Wednesday’s order of play at the 2021 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix was a mix of first round and second round matches. My schedule is always suited more to the evening matches so Wednesday’s Stuttgart diary is centred on the second rounders which included first ever showings on the Stuttgart clay for the number one seed, Ash Barty and the number three seed, Sofia Kenin.
Day 3️⃣ Highlights
(1) Ash Barty d. Laura Siegemund, 6-0 7-5
I was reallly looking forward to this match but it didn’t live up to what i’d built it up to in my head. Siegemund is a proven seed-slayer at this tournament and heading into this match, had a 6-1 W-L record against top ten players in Stuttgart. Barty was playing her first ever match on this unique surface. You wouldn’t have noticed it though because Barty was untouchable in the first set as Siegemund folded rather easily.
The second set was much more competitive and Siegemund, who was more aggressive and put the ball into some awkward positions, had her chances. Barty was passive for chunks of the second set. In a pivotal game at 4-4, Barty went after her forehand and saved a break point to hold before breaking for the win at 6-5. Barty was serving at just 44% of first serves in… when she landed it, the Aussie was a perfect 24 out of 24. It will take a mean returning performance this week to topple the Bart.
Anett Kontaveit d. (3) Sofia Kenin, 7-5 6-4
All signs of form and history at this tournament pointed towards a Kontaveit “upset” win… and that’s how it unfolded although Kontaveit made hard work of it. Kontaveit finally broke Kenin’s serve on her 10th (!) break point in the first set and then rather crawled over the line in the second set. Doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you get the W.
While Kontaveit missed a lot of opportunities and didn’t always play the big points with confidence, her quality shone through in the end and she was ultimately the better player in most departments. The emphasis on serve is huge in Stuttgart with the court surface. Kontaveit won 37 of 43 points behind her first serve and hit 12 aces.
Still not happening for Kenin. Still not too concerned. I think it will take some time. Kontaveit continues to impress in Stuttgart where she has reached at least the quarter-finals in all four showings.
Best of the rest 🎾
The number six seed, Karolina Pliskova, recovered from 2-5 down to win the first set and needed three sets to beat Tamara Korpatsch, 7-5 3-6 6-3. I didn’t watch the match but the scoreline does continue to raise some concerns about Pliskova’s current form.
Angelique Kerber, Marketa Vondrousova and Jelena Ostapenko all won their openers in straight sets to advance to the second round.
In the final match of the day, Petra Kvitova kept her title defence alive with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over Maria Sakkari in two hours and 28 minutes. The third set was a great battle with longgg games, missed chances and a few moments of outrageous shotmaking. Kvitova has beaten arguably the two most dangerous unseeded players in the draw to reach the last eight.
Thursday watchlist 📺
(4) Elina Svitolina vs. Angelique Kerber – Interested to see the trade-off between Kerber have much more experience and success on these courts against the head-to-head which Svitolina has dominated, winning their last six matches. The pair haven’t played each other for nearly three years…
(6) Karolina Pliskova vs. Jelena Ostapenko – Interesting match-up with the pair splitting their six previous matches. Pliskova beat Ostapenko in Stuttgart in 2018, 5-7 7-5 6-4. Ostapenko won their most recent meeting, also on clay, at Roland Garros last year.
(2) Simona Halep vs. Marketa Vondrousova – This is a tough opener for Halep. Vondrousova has won their two previous matches.