Teichmann Ousts Svitolina In Madrid

Jil Teichmann (photo: @MutuaMadridOpen/Twitter)

MADRID/WASHINGTON, April 29, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

The 12th edition of the WTA Mutua Madrid Open began Thursday amid rain, which closed the roofs of the three biggest show courts at La Caja Mágica so the show could go on, and it delayed the start on the outer courts for more than 90 minutes. However, while there was one huge upset on opening day – Jil Teichmann saved six match points and went on to beat World No. 5 and fourth seed Elina Svitolina – arguably the biggest news didn’t happen on the court as the second week of the European red clay season got underway.

Rather, it’s what happened off the court that initially grabbed everyone’s attention.

World No. 13 Garbiñe Muguruza, Spain’s top female player, withdrew as play began, citing a muscle injury in her left leg. It’s the same leg that caused her to withdraw three weeks ago from the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, S.C.

“This is the worst news and the most painful decision any player has to make,” Muguruza wrote on her social media platforms. “We have been working hard to recover and be able to get to the tournament in good shape. I came a week before to adapt because I really wanted to do well this year in Madrid, at home and in front of my home crowd. But the discomfort has returned and the last MRI it has been confirmed that I have not recovered 100 percent to compete and the doctors’ recommendation is to stop.

“It is not an easy decision, and it is a great disappointment. I want to thank the tournament for all the effort they have made to make it possible for us to have this event this year under these circumstances. I hope it will be a great tournament and that the fans in Madrid and at home on TV can enjoy it. Next year, I will try again with even more enthusiasm.”

Defending champion Bertens advances

Meanwhile, as the upper half of the singles draw commenced with 16 matches stretched across four courts, the day began with the roof closed on Manolo Santana Stadium as defending champion and No. 7 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over 15-year-old Spanish wild card Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, ranked 901st, who was making her WTA main draw debut.

Bertens hit 11 winners to 17 unforced errors during the 63-minute first-round contest and broke her opponent six times in nine opportunities. She outpointed Jimenez Kasintseva 57-34. In the second round, Bertens will face No. 28 Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, who beat fellow Russian Elena Vesnina, 6-1, 6-4, in one hour and 17 minutes.

“I’m feeling better,” Bertens during an on-court interview following her first tour victory in 2021. She’s recovering from off-season surgery that has limited her to just four WTA matches this year  “I need some matches wins. So, this is one and I’ll take the confidence into the next one.”

Teichmann saves six match points, shocks Svitolina

At the same time that Bertens was moving on, joining her was the Barcelona-born Teichmann of Switzerland, who shocked Svitolina, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), in two hours and 33 minutes on Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Stadium under a closed roof for her 11th victory of the season. Svitolina is the highest-ranked player Teichmann has beaten this season and it’s the third time this year she’s come back to win after losing the opening set.

The Swiss No. 2 Teichmann fired 49 winners that overcame her 56 unforced errors. She broke the Ukrainian five times in 11 opportunities and took advantage of 33 unforced errors from Svitolina. Teichmann outpointed Svitolina 112-111.

Teichmann, a two-time clay-court titlist from two years ago, came from a set and a break down against Svitolina. She trailed 1-5 in the deciding set before turning the match around in her favor. Teichmann saved four match points while trailing 2-5 and two more down 5-6, all on her own serve.

After her victory, during an on-court interview, Teichmann admitted she wasn’t keeping track of how many match points she had erased. “Honestly, I didn’t even count them. I was just thinking, ‘I’m 5-1 down,’ but every game was close. I just ended up losing them. I always believed, even down match points, that I could do it,” she said.

Next, Teichmann will face Spain’s No. 3 player, Paula Badosa, who beat Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 7-5, in one hour and 16 minutes. The 62nd-ranked Badosa outpointed No. 39 Krejcikova 67-44 and took advantage of 37 unforced errors and four breaks of the Czech’s serve.

Badosa told Tennis TourTalk that advancing to the second round in Madrid for the first time has boosted her confidence – especially in front of Spanish fans. “It’s nice to play in front of fans and in front of my home crowd. It’s an amazing feeling,” she said.

“It’s a little bit extra motivation, but also a little bit extra pressure as well. You want to win because you have everyone here. It’s a lot of emotions this week. I’m happy to get through the first round and I have a tough second round. I’ll try to rest and be ready on Saturday.”

Kerber exudes confidence in win over Vondrousova

Moving into the second round with confidence is Angelique Kerber of Germany. The World No. 26 had no trouble with No. 21 Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. Kerber won 7-6 (5), 6-1 in one hour and 19 minutes, thanks to hitting 25 winners to 15 unforced errors, and breaking Vondrousova’s serve three times.

