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What Does The Future Hold For Ekaterina Alexandrova?

The anomalous story of a Russian tennis player who perfected her game in Czechia and now has reached a crucial moment in her career.

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CAREER BEGINNINGS AND THE MOVE FROM MOSCOW TO PRAGUE

Ekaterina Alexandrova was born on November 15, 1994 in Chelyabinsk, a Siberian city of about 1.2 million inhabitants located to the East of the Urals, close to the border with Kazakhstan. In order to have more information, I visited Wikipedia: founded at the end of the 1700s around a military fortress, the city began to grow rapidly by the early 20th century as a result of the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and later on became a major industrial centre under the Soviet Union. Two more relevant events about the city need to be mentioned: a serious nuclear accident occurred in 1957 at a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant near the city, which led to the region to be inaccessible to visitors until 1992; and a meteor struck in 2013. By then, however, Ekaterina has already left her hometown.

Alexandrova discovered the game during a holiday in Spain, when she was five years old; she went with her parents to the court, and she started playing. She immediately enjoyed it and improved rapidly. Throughout the years, she got better and better, but being based in Chelyabinsk is not ideal for those who aim to compete at a high level. Ekaterina moved first to Moscow and then to Prague with her father and coach, Evgeny Alexandrov, to devote herself to her game.

She shared her story during two interviews in 2016 and 2017: “I used to train in Moscow, but once my whole family and I came to a tournament in Prague, and we immediately loved the place in all respects; there were many courts, and it’s also a beautiful city. We were simply charmed, and we decided to move to Czechia.” When the journalist asked her how long she had lived in Prague, she replied: “I think we have been here for about ten years, maybe a little more.” Given that she didn’t specify when the move happened exactly, we suppose that it must have occurred in 2007, when Ekaterina was about 13-14 years old. However, in 2009 she played a junior tournament in Prague; if we consider that moment as a starting point, it means that she moved to Czechia when she was a little older.

Since she moved to Prague, she faced a very particular condition. She couldn’t be a player of national importance for the Czech federation because she’s not from there – in addition, she couldn’t attend any meeting or training organized by the federation. However, she could train and improve her skills in an environment characterised by a historically great tennis culture (especially for women in recent years), with many top players. She travelled to several European tournaments with father Evgeny, and, when not on the road, she also trained with local coaches, such as former world N.138 Petr Kralert.

Due to her unique national condition, in the early years Ekaterina couldn’t be awarded any wildcards for major tournaments. Therefore, she missed opportunities to play against high-level opponents. Nevertheless, she could play in the Czech Extraliga, the Czech club competition. All the local top players took part in the competition (Kvitova, Pliskova, Strycova, Siniakova, Vondrousova, etc), as well as some foreign players like Sevastova – the Latvian has been her clubmate since 2017 for the “RPM Oaza Ricany” team (Oaza Ricany is a town located about 13 miles from Prague).

Moreover, she benefited from another typical perk of Bohemian tennis: it is well-known that physical and technical training takes place on two surfaces, clay during the summer and fast indoor courts during the cold season. Alexandrova has always stated that she does not like very much playing on clay and that she prefers fast courts, which allow her to keep the rally under his control and reduce the defensive phase.

One more anomaly is that she skipped the junior career. In fact, in the early years of her career Alexandrova played a limited number of junior tournaments (only 20 official matches), deciding to focus on ITF tournaments. Her first appearance in the rankings was in 2012, at 17 (N.782), and from then onwards she has experienced a steady progression, with just a couple of stumbles. Here are her end-of-season rankings from 2012 onwards: 782, 380, 228, 234, 108, 69, 71, 35, 25 (at the end of 2020). During the first years on the ITF circuit, she won tournaments that are not particularly renowned, but in some of these, she played and beat well-known opponents such as Bacsinszky, Paszek, Muchova.

A big breakout occurred in the 2016 season. In June, she was ranked around the 230th spot in the WTA rankings and she was about to take the first step in the biggest events, since her ranking finally granted her the opportunity to play the Grand Slam qualifiers at Wimbledon. To be honest, she was the first alternate in the original entry list, but due to the withdrawal of one player in the entry list, there was a spot for her in the Roehampton draw (Wimbledon’s qualies are not played on the grasscourts of Church Road, to safeguard their conditions). In the first round, she won against Ons Jabeur (the Tunisian is the same age as Ekaterina), then in the second round she defeated Stephanie Vogt 6-4 4-6 14-12 after saving a match point at 11-12. Without a rest day, it would have been tough to play the deciding match, but the rain came to help her, and every scheduled game was postponed by a day. The match against the local player Harriet Dart turned into another marathon: 2-6, 7-5, 13-11. She won after saving another match point at 10-11. 

