Friday’s Set Points, WTA Miami Day 4: Muguruza survives dramatic McHale match, a big win for Halep

Set Points

Since so many of the matches are going to be late in Miami and past my bedtime, I thought i’d go for an early Set Points to cover the first half of the day. Continuing on from Thursday’s line-up, there were four matches that were not completed due to the rain. The first of those to finish saw another rain delay at the most crucial of stages. The rain came with Ajla Tomljanovic up match point on the Indian Wells champion, Elena Vesnina. In what was already a wild match, Tomljanovic needed just the one point on the resumption to secure a huggge win, 3-6 6-4 7-5.

Following on the line of wild and wacky play, the resumption of Garbiñe Muguruza v Christina McHale was as dramatic as they come. Muguruza recovered from a bagel first set on Thursday night and saved a match point on Friday before battling her way to a 0-6 7-6(6) 6-4 victory. The quality was poor in admittedly tough, windy conditions, but this was one of those matches I just couldn’t keep my eyes off.

After the second set, Sam Sumyk refused to come down on the changeover. On the next one, he did come down and it became apparent why he hadn’t previously, having heard Muguruza tell him to “shut the f*** up”. The Spaniard apologised in what was an intense changeover. Muguruza was in tears, not only at this changeover, but at the next one and at the end. Her play did generally improve towards the end of the match so talking it through was kind of positive.

Props to Muguruza for winning ugly. It was as emotional and intense as it gets. She didn’t play well but I really have to commend her for gutting out the win, a match that I think she would have lost in two easy sets last year. One thing for sure, Muguruza’s matches have been an entertaining watch this year as you really don’t know what you’re going to get!

McHale’s had a rough few weeks having won just one game in a limp loss to Evgeniya Rodina in Indian Wells and today, twice failing to serve out the match and missing a match point in the tiebreak. It was nervy but the conditions looked pretty abysmal for tennis!

Simona Halep scored an invaluable win, just her fourth of 2016, edging Naomi Osaka, 6-4 2-6 6-3. Halep dropped just three (!) points behind her serve in the first set – after a brief rain delay, she was then broken to love 😂. Osaka forced a decider which, like Muguruza-McHale, wasn’t a pretty watch because of the wind.

The key game of the decider was at 3-3 where Osaka was unable to consolidate a break back and with some errors and negative body language, let Halep back in. Another rain delay ensued and on the resumption, Halep double faulted on the first point. However, she won the final two games, playing with more intent than previously. There was a big smile from Simona at the end!

Madison Keys looked good. Really good. 6-1 6-2 over Viktorija Golubic in 67 minutes.

In other matches:

Taylor Townsend scored her biggest win since 2014 (d. Cornet at the French Open) with a surprisingly routine victory over the number 25 seed, Roberta Vinci, 6-3 6-2.

Svetlana Kuznetsova won 12 of the last 14 games to defeat Mandy Minella, 6-2 6-2. A good, drama-free start for Sveta!

Pauline Parmentier won the last eight games to knock out the number 24 seed, Timea Babos, 6-7(1) 6-2 6-0. Parmentier has won at least two matches at her last three tournaments.

Barbora Strycova and Sorana Cirstea rounded out second round action from the bottom half of the draw with three set wins over Johanna Larsson and Anastasija Sevastova respectively.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s order of play, the most intriguing match of the day (aside from Lucie-Ajla for me!) will see Agnieszka Radwanska face off against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni again. MLB won their most recent match at the Australian Open, 6-3 6-2. Who you got?

An update on the WTA streaming saga and it’s not good news (see below). I’m perplexed, angry, sad, all the emotions. It’s a dreadful situation for women’s tennis. I think the WTA has been appalling this year. Their Twitter account  has been littered with errors – i’m the first to admit that I make mistakes but it seems that every other tweet these days has an error in it. I’m not enjoying my current set-up of watching matches and this news just bums me out 😢😢😢. I’m determined to keep going but I am really struggling right now.

And finally, ending on a positive, big thanks to Jake S. for two guest posts from the first two days in Miami. If anyone is attending a tournament this year and would like to write about their experiences for the blog then please let me know! You can catch up with all previous guest posts from readers HERE. I’ll be doing some live posts from Eastbourne later this year… three months to go!

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14 thoughts on “Friday’s Set Points, WTA Miami Day 4: Muguruza survives dramatic McHale match, a big win for Halep

  1. Really surprised by how amazing Kuznetsova was today considering that tough final loss a couple of days ago! She was blasting winners left right and centre in seemingly casual fashion. I actually thought Minella played quite well!
    I thought that she’d have a real dip of form again this year. Especially when she didn’t play in the Middle East. But she’s coming up with some late career magic.

