The first three days of the 2017 season had seen the top ten go 11-0 for the year. Wednesday opened up the wild proceedings for the new year… starting in Auckland, there was a huge surprise as Madison Brengle scored the biggest win of her career over the world number two, Serena Williams, 6-4 6-7(3) 6-4 in blustery conditions. Serena struggled to adjust to the wind, double faulting on her third match point at the end. Brengle’s initial reaction was shock followed by elation!
One of the highlights of the match was a changeover chat between Madison Brengle and Nicole Melichar. Last year there was a hilarious clip from Luxembourg during Brengle’s match with Caroline Wozniacki where she came out with the words “i’m useless” (see below). Just before what would be the final game of the match in Auckland, Madison came out with some more comedy gold… “I think she’s surprised how bad I am”.
I love this picture of Serena.
Serena had produced arguably the shot of the match with this passing shot winner to force a third set.
The ASB Classic posted Serena’s press conference on their Facebook page HERE. I’m slightly baffled why she kept referring to 88 unforced errors because this isn’t what was presented in the match stats and nowhere near that. I get the sense Serena won’t be playing Auckland again!
It was a pretty terrible day for the organisers in Auckland as Venus Williams was forced to pull out of the tournament after winning her opening round match against Jade Lewis, 7-6(2) 6-2. Unfortunately this meant we didn’t get to see Venus play Naomi Osaka in the second round… bummer! On the plus side, we do have Osaka against Ana Konjuh to look forward to on Thursday.
I’m fascinated to see how this match pans out… who you got?
The start of the year has already produced some tight three setters and the all-Czech battle between Barbora Strycova and Lucie Safarova was, by the sounds of it, another memorable match. Strycova prevailed in the third set tiebreak and produced a fantastic shot up at the net on match point. As to be expected, there was a lovely embrace at the net.
Heading over to Brisbane… Angelique Kerber, made her first appearance of 2017 against Ashleigh Barty. The world number one was given a test, winning through in three sets, 6-3 2-6 6-3. The number two seed, Dominika Cibulkova, also dropped a set but rebounded and then held off a late charge from Zhang Shuai to advance with a 2-6 6-4 6-4 victory. Both matches looked decent…
Seven of the eight seeds have reached the quarter-finals in Brisbane which is really quite something! All four matches should be good but i’m most intrigued by Muguruza-Kuznetsova. More thoughts on the matches can be found on my Brisbane polls and predictions page.
Shenzhen also saw a seeded casualty in the number two seed, Simona Halep. Step forward Katerina Siniakova who scored the best win of her career, 6-3 4-6 7-5. Siniakova should have wrapped it up in two sets but did get tight in the ascendancy as she began to commit some wild errors. Halep didn’t quite seem herself and appeared to have a problem with her knee.
It was still a great win for Siniakova who has been knocking on the door for a while. I feel the game is there but she does feel the nerves and get awfully flustered on court. Hopefully this win will give her some confidence.
I really enjoyed the first episode of the No Challenges Remaining podcast in 2017. I loved hearing some memories about Ana on tour and also, an interview with the Auckland tournament director. I found it interesting to hear how they’ve focused on getting the younger generation players on board such as Ana Konjuh and Naomi Osaka.
The evening session at the Hopman Cup between Germany and Switzerland produced all kinds of joy both on and off the court.
And finally, the players are already starting to arrive in Sydney and Hobart for the second week of tournaments.