Eugenie Bouchard secured arguably the best win of her year, beating Dominika Cibulkova, 7-6(9) 4-6 6-3 in two hours and 48 minutes. This was the first time that Bouchard has scored three wins at a tournament since the Australian Open. It was also another three set win, just her third of the season. There were so many twists and turns in what was a truly fascinating match.
Attempting to sum up the first set of this match is a challenge… It reminds me of when I tried to write about the first set of the third round match between Angelique Kerber and Garbiñe Muguruza. While the quality was not a patch on Kerber-Muguruza, it definitely rivalled it in the entertainment stakes. The set started off great, wobbled in the middle and finished again with a flurry. Both were playing well at the start; Cibulkova won a majestic point to go up 3-2 on serve. The Slovak player used the momentum to break Bouchard’s serve in the next game to *4-2. However, like London buses, Bouchard broke straight back.
Cibulkova overcame a brief lull and had chances to win the first set with Bouchard serving at *4-5 30-30. Cibulkova struggled to get on top of the return with Bouchard looking surprisingly stable mentally. Cibulkova was definitely the more shaky of the two, but she found her best tennis when it mattered. At 5-5 *30-40, Cibulkova swatted away a winner on break point and gritted out the hold with a couple of decent forehands.
Things turned a little wackyyy in the next game. Cibulkova rightly challenged a ball that was called out which clipped the baseline. This presented Cibulkova with two set points which she will want to ERASE FROM HER MEMORY. The first saw Cibulkova dump a drive volley into the net. The second one saw another error. This point was followed by another error. And another one. And so on… Cibulkova struggled to get over that miss as Bouchard strung together seven points in a row to hold and take an early lead in the first set tiebreak.
Boyyyyy was this a good tiebreak…
Bouchard had the mini-break but lost the next three points, one with a missed drive volley long (not as bad as Domi’s but still facepalm worthy) and then a double fault. The quality at the start of this tiebreak was poor but you couldn’t blame both players for feeling tense. After Domi’s long injury lay-off and Genie’s rotten run of form, this was a huge match for both players with a bucket load of ranking points on the line. Cibulkova settled again, playing a couple of solid rallies with decent depth to force a third set point. It didn’t go so well… a double fault :-S
And then the pendulum of momentum kept swinging each way…
Bouchard earnt her first set point at 7-6… Cibulkova conjured up a devilishly deep return that was called out, but proved to be PLUM on the line.
Cibulkova set up a fourth set point at 8-7… Bouchard saved it with a booming return winner.
Cibulkova held strong at the net to work up a fifth set point… Bouchard produced a wonderful volley to save it.
Anddd then Bouchard chased down a drop shot which Cibulkova couldn’t get back over the net… And Genie won the set.
+1 to René’s tweet… that first set tiebreak encaptulated everything about why tennis is so awesome. Words can’t really describe that tiebreak so if you missed it, I definitely recommend finding some highlights of it.
After such a crushing set with huge opportunities for the taking, it was understandable that Cibulkova went off at the end of the first set. She held her first service game at the start of the second set, but not the second one, with Bouchard going up *3-1. The turning point of this set (you still with me?!) was the six deuce game that was to come. Cibulkova missed seven break points and there was a sense that Bouchard was going to pull out of it and race away with the match. Huge credit though to Domi who showed tremendous resilience to dig out the game. Peak Cibulkova showed up for a while as she cottoned onto a lull in Bouchard’s level. The final game of the set was an inevitable struggle considering what happened in the first set. Cibulkova saved a break point to win the set, 6-4 and push the match the distance.
That pendulum of momentum was busy again at the start of the third set. Cibulkova opened up with a break of serve but couldn’t consolidate it. Bouchard broke, held and then broke again, coming through a seven-deuce game. It was Bouchard’s turn to play some of her best tennis as she confirmed the break with some accurate serving and two holds to love. Cibulkova helped a lot on the second of those service games. The set continued with serve until Bouchard stepped up to serve for the match. The drama was done for this one as Bouchard served it out and finished with a roar.
This was three hours well spent and a fun way to ruin my sleep patterns.
Bouchard plays Roberta Vinci in the fourth round which is just classic… they played just last week in New Haven where Bouchard won a game. Based on how this week has turned out so far for Genie with her steadily rising confidence, that will be a super intriguing match.
I need sleep. Previews have gone out the window tonight and you can blame Genie and Domi! I’ll have a preview for Vika-Angie up first thing tomorrow but here’s a poll for you while I sleeeeeep 🙂