Nina Bratchikova

WTA Nürnberg Gallery: Goerges, Safarova, Petkovic, Minella Advance

(June 11, 2013) The first day of main draw play at the WTA International event in Nürnberg was plagued by rain interruptions, but all but one match was able to finish when the sun returned.

After winning a close first set against Alexandra Cadantu in 55 minutes, German Julia Goerges and her opponent were forced to wait out a delay caused by heavy rain.

“It’s very difficult to go in and out and not knowing when the match will go on again,” said Goerges.

Goerges eventually won in straight sets, as did countrywoman Andrea Petkovic over Sofia Arvidsson. The results mean that the two friends will now face each other in the next round.

 “This is a toughest thing,” said Goerges. “But I’m looking forward to the second round.”

Tuesday gallery at bottom by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm features Mandy Minella, Lucie Safarova, Annika Beck, Jessica Pegula, Nina Bratchikova, Yuliya BeygelzimerSesil Kratantcheva, Sofia Arvidsson, Julia Goerges, Alexandra Cadantu, and Andrea Petkovic.

Results  Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Singles – First Round
(3) Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 63 64
(4) Julia Goerges (GER) d. Alexandra Cadantu (ROU) 64 75
(5) Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Sesil Karatantcheva (KAZ) 62 76(9)
(6) Lourdes Domínguez Lino (ESP) d. Mariana Duque-Mariño (COL) 75 63
(8) Annika Beck (GER) d. Nina Bratchikova (RUS) 62 62
Johanna Larsson (SWE) d. (LL) Yulia Beygelzimer (UKR) 63 67(3) 75
María-Teresa Torró-Flor (ESP) d. Teliana Pereira (BRA) 46 64 64
Mandy Minella (LUX) d. Jessica Pegula (USA) 75 46 63
Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) d. (Q) Alexandra Panova (RUS) 62 62
Karin Knapp (ITA) d. (WC) Dinah Pfizenmaier (GER) 26 76(0) 75
Julia Cohen (USA) d. (Q) Tereza Smitkova (CZE) 76(2) 63
(WC) Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) 63 62

Suspended due to darkness
(1/WC) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) leads Arantxa Rus (NED) 64

Doubles – First Round
Hrdinova/Irigoyen (CZE/ARG) d. (WC) Siegemund/Zander (GER/GER) 64 76(3)

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Gabashvili Rolls On While Groenefeld Rebounds

While the top stars are preparing for the grass courts of Wimbledon, the challenger circuit remains on the clay courts. Last week showed one player on the men’s side continuing his prowess on the circuit, while another player on the women’s side took a small step towards gaining back her former top 15 ranking.

After an outstanding 2006 season which saw her reach a career high ranking of No. 14, Groenefeld suffered a nightmare 2007 season that included fitness issues and a high-profile feud with her former coach, Rafael Font De Mora. After taking most of 2008 off, Groenefeld showed that she is serious about getting her game back on track by winning the $75,000 challenger in Zlin, Czech Republic, dispatching Jelena Kostanic Tosic of Croatia 6-3, 4-6 6-1, in the final. The win also puts Groenefeld back in the world’s top 300, with minimal points to defend for the rest of the year.

At the $75,000 challenger in Marseille, France, Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium won her second challenger title of the year with a 7-6, 6-2 win over local favorite Stephanie Foretz of France. The win gives Flipkens the biggest title of her career and propels her just outside of the top 150 in the rankings.

While satellite results normally aren’t mentioned in this column, one result deserves a special accolade. Kimiko Date-Krumm, who reached a career high ranking of No. 4 in 1995, won the first singles title in her comeback at the $10,000 satellite event in Tokyo, Japan. The 37-year-old didn’t drop a set all week, storming through Shiho Akita of Japan in the final with a 6-3, 6-2 win. The win moves Date-Krumm just outside of the top 400 in the world rankings after just four tournaments.

In other results on the women’s side, Masa Zec-Peskiric of Slovenia won the $25,000 event in Campobasso, Italy, while Anna Tatishvili of Georgia won the first pro title of her career at the $25,000 challenger in El Paso, Texas.

On the men’s side, Adrian Ungur of Romania won the first pro title of his career at the $50,000 challenger in Sofia, Bulgaria, rolling over Franco Ferreiro of Brazil in the finals 6-3, 6-0. Ferreiro is still looking for his first title of the year, having lost his other final of the year at the challenger in Florianopolis, Brazil.

At the $35,000 event in Kosice, Slovakia, Lukas Rosol of Czech Republic also won the first challenger title of his career by beating Miguel Angel Lopez-Jaen of Spain with a 7-5, 6-1 victory in the final. The win moves Rosol within a few spots of breaking the top 200 for the first time in his career.

Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia continues to roll on the challenger circuit. The 23 year old won his third challenger title of the year at the $35,000 challenger in Milan, Italy, beating Diego Hartfield of Argentina 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the final. The win moves Gabashvili within striking distance of the world’s top 100, a place he has remained out of for almost a full year now.

The men host the biggest event on the challenger circuit this week as Jiri Vanek of Czech Republic is the top seed at the $125,000 event in Braunschweig, Germany. Eric Prodon takes top billing at the $35,000 in Bytom, Poland, while Bjorn Phau of Germany leads the way at the $35,000 challenger in Recanati, Italy.

