Wednesday was one of the most anticipated days on the 2017 WTA calendar and it was an early one in Stuttgart as journalists were out in force to watch Maria Sharapova’s practice on the main court.
Sharapova had another practice session in the afternoon and then played the first of the night matches, returning with an impressive win over Roberta Vinci, 7-5 6-3. Sharapova’s movement and footwork was laboured to begin with, perhaps a mixture of both rust and nerves, but she soon settled.
The highlight of the win was Sharapova’s serve – after being broken to 30 in her first service game, Sharapova held nine service games in a row. The Russian player hit 11 aces and won 81% of points behind her first serve, dropping just one point behind it in the second set. It is too early to be saying that the serve is improved but this was a very encouraging start in that regard.
Vinci competed well in the first set, saving break points in back-to-back games as Sharapova showed some mental rustiness in failing to convert break points. However, the Russian player became more and more dominant as that set wore on and eventually made the crucial breakthrough at 5-5 with one of many bold return winners.
The second set was mostly comfortable for Sharapova aside from consolidating her early break of serve with a hard fought hold to 2-0. All in all, considering this was her first match in 15 months, a very good start from Sharapova who finished with excellent stats of 39 winners to 21 unforced errors.
Sharapova’s press conference is linked below which was a fascinating listen. I’m still howling at Maria’s reaction to a reporter from the Sun 😂😂😂
And Roberta’s press conference is also linked below… love her!
The WTA have a lot to answer for with the coverage of Sharapova-Vinci in the US. Their stream of the press conference was great but… what about the ACTUAL MATCH?
While Sharapova’s return was no doubt the talking point of the day, there was still plenty of exciting first and second round action in Stuttgart. In an all-Russian affair on court one, Elena Vesnina beat Daria Kasatkina, 7-6(2) 6-2.
I managed to catch some of the match during my lunch break and was disappointed to see Kasatkina play a very passive tiebreak and generally struggle with the depth on her groundstrokes. Vesnina was in and out in terms of accuracy but was ultimately rewarded in going for her shots with some sweet angles. As expected, there was a nice embrace at the net between the pair.
Dasha and Elena!
In other first round matches…
Carla Suárez Navarro defeated the qualifier, Tamara Korpatsch, 6-2 6-4. CSN saved 12 of 13 break points faced during the first match on Wednesday’s Centre Court schedule.
Johanna Konta needed three sets to get past a struggling-with-injury, Naomi Osaka, 7-6(5) 3-6 6-1.
Kristina Mladenovic recorded a first ever win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-4 6-2. MLB had won their three previous encounters, which had all taken place on clay.
CoCo Vandeweghe recovered from a break down in both sets to win in two tiebreak sets against Jelena Ostapenko, 7-6(3) 7-6(3).
Two second round matches were on Wednesday’s schedule – the first player into the last eight of Stuttgart 2017 was Simona Halep. Rallying from a an early break down in the first set and winning 12 of the last 15 games, Halep beat Barbora Strycova, 6-2 6-3.
Late night matches in Stuttgart are the best. The final match of the day was a fun one with Anett Kontaveit scoring the biggest win of her career, a first top ten win, over Garbiñe Muguruza, 2-6 7-6(1) 6-1. Muguruza had looked in fine form through the first set, playing aggressively, but she fell away fast from the second set tiebreak onwards with Kontaveit producing some stirring tennis towards the end of the match.
The remaining six second round matches in Stuttgart will be played on Thursday including Sharapova taking on Ekaterina Makarova. I’d guess a tougher match, particularly backing up her first win in so long and with less than a day to process everything. However, Sharapova has owned the head-to-head, against Makarova having won all six previous matches and dropped just one set. Who you got?
The top two seeds, Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova will play the night session against Kristina Mladenovic and CoCo Vandeweghe respectively. I could see all the seeds in danger tomorrow… it’s going to be a fascinating day!
Really enjoyed Christopher Clarey’s latest piece on Victoria Azarenka.
And finally, uncensored part two with Andrea Petkovic and Jelena Jankovic from Charleston.
19 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Set Points, WTA Stuttgart Day 2: Sharapova returns, beats Vinci in straight sets”
Only match I watched today was Svitolina digging herself out of a lot of trouble against a player I had never heard of but was super impressed with (aside from the annoying Vika-esque grunt).
