Podoroska Finds Her Footing On Grass At Bad Homburg

Nadia Podoroska (photo: Bad Homburg Open, Paul Zimmer/Daniel Maurer)

BAD HOMBURG/WASHINGTON, June 23, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

After Nadia Podoroska authored a stunning defeat of Serena Williams early last month on clay in Rome, the personable 24-year-old from Argentina. who enjoyed a semifinal breakthrough last fall at Roland Garros, wasn’t able to capitalize on her opportunity and lost in the next round. It’s been a microcosm of her 2021 season: Three quarterfinal runs – each on a different surface – but no titles to show for her effort.

However, now that Podoroska has traded playing on clay for grass, she’s beginning to find her footing with the start of the Wimbledon Championships coming into focus. This week, at the WTA 250-series grass-court Bad Homburg Open presented by Engel & Völkers, the 39th-ranked Podoroska from Argentina has won two straight matches to reach her first grass-court quarterfinal.

On Wednesday, Podoroska defeated Patricia Maria Tig of Romania, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-4, to advance against No. 1 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, who rallied to beat 70th-ranked American Ann Li, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-1. Podoroska began the week with a 6-0, 6-3 win over German wild card Mara Guth on Sunday. On Thursday against Kvitova, she will have a shot at a fourth Top 10 win, all within the past eight months.

During her two hour and 15-minute win over Tig on Centre Court at TC Bad Homburg, Podoroska hit eight aces and converted three of six break-point chances against the 62nd-ranked Romanian, including a key break during the fifth game of the final set to go ahead 3-2. Podoroska won on her second match-point opportunity following a double fault on her first try with a backhand winner down the line that capped an eight-shot rally. She worked hard for the victory and outpointed Tig 102-101. The win leveled her 2021 win-loss record at 12-12 following a 42-8 campaign last year that was split between the WTA and ITF World Tour.

“I’m really happy,” Podoroska said during an on-court interview. “This is my second tournament on grass. So, it’s new for me. I’m happy for the result. I’m feeling more confident.”

The first time Podoroska played on grass? Try the Wimbledon qualifying draw in 2017. She lost in the first round to Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in a tough three-setter, 8-6 in the third. This time, Podoroska very safely earned a direct entry into the Wimbledon main draw thanks to her ranking. Although she won’t be seeded, Podoroska could be a dangerous floater in the first round.

Wednesday’s Bad Homburg results

Thursday’s Bad Homburg order of play

Around the Bad Homburg Open

• No. 1 seed Petra Kvitova advanced to her fourth quarterfinal of the year with a 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-1 victory over No. 70 Ann Li of the United States. The World No. 12 Kvitova is through to the last eight with her second straight three-set win in Bad Homburg. Her fourth ace, which came on her third match-point opportunity, wrapped up the victory against Li in an hour and 57 minutes.

Kvitova finished with four aces, won 67 percent (47 of 70) of her first-serve points, converted four of nine break points and outpointed Li 106-90.

“Finally, I felt better on the court and was moving much better [than Monday]” Kvitova said during her on-court interview. “Having two matches here after my [ankle] injury is very good. … I’m looking forward to another match.”

• No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka saved four match points – three of them on her return – and beat No. 56 Alizé Cornet of France, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7), in three hours and two minutes to reach Thursday’s quarterfinal round.

Azarenka overcame a medical time out to deal with an abdominal issue early in the third set and also played the final set with a sore left thigh. Meanwhile, Cornet saved a couple of match points at 4-5 in the final set, then was unable to put away the match while serving at 6-5 as Azarenka saved two match points to draw even and force a third-set tie break. Cornet let two more match points slip away at 6-5 and 7-6 during the tie-break and Azarenka, ahead 8-7, finally cashed in to win the match.

“I’m really happy I was able to finish the match,” said a tired and exhausted Azarenka during a post-match interview. “I was not sure at the beginning of the third set. But I was trying to take it one point at a time, trying to fight as much as I could. I was really proud of that.”

Next, she will face No. 7 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, who completed her suspended match against No. 83 Misaki Doi of Japan with a 6-4, 6-4 win.

• No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber advanced to the quarterfinal round with a business-like 6-0, 6-2 win over No. 90 Anna Blinkova of Russia that was quick – 58 minutes – and efficient, too. Kerber won 88 percent (21 of 24) of her first-serve points, did not face any break points, broke Blinkova five times in 11 tries and outpointed her opponent 60-30. In Thursday’s quarterfinal round, Kerber will play 81st-ranked American Amanda Anisimova.

“I think it was a good match and people enjoyed it,” Kerber said of her victory over Blinkova, during an on-court interview session in both German and English. “I tried to stay focused and tried to play good tennis today. It worked out and I’m happy how I played. From the first point, I tried to play aggressive and take the match in my hands. I think I played a solid match and I’m looking forward to being in the quarterfinals.”

• Top-seeded doubles team Darija Jurak of Croatia and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia advanced to the semifinal round with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Anna Danilina of Kazakhstan and Varvara Gracheva of Russia. Also, reaching the semifinals were No. 2 seeds Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine and Raluca-Ioana Olaru of Romania, who defeated Alena Fomina and Ekaterina Yashina, both of Russia, 6-2, 6-4; and No. 4 seeds Vivian Heisen of Germany and Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic, who beat Natela Dzalamidze of Russia and Paula Kania-Chodun of Poland, 6-2, 6-2.