Sunday’s Set Points: Catching up on the last two weeks from the Asian Swing

Set PointsHello all! I’ve been on holiday for the past week in Venice and Zermatt, taking some time away from work and blogging. I didn’t take my laptop and it was nice to take in plenty of fresh air and not be staring at a computer screen! I enjoyed visiting Venice for the first time although it was pretty hectic.  Zermatt was much more relaxing and the scenery was absolutely stunning – it’s one of my favourite places. A few pics below from my travels…

I’ve missed so much in the tennis world over the last two weeks! Let’s try and catch up…

In the week immediately after the US Open, Kimiko Date officially retired after a 0-6 0-6 loss to Aleksandra Krunic in the first round of the International tournament in Tokyo. This was all class from Krunic and the embrace at the net made me feel all warm and fuzzy. This will definitely be in the handshakes and hugs post at the end of the season 😉.

In a final between two qualifiers who were both seeking their first WTA title, Zarina Diyas prevailed over Miyu Kato, 6-2 7-5. This is just one of many sensational comebacks in 2017 as Diyas has climbed from a ranking of 242 in April back into the world’s top 75 at 63 following this win. Diyas was on the sidelines between June 2016 and February 2017 due to wrist surgery.

Kato had reached the final in Tokyo with one of my favourite match points of the year – she produced some amazing defence before pulling out a passing shot winner to beat Jana Fett,  4-6 7-6(1) 6-4. Kato saved a match point in the second set.

Quebec City also had a first time WTA champ as Alison Van Uytvanck beat Timea Babos in the final to win, 5-7 6-4 6-1. Van Uytvanck is another underrated comeback story, much like Diyas, after having ankle and wrist surgery in 2016.

Last week’s main event was the Premier event in Tokyo – this is one of my favourite tournaments of the year. However, I haven’t blogged about it for years since it always clashes with my September holiday! I did get to watch a lot of the tennis thanks to the WTA TV “On Demand” function. I’m absolutely loving WTA TV and even with dodgy hotel internet, the streams barely cut out at all. It was nice just to enjoy it and not write about it at the time.

It was a case of seventh time lucky for Caroline Wozniacki who not only won her first title of 2017, but also defended her title from last year in Tokyo. Wozniacki produced a pair of stirring displays in the final two rounds to beat the world number one, Garbiñe Muguruza (6-2 6-0) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (6-0 7-5).

Wozniacki’s stats in the final were sensational.

The Dane saved two match points in a thrilling quarter-final against Dominika Cibulkova, eventually advancing after the Slovak retired with a leg injury leading, 3-6 7-6(5) 3-1 in the third set. Wozniacki hit an insane backhand winner on the second match point – considering the situation, this was one of the best backhands i’ve ever seen Wozniacki hit and I actually gasped! 😲😂

My favourite match of the week and actually up there for the entire season was Angelique Kerber’s 7-6(5) 7-5 win over Karolina Pliskova. It was great to see Angie playing at such a high level throughout the tournament – her serve was hugely improved from her recent tournaments and she was going for her down-the-line shots, notably off the forehand. The German player looked really sure of herself through her first three matches.

Rather astonishingly, there were just one break of serve in the Kerber-Pliskova match from 18 break points. Both players produced their very best tennis on the break points with Kerber scoring the first and only break on her fifth match point in a fantastic final game.

Dasha squared reached the final in doubles – these two are hilarious. Love them! 😍

Zhang Shuai beat Aleksandra Krunic in the final of Guangzhou, 6-2 3-6 6-2, to win her second WTA title. Happy for both but especially pleased to see Krunic building on her excellent run at the US Open.

Jelena Ostapenko won her second title (her first being RG) with a 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 win over first time finalist, Beatriz Haddad Maia. The crowd were fantastic in Seoul and you could hear them gasping at Ostapenko’s groundstrokes! It makes such a difference, even watching on TV, when the crowd are fully engaged. While the quality was sometimes patchy it was a thoroughly entertaining final.

Ostapenko’s main concern since Wimbledon has been the serve and it was notably wild again today. At the end, Ostapenko managed to find her first serve when it counted to serve out the match to love. Her groundstrokes remain bold and pretty damn awesome. I really like Haddad Maia – she doesn’t hit many winners, but is solid from the baseline. I like her spirit and she has a very positive attitude on court.

I’m also thrilled to see Belinda Bencic back and with a title, winning the $100K tournament in St. Petersburg. Despite all the injury woes, i’d never lost hope that BB would be back again winning tennis matches. I hope she can keep building momentum and stay injury free (fingers and toes crossed), ready for a big charge up the rankings in 2018.

What a story – Victoria Duval and Alisa Kleybanova combined in Lubbock to win the doubles title. They also contested the singles final where Kleybanova won, 6-0 6-2.

Loved this WTA article on Alisa.

I was thinking of Timea yesterday as I travelled through Lausanne train station on the way home and wondered if we’d see her play again this year. Just a few hours later she announced that she is ending her season due to the right hand injury. Wishing Timea all the best for a speedy recovery!

Ana Konjuh has also ended her year to have surgery on her elbow again.

Now some good news – the first player for Singapore has been confirmed! I think we could be set for a really exciting line-up.

And finally, I am keeping an eye on Aus entry lists with great interest – thrilled to hear that Angelique Kerber and Sascha Zverev are set to play the Hopman Cup. Gavrilova and Kokkinakis sound like a fun pair too.

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