Duque-Mariño and Wang Secure Doubles Title

Mariana Duque-Mariño and Yafan Wang defeated Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Barbora Stefkova 6-3, 7-5 in the WTA Croatia Bol Open final on Sunday, June 10 on center court at the Bluesun tennis center. Duque-Mariño and Wang beat the Spanish and Czech duo in one hour and 22 minutes.

The Croatia Bol Open marks the first tournament they have played together this year, and the fourth seeded team moved through draw without dropping a set. Throughout the tournament they moved past Anhelina Kalinina & Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 7-6(3), Tena Lukas & Tamara Zidansek 6-4, 6-4, and Ysaline Bonaventure & Sara Sorribes 6-4, 7-6(1).

Wang, a 24-year-old from China, now has four WTA 125K series doubles titles. This is the first WTA 125K series doubles title for Duque-Mariño, a 28-year-old from Colombia. With this win, the team earned 160 WTA ranking points and $5500 in prize money.

Coming into the 2018 WTA Croatia Bol Open Wang had a doubles ranking of world no. 91 and Duque-Mariño had a doubles ranking of world no. 117. Following their stellar results in Bol, Wang moved up 15 spots to world no. 76 and Duque-Mariño moved up 21 spots to world no. 96, a career high ranking.

Zidansek Wins Maiden WTA Title

Tamara Zidansek won her first WTA tour level title at the 2018 WTA Croatia Bol Open in front of a full stadium, defeating world no. 68 and no. 2 seed Magda Linette 6-1, 6-3. Zidansek now leads their head-to-head 2-0.  With this win, the biggest of her career, Zidansek will break into the world’s top 100, jumping from world no. 122 to world no. 96 come Monday. She will also become the second best female tennis player in Slovenia.

The 20-year-old from Slovenia certainly has bright future in front of her. “A dream week is behind me,” Zidansek said. “I kept on improving through the week, from beating Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round till the finals and I played great. I do not know what else to say, this is my first WTA title, I will remember Bol all my life,” she said excitedly.

Zidansek just missed the main draw cut off at Wimbledon, so she will have to play through the qualifying rounds where she will be the no. one seed. If she manages to maintain or improve her ranking this summer, she will gain automatic entry into the main draw at the U.S. Open in August.

Linette had an impressive run in Bol, but she was overpowered by Zidansek’s aggressive play today. “I was hoping it would be different, but Tamara did great and deserves this title,” Linette said.

In the fifth game of the first set a drone appeared in the sky above the stadium, forcing the chair umpire to briefly suspend play while the crowds laughed at the hilarity of the situation. Zidansek’s momentum, however, could not be stalled as she stormed to victory with relative ease.

“We had the best tennis tournament so far. We have the smallest budget on WTA Tour, but we are the best in this category. We have seen top tennis in the final. These girls will be at the top of the sport for a long time. I am proud of my team and everything they have done. Only 60 cities in the world have a WTA license, we are the only WTA 125k Series tournament in this part of the world, in Southeastern Europe. The WTA is officially the world’s strongest brand in women’s sport and despite all the obstacles and the lack of support from state institutions responsible for developing sports in our country, there is that Dalmatian spite that will bring the WTA to Bol again,” said tournament director Feliks Lukas during the trophy ceremony.

The Mayor of Bol, Tihomir Marinković, and Blaženko Boban, Mayor of Splitsko – Dalmatinska County,  also joined Lukas today to assist in presenting the trophies.

Despite Fantastic Crowd Support, Zidansek Stopped Tena

About five hundred spectators supported Tena Lukas in her first WTA tour level semi-final, but despite the enthusiastic atmosphere, Lukas failed to make it to the 2018 WTA Croatia Bol Open final. The match was a battle fight of styles, with Lukas` attacking on one side of the net and Tamara Zidansek’s counter attacking defense on the other. In the end, Slovenian Tamara Zidansek prevailed with a 6-4, 6-3 win.

Lukas started off well with an early break to lead 3-0 in the first set, but Zidansek adjusted her game and steadily recovered to control the match through the end. Lukas was frustrated, saying “Today I did not really have any solutions. My coach consulted me twice, I did not know what to do. At all of my attempts she hit the counter, returned all the balls on the court and I did not know what to do. Simply, Tamara was better today.”

