Niculescu Tames Fourth Seed Ostapenko At Shenzhen Open

SHENZHEN, January 1, 2019 (Press Release)

Romania’s Monica Niculescu recorded the biggest win of her seven appearances here in the Shenzhen Open as she steamrolled past the fourth seeded world No. 22 Jelena Ostapenko 6-0, 6-2 in just 52 minutes on Centre Court.

The 31-year-old world No.99, who came through the qualifying round, only lost her serve once at the start of the second set, while converting six of eight break chances against her higher ranked Latvian opponent, who notched eight double faults and won just 26% of her 35 service points.

“I think my two matches in the qualifying rounds and coming here early to prepare gave me the edge. Actually I didn’t spend Christmas at home, I spent it on the plane but that suits me well because I came here and I thought I played really well on Centre Court. I got to have some practices before and I think that’s why my game was very solid today,” said the Romanian of her first round victory.

American Alison Riske is set to make her third quarterfinal appearance in four visits to Shenzhen after she rallied from a set down to defeat Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 47 minutes.

The 28-year-old Riske, whose best result last year was reaching the final at Nuremberg, has historically performed well in China, with her solitary career title coming at Tianjin in 2014 and three of her five other finals appearances coming at Shenzhen (’16 and ’17) and Tianjin (’16).

I’m happy to have played two solid matches and I intend to keep going and not stopping. I love playing in Shenzhen, I love the atmosphere here and it’s very comfortable. I find most tournaments in China to be that way and that’s why I keep coming back,” said the American.

Tournament wild card Vera Zvonareva, the oldest player in the singles draw at 34-years-old, turned back the years with a powerful display on Centre Court to defeat 21-year-old Serbian qualifier Ivana Jorovic 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in an intensely fought second round match lasting two hours and 37 minutes.

“It was a difficult match and she’s a great player so I’m very happy with the way I played when I really needed it. I feel very young in my heart and I think physically, I’m actually even better than I was before. The age doesn’t matter because I’m still enjoying being out there and I think that’s the most important part of it,” said the former world No.2 Zvonareva.

Chinese wild card Peng Shuai was forced to pull out of her intensely fought first round match against the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova when she suffered from cramps midway through the third set; the score stood at 3-6, 7-6(6), 3-3 after two hours and 26 minutes on Centre Court.

At 4-5 down in the second set, Pliskova saved two match points and even though she failed to convert the first five set points she had, two in the twelfth game at 6-5 up and three consecutive set points at 6-3 up in the tie break, the 26-year-old Czech eventually took the match to a rubber on the sixth time of asking.

“I was fighting for every point, she was two match points up in the second set so I’m happy I won but of course, not this way. I hope she is fine. It’s my third time here and I’ve always made the quarterfinals, so let’s see this year,” said Pliskova.

In tonight’s final Centre Court clash, qualifier Veronika Kudermetova became the second Russian to book her quarterfinal spot as she romped to a 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 victory over tournament No.8 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in one hour and 34 minutes.

In the day’s first match on Court 1, Romania’s Sorana Cirstea continued her fine start to the season with a 6-2, 6-2 dismantling of Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier in 68 minutes. The world No.84 saved the only break point she faced in the fifth game of the first set and converted four of the five she fashioned to move into Thursday’s quarterfinal.

In the doubles main draw, No.3 seeds Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia and Irina Khromacheva of Russia completed a 6-4, 2-6, 10-4 super tie-breaker victory over Chinese pair Jiang Xinyu and Tang Qianhui to move into the quarterfinals.

Japanese-Ukrainian pair Nao Hibino and Anhelina Kalinina also moved into the last eight with a commanding 6-1, 7-5 win over German Tatjana Maria and Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier in one hour and three minutes.

In the most closely fought doubles match of the first round, the Swiss-Russian tandem of Timea Bacsinszky and singles quarterfinalist Zvonareva took one hour and 38 minutes to overcome a spirited display from Chinese wild card pairing Wang Xinyu and Xun Fang Ying.