There are two International clay court tournaments this week in Prague (Czech Republic) and Rabat (Morocco). After the quick, speedy indoor clay courts of Stuttgart, i’m relishing watching some outdoor clay tennis. Bring on the brutal rallies. This post wraps up Stuttgart and then moves onto Prague and Rabat with accounts of the first round matches that I got to watch on Monday.
Wrapping up Stuttgart, Pliskova triumphs
Karolina Pliskova beat CoCo Vandweghe, 7-6(2) 6-4 in Sunday’s Stuttgart final. I had it on in the background but it was not a final that really grabbed me. Credit to Pliskova who had a fab week, spearheaded by her serve. I’m intrigued to see whether she can translate the improved serving to other tournaments as the Stuttgart surface is one that favours big servers. In all honesty, I found this Stuttgart week to be quite flat – not sure if it was just me having an off week.
Prague’s line-up of first round matches had me gasping all the way through the draw sheet. Sadly the all-Pliskova match won’t go ahead as Karolina Pliskova, unsurprisingly, pulled out of the tournament. Barbora Strycova vs. Camila Giorgi looks to be a highlight on Tuesday. I felt wild and picked Viktoria Kuzmova as my Tennis Draw Challenge finalist in Prague… Kuzmova went out in straights to Wang Qiang (😂😂😂) who was joined in the second round by the likes of Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Katerina Siniakova. I see Prague is enjoying much better weather than the UK right now. Fingers crossed for an interruption-free week.
Gavrilova forced to retire from Prague R1
I caught the end of the all-Aussie first rounder between Daria Gavrilova and Sam Stosur on Monday where Gavrilova was forced to retire at the start of the third set. It seemed to be her right ankle/foot as she suddenly pulled up in a lot of pain and in tears. I was watching with no sound at the time so couldn’t quite work out what happened there. Sad for Dasha.
Elise Mertens and Dominika Cibulkova headline the draw in Rabat. I’m delighted to see Timea Bacsinszky in with a wild card to play Christina McHale in the first round on Tuesday. It’s been a rough season for my two faves this year. I’ll be surprised if Lucie plays Roland Garros 😢. The first completed match of the main draw is perhaps not one to watch back. I loved Fog’s summary 😂.
Flipkens upsets Martic
Kirsten Flipkens scored an impressive come-from-behind victory over the number three seed, Petra Martic, 3-6 6-2 6-4. I got home for the decider to watch my Draw Challenge champ out in the first round 😂. Martic showed flashes of quality but became increasingly erratic as Flipkens, who hit some classy winners, targeted her backhand side. Martic rallied at the end as Flipkens was unable to convert on a *5-2 lead with three match points. Second time around, Flipkens served it out.
This was Martic’s first match on clay this year and her frustration was all too clear to see as she just about managed to stop herself from obliterating her racquet on several occasions. Petra’s still one to watch on the clay this year.
Errani on clay 🔥
Sara Errani demonstrated her clay-court prowess with a clean and confident display to defeat the number six seed, Zarina Diyas, 6-4 6-4. Diyas made a really bright start with aggressive and clinical ballstriking. As the match wore on, Diyas seemed to tire and became more errant as Errani tracked down more balls and generally defended her serve very well. There’s no doubt in my mind that Errani is going to do well during this clay court season and she will be a title contender in Rabat based on this display. Next up is another competent clay courter in Johanna Larsson.
Good news for Azarenka!
Absolutey thrilled to see Vika on the way to Madrid with her son.
Serena’s clay court schedule
A good article here with Serena by Christopher Clarey (see link below) where she is not confirmed for Madrid but is “definitely” intending to play Rome.
A weekend of baking 🍞🎂🍪
I spent a lot of my weekend baking – mostly relaxing and mostly successful. My favourite bake was ciabatta. I have a really good, detailed recipe that doesn’t use a standalone mixer. It’s hard work with about 30 minutes of kneading (💪) but it is worth the effort. The dough is so smooth and glossy. I have to stop myself from eating the entire loaf at once when it comes out of the oven. I also made a chocolate and passion fruit torte, and some iced biscuits, which were delicious!