Monday’s Set Points, WTA Sydney & Hobart: Wozniacki holds strong, beats Puig in three sets

Set PointsFirst round action continued on Monday at the Apia International in Sydney with the most enticing match of the day featuring the number ten seed, Caroline Wozniacki up against Rio gold medallist, Monica Puig. Wozniacki held off a peak-Pica second set to triumph in three sets, 6-3 2-6 6-4.

Puig had levelled up the match with some unstoppable tennis in the second set, dropping just five points behind her potent serve and blasting winners all over the court. However, she couldn’t replicate it in the third set and dropped her serve in the first game of the set with four (!) double faults. This was a decent showing from Wozniacki considering she suffered a tough loss to Julia Goerges last week in Auckland having been dancing, up a set and a break. Puig is in the same mould as Goerges in terms of being a player that can catch a hot streak of form and essentially hit Wozniacki off the court.

The Dane played an impressive third set, serving and anticipating well but also stepping up closer to the baseline on a more frequent basis. She clung onto the break right from the first game of the third set and maintained her focus despite missing a break point for the double-break lead. From *0-30 down in the final game, Wozniacki reeled off four straight points including a very positive match point.

The WTA deemed Wozniacki’s shot below as the “shot of the day” – not exactly a glowing representation of tennis on Monday! There was a stunning point midway in the third set where Wozniacki showed some remarkable defence before closing the point out with a volley. The WTA have been flooding Twitter with point highlights yet on this occasion, they went mostly dormant during the third set of Wozniacki-Puig and missed what I thought was a great point.

ADDITION – I just found the point I was talking about above in the highlights! It’s linked at the right place below.

The seeds had a good day on Monday in Sydney as Dominika Cibulkova, Johanna Konta and Roberta Vinci all advanced to the second round in straight sets. Cibulkova was taken to three sets the last time she played Laura Siegemund but this time round dropped just two games. Konta had a reasonably comfortable victory over Arina Rodionova, 6-3 6-4, while Vinci won the last nine games against Maria Sakkari in a 6-4 6-0 win.

There were also straight set wins for Daria Gavrilova (d. Donna Vekic, 6-3 7-6(1)), Barbora Strycova (d. Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3 7-5) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (d. Sam Stosur, 6-3 6-1). WTA highlights of Pavlyuchenkova’s win over Stosur can be found below.

The only seed that did go out in Sydney was sadly via a retirement as Elena Vesnina pulled the plug down, 2-6 0-4 against CoCo Vandeweghe. Get well soon, Elena!

Finally, Christina McHale and Duan Ying-Ying booked their spots in the second round of Sydney with three set wins. McHale will face number two seed, Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round while Duan faces Vandeweghe in the only all unseeded second round match.

All eight second round matches are up in Sydney on Tuesday and it’s an exciting line-up! There are polls for three of the matches below and thoughts on all eight matches on the predictions page.

 

For a full detailed preview of Angelique Kerber’s first match in Sydney against Daria Kasatkina, click on the link below.

The Hobart International suffered more misery with yet ANOTHER withdrawal. This means there are seven lucky losers in the main draw. I honestly can’t ever remember seeing so many withdrawals from one tournament.

Lucie Safarova made an excellent start in Hobart with a straight sets win over Viktorija Golubic, 6-3 6-4. The Czech player needed three attempts at serving out the match but got there in the end and won 90% of first serve points. Lucie had a tough end to 2016 so just to see her picking up these wins is very encouraging and surely helping to rebuild her confidence in singles.

Kiki Bertens continued her ownership of Annika Beck with a sixth consecutive victory on tour, 6-1 6-2 in Monday’s night match in Hobart. Andrea Petkovic also made it through to the second round in rather speedy fashion, 6-4 6-0 over Nicole Gibbs in exactly an hour.

The number seven seed, Kristina Mladenovic won just three games as she was ousted by Elise Mertens.

After a first round loss in Hobart, Francesca Schiavone revealed in press that 2017 will be her last year on tour!

A final mention of Brisbane and a WTA Insider podcast with the new world number one in doubles, Bethanie Mattek-Sands. She’s a great listen :-).

And finally, while there have been many withdrawals from the Australian Open, we are guaranteed some stonking first round matches based on the quality of players that will not be seeded as listed below.

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12 thoughts on “Monday’s Set Points, WTA Sydney & Hobart: Wozniacki holds strong, beats Puig in three sets

  1. Since the Olympics, whenever I hear Puig’s name, or see her on TV playing, I think: how can someone like that play unbelievably well one tournament, but not be a major, consistent threat to top ten players afterwards? A bit like Rosol, after his out-of-this-world performance to beat Nadal at Wimbledon.

    One more thing: I’d like to see Safarova do far better in general. A couple of years ago she seemed on the rise, but fell back somewhat.

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    • Puig is garbage. Agree, she was a fluke, thats why. she’ll lose to players outside the top 200. pathetic performances by her all the time

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    • Thanks for the comment, David. It is a wonder with Puig because when she’s on, she is just so, so good. Even in the match against Wozniacki, I thought she played a superb second set. Her game has a lot of risk to it though and her second serve is practically a first serve. I think she’s going to have a decent year but Svitolina & Wozniacki first up have been tough draws.

      Agree with you on Lucie 😉

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      • I think Monica was massively motivated to win in Rio; she said herself that she wanted to give the people of her country some good news for a change, and she certainly did that. Motivation’s a complex thing and I’ve heard it said that a player can “want it too much” and freeze up under the pressure and not give of her or his best in a match, but it clearly worked in Monica’s favour last summer.

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  2. surprised you didn’t mention Kerber BLATANTLY threw that match tonight. didn’t give one ounce of care. true match fixer whatever you want to call it. she should be suspended or fined worse then Kyrgios was. the WTA is a true laughing stock these days

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    • I didn’t watch it, waiting for some highlights.
      Thrilled for Kasatkina to get her breakthrough so early in the year, though.

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      • Shame she must now take on another heavyweight and try to upset Konta.
        With Cibulkova and Kuznetsova out, I’m leaning on Konta to join Aga in the final and possibly win it.

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      • This will be their first meeting won’t it?
        If Daria can keep the ball deep and take risks when opportunities arise, she could beat Konta. But Jo has become so reliably ruthless when the ball lands anywhere shorter inside the baseline. She goes hard with generally low risk shots so Kasatkina can’t simply outlast her.

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      • Yes first meeting and agree, also Konta’s serve has become such a weapon and it often gets her out of trouble. It’s probably the one match i’ll get to see tomorrow and looking forward to it!

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      • I’m (pleasantly) surprised by that match (Daria K bt Angie Kerber). I thought Angie might have one lapse early in the season but would then be back to her usual imperious form.
        Just goes to show how difficult it is to predict women’s tennis. Good for Daria anyway; her match vs. Jo should be a good one.

        P.S. Andrew, I agree that the final could well be Jo Konta vs Aga Radwanska (assuming that Aga beats Chris McHale), but I don’t think Jo’s got the game to beat Aga yet; she pretty much admitted that after their final in Beijing last year.

        Otherwise, I think Caro Wozniacki looks like she could make the final; she’s playing well at the moment, as is Nastia Pavlyuchenkova.

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