The opening round of WTA 250 Rothesay Open in Birmingham got completed after three days, as it took longer than expected due to rain conditions, which forced the organisers to reschedule some matches on Wednesday.
Huge comeback of Venus
Venus Williams came back to the competition in last week's WTA 250 Libema Open, but came up short against Celine Naef from Swizterland. It was quite a promising show up though, as Williams won the opening set of her first competitive match after 5 months and was leading with a break in second one. It occured to be not enough, as the Swiss performed the comeback, but the American made another try in Birmingham and showed, that she is never a player to write off.
Williams got awarded with a wild card, but had quite a tricky luck in the draw, being paired up against Camila Giorgi. The Italian was a sure favorite ahead of this match, being rated with an odd 1.15. The on-court events were quite different though, as Williams took up an amazingly intense fight, which ended up with a surprising win of the 43 years-old American. Williams has started the match really well, moving up into 3-0 lead with double break advantage. Giorgi managed to make up the gap and forced the tiebreak, but it was the American who took this intense set in the bag after 70 minutes of battle.
The second set was under control of Giorgi, who managed to move the match into whole distance. Williams regrouped well and started with an early break, getting a chance to serve for the match in 9th game. Giorgi denied the upset at this point and another tiebreak was needed to settle this battle. Williams was the better side during the decisive points there and clinched the victory after 3:16 hours of battle with a score 7-6(5) 4-6 7-6(6). The Italian had some kind of physical advantage over Williams, who was playing with a taped knee, and suffered a fall during the opening set, which fortunately did not cause any injury for the 7 times Grand Slam champion, who showed a great fighting spirit and secured her spot in second round.
Good opening for the seeds
Jelena Ostapenko will be the opponent of Venus Williams in next round. The 2nd seed of the tournament has won against Linda Noskova in three sets with a score 6-2 5-7 6-1. Barbora Krejcikova, who is the top seed in Birmingham, has needed to wait for her first grass match of the season until Wednesday, but the wait was worth it as the world's number 12 has routined Cristina Bucsa with a 6-3 6-3 win. Linda Fruhvirtova will be another Czech to play in second round after beating Elina Svitolina. The Ukrainian got awarded with a wild card into main draw, but her first grass match since 2021 was not a successful one. Fruhvirtova has totally dominated her more experienced opponent on the court and won 6-2 6-0 after just 53 minutes of play. Svitolina managed to take away just 4 single points in second set, which was no longer than 20 minutes.
Shuai Zhang is the only one seed who got eliminated in first round. The Chinese did not manage to overcome her struggle yet nor break the series of matches lost in a row, which has now incremented to 10. The 7th seed got eliminated by the qualifier, Emina Bektas. The American has showed up well in Libema Open, climbing up from the qualies to main draw, where she managed to won 2 matches and came up short to the eventual winner Ekaterina Alexandrova. This time, Bektas has defeated Zhang with a score 6-4 6-3.
The fairytale no last forever
Last week's WTA 250 Rothesay Classic in Nottingham was a delightful time for British fans, as the title was settled in a final match between two Brits, and the semifinals line-up was filled by 3 of them. This time, the finalists from last weekend came up short as early as in the opening round. The UK number one and the winner from Nottingham - Katie Boulter, got eliminated by Lin Zhu. Boulter was a highly rated pre-match favorite with an odd 1.25. The player who moved up into career's best 77th place in the newest ranking, had some moments in the game, leading with a break in both sets. Despite this, the Chinese was a better player in decisive moments of both sets and performed the upset with a score 7-5 7-5.
Harriet Dart is the last standing Brit in the field after winning the clash between two wild card receivers, defeating Jodie Burrage 4-6 6-2 7-5. The latter was a runner-up in Nottingham and started the match well by winning the opening set. The match was an intense battle till the end, as it got settled by the only one break earned by Dart in 12th game of decisive set. Dart was also much more productive player in this match, as she created 15 breakpoints to just 4 produced by Burrage.