The two seeds in action in Linz, Carla Suárez Navarro and Daria Kasatkina, had contrasting fortunes on Wednesday; the number four seed, Carla Suárez Navarro kept her hopes for Singapore alive with a relatively routine 6-4 6-2 win over Mona Barthel.
Kasatkina though tumbled out in straight sets to one of last year’s quarter-finalists, Denisa Allertova. It’s been a tough year injury-wise for Allertova and she’s much better than the current ranking of 102 implies. Allertova reached the semi-finals in Tashkent a few weeks ago and had her best win on the tour since Indian Wells, beating Kasatkina, 6-2 6-3.
Fun stat – Allertova has won her last three matches against top ten players.
Anett Kontaveit enjoyed a huge win over Eugenie Bouchard in the first of the night matches, 7-6(5) 6-4. The Estonian player fought back from 0-3 down in the second set and successfully served out the match at *5-4. With growing confidence, Kontaveit dominated the majority of rallies as she pulled Bouchard out wide and hit with decent accuracy down-the-line. Bouchard is a better mover than Kontaveit but the Estonian player applied herself well with some gritty defence including on set point in the first set where she turned defence into attack.
I couldn’t quite believe it when I realised Kontaveit is ranked at 121 in the world. Looking more closely at her results, Kontaveit missed almost all of the clay court season and didn’t win a match at the Slams. Still, she’s had some decent results at the International tournaments with semi-finals in Guangzhou and Monterrey, and quarter-finals in Shenzhen and Nottingham. She’s got some work to do to qualify for the Australian Open but in my opinion, her best tennis is at least top 50 worthy. She’ll get there…
For Bouchard, she sounded a little downbeat in press. The Canadian player is set to end her year in Luxembourg next week.
In other matches in Linz…
Kristyna Pliskova held her first 11 service games but when it came to serving out the match against Oceané Dodin, she was broken for the first time. The Frenchwoman fought back to claim an impressive win in three sets, 6-7(2) 7-5 6-3. Pliskova was on an eight match winning streak but Dodin’s form has been just as good, if not better – the Frenchwoman has now won 17 of her last 18 matches.
In what sounded like a classic WTA match, Monica Niculescu battled back from a set and a break down to defeat Madison Brengle, 4-6 6-3 7-5. It was Niculescu’s first ever win in Linz having gone 0-4 before this year.
Julia Goerges, Annika Beck and Sara Sorribes Tormo all enjoyed straight set wins to book their places in the second round.
Off the court… oh Madison haha!
Thanks again to Giulio Gasparin for a write-up of Madison’s press conference where she talked about the abuse she has been getting on social media. It’s a tough situation – you don’t want to give these losers any attention but at the same time, they should face consequences for their actions.
The Linz player party from Monday night looked fun!
First round action wrapped up in Hong Kong with the world number one, Angelique Kerber safely into the second round. It wasn’t a particularly impressive display but she got there in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 against Maria Sakkari. I wish that Kerber had rested this week before Singapore but I admire the loyalty that she is showing to the tournament. I do hope though that she schedules more selectively in 2016.
Caroline Wozniacki made a mess of trying to serve out her first round match against Zheng Saisai – she missed four match points in a five deuce game up 6-1 *5-2 but served it out at the second time of asking, winning four straight points from *0-30 down to prevail, 6-1 6-4.
Johanna Konta, Caroline Garcia and Jelena Jankovic all advanced to the second round in straight sets. The only seed to fall in the first round was Sam Stosur who is on a retched run of form, losing her last four matches on tour and all in straight sets. Nao Hibino, who reached the final of the International event in Tashkent two weeks ago, scored the first top 20 win of her career, beating Stosur, 6-3 6-4.
Hibino next faces a US Open rematch with Kristina Mladenovic – the Frenchwoman won that match, 6-4 7-5 but i’d give Hibino a shot in that one based on her recent form and Mladenovic’s patchy play of late. Watching Mladenovic try and serve out sets right now is hiding-behind-the-sofa stuff. She got there in the end against the world number 168, Dalila Jakupovic on Tuesday, 7-6(6) 6-1 but the first set was a real struggle having twice failed to serve it out.
In Tianjin, it wasn’t a great day for the seeds…
Shelby Rogers d. (3) Elena Vesnina, 7-5 4-6 7-6(4)
Alison Riske d. (4) Timea Babos, 2-6 6-4 6-3
Peng Shuai d (7) Zhang Shuai, by walkover
Naomi Osaka d. (8) Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-4 6-2
There were some nice words from Rogers after her win over Vesnina.
The only seed to win on Tuesday was Monica Puig who snapped a three match losing streak with a hard fought 6-3 7-6(5) win over Kurumi Nara. Puig twice failed to serve out the match in the second set from *5-2 up but she won it in the tiebreak and will play Lara Arruabarrena in the second round. Agnieszka Radwanska will open her campaign in Tianjin on Wednesday.
And finally, there seems to be an issue with the WTA website as all the results since April have gone! It’s been like this all day… :-S