Doha: Day-3. Say “So Long” to the Seeds.

Really ladies? Really? If you’re looking for “consistency,” look no further than the WTA Tour…you’ll consistently find new champions and new finalists week after week.

In the words of Garabine Muguruza:

There have been 10 tournaments on the WTA tour so far this year. The finals have featured 19 different players with 10 unique champions:

TOURNAMENT
BRISBANE.........................
SHENZHEN.......................
AUCKLAND.......................
SYDNEY........................
HOBART............................
AUSTRALIAN OPEN...........
ST. PETERSBURG...........
TAIWAN............................
DUBAI................................
RIO.....................................

WINNER
Victoria Azarenka
Agnieszka Radwanska
Sloane Stephens
Svetlana Kuznetsova
Alize Cornet
Angelique Kerber
Roberta Vinci
Venus Williams
Sara Errani
Francesca Schiavone

FINALIST
Angelique Kerber
Alison Riske
Julia Goerges
Monica Puig
Genie Bouchard
Serena Williams
Bleinda Bencic
Misaki Doi
Barbora Strycova
Shelby Rogers

Garbine was one of the top-8 seeds drop-kicked early from Dubai’s field of 32 last week (fell to Elina Svitolina 7-6, 6-3). Thankfully Doha is a Premier 5 event, doubling the scope of the draw. This gave her World #60 Nao Hibino – after a first round bye – rather than a player ranked inside the top-25. In day-3’s nightcap on center court, Garbine delivered an easy win and punched her ticket to the Round of 16: (6-2, 6-0).

Other top-seeds didn’t follow that Premier 5 “larger field” logic, including Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber. In Kerber’s return after capturing her first Grand Slam title, the World #2 fell to Saisai Zheng, #73 in the world (7-5, 6-1). During our conversation after the match, Zheng acknowledged that Kerber hadn’t had any match play since the win in Melbourne, which certainly didn’t hurt Zheng’s chances. But the truth is, Zheng was a lightening rod. She broke at 5-all in the first with a Federer-esque, sabre-style attack and fearless play at the net. After winning the first, she continued to keep Kerber off-balance, landing balls deep and rushing the net to shorten the rally. Angelique was powerless, and after holding in game-one, she lost six games in a row. Ouch.



2014 Doha Champion Simona Halep struggled with qualifier Elena Vesnina in the first, but dominated the tiebreak, earning the set 7-6(1). Up 4-1 in the second, comfortably on her way to the Round of 16, the wheels came off. Elena would win the next five games, earning the set on a Halep double fault 6-4. In the decider, Simona was done. She held one service game and that was it. Elena Vesnina had her first top-5 win since 2013.



Other fallen seeds:

  • Saturday’s Dubai winner, Sara Errani. (#48 Timea Babos)
  • World #6 Belinda Bencic. (#43 Coco Vandeweghe)
  • World #12 and defending Doha Champion Lucie Safarova. (#162 Cagla Buyukakcay) – Reality check – this was Lucie’s first match of 2016 after dealing with last year’s nasty bacterial infection and late season injury
  • World #21 Svetland Kuznetsova. (#88 Jelena Ostapenko)
  • World #20 Jelena Jankovic. (#37 Monica Niculescu) – Monica gives Jelena fits with her style of play. Jankovic told me Monday that Monica is a like a female Fabrice Santoro – The Magician

Two top seeds who fared well on center court Tuesday: Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska. Katerina Bondarenko gave Radwanska a work-out in the heat of the afternoon, but the 4-time Doha Semifinalist managed the win 6-4, 6-4. Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova eliminated Fed Cup teammate and Saturday’s Dubai Finalist Barbora Strycova 7-6(2), 6-4. The two then teamed-up on the doubles court to advance to the doubles Round of 16…because hey, it beats practice!



RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2016. Day Three. 2nd-Round Singles.

  • S. Zheng (CHN) d [1] A. Kerber (GER) 75 61
  • [Q] E. Vesnina (RUS) d [2] S. Halep (ROU) 67(1) 64 61
  • [3] A. Radwanska (POL) d [Q] K. Bondarenko (UKR) 64 64
  • [4] G. Muguruza (ESP) d N. Hibino (JPN) 62 60
  • [5] P. Kvitova (CZE) d B. Strycova (CZE) 76(2) 64
  • C. Vandeweghe (USA) d [6] B. Bencic (SUI) 64 62
  • [WC] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) d [7] L. Safarova (CZE) 76(6) 75
  • [8] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d [Q] D. Vekic (CRO) 76(5) 64
  • [9] R. Vinci (ITA) d D. Kasatkina (RUS) 26 64 76(3)
  • [11] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) d Y. Putintseva (KAZ) 62 76(0)
  • J. Ostapenko (LAT) d [12] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) 76(5) 60
  • [13] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d D. Gavrilova (AUS) 63 63
  • M. Niculescu (ROU) d [14] J. Jankovic (SRB) 36 64 75
  • Timea Babos (HUN) d [16] S. Errani (ITA) 64 61
  • A. Petkovic (GER) d M. Gasparyan (RUS) 63 63

RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2016. Day Three. 1st-Round Doubles.

  • S. Errani / C. Suárez Navarro d [5] A. Hlavackova / L. Hradecka 36 64 10-6
  • [WC] P. Kvitova / B. Strycova d [WC] O. Jabeur / O. Mourad 60 61
  • [PR] G. Dabrowski / M. Martínez Sánchez d D. Jurak / N. Melichar 26 61 10-3
  • K. Bondarenko / O. Savchuk d N. Broady / A. Rosolska 64 62

RESULTS. Qatar Total Open 2016. Day Three. 2nd-Round Doubles.