Unlikely Finalist Siniakova Enjoying Her Week In Bad Homburg

Katerina Siniakova (photo: Bad Homburg Open, Paul Zimmer/Daniel Maurer)

BAD HOMBURG/WASHINGTON, June 25, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Katerina Siniakova is an unlikely finalist in this week’s WTA 250-series grass court Bad Homburg Open presented by Engel & Völkers. Like her Czech Republic doubles sidekick, Barbora Krejcikova, who earlier this month won the French Open singles title and with whom she won the French Open doubles crown, too, Siniakova is beginning to make believers out of those who pegged her as only a doubles specialist.

The World No. 2 in doubles and a winner of three Grand Slam doubles titles, Siniakova has shown she’s worthy of her place in Saturday’s singles final as her twin victories on Friday can attest. With the Wimbledon Championships just a few days away, Siniakova has strung together four solid victories this week in Bad Homburg by using some of the same skills she’s mastered in doubles while dropping just a single set during her journey in central Germany.

With Thursday’s rainout loading up the order of play for Friday, Siniakova began the penultimate day of the tournament at TC Bad Homburg early with a close but successful 7-5, 6-4 quarterfinal victory over the 55th-ranked No. 8 seed Laura Siegemund of Germany in an hour and 45 minutes. The 76th-ranked Siniakova outpointed Siegemund 70-61 to move into the semifinal round against a well-rested No. 7 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, who advanced Thursday by walkover against No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who withdrew due to an injury.

Then, after a short respite, Siniakova won her second match of the day without dropping a set, 6-2, 6-4, in one hour and 21 minutes over Sorribes Tormo. She hit 12 winners to 17 unforced errors and converted four of five break points chances – three of them in the opening set – while outpointing the Spaniard 59-41. Siniakova put away her 13th victory of the season on her first match point. The win lifted Siniakova to her first singles final of the year.

“I was fighting and I was happy, but it was tough for me,” Siniakova said during an on-court interview. “I’m happy I won two matches [today].

“Hopefully, tomorrow I can show my best. I like to play on the grass. I’m enjoying my time here.”

The other semifinal brought together a couple of former Wimbledon champions, No. 1 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic against No. 4 seed and local favorite Angelique Kerber from Germany, both in their early thirties, in a battle of left-handed hitting sluggers. While they were meeting for the 15th time Friday evening, with Kvitova enjoying a 8-6 career head-to-head edge, strangely, it was their first time facing each other on grass – and fittingly, it went the distance and was decided by a third-set tie break. Kerber prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in two hours and four minutes to reach her first final since 2019 at Eastbourne.

“Playing in front of your home crowd is something really special,” Kerber said during the English-language portion of her on-court interview after her semifinal victory. “To see the fans here and playing in front of them gave me the last few percent to win this tight match against Petra. We’ve played so many times in the past, it’s always a tough match against her. I’m really happy to be in the finals.”

Kvitova dominated the first set after taking an early 4-1 lead, but Kerber came back and broke the Czech star in the 10th game to win the middle set. Then, Kvitova rebounded to take an early 2-0 lead in the decider, but each time she broke Kerber – three times in all – she was unable to consolidate any of her breaks. Although Kvitova served for the match at 6-5 in the final set, she was promptly broken, which meant a tie break would decide the outcome.

The tie break was all Kerber’s to enjoy. She jumped ahead 4-0, then had a match point at 6-2 that was erased. Her second match point at 6-3 on Kvitova’s serve was won by Kerber, much to the delight of the Bad Homburg crowd that was pro-Kerber. Kvitova hit the ninth shot of the last rally long and the celebration was on.

Kerber finished with 22 winners to 18 unforced errors and converted six of 12 break-point opportunities. Kvitova hit nine aces and 28 winners to 29 unforced errors, broke her Kerber six times in 11 tries and outpointed her opponent 97-95.

Earlier, the World No. 12 Kvitova needed five match points to win her quarterfinal against fifth seed Nadia Podoroska of Argentina, 6-3, 7-6 (10), in an hour and 43 minutes.

At 10-all in the second-set tie break, Kvitova set up her fifth match-point opportunity with a crisp forehand winner down the line, then put away the match after the 39th-ranked Podoroska netted a second-shot return off of Kvitova’s high-arching serve.

Kvitova won 71 percent (36 of 51) of her first-serve points, converted three of five break-point opportunities and outpointed Podoroska 87-75. The victory, which advanced her to face Kerber, avenged an early-season loss to the Argentine that was played on a hard-court surface at the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne in February.

Meanwhile, Kerber prevailed 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 over 81st-ranked American teenager Amanda Anisimova. After a slow start, the No. 28 German and tournament ambassador came on strong and reached her first semifinal of the season, hitting a forehand winner – her 21st winner of the one hour and 34-minute tussle – on her fourth match-point opportunity. Kerber outpointed Anisimova 86-77.

“It was a tough match, especially in the first set. She played really well and then I tried to come back,” Kerber said after her quarterfinal win during an on-court interview. “I was trying to focus on my game and play aggressive to the end. I’m happy to win, especially in this tournament.”

Kichenok and Olaru reach doubles final

No. 2 seeds Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine and Raluca-Ioana Olaru of Romania reached the doubles final with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 4 seeds Vivian Heisen of Germany and Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic. In Saturday’s final, they will face No. 1 seeds Darija Jurak of Croatia and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia, who beat No. 3 seeds Anna Blinkova of Russia and Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, 6-2, 1-6, 10-5.

Around the Bad Homburg Open