Saturday’s Set Points, Australian Open 2017 Day 6: Bourne-GOAT Makarova into the second week

Set Points

Never write off the Bourne-GOAT… Ekaterina Makarova maintained her sensational record in Melbourne by reaching the second week for the seventh (!) consecutive year. In a bruising battle on Rod Laver Arena, Makarova beat the number six seed, Dominika Cibulkova, 6-2 6-7(3) 6-3. And if you’re wondering why I keep calling Makarova the Bourne-GOAT then check out the tweet below.

Based on how the match progressed, i’m surprised that Cibulkova didn’t prevail considering how clutch she was in three setters last year. Makarova blew a 6-2 4-0* 40-30* (!) lead with a classic Cibulkova comeback looking on the cards as the Slovak player won the second set tiebreak to force a decider.

Cibulkova had her chances in the third set; she missed three break points at 3-3 and then wasted game points serving at *3-4. Cibulkova spoke in her press conference about the missed chances. It sounds like this match could stay in the memory for a while.

Next up for Makarova will be a repeat fourth rounder at the Australian Open against Johanna Konta. The pair played out an absorbing match last year with Konta winning, 8-6 in the third set. The Brit continued her serene progress through this year’s draw with a sensational 6-3 6-1 victory over Caroline Wozniacki, winning 10 of the last 11 games. The match had been shaping up nicely with Wozniacki’s defence and movement getting quite a few errors from Konta’s side.

From 2-3, Konta’s level went up a gear and Wozniacki just couldn’t match it, looking overwhelmed during most of the second set. I’ve written a lot about Konta’s serve but today it was the second serve that really shone as the Brit won 65% of points behind it. The poll was a really close one!

The fourth quarter has held up well with Serena Williams and Barbora Strycova advancing to a knock-out fourth rounder. Serena dropped four games against Nicole Gibbs, while Strycova produced another consistent display to beat Caroline Garcia for the sixth consecutive time, 6-2 7-5.

Strycova saved two set points from 3-5* 15-40* down in the second set and went on a 14 point winning streak to wrap up the win in straights. When I say save, unfortunately it was mostly a Garcia collapse. However, this was such a smart performance from Barbora who is into the second week of the Australian Open for the second year in a row.

In her press conference, Strycova was asked about how her game matches up against Serena – “I am so small” 😂

Omg this is hysterical. Barbora is just the best.

2017 Australian Open, 4th Round – Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (79) v Jennifer Brady (116)

Oh how I love you, tennis!

Lucic-Baroni fought back from a set down to beat Maria Sakkari, 3-6 6-2 6-3, while Brady knocked out the number 14 seed, Elena Vesnina, 7-6(4) 6-2.

In the doubles, I was delighted to see Ash Barty and Casey Dellacqua beat the number five seeds, Martina Hingis and CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-2 7-5. Ones to watch out for in the draw for sure!

*Updated part of the post*

I was out for the day as Karolina Pliskova and Daria Gavrilova both survived three setters in an eventful night session. Pliskova was pushed to the brink by Jelena Ostapenko, eventually surviving, 4-6 6-0 10-8. Ostapenko twice failed to serve out the match from *5-2. This is still only the second time that Pliskova has reached the second week of a Slam so a big result. Surviving this test i’d guess will only make her stronger going forward. Gavrilova fended off a late charge from Timea Bacsinszky to confirm her 100% record against the Swiss player with a 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory in two hours and 35 minutes.

Rafa-Sascha was superb. I’ve always been big on Sascha – I am certain he’s a future star and will be top ten by the end of the year. I’m sure this match will be a momentous one in his career and he won’t want to experience that feeling again having struggled physically in the fifth set. Great win, Rafa.

Apologies for the lack of previews last night. It’s been a tough week what with my job, keeping up with matches and a lack of sleep. The weekend brings some respite and a chance to watch and write more tomorrow! Here are some quick takes on Sunday’s 4th round matches…

Cirstea

Angelique Kerber v CoCo Vandeweghe (2nd night match on Rod Laver Arena) – This is a really dangerous match-up for Kerber as Vandeweghe has been playing well in 2017 and has weapons that, on song, will take her to the victory. I wouldn’t write Kerber off just yet as Vandeweghe is not exactly reliable and I think Kerber will be fully aware of the challenge that the American presents and know that she’ll need to do more than she has done through her first three rounds. Kerber leads the head-to-head, 2-0 although their last match in Wuhan ended in a retirement for the American.

Garbiñe Muguruza v Sorana Cirstea (4th match on Margaret Court Arena) – All of Muguruza’s matches have had at least one close set but she’s been competing so much better than at any point in 2016 aside from perhaps the French Open. Cirstea played a great, great match against Riske and has that nothing to lose vibe as the underdog. I’m edging towards the Spaniard in a similar scoreline to her match against Sam Crawford in the second round.

Venus Williams v Mona Barthel (2nd match on Rod Laver Arena) – Loveee the sound of this match-up and the rallies we could get between two fine ball strikers. Barthel’s done brilliantly, but I do think that all the matches could catch up with her (as she kind of said in her post-match interview against Barty) against a player with so much experience like Venus. The American spent less than an hour on court against Duan so i’m guessing she’ll be OK for this one physically.

