IN-FORM Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia is quickly becoming the most talked about WTA Tour player after claiming back-to-back trophies on grass in Britain. Ranked 80th at the start of the year, and 48th heading into the first grass court tournament in Nottingham a fortnight ago, Haddad Maia claimed 10 consecutive wins on the surface, and won back-to-back titles in Nottingham and Birmingham. It was the 26-year-old’s first two singles trophies.
Of the two tournaments, Haddad Maia’s biggest win came in the Nottingham quarter final, defeating world number five, Maria Sakkari in three sets. Though not at their peak rankings, Haddad Maia also claimed wins over Grand Slam winners Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep in Birmingham, as well as in-form Italian Camila Giorgi. The Birmingham final was the quickest of the lot though, when Haddad Maia’s opponent, eighth seed Shuai Zhang had to retire after nine games.
The Brazilian’s Nottingham success also featured a retirement – but in the semi-final when she was already 6-3 4-1 up – against Czech Republic’s Tereza Martincova. Haddad Maia would go on to beat world number 40, Alison Riske in the final, 6-4 1-6 6-3. Remarkably, her rise up the rankings in the past two tournaments has seen Haddad Maia slide into 29th in the world, putting her in seed contention for Wimbledon which is now just a week away. The 15th seed at Eastbourne will take on Estonian Kaia Kanepi in the first round.
Meanwhile in the other grass tournament, the Libema Open in S’hertogenbosch, seventh seed Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova picked up her first grass court title, and second official WTA 250 title, by defeating Belarusian top seed Aryna Sabalenka, 7-5 6-0 in convincing style. Alexandrova could not maintain her form last week in Berlin however, losing in the second round to fellow Russian, Daria Kasatkina. In a pretty stacked tournament, Tunisian Ons Jabeur grabbed another title, defeating Swiss talent Belinda Bencic in the final, leading 6-3 2-1 before the eighth seed had to retire. Roland Garros finalist Coco Gauff, and Sakkari made the semi-finals in Germany.
Looking to the ATP Tour action, and talented Italian Matteo Berrettini also whipped up two titles, winning at both the Stuttgart Open and Queen’s Club Championships. In the more recent Queen’s Club, Berrettini avoided playing any seeds, but did not drop a set on his way to the title, with the second seed knocking off home nation representative Daniel Evans, Dutchman Botic Van de Zandschulp, and Serbian Filip Krajinovic. The latter was a 7-5 6-4 victory in the final. At Stuttgart, Berrettini overcame British Grand Slam winner Andy Murray, getting home in three sets 6-4 5-7 6-3, in what was also a weaker draw, but a more competitive tournament for the Italian.
Whilst Berrettini has enjoyed two title wins, world number one Daniil Medvedev has suffered back-to-back finals losses. the most recent came in Halle, where he was trumped by Polish fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz, 6-1 6-4. The Russian was challenged throughout the tournament, with Hurkacz also having to overcome Australian wildcard Nick Kyrgios in three sets, 4-6 7-6 7-6 in the semi-final. It was the ‘s Hertogenbosch final that really had tennis fans talking. Dutch wildcard Tim van Rijthoven – who had never won an ATP Tour 250 match before, stormed through the Libema Open to grab a title.
Along the way, van Rijthoven defeated the top three seeds in the tournament, including American Taylor Fritz (6-7 7-5 6-4), Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime (6-3 1-6 7-6) and then in the final, Medvedev. The Dutchman won 6-4 6-1 in stunning style to take out the tournament, handing Medvedev the first of two ATP Tour final losses on the grass. Unfortunately for the world number one, he is unable to compete in Wimbledon, with the Russian set to play in Mallorca tomorrow, taking on fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev in the Round of 16.