Monday’s Set Points, Linz, Hong Kong & Tianjin: Pavlyuchenkova begins title defence

Another week on the WTA tour is underway and it’s a pretty busy one – there are three International tournaments with seven of the world’s top ten in action as the Race to Singapore reaches its crescendo. The main focus for the week ahead will be in Linz (since it is in my timezone!) but i’ll try my best to keep afloat with action for Hong Kong and Tianjin for the daily Set Points articles. Read on for the highlights from Monday…

Set PointsFour first round matches were completed in Linz on Monday with the seeds going 1-2. Viktorija Golubic beat the number eight seed, Laura Siegemund for the first time in three tries, 6-4 6-2. The number six seed, Kiki Bertens suffered an early exit at the hands of Sorana Cirstea who won by the same scoreline as Golubic, 6-4 6-2. Bertens, who skipped the Asian Swng due to fatigue, is now winless since July and has lost her last seven matches on tour.

The only seed who advanced to the second round was the number five seed and defending champion, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. With a first win since Tokyo, Pavlyuchenkova maintained her 100% record against Anastasija Sevastova, prevailing, 6-4 6-1. Pavs dropped just nine points on serve and didn’t face one break point through the 58 minute contest.

In the last completed singles match of the day, Misaki Doi beat Johanna Larsson, 7-5 3-6 6-1 on Court 1. Coverage of Linz will be picked up on Eurosport from Tuesday.

Kristyna Pliskova, Oceané Dodin, Sara Sorribes Tormo and Mandy Minella all qualified for the main draw. Pliskova, who will play fellow qualifier Dodin in the first round, is currently on an eight match winning streak and has won 14 of her last 15 matches with titles in Dalian (WTA $125K) and Tashkent (WTA International).

Here’s what Garbiñe Muguruza had to say in her pre-tournament press conference… thanks to Giulio Gasparin for the informative article.

Madison Keys has arrived in Linz from Beijing and was on the practice courts on Monday morning. She’ll get another day off tomorrow and open her campaign against Camila Giorgi on Wednesday.

In Hong Kong, five of the six first round matches were done and dusted in straight sets. Venus Williams was twice a break down to Risa Ozaki in the first set but the Japanese player buckled under the pressure of serving to stay in the opener at *4-5 with a drive volley into the net down set point. Venus won eight out of the last nine games to wrap up a 6-4 6-1 victory.

The only other seed in action on Monday was Daria Gavrilova who dropped just two games against the world number 147, Zhu Lin. Dasha seemed to have fun at the player party from all the pictures on social media!

One match that I expected to go the distance was a first time meeting between Alizé Cornet and Varvara Lepchenko… that thought was a little misguided as Cornet came through rather comfortably, 6-3 6-2. The only match that did go three sets was the evening match on Centre Court where Katerina Siniakova defeated Nicole Gibbs, 6-3 4-6 6-2.

It was great to see such a fantastic crowd for the first day of main draw action.

In Tianjin, the only seed to fall on day 1 was the number six seed, Yulia Putintseva. From a set down, Wang Yafan won, 3-6 6-3 6-4. The number two seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova had a straightforward opener against Pauline Parmentier, 6-1 6-3. It’s still a surprise to see Sveta getting through her opening round matches unscathed but it’s become a trend in 2016. In other matches, Donna Vekic saved two match points in a 3-6 7-5 6-3 come-from-behind victory against Zhang Kai-Ling and will play Kuznetsova in the second round.

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