Our contributor Karen Helf is continuing her reports from the Carlsbad Classic, the very last WTA tournament in the 2015 season, and will give us updates straight from the stands all the way till the last day of the event, so stay with us and enjoy.
Yanina Wickmayer took Center Court against American Kristie Ahn at 10AM. Kristie pushed Wickmayer in the first set, but Wickmayer held on to take the set 7-5.
In the second set, Ahn captured the early break to go up 0-1 and Yanina verbalized her frustration. Next Ahn held her service game despite a double-fault at 40-30. On the final point of this game, Yanina hit her service return wide and blew off steam throwing her racquet. The chair umpire responded with a code violation.
Back on serve and down 0-2, Wickmayer was losing her grip on the set. Ahn broke Yanina again despite an ace at 0-40. Ahn now back on serve was in control. Wickmayer started coming into the net and hit a cross-court winner to break Ahn and momentum shifted.
An inspired Yanina went on to take the next five games and the set 6-3. Wickmayer was hitting the lines and coming in to net. Ahn provided assistance hitting balls long and double faulting at 4-3. As Ahn exited the court, the crowd applauded her efforts and she smiled acknowledging their support.
Next on Center Court was the battle of the Americans, Cici Bellis against Katerina Stewart. Stewart took the court with a heavily strapped thigh, although an injury was not apparent in her game. This match was a battle of powerful grounds-strokes and a variety of shot selections lasting 2 hours and 22 minutes.
Bellis played at net with consistent aggression. On several points she put just one more ball in play, displaying Radwanska-like skills. She moved well and kept her strike zone in front to get full power into her shots. Katerina also played powerful tenacious tennis.
Cici took the early break in Stewart’s second service game and won the set 6-2. While playing well, Bellis requested to see her coach. In the second set, Bellis began voicing frustration for mistakes. She was working harder to hold serve with long points and games that bounced back and forth between deuce and ad points.
Katerina continued hitting hard and taking advantage of opportunities. They traded breaks and landed at 3-3. Bellis failed to capitalize on her chance to serve out the set at 5-4. Instead, Stewart got the break to 5-5. Bellis errors continued and Stewart took the second set, 7-5. Bellis vocalized her displeasure.
In the final set, Cici regrouped, but Stewart held her ground. Early on, the set was highly competitive. When Bellis was up 4 games to 3 she amped herself up. She crushed balls and won a significant number of points coming in to net pushing the score to 5-3. Stewart held her next service game to 5-4, but Bellis played an efficient final service game.
The final match point was a Bellis net kill. Like they say, don’t mess with success, final score, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, Bellis. A first today, I met a devoted four-legged Bellis fan named Roo. Sitting next to me he was really into the match.
Doubles also made a splash on Center Court today. Oksana Kalashnikova and Tatjana Maria played Julia Glushko and Rebecca Peterson. This match was a rapid fire display of hard driven shots. Both teams played aggressive tennis with their sights on reaching the final.
The first set went to a tiebreak, ending with Kalashnikova-Maria on top, 7-6. Glushko responded by demolishing her racquet, and yes the umpire responded with a violation.
During the second set, Kalashnikova-Maria pulled ahead early to a 3-1 lead. Glushko-Peterson recovered ground back to 4-3. That is where their chances ended. The next two games when quickly to Kalashnikova-Maria, final score 7-6, 6-3.
The doubles final is tomorrow where Kalashnikova-Maria play Ce-Cepede Royg. Ce-Cepede Royg beat Broady-Gibbs, 6-2, 6-0 to advance to the final.
The singles quarterfinals are set with four Americans still in the trophy hunt. A Bellis-Gibbs clash is possible but Yanina Wickmayer and Tatjana Maria may have other plans.
KAREN'S REPORTS FROM PREVIOUS DAYS AT THE 2015 CARLSBAD CLASSIC: