1 - 8 August Cluj-Napoca

Recap | Winners Open, Day 1: 5 Romanian players advance in the last round of the qualifiers

Winners Open started today (Sunday, 1st August), and it started on a high note, with 7 Romanian players on the qualifiers draw: 5 of them won and will play on Monday for a place on the main draw.

The day started with Miriam Bulgaru`s great comeback against a more experienced Daniela Seguel (28 yo, #222 WTA): 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, after 2h:15m of great tennis.

The Chilean player won fast -in only 30 minutes- the first set, especially due to a lack of rhythm on Miriam`s serve: four double faults and only 44% on return of her first serve, she was not able to save any of the four breakpoints that her opponent had.

The good news for Miriam was that she was capable to raise her level and gather herself. Much more aggressive, more relaxed, and more dynamic despite the heat, the player born in Alba Iulia gained control of the longer points played. Therefore, she went fast to 5-0 and, despite losing two games in a row, she closed the set.

Miriam was the one that opened better the deciding set, with a break. Even though Daniela Seguel tied the score and stood close until 3-2, the initiative was still on Miriam Bulgaru`s side. It looked like she was the one making things happen at 4-2, 5-2, and even when the score was 5-3, after two of her match balls were denied.

In the end, Miriam closed with 6-3, taking advantage of her qualifiers wild card, and tomorrow (Monday, August 2nd), she will play Aleksandra Krunic for a spot on the main draw. Krunic defeated Anna Bodnar in two sets, 7-5, 6-2.

At 22 years old, Miriam Bulgaru (#382 WTA), had her debut in a WTA event in 2018, in Bucharest, as a wild card recipient, but lost in the first round; one year later, at the same tournament, she went as far as the second round.

Romanian standoff won by Gabriela Talabă

The first Romanian standoff at Winners Open 2021 was held on the Central Court, mid-day, with little wind to cool off the players.

Gabriela Talabă won 6-4, 6-1 after 80 minutes of play against Ilinca Dalina Amariei. It was an encounter that allowed the public to better know the two players.

Gabriela, 25 years of age (#213 WTA), had her comeback after a sports scholarship at Texas Tech. In spring, she qualified on the main draw of a WTA event (at Charleston, on blue clay ) for the first time in her career, and now she is trying to repeat in Cluj-Napoca.

A lefty, with a great single-handed backhand, Gabriela has a spectacular way of playing tennis which she showcased in the second part of today`s game. But the start of the game was on Ilinca`s side (19 years old). She displayed lots of courage and many qualities: a solid backhand and a powerful right-hand shot.

But her forehand was canceled effectively with Gabriela`s backhand slice, especially on the cross-played points, a strategy she dominated from 2-4 and further on.

Gabriela won four straight games, and closed the first set at 6-4, before becoming even more aggressive on return, a shot that opened her way to two other break points won and an easier second set.

Gabriela will play for a place on the main draw tomorrow, against a more experienced Alexandra Dulgheru.

Alexandra also won another contested game, 6-3, 6-3, against Maria Benoit from Belgium. Alexandra was the better player in the key moments of the game, and knew how to make the game easier for herself when it mattered the most: she had a vital break in the sixth game of the first set, and 3 others in the first five games of the second set. She escaped at 4-1 and 5-1 but still needed a fourth match point to close the game after 1h40m of play.

Vanessa comes to notice

Another Romanian that will see further action in Cluj is Vanessa Popa Teiușanu (17 yo). She went past the Italian-born Jessica Pieri, after two hard-fought sets: 7-6(4), 7-5. This way, Vanessa proved why she deserved the wild card received for this tournament.

With her game still developing, Vanessa holds her ground on the baseline while having the ability to advance on the court and finish the point fast. Her favorite shot seems to be the backhand, and she uses it to send flat shots which made her opponent uncomfortable at times.

Vanessa had the first break of the game at 4-2 in the first set but was not able to hold her ground, therefore she found herself led with 6-5. However, the Romanian, cheered by her fans on Court no. 2, gathered herself immediately and sent the set into overtime where she won the tiebreak with 7-4.

The tables turned in the second set when Pieri (24 yo, WTA #250) escaped on a 4-2 run, following a time in the game where Vanessa played mostly defensive. But her answer was quick: three consecutive games won and 3 game points at 40-0 in the tenth game of the set.

Only here, at this particular moment, seeing her emotions on display, you could have remembered Vanessa`s age. With all of her game points vanished she came back in time, had another break, and closed the match in the next game: 7-6, 7-5, and she will play tomorrow for her first presence on the main draw of a WTA tournament. Her opponent will be Jana Fett, who defeated Lukas Tena, 6-2, 6-4.

The Romanian`s hot streak ended with Alexandra Cadanțu-Ignatik who lost against Lucrezia Stefanini, 6-3, 2-6, 0-6 while also having medical issues.

Alexandra arrived at Winners Open after a couple of victories in ITF events, and the start of the game showed that she has a good rhythm going on. She jumped at 4-0, closed the set at 6-3 and everything seem to go according to the plan.

Unfortunately, with the debut of the second set, Alexandra asked for a medical timeout. She came back on the court, but she was not able to play as well as she did in the first period. She went on to win only to more games before leaving the court. Lucrezia Stefanini will play on Monday against Paula Ormaechea.

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