Friday, 22 April 2016

Europe feasting on tennis

4 tournaments are being played at the moment, two each on the ATP and WTA tours.  In Stuttgart, six of the top ten world ranked women put their names down to contest a big event for Germany, including its glamour girl Angie Kerber, the second seed.

Barcelona sees the return of Rafa Nadal to headline a 500 series tournament, and Kei Nishikori has joined him as second seed.  Unfortunately two other top ten players, Ferrer and  Gasquet , withdrew, reducing the depth in the draw.

Bucharest and Istanbul are hosting lesser events, with Bernard Tomic top seed in Romania and Anna Schmiedlova top seed in Turkey.

In her home country's tournament, 71 world ranked German Laura Siegemund thrashed fourth seed Simona Halep in the first major upset in 2R Stuttgart.  Andrea Petkovic was another German player, albeit nowhere near as anonymous, who was on the path to crush a top seed, indeed the number one seed Aga Radwanska.
After leading 6-1, Petkovic became another victim of the Radwanska comeback syndrome, the world number two prevailing 1-6 6-1 6-2.

Fifth seed Petra Kvitova trialled the Aga revival technique following the mauling she received in the first set from Monica Niculescu, and it worked for the Czech star, managing a tie break success and then a straight forward third set decider.

All the other seeds won through to the third round except for number eight Lucie Safarova, who hasn't won a match all year and continues to see her ranking drop.  Now it still is a respectable 15 but her Roland Garros points from last year are huge and will need to be defended in the not too distant future.  

In Barcelona, the two stars Nadal and Nishikori are both comfortably in the quarter finals and appear more than likely to meet in the final.  Just the one big surprise of the event thus far - 19 year old Russian qualifier, ranked 138, Karen Khackanov, knocked 5th seed Roberto Bautista Agut out of proceedings in a second round three set triumph.  Dolgopolov prevented any further advancement but it was a great tournament for the teenager.

Bucharest was a disaster for top seed Tomic who had a chance to consolidate his position in the top twenty and prove his credentials to those doubting his claims of top ten possibilities by end of 2016.  He was cleaned up by Robin Haase in the second round in straight sets after a first round bye.
Second seed Ivo Karlovic also left in the second round, courtesy of the French pest Lucas Pouille, leaving Federico Delbonis as the highest ranked player left in the draw.

Istanbul gave Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari the opportunity to defeat top seed Anna Schmiedlova which she accomplished brilliantly in straight sets.  The 20 year old is ranked 127 in the world, having only turned professional last year.  Her win loss record this year is 18-10, including qualifiers, and she now takes on Montenegro's Danka Kovinic, fifth seed, in the third round.
Apart from Kovinic, Japan's Nao Hibino at six is the only remaining seed in the Istanbul draw.

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