Ostapenko 6-3 6-1 Pliskova – Karolina must ditch the casual approach going forward!

There is no such thing as a dead rubber in Singapore anymore. After their respective second round robin matches in the group Karolina Pliskova had qualified for the semi-finals where as Jelena Ostapenko was going home but you wouldn’t have thought that when these two met earlier today.

From the beginning Ostapenko looked more up for it and maybe you could see this match as a free hit for Jelena as her fate had been sealed but for Pliskova to become a top champion performances like that need to be ditched as you could look on and say I’ve won the group already but looking at that performance you won’t be putting opponents off.

After the first set Karolina called on her coach and to be honest the decision making got worse in set two, it was rushed and had panic written all over it! A point in the third game of the second set summed up the performance which I will take a look at below. Pliskova began with a good backhand cross court on the service return of Jelena forcing the Latvian to play that high backhand slice and Karolina approached it poorly.

KP smash...

 

This is just before Karolina is to hit it, there is no power on it, no conviction just made contact with the ball and you can see Jelena on her bike and she made it to hit a forehand down the line winner.

Going forward Karolina has to find that ruthlessness on a consistent basis and that  is what was so surprising taking into her consideration her two previous wins and her form over the last few months to be a top player mistakes in rallies and a lack of ruthlessness for a player who can be very ruthless but was too casual and casual only ends in one result in Singapore.

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WTA Finals Day 3 – Pliskova’s spring & Venus’ marathon 

Day 3 saw a sprint and a marathon in Singapore.

Karolina Pliskova who has been highly tipped by many to succeed in Singapore due to her game suiting the court perfectly has played perfect tennis so far. To begin with she saw off Venus 6-2 6-2 and now Garbine Muguruza by the same score line.

The performance was exceptional and really does lay down a marker. For Muguruza it was a worry, the performance was flat and despite how well Pliskova played Muguruza looked defeated early on and was sluggish with her movement and ground strokes and on this court against this player you can’t do that! 

On the other hand I said Venus had to call on all of her experience to see off Ostapenko and she performed incredibly well in a match lasting 3 hours 17 minutes. 

Ostapenko pushed with the forehand but Venus has that power back in her game that was missing against Pliskova.

Going forward we now have Venus v Muguruza to see who will go to the semi final where as Pliskova has qualified but Ostapenko won’t make things easy for her.

Venus must call on all her experience to see of Ostapenko in Singapore!

The youngest player in Singapore this year is Jelena Ostapenko. At 20 years old she is set to return to the WTA finals for many years to come and the Latvian now brings her no fear game to play the oldest in the field in Venus Williams who has been on the tour 23 years, longer than Jelena has been alive! After a 6-2 6-2 thrashing from Pliskova the American now must call on all her experience to see of the youngster who isn’t afraid of anyone!

A slow start in Singapore is never a bad thing, I think a couple of years ago Radwanska was a game from going out in the group stage and won the tournament but a slow start does make it trickier.

Watching Pliskova take on Venus I’d have to say that Venus’ performance was flat and at times naïve. In a previous piece I said to the court suits Karolina because of how slow it is however there wasn’t any emphasis from Venus to dictate the tempo, just because the court is slow it doesn’t mean you can’t play fast if anything the slow court helps Pliskova as she has longer to line up on the baseline.

I thought Venus’ best chance would have been coming to the net but she made a mess of it in all honesty, lets’ take a look.

 KP FH 2 V DEFENDING

Leading to this shot by Pliskova Venus did play a smash at the net but it lacked conviction and it came back and interestingly you can see Venus lean to the right which surprised me as Pliskova rarely from the forehand corner goes crosscourt, she usually does aim down the line from that corner but from the other side (backhand corner) usually does open up her body to play that inside out forehand cross court and Venus looked defeated at that point and this was in the first point on Venus’ serve in the match.

Venus now faces a tougher challenge in Ostapenko. She is not scared and if you give her time on that forehand she will take it. Venus has to look to go after the serve of the Latvian but also target the backhand corner with pace which is what she lacked on day one and with what is now must win day three will require her to call on all her experience.

WTA Finals Day 1 – Delight for Pliskova & Muguruza!

The 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore kicked off with a bang. It may be missing some of the world’s most well-known names in tennis this year but names are being made and for two time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza and the no nonsense Czech Karolina Pliskova it was a straight forward start to their campaign.

Pliskova 6-2 6-2 Venus

Easily one of Karolina’s best performances over the last 6 months. Coming into this tournament there is pressure on Karolina as her season has fallen a little flat after Roland Garros but this performance against Venus will boost confidence.

The court plays to Karolina’s strengths. Indoor hard courts suit her game especially when it is a slow court like in Singapore. I think this is where Karolina has struggled lately is the fast courts catch out her lack of anticipation, movement and when things are going well conviction behind shots but it was on par against Venus.

