Monday at the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games in Antwerp provided an interesting mix of on-court drama and off-court glamour, with both the qualifying finals and the players party on the agenda.
The qualifying finals were as far as Anna-Lena Friedsam & Dinah Pfizenmaier would go in Antwerp, as both Germans lost their matches against Kateryna Bondarenko & Francesca Schiavone in straight sets.
The other two qualifying finals provided a lot more drama, as both matches went to a decider. Out on Court 1, Czech hothead Katerina Siniakova faced off with the Netherland’s Indy de Vroome. After losing the first set 0-6, Siniakova rallied back to force a third set that ultimately went the Dutch player’s way, in what was a nail-biting tiebreak in the end.
On center court, the local fans got to witness the all-Belgian qualifying showdown between Ysaline Bonaventure & Klaartje Liebens. The 20-year-old Liebens entered the tournament with a wildcard and was determined to make most of her chance to prove herself on the big stage.
The longer the match, the stronger Liebens got, quickly getting over the lost first set. Her gutsy performance will be rewarded with another center court opportunity in front of her home crowd tomorrow as Liebens is set to face Germany’s Mona Barthel in the first round.
While the Belgian girls were fighting for their spot in the tournament’s main draw, tournament director Kim Clijsters took time out of her busy day to talk to the media. In order to re-establish the event in Antwerp, the tournament organizers are trying to do some things differently, including unique off-court events such as a fashion show on Tuesday evening.
Also part of the tournament’s out-of-the-box thinking was a special kind of players’ party. All Monday ticket holders were invited to meet the tournament’s top seeds, giving the fans a rare chance to rub shoulders with some of the WTA’s most prominent names.
Whether it was tournament top seed Eugenie Bouchard, the local Belgian players or recent Fed Cup arrivals like Andrea Petkovic & Belinda Bencic, all players took plenty of time to sign autographs and pose for photos with many lucky fans.
Fun & games will end tonight though, as main draw action is scheduled to kick off inside the Sportpaleis tomorrow. Keep checking back to Women’s Tennis Blog for all the latest coverage live from Antwerp!