Following the conclusion of Wimbledon, three WTA 250 tournaments are in progress this week, the Livesport Prague Open 2021 on hard courts, and the Ladies Open Lausanne 2021 in Switzerland, as well as the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, Hungary, both on clay.
I’m excited. It’s something new, and especially because I love Japan. They have such a great culture and such great food. I really love it all, and enjoy every time I get to go there. I’m sad that the Japanese crowd won’t be there because I feel like it’s very special to play in front of them. They’re super polite and knowledgeable; they know how to really cheer and show their support, but will wait until the point is over to make noise. Yulia Putinseva
Livesport Prague Open
In Prague, there was an immediate shock when top-seed Petra Kvitova was upset by qualifier Rebecca Sramkova in the first round on Monday, 7-6(5) 3-6 6-4.
It was another early exit for the Czech following her first round defeat by Sloane Stephens at Wimbledon, the grass court Grand Slam she has won twice.
For Kvitova, French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, Marketa Vondrousova and Katerina Siniakova, Prague is serving as a warm-up event for the Tokyo Olympics.
All the previous editions of the tournament since it became part of the WTA circuit in 2015 were played on clay.
In other first-round matches, 7th-seeded Nina Stojanovic of Serbia beat Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia, 6-7(5) 6-1 6-3, while No 9 seed Greet Minnen from Belgium defeated Italy’s Giulia Gatto-Monticone, 6-0 4-6 6-1.
Former US Open champion Sam Stosur of Australia, however, recorded her 6th straight loss after being eliminated by American Grace Min, 6-3 2-6 6-3, while another American, qualifier Asia Muhammad, rallied to overcome Aussie Lizette Cabrera, 3-6 6-2 6-2, and Czech Tereza Smitkova eased past a third Australian, Maddison Inglis, 6-2 6-2.
By Thursday, 2nd seed Krejcikova had advanced to the quarter-finals by defeating Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium, 7-6(2) 6-4, and she will next face her doubles partner and Czech compatriot Katerina Siniakova.
Minnen got past Russia’s Anastasia Gasanova, 6-3 7-6(3), to also reach the quarters and will play the last Australian standing in the draw, Storm Sanders, who came from a set down to eliminate last week’s Nordea Open champion Nuria Parrizas Diaz from Spain, 4-6 6-3 6-1.
Meanwhile, China’s Xinyu Wang recovered from an early scare to beat Taiwan’s En-Shuo Liang, 3-6 7-5 6-1, and she will now play Min.
The American also came from a set down to upset Stojanovic, 3-6 6-1 6-4, on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals.
Eighth-seeded Tereza Martincova knocked out Muhammad, 6-3 6-4, and the Czech now faces Viktoria Kuzmova, who defeated fellow Slovak Sramkova, 6-4 7-5.
In the encounter between 5th-seeded Katerina Siniakova and fellow Czech Tereza Smitkova, that was interrupted by rain and was completed on Thursday, Siniakova came through, 2-6 7-6(3) 6-3.
Ladies Open Lausanne 2021
On the clay of Lausanne, Belgium’s Maryna Zanevska completed her upset on Thursday of home hope and No 3 seed Jill Teichmann after an overnight rain delay in the last of first-round matches, 6-2 2-6 6-2.
Weather has affected the schedule and only 3 second round matches were played on Thursday to determine quarter-finals spots.
Top seed Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia had an easier passage after her 3-set opener, defeating Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella, 6-2 7-5, to play Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti in the quarters, who easily dispatched the Russian No 8 seed Anna Blinkova, 6-1 6-2.
The only other player to advance was Russia’s Natalia Vikhlyantseva, who upset 7th-seeded Jasmine Paolini from Italy, 6-1 6-3.
Hungarian Grand Prix
Things are heating up in Budapest where top seed Yulia Putintseva reached her third quarter-final of 2021 after beating Ana Konjuh, 6-4 6-3, and avenging an earlier Belgrade defeat to the Croat.
The top seed took a tough loss to Konjuh at the Serbia Open ahead of Roland Garros but battled through in an hour 47 minutes on centre court.
“I was looking at this match and was just trying to build something from it,” a smiling Putintseva explained after the match. “Today, it was really tight from the beginning because she’s always playing so aggressively, and you never know what’s coming.
“I did my best, and was just trying to attack when I could but also play defence where I was making as many balls in as possible—still with the aggression and depth. I think I did that well today.”
Konjuh has been edging back into her Top 20 form after 4 elbow surgeries kept her off tour for much of the last 3 years.
Putintseva weathered the Croat’s formidable onslaught to win the final 3 games of the first set, and won 4 games in a row to lead 5-2 in the second.
Konjuh made a brave last stand and saved 4 match points but went long on the 5th, giving Putintseva plenty to celebrate.
Ranked as high as World No 27 at the start of 2017, Putintseva is set to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo, a city that holds special meaning for the Russian-born Kazakh, who won her first completed match against a Top 10 player in the Japanese capital over Madison Keys five years ago.
“I’m excited. It’s something new, and especially because I love Japan. They have such a great culture and such great food. I really love it all, and enjoy every time I get to go there.
“I’m sad that the Japanese crowd won’t be there because I feel like it’s very special to play in front of them. They’re super polite and knowledgeable; they know how to really cheer and show their support, but will wait until the point is over to make noise.”
Putintseva will undoubtedly be up to the challenge of making her own noise, both at the Olympics and in Budapest, where she faces Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova for a spot in her first semi-final since 2019, when she went on to win her maiden WTA title in Nürnberg.
Earlier in the day, Kozlova came back from a set down to stun No 5 Ana Bogdan from Romania and reach her first WTA quarter-final in nearly two years, while qualifiers Olga Danilovic from Serbia and Argentine Paula Ormaechea also advanced into the last-8 lineup with straight-set wins over Irina Bara and Ivana Jorovic, respectively.
Ormaechea will meet American Danielle Collins, the No 2 seed, who has lost just 8 games in two matches and has yet to a drop a set.
Danilovic’s next opponent is home wild-card Dalma Galfi, who took out Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakia, 6-2 7-5.
The quarter-final line-up is completed by another local wild-card Panna Udvardy, who upset 6th-seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus, 7-6(4 6-2, and she will take on Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, a 7-5 6-3 winner over American Bernarda Pera, the No 3 seed.