Sunday began with the biggest upset so far in the desert as Caroline Garcia edged the number 11 seed, Johanna Konta in a third set tiebreak win, 3-6 6-3 7-6(1). Konta cruised through the first set on serve with Garcia labouring on return – I just couldn’t comprehend Garcia’s positioning inside the baseline to return which was not working at all. The Frenchwoman did back off a tad in the second set and it was Konta who couldn’t find any rhythm on return. Garcia was dominating the rallies and Konta didn’t look comfortable at all.
The third set was a frustrating watch all round – Konta missed numerous openings on the Garcia serve, while Garcia’s return was just abysmal 😂. There’s a case that both served well but i’m more inclined to say it was about failings on return. Into a third set tiebreak and Garcia was on it, playing some good stuff.
A good win for Garcia but a frustrating watch overall. The stats painted the picture of a high quality match but they are lying!
This was the weakest display i’ve seen all year from Konta – she had little rhythm on return, the element of her game that was so good in Australia and she was reactive on her groundstrokes, seemingly perturbed by Garcia’s depth. Konta sounded disappointed in press but i’m sure she will bounce back in Miami. She’s been so, so consistent of late that it’s a surprise when she can’t quite match the lofty standards she has set herself.
In a match where both players had match points and in brutal conditions, Timea Bacsinszky outlasted Kiki Bertens, 6-3 5-7 7-6(8) in three hours and 22 minutes. This was an absolute rollercoaster ride and I still feel nauseous 😂. Bacsinszky saved four match points and won it on her sixth match point.
Back up to the start and Bacsinszky played a solid match for a set and a half, with a lot of help from an error-strewn Bertens who just couldn’t string the good points together. Bacsinszky served for the match at 6-3 *5-4 and had two match points at *40-15. Bacsinszky dropped her level but at the same time, Bertens relaxed including two superb backhand winners, one on the second match point. The errors subsided for Bertens, while Bacsinszky started to make more mistakes. Bertens reeled off four games in a row to force a decider.
Despite taking a medical time-out for an elbow/arm issue early in the third set, Bertens took control of the match with improving accuracy on her groundstrokes. The Dutch player saved two break points in a five-deuce game to lead 5-2. Bertens served for the match at *5-4 but a scrappy, Bacsinszky battled hard. Bertens missed three match points (from memory, they were mostly Bertens errors) as the match rolled into a fitting third set tiebreak.
This was a wild ride… still with me?!
After back-to-back double faults from the pair, two groundstrokes wide from Bertens set up two more match points for Bacsinszky. Bertens went all out on the first with an aggressive forehand and then a Bacsinszky forehand shank levelled up proceedings at 6-6.
And then the tension ramped up with each series of points…
Bertens had a match point at 7-6 – Bacsinszky mistimed a forehand that BARELY went over the net. On the next forehand, she drove through it with conviction and got the forced error from Bertens into the net.
Bacsinszky had a match point at 8-7 – with Bertens at the net, Bacsisnzky went agonisingly wide with a forehand passing shot.
Bacsinszky had a match point at 9-8 – and this one she took, getting the error into the net from Bertens with a forehand slice.
It wasn’t pretty but huge respect to both players for battling through the heat. A classy handshake at the end.
Timea’s thoughts on the match.
In a wonderful WTA scoreline, Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Roberta Vinci in a lopsided affair, 6-1 2-6 6-1. Kuznetsova was peak in the first set with 15 winners to three unforced errors. Things flipped in the second set with Vinci producing some classy, aggressive tennis. And then it flipped again with Kuznetsova winning another breadstick set. There was some quality tennis from both but not really at the same time! Kuznetsova gets Garcia in the fourth round.
Garbiñe Muguruza overcame a huge scare, fending off a spirited challenge from the 17-year-old wildcard, Kayla Day, 3-6 7-5 6-2. I watched most of the second set and I thought Day was superb. Her serve is a real weapon and she was going toe-to-toe with one of the best players in the world.
In the second set, Muguruza came from *0-40 down at *2-2 and saved two further break points at *5-5. Once again, it was another example of Muguruza competing well in 2017. I thought she really stepped it up at the end of the second set and was aggressive when it counted.
What a day this was… I woke up to the end of the night match on Stadium 1 between Dominika Cibulkova and Kristyna Pliskova which was incredible. In true Domi-fightback mode, Cibulkova saved a match point to win, 2-6 7-6(5) 7-6(4) in two hours and 47 minutes. Kr. Pliskova had served for the match in the second set and had a match point in one of three titanic deuce games on Cibulkova’s serve towards the end of the third set.
Despite the loss, there were so many positives to take away for Kr. Pliskova. For Cibulkova, this was some of her peak-2016 form. Down match point, she backed herself and we haven’t really seen that so far this year. Cibulkova will play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the fourth round.
Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina also advanced to the fourth round with straight set wins – Pliskova came back from 3-5 down in the second set to defeat Irina-Camelia Begu, while Svitolina beat Daria Gavrilova, 6-2 6-1 (!) in just 64 minutes for a 15th consecutive victory. While I had Svitolina getting the win, I didn’t expect that scoreline at all.
Monday’s order of play is a cracker – A duo of full previews are up for Wozniacki-Siniakova and Keys-Osaka.
After comeback wins for both Lucie Safarova and Venus Williams, the pair will meet in the third round on Monday. I managed to watch back Venus-JJ on Sunday and didn’t realise that Jankovic had a break point at 6-1 4-1 *40-30 and two game points at 6-1 4-2 *40-15. Jankovic was so, so tight on the match points she had and it was sad to see her so inhibited with nerves. I didn’t think JJ was playing that well in the first and second sets, other than being very consistent. Venus was terribly error-strewn but fought fantastically and stepped up her aggression towards the end of the second set. Venus’s interview was great!
Safarova was brilliant against Vandeweghe and I think she’s got a good shot against Venus. You can just never write off Venus though so i’m intrigued to see how it unfolds. Whatever the result, Lucie’s taken another step forward this week and I think the future looks bright! She’s scheduling smart this year and the wins she has had in the International events are starting to translate onto the big stage again.
Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska both face tricky third round matches against Kristina Mladenovic and Peng Shuai respectively.
And finally, an update on Victoria Azarenka and her return to tennis…