When Kim Clijsters and her team launched the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games in Antwerp, they promised to provide a fresh perspective in the way a tennis tournament is run, wanting to give fans a uniquely different WTA experience. The promise has been fulfilled, as the fans who came to Sportpaleis on Tuesday certainly did not regret their ticket purchase, enjoying the day filled with excitement on and off the court.
Main draw play kicked off on Tuesday and two particular matches stood out simply for the drama they provided. Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone, who earned her place in the main draw all the way through qualifying, faced off with Klara Koukalova and the Czech veteran did not enjoy her day in Antwerp. Getting blasted off the court in the first set 3-6, the 32-year-old was already in tears between sets, not knowing that things would get even worse in the second set, as Schiavone sealed a very convincing 6-3 6-1 victory.
That match only provided a small taste of what was to come when Belinda Bencic & Alize Cornet faced each other. Many experts predicted the duel between the emotional Frenchwoman and the promising young Swiss player to be the match of the day, especially considering that Bencic is still winless on the WTA level this season. The youngster came out guns blazing, enjoying a comfortable 6-1 lead in the first set. Cornet bounced back in the second, forcing a third-set decider. The momentum swung back and forth in the third set until the key moment when Bencic was called with a second time violation, costing her a very important point late in the set. The Swiss rising star desperately started arguing with the umpire, but her teary plea was in vain as Yvette Kahn’s decision firmly stood, costing Bencic not only a very valuable point but ultimately the match as Cornet punched her second-round ticket with a 1-6 6-2 7-5 victory.
After this exciting match, it was time for the unique highlight of the day. Following yesterday’s fan-friendly players’ party, Kim Clijsters and her team had another unique idea in store — four WTA ladies joined several Belgian celebrities for a fashion show down on center court, showing off Belgium-made fashion. Eugenie Bouchard, Andrea Petkovic, Kristina Mladenovic & Lucie Safarova rocked various interesting outfits, enjoying themselves while giving the tennis fans a chance to see their favorites in a very different kind of light.
Once the fashion show was over, the catwalk disappeared and the center court turned into a place for tennis again. Unfortunately, the evening matches did not go the way most of the local fans would have liked, as Belgian Yanina Wickmayer lost to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, while local girl Klaartje Liebens had no chance against Mona Barthel, who ended the young wildcard’s fairytale run here this week.
Main draw action will continue tomorrow, while fans will have to wait until Thursday to see the tournament’s top seed Eugenie Bouchard in a tennis dress. Keep checking back to Women’s Tennis Blog for more live coverage from Antwerp!