Roberta Vinci endured a tough opening match in Brisbane against Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic as she recovered from a set down to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The eighth seed started the match unconvincingly as she struggled at times to get a first serve in. Throughout the opening set the Italian managed to get just 45% of her first serves in. The low first serve percentage played into the hands of Jankovic, who was able to attack the slower second serve. This resulted in the Serbian breaking Vinci three times during the opening set to take it after only 30 minutes.
Vinci could of been in danger of losing the match when she faced a break point in the first game of the second set. This time, she successfully fended off Jankovic before breaking the Serbian for the first time in the match a couple games later. Leading the set 4-2, both players then encountered a marathon game which consisted of seven deuces. As Jankovic served, it was Vinci’s turn to apply the pressure on her opponent. After failing to convert five break points in the marathon game, Vinci finally broke with her sixth to extend her lead in the set as a decider approached.
At the most crucial time in the match, Vinci was finally able to find her first serve, increasing from 47% in set two to 59% in the decider. The increase in the percentage aided her to fend off four break points during three of her service games. The crucial break in occurred during the fifth game of the final set. A poor service game from the Serbian, consisting of three consecutive unforced errors, handed Vinci the break to lead for the first time in the match. The poor game from Jankovic was fatal to her chances in the match as Vinci held her service to take the win after two hours and 17 minutes on the Brisbane court.
Vinci will now play in the second round of the tournament for the fourth time in her career, facing former Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova. Following her win, a delighted Vinci labelled her first round win as the best start the season in her entire career.
“It was a tough match against a great player, I probably won only one or two times against her in the past. It was a good match for both of us, a great way to start the season. Every year in Australia, I don’t play so good, so this time something has changed. This is probably my best first match of the year ever”. She said.
At 32-year-old Vinci is becoming a Veteran on the tour, however, she isn’t allowing her age to be a factor in her game.
“I’m not young, but I’m feeling good. And now I’m focusing on 2016. Serena is 34, also Flavia won US Open last year. There are examples.” Vinci said after her triumph.
Elsewhere at the tournament Carla Suarez Navarro dropped just three games during her 6-1, 6-2, win against Croatian world No.65 Ajla Tomljanović. In the second round, the Spanish sixth seed will play home favorite Sam Stosur after she defeated Jana Čepelová 6-4, 3-6,6-3. The Australian trailed 0-3 in the final set to the qualifier before winning six out of the next seven games to move to the second round.
Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic produced an impressive display in her 6-1, 6-2, win over Italian world No.20 Sara Errani. Bencic dominated throughout the match, winning 68% of the match points (56/82). In the next round, she will play American qualifier Samantha Crawford after she defeated Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon (6-4, 6-4) in her first round match.
Kiki Bertens, Aryna Sabalenka Victorious On Opening Day Of Elite Trophy
The higher ranked players have made a solid start at the penultimate tournament of the 2019 WTA season.
Top seed Kiki Bertens has kicked-off her campaign at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai with a roller coaster straight sets win over Donna Vekic.
Bertens, who hasn’t won a title on the tour since the Madrid Open in May, overcame some testing moments to see off her opponent 7-6(5), 6-2. Extending her head-to-head record against Vekic to 4-3. The Dutch No.1 dropped her serve once in each set on route to victory. Winning 74% of her first service points and converting four out of her seven break point opportunities.
“The first set was really close. We were both fighting for the first set. I think Donna was a little bit injured, but in the second set, I was just trying to get my best from every point and I did that really well.” Bertens said during her on-court interview.
The latest clash between the two was a tale of two halves. To begin, it was Vekic who got off to a better start as she broke right away before the world No.10 clawed her way back to draw level midway through the opener. With little to separate the two, Bertens seized her chance in the tiebreak. Tied at 5-5, she broke the Vekic serve with the help of a clean backhand passing shot for a chance to serve the set out. An opportunity she converted with the help of a forehand error from her opponent.
Clinching the lead, the proceedings were interrupted by a medical time out for Vekic. Who underwent some treatment on her lower back. Upon resumption it was a one-way show with Bertens racing to a set and 5-0 lead. Even a wobble at the very end, where she lost two games in a row, failed to deny the top seed victory.
“I think I went for her shots there and hit a few good returns. My concentration was maybe not there, but I am happy that I could close it (the match) out at 5-2.” Bertens commented about the end to the match.
It is the fourth time Bertens has played Vekic this season. She has won three of those encounters.
Earlier in the day Aryna Sabalenka was another player to make a winning start at the tournament. The fifth seed ousted Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4. Sabalenka saved all five of the break points she faced throughout the 89-minute clash and dropped just four points behind her first serve (24/28).
Sabalenka is playing in the Rose Group of the round-robin tournament, which also features Elise Mertens. Meanwhile Bertens heads the Azalea Group with a clash against Dayana Yastremska lurking in the coming days.
Basel 2019 Preview: Roger Federer Targets Record As Rivals Looks To Qualify For ATP Finals
Federer is on a quest for a 10th title in Basel and could play an all-Swiss quarter-final against countryman Stan Wawrinka later this week.
This year in Basel the competition is at its top, with two spots yet to be reserved in the race to the ATP Nitto Finals.
