WTA

Bouchard back with a win before storm halts Prague proceedings

By Sports Desk August 10, 2020

Eugenie Bouchard secured an upset in the only main-draw match that could be completed on day one of the Prague Open.

Former Wimbledon finalist Bouchard was playing for the first time since the WTA Tour was shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the weather prevented a number of her contemporaries from taking to the court.

The wildcard Canadian - now ranked 330th - was a 6-0 6-3 victor over eighth seed Veronika Kudermetova.

Reflecting on her return to action, Bouchard said: "It's hard to know what to expect. I haven't played a real match since January.

"I've played a couple of exhibitions, which helped a lot, but it's still different, it's not a real tournament. I didn't set any expectations.

"I'm so grateful to have a job and to have this opportunity. You appreciate things more when they're taken away from you."

"I didn't know what to expect in terms of my level. I played better than I expected. I just wanted to be there mentally, no matter what."

Kristyna Pliskova had already played at last week's Palermo Open but was frustrated in her efforts to get past 15-year-old WTA debutant Linda Fruhvirtova on Monday.

The match was twice stopped due to a thunderstorm, with the second heavy downpour leading to the suspension of play for the day.

That meant no action for third seed Elise Mertens and Jasmine Paolini, who each lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Italy.

Meanwhile, Dayana Yastremska and Daria Kasatkina withdrew from the tournament due to dental and hamstring issues respectively.

Simona Halep was belatedly set to make her WTA comeback on Tuesday.

She told WTA Insider: "Honestly, I don't really know how to manage now the comeback.

"The good thing is that everyone is in the same position. I was not injured and forced to stay away from tennis. Everyone is in the same position and now we will see who is going to manage the comeback better.

"I feel like I have the experience to deal with it and, if I take it relaxed and give my best every match, I'm pretty sure that soon I will touch the level again.

"But I'm also sure I will struggle a little bit because my style and my type of personality is to keep playing matches and always I needed matches to find the rhythm.

"Now it's different. So I cannot complain but I also cannot be happy. It's in the middle."

Related items

  • French Open 2020: Djokovic sounds title warning, Tsitsipas scrapes through opener French Open 2020: Djokovic sounds title warning, Tsitsipas scrapes through opener

    Novak Djokovic set his sights on French Open glory after thrashing Mikael Ymer in the first round on Tuesday.

    The Serbian, seeking to put his US Open disqualification firmly behind him, made an early statement of intent with a 6-0 6-2 6-3 victory on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

    It took Djokovic one hour, 38 minutes to get the job done, with Ricardas Berankis awaiting in the second round.

    And the world number one is determined to chase down a second crown at Roland Garros, having triumphed in 2016.

    "I'm ready physically, mentally, emotionally to go deep in the tournament," said Djokovic.

    "Hopefully I can have another successful year here in Paris. 2016 was a dream come true.

    "Obviously the only French Open title I have won in my career, and it was a very long anticipated title."

     

    TSITSIPAS AND RUBLEV, UNITED AGAIN BY FIVE-SETTERS

    Two days after they went head to head in the Hamburg European Open final, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas were back in action in Paris.

    And both at one stage looked in serious danger of first-round exits, with their efforts of the past week in Germany seemingly catching up on the seeded pair.

    Rublev, who got the better of Tsitsipas in Hamburg, trailed Sam Querrey by two sets on Tuesday. Tsitsipas also slumped two sets behind in his clash with Spain's Jaume Munar.

    But both staged spectacular fightbacks, with Russian 13th seed Rublev edging out American Querrey 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 6-3 and Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas prevailing 4-6 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-4.

    "Although I started well, I was kind of switched off again later during the first set," Tsitsipas said. "Whatever I was trying to do, most of my shots were landing out and nothing was going my way.

    "It was crazy what was happening out there, and I couldn't find any solutions. I feel like I was just turning down the hill, and I'm happy that I took my time.

