Monday’s Set Points, Eastbourne 2016: Petkovic outlasts Zheng, Vesnina cruises into R2

Monday was wet… very wet! I arrived to the grounds of Devonshire Park to very heavy rain and it never really abated throughout the morning. The grounds were beginning to get waterlogged and I walked past the umpire, Mariana Alves shouting oh my god at the developing puddles! Eventually play did get underway, but the outside courts were unplayable for the rest of the day. There are still seven first round matches that need to be completed which mean several players will have to play twice on Tuesday… brutal! Here’s Set Points from Monday with plenty of photos.

Set Points

Of the five matches that were completed on Monday, there was just one that went the distance. Andrea Petkovic outlasted Saisai Zheng, 5-7 6-2 6-4 in two hours and 42 minutes of gruelling and entertaining tennis.

I watched the first two sets; Petkovic lost her early break but gained the ascendancy once more to bring up the opportunity to serve for the first set at *5-3. From here, the German player became increasingly error-strewn. Petkovic did get within two points of winning the set as she managed to get back from 40-0 to 40-40 on Zheng’s serve up 5-4. In a five deuce game, a tenacious Zheng eventually held to 5-5.

Saisai Zheng

Petkovic’s game crumbled in the final two games of the set. Zheng didn’t have to do very much to claim the set as the German player dumped a long list of groundstrokes into the net. Petkovic argued many line calls in the first set – the first one she screamed out “never, never, never was that out”! and started asking members of the crowd what they thought of the calls.

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The second set saw a sea change as Petkovic shored up her game as Saisai Zheng started to miss more. Petkovic saved a break point for a big hold to 4-1 – while she couldn’t serve it out in the second set, the 28-year-old broke convincingly to take it to the decider.

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I came back to the match a bit later on at 4-4 and the intensity was several levels higher at this point. There were some super all-court points, as the picture below demonstrates!

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Petkovic played a superb service game to hold to 5-4*, which she was pumped about!

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Zheng had a game point but went wide with a shot up at the net that she should have made. Petkovic got it to deuce and finally sealed it with Zheng going long. This was a brilliant win for Petkovic who was 2-6 in three set matches prior to this one. Her reaction said it all. A nice angle but I wasn’t in the right place for it haha!

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It’s always nice to see happy Petko!

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For Saisai Zheng, I think that she has come a long way. I still have nightmares of her match against Lucie Safarova at the US Open a few years ago where she wreaked havoc with a consistent policy of moonballs. While she still lacks clarity in the key moments, Zheng has a few assets to her game that can cause problems for her opponents on the grass such as the slice and a decent net game. She needs to pair that up with more solid tactics. It was a mixed bag of success at the net but I like the progression she has made over the past few years.

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In between watching the start and end of Petkovic-Zheng, I watched the first set of Heather Watson v Elena Vesnina on Centre Court. Watson had an opening at 2-2 *0-40 on Vesnina’s serve, but the Russian player produced two aces and another big serve to save all three break points before eventually holding. Watson seemed to get pissed at something about a challenge –  I heard some interesting language haha! From there on, Watson seemed distracted as Vesnina grew from strength to strength. The Russian player showed her classy touch at the net.

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Vesnina won, 6-2 6-3 in just 72 minutes. I stuck around for Watson’s press conference and while she was very disappointed and stated that her level wasn’t good enough, she was positive for Wimbledon and with the matches she has already had during the grass court season. Watson also said she is looking forward to playing doubles again with Naomi Broady and they are going to potentially play together more often into the future.

In other matches, Eugenie Bouchard and Monica Puig both enjoyed comprehensive first round victories. Ekaterina Makarova also progressed to the second round where she will play Roberta Vinci in the second round.

The court crew had some serious work to remove excess water on the outside courts. Hopefully everything will be OK for tomorrow and the sun this afternoon helped.

There are some great photos on Twitter from Eastbourne…

This made me laugh!

ICYMI: I posted my favourite practice photos from Sunday including Lucie, Timea, Sam, Belinda and Caroline.

The Wimbledon women’s qualifying draw is out.

And finally. Tuesday’s schedule in Eastbourne is amazing. It’s going to be tough to keep up!

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