Angelique Kerber Belinda Bencic Garbine Muguruza Toray Pan Pacific Open

Bencic, Kerber & Muguruza make quarterfinals in Tokyo

Second round action at the 2015 Toray Pan Pacific Open kicked off on Wednesday and the big-name players continue to make almost flawless progress in Tokyo’s Ariake Coliseum.

Angelique Kerber was among the stars who made her way into the tournament’s round of the last eight in Japan today. The German dropped the first set against American Madison Brengle, but that was little more than a freak accident for the reigning Porsche Tennis Grand Prix champion as Kerber gave Brengle just one game in the next two sets, hitting 54 winners in the process.

Following her impressive 43-minute double bagel beatdown of Yi-Fan Xu yesterday, Belinda Bencic had a bigger mountain to climb on Wednesday, facing Australia’s Samantha Stosur in the second round. The 2011 US Open champion took the first set, but Bencic wasn’t nearly ready to give up, rallying back to force the decider that ultimately ended in her favor. The Swiss world #15 will be meeting Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals, as the young Spaniard won her first match against BarboraStrycova under the watchful eyes of her new coach Sam Sumyk.

Wednesday also marked the start of Caroline Wozniacki’s Toray Pan Pacific Open campaign, as the tournament’s top seed played her first match against Croatia’s Ana Konjuh. The 17-year-old rising star made her way through the qualifying stages, but the Dane sent Konjuh off the court in straight sets in the second round.

The second round will complete inside the Ariake Coliseum on Thursday and fans can look forward to seeing Karolina Pliskova & Ana Ivanovic in action in Tokyo for the first time this year! For all this and more, keep checking back to Women’s Tennis Blog for all the latest from Tokyo!

Ana Ivanovic Belinda Bencic Elina Svitolina Jelena Jankovic Karolina Pliskova Lucie Safarova Serena Williams Sloane Stephens Victoria Azarenka Western & Southern Open

Inside Cincy – Day 3 – Final 8 – Fatigue & Injuries

Karen Helf continues to give us her insights straight from the grounds of the Western & Southern Open. After her Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s coverage, she’s reporting on how the final eight of the tournament shaped up, with detailed accounts from matches Karolina Pliskova vs. Jelena Jankovic and Sloane Stephens vs. Ana Ivanovic. Karen also attended Serena Williams’ press conference and is mentioning the problem of fatigue that is troubling players. Our photographer Omar Boraby took a day off on Thursday, but he’ll continue to post his galleries on Friday.

Victoria Azarenka - W&S Tennis 2015 Tuesday-6 lrOn Thursday the sun returned. And it is evident that I am not pacing myself well after leaving the grounds at 1AM last night. There were a few retirements today, including Victoria Azarenka. I always wonder how players handle their schedule week after week. Recently players have been more vocal about fatigue.

Back in her day, Chris Evert was able to skip the French Open and some players did not play Australia at all. That decision would be unusual today and would likely result in a fine. The 2015 WTA calendar includes 22 Premier events alone.

Today the season starts in January with a “Super Bowl”, aka the Aussie Open, and ends in November. So players are not resting at year-end, if they want a good start. It is easy to forget players are people, not super heroes or machines.

Today’s first match demonstrates this very thing. Back on Center Court, Belinda Bencic fell to seasoned opponent Lucie Safarova. After a first set loss at 6-2, she retired at the start of the second. Bencic cited a wrist injury as the culprit. Final score 6-2, 0-0.

Lucie Safarova - W&S Tennis 2015 Wednesday-26While advancing, Lucie also earned an advantage over her next opponent Elina Svitolina, with an easy pass today. Lucie is part of a group of players who are successfully mixing doubles and singles play and reaping dividends. Safarova captured the doubles title at the Australian Open with partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands. She nearly won both titles in Madrid.

If you have never taken in a doubles match, do yourself a favor and catch a Lucie & Sands, Hingis & Mirza or Errani & Vinci match. You won’t be disappointed. Fast paced with team dynamics, doubles is exciting on another level.

As expected, Sara Errani and Flavia Pennetta advanced today, as did Hingis & Mirza, so you still have a chance.

Serena was back on Center Court facing Italy’s Karin Knapp. She earned a quick win at 6-0, 6-2. Post match she said that her coach Patrick gave her some helpful advice, but wouldn’t share details.

