Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Fruhvirtova Gets First WTA Win, Navarro Advances in Charleston; Khan Posts First Challenger Victory; French Open Junior Championships Dates Adjusted; New WTA Tournament in Cleveland Announced

Linda Fruhvirtova

Fifteen-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic ended the opening round of singles at the WTA MUSC Health Women's Open tonight in Charleston with a memorable first victory on the tour, even though it ended with France's Alize Cornet retiring at 4-4 in the third set. 

Fruhvirtova took the first set with relative ease, and lead 6-2, 5-4, breaking Cornet to serve for the match. She was unable to get to match point on serve, and when she fell behind 4-0 in the tiebreaker, a third set seemed likely. But she won the next five points over her limping opponent, and earned a match point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. Fruhvirtova had a real opportunity to end the match then, after just under two hours, but her volley landed just wide and Cornet was able to take the set.

After a medical timeout for Cornet, the third set began, and the physical toll on both players was evident. Neither held serve, with eight consecutive breaks, and with Cornet's physical distress appearing to be worse, she retired.

Fruhvirtova was proud of the quality of her tennis and of her ability to put that missed match point behind her.

"The way I managed to forget the missed chances in the second set and still keep fighting in the third set for every point," Fruhvirtova said. "I didn't get a point for free and Alize still fought back. Today was a spectacular match and a huge fight from both of us." 

Fruhvirtova, who said she gained confidence from her title at the Grade 2 junior event in the Dominican Republic last month and a qualifying loss at the Miami Open, said she does plan to play the junior slams this year.

"I have very limited number of women's tournaments I can play in a year, and I need to play matches," said Fruhvirtova, who lost in the second round at the French Open junior championships last fall. "Obviously it's good to play junior matches too, to handle the pressure of 'I should win this match', it's good to go through these matches and for sure playing the junior grand slams is really nice too. You get to know the atmosphere for the future, you see all the pros there, the atmosphere at grand slams, how it all works, so I think it's really good to play the junior grand slams."

In the second round, Fruhvirtova will play another wild card, Emma Navarro, who won her first WTA main draw match last week at the Volvo Car Open, before falling to champion Veronika Kudermetova. Today the University of Virginia freshman earned her first WTA Top 100 victory, beating WTA 96 Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 3-2 retired.

That second round match will be played Thursday, with just four main draw singles matches on the schedule for Wednesday, including qualifier Claire Liu against No. 3 seed Shelby Rogers. 

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando this week, 19-year-old Zane Khan picked up his first Challenger level win, defeating lucky loser Kevin King(Georgia Tech) 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. A Georgia Tech alum did get a victory today however, with Christopher Eubanks taking out top seed Steve Johnson(USC) 6-1, 7-6(3). Christian Harrison defeated No. 3 seed Mackenzie McDonald 7-5, 6-3 and Michael Mmoh got past qualifier Martin Damm 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. Mmoh and Eubanks will meet in the second round. 

The French Open made an official announcement regarding its new dates last week, and today added news on qualifying, which is now 128 for both men and women after always featuring 96-player draws for the women previously. Mixed doubles will return, but with only 16 teams. There was no mention of the French Junior Championships in the current release but the ITF Junior Circuit website has been updated to move the junior event to the second week, as normal, which is now Sunday June 6 through Saturday June 12th. The Fact Sheet contains no mention of qualifying, which was also not part of the junior championships in Paris last fall. The entry deadline was also pushed back a week, from April 20th to April 27th.

The USTA and Topnotch Management announced today that a new WTA 250 event the week before the US Open will take place this year in Cleveland. With the demise of the tournament in New Haven, it's great to see another city and group step up to fill the void, especially a city that hasn't hosted top level women's (or men's) tennis.


Mustang Fan said...

Congrats to Cal Poly Men's Tennis, winning the regular season Big West Conference for the first time in more than five years with their 4-3 win over UCSB today! #RideHigh