Svetlana Kuznetsova v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (1st match  on Rod Laver Arena) – The only all-seeded match-up from the top half is definitely the toughest to call on paper. I wouldn’t read too much into Pavlyuchenkova’s straight set win in Sydney; Kuznetsova leads Pavlyuchenkova, 5-2 in their head-to-head and it’s been a wild match-up with no pattern in who prevails and quite a few one-sided results. I’m actually favouring Kuznetsova after the brutal match against Jankovic. I think coming through that one was huge and it will improve her focus going forward.

 

And finally, make sure to check out Grand Slam Gal for lots of brilliant photos from the first week of the Australian Open.

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19 thoughts on “Saturday’s Set Points, Australian Open 2017 Day 6: Bourne-GOAT Makarova into the second week

  1. I wouldn’t put it past Babz to give Serena a tough match. This is their first meeting since 2012. If Strycova gets a good read on Serena’s serve then she has the game to get Serena frustrated.

    I’m actually stunned at Konta’s level. Lets not forget she’s played three of the last four weeks! I doubt Kate will have much left in the tank.

    Didn’t see Pliskova’s match but a good come from behind win could definitely sharpen her focus. She’s looking good this year! 9 straight matches now…

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    • Konta and Pliskova were the form players heading to AO.

      Konta is superb until now.
      But Pliskova should be out imo. Ostapenko was so inconsistent today and I have no clue how she choked this match bc she didn’t lock nervous. She was simply so(…) bad after 5:2 in 3rd set.

      But of course: Overall they did well to reach 2nd week.

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      • You’re right about Ostapenko, I was wondering if maybe physically she wasn’t all there. It could also be that mentally she was getting fatigued. Her game style requires her to almost be in the zone in a way. She’s one for the future though.

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      • I didn’t watch the match but Pliskova said in her press conference that Ostapenko had said to her in the locker room that she was tight at 5-2. Ostapenko had quite a few shaky losses last year and I think nerves have been an issue in the past.

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  2. Konta enjoys playing at the Aussie open, and like I said, she was going to go at Caroline hammer and thongs. I didn’t think Wozniacki had shown any signs so far, that she was willing to dig in and frustrate a baseline player of the likes of Konta. It will get trickier for Johanna from here on out. I’m not sure that Makarova will be a walkover. Cibulkova left it pretty late to find her rhythm against her and by the third it had taken too much of a toll on her. Had she won the first set, I think she would have gotten by Makarova.

    At the start of the tournament, I had Safarova, Strycova, Konta and Pliskova as possibly derailing Serena’s hopes in her bottom half. The doppleganger version of Babz that plays like a top 10 player can do that. Avoiding easy plays to Serena’s backhand will be key, that side really rips. Her forehand has been more measured and easier to deal with. Keep her deep in the baseline. All could be for naught if Serena’s serve is on and she is equally up for this challenge.

    I hope Angie wins the first set, putting enough pressure on Coco will serve her well. An easy first set for Coco and she may have all sorts of problems. Warmer humid evening weather will suite Kerber as well. As for Pavs, I feel Svetlana will be too patient and experienced for her. Granted fatigue may work against Sveta, not sure why she loves these marathon matches, but Pavs is also pulling double duty with Timea Babos, still going strong in doubles. Ah well, we’ll see what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I dont see why Kuznetsova would be feeling tired. She’s only played the one long match and honestly she looked like she could have kept on going another couple of sets. I think she’s reached a new level of fitness!

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      • Must be the cyclists genes! My other half does 100 mile bike rides without working up a sweat, it’s insane!
        I played tennis today with tonsillitis and a broken toe. Would have felt worth it id I’d won.

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      • Oh it was lovely down south too but just cold! I find the sun in winter really difficult to deal with at my local courts. I’ve managed to play a few times this winter and have a mens doubles match coming up next month but can’t wait for the summer.

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      • I’m in a league starting next month and need the practise really, as I didn’t do well at all in my first go because I didn’t get to practice at all…

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      • Ah hope it goes well. My club were desperate for people to play matches so I volunteered to play and it’s with my brother which should be a laugh.

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    • I think Barthel has played top ten level tennis this week, so if she goes into this one feeling relaxed then she could definitely give Venus a run for her money. She’s been scramling and defending so well! Puig was firing bombs all over the court and Mona was just putting them back even harder. So Williams will need to be calm and play a clean, sharp match.

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      • Thanks for the answer.
        It’s a pity there isn’t any website about WTA Doubles predictions. Those matches are so fun and good for betting too.
        I am curious what people think about Garcia/Mladenovic because they had some tough times today and against Srebotnik/Zheng it won’t be easier.
        Babos/Pavlyuchenkova – Mattek-Sands/Safarova would be a great match.

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      • I always think it’s interesting when you get former partners playing on opposite teams. Garcia said some lovely things about Srebotnik at the end of their season together. Even though Caroline obviously went on to have greater successes, I think Kat will be able to go after her former partners weaknesses.
        If the French girls come through then I’d like to see them winning. They have an awful lot to defend this spring.

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