Doha 2017: Day-1. Three Americans Qualify

Before Monday, there were four empty fields in the Doha draw. After a weekend of determined and focused tennis, three of those empty fields are now occupied by Americans. Christina McHale, Lauren Davis and Madison Brengle each earned their way to the main event with consecutive wins on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Qualifying Wild Card and 3-time Doha Semifinalist Jelena Jankovic earned the fourth…and she had to go to war for it.

The weather has been an inescapable issue over the past two days. Johanna Larsson, Christina McHale’s opponent in the final round of qualifying, had to complete her rain-interrupted match with Ekaterina Alexandrova on Monday before taking the court with Christina. Camila Giorgi was in the same boat. Her match with Annika Beck was interrupted by rain as well on Sunday night. She had to complete that win on Monday before squaring-off with Lauren Davis. Giorgi eventually retired up a set, but down 2-5 in the second.

Christina McHale

SAT: d. Ons Jabeur 64 76(3)
SUN: d. Kat. Bondarenko 75 61
MON: d. Johanna Larsson 76(4) 64

NEXT: [6] Elena Vesnina (RUS)

Lauren Davis

SAT: d. Julia Boserup 62 62
SUN: d. Qiang Wang 63 63
MON: d. Camila Giorgi 57 52 Ret

NEXT: Roberta Vinci (ITA)

Madison Brengle

SAT: d. Danke Kovinic 61 61
SUN: d. Kristyna Pliskova 46 61 63
MON: d. SaiSai Zheng 62 61

NEXT: Caroline Garcia (FRA)

Jelena Jankovic

SAT: d. Nao Hibino 75 46 63
SUN: d. Risa Ozaki 64 63
MON: d. T.Pironkova 61 67(6) 64

NEXT: A.Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)

Anthem incident aside, it’s been a great weekend for USA Tennis…

After Madison’s win over Saisai Zheng, she talked about how excited she was for American tennis as a whole, with six Americans featured in Doha qualifying, while four other members of Team USA were in Hawaii for the Fed Cup Quarterfinals. Meanwhile, in a pretty cute moment, Lauren Davis took to the Bein Sports set and was asked about dating a Kiwi cameraman while playing in Auckland this year. For the record, she confirmed the story. His name is Tim and they’re still in touch. In Lauren’s words: “Hopefully he’ll get a chance to visit the States this year.”

Madison Brengle. She'll face Carolina Garcia on Court-1 Tuesday

Madison Brengle

Lauren Davis. She'll face Roberta Vinci on Court-1 Tuesday

Lauren Davis

Christina McHale. She'll face Elena Vesnina on Court-2 Tuesday. (Photo: Sheri Kenly)

Christina McHale

 

Day-1 of Doha 2017: Only one Round-1 singles match completed

Only one 1st-Round singles match was completed on Monday, and it was interrupted by rain twice. 2012 Doha Finalist Sam Stosur defeated Anastasija Sevastova 75 64. Doubles teams Anna-Lena Groenefeld / Kveta Peschke and Andrea Hlavackova / Shuai Peng advanced to the Quarterfinals. Christina McHale was on the losing end of the Hlavackova / Peng victory; so even Christina pulled double-duty on Monday.

On Center Court, we started the day with Jankovic and Brengle’s qualifying wins, before Stosur battled both Sevastova and the rain to reach the Round of 16. The effect of Fed Cup travel actually had more of a bearing on Day-1’s light main-draw menu than the weather. Although rain did move one match to Tuesday (see below).

 

Jelena Jankovic. Wild Card Qualifier. Into the Main Draw

Tsvetana Pironkova and Jelena Jankovic. Final round of qualifying. Doha 2017

Jelena Jankovic. Into the Main Draw

The match of the day was Jelena Jankovic’s victory over Tsvetana Pironkova. In seven meetings, Jelena’s never lost to the Bulgarian, and this is the first time she’s had to battle through qualifying since 2004. I asked if that made her feel young again, which earned a sarcastic “YEAH!” She then made sure to reiterate that she was a QUALIFYING WILD CARD. “I had to get a wild card just to qualify!”

It was a match loaded with breaks, extended rallies, even a 13-minute game. Both had flashes of brilliance, but unforced errors dictated the ebbs and flows of momentum. Jelena broke three times to take the first set, missed a couple match-points in the second-set tie-break, and finally earned the win with a break at the tail end of the third. 11 breaks of serve during the match. ELEVEN. Seven for Jelena. Four for Tsvetana. It was that kind of night…and almost made me late for the Player’s Gala Dinner.

 

Rain cancels Day-1’s final First Round match

Rain. An inescapable challenge for the Qatar Total Open 2017. (Photo: Marius Borning)

Rain. She'll be here all week

After Sam Stosur endured two rain delays before finishing-off Anastasija Sevastova, Tournament Supervisor Tony Cho cancelled the night’s final first round match with Timea Babos and Shuai Zhang. They will play the third match on Court-2 on Tuesday.

More rain is in the forecast throughout the rest of the week. This one is going to be a challenge to complete. The qualifiers and those who’ve been training here in Doha through the weekend will have the edge over late arriving Fed Cuppers who will have no time to adjust to the windy and constantly changing conditions. This could be good news for the likes of Angelique Kerber, Dominka Cibulkova and Caroline Wozniacki.

Late arriving Fed Cuppers in action on Tuesday include Kiki Bertens, Garbine Muguruza, Barbora Strycova, Timea Bacsinszky, Irina-Camelia Begu, and Laura Siegemund – who will have the heaviest jet-lag of all, arriving from Hawaii. The German will take-on Monica Puig in Tuesday’s final match on Center Court.