The first of Wednesday’s quarter-finals in Sydney was an absolute epic as Barbora Strycova defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the longest match of the year so far and played out in the extreme heat of the day.
I feel cold haha… an awesome effort from both players. I can’t imagine sitting and watching in this weather, let alone playing!
I managed to wake up in time for Johanna Konta up against Daria Kasatkina, which was the only women’s match not to make the Ken Rosewall Arena. Konta was mostly dominant on serve in the first set and was rushing Kasatkina who struggled to find her rhythm. The second set was much, much closer and in truth, Kasatkina should have won it. Kasatkina mixed up the play nicely and forced quite a few errors from Konta.
The set turned on a marathon eight deuce game with Kasatkina serving at *4-2 – Konta had five break points and Kasatkina had four game points. There was some odd decision making from Konta with a couple of woeful drop shots and Kasatkina threw in at least one double fault on a game point. In the end, Konta managed to find enough aggressive forehand winners to seal the vital break back.
Kasatkina stayed in front but Konta stayed in touch too, levelling up in a close game at 5-5 as the wind picked up in a freak point with Kasatkina going wide. Konta got the break at 5-5 and then served out the match to love as she secured back-to-back semi-final showings to start 2017. It was another good week for Daria but the second set was definitely a missed opportunity. For Jo, she continues to be one of the most consistent performers on tour over the last six months; while it wasn’t her best performance of the year so far, she was characteristically resilient.
Eugenie Bouchard continues to improve match-by-match in Sydney as she enjoyed a straightforward 6-2 6-3 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Bouchard looked sharp and was rushing Pavlyuchenkova from the baseline. I must admit I didn’t see this one coming after a disappointing start in Brisbane, but good for Genie!
I didn’t notice this pattern before but Pavlyuchenkova has been struggling in quarter-finals on tour.
In the final match of the day, Agnieszka Radwanska had a much more comfortable win against Duan Ying-Ying. Last week, Radwanska saved three match points in Shenzhen against Duan to prevail, 7-5 in a third set. One week on and Radwanska advanced in straight sets, 6-3 6-2 in Sydney.
So the semi-finals are now set in Sydney for Thursday. First up at not before 4pm local time (5am UK time) will be Radwanska vs. Strycova. Radwanska has won all six previous matches but their two 2016 encounters were both very close and a solid indicator of the substantial improvements that Strycova has made on tour. I think it will be a tough for Strycova though to back up the frankly brutal match over Wozniacki, as well as playing doubles.
The night match at not before 8.30pm local time (9.30am UK time) will be a Wimbledon rematch between Konta and Bouchard. I think both players have very similar games and are looking to be aggressive. I’m on the fence with this one and to be honest, slightly leaning towards Bouchard. It will all come down to who gets the first strike in – Bouchard did a great job of this against Pavlyuchenkova.
Over in Hobart, Risa Ozaki secured a come-from-behind win over Lucie Safarova, 2-6 6-3 7-5. Lucie had break points in the second set to lead 6-2 3-0 before things went pear-shaped for the Czech player. I think this is a reaction to everything Lucie went through in 2016 with illness and dropping her ranking. She worked so hard to improve not only her game, but her mentality over the past few years and it feels like she is going to have to rebuild again, step-by-step. This is where I do credit her former coach, Rob Steckley as doing a good job with Lucie.
There have been some solid showings so far in 2017 but Lucie has lost her last six three set matches on tour. Lucie is a real confidence player and I think for one of these tight three setters to go her way would be huge. Lucie has committed to play the International tournament in Budapest in late February which is an encouraging sign that she wants to play more and is seemingly healthy. As always, i’m rooting for Lucie 🙂
In other matches, Kiki Bertens, Lesia Tsurenko and Shelby Rogers all advanced to the quarter-finals in Hobart.
The quarter-finals will be played on Thursday. Frankly the highlight of the week in Hobart is this…
From yesterday’s Konta v Gavrilova match, this was impressive!
And finally, two more WTA retirements. I heard about this one a few days ago but Nadia Petrova has officially retired. There’s a nice interview with Nadia on the WTA site up today.
Petrova is a little bit before my time of blogging and watching WTA tennis regularly but I still got to see her play a few times on the grass. All the best to Nadia in her off-court pursuits!
Jarmila Wolfe (previously Gajdosova) also announced her retirement from tennis today.
Wolfe had one of the most explosive games on tour and I always enjoyed watching her batter the ball. She’s a nice person and i’m sad she didn’t get her proper farewell at the Australian Open. All the best for the future, Jarka!