The main draw for the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome kicked off on Monday with two of the most intriguing first round matches up first on the schedule. On the picturesque Pietrangeli court, there was a sad ending to the encounter between the number 14 seed, Barbora Strycova and Daria Kasatkina. After winning the first set, 6-4, Kasatkina injured herself during the second set.
Kasatkina was forced to retire at 6-4 3-4… a nice hug from Barbora at the net!
Positive news though from Twitter…
In another must-watch first rounder (which I didn’t watch because it finished so soon!), Laura Siegemund defeated Naomi Osaka in straight sets, 6-2 6-4.
During my lunch break, I caught the end of the first round match between Katerina Siniakova and Zhang Shuai. When I tuned in during the third set tiebreak, Siniakova was in tears and generally losing the plot. However, the Czech player was able to hit a pair of clutch winners at 5-5 and 6-6, eventually winning on her second match point, 5-7 6-3 7-6(6). It’s kind of remarkable that Siniakova is able to refocus through all the emotion…
Maria Sharapova sealed her place in Wimbledon qualifying by right with a first round win over Christina McHale, 6-4 6-2. Sharapova recovered from a break down three times in the first set before enjoying a more routine second set.
Sharapova’s press conference from the WTA’s Facebook page is linked below.
Caroline Garcia won her first match since Monterrey, converting on a fifth match point to beat Donna Vekic, 7-6(2) 3-6 7-6(6) in two hours and 40 minutes. Fun fact – all five Garcia-Vekic matches have gone three sets. Vekic couldn’t consolidate her break at 2-2 in the third set but did produce nuggets of brilliant play to get out of later trouble on her serve, including at *5-6 where she saved a match point.
Garcia’s return continues to let her down although she did seem to be marginally less aggressive behind it than previous matches i’ve watched of her this year. Personally, i’d just like to see her get more returns in play. It was hide-behind-the-sofa tennis at the end as match points passed by in the tiebreak; furthermore, Garcia had a 5-0 lead (!) in the first set, which she eventually won on the tiebreak. To her credit Garcia served very well, particularly at the end, and was able to build points effectively behind it.
In a decent late night battle on Pietrangeli, the number 12 seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Sam Stosur, 6-4 6-7(5) 6-1 in two hours and 35 minutes. There was barely anything between the pair in the second set as Stosur nicked it on the tiebreak thanks to some heavy forehands and a deep return that caught Pavs off guard.
The third set scoreline was a tad unfair to Stosur – five of the seven games went to deuce with Stosur going zero out of six on break points. Pavs missed her fair share of break point opportunities too but won more of the key points – I was impressed with her performance level and I think she is one to watch this week.
In the final match of the day, Venus Williams beat Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-4 7-6(4). Shvedova served for the second set but just kept missing long. There was some quality hitting on show and on the whole, some good stuff from Venus after a break from the tour following Charleston.
In other matches….
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni recorded a first ever win over Lucie Safarova, recovering from 1-5 down to win the first set and eventually winning in three sets, 7-5 4-6 6-3. A tough one for Lucie.
Yulia Putintseva needed two bites at the cherry to serve out her match against Monica Puig. Poots was broken to love serving for the match at 6-2 *5-3 but eventually wrapped up the victory in straights, 6-2 7-5.
From 1-5 down in the first set and saving three set points, Lesia Tsurenko won 12 of the last 14 games to beat the Italian wildcard, Deborah Chiesa, 7-5 6-2.
In just her fifth WTA main draw win of 2017, Jelena Jankovic had one of her bests results of the year, defeating Alison Riske, 6-3 6-3. It’s nice to see, particularly in Rome where JJ has tended to play some of her best tennis.
Despite ten double faults, Alizé Cornet beat the wild card, Sara Errani, 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 53 minutes.
Winning her 11th consecutive match, Mona Barthel moved into the second round of Rome via a three set victory over Peng Shuai, 6-1 3-6 6-3.
Wang Qiang enjoyed her 23rd win of 2017 on Monday and it was the best of her year by ranking, taking out the number 11 seed, Elena Vesnina, 6-2 6-4. Wang Qiang actually led 6-2 5-1 with Vesnina suddenly finding form to reel off a trio of games. After a chat with her coach, Wang Qiang came out and played a sturdy return game of decisive tennis to break to 15 for the win.
Love this snap from Domi’s Instagram.
First round action will continue in Rome on Monday, as well as three second round matches. A poll is up for Sharapova’s second round match against Lucic-Baroni, a repeat from Madrid.
I’m loving the doubles draw with some interesting pairings including Gavrilova-Pavlyuchenkova, Jankovic-Petkovic (yay), Konta-Siegemund (!) and Keys-Mattek-Sands.
Kristina Mladenovic sure does love to talk…
A heads up for my final Match Points post from Madrid with all the best bits from an eventful week in Spain.
And finally, my big trip for 2018 is on… flights to Australia for next January are booked! 😀