Wimbledon 2016 Day 1, WTA round-up: Photos from Safarova-Mattek-Sands, Kasatkina-Duval & more

On Monday I was lucky enough to get a court 3 ticket via Ticketmaster. Therefore, Monday’s Set Points (coming a little late as I needed to sleep!) is a photo round-up of my day. While I had Court 3 tickets, I actually spent it all on the outside courts. Note the regular round-ups will kick in today and i’m hoping to do one for both WTA and ATP if I can find the time. Read on to find about my day and a trip around the outside courts…

Set PointsI arrived at the grounds at 10.30am and I flew through security. If you get tickets via Ticketmaster, you won’t have to wait as long to get in as there is a separate queue at Gate 7 which when I turned up, was empty! I had a wander around the outside courts in the South of the ground where I ended up spending the majority of my day. I spent a while watching Karolina Pliskova practice on court 5. The pictures below are some of the best i’ve ever got of Kaja as she was very smiley!

Pliskova was involved in the last women’s match of the day where she survived a wild three setter against Yanina Wickmayer, 6-2 0-6 8-6, out on court 2. The pivotal game came at 6-6 in the decider with five deuces. Wickmayer missed some sitters, while Pliskova hit a couple of stonking down-the-line returns. It was a huge win for Pliskova who had a tough turnaround after Eastbourne where she played the final on Saturday. Furthermore, she has a good draw going forward and is aiming to reach the second week of a Slam for the first time in her career.

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The first match I went to was on court 4 where the number 29 seed, Daria Kasatkina was taking on Victoria Duval. I arrived early to get a seat, but it wasn’t rammed until just before the match got underway. Things got off to a terrible start for Duval who was foot faulted on her very first point. She then had several aborted ball tosses and ended up double faulting on the first point. She never found her rhythm on serve in the first set, foot faulting AGAIN to start her second service game. In fact, she lost all 12 points on her serve in the first set.

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Kasatkina raced through the opener, 6-0 in just 17 minutes and played a blinder, hitting 11 winners to just 3 unforced errors. Considering this was her first ever appearance in the Wimbledon main draw, she looked great. This is only my second time watching her play but i’m already mesmerised by her game. The way she constructs points is wonderful and the forehand is a delight to watch live.

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Kasatkina got the early break to go up 6-0 2-0 but Duval finally got her side of the scoreboard working as she managed to get her serve going and use it to her advantage to set up the points. Kasatkina became a little complacent, but continued to hold serve with ease. Duval was becoming more dominant in rallies but was still patchy in closing out the points. As i’ve written before, Kasatkina does get tight closing out sets and that was once again the case in this match. Kasatkina was broken to love serving for the match at 6-0 *5-4 with two wayward errors, but also two excellent points from Duval.

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Kasatkina knuckled down in the next game, springing to life to break once more to *6-5 in the second set. There was a crazy point with one of Kasatkina’s shots looking like it was going long. Duval let it bounce but it happened to catch the line and the American player couldn’t react in time to get her racquet on the ball and keep the rally going.

At the second time of asking, Kasatkina served out the match to love, 6-0 7-5. It’s awesome to see Vicky back playing tennis again, but she obviously needs a lot more matches to find her game. For Kasatkina, she’s proving herself to be a highly adaptable competitor. With not much experience on grass, she has comfortably progressed to the second round of Wimbledon in her first appearance in the main draw.

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Before the Kasatkina-Duval match started, I overheard a recognisable voice. I turned around and it was the umpire, Mo Lahyani on the phone! I also noticed Nick Bollettieri in the front row watching this match. Yulia Putintseva also stopped by for a few points.

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Kasatkina will play Lara Arruabarrena in the second round after the Spaniard prevailed in an extra-time finish, 6-2 1-6 8-6 against Olga Govortsova. I watched the end of this match and the Spaniard was a touch more solid and had some nice skills up at the net. Govortsova had saved a match point at *4-5 with a positive point coming forward. When the Belarusian player held, it looked like it may initiate a sea change with Govortsova going ahead in Arruabarrena’s next service game. However, Arruabarrena held and then continued to be the player putting more force on return. Eventually that pressure told with Govortsova, who was defending last 16 points from 2015, going out in the first round.

