Mondays with Bob Greene
Kristina Mladenovic beat Yulia Putintseva 6-2 6-7 (3) 6-4 to win the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy in St. Petersburg, Russia
Elina Svitolina beat Peng Shuai 6-3 6-2 to win the Taiwan Open in Taipei, Taiwan
Ryan Harrison beat Taylor Fritz 6-3 6-3 to win the RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas in Dallas, Texas, USA
Tatjana Maria beat Naomi Broady 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-4 to win the Dow Tennis Classic in Midland, Michigan, USA
Argentina and Italy tied 2-2 at Buenos Aires, Argentina
Belgium beat Germany 4-1 at Frankfurt, Germany
Australia beat Czech Republic 3-1 at Melbourne, Australia
United States beat Switzerland 5-0 at Birmingham, Alabama, USA
France beat Japan 4-1 at Tokyo, Japan
Great Britain beat Canada 3-2 at Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Serbia bear Russia 4-0 at Nis, Serbia
Spain beat Croatia 3-2 at Osijek, Croatia
Group I – First Round
Americas Zone: Ecuador beat Peru 5-0 at Guayaquil, Ecuador; Chile beat Dominican Republic 5-0 at Santo Domino, Dominican Republic
Asia/Oceania Zone: Uzbekistan beat Korea 3-1 at Gimcheon, Korea; India beat New Zealand 4-1 at Pune, India
Europe/Africa Zone: Bosnia/Herzegovina beat Poland 5-0 at Zenica, Bosnia/Herzegovina; Belarus beat Romania 3-2 at Minsk, Belarus; Portugal beat Israel 5-0 at Lisbon, Portugal
Group I – Second Round
Europe/Africa Zone: Hungary beat Slovakia 3-1 at Bratislava, Slovakia
Group 2 – First Round
Americas Zone: Barbados beat Paraguay 3-2 at Asuncion, Paraguay; Guatemala beat Mexico 3-1 at Guatemala, Guatemala; El Salvador beat Bolivia 3-2 at San Salvador, El Salvador; Venezuela beat Bahamas 5-0 at Doral, Florida, USA
Asia/Oceania Zone: Pakistan beat Iran 3-2 at Islamabad, Pakistan; Hong Kong beat Vietnam 3-2 at Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Philippines beat Indonesia 4-1 at Manila, Philippines; Thailand beat Kuwait 3-1 at Meshref, Kuwait
Europe/Africa Zone: Sweden beat Tunisia 3-2 in Tunis, Tunisia; Turkey beat Cyprus 4-1 in Nicosia, Cyprus; Lithuania beat Madagascar 3-2 in Siauliai, Lithuania; Georgia beat Finland 3-2 in Tbilisi, Georgia; Norway beat Latvia 5-0 at Jelgava, Latvia; Denmark beat Morocco 4-1 in Aarhus, Denmark; South Africa beat Estonia 4-1 in Centurion, South Africa; Slovenia beat Monaco 3-2 in Maribor, Slovenia
“You never know in Davis Cup.” – Steve Darcis, who led Belgium to a 4-1 victory over favored Germany.
“This is the last time I’m going to do anything like that. I’m going to learn from it.” – Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who was disqualified in the fifth rubber for hitting the umpire with the ball, giving Great Britain the 3-2 Davis Cup victory.
“I believe everyone is limitless, and it’s just about moving forward with the mentality.” – Kristina Mladenovic, after winning her first WTA singles title.
“It was the end of the tournament, and the nerves are always there. Finals come down to who can handle nerves better.” — Elina Svitolina, after winning in Taipei.
Neither Kristina Mladenovic nor Yulia Putintseva were supposed to still be playing when it came time for the final. Tell that to the pair as Mladenovic grabbed her first WTA singles title by beating Putintseva in a thrilling conclusion to the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. “It was my fourth final, and I’d lost three before that,” Mladenovic said. “The wait was definitely worth it.” Mladenovic beat Venus Williams and defending champion Roberta Vinci on her way to the final. Putintseva, who was also unseeded, knocked off third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova during the week. In the final, Mladenovic was sailing along with a 6-2 5-2 lead before her nerves got the best of her and a persistent Putintseva finally began showing the game that got her to the title match. “We were both tight and there were ups and downs from both sides, but I never gave up,” Putintseva said. Mladenovic failed to serve out the match three times before finally prevailing. “Physically, I felt great, through sometimes the nerves made my legs feel heavy,” Mladenovic said. “But it came down to fighting spirit.”
Great Britain won its first-round Davis Cup tie when Canada’s Denis Shapovalov was defaulted for hitting the umpire in the face with the ball. Kyle Edmund was in control of the deciding fifth match when the reigning Wimbledon junior champion angrily smashed the ball from mid court. The ball struck Arnaud Gabas of France flush in the left eye. Shapovalov rushed to the chair and apologized before the umpire was taken to a hospital for observation. An International Tennis Federation spokesperson said Gabas had swelling and bruising around his left eye. Great Britain and Canada were tied 2-2 going into the decisive rubber. With the victory, Great Britain will face France in the quarterfinal round. “I feel incredibly embarrassed and ashamed and feel awful for letting my team and my country down,” Shapovalov said. “I want to apologize to the umpire and referee; it was unacceptable from me.”