I headed to Stadium 3. With the stands packed to capacity for Sloane Stephens and Ana Ivanovic, I could not enter. So I shifted course, heading to the Grandstand.

Crowd favorite Jelena Jankovic and 7th ranked Karolina Pliskova were battling. I arrived in the third set, 2-6, 6-3, 3-2. Jelena was down a break and Pliskova was hitting the lines. At 40-15, Jelena received a coaching violation. Karolina held serve to 4-2

Jelena’s next service game was rocky at 15-40, under pressure she missed the lines, extending Pliskova’s lead to 5-2. Momentum began to shift during Karolina’s next service game. Jelena ripped a forehand to reach 0-30. Karolina missed a lob and Jankovic hit a winner down the line, Jelena climbed back to 5-3.

Jelena Jankovic - W&S Tennis 2015 Wednesday-1Back on serve Jelena double faulted to 15-15. She approached the net missing a volley to 15-30. As the wind gusts blew, Karolina also had trouble keeping balls in play. Despite a double, Jelena held at deuce with a 104MPH serve, an overhead winner and finished with an ace to reach 5-4.

Karolina’s next service game had two double faults. From there she could not hold on. Jelena was now back in the match at 5-5. Jelena’s next service game was compelling. Pliskova stuck with what was working earlier hitting the corners. A Jankovic error drew crowd applause and she addressed it.

At 30-40 she served a 106MPH winner, but then netted at deuce. Jelena eventually found her passing shots and closed with 103MPH serve followed by a backhand winner.

Karolina’s final service game failed her despite a 105MPH serve. Match point ended with a Pliskova drive going long. The final score 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

Jelena, a former Western & Southern champion, spoke of her appreciation for crowd support. She blew kisses and acknowledged that they helped her pull through.

I returned to Stadium 3, successfully catching the end of Sloane and Ana. Ana was already ahead 3-0 in the third. Sloane was on serve 15-30. She doubled, giving Ana 15-40. The next point Sloane netted a return, putting Ana up 4-0.

With Ana on serve, Sloane continued netting balls. Despite a double from Ana, she held serve closing with 106MPH serve. Sloane’s return sailed long. Sloane held her next service game avoiding the bagel with corner winners and attacking the net for 5-1.

As Ana served for the match. Sloane regrouped, but it was a little too late. Sloane delivered match point driving a net ball. Ana advanced, 2-6,6-4, 6-1. Next up, Ana plays Serena.

Serena Williams W&S Tennis 2015 Wednesday-21It seemed Serendipitous that my next stop was Serena’s press conference.

Serena reinforced that she felt she needed to stay calm and poised. When asked about her Rogers Cup performance, she mentioned that she typically played Stanford which gave her more time to shake the rust off of her hardcourt game. Skipping Stanford this year, she put more pressure on herself.

When the subject of Victoria Duval came up, Serena got philosophical. She stated that Victoria is an inspiration. Her courage reminded Serena what matters in life. She described Duval as a great young player with a bright future.

She acknowledged with Vicky’s past success at the US Open, a main draw wildcard seemed appropriate. Lastly, she confirmed Venus is feeling better.

The eight contenders left in the main draw all play Friday to decide the final four. The field is an interesting mix with four ranked inside the top ten, the others ranked 20 or below. Friday could be a day of upsets.

Belinda Bencic Caroline Wozniacki Serena Williams Tsvetana Pironkova Victoria Azarenka Western & Southern Open

Inside Cincy – Round 2 Highlights

As you know, this week we’re having Karen Helf on the spot at the Western & Southern Open. After her yesterday’s account from her first day at the tournament, today she’s giving us her detailed report from matchup of Serena Williams and Tsvetana Pironkova, as well as Victoria Azarenka vs. Caroline Wozniacki, and mentions of several other encounters. Moreover, Karen is giving us her account from a press conference with Belinda Bencic. Wednesday’s photo gallery from Cincinnati you can see here.

Serena Williams - W&S Tennis 2015 Wednesday-15
Serena Williams

Day Session Action

Second-round Wednesday kicked off with everyone’s worst opponent, rain. While disruptions were short-lived, ominous clouds lingered all day. Rain delayed the start of the men’s match on Center Court, a dramatic three-setter. This left Serena Williams and her opponent Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria waiting with an uncertain start. The ladies eventually took Center Court about 2PM.

Coming out of the Rogers Cup, Serena reported that she sprained her fingers while playing Roberta Vinci in the quarterfinals. I wondered if there would be lingering effects.