Kerber outpointed her opponent 73-58 to advance against World No. 12 Petra Kvitova, who won by retirement over No. 56 Marie Bouzkova, due to a right-hand injury. The No. 9 seed Kvitova was ahead 6-2, 2-3 when fellow Czech Bouzkova scraped her right thumb during a fall on the red clay.

Kvitova said she welcomes facing Kerber in the next round.“I’m looking forward to playing her,” she said. “She works very hard and still is a fighter. That’s how we both will be.”

Barty beats Rogers for fourth time this season

Also playing with a lot of confidence is World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who for the fourth time this season beat American Shelby Rogers, 6-2, 6-1. She needed just one hour on Manolo Santana Stadium to post her 12th straight victory on clay and advance to the second round. Just four days after collecting her second career clay-court title and 11th overall in Stuttgart at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Barty hit 19 winners to nine unforced errors and did not face any break points, while the 43rd-ranked Rogers, looking uncomfortable on clay, mustered just nine winners and committed 20 unforced errors. She was broken four times in 10 tries by Barty, who outpointed Rogers 57-29.

“It’s nice to be back here,” Barty said on the eve of her first-round match. “It feels like it’s been a long time since I was last here in Madrid, and obviously it’s been a very quick preparation compared to last time, I think. Obviously, a quick preparation, but I’m looking forward to getting started.”

On facing Rogers, again, Barty took it in stride with a smile, commenting: “Yeah, it seems this year we’re going to be playing once a month. It’s strange playing someone so regularly, and I think sometimes that’s how the draws go. You can play someone time and time again or you can never see them on your side of the draw for years.”

After her victory, during her on-court interview, Barty said: “I’ve played Shelby many times this year … and it’s always a very big challenge. I needed to make sure that I was at my very best to be able to compete today.”

Next, Barty will face No. 80 Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia, who for the second time in 24 hours beat No. 65 Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan, 6-2, 6-4, thanks to hitting 21 winners and converting four break points. The two met on Wednesday in the final round of qualifying, which Zidansek won, 6-1, 6-0. Hsieh was placed into the main draw as a lucky loser but her time was short lived.

Around the Caja Mágica

Among the other first-day winners:

• No. 8 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland defeated France’s Kristina Mladenovic, ranked 55th, 6-4, 6-2, in one hour and 20 minutes, sealed with her second ace and 21st winner. Next, she will face No. 70 Bernarda Pera of the United States, in the second round. Pera hit 23 winners and her third ace of the match clinched a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 24 Petra Martic of Croatia on her third match-point opportunity in one hour and 19 minutes.

• No. 14 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland hit 27 winners and needed just 67 minutes to beat No. 27 Alison Riske of the United States, 6-1, 6-1, in her Madrid debut, putting away the victory on her fourth match-point opportunity. Swiatek has now won 16 straight sets on clay going back to the start of Roland Garros last fall. Next, she will face No. 59 Laura Siegemund of Germany, who beat No. 137 Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine, 6-4, 6-2, in a matchup of qualifiers.

• No. 15 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain beat No. 30 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, 6-4, 6-2, outpointing her opponent 70-52, and next faces qualifier Anasasija Sevastova of Latvia, ranked 54th, who beat another qualifier, No. 102 Ana Bogdan of Romania, 6-0, 6-3.

• No. 25 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who beat Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, 6-2, 6-3, and next will face 51st-ranked American Sloane Stephens, who defeated 63rd-ranked lucky loser Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 6-4, 6-1, a late replacement for injured Garbiñe Muguruza.

Thursday’s WTA Mutua Madrid results

Friday’s WTA Mutua Madrid order of play

What they’re telling Tennis TourTalk

• After beating Shelby Rogers for the fourth time in 2021, top seed Ashleigh Barty was asked if her win Thursday in Madrid differed from the others. She said: “Each one is different. Each one presents different challenges, different conditions. The rate that we’re going, we’ll play every month this year and just make it a tradition when we play each other once a month. Every time you step out on the court against Shelby, you need to play your very best. She has the ability to take the match away from you very quickly. So, it was important to me today to start well.”

• Spain’s Paula Badosa, who has won eight of her last 10 on clay going back to Roland Garros last year, on whether clay is her best surface: “Well, if you look at the results, I would have to say yes (laughs). I feel quite comfortable on all kinds of surfaces. On clay, I can hit with more spin. I like to play with spin, particularly with the forehand. So, I quite like to play on clay and with tactics. On clay, you can apply that a little bit better.”