Roger Federer, who could make a 13th final in Basel this year, will commence his campaign against qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the first quarter. In the second round the 20-time grand slam champion could play either Radu Albot or Dusan Lajovic, whom he has a clean head-to-head profile against.
Meanwhile European Open finalist, who just lost to comeback kid Andy Murray in Antwerp, Stan Wawrinka is facing the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in the first round. Should he take off with a win, he would face either Frances Tiafoe or Daniel Evans before he could set a clash with last year’s Basel champion in quarter-finals.
Generally it could be theoretically an easy contest for Federer, who has a H2H profile of 23 wins to three loses against Wawrinka with 17 of them on hard-courts. However Wawrinka is in good form after making his second final of the year last week after Rotterdam in February.
The second quarter sees one player who has guaranteed his debut at the ATP Nitto Finals. Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas regained some of his good tennis during the Asian Swing where he ousted the World No.1 Novak Djokovic in Shanghai to reserve a place at the ATP Nitto Finals. Tsitsipas is taking on Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round. Only one meeting has taken place between the two on the ATP Tour in Barcelona last year with the Greek winning it. Then he could play either qualifier Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis or Pablo Andujar in the second round.
However, there is another player in this quarter, who is still trying to make it to the ATP Nitto Finals. Fabio Fognini had a disappointment last week when he lost in his first match in Stockholm after making the quarter-finals in Shanghai before losing to Daniil Medvedev. The Italian is starting against Alexei Popyrin then he could face either Laslo Djere or Filip Krajinovic, who made it the final in Stockholm before losing to Shapovalov. Fognini is in the 11th position in the race to London, going after countryman Matteo Berrettini, 8th position, with a gap of 290 points.
Should a quarter-final between Tsitsipas and Fognini occur, the Greek leads in their previous confrontations 2-0.
Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut is in the third quarter. He has been in bad form these past couple months, but is only 40 points behind Berrettini in the race to London. Should the Spaniard want to make his debut at the O2 Arena this year, he has to be pretty much on form as he opens against Marius Copil. Who showed a very good form in Antwerp last week and possess a big serve that could be an obstacle to a lot of players. The winner of that match will face either the Frenchman Richard Gasquet or Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round.
Still in the third quarter, another player is in the run for a spot at the ATP Nitto Finals with 90 points behind the Italian Matteo Berrettini. It’s David Goffin, who is taking off in Basel against former US Open champion Marin Cilic in what could be a thrilling match, but the Croatian isn’t in good form recently. Goffin would face either the big serving Reilly Opelka or Chile’s Cristian Garin in the second round, should he get past Cilic.
Second seed Alexander Zverev takes on Taylor Fritz in the opening round in what could be a tricky match in the fourth quarter. Zverev, who has had a very tough season this year and recorded his first top-10 win just days ago in Shanghai against Federer, has gained in momentum significantly after his participation in Laver Cup a few weeks ago. He is now in the 7th position in the race to the O2 Arena after reaching the final in Shanghai, which he lost to Medvedev in straight sets. He has either Alex De Minaur or Hugo Dellien in the second round with possibly Benoit Paire or Germany’s Struff in the quarter-final.
The Frenchman Benoit Paire is opening against the wild card holder Henri Laaksonen, should he cruise to the second round, he would face either Jan-Lennard Struff or Miomir Kecmanovic.
Kristina Mladenovic Dropped By Coach After Six Months
The 26-year-old reacts to the unexpected departure of her mentor.
Former top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic has suffered an off-court blow following the departure of her coach Sascha Bajin.
The 26-year-old had been working with Bajin since April and has made steady progress on the tour by rising more than 20 places to back inside the world’s top 40. Last Month Mladenovic reached the semi-finals of the Zhengzhou Open, in what was one of her best runs on the WTA Tour this year. During 2019 she has also recorded four wins over top 10 players, including Naomi Osaka when she was No.1 in the world.
It is understood that the departure of Bajin was on his own terms and not of a mutual agreement. Bajin is the former hitting partner of Serena Williams (2008-2015) and help guide Osaka to her two grand slam titles prior to his departure in February. In 2018 he was awarded the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year Award.
“I’m very disappointed about Sasha’s decision not to continue our relationship next season, I enjoyed our work, we had some great wins and I truly felt my game was on the rise again.” Mladenovic wrote on Twitter.
“I think that there was a lot more to achieve together, but I can’t change his opinion and decision. On my side, I am proud of my year and progress and I will keep working hard and build strong to be even better in 2020.”
Last week at the Kremlin Cup Mladenovic reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Belinda Bencic. At the tournament she scored wins over seeded players Anastasija Sevastova and Kiki Bertens. Whilst her season has been mixed, the Frenchwoman believes she has the ability to beat the best players in the world.
“When I put together everything on court I can beat anyone.” She told reporters in Moscow.
“And no matter what the season, no matter what ranking, I always have some upsets here and there but now it is really about coming back in the rankings where I was at my highest. And already this year, I am still not satisfied with my ranking but I have a lot of wins against very good players.”
Mladenovic, who is also a top five doubles player that won the French Open title in June, is currently ranked 39th in the world. She is set set to end the season inside the top 50 for the fifth year in a row.
There has been no information released about who may potentially replace Bajin next year.
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