Though she tried to play as aggressively as possible, Lukas struggled to produce her best tennis seen over the past week, and the mistakes quickly accumulated. Thanks to a great run at the 2018 WTA Croatia Bol Open, Lukas’ ranking will improve from world no. 318 to world no. 262 come Monday. “I hope it will not stay there, I need to move to at least 199,” she said with a smile on her face. Lukas is determined to keep improving as she travels to her next tournament on Monday, followed by two weeks of training and more tournaments. Her goal is to reach the qualifying draw of the US Open. Reaching the Grand Slam tournament qualifications are her goal for this season.

The match was observed by the recent Roland Garros mixed doubles champion from Croatia, Ivan Dodig. He thought Lukas looked better than even, saying “Tena has definitely progressed, this is a different level of her game compared to a few years ago. It still needs plenty of work, but now it is on a good track.”

The 2018 WTA Croatia Bol Open singles final takes place on Sunday, June 10 at 6pm. Magda Linette of Poland will be play today’s winner, Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia.

Tamara Zidansek Makes First WTA Final

Tamara Zidansek defeated local favorite Tena Lukas 6-4, 6-3 to reach her first WTA tour level final. She will meet world no. 68 Magda Linette from Poland in the final on Sunday, June 10 at the Bluesun tennis center in Bol.

The 20-year-old Slovene has been in top form all week, taking out no. 3 seed Ajla Tomljanovic, Alexandra Cadantu, no. 5 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, in addition to Lukas, en route to the final. She dropped just one set all tournament.

Zidansek comes into her second WTA Croatia Bol Open after winning three ITF $25K tournaments in Curitiba, Brazil and Pula, Italy this year, all of which were contested on clay. She now holds 15 ITF singles titles and four ITF doubles titles. Due to her recent success she reached a career high ranking of world no. 122 on May 28, 2018, up 58 spots from the beginning of the year.

Currently the third best female tennis player from Slovenia, Zidansek is a member of her country’s Fed Cup team. She made her debut in April 2017, and has a remarkable 3-0 singles win-loss record in the competition.

The 2018 WTA Croatia Bol Open finals will take place on Sunday, June 10. The doubles final begins 3:30pm and the singles final begins at 6:00pm. All matches will be broadcasted on HV2 and live streamed via WTA live.

Magda Linette Through to Bol Open Final

World no. 68 and no. 2 seed Magda Linette is through to the 2018 WTA Croatia Bol Open final via walkover. Her semifinal opponent, world no. 75 and no. 4 seed Sara Errani withdrew from the tournament on Friday.

The 26-year-old from Poland dropped only one set en route to the final, defeating Anhelina Kalinina, Danka Kovinić, and Viktorija Golubic along the way. This will be her second final on the WTA tour. Her first took place in 2014 at Ningbo International Women’s Tennis Open, a 125K series event in Ningbo, China where she defeated Wang Qiang to win her first WTA title.

Linette hired Croatian coach Izo Zunić in early 2013 and began training in Split. Since beginning their partnership Linette has improved consistently each year. She ended the past three years ranked in the world’s top 100, and reached a career high ranking of world no. 55 in February of this year thanks to strong runs in Melbourne and Taipei City.

Linette will face the winner of Friday’s semi-final, Slovene Tamara Zidansek. The 2018 WTA Croatia Bol Open singles final takes place Sunday, June 10 at 6:00pm on center court at the Bluesun Tennis Center. All matches will be broadcast on HV2 and live streamed via WTA live.

Tena Lukas Wins Match of Her Career

Croatian Tena Lukas continues to impress in Bol! In the quarterfinals of the WTA Croatia Bol Open she defeated world no. 112 Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. The win ensures she will reach a career high ranking at the end of the week.

Lukas said she started well, but nerves played a role in the middle of the match. “At the beginning it was not difficult but in the second set, when I started to play nervous, my concentration and strength fell, but somehow I managed to calm down and bring the match home in the end,” she explained.

The third set was full of breaks, Lukas struggled with her first serve, which is one of her biggest weapons, but managed to make it through. Lukas absolutely loves playing this tournament in Bol. When asked what she likes best about playing here, she said “Everything! The clay, the balls…everything! I feel so relaxed. I really enjoyed the match, but I have to repeat it again. The audience is great, they are so good that I cannot let them down.”

Lukas grew up surrounded by tennis. Her older sister, Tajna and older brother Feliks both played, and her father is a tennis coach. Well aware of how difficult the sport is, her family tried to direct her towards the volleyball and other sports, when she was younger, but tennis was simply in her genes. So far the 23-year-old has experienced a lot of ups and downs throughout her career, lacking consistency, but, as Lukas observed, her game has matured and and she is starting to see the results she knows she is capable of producing. “I used to play on and off before. I got nervous. I always had something to worry about. Now I focus 100 percent on tennis. I’m completely focused, and I realized that it was my job, “Tena said.

