Unseeded Siniakova wins Shenzhen Open for first-ever WTA crown

The Czech budding star, Katernia Siniakova savored her magic running at the WTA Shenzhen Open here on Saturday, as she overcame the eighth seed Alison Riske of the United States in the final 6-3, 6-4 to claim her first-ever WTA title of career.

"The feelings are so good, I'm just so happy that I won my first title. This match today was really hard for me, I think I didn't show my best, but anyway I played quite well to win the title," said the unseeded Siniakova, the youngest of the tournament who will celebrate her 21st birthday on May 10.

The fifth game of the opening set became the turning point of the final, where Siniakova rallied from a 40-0 down to score six points in a row to keep her own game, broke Riske in the following one, and held her game again for a 4-2 lead before rushing forward in a hurry to collect the set 6-3.

"She was the better player today for sure, so she deserves the title. It was a learning experience for me. I'm very pleased with my week however, even though I lost today, I look forword to my next tournament," said Riske, six years senior of Siniakova.

Riske will climb to her career-high WTA ranking next week. She also enjoyed a sweet revenge for her defeat in last year's final with a commanding victory over top-seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the semifinal here on Friday.

Siniakova who started tennis at the age of five, continued her strong performance in the second set as she broke Riske twice in the 3rd and 5th games to march close to her first crown with a 4-1 lead. Although Riske geared up herself to win some games later, Siniakova sealed the match in the 10 game without much surprise.

Ranked 52nd in the world, Siniakova has stunned two top-10 players en route to the final, the second-seed Simona Halep of Romania in the second round, and the third-seed Johanna Konta of Britain in the semifinal, but she stays humble after these big wins.

"I think this tournament was great for me, as I beat so many great players and I feel my confidence can grow up a little bit. But anyway, every match is different so I still need to work a lot, continue to work on my game," said Siniakova, who has reached three finals of WTA events in the past six months, including Bastad, Sweden and Tokyo, Japan last year.

For their previous lone encounter, Siniakova also defeated Riske 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinal of the Tokyo tournament last year.

Asked for her goal this season, Siniakova said at the press briefing that she wants to finish among top 20.

"As for my whole career, it's my dream to become world number one, so I would just fight for it," said the 20-year-old Czech.

In doubles final, home favourite Peng Shuai won the championship pairing with Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic, beating Raluca Olaru of Romania and Olga Savchuk of Ukraine by two straight sets 6-1, 7-5.

The week-long Shenzhen Open offers the highest prize money of 750,000 US dollars among the WTA international-tier events.


Cornet Through To Brisbane Final Following Muguruza Retirement

Alizé Cornet

BRISBANE, Australia - The unseeded Alizé Cornet is through to the final at the Brisbane International after Garbiñe Muguruza was forced to retire due to injury.

"I was really focused on my match but I could tell [Garbiñe] was not playing like usual," Cornet said in her post-match interview. "She was not running or hitting the ball as well as usual. But I was just trying to stay focused on what I had to do."

The No.4 seeded Spaniard looked off from the start, her usually powerful groundstrokes lacking their bite. She struggled to hold serve in the opening game under Cornet's all-court assault, fending off two break points.

But Muguruza was broken in her very next service game after a string of long rallies which saw her struggle to hit through the ball, and finally retired trailing Cornet 1-4, citing a right thigh injury.

.@GarbiMuguruza retires after being down 1-4.@AlizeCornet moves into the @BrisbaneTennis Final! pic.twitter.com/ydFI8tBXqA

— WTA (@WTA) January 6, 2017

"Of course, it's not the way I wanted to get to the final but its part of the game," Cornet explained. "We understand sometimes we have some physical issues. Tennis is more and more tough on the body.

"But well, it's good for me because I will have a little bit of rest before the big final tomorrow."

Aside from securing a spot into her second career Premier-level final, the win guarantees Cornet a seed at the Australian Open. The Frenchwoman's ranking will rise as high as No.31 by virtue of reaching the final, and could go as high as No.26 should she take home the title.

