Doha 2017. Day-3. The Round of 16 Begins

Understatement: The rain has had a significant impact on the schedule here in Doha. Yesterday, we were only able to complete one solitary match. One.

Progress: On Wednesday, thanks to an 11:00a start, we were able to knock out the ten remaining 1st-Round singles matches and complete three of the eight Round-of-16 matches. 24 matches were scheduled Wednesday (7 on center court). 16 were completed. 5 Round-of-16 singles matches and 3 First-Round doubles matches were suspended due to rain.

That said, in a true show of endurance, Monica Puig and Shuai Zhang both earned two wins on Wednesday to advance to the Quarterfinals…

Monica Puig: Earned two wins on Wednesday to advance to the Doha Quarterfinals

Monica Puig

Shuai Zhang: Earned two wins on Wednesday to advance to the Doha Quarterfinals

Shuai Zhang

Monica Puig

  • R1: M. Puig (PUR) d L. Siegemund (GER) 60 61
  • R2: M. Puig (PUR) d Y. Putintseva (KAZ) 62 46 21 Retired

Shaui Zhang

  • R1: S. Zhang (CHN) d T. Babos (HUN) 76(3) 63
  • R2: S. Zhang (CHN) d [5] G. Muguruza (ESP) 76(3) 36 75

 

They weren’t the only ones who pulled double duty…

Caroline Wozniacki, Barbora Strycova, Lauren Davis and Elena Vesnina each had their second match of the day interrupted by rain:

Caroline Wozniacki

  • R1: C. Wozniacki (DEN) d K. Bertens (NED) 62 63
  • R2: C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs [4] A. Radwanska (POL) 00

Barbora Strycova

  • R1: [8] B. Strycova (CZE) d [WC] F. Al Nabhani (OMA) 63 60
  • R2: [8] B. Strycova (CZE) vs S. Stosur (AUS) 01

Lauren Davis

  • R1: [Q] L. Davis (USA) d R. Vinci (ITA) 62 63
  • R2: [Q] L. Davis (USA) vs [6] E. Vesnina (RUS) 75 00

Elena Vesnina

  • R1: [6] E. Vesnina (RUS) d [Q] C. Mchale (USA) 57 63 76(7)
  • R2: [6] E. Vesnina (RUS) vs L. Davis (USA) 57 00

 

The week’s first retirements…

Timea Bacsinszky, one of last weekend’s Fed Cup heroes with Switzerland’s win over France, injured her thigh and was forced to retire after set-1 in her 1st-Round match with St. Petersburg Finalist Yulia Putintseva. Yulia would later retire in the third set of her Round-of-16 match with Monica Puig. Timea withdrew from the doubles competition, opening the door for Madison Brengle and Naomi Broady. The two took the court after Madison’s 1st-Round loss to Caroline Garcia and lost in two quick sets to Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
 

Four matches completed on Center Court

[5] G. Muguruza (ESP) d [WC] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) 63 62. Aside from one break of serve from Cagla Buyukakcay in the second set, Wednesday’s first match on center court was one-way traffic for Garbine Muguruza. The World #7 earned the win with her fifth service break of the match.

Garbine Muguruza: She reached the Round of 16, then fell to Shaui Zhang later Wednesday afternoon

Garbine Muguruza

Cagla had an amazing run in Doha last year. In a Premier-5 year, she defeated defending champion Lucie Safarova to reach the Round-of-16. She spent the rest of 2016 rewriting history: In May, she became the first Turkish woman to win a Grand Slam match, reaching the second round at Roland Garros. In August, she became the first woman from Turkey ever to compete in tennis at the Olympic Games. She went on to win her second Grand Slam match at the US Open and climbed to a career-high ranking of #60 in the world. Now, she’s free from the rain and off to Dubai.

Garbine headed over to Court-1 for her 2:00 match with Shaui Zhang, who dispatched Timea Babos in her first 1st-Round match on Court-2. In their rain-threatened Round-of-16 clash, Muguruza lost the first set in a tie-break, leveled it with a break in the second, then fell 5-7 in the decider.
 
