LINZ/WASHINGTON, November 9, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)
Lesia Tsurenko ascribes to the theory of taking things one match at a time. That’s what she’s done so far as she navigates her way through the draw at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz with an eye toward winning the final WTA 250 regular-season tournament taking place this week in Linz, Austria’s third-largest city.
After the 132nd-ranked Tsurenko of Ukraine won a pair of qualifying draw matches over the weekend, she was placed in the upper half of the main draw and took on No. 5 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia Monday afternoon. In the first match of the day inside TipsArena, Tsurenko continued her winning ways and garnered a 6-4, 7-6 (2) victory. It was Tsurenko’s first Top 30 victory since defeating Naomi Osaka at Brisbane in January 2019.
The 5-foot-9-inch, 32-year-old Tsurenko’s straight-set win over No. 30 Alexandrova represented the highest-ranked player she’s beaten this year. She came on strong at the end of the one-hour and 39-minute match by capturing the last seven points of the contest during the second-set tie break and outpointed Alexandrova 80-66. It was her eighth win in her last 10 on hard courts.
The victory advanced Tsurenko to the second round where she will face No. 69 Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium, who easily defeated Austrian wild card Sinja Kraus 6-1, 6-0, in 52 minutes.
Tsurenko capitalized on her ability to win points on her second serve and she also converted five of 10 break points against Alexandrova, who two days earlier was part of the Russian Tennis Federation team that won the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague.
Looking back on her first-round triumph, Tsurenko was more consistent than Alexandrova with her groundstrokes. She played really well, and after having gone through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw, it has allowed her to become familiar with the TipsArena playing conditions.
“I’m really happy because it was a very tough match with such long rallies,” Tsurenko said during an on-court interview with Upper Austria Ladies Linz tournament ambassador Barbara Schett. “I’m super happy to finish it and to have rest now.”
After reaching a career-high ranking of No. 23 in February 2019, Tsurenko was beset by a right elbow injury that dropped her out of the Top 100. The most recent of her four career WTA singles titles came in 2018 at Acapulco, a tournament she also won in 2017.
Now that Tsurenko is healthy and rested, the native of Vladimirec, Ukraine is making up for lost time. She’s 29-16 this year, which includes a nice run to the quarterfinals at the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca, Romania at the end of October.
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Against Alexandrova, Tsurenko’s court coverage and intensity stood out from the first to the last point. When she was asked by Schett how she manages to bring intensity onto the court all the time, Tsurenko replied: “Because for the last two years, I’m watching mostly how other people are playing. Now, finally, I can also play matches – I play a lot of matches – I’m really happy to be on the court.
“When you’re injured for a long time, it’s quite tough to see how other people are playing and your ranking is just dropping. You cannot do anything.
“I’m super happy; I’m not tired. I can play more and more matches, actually.”
Now, if this week is any indication, Tsurenko’s game seems to be headed in the right direction. When asked why things are going so well at the moment, she smiled at the question and said: “Because I’m fresh and I really want to play. I’m not tired, I can play a lot of matches. I have a lot of inner reserve inside of me. I’m fine to play.
“This tournament is super tough. To win it, you have to win seven matches in seven days. I won three already, only four left for the title. Easy.”
Wang advances to face top seed Raducanu
Twenty-year-old Chinese qualifier Wang Xinyu, ranked 106th, rallied to beat 145th-ranked qualifier Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 to advance to Tuesday’s second round against top seed and 20th-ranked Emma Raducanu of Great Britain. Wang hit six aces, won 70 percent (47 of 67) of her first-serve points and outpointed Kozlova 82-76 to advance.
Raducanu up next for Xinyu Wang 👀
— wta (@WTA) November 8, 2021
Other first-round winners included: Lucky loser Jaqueline Cristian of Romania, ranked 100th, who defeated No. 117 Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5; No. 84 Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, who beat 109th-ranked French qualifier Harmony Tan, 6-2, 6-4; and No. 59 Alizé Cornet of France, who bested Austrian wild card Julia Grabher, ranked 194th, 7-6 (7), 6-4.
Also, No 74 Greet Minnen of Belgium advanced over No. 88 Oceane Dodin of France, 6-4, 6-3; and No. 52 Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine defeated No. 113 Martina Trevisan of Italy, 6-3, 6-4.
Halep makes Linz debut Tuesday
Two-time Grand Slam champion and Linz No. 2 seed Simona Halep will make her tournament debut against No. 85 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus on Tuesday afternoon not before 4 p.m. The 22nd-ranked Halep comes in after achieving her best result of the 2021 season when she reached the finals at Cluj-Napoca.
— WTA Linz (@WTALinz) November 8, 2021