The highlight of Wednesday’s schedule was a match-of-the-year contender between Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova that lasted three hours and 20 minutes. Petra prevailed for the best win of her year, 6-7(10) 7-5 6-4. I watched the first set during my lunch break which turned into a long one! Kvitova should have edged a brutal opening set, but couldn’t take advantage of four set points.
There were some incredible games with the highlight in the third set at 4-3 where Kvitova saved seven break points. I was losing it just following on live scores. The pair played a 41 shot rally… PETRA AND 41 SHOTS WOW! The Czech player then needed seven match points to finally see off Kerber in a dramatic final game.
I’m absolutely thrilled for Petra after the year she’s had. Recent results have definitely been more encouraging and the result validates this. Kvitova, if she can move tomorrow, will play Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals. The Brit saved six set points in the second set against Carla Suárez Navarro in a superb 7-5 7-6(6) victory. I still think Konta doesn’t get the credit she deserves and this was another glowing example of her mental toughness.
Based on the efforts of Kvitova, i’d have to go for Konta in straights in their quarter-final. Even fully recharged, I think this is a tough match for Kvitova. There seems to be some Petra fans about who have already made their feelings clear in the poll which went up on the predictions page earlier today.
In very windy conditions (and before the rain came), Madison Keys battled through to the quarter-finals with a 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory over Daria Kasatkina. Keys sailed through the opener, dropping just 11 points. However, Kasatkina came back in the second set with an early break. Keys was so aggressive and coming into the net to close points but was becoming increasingly error-strewn.
Keys backed off, which worked for a time as Kasatkina began to commit a stream of errors. After a series of breaks, Kasatkina had a gutsy hold at 4-4, saving four break points and closing the game with a couple of superb points – when she puts it all together with some aggressive intent, Kasatkina’s game is glorious to watch. Kasatkina broke to force a decider.
Keys was noticeably more careful and measured in the decider and managed the wind well to go up a double break to lead *5-2. Keys lost her way again though with a series of wild and mis-timed shots… the wind made it a frustrating match for both. At the second time of asking, Keys served out the match to 15.
Keys will play Simona Halep in the quarter-finals after the Romanian player eased past Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-3 6-3, thanks to a superb serving display. Halep won 84% of first serve points and 60% of second serve points as she not only defeated Shvedova for the first time in her career but also reached the quarter-finals in Wuhan for the first time.
It will be the third time in as many months that Halep and Keys play each other on the tour. During 2016, this has been the type of match-up that has regularly flummoxed Keys. Their last match in Montreal was an absolute shocker, but Halep came through to win the title with a decent second set showing. I’d take Halep again in their Wuhan quarter-final in three sets. I’m not sure Keys can keep the errors down to rival Halep but we’ll see…
The third of the quarter-finals will feature Agnieszka Radwanska and Svetlana Kuznetsova after both players won their third round matches in straight sets. Radwanska exacted revenge on a knackered Caroline Wozniacki with a 6-4 6-2 victory. Radwanska let slip a 4-0 lead in the first set but won the final two games and was then on her way. Kuznetsova dropped just four games to a poor serving and very erratic, Venus Williams, 6-2 6-2.
Kuznetsova leads Radwanska, 11-4 in their head-to-head although Radwanska won their last match-up on the WTA tour in Madrid in 2015, 6-3 4-6 7-6(6). I didn’t watch either of their matches today so it’s difficult for me to make a fair judgement on this match. My instinct is Kuznetsova might nick this one. It could be a cracker…
Two third round matches were left over from Wednesday’s order of play when the rain arrived. Jelena Jankovic v Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova v Dominika Cibulkova will be played simultaneously on Centre and Court 1 at 11.30am local time in Wuhan. It will be a tough ask for the two winners who will have to play two matches on Friday.