ON the big promo video screen in Stuttgart, they had Sharipova looking like a movie star on a movie poster while Vinci looked like a riverside washer woman.
I prefer riverside washer women.
I see Sharapova didn’t use her time out of the game to quieten down her very loud shrieking. Unwatchable. It is way, way louder and more prolonged than the noise a person would make as a result of exertion when taking a shot.
On your polls, I wonder if people often choose who they would like to win, rather than who they think will win. A few of the poll results may, I think, reflect this, such as the Pliskova/Vandeweghe poll above. Just a thought.
I don’t mind the shrieking, but I watched a little of Sharapova’s Stuttgart practice–no loud shrieking. Part the time I vote for the player I think will win and part of the time for a favorite player, which is why only about 3% of sports bettors win in the long run. The common sports better fan can not make bets entirely based on logic.
Yep same, the grunting doesn’t bother me during matches but she doesn’t seem to do it in practices.
How do you mean with Coco v Pliskova?
Despite Vandewheghe slightly leading their h2h, Pliskova is clearly the in form player and the superior player on clay.
It’s just that the poll result put Vandeweghe ahead – which I thought was bad judgment by many, no disrespect intended. I agree with you- Pliskova is the in-form player, over a still very good Vandeweghe, admittedly. I thought most would know this and vote for Pliskova, but they didn’t. Not important, just something I noticed.
I was surprised with all the poll results today – I have noticed occasionally there seems to be a flurry of votes for the underdog and all three polls were similar in that sense. I would definitely expect Pliskova to get more votes than Vandeweghe and from my experience, CoCo isn’t that popular!
Yeah I think they’re basing it on Coco winning the past two matches they played is all. Coco did a great job at Fed Cup also, so may be running on a bit of a high.
All the tennis videos on sites I mentioned two days ago —– killed.
It is good to see Maria back playing tennis and I love her competitive spirit and wish some other players would keep themselves as fit as she does and try as hard as she does. Her shrieking does not bother me at all and I hardly notice it but I can understand why it annoys some tennis fans.
I was a bit surprised at the good reaction that she received from the spectators which was more positive than I expected but she is a tennis star and will give the sport some publicity. She was much more cold and defensive than usual in her press conference and not as charming as she can be. I do wish that she would be more friendly to the other players and not be so businesslike in her attitude and approach to tennis….I know it’s her job to play tennis as she keeps saying but surely there is more to it than that and it would do no harm for he to be more affable on court.
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May as well just accept that she’s a bitch with an attitude and a superiority complex, this will never change.
It always strikes me how well she deals with press conferences. I’m not surprised that she was a bit defensive in that first one and second one as well, I’m sure she is expecting some of these questions.
@James, What is the thing they say about not meeting your Hero/Idol, else they disappoint with how human(and simply flawed) they are 😀 ! Genie, herself, has her own issues and her pesky relationship with the WTA authorities since her locker room injury. 🙂 I dare say it fills her with double disdain looking at Maria’s situation.
She’s probably ‘heart broken’ in a way and as she said, she can’t look up to her anymore. It could go either way, maybe it might soften up Genie herself, making her more personable and ‘flexible’ in her tennis as well.
As for Maria, I don’t think she’ll lose much sleep about it, but don’t quote me on it. I think if she loses that personality she’ll lose the drive that gets her through the tennis tour. Anyway, she’s served her time, so I will give her some space.
Speaking of spectators, 🙂 it’s the French Open crowd. For all the stories about Paris and romance 😀 , they are the ones who don’t have any issues turning on you, be you a princess or a pauper, champion or underdog.
Paris does indeed have the most volatile spectators. I think that the crowds in Madrid can also turn particularly nasty.
I have to say… I was surprised by how cold the Stuttgart crowd were to Kuznetsova today. She barely got any applause when she won a point, even with impressive winners, and she could’ve used some energy thrown her way because she was FLAT.
Yes I saw Maria asked about Genie’s comments and she didn’t even go there. Very strong words from Genie, I’m kind of surprised because surely she would realise opinions like that will get picked up on.
Yes, I thought Maria played it well there. She refused to be drawn on the question of what, if anything, she was taking in place of meldonium, or other players’ remarks about her.
I didn’t see the link to Robi’s interview but would like to; I’ll bet it’s interesting.