Tennis

London | WTA Round-up…

While Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina was awarded with Kazakhstan’s Order of Dostyk (Friendship) by the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for becoming the first Kazakh Grand Slam champion in history, the WTA Tour has returned to action.

Båstad, Sweden – Nordea Open

Jang Su-Jeong from Korea dropped just one set en route to her first WTA 125 title at the Nordea Open, culminating in a final win over Spain’s Rebeka Masarova.

In a clash of unseeded players in the final, Jang lifted her first trophy at this level with a 3-6 6-3 6-1 defeat of Masarova in 2 hours and 16 minutes.

The victory completes a dominant week for No 155-ranked Jang, who dropped no sets and only 18 games en route to the final.

Her title run included her first two Top 100 wins since 2017, over No 3 seed Clara Burel from France, 6-2 6-1, in the first round, and 5th seed Panna Udvardy from Hungary, 6-4 7-5 in the quarter-finals.

Jang’s victory in Sweden marks the biggest tournament won by a South Korean woman since Lee Duk-Hee won the Fort Myers WTA title in 1982.

The first set of the final found Jang playing too passively, pushed back by Masarova’s formidable serve and superior power but, as the match went on, she blended excellent foot-speed and began to find ways to dictate play with her forehand.

The 27-year-old’s break-through came when she broke Masarova for the first time for 5-3 in the second set after a 3-deuce tussle.

Jang took her momentum into a confident decider, finding a series of big forehands to break the Spaniard twice for a 3-0 lead, and she maintained this lead to the end, converting her first match point as Masarova sent a forehand long.

Masarova, the 2016 Roland Garros girls’ champion, enjoyed the best week of her season so far, with the No.146-ranked 22-year-old upset 2nd-seeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakia, 3-6 6-1 7-5 in the quarter-finals for her 6th career Top 100 win.

Sara Errani (L), who beat Dalma Galfi in the final, won the Grand Est Open 88 WTA 125 tournament at Contrexeville, France on Sunday

Photo VM/Eric Thiebaut

Contrexeville, France – Grand Est Open 88

Former Top 5 player Sara Errani from Italy won a nail-biting final at the Grand Est Open 88 in Contrexeville, France on Sunday, saving 3 championship points before edging No 6 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary, 6-4 1-6 7-6(4), to win the WTA 125 tournament.

Errani needed 2 hours and 40 minutes to hold off Galfi and win her 2nd career WTA 125 title, having previously lifted the trophy at WTA 125 Indian Wells in 2018 to add to her 9 career singles titles at Hologic WTA Tour-level.

The 2012 Roland Garros singles finalist and a 5-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, has been in superb form at WTA 125 events of late, reaching her 2nd straight final at this level after finishing as runner-up to Alison van Uytvanck from Belgium on the grass at WTA 125 Gaiba, Italy, last month.

Back on clay, Errani used her top-level experience on the surface to grind out a victory, despite firing 11 double-faults, winning 66 percent of her first-service points in the two sets she won, a hair better than Galfi’s 64 percent success rate during that pair of crucial sets.

After splitting the first two sets, Galfi came back from an early break down in the topsy-turvy decider, breaking for a 4-2 lead with a rally drop-shot winner, but Errani struck back on her 5th break point of the following game to put the match back on serve.

At 5-4, an overhead winner gave Galfi championship point, but Errani erased that chance by returning a drop-shot with a forehand winner.

Galfi held 2 more championship points at 6-5, but Errani, who started routinely mixing in underarm serves at this juncture, fended those off as well.

In the decisive tiebreak, Errani returned a drop-shot with a drop-shot winner of her own to garner her first championship point at 6-4, and there, a backhand winner sealed victory for the Italian, who collapsed to the ground in joy after the gruelling battle.

Galfi fired 9 aces in the match but was unable to close out the win but this marks the Hungarian’s first WTA 125 final of her career, as she continues to rise up the rankings after starting the year ranked 124 and hitting a career-high of 81 last month.