The match began with a 1-1 hold. During Serena’s second service game, Pironkova threatened to break at deuce, but Serena pulled through the game. Serena was not in the zone and her service speeds were notably slower than normal.

They traded service holds in the first set and Pironkova handled the occasion well enough. With Pironkova serving at best around 90MPH, Serena sometimes blocked serves back, just putting them in play. Her returns lacked power. The score progressed to 2-2 and I wondered about the fingers.

Serena’s began to raise her game in her third service game. She cracked an ace registering at 115MPH and drew a huge crowd response. Another ace at 97MPH and she held. Pironkova’s third service game looked easy at 40-0, but changed direction going to deuce. Eventually, a Serena backhand sailed long and Pironkova held at 3-3.

Serena’s continued to build momentum with serves hitting 116, then finished off with 118 MPH to hold 4-3. In Pironkova’s next service game Serena found her rhythm with Pironkova serving in the 80’s & 90’s. The score hit 40-30, but Tsvetana still found the lines to hold.

Serena double faulted early in her fifth service game, but then delivered back-to-back aces, 114 & 113MPH, respectively. Pironkova hit a drop shot return catching Serena off guard to 30-30. Another Serena ace to 40-30 was followed by double and back to deuce. Fighting back Serena charged the net producing a winner and finished with an unreturnable 101MPH serve. The service duel continued.

Tsvetana Pironkova - W&S Tennis 2015 Wednesday-16
Tsvetana Pironkova

Pironkova took her fifth service game to 40-15 and an easily held with Serena struggling to keep her shots in play. Back on serve, Serena had another 118MPH ace, but also delivered errors and another double. Pironkova eventually folded with an error giving Serena the hold.

The pressure was on Pironkova to hold and force a tiebreak. Serena was hitting visibly stronger winners. When the score hit 0-40 during Pironkova’s serve there was an audible celebration from Serena. She broke Tsvetana and finished on serve grabbing the set, 7-5.

After closing out the first set, Serena approached the second set in a higher gear. She won long rallies and produced aces down the tee and out wide. She used boxer-like steps between points, keeping her feet moving.

She racked up aces, three in a row to hold at one point. She hit her stride with 120 & 121MPH serves, driving returns and vocalized her signature “come on” mantra staying fired up to finish.

Dark clouds threatened play during Serena’s fifth service game. Her instinct to finish quickly was there. Serena continued audible celebrations adding fist pumps. She went for her shots putting her body into her returns eventually breaking Pironkova twice.

With a jittery final service game, Serena finished with perfect timing. At 40-30 she delivered match point a 118MPH ace, for the 7-5, 6-3 win. Leaving Center Court, Tsvetana received a warm embrace from the crowd showing their appreciation. On queue the skies opened at the close of Serena’s on-court interview.

Adidas twins - Simona Halep & Kristina Mladenovic
Adidas twins – Simona Halep & Kristina Mladenovic

With so many great second round match-ups I had difficulty choosing my daily match plan. Note, you should always have a plan during early rounds. The tennis is abundant and there are not enough hours in the day. When I arrived, the monitors showed Simona Halep with a commanding lead over Kristina Mladenovic having captured the first set and ahead in the second.

So, I choose to check out Keys-Jankovic on Court 9. This was a rematch of their 2015 Indian Wells battle. They concluded before I could get settled. Veteran Jelena won again 7-6, 6-4. Jankovic garnered 5 additional points over Keys today, 87-82.

So, I watched the Halep-Mladenovic match on monitors. Kristina took the second set, 7-5 and was fighting in the third with Halep up a break at 4-3. Halep quickly grabbed the match wining 6-4 in the third. This result was impressive given Simona’s physical state and eventual withdrawal from the Rogers Cup final just 4 days prior.

I admit when the third set began, I wondered how much gas Simona had in the tank and whether momentum would shift in Kristina’s favor. I regretted missing the earlier games. I was also reminded that is quintessential tennis.

Matches are never over until the score is in the books. This is why I love tennis. Dynamics and momentum can shift with the wind. A single point can fire up or demoralize a player.

Checking the monitors also I found Coco Vandeweghe out with of the draw downed by dominant Lucie Safarova. This was not surprising result given Lucie’s 2015 success in both singles & doubles.

