In Hamburg on Thursday, Dominic Thiem breezed past John Millman for the loss of just four games to reach the last eight. Further east in Moscow, Julia had cemented her place in the quarterfinals of the inaugural clay-court event with two straight-sets wins.
Those victories were about the only ones to follow the form guide in what has been a surprising week at tournaments outside the US.
It’s hard to know what to make of results at these European clay-court events scheduled in what could be termed the “no-man’s land” of the tennis calendar.
Interesting from @juliagoerges on a conference call with reporters for @connecticutopen. Said big reason she’s playing Moscow this week is that playing clay helps her transition back from grass to hard court. Has found it difficult in the past to go straight onto hard.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) July 24, 2018
The grass-court season concluded at Wimbledon less than two weeks ago. The North American hard-court commenced this week in Atlanta, the first tournament in a five-week build up to the US Open.
The clay-court events in Hamburg and Moscow, and another in Gstaad, don’t really fit into the narrative of the season. And perhaps because of this, the plot-lines have gone haywire.
In Gstaad, No.1 seed and defending champion Fabio Fognini and third seed Borna Coric were both upset in the second round.
From the four matches contested on Thursday, two qualifiers – Jurgen Zopp and Facundo Bagnis – and lucky loser Viktor Galovic progressed to the quarterfinals.
Just two seeds, No.2 Roberto Bautista Agut and No.8 Feliciano Lopez, remain alive in the last eight.
Coric was beaten by 101st-ranked Laslo Djere while Zopp beat Fognini to set an all-qualifier quarterfinal battle against Bagnis. Galovic, the world No.267, overcame wildcard Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round, a young Canadian ranked 139th.
Quarter-final bound! ????@ThiemDomi cruises past John Millman and into the German Open Tennis Championship QFs ????
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) July 26, 2018
Hamburg has been similarly upset-ravaged.
The top three seeds – Thiem, Diego Schwartzman and Pablo Carreno Busta – remain. But they’re the only ones to reach the quarterfinals.
Joining them in the last eight are qualifiers Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jozef Kovalik, the latter overcoming local wildcard Rudolf Molleker in a second-round battle between players ranked No.113 and No.272 respectively. Lucky loser Thiago Monteiro is also through after the Brazilian upset eighth seed Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday.
The Moscow tournament is experiencing a similar situation to Hamburg, with seeds dropping like flies.
The biggest shock was the departure of No.2 seed Daria Kasatkina, who lost to 90th-ranked Tamara Zidansek on Thursday in three sets.
First Quarterfinal ?
First Top 20 win ?
Three set thriller ?
— WTA (@WTA) July 26, 2018
Five unseeded players have progressed to the quarterfinals, including 17-year-old wildcard Anastasia Potapova, Serbian lucky loser Olga Danilovic and Russian qualifier Valentyna Ivakhnenko. Ivakhnenko in the second round beat another qualifier in 318th-ranked Varvara Flink.
Just three seeds – Goerges, No.3 seed Anastasija Sevastova and fifth seed Aliaksandra Sasnovic – are left in the tournament, an International-level event offering Premier-level prize money.
Can Goerges, like Thiem, win again to maintain some semblance of order in an otherwise topsy-turvy week on clay in Europe?
She describes Moscow as “strangely” humid and admits she knows nothing of Danilovic, her next opponent.
But as an experienced campaigner ranked at a career high of No.10, she’ll approach the match no differently.
“As I always say, it’s up to me, I want to play my game, I want to dictate the game, no matter who’s the opponent,” she told wtatennis.com.
“I will look up the videos of the matches she’s played here and then I will prepare the best I can.”
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