[8] B. Strycova (CZE) d [WC] F. Al Nabhani (OMA) 63 60. Barbora Strycova is looking fit and focused. Over the weekend, she clinched the Czech Republic’s World Group First Round Tie with a straight-sets victory over Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena. She’s the World #17, seeded in the draw, and determined to maintain her rhythm. This year, she reached the Quarters in Auckland, the Semis in Sydney, and the Round-of-16 in Melbourne before last weekend’s Tie-clinching win. She’s now a five-time Fed Cup Champion and an Olympic Bronze medalist, after capturing doubles bronze with Lucie Safarova in Rio. Rhythm.

Strycova fell behind early against the World #419, but broke right back before the first sit-down. Fatma would break one more time in the first, before Barbora breezed through seven consecutive games to win the match.

A few hours later, Strycova found herself down 0-1 in the first set to Sam Stosur, before rain suspended their Round-of-16 match for the day.
 
C. Wozniacki (DEN) d K. Bertens (NED) 62 63. Center Court’s third match saw the continuation of the Caroline Wozniacki vs. Kiki Bertens match, suspeneded by rain Tuesday night at 2-all in the first set. While Bertens had spent the previous weekend battling through a tough World Group First Round loss to Belarus in Minsk, Caroline was training in Doha with the newest addition to her team: Sascha Bajin (former hitting partner of Serena Williams).

With all of the rain, I’ve run into Sascha often at this year’s Qatar Total Open. His mission: to get Caroline to loosen up; to maintain her lofty expectations, but reinsert FUN into the equation, allowing herself to play more freely…more instinctively. A World #1 for 67-weeks, the talent is undeniably there. Mental roadblocks and unnecessary internal pressure has kept her from delivering on her own expectations over the past few seasons. Serena Williams has prohibited her from winning Slams. Sascha hopes to help her with the former. The latter is beyond her control…and she needs to understand that. The two will work together through Charleston, then reassess the partnership. And yes – no worries – she did speak with Serena before considering the move.

In Wednesday’s match, they started at 2-all with Caroline serving, up 30-15. She won four straight games to take the opening set. While Bertens broke to start the second, she’d only win two more service games the rest of the way. In no time, Caroline was into the Round-of-16, set to face 5-time Doha Semifinalist Agnieszka Radwanska later Wednesday night.
 
[3] D. Cibulkova (SVK) d A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 75 26 62. Finally, the Round of 16 begins on center court.

World #5 Dominika Cibulkova comes into this year’s Qatar Total Open playing the best tennis of her career. Last year, she earned 4 of her 8 career WTA singles titles, appearing in 7 Finals. In late October, she defeated Simona Halep, Svetlana Kuznetsova and World #1 Angelique Kerber to win the WTA Finals Singapore.

As the #3 seed, Dominika enjoyed a 1st-Round bye. Anastasia Pavyluchcenkova endured several rain delays the day prior to eventually defeat Jelena Jankovic in the only match completed on Tuesday. Nastia immediately jumped out to a two-break lead by the third sit-down. Down 2-5, Dominika dug-in and won the next five games to take the opening set; a remarkable determined run.

The second set was all Pavyluchenkova. She broke to open, then broke again to go up 5-2. Deja vu? Hardly. Anastasia leveled the match with a love-hold. In the third, Dominika jumped out to a 4-1 lead before play was interrupted by rain. The two remained on the court for the light sprinkle, and within 12-minutes they were back at it. Three games later, Cibulkova earned the win with her second break of the decider.

Dominika will take on the winner of the Sam Stosur vs. Barbora Strycova match tomorrow in the Quarterfinals.
 
C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs [4] A. Radwanska (POL) 00. While we managed to get this match on court, the rain became more persistent during the warm-up. Before the five minute clock ran-out, Caroline and Agnieszka conferred at the net, speaking in Polish. They decided to avoid starting the match, knowing that if they started, tournament organizers would keep them on-site through all hours of the night to complete the match. 90-minutes after they ducked back into the locker room, the rain continued to increase in intensity and play was suspended for the day.

Their match will be the second on center court tomorrow after top-seed Angelique Kerber’s 11:00a match with Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, who won her 1st-Round match over Romania’s Irina Begu 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 earlier today on Court-2.