Moo’s Tennis Blog is back for the red clay season with coverage of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. Sporting five of the world’s top ten, it is a prestigious event and one of my favourite tournaments of the season. The fast indoor courts are always a magnet for quality tennis. Read on for match reviews and media highlights from Tuesday in Stuttgart.
Match reviews 🎾
Daria Kasatkina d. Elise Mertens, 7-6(8) 7-5
Scoring her first win over a top 100 player in 2019 (!), a rejuvenated Daria Kasatkina defeated Elise Mertens in the first main draw match from Stuttgart 2019, 7-6(8) 7-5. Kasatkina saved a pair of set points in the first set and then rallied from a a 3-5 deficit in the second set. I was shocked by this result and had absolutely no hesitation in picking Mertens when I filled out my Draw Challenge!
Kasatkina’s serve has been an issue this year. Even in this match, the Russian player had her moments with nine double faults. However, she didn’t get down on herself with disappointments and on the most part, reacted well on the next point. I felt like Kasatkina’s fragility on serve often bled into the rest of her game. I didn’t get that sense in this match and she played with authority, purpose and belief, more so than we’ve seen at any time during 2019. Kasatkina used her backhand slice effectively and generally constructed the points well to hold off a mostly erratic and unconvincing, Mertens.
Anastasija Sevastova d. Jelena Ostapenko, 6-2 4-6 6-0
In a battle of the Latvian compatriots, Sevastova condemned Ostapenko to her fifth consecutive loss. Sevastova started to bounce back from a hefty second set deficit and then cruised through the decider, using her backhand slice to break up the rhythm and generally making Ostapenko move. The pair each had five break points in the decider – Sevastova converted on three while Ostapenko’s return was zero. Ostapenko’s serve continues to be a weakness in her game and an area that she can rarely rely on.
I sensed some tension between the pair with Sevastova loudly fistpumping some Ostapenko errors in the decider. There was a brief handshake at the end with Ostapenko muttering something that didn’t seem to be complimentary. I wonder if this is related to Fed Cup where Sevastova pulled out with a back injury but I am speculating!
Kiki Bertens d. Anna-Lena Friedsam, 7-5 6-2
Kiki Bertens squeaked out a tight opener before strolling through the second set against a fading, Friedsam. The German player was dynamic and relentless in the opener as Bertens grew increasingly frustrated at a flurry of missed break point opportunities. There were some uncomfortable moments for Bertens but she held her ground and played the big points better to win the last two games of the set at deuce.
Bertens’s serve has increasingly become a weapon over the past year so it was no surprise to see such impressive serving statistics on this fast indoor surface. While only serving at 48% of first serves in, Bertens was dominant behind it and held serve in all 10 of service games.
I thought Friedsam played a decent first set and overall, it was a very encouraging tournament as she came through three rounds of qualifying. Friedsam returned to action in February following another year on the sidelines recovering from a shoulder injury. Fingers crossed ALF can stay healthy!
LOL moment 🤣
I love Andrea Petkovic’s sense of humour. There were some cracking quotes from Petkovic about Kerber via the WTA Insider Twitter account.
Super snap 📸
Delighted to see Lucie back in action as she teamed up with good pal, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win their first round doubles match. I’m going to watch back now! 😀
Press highlights 📰
Simona Halep announced her withdrawal from the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix due to a hip injury. Her press conference was broadcasted on the tournament’s official Facebook page. It sounds all precautionary. I enjoyed hearing about Simona’s intention to accept all invitations for when she returns to Roland Garros to defend her title.
Recommended reading 📚
There’s not been much from the press room this year with Daria Kasatkina what with her tough start to 2019. Glad to hear she’s feeling positive about the clay court season.
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
My two favourite match-ups from the original draw are no longer to be played after the withdrawals of Simona Halep and Garbiñe Muguruza – it’s such a shame this tournament comes immediately after Fed Cup. My favourite match of the day is actually out on court 1 featuring Wang Qiang and Hsieh Su-Wei. Goerges-Pavs and Kontaveit-Garcia, both on Centre Court, feel like 50-50 matches and i’d edge towards the lower ranked players in both.