Saturday’s results saw three set wins for Serena Williams and Venus Williams, the latter reaching the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbledon 2011! Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka were also winners in straight sets. I watched the Azarenka v BZS match which was scrappy for the most part, but really entertaining. I’m still getting over that crazy point in the last game. I’ll find a video later for it! It’s the weekend and my mission is (after posting this final preview for Sunday) to sit back, relax and enjoy some tennis. This is obviously a tough Slam to follow for me and i’d love to branch out and do some different posts, but i’m sticking with the previews with the limited time I have…
Poll Results: 60% of readers correctly predicted that Makarova would beat Pliskova, 58% correctly predicted that Bouchard would beat Garcia and 74% correctly predicted that Sharapova would beat Diyas… well done to the majorities!
1. Eugenie Bouchard v Irina-Camelia Begu (AO, R4)
For the fifth consecutive time, Eugenie Bouchard reached the second week of a Grand Slam with a 7-5 6-0 victory over Caroline Garcia in the third round. As I alluded to in Friday’s preview, it was mental toughness that seemed to be the difference the pair. Garcia led early, but after a nine-deuce game, she lost her serve and then faltered again serving at *5-6 as Bouchard wrapped up the opening set. Garcia’s strokes are much more aesthetically pleasing than Bouchard, but the Canadian player proved why she has been so tough to beat at the Slams with another resilient display. The unforced errors proved costly for Garcia; she hit 21 more than Bouchard during the 84-minute contest.
Bouchard’s draw has opened up as she is yet to play a seed; in the fourth round, she plays Irina-Camelia Begu, who has broken new ground at a Grand Slam. After ousting Angelique Kerber in the first round, Begu has backed up the upset win with victories over Katerina Siniakova (7-5 6-4) and Carina Witthoeft (6-4 6-4). I was pretty stunned to see Begu ranked at number 42. Under closer inspection, Begu came through qualifying to make the main draw of 5 WTA events in 2014 and reaching the final of Moscow and the quarter-finals of Rio. She also won three ITF titles. Her game looks magnificent when she’s in full swing, but her ability to stray has been an issue. I remember watching her live at the Olympics when she played Victoria Azarenka; she had the Belarusian on the ropes before inexplicably leaving the building in the third set. At her best, she will give Bouchard problems. Genie though, has become a very reliable player at the Slams and once again, I think her mental toughness will be the deciding factor.
Prediction: Bouchard d. Begu in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
2. Maria Sharapova v Peng Shuai (AO, R4)
Silently floating through the draw, Peng Shuai is in the second week of a Grand Slam for the third consecutive time. Peng was a semi-finalist at the US Open where she was forced to retire with heat illness in one of the most excruciating matches of 2014. Since then, Peng hasn’t done anything of note… until now. In the third round, she defeated Yaroslava Shvedova, 7-6(7) 6-3 in what looked like a thoroughly entertaining match from the highlights. Next up for Peng is the world number two, Maria Sharapova. After a huge scare in the second round, it was back to business for Maria who thrashed Zarina Diyas, 6-1 6-1. From the highlights, it looked like Diyas was a perfect match-up for Maria. Diyas exhibited little variety and allowed the Russian player to dictate from the baseline. Sharapova has won four of her last five matches against Peng. Their last two matches have been at the Slams and Peng has struggled to deal with Sharapova’s ruthless ball striking. Maria’s looking good…
Prediction: Sharapova d. Peng in 2 sets