2017 is continuing where 2016 left off from with rain managing to disrupt the tennis, even in the desert! The first main draw match of the 2017 Qatar Total Open was twice halted for the rain but eventually finished just before midnight in Doha. Sam Stosur found her serve and forehand, and held her nerve in the key moments to defeat Anastasija Sevastova, 7-5 6-4. It was pretty ropey on the resumption but for the majority, this was a decent match.
Stosur played a perfect point to save break point at *5-5 *30-40 in the first set. She held and then produced a stunning return game, eventually winning the set by virtue of a Sevastova double fault.
The second set featured a titanic third game with five deuces and some very fun points – Sevastova had a trio of break points but Stosur found the big serve every time. After an up-and-down start from both, the pair were playing some solid tennis in the second set with Stosur beginning to unleash some powerful forehand winners.
On the resumption, there were three straight breaks and one BIZARRE moment. Sevastova angrily hit her racquet into the ground after a groundstroke wide. On the next point, a break point, her racquet broke at the handle with the racquet head flying off in the opposite direction! It was reminiscent of Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open but Anastasija didn’t quite have the same classic reaction. I’ll try and find a video but no such luck right now. It’s typical when you want the WTA to actually post a video of something notable, they never do 😂
Stosur failed to serve out the match but broke for the win against an increasingly frustrated, Sevastova. This was a very good win for Sam and a solid showing all round. There were a few shaky moments but for the most part, she was dictating with the forehand and holding up well behind her second serve.
In the final round of qualifying, three Americans advanced to the main draw. Christina McHale and Madison Brengle both won their matches in straight sets, while Lauren Davis advanced with a retirement win from Camila Giorgi as she was close to levelling up at one set all. Davis remains unbeaten on the WTA tour in 2017.
And in her first WTA qualifying tournament since 2004, Jelena Jankovic shrugged off missed match points in the second set tiebreak to eventually see off Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-1 6-7(4) 6-4 in two hours and 34 minutes. Jankovic now has an 8-0 head-to-head record over Pironkova!
The qualifiers have been placed:
Roberta Vinci v [Q] Lauren Davis
[Q] Christina McHale v  Elena Vesnina
[Q] Jelena Jankovic v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
[Q] Madison Brengle v Caroline Garcia
And all four matches will be played on a busy schedule on Tuesday along with the rest of the first round matches including the cancelled Babos-Zhang match from Monday.
A few updates from the past week – I’m really pleased that the GB Fed Cup team finally made it into the World Group 2 Play-Offs!
In the Fed Cup World Group, Czech Republic, USA, Belarus and Switzerland advanced to the semi-finals. I’d love to see the Swiss win it this year.
I enjoyed this interview with Kristina Mladenovic after she won St. Petersburg last week. Mladenovic spoke about going it alone without a coach and reaping the benefits already.
One thing you can say about Mladenovic is that she certainly doesn’t hold back… after her match against Timea Bacsinszky in Fed Cup, she was critical of a medical time-out from Timea in the third set of their singles rubber. It all came across as sour grapes to me. There were also apparently some negative comments directed towards Caroline Garcia who has skipped Fed Cup this year.
The US-Germany Fed Cup tie in Hawaii produced the most storylines and pretty much all bad! The tie got off to a terrible start with a version of the German national anthem from the Nazi era incorrectly used (this was the top headline on BBC news for a time).
CoCo Vandeweghe wrapped up the win for the US with a dramatic come-from-behind win over Andrea Petkovic (see details below). For the record, I don’t like CoCo’s on-court antics at all and I was most disappointed by the lack of respect shown by the US team at the end to Petkovic by celebrating before the handshake. Still, it doesn’t condone the general nastiness on Tennis Twitter last night. Sadly, that just seems to be Twitter these days…
And finally, Sloane Stephens announced that she has had surgery on her foot and will be back in the summer. It’s been a long injury hiatus for Sloane but it’s nice to see her smiling and sounding positive about her comeback.