Steve Darcis won both of his singles to give Belgium a surprising first-round Davis Cup win over Germany. The 32-year-old Darcis beat Philipp Kohlschreiber on the first day, then upset Alexander Zverev in the reverse singles 2-6 6-4 6-4 7-6 (8) to clinch Belgium’s spot in the quarterfinals. “They said it would be an easy match for Germany,” said Darcis, who has a 21-8 Davis Cup record in singles. “That’s why we love the Davis Cup. There are surprises and we had one today. The difference between us and them is that we are really a team. They have so many great players but we play with heart, for our country and for the people here.” Belgium’s chances were considered slim since it’s top player, David Goffin, didn’t play. Instead, Darcis was the clutch performer. Although Zverev had more winners, 28-20, and more aces, 21-7, than his Belgian foe, Zverev had 73 unforced errors.
Elina Svitolina credits her mental approach to her winning tennis these days. That and an improved physical game gave Svitolina her fifth career WTA title, the Taiwan Open. “Today I was playing very well and stayed solid mentally and physically. That’s a positive,” Svitolina said after beating Peng Shuai. “I came here to Taipei trying to improve my game, to push myself and see what I could do. This week, then, was very positive.” Her Chinese opponent had won their only previous career meeting, that in 2014 at the Connecticut Open. “She’s always been really aggressive from the baseline,” Svitolina said of Peng. “The change was in myself because when I played her in 2014 I physically was much worse, which is why she had the opportunity to get on top of my game. I changed a lot. I improved my serve, return and baseline game. The difference came down more to me than her, because I played more solid today.”
An injury to her left knee forced Simona Halep to withdraw from her quarterfinal match at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. “I’m really disappointed that I had to withdraw …, but my knee is not OK,” the Romanian said. “After the last match I felt pain, and I feel it’s risky to continue here.” The tournament’s top seed, Halep said she has been suffering from tendinitis in the same knee since the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore in October and when she lost her first-round Australian Open match to Shelby Rogers last month. The 25-year-old Halep had beaten Ana Konjuh is straight sets in her first match before she started feeling pain in her knee.
Camila Giorgi has been banned for nine months and fined by the Italian Tennis Federation for refusing to play Fed Cup. The ban prevents Giorgi from training at federation facilities and from receiving a wild card for the Italian Open in May. Her father and coach, Sergio Giorgi, said she asked the federation for a break from national team play so she could compete in qualifying for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany. Giorgi missed the Italian Open last year for the same reason. She has played five Fed Cup ties and won the only point in Italy’s quarterfinal loss to France last year.
A thrilling comeback is becoming a habit for Yulia Putintseva. She reached her first WTA final by shocking second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 3-6 6-4 6-4 at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. “It’s unbelievable,” the 22-year-old from Kazakhstan said. “I’m very happy that the crowd was behind me this time around.” The crowd was pulling for her opponent in the quarterfinals when Putintseva upset third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova. “I never give up and always try to dictate my game, no matter what,” she said. Against Cibulkova, Putintseva won the final four games to grab a spot in the final.
Ryan Harrison didn’t drop a set the entire week as he became the first top-seeded player to win the RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas in the 20 years the tournament has been on the ATP Challenger Tour. And he did it by defeating Taylor Fritz in an all-American battle. Fritz was looking for his first title since January 2016. It was Harrison’s fourth ATP Challenger Tour crown, but first since January 2015.
Jack Sock and Steve Johnson led the way as the United States swept its first-round Davis Cup tie against a Switzerland team that didn’t include either Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka. Sock won his opening singles match against Marco Chiudinelli, then teamed with Steve Johnson to capture the doubles, giving the USA a clinching 3-0 lead. Johnson won the fifth rubber to complete the sweep. John Isner won his singles match on the opening day and Sam Querry won a reverse singles battle in straight set. The Swiss won only one set over the weekend, Henri Laaksonen and Adrien Bossel capturing the first set of the doubles before losing the next three.
Viktor Troiki won his singles match and partnered player-coach Nenad Zimonjic to victory in the doubles as Serbia blanked Russia 4-0, the only other World Group tie that had one team win every match played. The fifth rubber was not played. Novak Djokovic and Dusan Lajovic won Serbia’s other singles.
Argentina and Italy played a decisive fifth rubber on Monday after darkness halted play Sunday night in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with the two teams tied 2-2.
Dallas: David O’Hare and Joe Salisbury beat Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Christopher Rungkat 6-7 (6) 6-3 11-9 (match tiebreak)
Midland: Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey beat Kayla Day and Caroline Dolehide 7-6 (1) 6-3
St. Petersburg: Jelena Ostapenko and Alicja Rosolska beat Darija Jurak and Xenia Knoll 3-6 6-2 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Taipei: Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Yung-Jan beat Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova 6-4 6-2
Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com
Buenos Aires: http://argentinaopenatp.com/atp/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$540,310 Ecuador Open, Quito, Ecuador, clay
$577,748 Garanti Koza Sofia Open, Sofia, Bulgaria, hard
$577,748 Open Sud de France, Montpellier, France, hard
$100,000 Kunal Patel San Francisco Open, San Francisco, California, USA, hard
Americas Zone in Metepec, Mexico, Round-robin, hard: Pool A: Canada, Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela; Pool B: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico
Asia/Oceania Zone in Astana, Kazakhstan, Round-robin, hard: Pool A: Thailand, Kazakhstan, Korea; Pool B: China, India, Japan, Philippines
Europe/Africa Zone in Tallinn, Estonia, Round-robin; hard: Pool A: Poland, Austria, Georgia; Pool B: Croatia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Hungary; Pool C: Great Britain, Latvia, Portugal, Turkey; Pool D: Bulgaria, Estonia, Israel, Serbia
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,999,120 ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam, Netherlands, hard
$720,410 Memphis Open, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard
$624,340 Argentina Open, Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
$710,900 Qatar Total Open, Doha, Qatar, hard
Group I – First Round
Asia/Oceania Zone: Chinese Taipei vs. China at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, hard