Tuesday’s Set Points, WTA Dubai: Mladenovic scores 3rd top 5 win, Kerber sets up Puig rematch

Set PointsThe start of Tuesday’s bumper order of play was delayed an hour by rain but soon got underway with the number three seed, Dominika Cibulkova up against Ekaterina Makarova. Prior to 2017, Makarova had never beaten Cibulkova – now she has two hard fought three set wins to her name as she claimed the upset win, 6-2 4-6 6-2 victory. Makarova won the last six games of the match.

My hunch was that Cibulkova would win this particular match after speaking a good game in press before the tournament. Taking stock on the year so far, Cibulkova’s current form and record in three setters (2-6) would indicate that her confidence is lacking right now.

Kristina Mladenovic won her seventh consecutive match on the WTA tour, staving off break points in the final game to inflict just a second defeat of the year on Doha champion and number two seed, Karolina Pliskova, 6-2 6-4. It was Mladenovic’s third top five win of her career after defeating Li Na (#2) at the French Open in 2014 and Simona Halep (#3) at Birmingham in 2015.

Mladenovic’s press conference is linked below from the WTA Facebook page, which was an interesting listen. Mladenovic was asked about the comments she made after Fed Cup to which she clarified she was NOT referring to Caroline Garcia. Instead, she had been comparing Amadine Hesse to Oceane Dodin.


And boom… there goes my champ for the week! After five games, Garbiñe Muguruza was forced to retire from her second round match against Kateryna Bondarenko due to injury. In the video linked below, the Spaniard explains that the problem was a left achilles injury that she picked up in Doha.

One seed that didn’t drop was the number one seed, Angelique Kerber who sealed a invaluable win over Mona Barthel, 6-4 6-3. I really like Mona, but a part of me also wanted to see Angie get back on track. There were a pair of great points including a cracking match point linked below.

CiCi Bellis had another superb win, recovered from hefty deficits in both sets to defeat Laura Siegemund, 7-5 7-6 (3). Bellis failed to serve out sets on three occasions but showed a lot of character to win a tough match against Siegemund who tried every trick in the book.

The German player took a medical time-out just before Bellis stepped up to the serve for the match for the second time. I always try and give the benefit of the doubt to players but this is not the first time that Siegemund has used these kinds of tactics. I’m glad that Bellis managed to rise above it and win in straight sets.

Bellis will play Agnieszka Radwanska who came back from a break down in both sets to beat the qualifier, Elise Mertens, 6-3 6-2. A fun point linked below…

The final match of the day saw Elina Svitolina fend off a first set surge from Zheng Saisai before easing through the second set to win, 7-5 6-1. Zheng couldn’t find the court early on but some ultra-aggressive returns and nice touches of variety helped her find her a foothold in the match. Svitolina’s game started to crumble a tad including a hilarious drive volley miss in the game at *4-5. Svitolina though broke again and finished the first set in style with two excellent serves.

Zheng produced some nice moments but just made too many regulation errors, mostly going long. Svitolina’s ability to rally and keep the ball in play for longer was a huge factor and the Ukrainian player settled down to play a decent second set.

I’d tagged Ana Konjuh for a good week in my main draw preview and she’s looking good so far! She recorded her second straight sets win of the week, beating the number 12 seed, Sam Stosur, 6-4 6-3. I managed to catch the end where Konjuh looked pretty stable – she finished off the match with a fourth break of the Stosur serve and a sweet forehand winner.

Konjuh will play the number eight seed, Elena Vesnina in the third round after the Russian player beat Misaki Doi, 6-2 7-5. The scoreline was just one game off Vesnina’s previous win over Doi (6-1 7-5 in New Haven in 2015) as she rallied from a break down in the second set to win the last four games.

Monica Puig has continued her recent good form with another three set win, this time over the number 15 seed, Caroline Garcia, 6-1 4-6 6-2. It looked like the tide was turning when Garcia broke Puig’s serve at 5-4 to win the second set and then had two early break points in the third set. After levelling up at 2-2 in the decider, Puig dropped just four more points en route to a second straight sets win over Garcia.

Interesting stat alert – Puig has a superb record in three set matches. Since Prague last year, she is 16-2 in three setters!

In other matches…

Peng Shuai produced another excellent win, beating the number nine seed, Barbora Strycova, 6-3 6-2. It had been nearly nine years since their most recent meeting in Charleston. Peng now leads the head-to-head, 3-0.

Caroline Wozniacki played her seventh match in as many days but got the win over Viktorija Golubic, 6-4 6-2.

Christina McHale backed up the victory over Bertens with another super win, this time against Naomi Osaka, 6-3 6-4.

For the second day in a row, Lauren Davis came from a set down to beat Kristyna Pliskova, 1-6 6-1 6-3. It was the second time that Davis had come from a set down to beat Kr. Pliskova.

Anastasija Sevastova beat Alison Riske, 6-4 6-7(3) 6-2 in two hours and 29 minutes. There were no break points in the second set!

Wang Qiang reached the third round of a Premier tournament for the first time in her career with a routine 6-3 6-1 victory over Ons Jabeur.

Wednesday’s schedule is a little so-so, headlined by an Olympic final rematch between Angelique Kerber and Monica Puig. Who you got?


And finally, Budapest had a pretty limited schedule for day 2 with still six first round matches to be played on Wednesday. Tuesday was a great day for the qualifiers as Anna Blinkova, Tamara Korpatsch and Aliaksandra Sasnovich all booked their places in the second round. Julia Goerges had an excellent come-from-behind win over Anett Kontaveit, 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4, while the world number 282, Fanny Stollar, won her first WTA main draw match against the slumping, Danka Kovinic, 6-2 7-6(4).

