Sunday’s Set Points, WTA Hong Kong, Linz & Tianjin: Yastremska, Giorgi and Garcia win titles

Sunday’s finals saw a trio of firsts with Caroline Garcia and Camila Giorgi both winning their first titles of 2018 and Dayana Yastremska winning her first WTA title period. The season is drawing to a close and we have just one (!) week left of regulation tournaments. Read on for five stories in Sunday’s Set Points post with action from Hong Kong, Linz and Tianjin.

Garcia’s first title of 2018

Caroline Garcia scored her first top ten win since Rome and her first title since Beijing last year with a 7-6(7) 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova in Sunday’s Tianjin final. Garcia recovered from a 1-5 deficit in the first set tiebreak and was ultimately braver when it counted. Garcia encountered some late resistance in the second but served it out at the second time of asking, closing it out with an ace.

After such a fantastic end to 2017, Garcia’s 2018 season has been a tad disappointing. Expectations were raised sky-high as she completely overwhelmed the field to qualify for Singapore last year. I think her level has actually been pretty decent through much of the year. She has struggled to build momentum at tournaments, often throwing in a duff performance towards the end. Garcia is still top 20 in the race so it’s not been a complete disaster.

Pliskova is still in the ascendancy for Singapore and needs to reach the semi-finals in Moscow next week to confirm her place. I like listening to Pliskova in press because she is so refreshingly honest, but I don’t enjoy watching her play and just cannot get excited about her game. I’m rooting for Bertens to get into the last eight as I feel her year has been much more impressive.

Yastremska’s first WTA title

Dayana Yastremska hit 33 winners (!) in a sensational display of ball striking to overwhelm a weary-looking, Wang Qiang. Yastremska won, 6-2 6-1 to win her first WTA title in Hong Kong. For a first final, this was mightily impressive from Yastremska who was absolutely fearless in going for the lines. The Ukrainian player said to her coach at 4-1 that she was tight and understandably, there were plenty of nerves as she tried to serve out the match.

Yastremska wears her heart on her sleeve and you could see she was *trying* to stay calm! There were some double faults, tight-looking errors and rushing between points, but she still came up with some stunning winners and managed to serve out the match on her fourth Championship point.

Yastremska was buzzing at the end and it was nice to see her joy in the moment. Again, I repeat from yesterday’s post, she’s going to be an absolute ball to watch over the coming years. A shame for Wang Qiang who did look flat after yesterday’s gruelling win over Muguruza. This takes nothing away from her Asian Swing run which has propelled her close to automatically qualifying for Zhuhai. I would guess she gets a wild card anyway?

Another stunning rally from Hong Kong

Wow this was good!

Giorgi wins Linz

Camila Giorgi eased to the Linz title with a routine 6-3 6-1 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova. I can’t quite believe this was only Giorgi’s second WTA title?! It seems fitting towards the end of what has been a great year for the Italian player. I’ve definitely noted a change in Giorgi this season. She was always unrelenting and somewhat stubborn in her ultra-aggressive approach. She seems to be going for less on the second serve, committing less double faults in the process, and also being a bit more patient in rallies, while still keeping the essence of her game which is based on playing fast and aggressive.

It was actually quite nice to see some emotion from Giorgi at the end who has always given very little away. Giorgi has cracked the world’s top 30 this year for the first time in her career and tallied 38 wins, the most she has ever managed in one season (via Tennis Abstract).

This week’s bake…

For week 7 of GBBO 2018, I baked a “free from” lemon cake using soya milk, dairy free spread and no eggs in sight!

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Photo by Omar Boraby Photography.

13 thoughts on “Sunday’s Set Points, WTA Hong Kong, Linz & Tianjin: Yastremska, Giorgi and Garcia win titles

  1. I had no idea that you weren’t a Pliskova fan! I did think Garcia was impressive today. I would also argue that her lack of titles/finals has been a little misleading, because she’s been pretty consistent throughout the year and at times (Stuttgart and Madrid in particular) played her best tennis. She’s just been overwhelmed at times by players who have been on RED hot streaks (Sabalenka, Bertens, Muguruza). Even in many of her disappointing losses she’s put up a good fight and taken it the distance.