KP FH 1 V

What I liked about Pliskova’s performance was the conviction and confidence was there behind her shot making. She opened up the court well with the forehand, the backhand was sharp and she introduced the drop shot at good times but that crushing forehand did the trick throughout the match. You could sense the nervousness even after winning the first set 6-2 she called on her coach but she quickly found her rhythm once again in set two to win with a routine performance.

Muguruza 6-3 6-4 Ostapenko

As a debutant in Singapore the Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko held her ground very well but Muguruza wasn’t in a forgiving mood.

The Wimbledon champion had that no nonsense look on her face from the beginning of the match and used her power and determination behind the baseline to dictate play.

A criticism of the Spaniard at times has been the lack of movement and poor footwork but she definitely had that bounce in her footwork and it propelled her to victory. She never stood still against an opponent she knows can unleash a stunning forehand.

 

Day one saw convincing wins for two of the four, day two will see the other four in action but day three is already so vital in Singapore as Venus takes on Ostapenko in a must win for both players and Muguruza and Pliskova will not only be aiming for that semi-final spot but also yearend number one is on the line this week as well.

 

WTA Finals Singapore Preview – The Final Chapter of 2017

This year the WTA Finals celebrate 45 years. Winners include the best; Evert, Navratilova, Seles, Graf, Hingis, Davenport, Serena, Venus and many more top names in woman’s tennis. This year you could argue that the field is more open than ever before.

Recent winners in Singapore include Agnieszka Radwanska (2015) and Dominika Cibulkova (2016) and in all honesty the season after both have gone missing. I couldn’t tell you where either are ranked right now.

With no Serena, Vika, Sharapova or Kvitova the field has opened up this year and the opportunity has come but it’s not just about one week but the year after.

So, who is in the field this year?

  1. Simona Halep
  2. Garbine Muguruza
  3. Karolina Pliskova
  4. Elina Svitolina
  5. Venus Williams
  6. Caroline Wozniacki
  7. Jelena Ostapenko
  8. Caroline Garcia

Only two Grand Slam winners from this year will be in Singapore and those are Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and surprise major winner Jelena Ostapenko who of course shocked Roland Garros in early June.

Nothing to prove…

Two ladies you could say have nothing to prove in Singapore are Caroline Garcia and Jelena Ostapenko. No one expected either to be here in Singapore. Jelena shocked the world with her aggressive forehand at the French Open and has grown a lot on the tour winning titles and showing she is up for the challenge.

Caroline Garcia had a steady year on the tour and recently took advantage of others bad fortune post Wimbledon but also she stepped up massively as she became the first player on the WTA tour to complete the Wuhan and Beijing double.

Nowhere to hide…

Halep, Muguruza, Pliskova. Three ladies who have achieved a lot already but need to find consistency. Out of the three I think Muguruza has been the best over the season but did start slowly. Halep has been good getting to certain stages of tournaments but as the new world number one I don’t still see that steel in her game a world number one needs. Pliskova was playing a blinder this year and after Wimbledon it fell down and maybe expectations on herself in Wimbledon and New York got too much for the Czech number one.

Veterans!

There is nothing wrong with being a veteran. Caroline Wozniacki is no stranger to Singapore and neither is the only former champion in the field Venus Williams. Both bring big game experience to the finals. Venus at 37 has had an incredible year and likewise for Caro, to reach Singapore is a great achievement and I hope she does well here. Looking back on her season she’d probably liked to have done well in the majors especially New York.

Wildcard

My one to watch and favourite. Elina Svitolina has had a solid year on the tour. Her all-round game which was very good at the beginning of the year is much better. She brings great variety, fight, determination and a can do attitude which is what I like to see and which is why I think she is a favourite.

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Go big and go home (with your first title)

Jelena Ostapenko was never at Roland Garros to make up the numbers. The Latvian was ranked at 47 in the world and 19 when the tournament began now she will be ranked as high as 12 and just turned 20 and what a way to celebrate than with your first career title which is just one of the four majors in the world so no big deal!

Jelena’s style of play is what helped propel her to an unthinkable title in which she hit 299 winners in 7 matches which is unheard of in tennis, Nadal hit 118 in his first 5 matches!

Every match Jelena arrived with a ‘go big or go home’ style of tennis and she did go big from the first to last match and went big, went home but with a Grand Slam title.

There was never any pressure on Ostapenko. With respect she never came into Roland Garros with much expectation on her which brings pressure and as the tournament went on and on she continued to play more freely seeing off Puig, Stosur, Wozniacki, Bacsinzky and Halep on her way to winning the title.

She wasn’t phased by anything and the crowd got behind her and her explosive style of tennis as she went from strength to strength with no fear and this could be the start of something major.

I still don’t feel there will be too much pressure on her which we have seen in the past from young players in her position. She seems to be a young lady with her feet on the ground coached by her mother and former top 20 player Anabel Medina the future does look good for the Latvian who no matter was thrown at her these last couple of weeks in Paris played with a smile on her face!

Well done Jelena!

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Photo credit – Getty Images