Apologies for no post yesterday as I decided to play tennis last night. It was a really good session and I finally feel after a month of playing regularly, i’m starting to improve. For the first time this year I was timing my forehand well (my best shot) and actually hitting through the ball. My favourite shot of the day was a no-look forehand winner in the mid-court that surprised my brother 😂. I was part of five doubles sets and I think I was on the winning team twice… not great numbers but I felt I played OK!
Back to the WTA and all eight second round matches were played in Prague and Rabat on Wednesday. Starting with Prague… in the match of the day where both players served for the match and had match points in the third set, Jelena Ostapenko maintained her 100% record over Caroline Wozniacki with a 5-7 6-3 7-6(7) in two hours and 46 minutes.
Ostapenko lost multiple matches from match point up in 2016 and this looked set to be another one to add to the list. The Latvian player missed three match points at *5-3 and Wozniacki reeled off three straight games. The Dane had a match point of her own with Ostapenko forced to scramble to stay alive. Ostapenko showed character to stay present and produced some outstanding hitting from the baseline to break back for the tiebreak and then take control. On her sixth match point, Ostapenko backed herself with a big serve and forehand winner.
A really positive win for Ostapenko and her winner count!!!!!!
In other second round results from Prague…
Katerina Siniakova won her second match of the week in three sets, coming from a set down to defeat the qualifier, Natalia Vikhlyantseva, 4-6 6-4 6-4. Vikhlyantseva had lost just 11 games through her three qualifying rounds and a first round win over Viktorija Golubic.
Mona Barthel is into the quarter-finals after dropping just seven (!) games in the main draw. After upsetting Zhang Shuai on Tuesday, she backed that win up with a comfortable 6-3 6-1 victory over Oceane Dodin. Barthel needed just 56 minutes and hit a whopping 14 aces!
Beatriz Haddad Maia scored the best win of her career, beating the number four seed, Sam Stosur, 6-3 6-2. The qualifiers have had a great week so far with all four winning their first round matches and two of them (Barthel and H.Maia) reaching the last eight.
From a set down, Camila Giorgi scored another impressive win, beating Wang Qiang, 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Failing to serve out of the match on three occasions, Konjuh’s power and decisiveness eventually came through in the second set tiebreak in a 6-4 7-6(2) win over Marketa Vondrousova.
Barbora Strycova enjoyed a second straight sets win of the week, beating fellow compatriot, Lucie Hradecka, 6-3 7-5.
Lucie Safarova was forced to withdraw from her title defence due to illness. Lucie has done so well to come back after all her health problems of 2015/16 so fingers crossed she will be back soon, fighting fit and healthy. Kristyna Pliskova advances to the quarter-finals.
Loving the Prague quarter-final line-up, notably Konjuh-Ostapenko.
A pair of polls… who you got?
In Rabat, I watched the end of the first set between Sara Errani and Alison Riske during my lunch break. Errani was 5-1 up in the first set before Riske mounted a rapid comeback, reeling off five straight games. The Italian eventually took the first set on the decider, saving two set points, and taking it by virtue of a horrible miss from Riske at the net. It felt like Errani was controlling the play but just couldn’t put Riske away who was mostly consistent, without doing anything special to throw the Italian off her rhythm.
It turned into a bit of an epic with Errani winning in three sets, 7-6(7) 6-7(4) 6-2 in two hours and 56 minutes. There was a sweeet match point. It was only the second time this year that Errani has won back-to-back matches on the WTA tour.
CiCi Bellis saved a match point to defeat the defending champion, Timea Bacsinszky, 6-7(3) 7-5 7-5 in three hours and eight minutes. The third set was a see-saw affair of fluctuating quality, but plenty of intrigue. Bacsinszky was passive on her match point but did well to get into that position as she was unable to rely on her usually brilliant backhand late on in the decider. Bellis was ultimately rewarded for being bolder in the key moments. The American produced a sensational backhand winner down-the-line to set up match point – Bellis almost seemed to gasp at the fact it went in!
An excellent win for Bellis, her second 7-5 third set win of the week. A tough one to take for Bacsinszky but she should take heart from her battle considering she hasn’t played much tennis of late. Fingers crossed the wrist, which forced her to pull out of Miami, held up OK.
In other second round matches in Rabat…
Seeds, Daria Gavrilova and Lauren Davis each dropped just three games in second round wins over Elise Mertens and Kateryna Bondarenko respectively. Neither of the pair have dropped more than two games in any of the four sets they have played so far this week.
In a match where both players were seeking their first WTA quarter-final appearance of 2017, Tatjana Maria beat Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-3 6-4.
From 1-4 down in the first set, Francesca Schiavone won 10 of the next 11 games and then overcame a late surge from Gabriela Dabrowski to post a seventh consecutive win, 6-4 6-4.
Varvara Lepchenko upset the number five seed, Yulia Putintseva in a breadstick sandwich, 1-6 6-4 6-1.
After two lengthy three setters on Center Court in Rabat, the final match of the day between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ekaterina Makarova went late. Despite a blip in the second set which saw Makarova win four games on the trot and serve for the set, Pavs found her level again to post an impressive 6-2 7-5 win. This was a good match.
Some sad news for Belinda Bencic who is facing another spell on the sidelines. All the best, BB!
The Tie Break Tens exhibition will be played on Thursday in Madrid and the draw has been made. For all those in the UK, you can watch on Dave.
It was the annual Wimbledon Spring Press Conference on Wednesday with the most interesting news centred around qualifying where it will no longer be free to attend and there will be one streamed court from Roehampton.
This is a wonderful sight.
Please note there is unlikely to be a post on Thursday as i’m playing tennis – it’s my club’s big night of the year where we try and attract new members with free pizza! It’s also our draw for Wimbledon tickets with five pairs up for grabs… i’ll let you know on Friday if I get lucky 😉.