Cornet awaits the winner between No.6 seed Elina Svitolina and No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova.


Siniakova Stuns Konta In Shenzhen

Katerina Siniakova

SHENZHEN, China - Katerina Siniakova is into her third career WTA final after stunning No.3 seed Johanna Konta, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 at the Shenzhen Open.

Siniakova reached her first two WTA finals last year at International events in Bastad and Tokyo, but this run is undoubtedly the best of her young career.

.@JoKonta91 races through the opening set vs Siniakova 6-1! #ShenzhenOpenpic.twitter.com/miTqfp23eg

— WTA (@WTA) January 6, 2017

The unseeded 20-year-old rocked the tournament earlier in the week when she dispatched No.2 seed Simona Halep in three sets. Siniakova has kept up that blistering form in her subsequent two matches, recovering from a set down and 4-2 in the decider to advance in one hour and 45 minutes.

Konta had been made to fight through her last two rounds, but enjoyed a breezy start on Friday morning, winning the first five games of the match before taking the first set with ease. The second set proved a far tenser affair, one in which the British No.1 lost serve early and never recovered the initiative from the World No.52, who leveled the match on her third set point.

Third set!

Katerina Siniakova battles back to force the decider vs Konta 1-6, 6-4! #ShenzhenOpenpic.twitter.com/5ZQdfIGZA0

— WTA (@WTA) January 6, 2017

Starting a season ranked inside the Top 10 for the first time in her career, Konta showed off impressive fight in the third, exchanging breaks before moving within two games of victory. Siniakova caught fire from there, winning the last four games of the match.

"I think she definitely started slower in the match, and me, quite well," Konta told press after the match. "But all credit to her, she really raised her level in the next two sets. She was going for every single shot and played quite freely, so it was a difficult match for me to do what I would have liked. But that's a credit to her.

"I'm happy I got to play four really great matches in the first week of the season. I feel very fortunate to have gotten that time on court and I'm already looking forward ot my next event."

Set to meet Siniakova in the final is 2016 Shenzhen finalist Alison Riske, who dispatched Camila Giorgi in straight sets..

Upset complete!

Katerina Siniakova knocks out Konta 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 for a spot in the #ShenzhenOpen Final! pic.twitter.com/eNJ5ofC66S

Wawrinka Rallies For Brisbane SF Berth

Stan Wawrinka settled into his game in time to reach the semi-finals of the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp on Friday. The second seed withstood some aggressive play and strong hitting from World No. 45 Kyle Edmund to advance 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 36 minutes.

Edmund rolled through the tie-break, blasting an inside-out backhand to go up 5/0. But Wawrinka broke the Brit at 3-2 in the second set and to start the third set. The Swiss star saved 11/13 break points faced.

“I want to win more matches here and not stop now,” said Wawrinka, who is looking to win a title in the first week of the season for a fourth consecutive year, following a hat-trick of titles in Chennai. “Today was a tough one, but I’m really happy to get through and have a chance to win and play the semi-final tomorrow.”

Wawrinka, who's making his Brisbane debut, will next face third seed Kei Nishikori, who defeated David Ferrer’s conqueror, Aussie wild card Jordan Thompson, 6-1, 6-1 in 62 minutes. Nishikori, who won 18 of his 19 first service points, also reached the semi-finals in 2013-15.

”I know it's going to be a tough match,” said Wawrinka. “We always play really tough matches. I beat him at the US Open. I lost at the ATP Finals quite easy. Also I lost in a tough Toronto semi-final. We practised here this week. I'm sure it's going to be a good match.”

Wawrinka leads Nishikori 4-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, although Nishikori beat Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3 at The O2 in London in November.

”It’s going to be a tough one, for sure,” said Nishikori. “We played in London a couple of months ago. He’s a top player and I'm expecting another tough match tomorrow.”