Roberta Vinci got off to a good start in the defence of her St. Petersburg title, edging a tight three setter against Timea Babos. Vinci had beaten Babos en route to winning the title last year and this was another very close match with many switch-ups in momentum in just the third set alone. Vinci won four of the last five games to win, 6-3 3-6 6-4 in two hours and four minutes.
Vinci is always fun to watch…
And this was an amazing rally from the match!
Vinci will play Andrea Petkovic in the second round after the German player secured a very solid win over Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-1 7-5. Petkovic rallied from 2-4 down in the second set and needed two attempts at serving out the match but she got there in the end.
Petkovic has now won four matches in St. Petersburg having come through qualifying – it is the first time in nearly a year (Doha, 2016) where she has won four matches at the same tournament. I think that playing qualifying was actually a blessing in disguise for Petkovic in terms of building up match play and confidence. She already seems to be reaping the benefits…
In the marquee match of the day between two 19-year-olds, Daria Kasatkina beat Belinda Bencic, 6-2 7-5. It’s still not happening for Belinda who is set to drop outside of the world’s top 100 in the next few weeks. Like Petkovic, she may actually benefit from playing qualifying matches to build up some momentum and form. On a plus note, she won’t be defending many points for the rest of the year.
As to be expected, there was a nice moment of sportsmanship at the net between the pair. Kasatkina advances to the second round where she will play fellow Russian, Natalia Vikhlyantseva on Wednesday.
For the second straight time, Ana Konjuh fought back from a 1-6 breadstick blow-out set against Monica Niculescu to win in three sets. Konjuh beat Niculescu, 1-6 6-3 6-2. Konjuh faces Simona Halep in an enticing second round match, second up on Wednesday’s schedule. There’s definitely a sense in her pre-match interviews that she is still wary of how the knee will hold up in competitive play.
Venus Williams has arrived in St. Petersburg and will play Kristina Mladenovic in the second round. The Frenchwoman battled hard to get past the qualifier, Elise Mertens, coming from a break down in both sets to win, 7-6(5) 6-4. It was Mladenovic’s first singles win on the tour in 2017. Mladenovic and Williams will be playing each other for the first time on tour in what should be an interesting match-up. Venus’s pre-tournament interview can be found below.
Monday’s players party was a fun one to follow on social media.
I was hoping to catch up with some of the action at lunchtime but the link from the St. Petersburg website that I shared yesterday wasn’t working. I’m seriously losing my patience with the WTA and I don’t like how they are mistreating their fans this year. This new streaming platform better be good or i’m going to be furious 😂.
The only seed to go out on day 2 of the Taiwan Open was Jelena Jankovic. I’d tagged JJ for a good run at this tournament but it wasn’t to be as she struggled late on with a back/leg injury that clearly impeded her movement. Credit to Kurumi Nara who came through for the win, 6-7(4) 7-5 6-4 in two hours and 41 minutes. It was Nara’s first ever win over Jankovic as she snapped a four match losing streak on tour.
Elina Svitolina, Sam Stosur and Caroline Garcia all eased into the second round with straight set wins. Stosur’s 6-2 6-4 victory over Danka Kovinic was a noteworthy win as the Aussie halted a nine match losing streak. There was a little smile at the end from Sam!
Lucie Safarova and Peng Shuai both enjoyed straight set wins on Tuesday against Aleksandra Krunic and Zheng Saisai respectively. I’ve gone for both players to reach the semi-finals in my draws this week!
And so it begins… the Race to Singapore is underway! Early days but a pretty decent list already.
I’m a bit busy for the next few days so unlikely that I will have time to post. I hope to be back on Friday as I slowly gear up for the Doha-Dubai double.