Monday’s Set Points, WTA Dubai, Budapest: Riske ousts Vandeweghe, Safarova holds on for R1 win

Set PointsThe final match of the day on Monday’s order of play in Dubai produced the biggest upset by seeding as Alison Riske maintained her excellent start to the year with a 6-4 6-4 victory over the number 11 seed, CoCo Vandeweghe.

There’s no sugar coating this match which was an absolute shocker. Vandeweghe was in a foul mood from the first few games and her attitude was appalling. She yelled at ball kids, swore at her coach on one of the changeovers (and I think was complaining about Riske’s slow play?), took a bathroom break midway through the second set and was just generally petulant and unpleasant.

Credit to Riske for just about maintaining her focus. Vandeweghe threatened to get back into the match with a couple of break backs in the middle of the second set but Riske kept balls in play and deep, and Vandeweghe kept delivering up the errors. Riske will play Anastasija Sevastova in the second round.

CiCi Bellis scored the third top 30 win of her career, beating the number 17 seed, Yulia Putintseva, 6-1 7-5. After a quick first set, Bellis made an extraordinary comeback in the second set from 1-5 down and saved three set points to reel off six straight games.

All three seeds that fell on day 2 were beaten by American players –  in the final match of the day on Court 1, Christina McHale beat Kiki Bertens, 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 33 minutes. McHale saved five break points in the decider before breaking Bertens’s serve at 4-4 and serving out the match at the first time of asking. Kiki was pretty mad at the end…

Keep going, Kiki!

McHale advances to the second round where she will play Naomi Osaka. They’ve played each other once before but Osaka was forced to retire after one set in Birmingham last year.

In the most anticipated match of the day, Caroline Wozniacki kept the wins on coming with a 6-2 7-5 victory over Daria Kasatkina. Dasha did produce one awesome jumping backhand winner (see below) but Woz was in rock solid mode as she won through to the second round where she will play Viktorija Golubic.

In other first round matches from Dubai…

Peng Shuai needed just 55 minutes (!) to stroll past Lesia Tsurenko, 6-1 6-1… I did not expect this scoreline.

In another episode of “I did not expect that scoreline”, Ana Konjuh defeated Zhang Shuai, 6-0 6-1 in 49 (!) minutes. Konjuh even served for the double bagel.

Monica Puig condemned Yaroslava Shvedova to a sixth consecutive loss, edging a tight three setter, 6-3 4-6 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes. Puig, who had a medical time-out for soreness in her back, next plays Caroline Garcia which promises to be a flashy affair.

In a third set that contained eight breaks of serve in nine games, Misaki Doi secured the lucrative hold to eventually see off Madison Brengle, 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3.

Kateryna Bondarenko won her first match since Sydney, winning the last five games against 18-year-old qualifier, Aryna Sabalenka, 4-6 6-4 6-3.

Elise Mertens enjoyed a straightforward first round win over Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-3 6-2. Next up is Agnieszka Radwanska.

Lauren Davis came from a set down to win her 11th match of the year against Mandy Minella, 2-6 6-2 6-1.

Despite going into their match with a 0-2 head-to-head record, Mladenovic continued her recent good form to beat Katerina Siniakova, 6-3 6-3. I loved the rally linked below.

Thoughtful words from Monica in press about social media. I was nodding along to everything she said. This is how I am beginning to feel about Twitter.

All 16 second round matches in Dubai are up on Tuesday’s schedule.

Here’s a preview of the first night match on Tuesday featuring the number one seed, Angelique Kerber and wildcard, Mona Barthel.

And finally, after enduring Riske-Vandeweghe, Lucie’s first match in Budapest against Magda Linette went to a third set tiebreak 😂

Both players struggled on return in the third set but Lucie kept her composure at the end to grit out the win. Lucie had led by a set and a break but things soon went pearshaped as Linette raised her level. Lucie’s return of serve continues to thwart her but as always, she kept battling right up until the last point. In the end, this was a big win and another stepping stone in rebuilding the confidence. Lucie lost six three set matches in a row from last July but has now won her last two! Next up is Hsieh Su-Wei in the second round.

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24 thoughts on “Monday’s Set Points, WTA Dubai, Budapest: Riske ousts Vandeweghe, Safarova holds on for R1 win

    • I think she could get a set. I saw her play Muguruza at the US Open last year and was impressed. I’m looking forward to watching more of her, made a great start to the year.


  1. sorry but the level of tennis on display by these ladies this year has been pretty trash to be honest. i can only imagine sharapova is licking her chops to get back in there and clean up on tour


    • It could go either way, she burns a hole through the tour or flames out from trying too hard. Psychologically she has lost some of her aura with regards to her opponents, not sure how much respect or edge she carries over them now. We’ll just have to wait and see, hopefully she paces herself mentally and physically.
      A lot of the girls try to raise their game for the slams, burnout and peaking at the right time is the key these days.


      • Sharapova has never really burned a hole through the tour. She’s barely been #1; she’s never won 2 Slams in a year or even won Slams in consecutive years and she’s only once in her entire career made 2 Slam finals in a single year; her record for wta titles in a year is 5.


  2. The pace and accuracy of the Bellis ground strokes, in the first set, sometimes made the very speedy Poots(whom I like) look like a long forgotten statue of Lenin(whom I didn’t like).


  3. I can’t stand CoCo Van, so I didn’t watch her match. From your report, CoCo Van appears to want to create a NYC Mad Mac type image of —- “The Ugly American”.


      • I make an effort not to dislike any player on the WTA, but I must admit CoCo is a challenge sometimes. In particular I think her coach Craig must be a saint; when she was 5-0 down against Aga at New Haven (I think it was), she did a very good impression of Harry Enfield’s comic creation “Kevin the Teenager” and didn’t even pretend to be listening to what he had to say.

        I didn’t see yesterday’s match (only the highlights, which had all the problematic bits edited out) but on the basis of what I’ve read about what happened I think it’s time someone had a word with CoCo about her attitude on tour. Maybe they should say that in a world where a lot of people are having a very hard time right now, she’s very lucky to be able to earn a good living playing tennis and it would be good if she showed more *appreciation of the fact.

        Failing that, perhaps she would benefit from doing what Timi Bacs did and taking a year or so off doing something else (Timea worked in a hotel, if I remember rightly) so that she can come back in a different frame of mind.

        * The French team physio Patrick Bordier died recently, and Alize said in tribute to him that he told her that as someone who plays tennis for a living, she has a beautiful life, and that tries to remember that;


    • I get the feeling she’ll be taking the grass court season by storm this year. That is when it will be good to see the likes of Maria also playing well.
      At the end of the day Coco does what Coco wants, making it difficult to count on her anyway.


      • I thought Coco was going to take the grass season by storm last year but it didn’t happen. I think Konjuh and Pliskova are safer bets.


      • Defnitely circling Konjuh for the grass court season this year. You just never know what you’re going to get with Vandeweghe. I’m hoping Bencic may have found some form by the time of Wimbledon.


  4. Mladenovics mum was in the crowd. I’ve noticed in the past that when her mums there she delivers so mmmm plikova in 3 or Mlads for the Win


  5. Indian wells should have most of the top stars out and playing. I’m fairly certain it will be more competitive, but in fairness, Qatar and Dubai have not been bad. It is what it is with so many injured and recuperating players.


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