Caroline Garcia breezes through while Bouchard changes focus after defeat - UBITENNIS
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Caroline Garcia breezes through while Bouchard changes focus after defeat

Caroline Garcia comfortably beat Varvara Lepchenko to earn a place in round three, while Eugenie Bouchard lost to Sara Errani and then reflected on her recent poor form.

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Caroline Garcia cruised to a 6-2 6-3 win over Varvara Lepchenko in the second round of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston.

The Frenchwoman, 24, is the number one seed at the event after her excellent performances in 2017 propelled her into the world’s top ten.

And she started like the favourite as she served superbly and struck her groundstrokes well to win 11 of the first 12 points and go 3-0 up in the blink of an eye.

The rest of the opening set was more competitive after Lepchenko held serve in game four. But it was too late for the American to turn it around and, after three tight games that all went against the server, Garcia clinched it 6-2.

Both players were much more consistent in the second set and the World No.7 led 4-3 after the first seven games went comfortably with serve.

At that point, Garcia stepped up her aggression and hit a series of trademark power shots from the back of the court to break Lepchenko. She then saved two break points as she held to complete a comfortable victory.

“I moved a little bit better than her today and I made fewer mistakes,” Garcia said in her on-court interview. “I saved two break points (in the last game) with good serves.”

She continued, “It was close in a couple of games and I was able to be a bit more aggressive and play some good points in important moments.”

Bouchard’s search for rhythm

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In the match that preceded Garcia on Charleston’s main court, Eugenie Bouchard played superbly at times during her 6-4 6-4 loss to Sara Errani.

At one stage in the second set, the Canadian produced sparkling tennis to win three games in a row and recover from 3-1 down.

However, she failed to break after taking the Italian to deuce in game eight and fell apart thereafter as Errani won seven of the last eight points to seal victory.

Despite that late collapse and an inconsistent first set, Bouchard should be encouraged by how she performed. The Canadian can consider herself unlucky that she came up against an inspired Errani, as the Italian produced some top-class clay-court tennis to beat her.

In her press conference, Bouchard reflected on her recent struggles which have caused her ranking to plummet to No.111. The Canadian said she plans to enter smaller tournaments below tour level for a few months after competing in Bogota.

She said, “Sometimes I feel good, and sometimes I have no idea what’s going on. I think the most important thing is just to keep going, and I’ve been feeling good in practice recently, and it’s obviously that elusive thing of bringing the practice to the match.”

“I think just more matches will help me out. It’s tough training for two weeks, playing a match, losing, training for two weeks, playing a match, losing. It’s a tough cycle, because then you just feel more nervous and feel extra pressure for that match, especially when you’re on centre court and it’s a big tournament and maybe you got a wildcard. So I’ve been putting myself in tough situations as well.”

“I want to play some smaller tournaments and just get matches where no-one’s there, no-one cares, and just grind, just to get the rhythm back.”

Barty and Vesnina advance

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Elsewhere in Charleston, Ashleigh Barty looked in excellent form as she dispatched young American Sofia Kenin 6-3 6-2 in just 69 minutes in the opening match in the Volvo Car Stadium.

The World No.18 will play Tatjana Maria in round two after the German dismantled Lauren Davis 6-3 6-0.

2016 finalist Elena Vesnina withstood a second-set comeback to overcome Madison Brengle 6-3 2-6 6-2 and set up a second-round clash with Taylor Townsend, who beat a woefully out-of-form Heather Watson 6-3 6-4.

It was also a very unhappy day for 2010 champion Sam Stosur, who was thrashed 6-2 6-4 by World No.109 Kristie Ahn, and Katerina Siniakova, who was hammered 6-4 6-1 by Kristyna Pliskova.

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Rising Star Mirra Andreeva Teams Up With Wimbledon Champion Martinez

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Mirra Andreeva – Australian Open 2024 (foto: X @WTA)

Teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva has begun working with a former Grand Slam champion on a trial basis ahead of the French Open.

The 16-year-old has linked up with Conchita Martinez, who is overseeing her run at this week’s Rouen Open in France. Martinez peaked at a ranking high of No.2 during her career and won 33 WTA titles. After retiring from the sport, she has coached Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. 

Andreeva’s latest partnership was formed with the help of her agent ‘two or three weeks ago.’ According to the WTA website, their practice week went well and now they are testing working together during a tournament. 

“So far, so good,” said Andreeva“I like it, I hope she likes it too. We will see how it will go and then we will decide about our next tournaments. I cannot say there are special aspects we are working on. But the first thing we worked on was my slice, because she was a good slicer. So she told me some tricks, and I’m trying to use it when I have time and a good possibility on court.”

Andreeva is currently ranked 43rd in the world and is the youngest player in the top 100. She has already reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open but is yet to win a WTA title. So far this year the Russian’s best result was a quarter-final appearance at the Brisbane International. 

Martinez, who also reached the last 16 of a major at the age of 16, spoke about the teenager with Ubitennis during last year’s Wimbledon Championships. At the time she pointed out that consistency is key for the youngster.

“The most important thing is that she keeps practising and focusing on what she has to do to get better. It’s great what she is doing now but she has to maintain it,” she commented.

Andreeva kicked off her campaign in Rouen with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Nadia Podoroska. 

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Red-Hot Danielle Collins Ready To Take On Red Clay After Charleston Triumph

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Image via https://twitter.com/CharlestonOpen/

Just how good is Danielle Collins?

Right now, she may be as good as anyone on the WTA Tour.

Just think about it. Who’s better?

