The first fourth round match of the 2015 US Open is all set as we now know that Ekaterina Makarova will play Kristina Mladenovic on Sunday with a spot in the quarter-finals up for grabs. Makarova defeated Elina Svitolina, 6-3 7-5 in a decent match of quality hitting. The match had a very strange ending; serving at *6-5 in the second set, Makarova missed two match points (the second with a groundstroke ballooned long) and tried to get the trainer on at deuce for what she revealed in her post-match interview was cramping in her leg. Makarova had already had a MTO during the second set to retape her leg. Makarova was refused time with the trainer and on the resumption, saved a break point on a great rally before finally putting the match away in straight sets.
Despite the nervy ending, Makarova was fully deserving of her win. She was the more aggressive player, constantly looking to attack, go for the lines and come into the net. Makarova finished with great stats of 41 winners to 31 winners and a whopping 28 out of 34 net points won. I wonder if she adopted a marginally more aggressive gameplan than usual in light of the leg injury which has affected her all summer. In Washington though it was a lower leg injury and in this match, it was her upper leg that was strapped up.
Svitolina competed well, as always, but could never get the upper hand in the rallies and was always on the back foot. Against a more aggressive player who is finding the court more often than not, Svitolina will struggle if she continually sits back. Svitolina won two games in a row to get ahead in the second set at *4-3 and even had a set point at 5-4 with Makarova serving at *30-40. One of Makarova’s shots looked sooooo close to being out but she put away a gutsy winner. Makarova looked so stressed during this match, even more so than usual! It was really nice to see her beaming in the post-match interview with Rennae Stubbs.
Makarova v Mladenovic should be a competitive fourth rounder. Mladenovic defeated the lucky loser, Daria Kastakina in straight sets in the third round. Makarova playing at this level will be the clear favourite but the leg injury is certainly a concern.