For photos from Budapest, check out the Hungarian Ladies Open Facebook page.

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39 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Set Points, WTA Dubai: Mladenovic scores 3rd top 5 win, Kerber sets up Puig rematch

  1. I was off today so managed to watch quite a bit. Puig was particularly impressive against Garcia! I’m not sure she will have much in the tank for the Kerber match. She’ll have to blast her off the court to win, and as I’ve said before, Kerber thrives against players who feed her pace.

    I did think Mladenovic played a great match but Pliskova really didn’t show up (why did she even play?!) Had Karolina made some more very make able returns, Kristina may not have breezed through so easily.

    Very impressed with Konjuh, Aga and Svitolina. I’d be surprised if one of them doesn’t win the title. Elina hit quite a lot of winners in her match, showing how aggressive she’s preparing to be.


    • Oh and I didn’t watch Lauren Davis match but how has she suddenly become this amazing player?! She used to skate by on that one win over Vika (Azarenka was injured, if I remember correctly) and then did nothing for years. Then last summer she won two titles out of thin air and so far this year she’s #16 in the Road to Singapore!


      • Yes i’m wondering the same to be honest about Davis, I haven’t managed to catch many of her matches. She has won so many matches in the last six matches and is still going under-the-radar.


      • I thought she was magnificent in Auckland to be honest but I really thought it was a fluke! If she enjoys clay as much as she says then she could be in for a great few months!


      • Grit, she’s playing with a lot of determination. The tour is fairly open now, so a little bit of fight(with some decent tennis) can get you far. Definitely one of the smallest on tour cause she’s not even ‘heavy set’ like Cibulkova or Putintseva. She is skinnier but very fit( stamina and physically). Still waiting for her to make deep inroads at the major tournaments though. Takes more work from her.
        Oodles of belief, she wouldn’t be playing tennis otherwise.


      • Davis’s success is a testament to how weak the WTA Tour currently is – credit to her for taking advantage. Life is about making the most of the opportunities presented to you!


      • I’m not going to stop watching just because the WTA is going through a rough patch, like many others have if the crowd attendances at these tournaments is anything to go by. I will continue to stick with the sport I enjoy watching through this bad time it is going through, in the hope it turns around.


    • How did Angie play today, Andrew? Was it Mona being nervous or Angie playing well?

      Also, I’ve never watched Saisai Zheng play. I caught a bit of her game and tbh I think it’s quite hilarious…in a good way obviously 😀 Svitolina was playing well but – omg – what a volley miss. that was facepalm at it’s finest. I had to laugh for the rest of the set (this is not meant in a bad way. it just cheered me up). I think she did quite well and forgot that horrible miss straight after 😉


      • I’ve always like Saisai! She has a funky game and is really good up at the net. She used to play so many moonball rallies and I remember watching her nearly beat Lucie with them at the US Open a few years back, but she’s developed her game since then. Just made too many loose errors today and that has always been an issue. I was laughing too at that Svitolina miss. I was impressed she didn’t let it bother her and i’ve always thought she is very resilient.


      • Angie was great, she found the right balance of defence and attack. Barthel had moments of first class tennis and wasn’t ever bad or even so so. The trouble is that if you give a player like Angie deep, fast paced balls and angles, she thrives. Mona needed to mix up speeds and spins and hit shorter, wider angles to take Kerber off the court, but she didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And yeah that was a bad miss. We all have them sometime though. The important thing is that it doesn’t stop her coming in, because she’s rapidly improving in that area. She finished with well over 20 winners in 2 sets, that’s pretty good going!


      • Ah thanks, Andrew:) Won’t be able to watch tomorrow but I’ve just subscribed to DAZN once again and will be able to rewatch matches! I thought that Svitolina was playing quite well.

        Yeah, James, she reminds me of Funky Flo. Don’t know why. maybe because she is so unpredictable and mixing up everything: moonballs, redirecting pace winners, volleys, slices.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I thought The Mlad had the tournament in her back pocket, after she beat Ka Pliskova. Then The Mlad gets smashed by Wang………WANG!!!!!!


    • Had it not been for her sore back, I will be all in for Puig. She still has the Olympic win experience to buoy her along. Angie is playing quite well so far.


      • olympic experience means nothing. look how many bums Puig has lost to since the olympic belief. Good thing you don’t bet money with your picks. Kerber will take care of fake injury Puig


      • lol, if I was betting my money will be on Angie here, she is playing better. Anyway by experience, I do not mean winning the Olympic, but I’m referencing beating Angie at the Olympics. It helps mentally having beaten the opponent before and recently.
        Interesting though that you feel she is faking the injury, that is rather shameful if true. I thought she was mentally stronger than that, quite disappointing.


  2. Aga needs to work on her fitness if she ever wants to win a Grand Slam title. She is to skinny and doesn’t have enough muscle mass. Serena, Sugarpova and Vika not on your and she isn’t racking up those titles.


    • Agreed, these medical timeouts don’t bode well for any player. I think Kerber could get this done in straights, albeit close. Caro had a medical timeout too, Cici could make a statement here. Intriguing quarter finalists though, Sevastova, Wang, Cici, Davies.. Svitolina reminds me of Sloane from last year, trying to clean up at smaller tournaments earlier on in the season.


      • Which small tournaments is Svitolina trying to clean up on?? If she makes the semi’s tomorrow then she’ll surely withdraw from Kuala Lumpur and have a small break before Indian Wells, where she has a good chance of going deep based on her results on American hard courts.


      • ‘Smaller’ as compared to the Indian Wells and slams etc, which she seems to be excelling in. I’m thinking she’s in it with a chance here. At the very big ones, I’m not so certain. I still feel she needs a little bit more time.


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