Thursday proved to be a very eventful day inside Antwerp’s Sportpaleis and the two tournament top seeds Angelique Kerber & Eugenie Bouchard played their opening matches after enjoying a first-round bye.
Kerber was the first to start her Diamond Games campaign and it only lasted for a very brief while, as the German #1 was completely outplayed by qualifier Francesca Schiavone. Having played the Fed Cup the weekend before, Kerber looked mentally unable to compete in this match. She was barely moving or making any kind of noteworthy effort, being sent off the court by Schiavone 6-1 6-1.
Following Kerber’s rather uninspired exit, it was up to the tournament’s top seed to deliver. Genie Bouchard certainly did her part to support the event, as the crowd for the Canadian’s first match was easily the largest the Sportpaleis has seen so far this week. Unfortunately, Genie was unable to back her star power up with play on the court.
After taking the first set against Germany’s Mona Barthel in her favour, Bouchard slowly but steadily unraveled as Barthel took control of the match, winning the second set. Even though Bouchard’s back was pushed more and more against the wall as the match went on, the Canadian opted against asking newly appointed coach Samuel Sumyk for help and the Frenchman could do nothing but watch Bouchard surrendering control of her match to Barthel, seemingly much to the enjoyment of his former player Victoria Azarenka.
Barthel never looked back in the third set, bringing home a 6-2 lead in the final set, sending Bouchard off to Dubai, as the young Canadian has decided to take up a last-minute wildcard for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Premier 5 event.
With all Belgians and the crowd-favorite player out of the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games, it is on the last remaining eight players to excite the Belgian crowd in tomorrow’s quarterfinals. Whoever will make the tournament’s final and fight for the gorgeous trophy will do it in front of a proper crowd, as over 9,000 tickets have already been sold for the final day!
This is the last day of Women’s Tennis Blog’s coverage from the spot in Antwerp, but we will surely continue to follow the tournament and report about it. Our photographer Jimmie48 is now heading to Dubai. We’re going full force in 2015!