Belinda Bencic
Belinda Bencic

Up-close with Belinda Bencic

With match play suspended I was at the right place at the right time. I attended a post match presser with rising Swiss star, Belinda Bencic. Fresh out of her win over Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, Bencic was composed, insightful, gracious and funny. When asked about her win against Serena in Canada, she laughed stating she still can’t believe it and she will never forget it.

She remarked, some day she will tell her kids she beat Serena Williams! On her #12 ranking she seemed unfazed by recent success. She was humble appreciating the moments but keeping it in perspective. She joked about being bad at challenges.

Another insight about Bencic was her response concerning Vicky Duval not receiving a main draw wild card to the US Open. She was direct in stating she felt it was wrong. Her belief is that Vicky deserved the opportunity over other players. She also remarked on Vicky’s friendship and how happy she was to have her back on tour. It does my heart good to see players supporting each other.

In response to questions about pressure she replied, pressure comes with success it happens. I believe anyone can beat anyone on the tour today.

Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki

Night Session Highlights

Right on time for the night session, the skies dumped rain clearing the courts and lightening struck. So session play kicked off about 9PM with my pick Caroline Wozniacki versus Victoria Azarenka. Both players sported heavy tape, Caroline for a calf issues and Victoria on her thigh.

At first glance it was no contest. Victoria ruled the first set 6-0. She dictated points and ran Caroline down. Caroline’s returns lacked power and nothing seemed to be working for her. Not the match I was expecting.

Enter the second set. Victoria lost focus, unforced errors crept in and suddenly Caroline was up 3-0. A third set seemed imminent. To give credit Caroline was now packing a punch with her returns and committing to her shots. There were several long rallies and good shot-making. But Victoria found her zone and returned the favor breaking Caroline’s serve and regained ground to 3-3.

The pivotal point arrived with Caroline up 4-3. In Victoria’s service game, Caroline had a break opportunity at 30-40. The two flirted with a series deuce exchanges, but Victoria would not yield.

This appeared to take the wind out of Caroline’s sails. With Caroline on serve at 4-4, Victoria pressed to 15-40. Once again she ran Caroline testing her and earned the break. Now up 4-5 she held serve with match point at 40-30.

The point ended with subdued celebration as Caroline challenged the call, but lost the match and Victoria advanced.

Thursday Preview-Fan strength continues to soar with Center Court tickets sold out and only grounds passes available. Serena will return to Center Court along with Belinda Bencic facing Lucie Safarova. Jelena and Victoria are also back in action. Doubles is heating up with Italian favorites Errani & Vinci and an all-US field scheduled for Court 4, so stay tuned.

Agnieszka Radwanska Angelique Kerber Belinda Bencic Eugenie Bouchard Venus Williams Western & Southern Open

Inside Cincy – Day 1

This is a special week for Women’s Tennis Blog, as we’re having a dedicated photographer at the Western & Southern Open, as well as a tennis writer who will share her impressions from the event. Earlier today you’ve seen Omar Boraby’s Tuesday gallery, now enjoy Karen Helf’s report from the spot.

Karen Helf is a tennis travel specialist, tournament volunteer and loyal WTA fan. This week at the Western & Southern Open she is attending her 6th tournament of 2015 as a credentialed journalist. She is excited to share her daily insights.

Belinda Bencic - Cincinnati

First Impressions

Arriving at the Western & Southern Open there is an air of simplicity and ease. Instead of country club, the feel is American country fair. The only thing missing is mom’s apple pie. The location is actually suburban Mason Ohio not Cincinnati. The grounds offer all the typical amenities.

Inside there are three stadium courts, practice courts, local eateries, retail shops, regional music and much more. The grounds are spacious. Because of that I never felt crowded in spite of a sold-out day session and record daily attendance of 25,898. A sell out during round one of any event is impressive.

I met a few first-time Cincy visitors, as well as first-time tennis tournament attendees from Texas and Wisconsin. Both shared with me that after just one day at Cincy, they are hooked on live tennis. In addition to fans, the grounds were packed with players.

There were eight match courts in play beginning at 11:00AM with continuous play until about 10:30PM. Practice sessions were star-studded including; Serena Williams, Lucie Safarova, Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova.

Angelique Kerber - CincinnatiMatch Notes

Center Court – Bencic Debut

Fresh off her Rogers Cup win, Belinda Bencic cruised into her first-round match against veteran Angelique Kerber. The first set had a rollercoaster edge. Bencic started strong capturing the early break up 2-1. It seemed she would roll through with ease until it came time to serve for the match. Up 5-1, nerves set in.