Winning a seven-round near-major one week on hard courts, then putting together six straight victories the next week on green clay is fairly significant.

Collins didn’t go against a lame duck field in either tournament, especially at the Credit One Charleston Open where she defeated three of the best clay-courters on the tour in Ons Jabeur, Maria Sakkari and Daria Kasatkina, as well as the likes of Sloane Stephens and Paula Badosa. She defeated a Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, on hard courts in the Miami final.

ONLY TWO LOSING SETS IN 28

Collins lost only two of the 28 sets she played in Miami and Charleston.

Of course, second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and third-ranked Coco Gauff are power players on any surface. But after those two, Collins looks capable of winning anything in sight. It would be interesting to see Collins take on either of those two on Europe’s red clay.

Collins now has played about as brilliantly in these two tournaments as Sabalenka, Gauff or top-ranked Iga Swiatek have played within the last year.

Collins has the type game no one wants to play against right now. She has jumped all the way to 15th in the world after her success at Miami and Charleston.

COLLINS DOMINANT IN FINAL

Against 2017 Charleston winner Kasatkina in Sunday’s final, Collins was dominant in a 6-2, 6-1 victory. The Russian didn’t have the game to match up with Collins’ power. Collins played to win, and wasted few opportunities.

No one on the WTA Tour attacks more aggressively than the 30-year-old Collins. Short balls end up being a “done deal” when Collins moves in on them and smashes forehands, backhands and lobs away. She nails high back-handed returns of lobs to the corners with the same type of precision she connects with high forehand put-aways inside the court. Few players can hit that type of backhand high volley with such power and precision.

 She also plays the baseline as aggressively as anywhere else, and her serve is solid enough to keep her out of early trouble. Few double-faults find her racket.

LOCKED INTO PROCESS

“I think one of my biggest areas of improvement over the course of the last few weeks has been my concentration and focus and really being locked into my process,” Collins said after winning Charleston.

“These women that I’m playing against, they’re the best in the world, and it’s — sometimes things go your way and then sometimes things don’t go your way, and you have to be open to that when those times do happen.

“I’m really looking forward to getting home (Bradenton, Fla.) and getting some time to spend where I don’t think about tennis, and then hopefully when Madrid comes around I am back in ‘Danimal’ mode. Then it’s back to reality. So it’s like spring break for me. I feel like a kid at spring break.”

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Danielle Collins Extends Winning Streak To 12 Matches

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image via https://twitter.com/CharlestonOpen/

Danielle Collins just goes out and wins.

She wastes few shots and is a master of shot placements.

The court surface doesn’t seem to matter. She did it a week ago on hard courts to win the Miami Open. And she is doing it again at the Credit One Charleston Open on clay courts.

Collins has won 12 straight matches and is one win away from a coveted second straight title on the WTA Tour.

She’s unseeded, but keeps winning. She is the last American standing.

In Saturday’s Charleston semifinals, Collins scored a relatively easy 6-3, 6-3 win over third-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.

KASATKINA STANDS IN COLLINS’ WAY

Just 2017 Charleston champion Daria Kasatkina is standing in the 30-year-old Collins’ way of a second straight tour title.

Oh, yes, Collins is playing her final year on the WTA Tour. She wants to go out a winner badly.

Kasatkina is the fourth seed, and she may already have played a key role in Collins’ drive to another title. Top seed Jessica Pegula appeared to be unbeatable in this Charleston Open until running  into Kasatkina in Saturday’s first semifinal and simply couldn’t close out the Russian when their  match was on the line.

PEGULA’S LOSS BIG SURPRISE

Pegula’s 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) loss to Kasatkina was the biggest surprise of this tournament. Pegula had won the last 12 games of a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kasatkina in 2023 in Tokyo’s Pan Pacific Open.

Very tough match,” the ultra-conservative playing Kasatkina said about Saturday’s long match that ended in a third-set tiebreaker.
“Really happy with my win, with the way how I did it. And, yeah, really happy to be in the finals here again.”

Kasatkina has been impressed by Collins’ outstanding recent play.

“Danielle is, I think, playing the best tennis of her career right now. She’s fearless. When she feels her game, she’s one of the most dangerous players on tour, and she definitely feels it right now,” Kasatkina said.
“So, yeah, it’s going to be very tough battle. And it’s finals. I mean, it’s so nice. I’m so happy to be in the finals, and I think it’s going to be a good one. I think the atmosphere is going to be great because playing an American in the United States, it always brings some extra electricity on court. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”

COLLINS IMPRESSED BY KASATKINA’S PLAY

Collins also has respect for Kasatkina’s style of play.

“We’ve played so many matches against each other over the years and battles. She’s one of my favorite players to watch because she makes these matches so interesting,” Collins said about Kasatkina.

“The way that she plays and her tennis IQ, how creative she is on court is phenomenal. I think against Daria I have to be very flexible. She has just about every tool in her toolbox. She can hit big. She can hit with shape. She can hit slices. She can come into the net. She does everything very, very well. She serves and returns well. She mixes up her pace. She’s just solid all over. And so, it’s going to be a battle, and I have to be ready to play a long, tough match, if that’s what’s needed.

“I’ll have to kind of take a little bit more of a look statistically at some things and some different patterns, but I think the biggest thing is just fighting until the end and being adaptable out there.”

About her win over the usually solid Sakkari, Collins said, “I think my aggressive game style helped me. I had to stick with it. And she was throwing a lot at me and doing a lot of different things.
“So, I had to try to counter that and use my aggressive game style as much as I could.”

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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