2021 WTA Stuttgart, Monday R1 Highlights: Bencic & Sakkari ease into the second round

The Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart is back with yet another stunning line-up including seven of the world’s top 10. It’s an odd draw though with disparity between the first round matches. The pick of the bunch is an all top 15 clash between the defending champion, Petra Kvitova and Australian Open finalist, Jen Brady. There’s also an all-qualifier match-up between the world number 125, Anna-Lena Friedsam and the world number 271, Ulrikke Eikeri.

Stuttgart is always one of my favourite tournaments of the year. It’s such a slick production and often produces high quality matches that have made their way into my best matches countdown. Not one from Stuttgart though since the 2017 final between Laura Siegemund and Kristina Mladenovic! First round action began on Monday with just the two singles matches…

Day 1️⃣ Highlights

(8) Belinda Bencic d. Nastasja Schunk, 6-4 6-2

I have to admit that i’d never heard of Nastasja Schunk prior to this week. The 17-year-old and world number 928 came through two rounds of qualifying to book her place in a first ever WTA main draw. And it was quite a step up having not played anything above a $25K event. I thought Schunk acquitted herself very well and went toe-to-toe with Bencic from the baseline in the first set. Schunk has an effective swinging lefty serve and moved well on the slippery clay.

I didn’t expect Bencic’s serve, a bit of a liability so far in 2021, to be the rock of her game. Bencic landed four aces and won 65% of service points in the first set. Bencic found her timing in the second set although Schunk still wouldn’t go down without a fight, saving five match points and showing plenty of promise.

Bencic has never really enjoyed the clay and she spoke about her relationship with the surface in her post-match interview. Alexandrova or Muchova in the second round will be a challenge.

Maria Sakkari d. Andrea Petkovic, 6-2 6-2

I hate to say it but I thought the match was even more one-sided than the scoreline suggested. Sakkari was a class above in every department and looked such at ease. Sakkari won 81% of first serve points and broke Petkovic’s serve six out of eight times. I’ve written quite a lot this year about Sakkari’s improvement so I won’t go on anymore 😂. But yeah, she’s one to watch during this clay court season. Sakkari has landed in a tough section of the draw with Kvitova or Brady up next.  I thought Petkovic might have been crying when she walked off court 😭.

Funny moment 🤣

Not sure i’ve ever seen this before. Glad Bencic could see the funny side of it 😂 .

H&H 🤗

One from the Charleston 250 and had to share it. A wonderful touch from Osorio Serrano to comfort an injured and tearful, Clara Tauson.

Recommended media 📺

The WTA have finally released their live scores app – WTA Scores. It’s been reported that the WTA and ATP are working on a joint app for 2022. Something that we joyously already had…

Tuesday watchlist 📺

(7) Petra Kvitova vs. Jen Brady – The match of the first round takes centre stage at not before 5:30pm UK time.

Laura Siegemund vs. Mona Barthel – Two home favourites who have had some wonderful results at this tournament. The winner gets a shot at the world number one.

Ekaterina Alexandrova vs. Karolina Muchova – Delighted to see Muchova back in action after spending time on the sidelines with an abdominal injury after her run to the semis in Melbs.

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4 thoughts on “2021 WTA Stuttgart, Monday R1 Highlights: Bencic & Sakkari ease into the second round

  1. I was impressed by Sakkari much more than I was with Bencic. Sakkari even hit aces with her second serve !

    But what’s with Halep ?!

    Like

  2. I thought that Belinda played some very good tennis in that 2nd set and maybe this will be the start of a good run in this event as she could do with it to boost her confidence. It was nice to see her looking so cheerful and in a better frame of mind than in Charleston. It was the only match that I managed to watch today and it is a shame that such a magnificent Indoor Tennis arena is not presently able to have any spectators. Looking forward to the rest of the week.

    Like

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