Bencic double faulted and executed a glaring miss at the net, assisting Kerber in capturing the break. Hard-hitting Kerber took advantage and in short order the score was 5-5. Bencic searched and found her composure to break back to 6-5 and then followed up to close out the set with her next service game, 7-5.

Bencic and Kerber traded heavy blows early in the second set and tied at 3-3. The stalemate held until Kerber’s 4th service game. Angelique missed drop shots and her passing shot sailed long giving Bencic the break. Bencic, clearly fired up, celebrated the point at 4-3.

From that point, Bencic held on despite a messy service game and a Kerber challenge at 5-3. In the final game, Bencic took advantage putting away a low floater from Kerber. Kerber produced a fatal double-fault giving Bencic match point, 7-5, 6-3.

Stadium 3 Highlights

Next up, Stadium 3 hosted Agnieszka Radwanska taking on Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. I arrived at 4-2 in the first set. Fashion note, Aga was stunning in a shimmering dress. Unfortunately her game was not on par with her outfit today. Throughout the match Aga struggled to hold on to service games and luck was not on her side.

Eugenie Bouchard - CincinnatiAga’s signature drop shots were landing short and net balls did not go her way. Schmiedlova was impressive finishing off several long rallies with deep passing shots. Schmiedlova delivered her returns with heat. The torque in her groundstrokes created visible speed. Some shots left me wishing for an MPH reading.

As the sun set, night sessions began on an unfortunate note. Venus Williams withdrew due to a virus from her Center Court marquis match against Ana Ivanovic. To close out the day, I returned to Court 3.

Eugenie Bouchard and Kateryna Bondarenko were on deck. I arrived to find Genie behind 5-4 in set one. The set raced to 6-6 and decided by a tiebreak. Bouchard hung tough and captured the first set, 7-6.

The second set ran neck and neck again with both players fielding long rallies. The two traded service breaks returned to the familiar score of 6-6. Bouchard triumphed despite a few visible displays of frustration finishing 7-6, 7-6. The crowd celebrated a positive start for Eugenie Bouchard.

Looking ahead to Wednesday the event is again sold out! Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens headline the WTA matches. Caroline versus Victoria is my must-see pick.

Belinda Bencic National Bank Open Simona Halep

Bencic caps superb week with Rogers Cup title against warrior Halep

Belinda Bencic - 2015 Rogers Cup -DSC_9571

Yes, she did it! Belinda Bencic went all the way in Toronto, adding a victory over Simona Halep in wild Sunday’s final to the long list of brightest WTA stars eliminated en route to the title match — Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams. True, the final ended disappointingly, with Halep’s retirement, but the moment the Romanian finally gave up came after a grueling fight that lasted two and a half hours.

The world No.20 Bencic won the first set in a tiebreak and served for the second set at 5-3, but despite feeling like a wounded warrior, Halep kept pushing through long rallies and forced the deciding set in the second-set tiebreak. With absolutely no more fuel left in her tank, Halep retired in the third set, while being two breaks down at 0-3. Final score: 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 3-0.

Belinda Bencic - 2015 Rogers Cup -DSC_6338

This has been an incredible week for the 18-year-old Bencic, as not only has she won a WTA Premier 5 tournament, ensuring $456,000 in prize money and a rise to No.12 in the rankings, but she’s done it in huge style, by taking out four out of Top 6 players, including the unbeatable No.1 Serena Williams, and on top of that all her victims boast Grand Slam finals in their bios.

Belinda Bencic National Bank Open Serena Williams

After stunning two former No.1s, Bencic downs the reigning queen Serena

Yes, that happened, Belinda Bencic upset Serena Williams in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup and such a victory nowadays counts more than most WTA tites. Doesn’t it?

What makes things even more spectacular is that this landmark win comes after Bencic’s this week’s victories over two former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki, who are currently Top 10 players, and Top 25 members Sabine Lisicki and Eugenie Bouchard. Impressive, isn’t it? I won’t mention all Serena’s records and how monumental a victory over her is, but I’ll just say that she has won the last three Grand Slams and this is only her second defeat in 45 matches this season.

Serena Williams - 2015 Rogers Cup -DSC_5406

The 18-year-old Bencic, unseeded in Toronto, quickly lost the first set to the top-ranked Serena, but found her rhythm towards the end of it and carried that momentum into the second set where she took charge from 3-3. In the decider she even earned a 5-1 lead and the final score was 3-6 7-5 6-4.

