R1: Nele Gilis 3-1 Marina Stefanoni

[4] Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-1 Marina Stefanoni (USA)  11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-6 (61m)

Today was Marina “Baptism of Fire”, as she never played  on a glasscourt during the World event and her first time playing Nele as well… And I would bet she rarely played on such a bouncy court.

“She is too nice”, went Caroline Fouts, the US Junior number one playing tomorrow as Marina didn’t ask for two decisions that could have certainly be strokes.

All the games were long (11m,  17m, 12m, 13m). And if we could see the hard work Marina produced, she never let her body language show how tired she was. Only a few errors in the choice of shots let us to believe she might start to feel the legs a bit heavy!

The second was a solid response from the American to Nele’s domination in the first game. Despite a wobbly middle of the game from both girls, the game was pretty close throughout, 4/1 Marina, then 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 8/8, 9/9, an error from Nele and a lovely winner, and Marina had levelled, 11/9.

Although the last two games were lengthy as I mentioned, they became a bit more onesided, Marina finding herself on the wrong end of very long slow pace gruelling rallies.

Solid effort from Marina, loved her way to play on there. The future of America looks very good.

Marina : First time at this venue, on a glasscourt on a world championship, it’s fun,  very fun, it’s my third world championships, it’s exciting to be here, I’m trying to get the opportunity.

The positive is that I can hang in there with the top players, the negative is that I need a bit more consistency. She is very experienced, and at the crucial moments, she was just more consistent. So, lots of positive to work on, it’s not a dead end.

Yes, I know, I had two strokes, cause I have a habit of playing the ball, a lot of players go the other way, asking for too many lets, going the wrong way, and fish, but it hurt me, so I need to be better at that.

I was at Harvard for four years, so I was working with Mike Way, but now I graduated, so it’s just up in the air, it’s exciting!

Nele :  “It’s nerve-racking to get that first match out of the way and I’m relieved to be through. She’s a very tricky opponent [Marina Stefanoni], she’s very talented and I’m looking forward to the next round and I’m excited to go as deep as possible.

“She’s a tough opponent and she was finding her marks and I wasn’t quite finding my marks so it was difficult for me. But all credit to her she deserved it for sure.

“I’m managing a few things at the moment and I slipped a couple of times in the first set so that was on my mind a little bit and I’ve got to get it out of my head.

“She’s a very tough opponent [Torrie Malik] and so strong. I played her in Germany and it wasn’t easy but I’m looking forward to it.”