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I watched the end of the match on court 6 between Maria Sakkari and Saisai Zheng. I really thought Zheng would win this one having been impressed by her play in Eastbourne, but it wasn’t her day. Sakkari’s intensity (she was loud!) and depth of groundstrokes was a big factor. A few interesting moments… Zheng hit a ball out of the court and got a code violation. She also tagged Sakkari at the net. The Greek player said something on her way back to the baseline (I didn’t understand!) but Zheng did put her hand up to apologise before the next point was played.

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Sakkari missed two match points but got it on the third, winning 6-3 6-2… cue epic celebration!

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I was then wandering around the outside courts waiting for Bucie’s match, aka Lucie Safarova v Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Over on court 11, the American, Samantha Crawford was playing Paula Kania. I watched as Crawford failed to serve out the set, missing a point up at the net and looking super pissed. I only saw a game but Crawford was HITTING the ball. She has so much raw power. Crawford went onto win the match, 7-5 6-3.

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I did see a successful closing of a set in the match on court 6 between Anna-Lena Friedsam and Zarina Diyas. Friedsam was annoyed at not being able to break for the first set, but was really convincing in serving out in the next game, 6-4. Friedsam is advancing rapidly on the tour and will be one to watch in this draw after she flew through the second to win, 6-4 6-0. Diyas was playing her first match on grass this year.

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I glanced over to court 8 and heard the end of the first match between Ivo Karlovic and Borna Coric… it was time! Without doubt, the highlight of my day was watching Lucie Safarova v Bethanie Mattek-Sands. It was a horrible situation for them to play first round as they are doubles partners and obviously good friends. Taking a step back from being a Lucie fan and wanting to eat my face with nerves, it was a high quality and compelling encounter. Lucie saved three match points (!) to win in three sets, 6-7(7) 7-6(3) 7-5 in two hours and 52 minutes. It did feel awfully long and I didn’t get up once!

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It’s hard for me to recap this match because it’s a complete blur. I remember feeling similar vibes to Lucie’s last match at Eastbourne where she lost the first set on the tiebreak. Lucie was wasteful on break points in the first set (1/5 although she was first to break!) and Beth was playing better in the tiebreak, which was high quality tennis. Beth was a little pissed with some of the calls and I remember one of Lucie’s second serves was called out and then corrected, which came at something like 6-6 or 7-7. It really is a blur to me now but I do remember Lucie hitting a couple of return winners. Beth though played great.

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Midway through the second set… Beth broke, then Lucie broke and then Beth broke again. A love hold for Beth followed with Lucie sending returns all over the place. Beth was now one game away from the match, leading 7-6 5-2 and it looked like Lucie was heading for her fourth consecutive loss on grass. I tried to be supportive but i’m quite shy! I did shout a few “come on Lucie” which then prompted others to get involved. She did seem to come back with some gusto from here on. Lucie had a convincing hold to 3-5 and then carried that momentum into the next game, delivering some aggressive returns. The big game for Lucie was always going to be getting back to level terms to 5-5. Lucie had to stave off a match point with a decent serve, but she got there!

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The second set went to the tiebreak and Lucie’s play dramatically improved. Her serve was firing, she was dealing with Beth’s varieties, getting down low to slices and picking her off at the net. Lucie was playing smart tennis, the best i’ve seen her play live for a while. Unfortunately I haven’t been a lucky charm for Lucie of late having watched her lose her last three matches in Eastbourne (2 singles and 1 doubles).

Beth took a medical time-out at the end of the second set. This seemed to kill Lucie’s momentum at the start in the third set as she came out a little flat and subdued. There was another exchange of breaks midway through the third set and Lucie threw in a shocker to go down 2-4 as she started to began to struggle with Beth’s variety and she didn’t look comfortable coming forward and playing at the net.