The last obstacle for the world No.20 Bencic will be Simona Halep, ranked third in the world, who advanced to the final by beating Sara Errani 6-4 6-4. So far they have played each other once, at last year’s Wimbledon, and Halep won that one in straight sets, 6-4 6-1.

Belinda Bencic - 2015 Rogers Cup -DSC_5801

It will be interesting to see who will prevail in this upcoming final, as the favorite Halep stated that she was completely dead after a very tough match, while Bencic is overly excited, is not even thinking about the title now and also needs recovery time. (photos: Jimmie48)

Belinda Bencic National Bank Open Sara Errani Serena Williams Simona Halep

Rogers Cup semis: Halep vs. Errani, Bencic vs. Williams

First of all, I hope you enjoyed our this week’s coverage straight from the 2015 Rogers Cup, thanks to our photographer Jimmie48 who was capturing the action day and night for us, on Tuesday even attending 12 out of 22 matches.

Now our photographer is back home and the grand Toronto event is down to the strongest four women — Simona Halep, Sara Errani, Belinda Bencic and Serena Williams.

Simona Halep vs Sara Errani - Rogers Cup semis

The second-seeded Halep could not move her legs in the first half of the match, opening her quarterfinal encounter with the fashion-story-of-the-tournament Agnieszka Radwanska with a loss of seven straight games. Then the Romanian gradually found her rhythm, worked her way to 3-all in the second set and raced through the next eight games to soon afterwards win the match 0-6 6-3 6-1, milestone 300th of her career. In the semis Halep will meet the 15th-seeded Errani, who ended the run of qualifier Lesia Tsurenko, 6-4 6-4.

Belinda Bencic vs Serena Williams - 2015 Rogers Cup semis

Belinda Bencic increased her count of former world number one players beaten at the 2015 Rogers Cup to two by ousting fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-2, and will next face current number one Serena Williams, a three-time champion in Toronto, who defeated Roberta Vinci 6-4 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

We all know that Serena is so strong that she can’t even compare to others, but the American still feels that she’s far from reaching her maximum. Look what she said after her latest win:

I don’t feel like I’m at my best or anywhere near it. But I feel like I’m going in the right direction and I want to keep that up.

Agnieszka Radwanska Belinda Bencic Rothesay International Eastbourne

Bencic beats former champion Radwanska for maiden WTA title in Eastbourne

Belinda Bencic - AEGON International 2015 -DSC_5507

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic won her first WTA title in her third WTA final by beating Agnieszka Radwanska at the Aegon International Eastbourne.

After losing the opening set, in the first three games of the second set the ninth-seeded Radwanska lost just one point, but Bencic responded by winning three straight games herself and we were at 3-all. Bencic had break opportunities in the seventh game and again in the ninth game, but Radwanska managed to hold both times. While leading 5-4, Radwanska earned a break point herself and Bencic’s long shot took the match to the third set.

Impressively, game by game, the Yonex-clad Bencic was only strengthening her lead in the decider and to my surprise she finished the set by bageling the 2008 Eastbourne champion Radwanska, even holding serve to love in the last game. Final score: 6-4 4-6 6-0.

The world No.31 Bencic was unseeded at this Premier-level grasscourt tournament and besides the big trophy she’s taking home $124,000 in prize money.

Belinda Bencic BNP Paribas Open Caroline Wozniacki

Revenge for two bagels: Bencic shows Wozniacki the exit door at Indian Wells

Belinda Bencic - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2015 -DSC_2454

It was less than a year ago when Belinda Bencic lost her Istanbul opener to Caroline Wozniacki 6-0 6-0, but as a player ranked 25 spots higher than in July 2014 in Istanbul, the world No.37 Swiss today recorded a big victory at Indian Wells, avenging the loss to Wozniacki with a straight set victory, 6-4 6-4. Bencic can start counting her Top 5 wins, this is #1.

Having just turned 18, Bencic is the youngest person still in the BNP Paribas Open draw, but that lack of experience was nowhere to be seen in her third-round match against Wozniacki. Bencic earned a 4-2 lead in the first set and even though Woz managed to level to 4-4, the young gun wasn’t discouraged and got her groove back to win two straight games and take the set. The second set went with serve until 4-4, when Bencic again took charge and eventually finished the job on her first match point. Woz committed 39 unforced errors in the match, to Bencic’s 25, while Bencic had one more winner than Woz, 21 to 20.

