Petra Kvitova maintained her record of winning a WTA title every year since 2011 with another sensational display, blasting her way to the title with a 6-1 6-1 win over Dominika Cibulkova in the final which lasted just 52 minutes.
It was another Peak Petra display… the most impressive aspect of her game was once again the return. Kvitova was so consistent in getting returns in play and most of the time, with pinpoint depth. Cibulkova won just one point on her serve in the first set as Kvitova hit 21 winners to just seven unforced errors. It’s a joy to watch Petra when she plays like this and long may it continue. Cibulkova didn’t look too sad at the end – she had a great week.
Kvitova and Cibulkova will both head to Beijing with a performance bye; Kvitova will play Wang Yafan or Madison Brengle in the second round, while Cibulkova who will open her tournament against Alizé Cornet for the second straight week.
Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, aka Team Bucie, won the Wuhan doubles title extended their winning streak to 11 matches; they defeated Barbora Strycova and Sania Mirza, 6-1 6-4 in the final. After the win, Lucie and Beth were confirmed as the fourth doubles pair to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore. I wondered if their partnership may be close to ending after they lost first round at Wimbledon and the French Open, and didn’t play together in the lead-up to the US Open. I’m so glad they are back to winning ways :-).
That wraps up Wuhan and we are STRAIGHT into Beijing where qualifying concluded…
Louisa Chirico won her second straight match in 2016 against Monica Niculescu (not an easy feat!) coming from a set down to win, 2-6 6-2 6-3. Her reward is a first round match against Daria Kasatkina. The American player has won just 12 games against Kasatkina in three previous matches, the most recent of those in Wuhan which Kasatkina won, 6-1 6-1.
Nicole Gibbs dropped just nine games through two rounds of qualifying to set up a first round tie against Misaki Doi.
In the longest match of the day, Katerina Siniakova outlasted Varvara Lepchenko, 2-6 7-6(2) 7-6(4) in exactly three hours of play.
In the first main draw match of the 2016 China Open, Belinda Bencic showed no ill effects of the heavy fall she suffered in Wuhan which forced her to pull out of her first round match against Svetlana Kuznetsova. I honestly thought that was BB’s year over but she enjoyed a routine first round win over Annika Beck, winning eight games in the middle of the match and eventually prevailing, 6-3 6-2.
The most intriguing match on the schedule was obviously Jelena Ostapenko against Yulia Putintseva. I woke up almost exactly as the match was starting… what can I say, my body clock is automatically tuned to OstaPoots haha! Putintseva saved a match point and won the last four games of the match to win, 6-1 3-6 7-5.
This was yet another match that Ostapenko *should* have won – it was the fourth time this year that she has lost a match from match point up. After an errant start, Ostapenko suddenly hit a hot streak in the middle of the second set. She completely overwhelmed Putintseva to win the second set and then rolled off four straight games in the decider, breaking for 5-3 on the rally of the match which she obviously enjoyed as she lofted her arms in the air.
Ostapenko couldn’t serve out the match though and blew a match point on the tamest of double faults. The erratic play returned and Putintseva sweeped up for an unlikely win. Putintseva was celebrating in classic Poots style which paved the way for one of the most hilarious handshakes of the year…
The only seed in action on Saturday was the number two seed, Garbiñe Muguruza who fought back from a set down and then a break down in the third set to beat Irina-Camelia Begu, 2-6 6-2 6-3. It was a highly unconvincing display from Muguruza but she at least stayed calmed enough to roll through the last couple of games… a win is a win. Next up for Muguruza is Yulia Putintseva in the second round – this match will be previewed soon on the Blog.
In other matches…
Sabine Lisicki had a routine win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-2 6-2 – Lisicki has a 100% record over MLB on the tour with four victories.
Yanina Wickmayer thrashed Monica Puig, 6-2 6-0, winning the last 10 games of the match – Puig won just nine points in the second set.
Ekaterina Makarova beat her doubles partner, Elena Vesnina, 6-2 6-1 – it was Vesnina’s first match since the US Open having pulled out of Wuhan due to a lower back injury.
Alizé Cornet came from a set down to overcome Shelby Rogers, 4-6 6-2 6-2 in the last match of the day that finished after midnight local time in Beijing.