Seven years after the last top-flight women’s tennis event was held in Antwerp, the Belgian city is back on the WTA schedule with the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games.
Taking over the calendar spot from the now-defunct Paris indoors event, the Diamond Games, held in Antwerp’s Sportpaleis, are organized and led by none other than Belgian four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters.
The massive 18,000+ spectator venue will be graced by some of the sport’s biggest names, as the entry list includes champions Eugenie Bouchard, Angelique Kerber, Andrea Petkovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Lucie Safarova and many more exciting players.
The tournament got underway with the first round of qualifying on Saturday and sixteen matches were completed on the two courts. Four Belgian youngsters had the chance to prove themselves on the big stage in front of their home crowd, having mixed success in their quest to make the main draw.
While An-Sophie Mestach fell prey to Germany’s Dinah Pfizenmaier in straight sets, Elise Mertens was unable to get past Nadiia Kichenok. It wasn’t all bad for the local girls though, as Klaartje Liebens gave the fans something to cheer about, making the second round of qualifying thanks to a straight-set victory over Barbora Krejcikova.
Perhaps the most entertaining match of the day didn’t involve any of the local players though, as Renata Voracova & Patricia Maria Tig fought for their spot in the second round of qualifying for almost three hours. A match that was filled with drama & emotions climaxed in a third-set tie break and Patricia Maria Tig took a dramatic victory , much to the enjoyment of the spectators who certainly got their money’s worth with that match alone.
As the clock approached midnight, Carina Witthöft started her match against Belgian wildcard player Lara Salden. Witthöft, who comes fresh from a very successful Australian Open where the German youngster reached the third round for the first time in her career, had no problems with Salden, advancing in straight sets.
The dedicated fans that stayed around for the last match to finish shortly before 1 AM were rewarded for their patience as Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure was the final player to reach the second qualifying round, besting Germany’s Laura Siegemund in straight sets.
Qualifying will resume tomorrow before the tournament’s main draw play gets underway on Monday. Women’s Tennis Blog will be bringing you all the action from the WTA’s newest tournament so keep checking back for more from the Sportpaleis all week!