Away from Beijing, the big tennis news of the days was that Maria Sharapova’s drug ban has been reduced to 15 months meaning that she can return to competitive tennis on the 26th of April, 2017. I’m just glad that this whole matter can be put to bed because it had dragged on for long enough but I do hope lessons have been learnt from all parties involved. Sharapova will be back for the clay court season and the run-up to the second Slam of the year at Roland Garros. I wonder if she may actually play a grass court warm-up tournament next year having been out for so long… Birmingham?
And if you are wondering about Sharapova’s eligibility for wildcards, here’s your answer…
Back to Beijing where the most exciting match of the day on a rain-affected day (why you hate tennis in 2016, weather gods?!) saw Zhang Shuai delight her home crowd with a 6-3 4-6 7-6(4) victory over Alison Riske on the National Tennis Stadium. It was a great match with some super rallies. Zhang has now won 11 matches at her last five tournaments and moves into the third round where she’ll get a shot up against Simona Halep who she defeated earlier this year in the first round of the Australian Open.
Petra Kvitova won her 7th straight match with a 6-4 6-1 win over Wang Yafan. Kvitova came from a break down in the first set but overall, played another excellent match with 27 winners to 13 unforced errors. The Kvitova on-the-run forehand is a beast of a shot as you can see below…
In a blockbuster third rounder which will be the last match on Wednesday’s schedule, Kvitova will play the number two seed, Garbiñe Muguruza. A preview of this match is up on Moo’s Tennis Blog.
The Wuhan finalist, Dominika Cibulkova fell at the first hurdle in Beijing in a repeat match-up from last week. This time round, it was Alizé Cornet who prevailed in three sets, 6-2 5-7 6-2.
Cornet’s win over Cibulkova confirmed that Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova have both officially qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore.
There were also straight set wins for Simona Halep, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki on Wednesday. Wozniacki knocked out the number 13 seed, Roberta Vinci, 6-3 6-2 to set up a third round encounter with Agnieszka Radwanska. It’ll be the third time the pair have played in as many weeks when they take to the court on Thursday… Who you got in this one? I think i’m leaning towards Wozniacki but it’s a tough one…
If you trek over to the link HERE on the TennisTV site, there’s a smashing interview with Peng Shuai after her win over Venus Williams. It’s a really nice interview, much longer than the regular TennisTV interviews, and well worth a watch… Shuai is so nice :-).
Sending happy vibes to Casey Dellacqua who still continues to be affected by the concussion that affected her from a fall in Beijing this time last year.
And finally, big changes are happening at Wimbledon… look at No.1 Court without a roof!