Saturday was a busy day of tennis with the conclusion of the Wuhan Open and the beginning of main draw action at the China Open in Beijing. I also played tennis myself as I had a pair of mixed doubles matches for my club this afternoon. Sadly, they didn’t go so well! My partner and I lost 3-6 2-6 and then 0-6 2-6. Despite the losses, it was invigorating and I actually really enjoyed competing. I didn’t play my best, but I was pleased how I managed to hit through some of the nerves and we kept battling and I kept running and running and running 😂.
Now to the professionals…
In Wuhan, a seven deuce first game set the tone for an absorbing and lengthy finale. Caroline Garcia prevailed over Ashleigh Barty, 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 6-2 in two hours and 43 minutes to win her biggest career title. This post is late since i’ve been rewatching some of the final (and baking!) and i’m so pleased it was a competitive final.
It was a topsy-turvy affair – Garcia twice failed to serve out the first set and then Barty twice failed to serve out the match at *5-4 and *6-5 in the second set. While Barty’s first serve evaded her when serving for the Championship, Garcia totally stepped it up and played two superb return games, before finding some magnificent winners in the second set tiebreak (see below).
I’m so happy for Caroline. In truth, I would have been happy for either winner. It’s been her best year to date – I feel like her biggest improvement has been simply delivering her best tennis in the crux moments of matches. She had a dip at the end of first set but managed to hang in the match and then come back in style at the end of the second set.
I didn’t know Caroline and Ash were good friends!
It was a nice moment at the end – a warming final on all accounts.
The doubles title in Wuhan was won by Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan who beat Shuko Aoyama and Yang Zhaoxuan, 7-6(5) 3-6 10-4. The pair won their 14th consecutive match and Martina will return to number one in doubles in next week’s rankings. It was also Martina’s birthday so a pretty good day!
There was also an International tournament in Tashkent this week where Kateryna Bondarenko won her second WTA title. It was good to see Vera Zvonareva reach the semi-finals – the Russian player was forced to retire to Bondarenko with the Ukrainian player leading, 7-6(7) 4-1.
Beijing began with a pretty awesome schedule for day 1. Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova both fell in the first round of Wuhan to peaking opponents. Both have got off to a much more promising starts in Beijing, posting straight set wins.
Kerber played Naomi Osaka for the third time in five weeks – with a 6-2 7-5 victory, Kerber now leads the head-to-head, 2-1. Redirecting pace effectively and introducing nuggets of variety with slices and drop shots, Kerber recovered from 2-4 down in the second set to win in straights. Osaka was impatient towards the end of the match with a series of wild shots. Osaka committed a total of 39 unforced errors compared to Kerber’s tally of 15 for the match.
In an all-Czech match-up, Kvitova beat Kristyna Pliskova, 6-3 7-5 in one hour and 22 minutes. Kvitova was a tad wasteful on break points (3/13 converted) but was generally more dynamic and aggressive, and served well, winning 87% of first serve points. I think if Kr. Plisk. is going to start winning matches against the top players, she will need to keep improving her movement and footwork.
Daria Gavrilova condemned Anett Kontaveit to her seventh loss in eight matches with a hard fought 7-5 7-5 victory. I thought Kontaveit played a better match compared to last week in Wuhan, yet still went for a bit too much and was erratic on serve. Despite some nervy attempts at closing matches this year, props to Gavrilova who served out both sets at the first time of asking with some excellent forehands.
In a brutal baseline battle, Simona Halep won her first match since Cincy with a hard fought 6-3 2-6 6-2 victory over Alison Riske. There wasn’t a great deal to separate the pair for most of the match. After a chat with Andrei Pavel leading 3-2 on serve in the decider, Halep went onto win 12 of the last 14 points with some of her cleanest ballstriking of the entire match.
I caught most of the first set between Daria Kasatkina and Natalia Vikhlyantseva. I was really happy to see Kasatkina get the win in straights, recovering from 3-5 down in the first set to win, 7-6(5) 6-1. Daria confirmed the news on Instagram that she has indeed split with her coach, Vladimir Platenik. Sad times.
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Today, I would like to announce that after three years my coaching relationship with Vlado Platenik has arrived to the end. We spent an amazing time and reached a lot of heights together. It was an important cooperation and productive experience for me. I want to thank Vlado for his support, and that he has always been on my side, and to wish him all the best in the future.
I happened to miss two epics while I was playing tennis – so much to catch up on! In a rerun of their US Open clash, Maria Sharapova turned the tables on Anastasija Sevastova, saving a match point to win 7-6(3) 5-7 7-6(7) in three hours and five minutes.
Highlights are sadly scarce from the third set – also, dreadful camera work at the end to miss most of Maria’s celebration and the handshake!
In other matches from Beijing…
Sorana Cirstea beat Mona Barthel, 7-6(4) 6-1 in one hour and 22 minutes – since Eastbourne, Barthel’s form has dipped and she has won just two of 11 matches on the tour.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Lauren Davis, 6-1 6-0 – Peak Pavs was in the house!
Duan Ying-Ying inflicted a ninth consecutive defeat on Kristina Mladenovic with a 7-5 6-4 victory in front of her home crowd.