This is the penultimate week of regulation WTA tournaments in 2017 with three Internationals in Hong Kong, Linz and Tianjin. It’s a shame to see that the latter two are not being streamed on WTA TV. I’m a tad surprised about Tianjin since Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova are both competing. It seems that Linz will be broadcast from Thursday on British Eurosport.
There was no play in Tianjin on Monday with rain set to wreak havoc for the first few days of the tournament. It was the media day where the likes of Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova and Peng Shuai were all in press.
Unsurprisingly, Caroline Garcia has pulled out of Tianjin with the right thigh injury that was strapped up in Beijing. Therefore, Sharapova will now play Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round. The Romanian player has won just one WTA main draw match since winning the title in Bucharest. The draw now actually looks pretty decent for Maria.
A link to the latest WTA Insider podcast with the Beijing champ, Caroline Garcia is linked below. She mentioned talking to Jo Konta in Tokyo about Singapore! My how things have changed since then…
Jo Konta broke her recent silence on social media with a cake – looks delicious!
There were no major surprises in Hong Kong where Zhang Shuai, Sam Stosur, Wang Qiang, Shelby Rogers, Nicole Gibbs and Lizette Cabrera all advanced to the second round. Stosur needed three sets to get past the wildcard, Lee Ya-Hsuan, while Zhang didn’t drop a game in a double bagel win (!) over Kurumi Nara.
Tuesday’s line-up is a cracker with arguably the two most enticing matches from the first round headlining the night session – Elina Svitolina vs. Zarina Diyas and Caroline Wozniacki vs. Eugenie Bouchard.
A poll for Wozniacki vs. Bouchard is linked below – it was Bouchard who won their only previous match back in 2014 in Wuhan, 6-2 6-3. Based on recent form, i’d expect the result will flip around. Bouchard has won just two of her last 11 matches on tour, while Wozniacki is up to a whopping 55 match wins for the year.
Over in Linz, Belinda Bencic won her first WTA main draw match since Indian Wells, saving a match point to beat Kirsten Flipkens in a tense third set tiebreak, 4-6 6-2 7-6(7). Bencic made her comeback from wrist surgery on the ITF circuit in September, winning the $100K tournament in St. Petersburg, followed by a semi-final showing at the $25K tournament in Clermont-Ferrand.
It was back to the old days with watching on Bet365 and missing the match point when the stream cut out! Bencic was up and down, very good through the second set though with 100% of first serve points won and hanging in there at the end of the third set, serving to stay in it at *4-5 and *5-6. While not always successful and decisive, it was really encouraging to see Bencic have the confidence to come forward, taking the ball out of the air and trying to be aggressive. It’s wonderful to see BB winning matches, which will hopefully set her up nicely for the 2018 season.
In other results from Linz, Johanna Larsson, Lara Arruabarrena and Natalia Vikhlyantseva all advanced to the second round. Arruabarrena knocked out the number eight seed, Monica Niculescu who was forced to retire early in the third set. My Tennis Draw Challenge champ is already out 😂 – Camila Giorgi pulled out before main draw action got underway.
Angelique Kerber seems to be going for Zhuhai with this latest news. Victoria Azarenka and Sabine Lisicki are also on the list for Luxembourg next week.