Daria Gavrilova and Katerina Siniakova kicked off second round action at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham on Wednesday. Gavrilova prevailed in a lengthy three setter, 7-5 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 24 minutes. I watched the first set during my lunch break which was a tortuous affair with many twists and turns. Siniakova still concerns me with how emotional she gets on court, particularly as it does seem to have a negative impact on her game. After a break-happy first set, Gavrilova dropped just seven points behind her serve in the third set.
Petra Kvitova beat Naomi Broady, 6-2 6-2. Her stats (see below) were fantastic. I’m blown away by this return from Petra!
Ashleigh Barty has made back-to-back quarter-finals on grass, beating the number eight seed, Barbora Strycova, 6-3 3-6 6-1. I was surprised to find (via Tennis Abstract) that this was Barty’s best career win having never previously beaten a top 30 player. After serving three successive aces in the one game she won in the decider, Strycova lost her way with bundles of errors. Barty kept things solid and was the more convincing player in attack.
In the final match of the day, Lucie Safarova delivered a superb display to beat Naomi Osaka, 6-2 6-4. I think all those three setters in Nottingham were huge for Lucie, as well as coming through a very tight match against Dominika Cibulkova on Tuesday where she saved two match points. Lucie was so sharp today, timing the ball beautifully and showing her experience on this surface against Osaka who is still adapting to grass.
Safarova wasn’t challenged in the first set as Osaka took some time to settle. The second set was a decent level from both – I feared it was going the distance as Safarova missed a handful of opportunities, most notably a makeable backhand on break point in the first game of the second set. There was no need for panic as Safarova broke at 4-4 and served out the match with no jitters! Lucie won 29 of 32 first serve points and didn’t face a break point all match. The stats were really good!
Lucie had a tough clay court season and she revealed in an interview on her website that she had battled another bacterial infection during Prague. It would seem Lucie is back to full fitness now and she’s enjoying lots of time on the grass. It’s going to be a close call as to whether she can grab a seeding for Wimbledon. One more win in Brum could be good enough…
So good to see that smile!
In Mallorca, Victoria Azarenka won her first match in over 13 months since giving birth to her first child. The Belarusian saved three match points (!) in her darkness-delayed first rounder from Tuesday, beating Risa Ozaki, 6-3 4-6 7-6(7). Azarenka will play Ana Konjuh in a tantalising second rounder.
And is it me or are the comeback stories pretty damn great this year?! Sabine Lisicki is into the quarter-finals of Mallorca in her first tournament of the year having spent the first half of the year on the sidelines due to a shoulder injury. Lisicki beat Shelby Rogers, 6-3 6-4.
Next up for Lisicki is Julia Goerges who had a thumping win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1 6-2. Amazing stats from Julia!
And finally from Mallorca, CiCi Bellis and Kristyna Pliskova both won on Wednesday to set up a quarter-final match-up for Friday.
Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic have both accepted wild cards for the Aegon International in Eastbourne. I’m thrilled to see Simona in the line-up as she has never played Eastbourne before and i’ve watched very little of her matches live. I’m so excited… two more days at work!!!
One withdrawal from Eastbourne…
And finally, the first batch of wild cards have been announced for Wimbledon. I’m hoping Magdalena Rybarikova will get one but not looking good so far.