Set Points, Rome Day 4: Williams v Kuznetsova rematch set, Doi v Begu also for a semi-final place

Here’s a quick Set Points post to wrap up Thursday’s third round action at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Thursday night is when i’m actually on the tennis court as it’s my tennis club night… so for reference, i’ll always be a little bit quieter on Thursday! I played horribly tonight but it’s so much fun to play and gives me so much more respect for what the players are doing, especially mentally as I often fold like a cheap tent haha! Just four seeds are into quarter-finals of Rome with two all unseeded quarter-finals set for Friday. Read on for Thursday’s Set Points which also includes polls for all four quarter-finals.

Set PointsI’ve been putting Garbiñe Muguruza deep in all my draws, expecting that big result to come soon in 2016. Rome was the first one where I wasn’t so convinced and yet there are signs this could be *the* tournament where everything falls into place for Muguruza. The Spaniard overcame Jelena Ostapenko in the third round, 6-1 6-4, recovering from a 1-4 deficit in the second set to win the last five games of the match.

Carla Suárez Navarro looked to be on her way to the quarter-finals when she served for the match against Timea Bacsinszky at 7-5 *5-4. The Spaniard came within two points of the win but was unable to serve it out with Bacsinszky roaring back into contention to win nine of the last 11 games of the match.

In the first of Friday’s quarter-finals, Muguruza will take on Bacsinszky on Center Court. I love the way that Timea fought in her match against Carla, but this has historically been a tricky match-up for her against the Spaniard. Muguruza leads the head-to-head, 3-0 and if she can extend that to 4-0, she will be into her first semi-final of 2016.

Irina-Camelia Begu overcame a late wobble to defeat Daria Kasatkina in straight sets, 6-1 6-4. Begu led 6-1 5-0, but twice failed to serve out the match with Kasatkina making a comeback. Begu sealed the win at the third time of asking. This was a disappointing result for Kasatkina, but she’s still on a learning curve playing all these tournaments for the first time so i’m taking all her results right now with a pinch of salt. Begu’s playing great but is still suspect when trying to serve out matches.

In an unlikely Premier quarter-final, Begu will play Misaki Doi on Friday. The Japanese player recovered from a set down to defeat Johanna Konta for the first time in her career with a 4-6 7-5 6-2 victory. Doi nearly let slip a 5-1 lead in the second set but once she levelled up at one set all, didn’t drop serve again in the third set. Begu and Doi will be playing for the first time on the WTA tour and with the form she’s shown over the past two weeks, i’m going for the Romanian player.

 

Top of my list of matches to rewatch in full this weekend is the second match from Thursday’s Pietrangeli schedule where Svetlana Kuznetsova edged Daria Gavrilova,  sealing the win on a brilliant match point, 6-2 2-6 6-3, in two hours and 14 minutes. It sounded like a super battle and it was the match I was most excited about from the slate of third rounders.

Kuznetsova gets another shot at Serena Williams in the quarter-finals after the world number one saved a set point in the first set of her match against Christina McHale before strolling through the second set to win, 7-6(7) 6-1.

Serena and Sveta played in Miami a few months ago where the Russian player came from a set down to win, 6-7(3) 6-1 6-2. I went for Kuznetsova in my draw to the semi-finals although this was partly expecting Serena to withdraw! I’d actually give Sveta a fair shot at the upset as she’s been playing great this week. It will be a firm test of Serena’s credentials and she will no doubt be wary of what Kuznetsova can bring on a clay court.

And the final quarter-final will be a repeat match from Madrid with Madison Keys and Barbora Strycova playing for the second time in a week. Keys didn’t drop her serve once with a 7-6(2) 6-3 win over Timea Babos while Strycova was all over her match against Eugenie Bouchard, producing a near-perfect display and giving Bouchard the runaround, who missed A LOT at the net. Strycova won, 6-1 6-0 (!) in 62 minutes. Keys won their match in Madrid, 6-3 6-3 and i’ve got no idea for this one!

A quick word about the ATP… I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I checked the live scoreboard to find that Novak Djokovic was dropped a first set bagel by Thomaz Bellucci AND David Goffin double bagelled Tomas Berdych, dropping just 15 points! I was initially disappointed to see that tomorrow’s quarter-final between Djokovic and Nadal was during the day, but i’m coming round to the choice of the night match which will be Dominic Thiem against Kei Nishikori… that *could* be a cracker! Serena-Sveta is at night too so safe to say i’m looking forward to Friday night :-D.