But once again, Lucie battled hard and her fighting spirit was commendable. In a dramatic game with Lucie serving at *3-5 in the third set, Beth hit a magnificent volley at 30-30 to set up a second match point. Lucie saved it with a big serve and forehand winner.

Beth started to miss more and Lucie was playing smart. There were a couple of crazy points; Lucie hit one rasping forehand cross-court winner when it looked like Beth’s backhand down-the-line was going to be a winner. There was also one point where Lucie was up the court and one of Beth’s shots clipped the net forcing Lucie to instinctively dink it over the net for a winner… i’m pretty sure they both laughed. This was on game point which saw Lucie hold to 4-5.

As Beth tried to serve out the match again, she had a match point on her serve… but hit a huge double fault. Lucie levelled up at 5-5 in the third set. Beth just couldn’t take her chances and after Lucie then held to 6-5, it was looking like the writing was on the wall. The American had a game point to level up at 6-6 but Lucie broke again to win.

This was such a tough loss for Beth who served for the match in both the second and third sets. I didn’t take many pictures at all as I was so engrossed in the match and cheering on Lucie. I did get a shot at the end of the embrace at the net and i’m chuffed that Lucie used it on her social media accounts 🙂

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I was exhausted after this match… I took a breather and it was lovely to meet Steph from Twitter! I then ended my day with some more WTA. I watched the first set of the match on court 9 between Francesca Schiavone and Anastasija Sevastova, which was great. I loved the variety on show and knew from the first game, which featured an exquisite volley from Schiavone, that i’d made a good choice! In the first set, Sevastova was a bit more aggressive and seemed to have the edge in the rallies. However, Sevastova wasted all manner of deficits as she twice failed to serve out the set at *5-4 and *6-5. Schiavone is such a brilliant fighter and she was pumped.

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The first set went to the tiebreak where Sevastova once again got into a lead up 4-1. Schiavone though, defended exceptionally well and ran down so many balls, which on more than one occasion, drew the error from Sevastova. Schaivone’s camp were passionately cheering her on, often standing up and fist pumping after any good points she won. The first set tiebreak had everything including a Schiavone tweener!

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Schiavone was the one to chalk up set points first and after some crazy points (again, I can’t remember!) she took the set. Now I remember the set point as this was another fabulous volley (see picture below) which Sevastova couldn’t get up to… cue crazy celebrations! You’ll notice in my picture I have people’s hands because everyone on the benches jumped up! Schiavone went on to win the match, 7-6(7) 6-4, which was a brilliant win for Fran.

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I was going to head home at this point but after one more scan of the scoreboard, I noticed Mona Barthel was starting against Danka Kovinic. I’m a fan of Mona so I had to see a few games! I noticed she had her mum and also, Christopher Kas in her corner. Barthel looked good early on and was serving well. She’s had all sorts of problems with a debilitating virus this year and pulled out of the Birmingham and Eastbourne citing she still wasn’t ready. This looked to be a smart move because she looked impressive in the first five games. I was delighted to see she went on to win, 6-2 7-5. Next up is Kiki Bertens who she plays for the 12th (!) time since 2010.

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And that’s a wrap on my day… I love watching matches on the outside courts at Wimbledon! While it was a great day, i’m looking forward to a quieter one on Tuesday and having my activity centre of devices to watch all the action on TV. For more pictures from day 1 on the outside courts, check out my Facebook page at the link below!

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One thought on “Wimbledon 2016 Day 1, WTA round-up: Photos from Safarova-Mattek-Sands, Kasatkina-Duval & more

  1. Darka has a pretty good chance at making her fourth straight third round appearance in a Slam, really quite remarkable for a newcomer in this day and age!

    It’s interesting that the next generation all seem to be really strong on all surfaces…

    Like

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