Simona Halep d. Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-3 2-0 ret.
Yulia Putintseva d. Anastasija Sevastova, 6-1 4-1 ret.
Madison Brengle d. Heather Watson, 6-3 2-1 ret.
Misaki Doi d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-7 (3) 6-4 3-1 ret.
Not all the injuries were heat related although this seemed to have been a factor in a couple of the withdrawals. There is definitely an end-of-season vibe going on in Wuhan.
One player who has been known to struggle in heat and particularly humidity is Petra Kvitova. In the first match of the day, Kvitova was surprisingly efficient as she proved that she seems to have found the measure of Jelena Ostapenko following two losses to the Latvian player earlier this year. Kvitova won, 6-3 6-1 in 68 minutes and finished with a flurry of return winners. Kvitova was moving especially well and hit one stunning forehand on-the-run that woke me up this morning!
Three second round matches were on Monday’s schedule and the top eight seeds all won in straight sets. Halep’s into the third round as alluded to above and so is Carla Suárez Navarro who didn’t drop serve once in a 6-4 6-3 victory over Yanina Wickmayer. In an all-Czech late night battle in Wuhan, Karolina Pliskova recorded her first win since the US Open as she got the better of Lucie Safarova, saving two set points in the second set to advance, 6-3 7-5.
Double faults were the difference in the first set with Safarova throwing in one shocker of a game. After prevailing in an 11-deuce game (!) in the second set to stay on serve, Safarova chalked up two set points at 5-4 – these passed by quickly with a Pliskova ace and Safarova missed return. Pliskova won the last three games to book her place in the third round.
It was another tough loss for Lucie which came with its fair share of opportunities. She’s competing well but just not able to get across the finish line in the big moments. She’s had some brutal draws in the past few months too which have not helped…
Yesterday I mentioned about Safarova having Frantisek Cermak on court as her “coach”. Czech media are reporting today that Lucie has split with coach, Rob Steckley… saddddddd!
I’m gutted by this news as they were my favourite coaching pair on tour and I loved their relationship. It’s made me feel all nostalgic so I had to dig out my favourite Lucie-Rob video.
Today proved in two cases that head-to-heads aren’t everything. Kristina Mladenovic had never beaten CoCo Vandweghe before in four previous attempts but recovered from an early break down in the first set to win in straights, 7-6(5) 6-3 and book a second round date with world number one, Angelique Kerber.
Sara Errani had won her last six encounters against Barbora Strycova but the Czech player battled through to the second round with a breadstick sandwich, 6-1 3-6 6-1 win. Errani had the trainer and doctor on court at the end of the first set.
Another one-sided head-to-head went with history as Dominika Cibulkova won her sixth encounter (out of seven) against Alizé Cornet, overcoming wobbles in the second set and up 4-0 in the third to eventually prevail, 6-2 2-6 6-3, In another three setter, Elina Svitolina fought back to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 4-6 6-3 6-4. Mattek-Sands had a couple of game points to lead 5-3 in the decider,
There were straight set wins for Johanna Konta, Jelena Jankovic, Daria Kasatkina and Caroline Wozniacki; the Dane had strapping on her leg but beat Sam Stosur reasonably comfortably, 6-3 6-2. Jankovic and Kasatkina both dropped four games to Daria Gavrilova and Julia Goerges respectively. Konta dropped only three in a 6-1 6-2 victory over Annika Beck. Next up for the Brit will be a night session match on Tuesday and an Australian Open quarter-final rematch against Zhang Shuai.
One of the more intriguing doubles partnerships this week is Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko. Here’s how that came about…
In other news, Klara Koukalova announced her retirement from tennis on her Facebook page.
And in even sadder news, Kimiko Date-Krumm has separated from her husband.
And if it today wasn’t sucky enough, TennisTV announced that they will no longer be covering WTA tennis from 2017. The WTA will be doing something separate and I wait with bated break to find out what that will be.
I’m gutted about this as TennisTV have announced catch-up on all devices which would have been a game changer for me for following WTA. If ATP is your thing then it all sounds good but fans of both tours are likely to have to fork out more money to watch which is sad. While I still enjoy the ATP and it will all depend on the cost, I think i’ll be cancelling my TennisTV subscription.
But let’s end on a positive note! Relive some of the best shots from last week’s tournament at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.