In the semi-finals on the center court at the Bluesun Tennis Center she will play against her doubles partner, Slovenian world no, 122 Tamara Zidanšek starting at 5:30. “Tamara and I know each other well and will certainly play an interesting match. We have played quite a lot together and the last couple of times she won but it was close. I hope the viewers will enjoy it,” Lukas said.

The winner will face Polish world no. 68 Magda Linette in the final on Sunday, June 10 at 6:00pm. Linette moves into the final by walkover as Italian world no. 75 Sara Errani had to withdraw from the tournament on Friday night. The semi-final matches of WTA Croatia Bol Open will air on live television on the second HTV program from 5:30 pm.

Tena Lukas into the Quarter-Finals

Tena Lukas of Kastela, the local hero of the second round, won her night match on center court at the Bluesun Tennis Center for a spot in the quarter-finals at the WTA Croatia Bol Open. She beat world no. 134 Canadian Zhao 6-0, 2-6, 7-5.

In the first set, Lukas played fantastic aggressive tennis, her game too strong for Zhao. Zhao’s momentum picked up in the second set, when Lukas started to miss her shots. After an hour of play the match was tied at one set all.

Public support for Lukas was strong at the start of the deciding set and just a few minutes in Lukas lead 3-0. Once again, Zhao made some adjustments as she found the recipe for Lukas’ big hitting and lead 4-3. Lukas then equalized at 4-4 but dropped her serve. Zhao broke for 5-4 and served for the match. The 23-year-old Croatian could not accept defeat. She returned with a break for 5-5, and help serve for a 6-5 lead. When Lukas finally broke Zhao, taking the last set 7-5, the crowd erupted with cheers and they jumped to their feet.

After her match, Lukas said “I left my heart on the court, I really did my best. The audience helped me so much, without them it would be a question of pulling out, but for them I had to find the last ounce of strength.”

When asked how she plans to prepare for tomorrow against Mariana Duque-Mariño Lukas said, “I do not think about it, I’ll play point-for-point, game-for-game, and I hope to celebrate again.”

There were plenty of other interesting matches at the WTA Croatia Bol Open on Thursday. In eight intriguing individual duels, we would highlight the match between Montenegrin Danka Kovinic and Pole Magda Linette. Kovinic has a devastating serve and very strikes the ball with a lot of force, but the Pole managed to neutralize the attacks for most of the match. Kovinic managed to take second set, but Linette was still more consistent and finally sealed the deal for a spot in the quarterfinals.

“Every time she needed it a break point ball hit the line,” Montenegrin complained, saying she ran out of options. Linette played well in the key moments, which made all the difference in the end.

The 2016 Bol Open champion, Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, had no response for attacks made by Colombian Mariana Duque-Mariño. Meanwhile Slovenian Tamara Zidanšek, after upsetting Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round, beat Romanian Alexandra Cadantu, who was a finalist in Bol last year.

Italian veteran Sara Errani experienced a three set thriller. She took the first set off Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova with little resistance, lost a tight second set, and finally won the third as the match stretched past 9pm.

Day 3 Singles Results:

Linette (POL) d. D. Kovinic (MNE) 6-4 2-6 6-1
S. Errani (ITA) d. V. Tomova (BUL) 6-1 4-6 6-2
A. Schmiedlova (SVK) d. S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 6-2 6-1
V. Golubic (SUI) d. M. Honcova (SVK) 6-3 0-6 6-3
M. Duque-Mariño (COL) d. M. Minella (LUX) 6-3 6-1
T. Lukas (CRO) d. C. Zhao (CAN) 6-0 2-6 7-5
T. Zidansek (SLO) d. A. Cadantu (ROU) 6-7(2) 6-3 6-3
S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) d. S. Zhuk (RUS) 6-4 6-0

Day 3 Doubles Results:
K. Christian (USA) / S. Santamaria (USA) d. A. Komardina (RUS) / M. Minella (LUX) 6-4 1-6 10-0
S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / B. Stefkova (CZE) d. M. Honcova (SVK) / T. Martincova (CZE) 6-2 6-1
Y. Bonaventure (BEL) / S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) d. N. Bains (AUS) / R. Fujiwara (JPN) 6-3 6-2

Our Little Friends, Valuable Ball Kids

To make play at the WTA Croatia Open Bol as smooth as possible, our ball boys and girls have been immensely important. This year there are 30 boys and girls of 12 or 16 years, who train in tennis clubs from Solin, Stobrec, Kastela and Medjugorje. In groups of six, they track their line judges every day, spending 40 minutes on the court with half an hour breaks from the first to the last match of the day.

