Wednesday, July 13, 2016

No. 2 seed Pliskova falls listlessly in 50K Stockton

Kristyna Pliskova, who set a record for most aces in a WTA
match in January, committed seven double faults in the second
set of her loss to qualifier Chanel Simmonds today. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   STOCKTON, Calif. -- In January, Kristyna Pliskova set the record for most aces in a WTA match.
   At times today, it seemed the 24-year-old Czech was trying to set the record for most double faults in a Challenger.
   Committing seven double faults in the second set and nine overall, the second-seeded Pliskova lost to qualifier Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 7-5, 6-3 in a first-round matchup of left-handers in the second annual University of the Pacific $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger.
   After serving at 5-5 in the first set and falling behind 0-30, Pliskova -- ranked No. 116, 100 places lower than her twin sister Karolina -- received a warning for racket abuse and essentially tanked the rest of the match.
   Here are more gory details of Pliskova's pathetic performance that sullied the new $4 million Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center:
   --After leading 5-2 in the first set, she lost eight straight games and 10 of 11.
   --Pliskova double-faulted at least once in each of her last four service games, including twice in a row on two occasions.
   --She double-faulted three times overall at 1-5 in the second set but saved three match points and won the game. On the third match point, Pliskova pounded a second-serve ace.
   "I couldn't believe it, because she obviously just doesn't care," Simmonds said. "She's just swinging, so it made it harder for me."
   --Pliskova converted only 34.5 percent of her first serves (10 of 29) in the second set and 52.8 percent overall (38 of 72).
   The listless Pliskova also stopped chasing balls and often hit random, flat-footed drop shots. On some points, however, Pliskova flashed her powerful serve and groundstrokes. She finished with seven aces.
   It was the sixth loss in seven matches for the 6-foot (1.84-meter) Pliskova, who pounded a record 31 aces in the second round of the Australian Open but blew five match points and lost to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 4-6, 7-6 (6), 9-7.
   Pliskova, who was not available for comment at the tournament and did not return calls to her hotel room, was the highest of three seeds to lose today. No. 5 Grace Min of Boca Raton, Fla., and No. 7 Lin Zhu of China fell to Americans Jamie Loeb and Caitlin Whoriskey, respectively. After the first round, only half of the eight seeds but three of the top four remain.
   No. 3 seed Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium defeated Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Ga., 7-5, 6-2 in a matchup of former Grand Slam quarterfinalists. Van Uytvanck accomplished the feat in last year's French Open and Oudin in the 2009 U.S. Open. Oudin also reached the Stockton quarterfinals last year; Van Uytvanck is making her first appearance in the tournament.
   Also advancing were fourth-seeded Urszula Radwanska, the younger sister of fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska, and 17-year-old CiCi Bellis of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Chanel Simmonds recorded the second-biggest
win of her career. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Simmonds, 23, recorded the second-biggest victory of her career. She beat then-No. 85 Klara Koukalova, another Czech, in the opening round at Johannesburg in 2010.
   "I definitely think coming through qualifying helped me because I had to go through three matches there, whereas (Pliskova) didn't have any," the 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) Simmonds said. "Actually, my first match in qualifying was against Alexandra Stevenson, and she's also a tall player and plays very similar (to Pliskova). That also could have helped me today."
   Simmonds ousted the No. 2 seed in the opening round for the second consecutive tournament. She upset Arina Rodionova, an Australian citizen from Russia, en route to the semifinals of a $25,000 tourney in El Paso, Texas, two weeks ago.
   Simmonds, though, has tumbled to No. 409 after reaching a career-high No. 158 in May 2013.
   "I just struggled defending some points, and maybe my scheduling was a little bit incorrect at that stage, so my ranking did drop 200 or 300 spots," she explained. "I'm trying my best to get it back. That's obviously a lot easier said than done."
   Simmonds has played in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament once, qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Open before losing in the first round to the No. 1 South African at the time, Chanelle Scheepers (pronounced Skippers).
   "Only two South African women in the draw, and we drew each other," Simmonds lamented.
   In addition to her strong groundstrokes, Simmonds is notable for her tattoos. There are more stars on her back than in the Milky Way. Twenty-four, to be exact, although she said the number has no significance.
   "Rihanna has stars on her back, and I wanted something similar," Simmonds said. "People are going to ask me (how many), so I might as well count."
   Simmonds also has a tattoo of a big red rose on the outside of her upper right thigh.
   "My mom also has a tattoo of a rose, so it's kind of a symbol of my relationship with her," Simmonds said.
   With considerable help from Pliskova, everything came up roses for Simmonds today.  
In Stockton, Calif.
First round
   Caitlin Whoriskey, United States, def. Lin Zhu (7), China, 6-1, 6-1.
   Alison Van Uytvanck (3), Belgium, def. Melanie Oudin, United States, 7-5, 6-2.
   Sachia Vickery (8), United States, def. Desirae Krawczyk, United States, 7-5, 6-3.
   Urszula Radwanska (4), Poland, def. Priscilla Hon, Australia, 7-6 (4), 7-5.
   Jamie Loeb, United States, def. Grace Min (5), United States, 6-2, 6-1.
   Chanel Simmonds, South Africa, def. Kristyna Pliskova (2), Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-3.
   CiCi Bellis, Atherton, def. Zhaoxuan Yang, China, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
   Anastasia Pivovarova, Russia, def. Asia Muhammad, United States, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
   Jennifer Elie, United States, def. Ashley Kratzer, United States, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
First round
   Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey (2), United States, def. Victoria Kan, Russia, and Sabina Sharipova, Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-1.
   Robin Anderson and Maegan Manasse, United States, def. Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria, United States, 2-6, 6-3 [11-9].
   Priscilla Hon and Storm Sanders, Australia, def. Desirae Krawczyk and Ena Shibahara, United States, 5-7, 7-6 (3) [10-6].
Thursday's schedule
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
Court 1
   Caitlin Whoriskey, United States, vs. Michelle Larcher de Brito, Portugal.
   Nicole Gibbs (1), United States, vs. Arina Rodionova, Australia (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend (1), United States, vs. Sanaz Marand and Melanie Oudin, United States (not before 1 p.m.).
Court 2 
   Storm Sanders, Australia, vs. Urszula Radwanska (4), Poland.
   CiCi Bellis, Atherton, vs. Sachia Vickery (8), United States (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   Greet Minnen, Belgium, and Riko Sawayanagi, Japan, vs. Robin Anderson and Maegan Manasse, United States (not before 1 p.m.).
Court 3
   Alison Van Uytvanck (3), Belgium, vs. Riko Sawayanagi, Japan.
   Anastasia Pivovarova, Russia, vs. Chanel Simmonds, South Africa (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   Kristyna Pliskova, Czech Republic, and Alison Van Uytvanck (4), Belgium, vs. Yuki Kristina Chiang, United States, and Elizaveta Ianchuk, Ukraine (not before 1 p.m.).
Court 4
   Mayo Hibi, Japan, vs. Robin Anderson, United States.
   Jamie Loeb, United States, vs. Jennifer Elie, United States (not before 11:30 a.m.).
   Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey (2), United States, vs. Priscilla Hon and Storm Sanders, Australia (not before 1 p.m.).

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