Set Points, WTA Cincinnati Day 3: Kerber, Muguruza, Halep & Radwanska all through to R3

Set PointsRain caused a delay to the schedule but the sun soon made an appearance! Four first round matches were held over from Tuesday; Andrea Petkovic scored a big win over Lucie Safarova, 6-4 6-7(4) 6-2 in two hours and 29 minutes. Petkovic lost the second set having wavered with three match points at 6-5 but was by far and away the more consistent player and also served well, winning 100% of first serve points in the third set.

As always, Lucie fought hard but her game wasn’t there on this occasion as she was very erratic with her groundstrokes. I’m not too surprised or worried as Lucie must have been feeling it physically after Rio having had a stomach problem. I’m pleased for Petko though who is one of my favourite personalities on tour.. Her interview made me laugh.

In the other first round matches, Johanna Larsson won five of the last six games to beat a wildly erratic, Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-3 4-6 6-3. There were also wins for Kristina Mladenovic and Kurumi Nara.

Now onto the second round matches… Wins haven’t been coming easy for Roberta Vinci of late but she booked her place in the last 16 of Cincy with a 7-5 6-3 win over Tsvetana Pironkova. Vinci was potent at the net and was allowed to settle with Pironkova aiming mostly to her forehand. Vinci plays Carla Suárez Navarro in the third round.

Scanning Wednesday’s schedule, Sam Stosur v Barbora Strycova was a solid candidate for match of the day on the women’s side… and it lived up to expectation with Strycova prevailing in two tight sets, 7-6(11) 6-3. The first set was super quality, ending with a see-saw tiebreak; Strycova needed six set points to finally take it with Stosur double faulting away the set. Kudos to Strycova who has enjoyed two excellent wins over Bouchard and Stosur. Her year just gets better and better…

Next up for Strycova is Angelique Kerber who beat Kristina Mladenovic, 6-0 7-5, in the late night match on Center Court. This will be Kerber and Strycova’s third clash in 2016 with Strycova securing a first ever win in their last meeting in Madrid.

Misaki Doi was 0-5 in her head-to-head heading into her match against Christina McHale on Wednesday. It looked like she was heading towards yet another defeat after losing the first set. However Doi, who got into the Cincy draw as a lucky loser following Serena Williams’s withdrawal, rebounded and prevailed in a nervy four-deuce final game (there was a double fault on match point!) eventually winning through, 2-6 6-3 6-4.

In her final qualifying round match, Doi had led Varvara Flink, 6-0 5-2 including having a match point at 6-5. Flink eventually won, 0-7 7-6(5) 6-4. Huge credit to Doi for putting that result behind her. It’s onwards and upwards as she plays Karolina Pliskova in the third round. It will be their third clash in the last two months; Pliskova won in Eastbourne but Doi turned the tables at Wimbledon. This time round… who knows?!

Belinda Bencic’s first match back since Wimbledon wasn’t streamed but thanks to Max on Twitter for his updates. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to go smoothly for Belinda.

Congrats to Timea Babos who keeps picking up solid wins. Babos defeated Bencic, 7-5 6-2 and moves forward to a third round encounter with Dominika Cibulkova in what will be a first career match-up.

Cibulkova’s second rounder was the last WTA match to finish… and it was a cracker! Fun stat – It was Cibulkova’s fourth win over Johanna Larsson but all four matches have gone to three sets. Three of those matches have taken place in 2016.

In the first match of the day on Center Court, Simona Halep enjoyed a routine second round win over Annika Beck, 6-3 6-1, Simona looked great, hitting 24 winners to 17 unforced errors, as she extended her winning streak to 11 matches. She’ll be tough to beat this week…

Halep’s next opponent is Daria Gavrilova who is having a great week in Cincy having coming through two rounds of qualifying. Gavrilova beat Svitolina for the third time this year, 6-2 6-2. It was an aggressive display from the Aussie who has won four matches at the same tournament for the first time in 2016.

A pair of blockbusters are set for Thursday; Thursday’s late night match on Center Court will feature a first time match-up between Agnieszka Radwanska and Johanna Konta. Radwanska rolled past Andrea Petkovic, 6-0 6-1. Petko was playing her second match of the day, which frankly is unacceptable. The week schedule has very little leeway so i’m not sure what they can do other than extend the tournament, which I don’t see happening.

Johanna Konta was forced to dash off for an emergency toilet break just before serving out her match against Donna Vekic. The pair had a little laugh about it at the end as Konta won, 6-2 6-3. I only watched the last few games but there was some quality hitting from both. In my opinion, Konta still doesn’t get the respect she deserves for what she’s doing on the tennis court right now. Vekic has some really neat groundstrokes but the tactics are still often muddled.

Radwanska and Konta have never played each other before so it promises to be a very intriguing match. I’d fancy Konta to get a set, but i’m going for Radwanska in 3.

Another all seeded match-up will see Svetlana Kuznetsova play Timea Bacsinszky on Thursday. Kuznetsova recovered from a 3-6 0-2 deficit to win 12 of the last 14 games against Alison Riske, 3-6 6-3 6-1. Bacsinszky had a comfortable win over Lesia Tsurenko, 6-3 6-0.

I’ll be rooting for Timea but this is a good match-up for Sveta so i’d fancy the Russian player to prevail.

Another fascinating third rounder set for Thursday will feature Garbiñe Muguruza and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Muguruza battled through a tight first set before running away with the second set against CoCo Vandeweghe, 7-6(4) 6-2. In a similar scoreline, Pavs beat Kurumi Nara, 7-6(5) 6-1. Props to Nara who fought for over three hours in her first round win over Viktorija Golubic and then came back to push Pavs in that first set.

For some great pics from Cincy, check out this latest post on Women’s Tennis Blog.

And finally, on one of the latest WTA Insider podcasts, Monica Puig spoke about her incredible Olympic experience where she claimed the gold.

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter (@Moo_Tennis) HERE and Facebook HERE.

7 thoughts on “Set Points, WTA Cincinnati Day 3: Kerber, Muguruza, Halep & Radwanska all through to R3

  1. Just watched the Halep/Gavrilova match and Simona was in top form. She is difficult to beat when she plays like this and she looks to have a good chance of winning this event. Dasha has played well this week which has surprised me as I thought that she might be tired after Rio. She did not play badly here but Simona was much too classy for her. I’m still hoping that Dasha can get her first WTA title this year as it will boost her confidence and she is capable of playing great tennis sometimes as shown by her defeats of some of the top players in the last 2 years.

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  2. Yay for Kuznetsova vs Pliskova first meeting. I’m inclined to say Karolina will win, based on court speed and the amount Svetlana has played the last month. But if she’s feeling up for it then there’s always the possibility of her confusing the Czech off the court like Aga does.

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    • I just checked the H2H and was really surprised they had never met! That’s a really tough one to call other than to say that i’d expect it to go three sets.

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  3. This is turning out to be a really good tourney (save for the weather and the rain breaks); several players seem to be producing their best tennis all at the same time.

    James was right to say that Aga would win against Jo in three sets; I think Aga, like Angie Kerber, is just a bit too good for Jo at this stage when she’s at her best. Her match with Simona (who’s also playing really well at the moment) promises to be a belter.

    Carla’s playing well too but I was disappointed that Alize had to retire against her, as that should have been a good match. I think Angie’s going to win their match but it should be a good contest.

    Nice end of match hug between Timi Bacs and Sveta as well.

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