The first round finally concluded in Linz on Wednesday with the top three seeds all winning through to the second round with straight set wins. First up was Madison Keys who wavered in the second set but won four straight games to seal a 6-3 6-4 win against Camila Giorgi.
This was followed by a rout as Dominika Cibulkova needed just 69 minutes to get past Belinda Bencic, 6-1 6-2. I’m sad for Belinda but here’s hoping she can get healthy during the off-season and make a big push in 2017. She’ll go into the Australian Open unseeded but will at least get plenty of matches under her belt playing the Hopman Cup with Roger Federer.
It was another unconvincing display from Garbiñe Muguruza but she came through for the win, beating Cagla Buyukakcay, 6-4 6-4. The Spaniard next faces Monica Niculescu on Thursday… two players at opposite ends of the spectrum! In a first time meeting, i’m fascinated to see how that one unfolds.
Three second round matches were also played on Wednesday…
Carla Suárez Navarro kept her slim hopes of qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore alive with a 6-4 6-1 win against fellow Spaniard, Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Oceane Dodin won her 18th match in her last 19 with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Sorana Cirstea. In her last WTA tournament, Dodin won the title indoors in Quebec City.
Denisa Allertova reached the quarter-finals of Linz for the second consecutive year, fighting back from a break down in both sets to defeat Anett Kontaveit, 6-3 6-4.
I’m really enjoying Giulio Gasparin’s podcasts this week from Linz including snippets from the press conferences. Tuesday’s was a fun listen, which included Madison Keys’s pre-tournament press… she’s great and I love her sense of humour!
Over to Hong Kong where one of the star performers of the WTA season this year had another good day… RAIN. There was only one completed match as last year’s champion, Jelena Jankovic was the first player to qualify for the quarter-finals. In a first time meeting, Jankovic defeated her fellow compatriot, Aleksandra Krunic, 6-4 6-3.
Rain halted play in the matches between Angelique Kerber and Louisa Chirico, and Daria Gavrilova and Katerina Siniakova. Kerber and Chirico have split sets with Kerber leading 2-1 in the third set, while Gavrilova is a set and a break up on Siniakova. All the remaining second round matches will be played on a bumper line-up on Thursday.
In Tianjin, the top two seeds both won their matches. Agnieszka Radwanska won her first match since Beijing, easing past Tatjana Maria in exactly an hour, 6-1 6-2.
Svetlana Kuznetsova won her second round match, a tight two setter against Donna Vekic, and will now play Naomi Osaka in the quarter-finals… this is all kinds of awesomeness! Osaka’s quietly having another good week with straight set wins over Yaroslava Shvedova and Lucie Hradecka.
In other second round matches, Danka Kovinic and Han Xinyun won to reach the last eight in Tianjin.
Commitments for the Australian summer of tennis are coming thick and fast. The Apia International in Sydney unveiled their first players, which included Angelique Kerber and Dominic Thiem. This means that Kerber is set to play both weeks before the Australian Open… it certainly worked this year but I am surprised.
And the line-up for the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, one of my favourite tournaments of the year, is also shaping up with Venus Williams joining Madison Keys and Monica Puig on the entry list. Charleston is one of those tournaments i’d love to visit.. definitely one day!
And finally, the nominees for the 2016 WTA awards are beginning to be announced. Here’s the line-up for newcomer of the year… I did initially have the same feelings as Daria Gavrilova below.