The eighth and final spot for the WTA Finals in Singapore will go to either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Johanna Konta. Carla Suárez Navarro was eliminated from the race after she was forced to withdraw down 4-6 0-3 to Daria Gavrilova in her second round match in Moscow. Kuznetsova needs to reach the final and she opened her campaign on Wednesday with a straight sets win over Alizé Cornet, 6-4 7-5. Kuznetsova will play Timea Babos in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
Suárez Navarro wasn’t the only withdrawal as Ana Konjuh had a walkover into the quarter-finals after Anna Blinkova, who had saved five match points in an epic first round match against Anastasija Sevastova on Tuesday, was forced to pull out of the tournament. Konjuh faces Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals who dropped just four games to Yulia Putintseva in the first match of the day on court 2, 6-2 6-2.
In the last match of the day, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova produced a dynamic display to oust a passive, Jelena Jankovic, 6-1 6-4. The story of the first set was break point conversions – Pavlyuchenkova was clutch, converting two out of her three break points while saving the four that she faced. The match was all about Pavlyuchenkova and while she committed 34 unforced errors, she hit more than six times as many winners as Jankovic as the Serb managed just four! Pavs dictated the majority of the rallies and showed some skills at the net. There were nerves at the end but she got the job done in straights.
In other Moscow matches on Wednesday…
Daria Kasatkina beat fellow compatriot, Ekaterina Makarova in very comfortable fashion, 6-4 6-1.
Julia Goerges condemned Elena Vesnina to a fourth consecutive loss on tour, winning a tight opening set before strolling through the second set to win, 7-5 6-0.
In Luxembourg, the first match of the day sounded like an eventful one but unfortunately, it wasn’t streamed. Francesca Schiavone twice served for the match against Monica Niculescu, but it was the Romanian player who battled back, beating Schiavone for the first time in her career with a 3-6 7-5 6-4 victory in two hours and 35 minutes.
Niculescu sounded like a hoot again in press!
And here’s a wonderful piece on Niculescu from last week in Linz.
Niculescu will play Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals after the Dane came from a set down to beat Sabine Lisicki, 3-6 6-2 6-3. It didn’t end particularly well for Lisicki who hit back-to-back double faults to lose her serve at *3-4 in the decider… but from what I saw, there were quite a few positives to take away for Lisicki in this performance and hopefully something to build on going into the off-season. Lisicki at number 94 in the world just isn’t right!
Wozniacki keeps the win streak going at seven and has now won 21 of her last 24 matches with losses to Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska (X2). I was just thinking about her first round match at the US Open which I watched live against Taylor Townsend. I really did think she was going to lose that match for a time as she was a set down and missing opportunities left, right and centre in the third set before coming through for what turned out to be a pivotal victory.
Niculescu is a perfect opponent for Wozniacki as she can deal with everything the Romanian throws at her and has never lost more than four games in any of the 14 (!) sets they’ve played. Of more concern would be Caroline’s health…
Kiki Bertens produced a really solid display against a crumbling Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, 6-3 6-1. Bertens looked very impressive, probably because she was put under little to no pressure towards the end and was free to play her game. It’s been a dreadful year for Schmiedlova and here’s hoping that she can rediscover some confidence in her game on the ITF circuit next year.
The number one seed, Petra Kvitova came from a set down against Varvara Lepchenko, eventually powering past the American, 4-6 6-2 6-1. Lepchenko was in control at the end of the first set with Kvitova looking rather uncomfortable. The Czech player though began to control more of the rallies from midway in the second set and pushed Lepchenko back behind the baseline. Lepchenko’s first serve went missing in the decider as Kvitova began to unload on the forehand which has delivered a treasure chest of goods during the last month.
In other Luxembourg results on Wednesday…
Andrea Petkovic thrashed Caroline Garcia, 6-1 6-1 in just 59 minutes… I didn’t see this one coming at all but very happy for Petko!
Johanna Larsson enjoyed her second straight sets win of the week, this time over Mona Barthel, 6-1 6-4 in just 58 minutes.
Denisa Allertova saved three match points to survive in Luxembourg, eventually beating Tereza Smitkova, 3-6 7-6(4) 6-3.
From a set and a break down, Lauren Davis scored another impressive win as she dispatched Kristyna Pliskova, 2-6 6-4 6-3 in the last match of the day.