Bethanie Mattek-Sands knows a thing or two when it comes to fashion, however the thinking behind her tennis ensemble on Thursday was ‘comfort’ rather than style.
Earlier in the week she’d teamed a floaty pleated skirt with her trademark long compression socks but for her match against friend and No.11 seed Shahar Peer she donned a pair of shorts instead.
“This is my comfortable outfit,” the American revealed following her 6-1, 6-4 victory over the Israeli. “It’s surprisingly pretty warm here but a little humid so I’ve been sweating a good amount.”
Mattek-Sands certainly looked at ease from the off producing sumptuous ground strokes that left her 28-year-old opponent looking decidedly out of sorts – within 22 minutes she’d rattled through the first set dropping only one game.
However, the American was all too aware that Peer – a former world No.11 – would move up a gear when it mattered and once the Israeli returned to the court following a brief toilet break at the end of the first set she was in a different league, attacking virtually every ball that came her way.
“Shahar’s a good player,” Mattek-Sands told wimbledon.com. “I was playing really well and she stepped her game up. She wasn’t about to give that match away, she’s a fighter. I’ve played doubles with her and I’m friends with her so I know she’s not going to just roll over.”
Peer, sporting two black ankle braces, looked solid in the second set until the ninth game when the underdog piled on the pressure with a forehand winner into the left wing to set up two break points.
I’m really happy with how I’m playing and how my body’s feeling.
The 30-year-old squandered the first, mis-hitting a ball off the frame but Peer – who is ranked 37 places above Mattek-Sands – would go on to hit a forehand wide to gift the current Australian Open and French Open ladies’ doubles title holder the crucial break.
One game later, Mattek-Sands had closed out the match with a deft drop shot winner on her third match point.
“I was playing really well and think it was still only a couple of points here and there [that made the difference]”, Mattek-Sands said.
“It’s great to qualify. It’s always good to make a Main Draw and these are my first couple of matches on grass. I feel like it was a really good warm-up, I have a couple of days before Main Draw, I’m really happy with how I’m playing and how my body’s feeling.”
The world number 157 now plans to take a day off, although she joked that her coach may have other ideas, and she will turn her attention to fashion once more when she prepares for the WTA pre-Wimbledon party tonight.
Does she know what she is wearing yet? Over the years Mattek-Sands has worn various eye-catching threads including a canary yellow dress made of tennis balls.
“I don’t have it planned but I have a great designer that I get stuff from here in London so I’m going to go see what she’s got,” she smiled.
Another seed to tumble was China’s Yafan Wang, who sported neon pink strapping to her left shoulder. The No.16 seed’s dreams of reaching the Main Draw were extinguished by the world No.242 Tamira Paszek. Neither player was prepared to give an inch during the lengthy baseline affair, which saw both scrambling to reach penetrating drives. Ultimately, the experience of the Austrian, who reached a career high of 26 in February 2013, told and she scored a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-5 victory in two hours and 32 minutes.
It was business as usual in the top half of the draw. Unseeded Mandy Minella, who had claimed the scalp of top seed Lourdes Dominguez Lino in the second round, was unable to continue her fairytale run against No.20 seed German Laura Siegemund, falling 4-6, 3-6.
American Jessica Pegula, who had yet to win a match on merit alone after both her opponents in the previous rounds retired, was defeated 5-7, 5-7 at the hands of countrywoman and No.4 seed Sachia Vickery.
No.5 seed Margarita Gasparyan qualified with a comfortable 6-4, 6-2 win over Veronica Cepede Royg.
However, China’s Yi-Fan Xu knocked out No.3 seed Louisa Chirico with a 7-5, 6-3 win and No.8 seed Ying-Ying Duan also flew the flag for China with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Anna Tatishvili.
And although compatriot Shuai Zhang initially looked as though she would go the distance, her No. 22 seeded opponent Aliaksandra Sasnovichrecovered from a set down to win 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 in one hour and 45 minutes.