Today was the beginning of three tournaments being played this week with another women’s tournament starting tomorrow. In all the tournaments, there were only 2 seeds in action and only one of them went through leaving the seeds with a 50% success rate today.
In Barcelona, Yuichi Sugita got a great 6-4, 6-3 win over a former Barcelona champion and top 10 player Tommy Robredo. Sugita was very good under pressure and that was the difference in this encounter as the young Japanese talent got the better of the clay court specialist. The first set saw some very high quality tennis as a lot of the games went to deuce and came down to a matter of shots. They faced 5 break points each in the first set and even though Robredo did go up an early break the Japanese young gun broke back and then broke again when he was 5-4 up. Sugita was playing better in the second set but the win still wasn’t coming easily from Robredo, who did have two break points on Sugita early in the set. The break finally came to let Sugita go up 5-3 and then he didn’t show many nerves when he went out to serve for the match. Robredo is now 34 years old and has just come back from injury so a lot of people are questioning wether he should retire. I think that he’s good for the sport and the Spanish people pay to see him play, so I don’t think he should go anywhere any time soon.
In Budapest, our feature match saw Viktor Troicki easily advance past Evgeny Donskoy 6-1, 6-2 in an incredibly dominant fashion. Troicki was serving really well and was able to handle everything that his opponent was throwing at him. Donskoy wasn’t able to get his serving bouncing the way it normally does because of the clay and I think that’s why the Russian hasn’t been able to post many great result on the dirt in recent years. The first set saw Donskoy get his lone hold to put the score at 3-1 but Troicki still broke twice on the way to the set. This would have given the Serb a lot of confidence as he’d played a great set and when players win a set like that, players don’t normally lose the match. There was a massive deuce game when Donskoy was serving at 2-1 down but when Troicki won it to break it was all over. Donskoy was barely able string ten more points together as he got broken to love on his way to the loss. This will be incredibly disappointing for Donskoy and I don’t feel like he’ll be feeling good at all going into the rest of the clay swing.
In another Budapest match, clay court specialist Paolo Lorenzi got a 6-4, 7-5 win over another established clay court player in Mikhail Kukushkin. Lorenzi was playing his typical counter-punching clay-court tennis and he just out-rallied Kukushkin in the end. Lorenzi has had his foot on the accelerator since the US Open last year and with not a lot to defend this clay court season, I can see him making a real push to the top 25. Kukushkin was shocking on his return throughout the whole match and he was making a lot of unforced errors off Lorenzi’s first and second serves. He got broken only once mid-way through the first set and that was all it took as no other breaks were exchanged for the rest of that set. Lorenzi took an early break in the second set and it looked like it would be similar to the first as there would be no other breaks in that set. However, Kukushkin managed to break back when Lorenzi was serving for the match to level it at 5-5. When the Kazakh did that it was anyones set but Lorenzi quickly recovered by breaking straight back and then serving out the set this time. This is a good win for Lorenzi and if he keeps up that form for the rest of this week, he is a title contender.
There were only two matches played in Istanbul, one of which saw the young Dayana Yastremska shock former top 10 player Andrea Petkovic to take a 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory. Petkovic wasn’t playing at her best but she wasn’t playing to badly either as she saw the match get taken out of her hands. From the second set and onwards Yastremaska was hitting unbelievable winners which Petkovic could do nothing about. The Ukrainian broke Petkovic to start the match but Petkovic broke right back then from there it was on serve until 4-3, when Petkovic broke to lead 5-3. Petkovic rounded out the comfortable first set with a long forehand from the young Yastremska. I think that Yastremska was very nervous in the first set but in the second she couldn’t put a foot wrong. Petkovic only had a single game point with it was all being on the racquet of Yastremska as the German got broken twice on the way to losing the bagel set. Yastremska broke early to lead 2-0 and then went up 3-0 and it on serve from there as Petkovic couldn’t break her opponent’s service defences again. This is the biggest win in Yastremska’s young career and if she starts playing like that on a regular basis she could be at the top of the sport in no time.