In a wild year of WTA tennis that has produced upset after upset, it’s almost a surprise to see a projected quarter-final actually come to fruition! The first confirmed last eight match-up at the Rogers Cup in Montreal will see the number five seed, Simona Halep take on the number nine seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova sealed just her second win in six encounters against Petra Kvitova, prevailing in two tight sets, 7-6(2) 6-3. I was excited to watch Kvitova having read such positive things about her first two matches in Montreal. However, it was same old for 2016 with another error-strewn display. And it had all started so well as the Czech player raced into a 3-0 lead. Kvitova even had a break point to go up a double break… but Kuznetsova reeled off three games on the trot to get back on level terms.
The first set progressed to the tiebreak after four consecutive breaks of serve at the end. Kuznetsova twice failed to serve out the first set at *5-4 and *6-5; despite some erratic play to get broken in the first place, Kvitova never threw in the towel and there were a couple of epic pojds! A crisp forehand down-the-line saw Kvitova force the tiebreak. It was even at 2-2 but an inexplicable double fault from Kvitova that sailed wayyy longgg saw the tide turn in favour of Kuznetsova who, solid and steady, won the last five points of the tiebreak.
It felt like Kuznetsova was controlling her destiny a little more in the second set, but she still seemingly tried to let Kvitova back in! Kuznetsova broke for the second time in the set to lead *5-3. Despite throwing in a couple of loose points, Kuznetsova saved a break point and sealed the win on a tremendous match point, arguably the best point of the match. Kuznetsova continues to roll along nicely in 2016. For Kvitova, there’s always one or two tournaments each year where Peak Petra makes an appearance but we’re still waiting in 2016. I feel like she used to find a way to battle through these off days…
Halep has moved rather effortlessly into the quarter-finals with straight set wins over Daria Gavrilova (6-2 6-3) and Karolina Pliskova (6-3 6-3). Halep dropped her serve once in the first set against Pliskova but was dominant in the second set, dropping just one point on serve! Halep’s stats were decent with 22 winners to just 9 unforced errors as she enjoyed her fourth consecutive straight sets win over Pliskova on the WTA tour. The year may have got off to a shaky start but Halep’s looking in a great place right now with her tennis and she is currently riding a seven match winning streak.
Head-to-head record: Halep and Kuznetsova are tied at 3-3 in their head-to-head; their last four encounters have seen a different winner with Kuznetsova prevailing in their only 2016 clash in the semi-finals of Sydney, 7-6(5) 4-6 6-3.
Interesting stat: Halep has won 20 of her last 23 matches on tour including two title runs in Madrid and Bucharest. For Kuznetsova, she’s at number 10 in the Race and has already racked up 27 wins, one more than she managed during the entire 2015 season. Kuznetsova is on course for her best year since 2013.
Final thoughts: Likkkkking this match-up! Halep looks super confident right now although the calibre of opponent is rising significantly with Kuznetsova who has been so much more consistent this year compared to the last two years. The head-to-head is close so it will be about who peaks on the day. Halep was my champ pre-tournament and i’ve seen nothing so far to make me change my mind….