Monday saw the start of main draw action at the final WTA regulation tournaments of 2017 in Moscow and Luxembourg. The first match of the day in Russia saw Katerina Siniakova score a rare win, beating Donna Vekic, 6-0 6-2 in 49 minutes. This was Siniakova’s first win since Wuhan and in the second round, she will be bidding to win back-to-back matches for the first time since winning Bastad.
Alizé Cornet broke Ekaterina Makarova’s serve six times en route to an excellent 6-3 6-3 victory. Bold words from Alizé in press with Sharapova or Rybarikova up next…
Yulia Putintseva beat the 17-year-old, Olesya Pervushina, 7-5 6-1 for just her second win in the last seven matches. Considering some of her recent displays, it was a mature performance from Putintseva who saved five break points in the opener and increasingly broke down Pervushina’s spirit with crafty drop shots and well executed passing shots.
Pervushina battled well in the opener and has some big groundstrokes – I always like to see players coming forward and she was trying to dictate the points. After losing the tight opener, Pervushina rather went away in the second set with some wild shotmaking as Putintseva’s experience ultimately prevailed.
Excellent stats for Yulia!
Tuesday’s match of the day in Moscow will be an all-Russian affair between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina. Pavs won their only previous match in Moscow two years ago, 2-6 6-2 6-4. This will be a very tough turnaround for Pavs who will flown from Hong Kong to Moscow (ten hour flight) on Monday. While I think Pavs has the type of aggressive game that has bothered Kasatkina at times this year, i’d go for Kasatkina being fresher and for her ability at getting a lot of balls back into play, which I think will ultimately wear Pavs down.
The first main draw match in Luxembourg was a minor surprise as the number three seed, Anett Kontaveit snapped a four match losing streak with a comprehensive 6-0 6-2 (!) win over Jana Cepelova. Thrilled to see Anett get a win after a barren run of form.
The results from Luxembourg were giving off end-of-season vibes with the number five seed, Elise Mertens also dropping just two games and Madison Brengle easing past Lara Arruabarrena in straights. The number four seed, Sorana Cirstea sadly ended her year with a retirement down a set and a break to Veronica Cepede Royg.
In the night session, Beatriz Haddad Maia enjoyed a good win over Kirsten Flipkens, 6-3 6-4. Haddad Maia served extremely well, saving the three break points that she faced, and was very stable in all aspects of her game. Carina Witthoeft won a topsy-turvy encounter against Varvara Lepchenko to wrap up Monday’s action, 7-6(1) 2-6 7-6(1). A shame the stream cut out at the end for the third set tiebreak!
Monday was media day in Luxembourg including the likes of Angelique Kerber and Monica Puig – the pair will play their first round match in the Tuesday’s night session.
A poll is linked below for Kerber vs. Puig. The pair famously played the Olympic final last year in Rio where Puig produced a sensational display to triumph, 6-4 4-6 6-1. They most recently played in Dubai where Kerber won, 6-2 6-3. A lot has changed for both players since Rio with both experiencing rather disappointing seasons. I’d favour Kerber’s consistency in this one and ability to redirect pace on this quickish court. Still in contention for Zhuhai, this kind of tournament could be ideal for Kerber to end the season on a high.
I was waiting for a video of this – check out this hot shot from Magdalena Rybarikova in the middle of a cracking rally in yesterday’s Linz final.
A lighter moment from Sunday’s final in Hong Kong!
After the streaming debacle at the start of 2017, i’m so glad to see the situation has been resolved. I’m impressed by the WTA’s latest initiative to live stream doubles matches on their Facebook page.
Oh yes, Jo! 😍
And finally, stay tuned for my pre-tournament preview for Singapore with profiles of all eight finalists… coming tomorrow!