Set Points, Madrid Day 5: Cibulkova, Cirstea, Gavrilova and Chirico vying for a place in the final

Ohhh Madrid, you are a mess. It’s been a frenetic week at the Mutua Madrid Open and that escalated further on Wednesday with the two remaining seeds in the top half of the draw both departing, one with a loss and one through injury. This has left a tournament wide open for literally anyone to win this third Premier Mandatory tournament of the year. Add to that, there was some late night drama. Read on for Wednesday’s Set Points from Madrid…

Set PointsIn the first match of the day, Daria Gavrilova defeated the defending champion, Petra Kvitova in straight sets, 6-3 6-4. I’ll be honest, I really thought Petra would win this one. I was sucked into the vortex of her rapidly improving form over the last month or so! While she tried to do things differently, it was an error-strewn display from Kvitova. I like where Petra is heading, but these displays will never fully go away with the nature of the game. Huge credit though to Gavrilova who really held it together mentally during some tight moments, winning six out of the eight deuce games.

Kvitova’s exit was swiftly followed by Victoria Azarenka pulling out of her third round match. It didn’t come as a surprise although I thought it was a foot problem! It was in fact the back that was an issue. This means that Louisa Chirico progresses to a quarter-final with Gavrilova. While it’s an unlikely quarter-final, it could be a good one.

Simona Halep ended the seven match winning streak of Timea Bacsinszky with a 6-2 6-3 victory. I’m all about the handshakes and this was a good one! 🙂

It will be an all-Romanian quarter-final as Halep will take on Irina-Camelia Begu who came from a set down to beat Christina McHale, 6-7(6) 6-4 6-4. This is Begu’s second consecutive quarter-final in Madrid. For Halep, she is now the highest seed remaining in the draw. It will be fascinating to see how she copes with it all because she has talked a lot about the pressure! This will be a firm test of her credentials as Begu has played some brilliant tennis so far this week.

The third quarter-final on Thursday will be contested between Dominika Cibulkova and Sorana Cirstea (see preview HERE). Cibulkova served out her third round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the second time of asking, 2-6 6-3 7-5. This is the first time that Cirstea has won three WTA main draw matches at the same tournament since her run to the final of Toronto in 2013. The Romanian player defeated Laura Siegemund, 6-4 7-6(9), saving three set points in a compelling second set tiebreak.

In the women’s night match on the Manolo Santana Stadium, Sam Stosur rallied from a set down to defeat a clearly struggling, Carla Suárez Navarro, 4-6 6-2 6-3. Credit to Carla for battling on when she was clearly not well. She pulled out of doubles with Garbiñe Muguruza yesterday due to breathing problems (via the Madrid Open Twitter page). I’m not quite sure how Stosur managed to lose the first set from 3-0 up but aside from a couple of wild shots, she played well enough in the final two sets for the win.

Keys-Tig  were about to start their third round match when…

They eventually followed Monfils-Cuevas, starting at 10.30pm… I don’t get all these late starts, it was the same last year. It was Tig who came through, 6-3 6-4 confirming that there will be four Romanian players in the last eight! It was a generally messy match but Tig finished the match in STYLE, winning seven of the last eight points. In the final game, Tig hit two fantastic winners; a redirected backhand winner and a delightful passing shot.

Of the eight players remaining, there’s just one seed and three players ranked outside of the world’s top 120! There have been some crazy results this year on the WTA tour but this takes the biscuit. It will be fun to see who snaps up their opportunity even further.

Loved the latest edition of the No Challenges Remaining Podcast which had an interview with Timea Bacsinszky. She’s so thoughtful, I could listen to her speak all day!

Here’s another superb article by Nicole Gibbs for the WTA.

The entry lists for the grass court season are slowly being announced (via Women’s Tennis Forums). Yesterday, it was the turn of Birmingham and Mallorca. Quite a few players have switched from Birmingham to Mallorca but both have decent line-ups. Note that Birmingham is a 32-player draw this year. I’m planning to go to qualifying if the weather holds up! Also, it is worth mentioning that the ATP tournament at Queens has a superb line-up this year… i’m almost tempted to go if it weren’t for the insane ticket prices amongst other things.

Birmingham Main Draw Entry List: Includes Kerber, Halep, Bencic, Suárez Navarro, Kuznetsova, Safarova, Pliskova, Svitolina, Konta, Keys, Pavlyuchenkova, Wozniacki, Petkovic, Strycova, Cibulkova, Gavrilova and Doi (last in #43)

Mallorca Main Draw Entry List: Includes Muguruza, Ivanovic, Errani, Jankovic, Mladenovic, Niculescu, Beck, Siegemund, Bouchard, Garcia, Lisicki, Putintseva, Goerges, Flipkens, Puig, Barthel, Van Uytvanck and Saisai Zheng (last in #71)

And finally, it’s exactly two years today since Elena Baltacha passed away. I have such admiration for what Bally achieved both on and off the court and it’s wonderful to see her academy still flourishing. Miss you Bally, you will never be forgotten…

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8 thoughts on “Set Points, Madrid Day 5: Cibulkova, Cirstea, Gavrilova and Chirico vying for a place in the final

  1. Such an odd mix of girls left standing! It would sum up Cirstea’s career if she went on to win…
    I’m actually rooting for Halep though. I thought she’d comeback at Stuttgart with a big win so maybe I was just a tad off on the timing.

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    • I wasn’t sure about Halep for this tournament. I think she’s happier with less expectation this year although the pressure is now on since she’s the only seed remaining.

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  2. Another great comeback from Domi to win again. Daria also played well to beat Petra, as Petra herself acknowledged in the post-match interviews.

    Bad luck that Carla wasn’t well enough to give Sam Stosur a tougher match (especially in the final set), but she’s done well to get this far and I hope she gets better in time for Rome and Roland Garros.

    With Patricia Maria Tig having just beaten Maddi Keys, for the first time I can remember there are now FOUR Romanians in the quarter finals of a tournament. With Nicolescu also doing well (though not here), could this be a vintage year for Romanian tennis?

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    • Amazing week for the Romanian players. Tig’s done well, i’d expect to see more of her. Definitely Cirstea as well. Begu’s always capable of a big run but is very inconsistent between weeks. And Halep has looked sound so far.

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  3. Sorana is capable of beating Cibulkova. I don’t her getting her fourth time lucky here.

    I hope Tig to upset Stosur would be nice.

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    • I liked Tig’s chance in this one as wasn’t that impressed with Stosur vs. a struggling CSN, but she played much better tonight, pretty solid.

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  4. Chirico sure is impressing right now. Her controlled aggression reminds me of an eighteen year old Ana Ivanovic before pressure took hold of her. I’ll be interested to see whether she continues this run of form or whether this is a one off as often happens with young American players trying to step into the spotlight.

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    • I really like Chirico, saw her live at RG against Makarova last year and was impressed. I think she’ll push on but easy to say that right now!

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