Every year it feels like this is where the clay court season on the WTA tour kicks off in Stuttgart.
We see the best in women’s tennis look to kick off their clay season in style, former champions and those who have their eye on silverware later down the line in Paris but what did we take away this week?
Pliskova still searching for her best following slip up…
It isn’t happening for Karolina Pliskova in the big moments right now.
I think there is a lack of confidence in her game, she has searched for answers over the last few years with multiple coaches. Her win/loss ratio this year is 9/7, consistency is missing and is without a top ten win since January 2020.
It isn’t always about ranking, it is about who you are playing and the inform players: Jabeur, Kudermetova, Rybakina, Muchova and for three consecutive weeks Jessica Pegula.
What will hurt is the missed opportunity, Pliskova had the chance to defeat a world number one for the first time since she defeated Wozniacki in 2017 in Cincinnati, the Czech was 5-3 up in the third set against Ash Barty but the Aussie turned it around to win.
Winless in Stuttgart, 2 wins in 8, what next for Kenin?
2020 was a short year on the tour due to the covid-19 pandemic but it saw great results for Kenin who won in Melbourne and ended her season runner-up at Roland Garros.
Lately it has been a struggle for the American who did acknowledge this following her opening round defeat in her title defence and even without the whirl wind success Kenin has had on the tour since the beginning of last year it has been a struggle for everyone!
It is just a matter of time until we see Kenin find some form again, I think Madrid and Rome will be a nice free hit for the American who got double bageled in Rome last year by Azarenka and then went onto make the final of Roland Garros.
Why Elina Svitolina should look back on a good week in Stuttgart!
I think there will be an air of disappointment in Camp Svitolina following defeat to Ash Barty but I liked what I saw from Elina this week.
We saw the 26 year old stroll past for champion, Angie Kerber in straight sets and battled past defending champion Petra Kvitova saving two match points to recover in three sets.
This year I like what she has brought to the court, a lot of talk has been about her off court life and recent engagement to Gael Monfils but her game feels like it is more engaged than it has been for a couple of years.
I’d hope she does look back on her week and just take positives, she served for the match against Ash Barty up a set and 5-4 but it didn’t work out and that is a shame for her and she has never beaten a world number one. The big test over the next few weeks and months will be in these big matches.
We have seen Elina with two matches against top ten opponents this year, both vs Kvitova and from a set down in Miami and Stuttgart, we’ve seen a lot of fight and grit and it would be nice to see Elina back in the winners circle at the big events.
Will defeat bother Simona Halep too much?
There is no getting away from the fact Simona Halep would have liked to have won the trophy this week in Stuttgart, we could say that for all the 28 players but I don’t think she will be too bothered by it.
It is the title missing in her ‘clay court collection’ having won Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros but she has bigger targets in mind.
Halep was in good form in the early rounds but ran into a unstoppable Aryna Sabalenka, if you look at a scoreline of 3-6 2-6 you think you’ve they’ve been bulldozed but she didn’t play bad, Sabalenka was just that good!
It was the first time we’ve seen Halep in a month following her withdrawal from Miami with a shoulder problem.
I think Simona will look back with Darren and Arte and think, I’ve had a good week. The big tests will follow and it’s all in preparation for Roland Garros where she won in 2018.
The Barty Birthday Party celebrations!
A wonderful week for Ash Barty in Stuttgart, the Aussie won her third title of the week and came back from the brink twice and from a set down in the final to add to an ever impressive trophy collection.
Barty did turn 25 this week as well and is into the full swing of the clay court season following a stuttering start in Charleston but has picked up her first title on clay since winning Roland Garros and is looking in good form right now and also later that day won the doubles title with Jennifer Brady.
Hopefully this phenomenal week continues to quash this nonsense the world number one isn’t deserving of her ranking.
Sabalenka’s great week ends in defeat!
Aryna Sabalenka had a very good week in Stuttgart but it did end in defeat. I did like the way she played, she was super strong behind her groundstrokes and it really helped her in her progress to the final in Stuttgart.
The Belarusian put on a show in the semi-finals as she took apart Simona Halep 6-3 6-2, it was a stunning performance and the Belarusian took apart the defence of Halep with her backhand.
Aryna has had a lot of doubles success and has won a few WTA 1000 titles but a problem is consistency, we witnessed brilliance but 24 hours later and she did show signs of a right thigh issue but the errors were costly against Barty in the final.