Set Points, Rome Day 1: Safarova powers past Schiavone, Kasatkina serves out the upset win

Monday saw the first day of main draw action at the 2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome… I love this tournament! Three seeds fell, numbers 14, 15 and 16, while the other three in action all won in straight sets. For a preview of the first round match set for Tuesday between Jelena Jankovic and Eugenie Bouchard, click HERE. Read on for Monday’s Set Points from Rome…

Set PointsHaving gone 0-5 in singles matches between Doha and Stuttgart, Lucie Safarova has now won singles matches at her last three tournaments… Lucie is well and truly back! I was slightly surprised by the routine nature of her 6-3 6-2 victory over the clay-loving, Francesca Schiavone. The big difference between the two was the serve with Schiavone serving at 53%. Safarova did a good job at staying aggressive and not giving Schiavone any time on the ball, which explained some of the Italian’s wayward shotmaking.

Lucie’s building some nice momentum and has a favourable draw when compared to some of the sections… she will play Misaki Doi in the second round after the Japanese player defeated Alizé Cornet on Monday, 7-6(2) 6-1. Safarova and Doi will play each other for the first time on tour on Wednesday.

Daria Kasatkina won her first WTA singles match since Charleston, upsetting the number 16 seed, Karolina Pliskova, 6-4 6-4. It was a really important win for Kasatkina, who had missed match points in narrow defeats in 2016 to Roberta Vinci (Doha) and Sloane Stephens (Charleston). Admittedly, Kasatkina got a lot of help thanks to a disappointing display by Pliskova.

Pliskova twice recovered from a break down in the second set and got back to 4-4 where she had a game point having left Kasatkina standing still with three booming aces. However, when they got into rallies more often that not, it was Kasatkina who was winning them. A lightning pass set up a break point for Kasatkina which she duly converted. Serving for the match, I expected nerves… the Russian player kept it together though and served out the match to 30.

Kasatkina still sways pretty dramatically between playing aggressive and passive points. At times, she looks lacking in belief behind her game. I think her level hasn’t been high as it was towards the start of the year but still, this was an excellent win over Pliskova (3rd top 20 win of her career) and particularly having lost their last encounter at Indian Wells.

As well as Kasatkina’s victory, Heather Watson and Monica Puig also knocked out seeds. Watson beat a clearly hampered, Sara Errani, 6-4 3-6 6-0. The Italian keeled over with what looked like an abdominal/rib injury down 3-5 in the first set. It reminded me of a similar situation against (I think) Carla Suárez Navarro at the French Open a few years ago. It was a tough one for Errani and she battled on, even winning the second set, but credit to Watson for coming back in the third set to win. Puig continued her excellent year defeating a lost-looking, Elina Svitolina, 6-1 4-6 6-1.

Monday’s late night match was a fun one… Ana Ivanovic continued her excellent record over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with a 6-4 6-4 victory. The rallies were generally short but quite a lot of them ended with flashy winners with the pair both producing positive stats.

Anna-Lena Friedsam condemned Anna Karolina Schmiedlova to an eleventh consecutive straight sets loss on the WTA tour this year with a 6-4 7-5 first round victory… And talking of losing streaks, Margarita Gasparyan has now lost her last six matches.

Madison Keys defeated Andrea Petkovic, 6-4 6-1 out on the lifeless Grandstand court. It’s not happening for Petko right now… I wonder if the knee was an issue as she seemed to be in a little bit of discomfort at the very end. The scoreline was kind to Keys. It was a messy match all round but Keys did well to win the majority of the big points.

Venus Williams had lost her first match at four out of six WTA tournaments in 2016. She avoided the same fate in Rome, securing a decent win over CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-4 6-3.

Venus also teamed up with sister, Serena for their first doubles match since the 2014 US Open. They lost out to Andreja Klepac and Katerina Srebotnik, 1-6 5-7. I’m pleased to see not only a great attendance in Rome but the match was streamed! It looked like a lot of fun :-).

The tournament in Rome looks beautiful in sunshine. Thanks to Dave for the great pics (well worth a Twitter follow #1)

And it’s hard to think of a more beautiful tennis court than the Pietrangeli Court in Rome… thanks to Lilla also for some great pictures and coverage from Rome (well worth a Twitter follow #2).

And finally, in case you missed it, Moo’s Tennis Blog had another guest post last week as Murphy wrote about the Stuttgart finals with some great tips about visiting the tournament. Thanks to everyone who has contributed guest posts this year… you can see them all HERE. So far in 2016, we have had posts from tournaments in Sydney, Melbourne, Delray Beach, Miami and Stuttgart. If you are heading to a tournament this year and would like to share your experiences on Moo’s Tennis Blog then pleasee get in touch! 🙂

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter (@Moo_Tennis) HERE and Facebook HERE.

3 thoughts on “Set Points, Rome Day 1: Safarova powers past Schiavone, Kasatkina serves out the upset win

    • Lord knows but I’m taking it as a personal insult because I pegged her as a top fifteen player.

      Really pleased Kuznetsova won, haven’t watched the match yet so ill reserve judgement but its a tidy scoreline.


      • It’s a good question, Bryan! I too thought she was going to push on and have a great year. From the matches I’ve watched, her serve has been woeful. The lack of trust on serve seems to have fed into all aspects of her game.


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