And let’s not forget to mention that Bencic is also looking great in the process. The blue Yonex stripes fit her perfectly, accentuating her athleticism and youth in a simple design. (photo: Jimmie48)

Agnieszka Radwanska Alize Cornet Ana Ivanovic Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Andrea Petkovic Angelique Kerber Belinda Bencic Caroline Wozniacki Daniela Hantuchova Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Garbine Muguruza Heather Watson Julia Goerges Karolina Pliskova Lucie Safarova Monica Puig Petra Kvitova Sabine Lisicki Samantha Stosur Simona Halep Venus Williams Vera Zvonareva

WTA fashion at the Dubai tournament: who rocked and who hit rock bottom?

Women’s Tennis Blog is known for its Grand Slam fashion overviews, but Dubai is one of the biggest tournaments of the season with its 64-player field, so tennis apparel companies are definitely eager for their representatives to show up at the Aviation Club Tennis Center and display their new designs. Last year I also made the Dubai WTA fashion overview and let’s see now what the brands prepared for February 2015. 

Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic, Simona Halep in Adidas Adizero - Dubai Tennis Championships 2015

I’ll start with the best of the best and it has to be Adidas’ Adizero line, rocked by Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic and Simona Halep. I am sometimes fed up with always favoring Adidas Adizero, but what can I do when it really is the best. I think that this line works for everyone. It caters both those who prefer simple and sporty looks and those who like to have the edge, as the wonderful mesh back provides just enough stylish visual interest. Also, both the Adidas Adizero Spring Dress worn by Ivanovic and the separates worked by the finalist Halep are equally perfect options.

Andrea Petkovic - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2015 -DSC_5965

Stella McCartney also did an awesome job and Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza and Andrea Petkovic all looked great in her subtle floral designs. Stella is not consistently great as Adizero, but this Adidas Spring 2015 Barricade collection is a hit in my opinion. I especially like the peach flowery pleated skirt.

Sabine Lisicki, Lucie Safarova, Petra Kvitova - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2015

Nike was all pink in Dubai. Sabine Lisicki, Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova all wore the Spring Victory Printed Skirt paired with the Spring Advantage Printed Tank, or Spring Advantage Printed SS Top in Kvitova’s case. I like these clothes in a sense that they are lively and cheerful, but nothing more than that.

Vera Zvonareva - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2015 -DSC_4325

Fila, New Balance and Asics were in the orange department, as seen in these photos of Vera Zvonareva, Heather Watson, Julia Goerges and Samantha Stosur. Pretty dull overall, except for Watson’s kit. The Brit has recently partnered with New Balance and after her lovely blue Hobart outfit, this bright cherry Spring Challenger Print Tank and the matching skirt are another great choice of the young WTA star.

Belinda Bencic - -DSC_5420

Another young women’s tennis force looked awesome in stripy sporty style – Belinda Bencic in Yonex separates. Yonex most famously used to be the clothing sponsor of Elena Dementieva and, quite frankly, never impressed, but I am positively surprised by their new designs, or they just look awesome on the rising Swiss miss. The world No.37 worked the Yonex Melbourne Tank and the skirt that goes with it, in both bright pink and dark blue.


Alize Cornet - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2015 -DSC_3746

The navy camp included a variety of brands and players. Monica Puig is doing a great job in helping Ellesse rise to tennis fashion prominence again (even though this white panties photo may not suggest so :)), Lacoste traditionally didn’t bring absolutely anything new, as witnessed by Alize Cornet‘s outfit, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Angelique Kerber both looked great in the navy and orange Adidas tank with criss-cross spaghetti straps and the skirt with fun all-around pleats.

Venus Williams, Arina Rodionova, Jarmila Gajdosova in EleVen at Dubai

Just as at the Australian Open, in Dubai we enjoyed the EleVen Ola collection, worn by Venus Williams, Jarmila Gajdosova and Arina Rodionova. As you can see, the leading item was the EleVen Women’s Ola Print Love Tank.

Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2015

As for Lotto, after its spectacular 2014, we’re yet to see something even remotely interesting on Agnieszka Radwanska in 2015, while Karolina Pliskova has made the run to the finals in, I’m sorry to say, equally bland Li Ning piece.

What do you say? Do you agree with my take on the WTA Dubai fashion? (photos by Jimmie48)

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