I had to work until 13:00, and arrived on-site at 13:30. I also didn't stay the entire day; left around 18:30 as I got cold and hungry
Anna Gerasimou GRE  beat Florencia Molinero ARG | 6-1 0-6 6-3
I arrived when it was 2-2 in the final set. Molinero seemed to have absolutely nothing special and, presuming clay is her best surface, I can't see her rise much in the ranks. Gerasimou was the more aggressive and more entertaining player. She was being cheered on in Spanish by her doubles partner, Sara Del Barrio-Aragon. Despite pushing her Argentinean opponent in defensive mode most of the times and despite hitting some clean forehand down-the-line winners, the Greek girl made some truly abysmal errors that betrayed that, on a really bad day, she would be an easy opponent. With Van Uitert as a potential opponent in the next round, I think the Dutch girl has all the potential to reach the QF.
Stephan Fransen NED [WC] beat Andrei Plotniy RUS | 6-3 6-4
Saw most of this match. The first time I saw Fransen was in Scheveningen this year and I was quite impressed by him. Fransen is incredibly fit; lots of muscle and not an ounce of fat too much. He hits incredibly hard and flat, especially with his forehand. He was easily the hardest hitter out there today, and was keeping the errors to a minimum as well. I knew absolutely nothing about Plotniy going into the match. Now I know that he has a big serve and can occasionally whack the ball with his forehand, but that he won't ever be a force to reckon with. Pretty uninspiring stuff from the Russian, despite being up a break in the second set.
Pedro Sousa POR beat Ladislav Chramosta CZE  | 6-0 7-6 (0)
Was looking forward to seeing Ladislav again after Amersfoort a few years ago, where I really enjoyed his game and on-court personality. Today Chramosta showed me pretty much the reverse. The court wasn't conveniently located for watching, so I saw a bit while sitting at the Gerasimou-Molinero match. Chramosta was being outplayed by Sousa, who hit a lot of successful dropshots, which frustrated the Czech to great lengths. I stood behind the fence for the second half of the second set, when Chramosta actually managed to go up a break, before throwing that away by serving and hitting horribly. Sousa doesn't have too much going for him; he's solid, but anyone with a game and a brain to use it can outmanoeuvre him. Lucky for him, Chramosta had neither on this day. He even decided to throw in the towel when he went down 0-4 in the breaker. The remaining three points were a complete tank job.
Interesting to mention is that Ladi's girlfriend, fellow player Veronika Chvojkova, was cheering him on throughout his match. She was really cute consoling him after the match as well, as Ladi was on the verge of tears. Sousa was also being supported by his girlfriend, by the way.
Harmsen & Meddens [NED] beat Albanese & Fichman [USA/CAN] | 6-3 6-3
I was really looking forward to seeing both Albanese and Fichman play, but what a huge letdown they were. Fichman is truly horrible as a doubles player. She is soooo incredibly short, meaning that she has no width at the net and is easily passed. She also has no height, so she is easily lobbed, cannot smash well and cannot serve to save her life. I wonder if she actually held her serve once in this match. If she did, I cannot recall the occasion. Sharon does have some nice groundies though. Albanese wasn't much better than Fichman. What the North American team had going for them, was a drive to win though. But it was not enough to make up for the poor display.
Harmsen, to me, is a very good club-level player. Today she was playing better than I've ever seen her - her serve and groundstrokes are pretty good - but she is not very fit, has a tendency to let negativity take over, and has a very, very awkward way of volleying. Meddens, who was recently crowned Dutch (outdoor) champion, is much more inspiring to watch. She is very upbeat, clearly loves being out there and has got a very good, all-round game which betrays great tactical insight as well. But it's mostly the love of the game that she exudes that makes her a pleasure to watch. All in all, a good display from the Dutch team, even if they were, surprisingly to me, not challenged by Albanese and Fichman.
Marc-André Stratling GER  beat Photos Kallias CYP | 7-6 (4) 4-6 7-5
Kallias has been around for a while and hasn't had many inspiring results, but this year he actually has had some scores which made me want to see him play today. Stratling to me was yet another German; nothing worthy of attention, I thought. It turned out to be the other way around.
Kallias was grinding and grinding. I can't recall having seen the lefty hit a winner, or at least dominate a rally. Stratling, a tall and lanky young blonde guy, was dictating play whenever he could with his very powerful forehand. This was an error-prone way of playing, but it was nice to look at at least. The rallies were long and resulted either in a winner from Stratling, or a mistake after Kallias got back everything that he could get back.