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  2. Notes: In an interview Vesnina said she always loses first round after winning a tournament, and true to form, she lost first round!…I tuned in the Kasatkina v Rogers match late and saw Rogers hit three consecutive service returns for winners off of Kas’s FIRST serve. Rogers hit a very weak lob inside the service line which Kas pounded into the net, which caused all the air to go out of Kas’s game and she lost the third set 6-0…..This sets up a Kerber v Rogers match. This year, Kerber seems to just push the ball back which could set up Rogers powerful ground strokes for a possible upset….CSN is yelling “When does the clay season start???”

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    • Bencic, Kasatkina and Gavrilova are not very motivated to play lately. They are having more fun like a girl band if you check their twitters lately. Some may join them are Cirstea, Vekic, etc.

      I think people were overestimated Kerber, she was lucky to peak last year because most of the players were play below par. I really don’t think she can win another slam.

      Same as Halep, she is gone with the wind. Frankly speaking, this is the best time for Wozniacki to win her first slam since WTA is going through the weakest era in history.

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      • I was looking at Gavrilova’s Instagram site–eatlikeanathlete– where Dasha takes photos of some of her recent meals. Some of the meals look tasty, while others appear to be made up of weeds one might find along a little used trail in Uzbekistan. Speaking of Gavrilova twitter and nutrition, there is a recent (photoshopped???) photo on Dasha’s twitter site of her sitting next to a European he-man who is eating a highly nutritional between meal snack.

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      • I think a lot of people seem to have a very rosy view of the old days in women’s tennis, and it just doesn’t square with what went on in the game in the past. Players now are trained, coached and exercised to within an inch of their lives – compare that to Jo Durie (who comments on Eurosport) a former no 5 in the world, who admitted recently that when she was playing she’d have a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat before taking to the court.

        When Virginia Wade won the Australian Open in the early 70s, she was competing in a field of just 32 people; a lot of the others simply hadn’t bothered to turn up because it was too near Christmas. Imagine that happening now. Even Chris Evert didn’t always play the slam events if they conflicted with other things in her schedule.

        What I think might be happening with some of the younger players is a kind of rebellion against the sheer unrelenting grind of the tour now, and a determination to have some fun while they still can before they got totally consumed by the drive to win big titles, the need to keep their sponsors happy etc. It’s a much longer career now than it once was with players playing on into their 30s (and even winning slams then), so players need to pace themselves more to prevent themselves burning out by their late 20s.

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      • Some excellent points which I agree with, Graham. Generally on this topic, I have to add that in the tennis world, we are very reactive in judging situations. For example with Kasatkina, there’s some growing negativity after she has lost four matches in a row. That’s it, four matches. It’s the follow-up season to a breakthrough year which is always regarded as a challenge and she is having a tough time on the court right now. All players go through bad spells and i’m sure Kasatkina will get through this bad patch.

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    • Putting aside friendship goals for the moment, I think of the two, Gravilova is the one affecting Kasatkina. She is the one who often plays off the cuff, the more outwardly temperamental ina way. Kasatkina is the more laid back grinding sort. Granted she had a first true pro grind on tour last year, I dont think it should present an insurmountable downturn this year. Gravilova hasnt had the best form for a while now. Lol….time to break up the girl group!

      I’m thinking of the usopen for Woz if she can keep things going for the full season. Aga should be smart and also see where she can position herself and her game for agood run. It’s quite open at the moment.

      Garbine is feeling the weight of being a slam champion without that champion mindset. Doesn’t help that she is now a scalp as well for any and every girl on tour. Same goes for Kerber, but she I feel has nothing to prove. She should pick her tournaments better and come in fresher. Yes, she there was some element of fortune in her run last year, but fortune favours the prepared mind and she made the utmost best of it. I cant begrudge her the success due.

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  3. When a player has their coach come on court, I’m always amazed at how unhappy, even distraught a player often seems when talking with them. Clearly I’m missing something, because the player’s tone and attitude comes across to me as pretty negative – something you’d think they’d wish to avoid as it could demotivate.

    Thanks for all your hard word and diligence in doing this blog.

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    • It’s a chance for a player to voice their feelings and I can understand there are a lot of emotions!

      And thanks for the kind words, David. Much appreciated.

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      • Some of the coaches appear to give their players 25 different things to do, most of which probably goes in one ear and out the other. Coaches should limit the advice to about three items plus some cheerleading……David is right, The Moo is the best……and some complete matches are back up on the tube.

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  4. As much as I like Radwanska, she cannot handle the pace of a strong player like ML-B when their timing is on. This sets up a match between ML-B v BM-S, which should be a slam bam affair.

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