Slippery Little Suckers: How is the Stuttgart court playing? It’s been described as slippery by a number of players, who have said they’re trying to treat it like a hard court and slide into the corners. Once you slide, you can’t stop.
The Curious Case of Aga on Clay: The Pole admits her struggles on clay are confounding, especially given the fact she grew up on the surface. Radwanska’s variety and court craft seem an excellent fit for clay but over time it’s become clear that she is at her best on faster courts. Radwanska says it’s just how her game has evolved given the prevelance of hard courts in today’s game.
“And I think every year it’s getting harder and harder,” Radwanska said in Stuttgart. “I also played so many years on clay. I grew up on clay, I played so many tournaments on clay and the when I started playing on the Tour everything changed. Everything is on hard court and I got so used to hard court. You know, now it’s so hard to play on clay again, especially because the clay court season is so short.”
When Head-to-Heads get mental: Ana Ivanovic fell once again to Karolina Pliskova, this time a 6-4, 6-2 loss in their first meeting on clay. Pliskova is now 5-0 against Ivanovic and the Serb has only been able to get one set off the Czech. Ivanovic says given her track record, she’s tempted to try and change her game against the flat-hitting Pliskova, but then she gives up on her strengths.
“That’s what I get caught up in because I feel like I should change something and I don’t know what,” Ivanovic said. “I tried to change the position on my standings, you know I wanted to play a little more slice, to move around but it’s hard because her balls are coming deep and strong and then I didn’t really get a chance to do that and whenever I threw in the high ball, I felt she handled it really well and she was not making too many errors.
“I thought on clay it would be a little bit different match. But it was still tough.”
Andrea Petkovic confident after Stuttgart fall: The German looks on her way out of her slump after scoring a tough three set win at Fed Cup, opening with a clean win over Kristina Mladenovic in Stuttgart, and then playing her best set of tennis a very long time by taking the opener 6-1 over Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday. But Petkovic was never the same after taking a bad fall early in the second set and lost, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.
“I felt like a lot of things were coming together and after the fall, it was so annoying because nothing really happened,” Petkovic said. “It’s just that my back shifted a little bit and I felt very unsafe on my legs. It wasn’t that I had any pain or something but I was just more cautious in moving around and going into the corner. You know it’s helpful to move well against Aga Radwanska.
“So, yes, I’m just very annoyed right now. Luckily, I’m frustrated so I’m speaking very negatively, but I’m actually happy that nothing worse happened because I slipped on the line things could have gotten much worse. So, everything is okay but I’m still annoyed.”
Petra Kvitova’s Gamble Pays Off: Kvitova has never met a Fed Cup tie she didn’t want to play. So her decision to rule herself out of the Czech Republic’s semifinal tie against Switzerland last weekend was a surprising one. Kvitova was fully fit but opted out in order to focus on her preparation for the clay court swing.
So far so good. She double-bageled Louisa Chirico to start her tournament in Stuttgart and gutted out a win over Monica Niculescu, saving three match points to win 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 to make the quarterfinals.
Not that she’s not already dreaming of grass court season:
Slicing and Dicing with Monica Niculescu: A lovely profile of the one-of-a-kind Romanian here.
During her career, the two-time WTA title-winner has enjoyed a lot of her success in Asia, particularly China. Niculescu announced herself massively on the tennis stage with a giant-killing run after qualifying for the 2011 Beijing Open, taking out Li Na along the way. It seems only right that one of her two titles came in China – namely at the WTA International event in Guangzhou.
“The people love me there. I don’t want to be…not modest,” Niculescu laughed. “The people like me, they like my slice forehand and I feel so welcome there every time. I remember when I won Guangzhou – they actually put a song [together] for me. I didn’t understand what they were saying because it was Chinese but then I heard ‘Monica! Monica!’ so it was my name [in the song]! I feel very good there, they love my slice!”
Louisa Chirico Stepping Up: The young American has scored wins over Lucie Safarova, Naomi Osaka, Camila Giorgi, and Daniela Hantuchova on clay over the last three weeks. Good profile from her via The Tennis Island.
Tournament Moves: As confirmed on the WTA Insider Podcast last week, the Katowice Open will move to Biel, Switzerland in 2017. The Kaohsiung Open will be moving to Taipei.
Maria Sharapova update: ITF President David Haggerty told the AP a decision could come down before Wimbledon.
Simona Halep’s Tough Recovery: A semifinalist last year, Halep bowed out of Stuttgart in her opening match, losing, 6-1, 6-2 to German qualifier Laura Siegemund. Halep struggled with her breathing during the match and chalked it up to her poor recovery from a heavy Fed Cup weekend. Halep’s coach Darren Cahill was not with her in Stuttgart but the pair will reunite next week in preparation for Madrid.
Caroline Wozniacki Battling Injury: Wozniacki has already withdrawn from both the Mutua Madrid Open and Internazionali BNL d’Italia due to the ankle injury she sustained during practice a week before Fed Cup. Can she get herself fit for the French Open?
Samantha Stosur and David Taylor to split: As reported by Australian media, Stosur and Taylor have agreed to part ways after the French Open.
Petra Kvitova hires Frantisek Cermak: Coachless no more. Kvitova has hired former ATP doubles specialist Frantisek Cermak as her new coach.
Jarmila Wolfe undergoes surgery: The Australian underwent shoulder surgery in Texas this week.
Coping with Petko: Petkovic told reporters she’s currently reading Buddenbrooks, a 1901 German novel by Thomas Mann. She then went into her heady coping mechanism after losses:
QUESTION: It’s better than the sad French films when you lose on grass?
PETKOVIC: But come on, they are really good (laughs). When I lost in Australia I watched Souffle d’Amour or something.
PETKOVIC: (laughs). Yes that was very cheerful. I really like to self-destruct. It’s one of my hidden talents.
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.