Saturday, 4 February 2017

Women battle in Russia, Taiwan

Now that our systems are clear of the last remnants of the fun-for-all Australian Open, it is time to turn to more serious stuff - the WTA events in St Petersburg and Taipei City.

Disappointed at losing the final in Melbourne to her sister, Venus Williams entered Russia as fourth seed and into the second round with a bye.  Unseeded Kristina Mladenovic extended the American's disappointment by defeating her comprehensively in straight sets.

Six of the world's top twenty including Venus, were assembled among the 28 in the main draw, Simona Halep the top seed.
Seventh seed Kiki Bertens was the first seeded casualty, falling to German Annika Beck in a three set first round upset.
19 year old Russian wildcard Natalia Vikhlyantseva has proved to be the tournament sensation, firstly knocking over Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova and then fellow teenager and compatriot, 8th seed Daria Kasatkina, both in two sets.

Natalia was given a free pass through to the semi finals thanks to a walkover from Simona Halep and will be part of an all unseeded match against Mladenovic who followed her Venus success with another seed dismissal, wishing Roberta Vinci (6) farewell in their quarter final.

Kazakhstan may have lost Shvedova, but it still has representation in the form of Yulia Putintseva, who relieved third seed Sveta Kuznetsova of her playing duties in an absorbing quarter final.  Leading 6-3 and a break, Putintseva appeared assured of victory before Sveta struck back, and a tie break was required, won by the Russian.  Hardly anything split the two in the decider, with Putintseva grabbing the extra break and the set and match 7-5.

Second seed Dominika Cibulkova will be the semi final challenge for Yulia,  the world number five not dropping a set in her two wins over Donna Vekic and fifth seed Elena Vesnina.

The Taipei City tournament has world number 13 Elina Svitolina as its top seed and only top twenty player,  although there were five in the top forty present at the start.
Svitolina has made it through to a semi final, the only seed to reach that point.

Second seed Samantha Stosur was beaten in two sets by unseeded Shuai Peng in a quarter final.  Peng had previously accounted for fifth seed Katerina Siniakova in the second round.  Caroline Garcia (3) and Anastasija Sevastova (4) also lost second round matches - to Mandy Minella and Lucie Safarova respectively.  

Safarova proceeded to eliminate sixth seed Misaki Doi in a quarter final, and set up a semi final clash with Peng.
Minella also won her quarter final and will meet Svitolina in the other semi final.

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