhelming favorite for the title could cause an upset along the way. I hope not though.

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      • Yes I agree that she could be vulnerable. Generally, I think Svitolina’s had a solid year and as you say, been beating players you would expect her to beat. Still waiting for that extra push, that spark in a key match-up! While I didn’t watch it, I was disappointed by the scoreline in her match vs. Makarova in Miami.

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      • I agree, although she’d played a lot of tennis in those weeks between Kuala Lumpur and Miami and was coming off a marathon match against Wozniacki. She should feel plenty rested for the clay swing.

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      • Well, Elena didn’t make it through; Alexandra (Panova) won instead. I didn’t see the match, I only followed the scores, but it was evidently a gripping finale to the match with Alex saving at least four match points against her (I think it was actually six) and then, when Alexandra herself got a match point against Elina in the final set tiebreak, she managed to convert it.

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      • Poor loss for Svitolina. Its the first time she’s lost a tiebreaker in ages too!

        Thoughts on Djokovic losing? He’s indicated he feels a bit burned out so I’m not expecting him to play before Rome. I reckon this loss will probably do him more good than bad actually…

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      • Yep poor loss, Svitolina normally finds a way through these matches. Not a concerning one though considering first match on clay. Same for Djokovic, a loss will probably improve his focus going forward. Agree, he hasn’t played Madrid since losing that match to Dimitrov (I think?) where he was booed.

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  3. Have to say I find it refreshing to see players I’d never previously heard of coming through and doing well. Alexandra is now playing a Swiss player called Conny Perrin (no. 255 in the world), and has just come through a closely fought first set tiebreak which went to 9-7.

    I’m sure this is only a temporary blip for Elina and she will soon be back and playing the kind of tennis which took her into the top 20 (and she’s still only 21). In any case, she had the better of that match in some ways, winning more points overall (121 to 113) and having more match points (five in all) than her opponent, but Alexandra only needed one match point and when she got it, she took it.

    I don’t know why Novak lost in Monte Carlo (maybe tiredness was part of it?) but the pressure of expectation on him must be enormous; he’s expected to win every time he steps out on court, and I suppose other players bring their A-game when they play against him just as they do against Serena in the women’s game. Well done to Jiri anyway.

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