After a couple of quiet days at the Miami Open… Magic Monday was EVENTFUL! All eight of the women’s fourth round matches were played on Monday, producing upsets, drama and some high-quality tennis. For a preview of the first quarter-final on Tuesday between Simona Halep and Timea Bacsinszky, click HERE. Read on for Set Points, wrapping up a memorable day that no doubt we will remember at the end of 2016…
Wowsers. Svetlana Kuznetsova snapped Serena Williams’s 20-match winning streak in Miami, coming from a set down to win, 6-7(3) 6-1 6-2. Let’s start with Sveta… what a performance! The two-time Slam champ finished with remarkable stats of 27 winners to just 13 unforced errors. Kuznetsova can be so vulnerable early on in a tournament but if she can get through her first few rounds, she has this incredible ability of clicking in the latter stages.
And Serena… there are so many hot takes right now. I’m struggling to comprehend the scoreline and how it turned after Serena had played a decent first set. The world number one played some characteristically clutch tennis with her back against the wall (*3-3 *0-40) and serving well when she needed to. There were some stunning rallies in the first set (see tweet below).
Kuznetsova grew stronger as the match wore on with Serena becoming increasingly error-strewn as her movement stuttered. Kuznetsova’s defence is up there with the best of them and she kept the ball low with her slice which unsettled Serena.
It’s another surprising loss, particularly as we have become so accustomed to Serena digging herself out of these holes and coming back to win. She did it so many times in 2015, it’s just become something that we almost expect. I don’t think the panic button should be pushed just yet… Serena has still reached two finals at the Australian Open and Indian Wells this year, and produced some excellent performances to get there. She’ll get a long break now until Madrid (starts 30th of April) unless she takes a wildcard somewhere…
And now onto Muguruza-Azarenka…
In their first ever match-up, Azarenka defeated Muguruza, 7-6(6) 7-6(3)… and that’s a match-up I want to see again… SOON. There were so many positives to take away from this match. The first set was magnificent, probably the highest quality set of women’s tennis so far this year. I’m still speechless at some of the forehand winners that Muguruza produced towards the end of it.
And despite peak Muguruza making an appearance after a sluggish start, it was still Azarenka who toughed out the set, saving two set points in the tiebreak. The second of those saves was on a daring return that found the line. Peak Azarenka made an appearance at the start of the second set as she produced back-to-back return winners to get the all-important break at the start of the second set.
There would be another twist though as Azarenka served for the match at *5-3; the game swayed between break points and match points with Muguruza producing two winners (a volley and an overhead) down two match points before a LUCKY netcord went the Spaniard’s way on break point.
Azarenka looked a little rattled as Muguruza held with scoreboard pressure at *4-5 and *5-6 to force another tiebreak. A double fault from Muguruza at 1-1 in the tiebreak set the tone though as Azarenka, rather comfortably, sealed a straight sets win. Great match, ladies!
Timea Bacsinszky continues to shine after a sluggish start to the year; in the best win of her career, Bacsinszky defeated the world number two, Agnieszka Radwanska, 2-6 6-4 6-2. The Swiss player admitted in her post-match interview to nerves early on in her first appearance on Stadium court. This may have contributed to the hefty 19 unforced errors she produced in the first set. In the second set, Radwanska got done over by a call with break points (after Bacsinszky went up a break) at 1-2* 40-15*. Details below…
Radwanska never really recovered after that with Bacsinszky edging a break-heavy second set, 6-4. The Swiss player began to dictate more and more of the rallies and, bolstered by a 81% first serve percentage in the third set, came through to reach her first quarter-final of 2016… well done, Timea!
Bacsinszky plays Simona Halep in the quarter-finals who defeated Heather Watson, 6-3 6-4. The world number five battled back from 1-3 down in the first set. Watson showed some encouraging signs and took some risks, but the rising error count was her undoing.
In all this MADNESS, Johanna Konta continues to notch up impressive wins. The Brit is into her first quarter-final at a Premier Mandatory tournament after she defeated Monica Niculescu, 6-2 6-2. There were some interesting stats, notably the first serve % and net points won for Konta. The Brit plays Azarenka in the quarter-finals which could be a great tussle between two in-form players.
After being a set and a break down to Lesia Tsurenko in her first match of the week, Ekaterina Makarova has summoned some of her best form to beat Tsurenko in three, and back it up with straight set wins over Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina. Makarova beat Svitolina on Monday, 6-1 6-4, for her fourth consecutive straight sets win against the Ukrainian. Makarova plays Kuznetsova in Tuesday’s late-night quarter-final.
I’m pumped for the last of the quarter-finals which will be contested between Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys; Keys recorded her third consecutive straight sets win in Miami, defeating Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-3 6-1, while Kerber overcame Timea Babos in three sets, 6-2 3-6 6-4. The Australian Open champion produced an incredible forehand pass on match point.
The last two matches that Kerber and Keys have played were the finals of Eastbourne and Charleston, which both ended with a 7-5 third set scoreline… should be a fun one!
Moving to the doubles, Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu produced a huge shock, defeating the number one pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, 6-4 6-2. The last of the pictures in the tweet below is EVERYTHING.
And finally, Safarova and Mattek-Sands won their second match of the week, defeating Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina, 6-2 6-3. I’m chuffed for Lucie and Beth… there were some wonderful photos of their win at the end 🙂