Alexandrova Embraces Strasbourg Opportunity

Ekaterina Alexandrova (photo: @WTA_Strasbourg/Twitter)

STRASBOURG/WASHINGTON, May 26, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

As play began at the Internationaux de Strasbourg in northeastern France following a two-and-a-half rain delay Wednesday afternoon, with both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds gone, Ekaterina Alexandrova found herself as the highest remaining seed left in this WTA 250 red clay tune up with Roland Garros looming next week.

Despite the 11-degree Celsius conditions mixed with clouds and misty rain, the 33rd-ranked Alexandrova from Chelyabinsk, Russia, embraced the opportunity to advance – and she dressed the part, too. Bundled in tights and a long-sleeved top, Alexandrova made quick work of her opponent, 146th-ranked French wild card Clara Burel. Alexandrova needed just 70 minutes to complete her 6-3, 6-4 victory on Patrice-Dominguez Court. Her 14th win of the season against 10 defeats advanced her to Thursday’s quarterfinals against No. 5 seed Barbora Krejcikova.

“It was a tough match and, obviously, [Clara] is a good player,” Alexandrova said during an on-court interview following her victory. “The conditions today were not so good, but at least, we could play. I think it was a good match – even though the balls were flying. Anyway, it is what it is.”

While Alexandrova hit five double faults and committed 30 unforced errors, she converted six of 10 break-point opportunities against the 20-year-old Frenchwoman from Perros-Guirec, who is considered by many to be one of France’s bright future stars. Burel was done in by 43 unforced errors and managed just five winners against Alexandrova, who outpointed her opponent 62-49.

“I feel good in both a physical and mental way,” Alexandrova, 26, said. “I’m just glad to play more matches on the clay before the French Open. Every match is a great match. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Krejcikova outlasts Garcia, French fans

For the third time this season, the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova came back to win after losing the first set. This time, the No. 5 seed beat No. 57 Caroline Garcia of France, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, by winning nine of 12 close games and taking advantage of four service breaks in five break-point opportunities. The victory advanced the 38th-ranked Krejcikova into the quarterfinal round against No. 3 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Krejcikova hit 24 winners against 33 unforced errors, while the crowd favorite Garcia finished with 18 winners but committed 45 unforced errors. Krejcikova outpointed her opponent 80-65 during the one hour and 49-minute match.

Thank you very much, fans. I really enjoyed today, even though most of you were against me,” Krejcikova said during a post-match interview on Patrice-Dominguez Court.Thank you so much for coming, I hope to see you tomorrow.”

Krejcikova, an accomplished Grand Slam-winning doubles player, has toiled since the WTA relaunch last summer to establish herself as a singles player. Thanks to her run to the Dubai final in March, she’s improved her ranking nicely to where she’s gone from being in the Top 75 at the beginning of the year to her current position in the Top 40, a career-best plateau.

“I feel like all these matches that I’m playing against top players, for me, is a big experience,” Krejcikova said. “Last year, I entered Top 100. Before, I was playing mainly doubles. I wasn’t able to make it in singles. Now, I’m fighting for every ball, enjoying that I can play this well. I always wanted to play these tournaments, all the best players. Right now, it’s happening and I’m really enjoying every match, every game.”

Putintseva, Rus quickly reach quarterfinals

Both No. 4 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan and Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinal round as a result of retirements by their respective opponents. First, Putintseva was two games and 19 minutes into her second-round match against Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann when the Swiss came up limping while coming in to retrieve a drop shot hit by Putintseva. She immediately went down on the red clay. A short time later, after receiving physio treatment on the court, Teichmann declared herself unable to continue.

Then, in the next match on Court 1, the 84th-ranked Rus won over 151st-ranked French wild card Harmony Tan after 41 minutes due to a hand injury. Rus was ahead 6-1, 1-1 when the second-round match was halted.

Putintseva advanced to face No. 8 seed Magda Linette of Poland, who on Tuesday won by retirement over Alizé Cornet of France. Meanwhile, Rus will play either No. 7 seed Shelby Rogers of the United States or qualifier Jule Niemeier of Germany. Niemeier led 6-4, 2-1 when rain suspended the match. It will be completed on Thursday.

“It was difficult [to win] because nobody was ready for it to end,” Putintseva said during a virtual interview. “I was ready to fight. I did a good warm up in the gym and the indoor courts. Unfortunately, it is what it is. I’m happy to go through and I wish Jil a swift recover for the French [Open].

“For me, it’s important to be focused, to play my game, be ready and whatever happens I know I have a match [in the French Open] next week. This is a good opportunity to have some matches before – as many matches as I can – and to prepare.”

Wednesday’s Internationaux de Strasbourg results

Thursday’s International de Strasbourg order of play

Around the Tennis Club de Strasbourg

Top-seeded doubles team Alexa Guarachi of Chile and Desirae Krawczyk of the United States reached the semifinal round with a 6-3, 5-7, 11-9 win over Alexandra Panova of Russia and Julia Wachaczyk of Germany.

Also advancing to the semifinals were: Elixane Lechemia of France and Ingrid Neel of the United States, who upset No. 4 seeds Zhang Shuai and Xu Yifan, both of China, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2), 10-7; and Vivian Heisen of Germany and Nicole Melichar of the United States, who defeated Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic and Miya Kato of Japan, 6-1, 6-3. On Tuesday, No. 2 seeds Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-Ching, both of Taiwan, lost to Yang Zhaoxuan of China and Makoto Ninomiya of Japan, 6-4, 2-6, 10-5.

What they’re telling Tennis TourTalk

Caroline Garcia of France on what it means to her to have crowd support and be able to play in front of French fans this week in Strasbourg: “I think it’s very important to start to play tournaments with fans, and to be able to look up and see friends and fans is something extra. The past months have been tough for everyone, for us as players. It’s nice to see the fans and for them to see us back on court. We can share some energy and enjoy it. It’s very important and I am grateful for it.”