    "I started thinking a little bit more. Started figuring out why I was rushing so much and why I was going for extreme things. After a bit of processing and thinking, I think that helped settle things down and have a fresh new start of the match."

    Rublev accepted his display against Querrey was dismal, saying: "I was feeling completely tight. I choke another level. From the first point of the match till the last match of the match I was completely frozen. I couldn't do one step, I could only hit, I was tight like I don't know."

     

    BERRETTINI FEELING OLD...AT 24!

    Matteo Berrettini breezed past Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-1 6-3 before railing against the relentless march of time.

    At just 24, the Italian is already feeling like a veteran after seeing the impressive exploits of compatriots Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti, who are both teenagers.

    "Now it's crazy. Until last year I was the young one," exclaimed Berrettini, who faces Lloyd Harris in round two.

    "Now these two are with big steps stepping in. I mean, my career is completely different compared to theirs. They started really young.

    "This is my third Roland Garros, and I'm 24. Probably them at 24, they would have played already maybe six Roland Garros. It's definitely different."

     

    GASQUET AND SIMON LEAD FRENCH CASUALTIES

    Canadian ninth seed Denis Shapovalov was tested by experienced Frenchman Gilles Simon but won through 6-2 7-5 5-7 6-3, while 18th-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov drubbed another Frenchman in Gregoire Barrere, landing a 6-3 6-2 6-2 win.

    Roberto Bautista Agut added to the French misery, sinking fellow veteran Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 6-1, and lesser-known players also exited their home grand slam as Ugo Humbert, Quentin Halys and Harold Mayot also bowed out.

  • French Open 2020: Mladenovic calls for video help at Roland Garros after glaring umpire error French Open 2020: Mladenovic calls for video help at Roland Garros after glaring umpire error

    Kristina Mladenovic called for video technology to be available to tennis umpires after being on the wrong end of a glaring error at the French Open that Martina Navratilova described as "awful".

    The French player was leading 5-1 and had a point for the first set against Laura Siegemund of Germany on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the tournament's main arena, when she hit a drop shot that looked set to be a winner.

    A scrambling Siegemund got to the ball, but it bounced for a second time just before she scooped it over the net. Mladenovic charged forward and swatted the ball away decisively but also collided with the net in doing so.

    That cost Mladenovic the point ultimately, as umpire Eva Asderaki had not spotted the double bounce and would not accept the protests of the home player who lost her focus and surrendered the match 7-5 6-3.

    While Siegemund controversially reached the second round, there were also wins on day three at Roland Garros for seeds including Sofia Kenin, as well as former champion Jelena Ostapenko.

    'SHE DIDN'T DO HER JOB'

    Mladenovic had every right to feel aggrieved by the double-bounce incident, although losing in straight sets from such a dominant position was far from clever.

    At the recent US Open, she led Russian Varvara Gracheva 6-1 5-1 in round two but also managed to lose, dropping the deciding set 6-0, and this was another grand slam let-down for the former world number 10.

    Asked about the idea of video technology being introduced in Paris, Mladenovic said: "This would avoid mistakes like the one I experienced today. The error is human and it's a shame to want to replace the human being with the camera, but I don't understand how the umpire could not have seen the ball and the reactions.

    "She didn't do her job. I told her to watch the replay afterwards, but that won't change anything. She [the umpire] continues at Roland Garros, not me."

    Mladenovic said she had no grievance with Siegemund, and said the onus was not on the German player to hold up her hand.

    "She would have been the best and most fair player on the tour if she would have done that," Mladenovic said in a news conference.

    "Unfortunately, she didn't. I didn't expect her to do it. But if she would have done it, she would have all my respect and be super-fair play. But she's not the one responsible. I think the chair umpire is the one that should be really focused on that call."

    Navratilova, who won two of her 18 grand slam singles titles at the French Open, took in the drama and wrote on Twitter: "That was awful- the ump who is usually great missed that one.

