Monday was a rainy day in Beijing with all the first round matches eventually completed. The first women’s match of the day featured Peng Shuai and Shelby Rogers on the National Tennis Stadium. For the second week in a row, Peng prevailed in a gruelling three setter, beating Rogers, 7-6 (3) 3-6 7-5 in two hours and 48 minutes.
I wasn’t surprised to see the number one seed, Garbiñe Muguruza retire during her first round match against Barbora Strycova. However, it wasn’t for the leg and was actually due to illness, a virus picked up in Wuhan.
The crowd didn’t seem to be pleased at Muguruza’s withdrawal, nor Strycova who you can hear mutter “unbelievable” on the video linked below. Strycova was leading, 6-1 2-0 at the time.
US Open semi-finalists went 1-1 for the day – the champ and number 15 seed, Sloane Stephens has won just seven games in two matches through Wuhan and Beijing and lost 3-6 0-6 to Christina McHale. The number 14 seed, CoCo Vandeweghe got off to a very good start though with a 6-2 6-2 victory over Donna Vekic.
I’m definitely getting end-of-season vibes with some of the results and withdrawals. Elena Vesnina didn’t drop a game in the first set of her first round match against Magda Linette before the Polish player was forced to retire hurt.
Sharing another three set epic, Varvara Lepchenko recovered from a set down to beat Lesia Tsurenko, 5-7 6-4 6-2 in two hours and 39 minutes. This was Lepchenko’s eighth win since the US Open.
The rain scuppered any chance of early morning viewing so my first live tennis of the day was Elise Mertens’s 7-6(4) 6-1 first round win over the number eight seed, Dominika Cibulkova. The first set was rather extraordinary as Mertens rallied from a 0-5 deficit and saved two set points to get back on level terms. Cibulkova rather collapsed in her attempts to serve out the set, but did scrap her way into a first set tiebreak. From there, it was Mertens’s more effective first serve that proved the difference.
After Cibulkova dropped her serve midway through the second set, Mertens powered to the finish line, winning the last 14 points of the match. A tough loss for Cibulkova to get over, while Mertens’s great year continues – this is her first top ten win and therefore, the best victory of her career so far! A definite contender for the WTA Newcomer of the year.
Two second round matches were cancelled for Monday and pushed back to Tuesday.
And two second round matches were completed on Monday. In the late night match on the National Tennis Stadium, Caroline Wozniacki eased into the third round with a 6-2 6-2 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The key stat – Wozniacki went 4/8 on break points while Pavlyuchenkova was 0/8. The Dane now leads their head-to-head, 7-1.
In the other second round match to be completed, Alizé Cornet upset the number 10 seed, Angelique Kerber, 6-4 6-4, and in more ways than one! The pair shared words at the end of the match (see HERE) with Kerber clearly annoyed at Cornet. You could hear Kerber saying “it’s really not fair” and Cornet responding “I got pissed once, Angie. We all get pissed”.
This was the match I watched back as I was intrigued to see what provoked the exchange at the end! Cornet had one loud outburst in the direction of her team where she kicked a ball. Also, you could see Kerber muttering in frustration after Cornet went to her chair to blow her nose at the end of a game. Cornet is well known for her dramatic antics on court and I can’t say this was anything exceptional. I’m surprised that Kerber let it get to her so much.
In terms of the actual match, it was a good contest and there wasn’t a great deal to separate the pair. At 4-4 in both sets, Cornet just played a tad better in the key moments and generally had more effective touch around the net. This included a magnificent volley leading 5-4* 40-40* in the first set (see below) that produced the set point she converted. Kerber committed some rather tame unforced errors in the final few games of the second set.
Nice touch from Maria.
Here is Monica’s response.
And finally, an interview with the Wuhan champion, Caroline Garcia. She will start her Beijing campaign on Wednesday against Elise Mertens.