Only one challenger will take place on the women’s side this week, as Nina Bratchikova of Russia is the top seed at the $25,000 event in Istanbul, Turkey.

Mashona Washington Breaks Through in Carson

Last week on the challenger circuit, one player moved closer to showing her former top 50 form, while two players on the men’s side won their second challenger titles of the year.

Mashona Washington of the United States broke through in her comeback to professional tennis with a win at the $50,000 challenger in Carson, California, defeating fellow American Alexa Glatch 7-5, 6-4. Washington, who injured her right knee at a Fed Cup tie in the summer of 2006, sidelining her for sixteen months, has endured some demoralizing losses against unranked players in challenger qualifying since coming back. The younger sister of former U.S. Davis Cup standout and 1996 Wimbledon runner-up Malivai Washington is now finally beginning to show the form that took her inside the world’s top 50 and led to wins against players like Maria Sharapova back in 2004.

At the $25,000 event in Togliatti, Russia, Nina Bratchikova of Russia won her second consecutive challenger title with a 6-3, 6-0 rout of Patricia Mayr of Austria. Bratchikova also won the $25,000 event in Moscow, Russia last week. This has also been some of the best few weeks of Mayr’s career, having reached her first ever challenger final just a couple of weeks ago in Italy.

In other results on the women’s side, Tomoko Yonemura of Japan won the $25,000 event in Gunma, Japan, while Anastasjia Sevastova of Latvia won the $25,000 challenger in Galantina, Italy.

On the men’s side, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg won his second challenger title of the year at the $75,000 event in Izmir, Uzbekistan, with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Kristian Pless of Denmark. Muller used his big serve and forehand to overwhelm the diminutive Pless throughout the match and move just outside the world’s top 100 this week.

At the $50,000 challenger in Carson, California, Amer Delic of the United States also won his second challenger title of the year, fighting back from being down in each set to defeat fellow American Alex Bogomolov by a 7-6, 6-4 score. Delic’s other challenger title came on American soil as well, having won early in the year at a tournament in Dallas, Texas. Bogomolov was unable to defend his title, having won in the finals last year against Kei Nishikori of Japan

In other results on the men’s side, Paolo Lorenzi of Italy won the $35,000 event in Alessandria, Italy, while Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia won the $35,000 challenger in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The challenger circuit will be graced by the almost unheard of presence of a top 15 player this week, as Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic is the top seed at the $150,000 challenger in Prostejov, Czech Republic. Victor Hanescu of Romania is the top seed at the $50,000 challenger in Furth, Germany, and Fabio Fognini of Italy is top seed at the $35,000 challenger in Sassoulo, Italy. Main draws for the challengers in Surbiton, Great Britain, and Yuba City, California were still being made at press time.

On the women’s side, Tatiana Garbin of Italy is the top seed at the $75,000 event in Rome, Italy. Akiko Nakamura of Japan leads the way at the $50,000 challenger in Surbiton, Great Britain, while Mariana Duque Marino of Colombia takes top billing at the $25,000 event in Galantina, Italy.

All Quiet On the Challenger Front

With Roland Garros qualifying taking place, this was a quiet week on the challenger circuit. The relatively weak draws allowed two players primarily competing on the futures circuit, George Bastl and Nina Bratchikova, to break through and score much needed challenger victories.

Yen Hsun-Lu of Taipei has had outstanding results on the challenger circuit this year, but has had problems closing the door in the final match. Last week proved to be no different as Lu reached his fourth consecutive challenger final at the $50,000 event in New Delhi, India, but lost 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the championship match to Go Soeda of Japan. Soeda has also been a strong performer during the Asian swings of the challenger circuit this year, winning events in Kyoto, Japan and Busan, Korea.

The $50,000 challenger in Fergana, Uzbekistan, featured two players competing in their first challenger final of the year. In the end, Pavel Snobel of the Czech Republic prevailed 7-5, 6-3 over George Bastl of Switzerland. Bastl, who is best remembered for beating Pete Sampras in the legend’s final match at Wimbledon in 2002, has slipped to No. 380 in the world and competes primarily on the futures circuit. However, his form this week brings him slightly closer to his previous top 100 form.

At the $25,000 event in Nagano, Japan, Erika Takao of Japan completed her return from injury with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Jin-A Lee of Korea in the final. Takao, who has been high as No. 128 in the world, used her previous experience to overwhelm Lee throughout the contest; Takao was competing in her 10th challenger final while this was the first for Lee.

At the $25,000 challenger event in Moscow, Russia, Nina Bratchikova prevailed in the all Russian final against Ksenia Pervak, coming back from 5-3 in the final set to win by a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 score. Bratchikova is also in the main draw of this week’s challenger event in Russia.

The men retain the spotlight this week as top seeded Yen-Hsun Lu will look to reach his fifth consecutive challenger final at the $75,000 event in Izmir, Uzbekistan. Robert Kendrick of the United States leads the way at the $50,000 event in Carson, California, while Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia leads the way at the $35,000 challenger in Karlsruhe, Germany.

On the women’s side, Angela Haynes of the United States is the top seed this week at the $50,000 challenger in Carson, California. Teodora Mircic of Serbia is the top seed at the $25,000 event in Togliatti, Russia, Kyra Nagy of Hungary takes top billing at the $25,000 event in Galatina, Italy, while Junri Namigata of Japan is top seed at the $25,000 challenger in Gunma, Japan.