A little bit later than usual but the full entry list for the Aegon International in Eastbourne finally came out last night via Tennis Forum. My top three who I really wanted to see were Lucie Safarova, Timea Bacsinszky and Daria Kasatkina… and i’m chuffed they are all there! The list is marginally weaker compared to last year with the likes of Angelique Kerber and Garbiñe Muguruza both skipping Eastbourne but outside of the top ten, most players are here.

I’ll be heading down to Eastbourne for four days (Saturday to Tuesday) and will hopefully have plenty of new content here on Moo’s Tennis Blog and of course, lots of pictures (if you have any player requests please let me know!). You can see the full entry list below…

WTA Eastbourne Main Draw: Radwanska, Vinci, Bencic, Kvitova, Bacsinszky, Suárez Navarro, Safarova, Errani, Kuznetsova, Ka. Pliskova, Stephens, Stosur, Konta, Keys, Cibulkova, Pavlyuchenkova, Mladenovic, Makarova, Petkovic, Wozniacki, Gavrilova, Kasatkina, Niculescu, Begu, Strycova, Schmiedlova, Siegemund, Ostapenko, Vandeweghe, Beck, Tsurenko, Giorgi, Doi, Bouchard and Vesnina (last in #47).

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14 thoughts on “Set Points, Rome Day 4: Williams v Kuznetsova rematch set, Doi v Begu also for a semi-final place

  1. I was wrong a LOT about yesterday haha! I really can’t wait for Kuznetsova vs Serena, I wish it was the final because it could be a blockbuster match. I do have this suspicion that Serena is going to be dominant and win in straights. She wasn’t that bad against McHale since she had diarrhea the night before after eating her dogs specially made food!
    Watching the Djokovic match I felt like he was throwing the match (maybe to relieve some pressure at the French) at first but obviously not the case.

    I agree with what you say about playing yourself makes you respect the pro’s. What style of play do you possess James?

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    • I actually like Kuznetsova’s chances in this match although i’m sure Serena won’t underestimate Kuznetsova so she might be on it. I heard about Serena eating dogfood but I haven’t caved into Snapchat yet!

      I’m a leftie and there are so many areas of my game that need improving! My serve, backhand and volleys are all pretty dreadful but i’d say my forehand is decent and I love hitting DTL. I’ve been trying to slice more too… it’s funky (two handed haha) but it seems to be effective. I watch so much tennis that I know how I want to play, but technically, it’s not quite there for me. I’ve been trying to come into the net more but it’s a work in progress. How about you, do you play often?

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      • A lefty forehand down the line is pretty lethal to a right handed player.
        I only really started playing last year, not entirely sure why, and I only play for fun really I don’t take myself too seriously. I play an aggressive counterpunching game because I’m so fast and don’t generate an awful lot of pace myself. I do hit a great forehand though when I have time on it, either cross court or inside out. I totally feel like Ana Ivanovic when I step in and hit it. Sadly I serve like Ana does too…

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      • Same actually, I only started playing regularly last year and I wish i’d started sooner because I really love playing. I only play for fun, we play matches at my club but they aren’t very competitive. I like playing matches though, it’s a real test both physically and mentally. I love the FH DTL, I feel like Kerber! My serve is pretty lacklustre, I just can’t generate any pace and i’m just generally focused on getting it in the box.

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  2. I resorted to doing an Errani serve and putting it in the box with no pace for the opponent to work with and it actually works pretty well a lot of the time, especially against guys who like to whack the ball.

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  3. I think Serena will win this match in two sets. She won’t underestimate Kuznetsova. This is what she does for players that have beaten her before. Serena ups her game and then ends up avenging her loss to people who have beaten her.

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  4. Serena put the ‘cleaners’ through Sveta in under 1 hour 62 60 just a dominating performance,never allowed Sveta in the match from the beginning.Well done Serena,looking good for a 4th title at Rome!

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    • Blimey that was some performance! I mean, Kuznetsova didn’t do a lot wrong in that first set. Intrigued to see if Serena can keep this up. Certainly looking good in Rome, but the same was the case in AO and IW.

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  5. Really expected no less than Serena.
    As for Svetlana, there wasn’t a lot more she could do. She’s gained points and now she has some rest time before the French, where she also has hardly anything to defend, so it’s all good. I’m sure she won’t take a loss like this to heart.

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    • Yep, you called it Andrew. I think Kuznetsova’s in a good place heading into RG. Serena played so well but still intrigued to see how she plays the next one or two matches. Potentially, either Keys or Muguruza in a final won’t be straightforward.

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      • I don’t think she’s feeling any pressure here and she has no reason to. I could see her winning the title without stopping a set. The French Open will be another story but honestly she looks to be firing on all cylinders and if she stops thinking about matching Graf then there’s no reason she can’t do it.

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