The main draw for the 2017 Wuhan Open began on Sunday with ten first round matches – i’m already playing catch-up for the week! The remainder of the first rounders were played on Monday along with the first of the second round matches. Before any first round winners, the main draw with all the qualifiers placed is linked below.
A few highlights from Sunday…
Carla Suárez Navarro and Lesia Tsurenko opened Sunday’s schedule with Tsurenko securing a first win since Cincy on her seventh match point to win, 6-3 7-6(12). Neither could string good points together in a strange second set tiebreak. Suárez Navarro was rather out-of-sorts, particularly when ahead in the score. The Spaniard though played well down match points with Tsurenko’s recent lack of wins clearly impeding her sense of positivity. Eventually, Tsurenko got the job done in straights.
The qualifier, Magda Linette scored her fourth top 30 win of 2017, beating Anett Kontaveit, 7-5 6-4. Kontaveit was three times up a break in the first set and had two set points before rather crumbling. Kontaveit has spoken before about confidence and it’s clear to see that it has drained away in recent weeks. Kontaveit had a good run in Gstaad immediately after Wimbledon although I wonder if the loss to Caroline Wozniacki at SW19, where she twice served for the match, is still one that lingers.
In a changeover chat towards the end of the first set, Kontaveit’s coach said “you are killing yourself” in terms of nerves and not going after her shots. Kontaveit looked indecisive and didn’t seem to believe in her shots. It’s been a long year…
Monica Puig took one hell of a detour, letting slip a 6-0 5-1 lead, before coming back to beat Mona Barthel in three sets, 6-0 6-7(0) 6-4. A true WTA scoreline! In case you missed it, Puig has set up a Crowd Funding page to support her home country of Puerto Rico after the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria.
From 1-4 down in the first set, Ekaterina Makarova won 11 of the next 13 games to beat the number 15 seed, Anastasija Sevastova, 6-4 6-2. Makarova was joined in the second round by her doubles partner, Elena Vesnina. The number 16 seed, Vesnina, struggled with her forehand at times but played the big points better late on to see off Duan Ying-Ying, 6-3 6-4.
Now onto Monday’s matches…
The US Open finalists, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, were first up on Centre Court and both lost their openers in straight sets. Varvara Lepchenko beat Keys, 6-2 7-6(4), while Wang Qiang maintained her 100% record over Stephens with a 6-2 6-2 victory.
Keys made a very rusty start to her match against Lepchenko, spraying balls and missing returns. It was clear that something wasn’t quite right as she was breathing heavily and looked rather overwhelmed. She took a medical time-out in the second set and had her wrist taped up – the backhand was clearly affected by the injury. While still concerning, it would seem that the injury is nothing new and related to the issues she was having during the summer with the forearm.
Wang was always going to be a tough match for Stephens although the one-sided scoreline was a surprise. The Chinese player has quietly built a superb season – she has a 30-17 W-L record in 2017 including eight top 50 wins. While her ranking is currently up only 16 places from the start of the year, the majority of her wins this year have come on the WTA tour and she’s more than held her own in the jump up from ITF to WTA level.
In hot and humid conditions, Daria Kasatkina reeled off the last five games to beat Alison Riske, 6-1 2-6 6-3. From a break down in the decider and becoming increasingly frustrated, Kasatkina settled down and played some smart tennis. The Russian player began to dictate with variety, throwing in slices and high balls and moving Riske around the court.
In what would be a pivotal game with Riske serving at *3-4 in the third set, Kasatkina sealed the break with two great points – a jumping backhand winner (one of my favourite shots! 😍), swiftly followed by an extended rally where Kasatkina produced a gorgeous backhand slice pass that Riske could barely get her racquet too. Kasatkina found a couple of decent serves to serve out a good win in tough conditions. Next up for Kasatkina – the number two seed, Simona Halep. Should be a fun one!
The other Dasha wasn’t quite so fortunate, going out in three sets – Julia Goerges beat Daria Gavrilova, 6-4 1-6 6-4. There was a really bad double fault from Gavrilova on match point. Aside from her title run in New Haven, Gavrilova has lost eight of her last ten three set matches. Shakiness at the ends of matches is becoming a bit of an issue. A good win for Goerges who gets another shot at Agnieszka Radwanska who she beat earlier this year in Cincy.
Rallying from a set down, Caroline Garcia soared past the number 12 seed, Angelique Kerber, 3-6 6-3 6-1. Garcia won 11 of the last 14 games and played some superb tennis through the last two sets. It was very encouraging to see how the Frenchwoman stepped inside the court and she became increasingly successful at the net, dictating the majority of points.
An eight-deuce, 13-minute game with Garcia leading *2-1 in the second set was pivotal – the Frenchwoman saved four break points to hold. Garcia would would go onto win the two further games that went to deuce, rolling through at the end against a fading Kerber. It was a tad disappointing how Kerber went away in the third set although i’d cut her some slack having only played the semi-finals of Tokyo on Saturday.
Garcia’s stats – wow for the last two sets!
In an absolute thriller lasting three hours and 34 minutes (!), Peng Shuai recorded her first win over the number 11 seed, Petra Kvitova at the eighth try – Peng won, 7-6(7) 6-7(5) 7-6(3). I couldn’t believe it was still going on when I got home from work! Credit to both for an amazing match and i’m hoping to watch more of this encounter once it’s up on WTA TV. Peng still had her knee heavily taped, while Kvitova took a medical time-out before serving at *4-5 in the decider for a leg injury. There was some incredible hitting from both in just the 25 minutes or so that I got to watch.
This made me laugh – poor Petra! Next stop will be Beijing…
In the only second round match to be played on Monday, Ash Barty claimed her second top ten win of the year in the biggest upset of the tournament so far, defeating the number five seed, Johanna Konta, 6-0 4-6 7-6(3). After getting bagelled in the opener, Konta fought back and even served for the match at *5-4. While facing break point, Konta looked in control of a point before sending a smash horribly long.
Konta is now riding a four match losing streak, her worst run since 2015. It kind of emphasises how incredibly consistent she has been through these past two years. The Brit has a healthy lead in eighth place in the Race to Singapore… for now! Credit to Barty who just keeps on delivering. What touch on match point.
Interesting words from Karolina Pliskova who recently split with her coach, David Kotyza.
Tuesday’s schedule in Wuhan features 15 second round matches. A trio of polls for my favourite match-ups of the day.
And finally, here’s my week 3 bake from bread week of the 2017 Great British Bake Off. Next up is going to be Millionaire’s shortbread!