Ups and downs at Soweto Women’s Open

2009-04-28 00:00

THERE were upsets, comfortable wins and terrific struggles served up on day one of the Soweto Women’s Open tennis tournament at the Arthur Ashe Centre here yesterday.

The ITF Women’s Circuit tournament’s opening matches in the first round saw second seed Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands taken to the wire by unseeded Naomi Cavaday of Great Britain, while the unheralded Marinne Giraud of Mauritius took care of seventh seed Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic in the most emphatic fashion.

Krajicek, who reached the Wimbledon last 16 just two years ago before injuries struck with a vengeance last year, found it difficult to settle down against inspired world number 347 Cavaday before eventually coming out a 3-6 7-6 (7/1) 6-4 winner.

“She played a very good first set and took me close in the second,” the Miami-based Krajicek said of Cavaday.

“As you could see the balls were flying and despite spending a week practising here beforehand, actual match play is far more difficult than training,” said the sister of former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek.

Certainly, the Arthur Ashe Stadium centre court has still to see the best of Krajicek, a player who beat current world number one Dinara Safina of Russia a couple of years ago.

The 20-year-old, who is based in Miami and coached by South African Allistair McCaw, said she is feeling more confident and believes her nightmare run of injuries might well be a thing of the past.

Krajicek was clearly unhappy with her performance and said she is “going to hit a lot of balls” today in an effort to build consistency, acknowledging that there are a number of seeds in with a real opportunity of winning the tournament, while she doesn’t discount the chances of several unseeded players springing an upset at least.

And an upset was indeed sprung by the Mauritian, Giraud, who thrashed an out-of-sorts Hlavackova 6-1 6-0.

From a Pietermaritzburg point of view, SA Fed Cup player Kelly Anderson and her partner Katie O’Brien of Great Britain won their first-round doubles encounter 7-5 6-4 against South Africans Nicole Rencken of Durban and Chanel Simmonds of Kempton Park.

Former Braaiketts KwaZulu-Natal Open winner Rencken was also a finalist in the singles qualifiers here.

And in a plus for South Africa, this event, sponsored and hosted by the City of Johannesburg to the tune of R1 million in prize-money and R8 million in total cost to South Africa’s economic hub, has been roundly praised by the overseas players for its organisation and facilities.

First-round results:

Women’s Singles:

1-Katie O’Brien (GBR) bt Chanelle Simmonds (RSA) 6-1 6-1, Marinne Giraud (MRI) bt 7-Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) 6-1 6-0, Dominika Nociarova (SVK) bt Julia Babilon (GER) 6-7(7-5) 6-4 6-3, Lesya Tsurenko (UKR) bt Nikola Frankova (CZE) 6-7(5-7) 6-3 6-4, 8-Eva Hrdinova (CZE) bt Natalia Cheng (BRA) 6-1 6-2, Lauren Albanese (USA) bt Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 6-4 6-4, 2-Michaella Krajicek (NED) bt Naomi Cavady (GBR) 3-6 7-6(7-1) 6-4.

Women’s Doubles: Lizaan du Plessis/Christi Potgieter (RSA) bt 4-Lauren Albanese (USA)/Nikola Frankova (CZE) 2-6 6-3 (10-8), Nicole Clerico (ITA)/Lena Litvak (USA) bt Marinne Giraud (MRI)/Leonie Mekel (NED) 6-2 6-2, Kelly Anderson (RSA)/Katie O’Brien (GBR) bt Nicole Rencken/Channel Simmonds (RSA)

7-5 6-4.

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