Monday, February 04, 2019

Weekend Tennis Roundup

Kiki Bertens continued her reign of terror over the weekend, winning her third title in six months on Sunday, beating Donna Vekic 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the final of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. The second-seeded Bertens came back from 5-2 down in the first set to win four straight games and force a tiebreaker. Vekic, the eighth seed, saved three match points in the second set before Bertens closed out the match for her eighth career title. 

Both Bertens and Vekic make vanilla pudding seem exciting, but at least the Croatian Mia Farrow lookalike has a boyfriend with a HOT BODY.

Dayana Yastremska fought back from the brink of defeat against Ajla Tomljanovic to win the Thailand Open title in Hua Hin. The No. 8 seed found herself 5-2 down and behind a double break in the final set but managed to force a tiebreaker with No. 6 seed Tomljanovic and finally come out on top 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (3). 

The win marked a second title on the WTA Tour for the Ukrainian teenager -- seen here in an obscene photo with her prize -- who moves into the top 40 in the world rankings for the first time today.

And just as I got used to the idea that the Davis Cup would now be a one-week event held in one place comes an onslaught of results from over the weekend. ESPN reports that Australia, Germany and Italy were among the 12 nations to book their place in the inaugural Davis Cup finals after winning their qualifying matches. European nations Belgium, Serbia and the Netherlands also made it through, while Russia upset Switzerland on their way to the finals. Kazakhstan, Colombia, Chile, Canada and Japan will also be involved in the 18-nation finals, which take place in Madrid in November. In a revamp of the previous Davis Cup format, the qualifiers join last year's semifinalists France, Spain, Croatia and the United States and wildcards Britain and Argentina for the one-off World Cup style event.

The Australian team managed a 4-0 sweep of Bosnia and Herzegovina as John Millman, Alex De Minaur and Alexei Popyrin all won their singles matches in the absence of Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic, whose long-running feud with coach Leyton Hewitt meant he was not involved.

Bernard who? 

Germany went one better, whitewashing Hungary 5-0 with world No. 3 Alexander Zverev and compatriot Philipp Kohlshcreiber providing two points each by winning their singles berths in style. Italy was dominant in their singles matches against India as Andreas Seppi and Matteo Berrettini secured a 3-1 victory in Calcutta, while top seeds Belgium also won 3-1 away from home with Kimmer Coppejans securing two singles points to help defeat Brazil.

Serbia -- without Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic -- was given a scare by Uzbekistan before Filip Krajinovic won the deciding singles match against Sanjar Fayziev to put his nation through 3-2.

Switzerland was also missing key players Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka and it showed against Russia as dangerous youngsters Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev proved too strong in the singles during their 3-1 win.

Elsewhere Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin won two matches in his nation's 3-1 win over Portugal, Robin Haase was involved in singles and doubles wins as Netherlands defeated Czech Republic 3-1 and the team from Colombia did not drop a set as they beat Sweden 4-0.

Chile came back from 2-1 down against Austria to win 3-2 thanks to singles wins for Nicolas Jarry and Christian Garin, Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov were instrumental in their 3-2 away win in Slovakia and Taro Daniel won a tense final singles berth to secure a 3-2 win for Japan over China. 

So here are the 18 countries headed to Madrid for the Davis Cup finals in November. Although I'm still not sure how I feel about the new format, I'm heartened that the qualifying still gives a number of countries the chance to host ties leading up to the main event. 

(With wire services)

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