Andreescu On Clay: ‘Let’s See What I Can Do!’

Bianca Andreescu

STRASBOURG/WASHINGTON, May 24, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

This week’s Internationaux de Strasbourg, in the capital city of the Grand Est region in northeastern France, represents the last chance to tune up for next week’s French Open in Paris. It’s also a great opportunity for many to gain some valuable rankings points in this WTA 250 series, 32-player draw event.

The tournament’s top seed, World No. 7 Bianca Andreescu of Canada, has been idle since retiring in the Miami Open final against World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty seven weeks ago after injuring her right ankle and foot. She is playing in her first clay event in nearly two years, since withdrawing from the 2019 edition of Roland Garros. It’s Andreescu’s first time to play in Strasbourg and she will face 283rd-ranked qualifier Andrea Lazaro Garcia of Spain in Monday’s first-round play.

During a virtual chat with international media Sunday afternoon Andreescu told Tennis TourTalk playing a warmup before Roland Garros was important to her. “It makes a huge difference. I definitely wanted to play a tournament on clay before the French Open,” she said.

“Two years it’s been since I’ve played a tournament on clay, so let’s see what I can do!”

The Strasbourg field also includes seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams of the United States, ranked No. 104, who also makes her Strasbourg debut this week and could face Andreescu should both advance to the quarterfinal round. Williams, 40, who bowed in the first round of the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma last week, will play Istanbul champion Sorana Cirstea of Romania, ranked 61st, on Monday.

On Sunday, Williams said during a pre-tournament interview she’s looking forward to her first time playing in Strasbourg, but it came with a caveat. She said: “I am from Florida, and born in California. So, the weather is a little bit different. It’s springtime in Europe, so it can be cold, it can be warm. You just roll the dice and don’t know what’s going to happen, but all the players are playing under the same conditions. I am prepared for whatever comes.”

Former Strasbourg champions Alize Cornet (2013) and Caroline Garcia (2015), both from France are also in the main draw and Frenchwomen Clara Burrel and Harmony Tan were given wild cards. Sunday afternoon, No. 65 Cornet defeated Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 7-5 and the 144th-ranked Burel won her first-round match over No. 89 Varvara Gracheva of Russia, 6-3, 6-1, to advance against No. 3 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia. The ranked 34th Alexandrova beat No. 87 Lauren Davis of the United States, 6-1, 7-5.

Other seeds include: No. 2 Jessica Pegula of the United States (ranked 28th), No. 4 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan (ranked 35th), No. 5 Barbora Krejcikova of Czech Republic (ranked 38th), No. 6 Zhang Shuai of China (ranked 43rd), No. 7 Shelby Rogers of the United States (ranked 45th), and No. 8 Magda Linette of Poland (ranked 48th), who advanced with a 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 82 Nao Hibino of Japan.

Denis Shapovalov: Pulls out of French Open

French Open qualifying draw play begins

French Open qualifying begins Monday with 128 men and 128 women battling for 16 berths each in the men’s and women’s main draws at Roland-Garros. It takes three victories to advance.

No. 89 Ilya Ivashka of Belarus is the men’s top seed and part of a field that includes former Roland-Garros semifinalist Ernests Gulbis, former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo, NextGenATP rising star Carlos Alcaraz and Cordoba Open champion Juan Manuel Cerundulo.

Russia’s 96th-ranked Vera Zvonareva is the women’s top seed in a draw that also includes former French Open finalist Sara Errani, last year’s US Open quarterfinalist, Copa Colsanitas champion Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Serbia Ladies Open finalist Ana Konjuh.

Florida men, Texas women win NCAA team titles

The University of Florida won the NCAA Division I championship for the first time in program history at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., Saturday evening.

Ben Shelton, son of Florida head coach Bryan Shelton, clinched the 4-1 title victory at No. 5 singles for the top-seeded Gators over defending champion and No. 2 seed Baylor University with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over Baylor’s Charlie Broom. Shelton dropped the opening set, then won 12 of the final 15 games.

Meanwhile, earlier Saturday, Lulu Sun was clutch in lifting No. 2 seed University of Texas to its third NCAA Division I championship in program history by defeating Pepperdine University’s Taisiya Pachkaleva in the deciding match at No. 3 singles for a 4-3 victory for the Longhorns over the No. 5 seed Waves. Sun won the decider 6-2, 6-7, 7-5. At 6-5, she broke Pachkaleva’s serve with a cross-court backhand winner that was netted.

Kirsten Flipkens: Reaches out to her fans