Monday, 25 April 2016

Angie defends at home / Rafa 2 in 2

Angie Kerber is a nice enough person off the tennis court but with racquet in hand and a net to manoeuvre, she had no time for continuing the Stuttgart fairytale of compatriot Laura Siegemund.
In the tournament final, the Aus Open champ took very seriously the form of the lower ranked surprise performer and the first set was a fairly even affair, with breaks of serve occurring every second game. Angie managed to return the Siegemund serve just that fraction more effectively, and took the set 6-4.

That was the first dropped set from Laura for the tournament, and with it she dropped her bundle.  Angie dominated set two, not losing a game, despite the first serve percentage of 75 from Siegemund.  It seemed a mental thing as well as great tennis from Kerber - Laura Siegemund had given all she had for the event and whilst her body may have still been going through the motions, it was difficult to keep a positive thought while Angie ruthlessly pounded tennis balls past her.

Angie Kerber brilliantly defended her Stuttgart title 6-4 6-0, but plenty of praise for the runner-up Laura Siegemund, whose best ever WTA result, including 3 top ten scalps,  was a revelation for German and women's tennis.

Rafa Nadal, by defeating Kei Nishikori in Barcelona's final, provided further evidence of his credentials for Roland Garros favouritism. However the first set in the final was full of chances for Nishikori.  In a very even match, seven of the eight break points Nadal faced were saved, whereas the two that the Spaniard created were both converted, effectively assigning the set 6-4 to Rafa.

A case of one that slipped away for Kei.  Set two was again competitive with stats similar in most key areas. Both first serve percentages were in the seventies, while both percentages of points won on serve were in the fifties.
Where the set was won once more though was with break point conversion.
This time it was Nadal with more of the opportunities - 10.  Nishikori did really well to close down seven of these, but it wasn't quite enough as he could only manage to break the Nadal serve twice, thus surrendering the second set to Rafa 7-5 and the title 6-4 7-5. Two in two weeks.
9 Barcelona trophies now for Nadal to match his 9 Monte Carlos and 9 French Opens.  He will be quite willing to break that symmetry with a tenth successful run at Roland Garros this year, no doubt.

Istanbul was a scene for some history with the first Turkish woman, Cagla Buyukakcay, to make a WTA final, and doing it in front of her home nation crowd making it extra special.
Clearly the final brought all sorts of new pressure as opponent and fifth seed Danka Kovinic took the first set 6-3, the first set dropped by Cagla all tournament.  Certainly close for much of the opening set, Cagla was quick to regroup and asserted herself and her tennis on the match, not allowing Danka many avenues to respond, and a 6-2 second set squared proceedings at a set all.

The decider was a thriller, with the standard fairly high throughout, and the result perfect for the home crowd.  Cagla withstood all that a tiring Danka could throw at her, and the solid Buyukakcay serve was maintained - 84% first serves in play and 65% points won on serve for the set compared with 55% for Kovinic.
Enough for 6-3 and an overall 3-6 6-2 6-3 historic title win for Cagla, the first ever on the WTA tour by a Turkish woman and a guaranteed entry into the world's top 100.

The Bucharest final between Fernando Verdasco and Lucas Pouille has been delayed a day due to Romanian rain.

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