The last week of July is also the last week of the European clay season, with two WTA 250 events being played in Hamburg and Lausanne, where some really well known players play for some additional points to the ranking, just before the start of hard courts swing in North America, which starts next week.
Strong line-up of main draw
The Hamburg European Open collected an interesting field of players, containing the names which showed some really good performance in recent weeks. Donna Vekic was an absolute headline player of the main draw, announced as the top star of the tournament in Hamburg, many weeks before the start of event. Mayar Sherif approached Hamburg as second seed, just after her run of 13 consecutive wins on clay, which ended up after losing by just a margin in an exciting semifinal of Palermo Ladies Open against the eventual winner of whole the tournament - Qinwen Zheng.
The runner up from Palermo - Jasmine Paolini, seeded with #4, and 7th seed Arantxa Rus, who won two clay tournaments in July so far, were also considered as players to watch in really interesting and quite stacked bottom half of the main draw. Rus got paired up against the sensational winner of last week's Hungarian Grand Prix - Maria Timofeeva, in the one of top match-ups of the opening round.
The home crowd could hope for a good run of five Germans, representing hosts in the main draw. Eva Lys and Tamara Korpatsch have been supported by three wild card receivers - Jule Niemeier, Ella Seidel and Noma Noha Akugue.
Two top seeds are already out
Both halves of main draw are already lacking their top seeds after just first round, as Donna Vekic and Mayar Sherif faced upsets in their opening matches of Hamburg European Open. Vekic played against well known world class doubles specialist - Storm Hunter, who rises up in singles as well recently. The Australian managed to climb from qualifying field in two consecutive Grand Slams, at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Vekic was a confident favorite ahead of the match against Hunter and opened it well, clinching the first set by 6-3. The Croatian started slowly, as she got broken after the start, but came back by winning 3 consecutive service games of her opponent, to move up into set lead. The top seed did not follow the blow, as Hunter raised up her level and Vekic could not find a way to put enough pressure on the Australian. Second set was quite tight, as both players were facing breakpoints in just one service game each, but it was Hunter who converted her chance, and forced a decider. Third set started with comfortable holds from both, but the Australian broke her opponent twice since the score 2-2 and performed a big upset by eliminating the tournament's number one after really good performance showed in last two sets.
Eva Lys has delivered a lot of joy for the home fans, as she eliminated second seed Mayar Sherif in an impressive style. Lys was rated as an underdog with a high odd 3.97, but the German made a big surprise, especially considering the scale of her victory, as she crushed the pre-match favorite with a score 6-1 6-1. The Egyptian could suffer some fatigue after her intensive clay campaign in July, as she was playing with taped knee, but all the credits goes for Lys, who played with a great passion and composure ahead of the home fans. The German was dominating in the rallies, striking multiple great shots and being clinical in the majority of her strokes.
Great comeback win for Saville
Daria Saville is the player, who was missed by many fans during the long period of her major injury treatment, which took her away from the competition for 9 months. Saville started her comeback on grass, entering the WTA 250 event in Birmingham and the main draw of Wimbledon. Her first appearance on clay happened in Budapest last week, where she got eliminated in first round by the eventual winner - Maria Timofeeva. After just one win in four matches played during the month, Saville entered the qualies in Hamburg and managed to advance into main draw, where she got paired up against Jasmine Paolini. The Italian, who showed some good tennis in last week's Palermo Ladies Open, where she advanced into final after some exciting three sets battles on the road, was a favorite before the match against the Australian. Saville caused another notable upset of the opening round there, as she reminded her good skills from before the injury. The qualifier has shockingly won the opening set by 6-0. Saville was also on the front foot in second set and could serve for the win in 12th game, but wasted two matchpoints from being *6-5 40-15 up. The tiebreak was needed there, but Saville regained her superiority in this match and won the whole thing by 6-0 7-6(3).
Rus stops the sensational youngster
Arantxa Rus did not face an upset, in the opposite of other pre-tournament favorites. The Dutch has played today against Maria Timofeeva, who celebrated her maiden WTA title just two days ago, which lifted her up from the middle of 3rd century of WTA rankings into 129th place. The 19 years-old was not a favorite against Rus, but managed to stretch the match into three sets after losing the opening set. Rus was a dominant player in a decider though, as she created 9 breakpoints, putting an immense pressure in every of just three Timofeeva's service games in this set, and secured the second round's spot with a score 6-2 4-6 6-1.
The festive of errors
Bernarda Pera entered the tournament in Hamburg as a third seed of main draw. After the fall out of Vekic and Sherif, the American became the highest seed, who still stands in the tournament after opening round. Her match against the qualifier - Zynep Sonmez from Turkey, was quite an unusual spectacle though. Pera denied an upset as a pre-match favorite, and moved into second round after three sets, winning by 6-2 1-6 6-4. The match was quite an eyesore to watch though, as both the players commited the total amount of 100 unforced errors throughout whole the play. Pera ended up with a ratio of 17 winners in compare to as many as 57 unforced errors, while Sonmez hit 6 winners and commited 43 unforced errors.
Good start for the hosts
Apart from the great surprise done by Eva lys in her match against Mayar Sherif, the other Germans did also perform really well in first round of Hamburg European Open. 4 out of 5 hosts representatives are still in the contention, while two of them needed to play between each other - Jule Niemeier defeated Ella Seidel 7-6(5) 1-6 6-3 in the battle of wild card receivers. Tamara Korpatsch eliminated Maria Lourdes Carle, also winning in three sets, by 3-6 6-2 6-1, while Noma Noha Akugue was better than Laura Pigossi and moved into second round after straight sets victory, 7-5 6-4.