Monday, 6 February 2017

Mladenovic wins in Russia - 1st title

Kristina Mladenovic has given France a WTA title by taking out the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy.  It was Kristina's first title on the tour and came through victory over Yulia Putintseva in the final.  
Both players were unseeded, Mladenovic having ended the dream run of Natalia Vikhlyantseva in one semi final, and Putintseva surprising second seed Dominika Cibulkova.
Mladenovic received a rankings boost of twenty spots to 31, while Putintseva moved up seven places to a career high 27.
Vikhlyantseva jumped into the top 100 on the back of her semi final appearance, up twenty-six places to 89.

In Taipei City, top seed Elina Svitolina won the Taiwan Open, defeating Shuai Peng in the final.  Svitolina had beaten Mandy Minella in her semi final and Peng had accounted for Lucie Safarova to make the final.
Peng and Safarova improve their rankings but still remain well off their career bests of 14 and 5 respectively.  Minella has improved fifteen spots to 78, just twelve off her best ever.  Svitolina remains at her career high of 13, but is playing the sort of tennis to threaten the top ten very soon.

Davis Cup duties meant that the ATP Tour was put on hold for the past week.  Some of the world's best players stepped up to play for their countries - most disappointed with their absence.

The Zverev brothers couldn't help Germany across the line, as Belgium won that tie 4-1.  Steve Darcis was the hero, winning both his singles, including that against Alexander Zverev.  So David Goffin not playing did not hurt the Belgians.

Australia defeated a weakened Czech Republic team, with no Tomas Berdych.  Nick Kyrgios won his opening singles but Jordan Thompson was the highlight in his debut Davis Cup appearance,  winning both his matches.  John Peers, fresh from winning the Aus Open Men's Doubles, paired with Sam Groth to put the home team in an unbeatable 3-0 position.  

It will be Australia v USA in a quarter final following the 5-0 rout of Switzerland by the Stars and Stripes.  No Federer and Wawrinka made things difficult for the Swiss, and Sock and Isner led a strong team which took full advantage.

France easily knocked out Japan and the highest ranked players were not in attendance.  Gasquet and Simon led the French charge while Monfils and Tsonga missed, as did Nishikori for Japan.
Next for France will be Great Britain which defeated Canada 3-2, but Murray and Raonic were nowhere to be seen.

Serbia had no problem with Russia, winning 4-0, Novak Djokovic playing his part.  Nice to see a top five player dedicating time to his nation and not just to himself.
Spain is the second round opponent for Serbia, and it would be great to have both Novak and Rafa available for that tie.
Spain defeated 2016 finalists Croatia 3-2, led by Roberto Bautista Agut, and strong despite no Nadal and Ferrer.  Shame that Croatia was short of its best lineup.

Defending champion Argentina is fighting for survival, 2-2 with Italy, with the deciding finals singles between Guido Pella and Andreas Seppi to be played a day late due to bad weather.

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