    "And in the old days we would have called it on ourselves but these days it’s different. For sure Siegemund knew she didn’t get it on the first bounce et voila- it totally turned the match as Mladenovic knew it… shame."

    OSTAPENKO NEXT FOR 'TERRIBLE' PLISKOVA

    Second seed Pliskova served eight double faults and had 46 unforced errors in her 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4 win over Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif.

    She was not hiding afterwards from the fact it was a poor display, given her lofty stature in the game, but Pliskova was just glad to survive an off day.

    "No matter how terrible was my level, I still somehow believed," she said.

    Pliskova, who is contending with a thigh problem, faces the unseeded former champion Jelena Ostapenko next, in what is an appetising second-round clash.

    Ostapenko's 2017 Roland Garros triumph came ostensibly out of the blue, given her hard-hitting but erratic game. On the weeks and fortnights when she finds her range, she can be formidable.

    First-round defeats in 2018 and 2019 followed the title-winning year for Ostapenko at the French Open, but a 6-2 6-1 win over American Madison Brengle was an eye-catching result on Tuesday.

    "With Jelena, we had some good matches, some strange matches," Pliskova said. "I think she's a lot up and down but for sure she can just play well."

     

    KENIN BANISHES ROME 'DISASTER'

    Sofia Kenin admitted her 'double bagel' defeat to Victoria Azarenka in Rome had been hard to swallow, so the Australian Open winner was relieved to get back to winning ways.

    Kenin lost 6-0 6-0 to Azarenka less than a fortnight ago but the fourth seed at Roland Garros showed battling spirit to beat Ludmilla Samsonova 6-4 3-6 6-3 in an hour and 58 minutes of a rain-interrupted clash on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

    "After Rome, that's a match that I never want to watch," Kenin said. "Of course, Vika played really well.

    "After that, we came to Paris and I had a week or so to practise, get used to the clay. I just tried to not think about that match. It was kind of a disaster."

    TEENAGER TAUSON OUTLASTS BRADY

    The year may be one that many would rather forget, but Jennifer Brady has had the season of her life. Her hopes of French Open success were dashed immediately, however, when the American became a first-round casualty.

    Landing her first WTA Tour title in Lexington in August was followed by Brady reaching the US Open semi-finals, but the 21st seed fell to 17-year-old Danish qualifier Clara Tauson in Paris, suffering a 6-4 3-6 9-7 defeat.

    Tauson later wrote on Instagram: "Young girl big dreams... toughest match of my life. See you in round [two]."

  • French Open 2020: Djokovic starts with emphatic victory French Open 2020: Djokovic starts with emphatic victory

    Novak Djokovic began his bid for French Open glory with an emphatic first-round victory over Mikael Ymer.

    The Serbian triumphed 6-0 6-2 6-3 on Court Philippe-Chatrier in just 98 minutes.

    After winning a match that saw him convert nine of 11 break points, Djokovic will meet Ricardas Berankis or Hugo Dellien in the second round.

    As he looks to put his US Open disqualification for inadvertently hitting the ball at a line judge behind him, Djokovic is seen as the main challenger to 12-time champion Rafael Nadal, who had started his tournament with a straight-sets win a day earlier.

    The first-ever meeting between Djokovic and Ymer in Paris on Tuesday was one-sided throughout and a story of total dominance in the opening set.

    World number one Djokovic, who won his first Rome title for five years as preparation for the last grand slam of the year, dropped just seven points and had the lead after only 22 minutes.

    It looked like more of the same in the second set when Ymer was broken in the third game and, despite the Swede striking straight back, it ultimately proved that way as the relentless 2016 champion did not allow him to get a foothold in the contest.

    Ymer showed some fight again in the third, breaking Djokovic having earlier fallen behind to bring it back to 3-3.

    But Djokovic, who only allowed two break points in the match and lost both, reeled off three consecutive games and sealed a straightforward victory on his first match point with a forehand winner.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.