To me, it was clear that Stratling is the more talented and more accomplished player, but he struggled with breaking down the Cypriot's defense. Nevertheless, when I left after the German had won the first set, I didn't envision this to become a marathon match. I returned halfway through the final set, and Kallias actually went up 5-3 thanks to Stratling's unforced errors. At this stage, the German really escaped in a match that went up and down, with breaks back and forth. Stratling's one-woman support team (seemed to be his mother) was visibly relieved after the match
Chakhnashvili & Molinero [GEO/ARG, 3] beat Schoeffel & Schoofs [FRA/NED] | 6-2 7-5
I saw about five games of this and it was damn boring. Schoeffel, who really looks more masculine than feminine, can volley well, but is lacking in every other department. Schoofs was a huge letdown, as she was once seen as one of the most promising Dutch players, but has consistently failed to deliver; all she displayed today was a subpar performance. Chakhnashvili to me is always a great frustration to watch: there are very few players that are more negative on court (Nagyova, Poutchek, Sromova come to mind). Her (overweight, chain-smoking) coach even had to yell at her to be positive during her practice session earlier in the day, and it was no different in this match. The Georgian has some nice groundstrokes, but no brain and no volleys. Molinero, as I said before, is nothing special in my mind, but she is very determined on court. The girl is definitely a fighter and seems to have a very amiable personality (how she ended up with Chakhnashvili as a partner is, therefore, a miracle to me). While the Georgian/Argentinean team was clearly superior in terms of talent, it'd be a shocker if they took the title. And if they do take it, it'll be a snoozefest through and through.
Oh, Claudine Schaul was watching this.
Kuzmina & Poltoratskaya [LAT/RUS, 4] beat Basuki & Tedjakusuma [INA] | 4-6 6-1 10-1
I really wanted to see Basuki in real life for the first time, also in order to see whether she has retained some of her skills that got her so high up in the rankings in her heydays. And the answer is that she does. I only stayed for the first set, before hunger and cold took over, but in that set she had the best returns and the best volleys. Truth be told, she also made the most awkward mistakes, but she did display some great doubles tennis at times. Manon Bollegraf was watching this for a while as well, and told Yayuk to show her the stuff
Telling is perhaps that she opened the match with an ace. Tedjakusuma, on the other hand, was not inspiring whatsoever. Very bland on all accounts.
I really took a liking to Kuzmina in this match. The Latvian is a very striking girl and has a very nice attitude on court. She is determined to win, but not to the detriment of herself, her partner or her opponents. And she performed a beautiful split that looked incredibly painful - and was, by the way, completely futile. But I hadn't seen one performed in real life before, so that was a first. Her game in doubles is also nice to look at: it's very aggressive, to the point of being overly ambitious I guess. What wasn't so nice to look at was her horrible blue Nike outfit, though.
Poltoratskaya was very, uhm, interesting. The girl gets mad at herself for every
thing. She misses a lob and a tantrum follows; she nets a first serve and negativity sets in; she makes an unforced error and her racquet is sent flying. Kuzmina kept trying to calm her down, but to no avail. Nevertheless, and despite the rather painful score in singles (3-6 1-6 to Maes), the girl has got game. I really like her groundstrokes, but she needs some time to smoothen the rough edges and to become more consistent. But she is a sure Top 200 prospect in my eyes.
Jugic-Salkic & Mircic [BIH/SRB, 1] beat Krauth & Nooni [ARG/SWE] | 7-6 (7) 6-1
This was played on the court adjacent to the one Stratling vs. Kallias (and Basuki/Tedjakusuma vs. Kuzmina/Poltoratskaya thereafter) was held on, and wasn't very visible without being distracted by the other matches. But what I saw was definitely the best doubles tennis of the day. Jugic-Salkic is in a league of her own (though her smashes are dreadful; every smash I saw her hit went into the net), and there are only two reasons why the first set was even close, with the opponents actually getting at least one set point: 1) Mircic dragged her down because she has no tactical skills suited to doubles tennis and 2) Krauth and Nooni really work well together as a team. The first set was very close, but it was clear from the on-set that whoever lost it, would collapse in the second. Jugic-Salkic was quite pumped up to win this.
Might be heading there again tomorrow, but won't be able to be there before 16:30 and will probably only see like two hours of tennis. Like last year, the venue is really nice, the tournament is run very professionally and attendance is quite good.