Doha 2017: Qualifying. Three Americans Remain

Team USA. Cici Bellis. Her first tournament of 2017 at the Qatar Total Open.

Team USA. Madison Brengle. Strong comeback win over Kristyna Pliskova. (Photo: Sheri Kenly)

Team USA. Still getting it done in Doha

After Day-2 of qualifying here in Doha, there’s good news for fans of American tennis: Team USA still has a chance to land three players in the Qatar Total Open main draw. While Cici Bellis fell to Saisai Zheng (a hard-fought three set clash in difficult, swirling conditions)…Christina McHale, Lauren Davis and Madison Brengle each overcame the wind and continued their qualifying runs.

[1] C. Mchale (USA) d K. Bondarenko (UKR) 75 61

[3] L. Davis (USA) d Q. Wang (CHN) 63 63

M. Brengle (USA) d [4] Kr. Pliskova (CZE) 46 61 63

S. Zheng (CHN) d C. Bellis (USA) 62 57 62

Team USA. Christina McHale. Into the final round of qualifying in Doha. (Photo: Sheri Kenly)

Team USA. Lauren Davis. Into the final round of qualifying in Doha.

Team USA. Madison Brengle. Into the final round of qualifying in Doha. (Photo: Sheri Kenly)

Three-time Doha Semifinalist, Jelena Jankovic – who has slipped to World #50 – won her second round qualifying match, defeating Risa Ozaki of Japan 6-4, 6-3. She’ll face Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in Monday’s second match on center court.

With two remaining matches in progress Sunday night, rain began to fall around 7:30p. Tournament Supervisor Tony Cho chose to cancel those matches rather than wait to dry the courts and continue play. So Monday’s first matches will start at 2:30p on Court-2 and Court-3 featuring the continuation of those suspended matches…

Court-2: J.Larsson (SWE) leads E.Alexandrova (RUS) 62 36 41

Court-3: C.Giorgi (ITA) leads A. Beck (GER) 62 46 50

Fed Cup. Results from players coming to Qatar.

One of the challenges of the Qatar Total Open is the fact that it falls on the heels of 1st-Round Fed Cup play. Many of the players in this year’s field are scrambling for their Doha flights after playing for their country over the weekend.

Karolina Pliskova. As a top-3 player, Karolina is the #2-seed this year. She won’t have to take the court until Wednesday at the earliest, thanks to a first round bye. She was playing at home in the Czech Republic versus Spain over the weekend. On Saturday, she leveled the Tie with a 2-set win over Lara Arruabarrena. On Sunday, she took-out Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-2; then Barbora Strycova lifted the Czech Republic back into the World Group Semifinals with a straight-sets win over Arruabarrena.

Barbora Strycova. Obviously, Barbora’s in the same boat with Pliskova. She fell in a three-set clash with Garbine Muguruza in the Tie’s first rubber, but clinched the Tie for the Czech Republic on Sunday. Unlike her Fed Cup teammate, Barbora will have to get right to work when she arrives in Doha. She’s scheduled to face Oman’s Fatma Al Nabhani in the first round.

Garbine Muguruza. Looks like Garbine will be on the same flight with Karolina and Barbora; not an easy trip after winning just four games on Sunday against the World #3. Only the top-4 seeds receive a bye this year in Doha, and damn the luck – Garbine’s the 5th-seed. She will face Cagla Buyukakcay in the first round, who upset 2015 Doha Champion Lucie Safarova last year.

Irina-Camelia Begu. Irina-Camelia was at home in Romania over the weekend, as Romania faced Belgium in World Group II 1st Round play. Down 0-2, Begu was up first Sunday, tasked with keeping the Tie alive. While she won the first set 6-3, Elise Mertens won the next two 7-5, 7-5 and clinched the win for Belgium. Irina-Camelia should arrive late tonight for her first round match with Daria Kasatkina.

Laura Siegemund. Over the weekend, Laura has been in Hawaii for Germany’s World Group 1st-Round Tie with Team USA. While Alison Riske defeated Andrea Petkovic in the weekend’s first rubber, Coco Vandeweghe was up a set and a break on Julia Georges when rain interrupted play for the day. Before play on Sunday, Julia retired before the continuation of the match, handing Team USA a 2-0 lead. So Vandeweghe took the court with Andrea Petkovic in Sunday’s first reverse singles rubber, delivering a come-from-behind win 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, clinching the win for the Americans. Team USA will face the Czech Republic this April in the World Group Semifinals. The 4th rubber was ignored and Laura Siegemund took to the court at 2:00am Doha time (1:00pm Maui time) to play the final doubles rubber with partner Carina Witthoeft. Considering the extreme time difference and 18-hours of travel, I have absolutely no idea how Laura Siegemund is going to make it to Doha in time for her first round match with Monica Puig. Tournament Supervisor Tony Cho has his work cut out for him. Stay tuned…

Yulia Putintseva. Team Kazakhstan won their Group I Tie over Japan Saturday. Yulia Putintseva delivered a clutch win in the second rubber over Misaki Doi, then headed straight for the airport. She arrived in Doha early Sunday morning and is getting ready for her first round match with Timea Bacsinszky.

Timea Bacsinszky. Looks like Timea drew the short straw. The Switzerland vs. France Quarterfinal ran late Sunday night, so she won’t arrive in Doha until Monday afternoon. Truth be told, Timea did her job over the weekend, winning both of her singles rubbers against France. On Saturday, she took-out Alize Cornet in straight sets, while teammate Belinda Bencic fell to Kristina Mladenovic. On Sunday, Timea defeated Kristina in the first reverse singles rubber 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-5. Belinda then clinched the Tie for Team Switzerland, cruising past Pauline Parmentier in two. Timea then teamed with Martina Hingis in the dead doubles rubber giving Switzerland a 4-1 edge over France. Late Sunday night, Timea and Martina Hingis – who will be playing in the Doha doubles draw – boarded their flight for Qatar.

Kiki Bertens. Kiki was in Belarus for The Netherlands’ World Group 1st-Round Tie. She won a tough 3-set battle with Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday, but fell to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in reverse singles. Sabalenka then clinched the Tie for Belarus against Michaella Krajicek; and now Belarus – without Victoria Azarenka – has advanced to the World Group Semifinals for the first time. Meanwhile Kiki Bertens is hustling to Doha for her first round match with Caroline Wozniacki.

Timea Babos. Timea was in Estonia over the weekend for Hugary’s Group I round robin play. Hungary defeated Latvia 2-0 in Saturday’s 5th to 8th Play-off. Timea arrived in Doha early Sunday and has already hit the practice courts in preparation for China’s Shuai Zhang. They’ll play Monday night’s final match on center court.