This was not the end of her dream run. Her match in the first round of the main draw was against Ana Ivanovic, N.25 in the rankings. It was Ana’s last year on the WTA Tour and she smarted from some wrist problems. Ekaterina, ranked 223rd, won the match against all odds, 6-2 7-5. She finally lost in the second round to Anna Lena Friedsam, but she earned 110 WTA points and roughly $76,000 in just one tournament, more than her total career prize money at that time. In November 2016, Alexandrova won the WTA125K at Limoges, defeating three French Top 100 players such as Parmentier, Cornet and Garcia. The Limoges tournament would then become her favourite, with two more titles in 2018 and 2019, further proof of how well she plays on indoor courts.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Sebastian Ofner in Barcelona to extend his winning streak

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Sebastian Ofner 6-4 7-5 at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to extend his winning streak to seven consecutive matches after claiming his third title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last week. 

Tsitsipas earned an immediate break in the first game. Ofner broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Tsitsipas earned his second break  in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and served out the first set 6-4 with a hold at 15. 

Tsitsipas broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner won three consecutive games with two breaks of serve to take a 5-3 lead. Tsitsipas came back by winning four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to seal the second set 7-5.

Tsitsipas has a record of 17 wins to 5 defeats in Barcelona. The Greek player reached three finals at this tournament in 2018, 2021 and 2023.  

“I feel pretty good, but it is still early in the tournament. The conditions here are very different to Monte-Carlo and I felt it today when I was playing. My job is to adapt and to ensure I can bring my A game again in Barcelona this week. Today was a great test to see where I stand. I am hoping to keep on improving and getting good wins like this under my belt”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitssipas set up a third round match against Roberto Carballes Baena, who beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

Musetti saved three break points in the first game of the opening set. The Italian player earned two break points with a backhand down the line. Musetti saved two break points in the seventh game. Both players went on serve un the 12th game when Carballes Baena saved a set point. Carballes Baena went up a 5-1 lead with two mini-breaks in the tie-break. Musetti won three consecutive points to reduce to 4-5. Carballes Baena won the final two points to take the tie-break 7-4. 

Carballes Baena converted his fourth break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Musetti broke back in the fifth game. Carballes Baena saved a break point in the sixth game. The Spanish player sealed the win with a break on his second match. 

Last week’s Monte-Carlo finalist Casper Ruud beat Alexandre Muller 6-3 6-4 to claim his 25th tour-level win of the season. Ruud has drawn level with Jannik Sinner for the most wins in 2024 on the ATP Tour. 

Ruud set up a third round match against Jordan Thompson, who beat Jaume Munar 6-4 2-4 6-4. Roberto Bautista Agut beat Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-4 6-1 to claim his milestone 400th match win on the ATP Tour. Bautista Agut set up a third round match against Cameron Norrie. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut wins his milestone 400th match on the ATP Tour

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Roberto Bautista Agut came back from one set down to beat Australian Open doubles finalist Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-3 6-1 after 2 hours and 1 minute at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. 

Vavassori earned an early break in the first game. The Italian player earned three break points in the seventh game, but Bautista Agut saved them. The Spanish player broke straight back in the eighth game. Vavassori broke again in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and saved two break points before closing out the first set 6-4 on his second set point. 

Both players went on serve in the first four games of the second set. Vavassori earned a break point in the fifth game, but he did not convert it. Bautista Agut broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and did not face any break points to win the second set 6-3. 

Bautista Agut broke three times to cruise through to a 6-1. 

Bautista Agut reached the 400th milestone win on the ATP Tour.  The Spanish player has become the 13th active player with at least 400 ATP Tour wins. He achieved 20 wins against members of the top 10, ten wins against top 5 players and four against world number 1s. Bautista Agut is one of the nine players, who have beaten Novak Djokovic as World number 1 more than twice. 

“For me it’s just a number. The important thing is that I have done great work over these years, that I have a very consistent career, a career that I can feel proud of “, said Bautista Agut. 

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Martina Trevisan beats Naomi Osaka to reach the second round in Rouen

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Martina Trevisan upset former world number 1 Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-2 in the opening round of the Open Capfinances Rouen Metropole. 

Osaka has played her first clay-court match since Roland Garros 2022, where she lost to Amanda Anisimova. The Japanese player has not won a match on clay since beating Anastasia Potapova in the first round of the Madrid Mutua Open in 2022. She helped Japan beat Kazakhstan in the Billie Jean King Cup. 

Trevisan reached the quarter final in 2020 and the semifinal in 2022 at Roland Garros. The former world number 18 won her only title in Rabat in 2022. She reached the quarter finals of the Zaragoza ITF 100 tournament. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games. Osaka earned two break points at 3-2 and three more chances at 4-3, but she was not able to convert them. Trevisan broke serve in the ninth game following a series of forehand errors. 

Trevisan broke twice in the third and seventh games and served out the win on her first match point. 

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva beat Elina Avanesyan 7-5 6-4 in 1 hour and 41 minutes to reach her second quarter final of 2024. 

Andreeva went up a break in the seventh game, but Avanesyan pulled back on serve to draw level to 4-4. Andreeva broke for the second time in the 11th game to win the second set 7-5. Andreeva broke in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead. Avanesyan converted her third break-back point in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Andreeva broke serve at love in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Avanesyan broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Andreeva broke for the third time in the ninth game and served out the win on her second match point after saving two break points. 

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