The Contrexeville doubles title went to top seeds Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway and Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia, who defeated 2nd-seeds Han Xinyun & Alexandra Panova, 7-6(8) 6-2.

Top seeds Eikeri & Mihalikova converted 4 of their 6 break points en route to their 1-hour and 40-minute win in Sunday’s championship match.

It is the first WTA 125 title for Eikeri, and the second for Mihalikova, who partnered Greet Minnen to the title at WTA 125 Angers last year.

Anna Kalinskaya upset defending champion Tamara Zidansek in the first round of the Ladies Open Lausanne on Monday

© Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Lausanne, Switzerland – Ladies Open Lausanne

Defending champion and 7th seed Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia crashed out in the 1st-round of the Ladies Open Lausanne on Monday, ousted by Anna Kalinskaya, 7-6(2) 3-6 6-3, in 2 hours and 28 minutes at the WTA 250 clay-court event, the Russian winning 75% of her first-serve points to Zidansek’s 70%.

Both players lost their serve 3 times across the match, but the cleanest set for Zidansek was the second in which she faced no break points, while the decider had both players trade breaks before the eventual winner secured a 2nd break to clinch the win.

In the second round, Kalinskaya will play either Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic or Japan’s Misaki Doi.

Clara Burel, Anastasia Potapova and Jule Niemeier all reached the 2nd-round, while the other seed who played her opening-round match on Monday, Spanish 4th seed Sara Sorribes Tormo reached the round-of-16.

Sorribes Tormo beat American Lauren Davis 6-2 7-6(1) in an hour and 57 minutes, and she the 2021 Lausanne finalist, Burel, after the Frenchwoman routed China’s Lin Zhu, 6-0 6-1 in just 46 minutes in their round-of-32 clash.

Burel won 93% of her first-serve points and 70% of her second-serve points.

She also didn’t face any break points and converted 5 of the 7 break points that came her way on Zhu’s serve.

Swiss wild-card, Susan Bandecchi beat Dodin, 6-2 6-1, in 67 minutes, winning 4 break points on the Frenchwoman’s serve and saving both break points she faced.

In the second round, Bandecchi will either play another French player in Diane Parry or 2nd seed and fellow Swiss, Belinda Bencic.

Another Swiss player, Ylena In-Albon crashed out in the first round, while Germany’s Niemeier, who recently reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals, won their clash, 7-5 6-7(3) 6-3.

Niemeier could play fellow German, qualifier Eva Lys or 8th seed, Varvara Gracheva from Russia next.

Lastly, Potapova also reached the 2nd-round with a 6-2 3-6 6-4 win over Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti, and awaits either 3rd seed, Irina-Camelia Begu or Tamara Korpatsch next.

Kamilla Rakhimova upset Elena-Gabriela Ruse, the 7th seed, in 3 sets at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Monday

© Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Budapest, Hungary – Hungarian Grand Prix

Fresh from her success winning the doubles title at Wimbledon, Czech Barbora Krejcikova swaps the green for the red and returns to clay at the Hungarian Grand Prix at Budapest this week as the top seed of the WTA 250 event.

Elena-Gabriela Ruse from Romania was the only seeded player to fall in the opening round on Monday, going down in 3 sets to Kamilla Rakhimova.

The 7th seed made numerous errors and was undone against Russia’s World No 107 Rakhimova, who hit 23 winners en route to a 6-4 5-7 6-3 victory in Budapest.

Rakhimova will now face Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, who beat Carolina Alves from Spain, 6-4 6-1, to reach the last 16.

In other results, Aliaksandra Sasnovich found her way past Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar, 6-3 0-6 6-3; America’s Bernarda Peraa 6-2 7-5 winner over lucky loser Marina Bassols Ribera from Spain; and Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Baindl  beating local wild-card Timea Babos, 6-4 6-3.

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