The ball kids are managed by Tajna Lukas, and each team is led by their coach. They begin their day with training at the Bluesun tennis center, followed by a meal, and maybe a quick trip to the beach before heading back to work. They never complain because they enjoy the opportunity to spend a few days at the tournament observing professional tennis players. The ball kids will leave Bol with a great experience and memories to last a lifetime. They say they create their own entertainment in the breaks and at the end of the day, they can be seen leaving the grounds joking with their peers.

Thank you, ball boys and girls!

Tena Lukas

Tena Lukas Through to Round 2 After Convincing Victory

Tena Lukas gave the crowd a huge smile and a wave after her win under the lights on center court last night. She defeated world no. 359 Spaniard Estrella Cabeza Candela 6-1, 6-0. The 23-year-old from Kastela received a wildcard into the tournament at the request of her Croatian Fed Cup captain Iva Majoli, and dazzled the crowd with her dominating tennis.

The atmosphere in the stands was lively, with a few hundred tennis fans gathered to support the local favorite. After the match Lukas shared how much she enjoys playing in Bol, “Indeed it is much easier [playing] at home, where I feel extra energy that carries me forward…I did not expect such a convincing victory, but I deserved it, I played great.” When asked how far she thinks she can go in Bol this week Lukas said she is hopeful but taking it one day at a time. “I’m going to enjoy this victory now and not think too far ahead,” she said.

Lukas is the only Croatian remaining in the draw. She plays again tonight, Thursday, June 7 at 8:00pm on Bluesun Center Court. She faces world no. 134 Carol Zhao from Canada. Zhao is in top form after defeating the Bol Open’s no. 1 seed and world no. 67 Kateryna Kozlova, who recently knocked out reigning champion Jelena Ostapenko, in the first round of Roland Garros. Zhao won their meeting 6-3, 6-1.

 

Day 2 Singles Results:

  1. Linette (POL) d. A. Kalinina (UKR) 6-4 7-6(0)
  2. Zidansek (SLO) d. A. Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3 6-1
  3. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) d. Y. Wang (CHN) 3-6 6-4 7-6(5)
  4. Duque-Mariño (COL) d. T. Martincova (CZE) 2-6 6-3 6-2
  5. Lukas (CRO) d. E. Cabeza Candela (ESP) 6-1 6-0
  6. Minella (LUX) d. S. Zheng (CHN) 7-5 6-3
  7. Cadantu (ROU) d. Y. Bonaventure (BEL) 6-2 6-0
  8. Zhuk (RUS) d. K. Kucova (SVK) 6-2 6-3

Day 2 Doubles Results:

  1. Knoll (SUI) / R. Voracova (CZE) d. E. Ruse (ROU) / P. Thombare (IND) 6-2 6-2
  2. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / B. Stefkova (CZE) d. D. Jurak (CRO) / C. Lister (SWE) 6-1 6-4
  3. Honcova (SVK) / T. Martincova (CZE) d. N. Dzalamidze (RUS) / G. Voskoboeva (KAZ) 6-4 6-2

 

Mandy Minella

Tomljanovic Out, Lukas to Play Tonight

Slovenian tennis player Tamara Zidanšek, world no. 122, upset world no. 69 and no. three seed Ajla Tomljanovic with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 victory in the first round.

Zidanšek has been extremely motivates this clay season. In the last few months she played great at ITF tournaments and came close to a ranking that would guarantee direct entry into the the main draw of Grand Slams. Today, in Bol, she has shown great improvement towards that goal.

“This is my fourth win against a top 100 player in my career. I’ve been watching Ajla only on television, never live. I did not know what to expect, but I did well and won,” said a visibly excited Zidanšek. The 20-year-old trains in Ptuj, is 20 years old and has shown that he can enter the top 100. In a way, this is the best win of the career for the young Slovenian.

Mandy Minella of Luxembourg played a solid match as well. The 2016 Croatia Bol Open Champion beat China’s Saisai Zheng 7-5, 6-3. Minella loves playing in Bol and was thrilled to accept a wildcard into the tournament at the last minute. “I feel great here in Bol. I hope to repeat the story from two years ago. No tournament in the world has such good conditions and atmosphere,” said Minella.

On center court in Bol, a match between M. Linette from Poland and A. Kalinina from Ukraine is ongoing, while in the evening, at 8:30, Croatia’s Tena Lukas plays against Spain’s Estrella Cabeza Candela.