Quarter-Finals day at the Mutua Madrid Open was a much calmer affair after the drama of Wednesday. It also ended at a reasonable hour so i’ve managed to finish Set Points tonight! While just one seed remains, there’s still plenty of intrigue in this semi-final line-up. This will likely be my last post from Madrid so i’ve incorporated mini-previews with semi-final polls included. Read on for Thursday’s Set Points…
Louisa Chirico is into her first WTA semi-final after beating Daria Gavrilova, 7-6(1) 6-2 in the first of the women’s quarter-finals. There were no breaks of serve in the first set, but Chirico rolled through the tiebreak; in a handful of lengthy rallies, Chirico was solid from the baseline as Gavrilova committed a couple of poor errors. Chirico broke serve twice in the second set and didn’t drop serve once throughout the entire match, saving five break points and holding all ten of her service games.
Chirico has now won five matches in Madrid having coming through qualifying.
QR1: Chirico d. Irina Falconi, 6-1 6-1 (0h 57)
QR2: Chirico d. Mariana Duque-Mariño, 7-5 6-1 (1h 20)
R1: Chirico d. Monica Niculescu, 7-5 6-1 (1h 35)
R2: Chirico d. (14) Ana Ivanovic, 5-7 6-1 6-3 (2h 04)
R3: Chirico advanced via retirement against Victoria Azarenka
QF: Chirico d. Daria Gavrilova, 7-6(1) 6-2 (1h 41)
And it’s a nice story because Chirico headed to Madrid without knowing if she had made it into the qualifying draw. I like her attitude, she’s not done yet this week!
I happened to watch Chirico live at Roland Garros last year in her first round match against Ekaterina Makarova (see my recap HERE). I remember being very impressed and even more so in Washington where she reached the quarter-finals after defeating Heather Watson and Alizé Cornet. I really like her game; she’s very solid off both wings, has a biggg forehand but can create some wonderful angles on the backhand. She seems to be pretty solid mentally and particularly on the clay, she moves exceptionally well. Chirico looks set to crack the world’s top 75 next week. At the time of writing, she will have to qualify for Roland Garros…
Chirico will play Dominika Cibulkova for a place in the final of Madrid. All of Cibulkova’s wins this week have come in three sets and for the third time in a row, she came from a set down in her quarter-final victory over Sorana Cirstea, fending off an excellent start from the Romanian to win, 4-6 6-3 6-3. Cirstea’s had a great week and the stats show this was a quality match.
I loved the quotes from Cirstea in press yesterday about being more disciplined on court. After watching her victories over Danka Kovinic and Laura Siegemund, I definitely got a sense of this. There are encouraging signs for Sorana going forward *if* she can stay injury free with the shoulder.
Cibulkova reaching the semi-finals is not a huge surprise. She has been knocking on the door all year and won her first title since 2014 in Katowice last month. By virtue of her run this week, Cibulkova looks to have sealed a seeding for Roland Garros. She’s been regularly referred to (at least in my previews!) as one of the most dangerous unseeded players in draws but that will likely change soon…
As regards to Cibulkova v Chirico, it should be a very interesting match. I’d probably give Cibulkova the edge, but I definitely wouldn’t rule Chirico out. I’m probably 55-45 and expecting a close match, three sets.
In the all-Romanian quarter-final, Simona Halep recovered from a second set blow-out to get past Irina-Camelia Begu in a wonderfully weird WTA scoreline, 6-3 0-6 6-1. Halep sealed the win with a wonderful jumping backhand winner.
Of the four Romanians who reached the quarter-finals, Halep is the only one to have reached the semi-finals. Sam Stosur will be her opponent tomorrow after she produced a sound display to defeat a gutsy effort from Patricia Maria Tig, 6-3 6-4. I think we’ll be seeing more of the 21-year-old, Tig.
Halep and Stosur are tied at 3-3 in their head-to-head although the pair haven’t played since 2013 in Sofia where Halep won, 2-6 6-2 6-2. Stosur won their only clay court encounters, both at the French Open and before Halep broke through on the tour. This could be a good match, particularly if Stosur gets up for it. Halep’s had a favourable draw but she’s dealing with plenty of pressure as the only seed left. I’d take Simona in three sets.
A big thanks to Murphy for a new guest post from the WTA Stuttgart finals day. If you were following the blog two weeks ago, you’ll know i’m a hugeee fan of this tournament so this guide by Murphy was most informative! I’m thinking about going next year. You can read the post HERE or via the tweet below.
I’ll be back for Rome, which starts on Monday… i’m really looking forward to this tournament! One advantage of most of the seeds going out early in Madrid is they should be well rested in Rome. It’s very encouraging to see Serena already practising…