WTA Action Starts in Earnest at Mutua Madrid Open 2016
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Our Tennis Atlantic journalist Niall Clarke has this report from his first day of on-site coverage in Madrid.
There was an early upset in the WTA side of the draw as second seed Angelique Kerber suffered a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to Barbora Strycova. The German made many uncharacteristic errors and cited fatigue as an issue post match.
“To Be honest I am really tired. I didn’t play my best tennis today and I made a lot of unforced errors. I tried in the second set to find my rhythm and come back, but I was not able to play my game today.”
Roberta Vinci was another upset victim after being dispatched by Danka Kovinic. The Montenegrin took the opening set 6-4 after a long game whilst serving it out. The second set was full of service breaks but Kovinic was able to claim it 6-2 to further shake up the top quarter after Sara Errani’s exit on Saturday.
There was no upsets for the Spanish number one and two as Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro both won on Manolo Santana court. Muguruza won in straight sets 6-2, 7-5, whilst Suarez Navarro came from behind to beat Timea Babos 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Karolina Pliskova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova raced to 6-2, 6-1 victories each at the start of the days play. The Czech will meet America’s Christina McHale in round two and the Russian will face Camila Giorgi. Defending champion Petra Kvitova also emerged victorious in straight sets as did Simona Halep.
There were three British players in action, starting with Heather Watson who lost a grueling two set match to Daria Gavrilova. The Australian eventually pulled through 7-5, 6-4.
Watson said post match: “First of all, coming into this tournament I didn’t have the preparation I wanted, I have been injured, and I only practiced three days before the tournament so I was very happy to get through my first round (of qualification). It was a tough second round of qualies, I thought my opponent played really well. Today I thought I played better than the other matches, but I am just not match fit and I was too inconsistent. I had a lot of break point chances, and we had a lot of games that went to deuce and I struggled to close them out.”
Johanna Konta did not fare any better as she was forced to retire 6-4, 2-1 down to Caroline Garcia. Laura Robson put up a good effort but was overwhelmed by Victoria Azarenka 6-4,6-2.
ATP qualifiers book main draw place
It was also the last day of qualifying on the men’s side of the draw. Santiago Giraldo was the first to make it through with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Dusan Lajovic. Lucas Pouille joined the Colombian shortly after with a 6-3, (5) 6-7, 6-1 victory over Spain’s Adrian Menendez-Maceiras.
Dennis Kudla secured another American name into the draw with a dramatic three set victory over Benjamin Becker. Pierre Hughes Herbert and Radek Stepanek also qualified with straight set victories. Denis Istomin needed three sets to knockout Mikhail Kukushkin.
The main draw got under way with Fernando Verdasco’s clash with Juan Monaco. The Spaniard was down a break in the opening set but came back to take the match 7-5, 7-6(3). Alexandr Dolgopolov came from a set down to defeat Steve Johnson, 3-6, 6-3 7-6(4).