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    • Also I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but Garcia appears to have changed her service motion midway through this year. She seems to have stopped using the abbreviated motion where she puts the racket up early. It’s obviously affected her percentage of first serves, but it could potentially mean she adds a few mphs onto the speed next year!

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    • Ha yes just don’t enjoy watching Pliskova play. I’d tend to agree on Garcia, I don’t think she has had any sustained poor runs of form and I remember watching her play some excellent matches this year. Obviously she must have felt some pressure this Asian Swing with all those points to defend so Tianjin was timely. I didn’t notice Garcia’s serve tbh, will pay attention next time!

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      • It isn’t a complete change, but she only moved the racket up after she has started her motion now as opposed to before when that went up first. It looks a lot more fluid, although I personally thought she had a great serve anyway because not much could go wrong with it.

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  2. I’m not a fan of Pliskova either; I was hoping Kiki Bertens would get the eighth spot in Singapore (though she’s still in with a shout as an alternate).

    Good win by Ons Jabeur over Sloane yesterday (I think it’s her first ever win over a top 10 player), and a good match between DariaK and Alize Cornet which Daria won. Alize served for the match at one point but couldn’t close it out for some reason.

    Alise vs Daria promises to be another match-up like the one Alize has with Aga Radwanska; both are cerebral players who try to outthink each other on court rather than overpower each other with hard hitting, and their matches are full of long rallies and shot variation. That’s the sort of tennis I most enjoy watching.

    Finally, on the British players front, congratulations to Katie Boulter who has just entered the top 100 for the first time at the age of 22. I hope she has a good and long stay there.

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    • Glad to see Kiki make Singapore after all but sorry about the way it happened (Simona’s pulled out due to her back injury).

      In other news, a great win by Ons Jabeur over Anett Kontaveit to make her first ever WTA semifinal, and a good run also by Jo Konta who’s also through to the semis after beating Aleksandra Sasnovitch. DariaK’s also through to the semis after beating Pavs in two sets.

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      • Pleased for Bertens and relieved Halep has pulled out before the tournament. Seems like a good decision to rest up for 2019.

        Great week for Konta who has had a pretty rough year. Nice to see Kasatkina end the season on a high with solid wins over Cornet and Pavs. Yastremska’s run keeps on going in Luxembourg!

        I know Andrew has already touched on this but I really am looking forward to Zhuhai more than Singapore. The Singapore line-up doesn’t really excite me tbh!

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      • Well… I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if Kiki Bertens won in Singapore. The courts pretty much play like clay courts. And I think she’s in the more winnable looking group.

        Really hoping Svitolina finishes this year on a high after a really disappointing few months!

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      • I was under the impression it’s been made to play faster this year. Shame, I guess it isn’t by much then.
        There was a lot riding on the permutations and results last time around. Don’t know what’s riding on what this time.

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      • Yeah, will be a fantastic result for her, that I’m sure of. It has been a rather uninspiring couple of months. Fingers crossed Saviano can help with her Grand Slam quest too. She has time, but you never can tell with these things. Sascha did a tremendous surgical job with Naomi Osaka, but it was aided by Naomi having a game style he is used to coaching. Hopefully Nick can do something similar for Elina and she is also able to come to peace with the body she wants and needs for her game going forwards.

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  3. Zhuhai, unlike the YEC in Singapore actually needs the players to perform to light up the tournament and establish that Elite trophy as a must have. Given the current balance among the top ranked players, the opportunity is there. The organizers should really make it about the players and showcasing their talent. Sabalenka, Gorges, Mertens, Garcia, just to mention a few there is much competition to go around.

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