Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Miami: A Zhang Shuai comeback, Mattek-Sands upsets Svitolina

Set PointsSecond round action commenced at the Miami Open on Thursday with Stadium court opening up with the number two seed, Karolina Pliskova. In less than an hour, the Czech player defeated Madison Brengle, 6-1 6-3.

I was stuck at work for the first set of matches but I was naturally thrilled to see Lucie Safarova reach the third round with a 6-2 6-2 victory over the number 23 seed, Daria Gavrilova. Lucie has now racked up 14 singles wins this year, just one off her total for the entire 2016 season. Back-to-back third round appearances in Indian Wells and Miami will see her go up in the rankings and in a decent position to bag a seeding for the French Open.

It was great to hear Lucie on the WTA Insider Podcast.

Kirsten Flipkens caused another upset with a three set victory over the number 29 seed, Ana Konjuh, 7-6(4) 6-7(6) 6-2 in two hours and 52 minutes. After recovering from 3-5 down to win the first set, Flipkens was in the ascendancy up a set and a double break. The Belgian player ended up taking the scenic route, via two missed match points, but was the better player overall, throwing in tons of variety to upset Konjuh, who never looked on top of her game and capable of stringing multiple good points together.

The number 30 seed, Zhang Shuai produced a remarkable comeback to defeat Sara Errani, winning the last five games of the match and saving a match point to win, 4-6 6-4 7-5 in two hours and 44 minutes. Errani had outsmarted Zhang Shuai for much of the match with some crafty drop shots and wonderfully constructed points, getting one more ball back in play and forcing errors from the Chinese player. Seeking back-to-back wins for the first time since the Olympics, Errani lost her way as the win came into sight. Zhang Shuai relaxed and became increasingly patient, toughing out long rallies and managing to eek out some superb winners.

Also avoiding the upset was the number 26 seed, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who rallied from 1-5 down (!) in the decider to beat Kateryna Bondarenko in a third set tiebreak victory, 6-2 2-6 7-6(2). Next up for Lucic-Baroni… the number five seed, Agnieszka Radwanska who she defeated in straight sets at the Australian Open.

Radwanska overcame Wang Qiang in straight sets but not without some trouble in the first set. From 5-2 up in the first set, an out-of-sorts, Radwanska laboured in her attempts to close the set out. She was mostly passive and any injections of variety were surprisingly wayward and unconvincing. To her credit, Radwanska played a good, solid tiebreak where she won one crazy point (see linked below) and sealed the set on her fifth set point. After a rain delay, Radwanska eased through the second set to post a 7-6(3) 6-1 victory.

The biggest upset of the tournament so far saw birthday girl, Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeat the number nine seed, Elina Svitolina, 7-5 6-4. Beth hadn’t won a main draw match on the WTA tour in 2017 before Miami but is now into the third round with two top 40 wins over Katerina Siniakova and Svitolina.

In other matches…

Dominika Cibulkova had a comfortable second round win over Veronica Cepede Royg, 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 33 minutes.

Caroline Wozniacki needed just 65 minutes to see off Varvara Lepchenko on Stadium court, 6-1 6-2.

Yulia Putintseva stopped a run of three straight losses, coming from a break down in both sets to beat Carina Witthoeft, 6-4 6-4. Don’t be fooled by the scoreline as this was a grind with nine of the 20 games going to deuce. Putintseva won the crucial points, winning two lengthy deuce games from 4-4 at the end of both sets.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was in a spot of bother down 6-7(3) *1-2 *30-40 to Yaroslava Shvedova… the Russian player swiped away the danger with 11 (!) games in a row to book her place in the third round, winning, 6-7(3) 6-2 6-0.

Jana Cepelova continued her excellent form in Miami, defeating CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-2 3-6 6-1. Vandeweghe hasn’t won a tour level match since the Australian Open.

Rain halted play with four matches still to be completed from Thursday’s order of play (Strycova-Larsson didn’t take to the court).

Looking ahead to Friday’s order of play (YAY it’s nearly the weekend), here’s a preview for the first match on Stadium court between Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka.

I’m also pumped for the all-Aussie battle between Sam Stosur and Ashleigh Barty… who you got?

 

Good for you, Belinda!

I enjoyed this Q&A with Sam Stosur on the Miami Open’s Facebook page including an appearance from Daria Gavrilova! Stosur said she is looking forward to playing her favourite tournament of the year in Charleston, which is up next after Miami.

Like Stosur, Charleston is one of MY favourite tournaments too! Last week they announced their first two wild cards for the main draw.

And finally, Kaia Kanepi is planning a return!

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5 thoughts on “Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Miami: A Zhang Shuai comeback, Mattek-Sands upsets Svitolina

    • But,…but ziggy would she have played the same way with smarts and finesse if she had a ‘big girl’s body’? Me thinks there are others with similar body types who still pack a punch, Pironkova, Giorgi, just to mention a few.

      Maybe, Radwanska’s finesse, Svetlana groundstroke, Serena serve, Venus athleticism, Woz defense, Halep movement, Domi speed, Stosur kickserve, Vinci netplay, Carla one handed back hand, or Woz/Serena two handed backhand, Maria or Serena forehand, and just throw in Maria’s fighting spirit and Serena’s mental fortitude. Offcourt a mix Venus with some Babz humor thrown in. That will be one to beat…lol.

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      • Its just amazing to me that Aga(one of my favorites) could be a top ten player for ten years without an athletic body. There are probably 85 y/o bank tellers with more muscle mass than Ag, but she just keeps winning and winning..

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      • I actually think Svetlana Kuznetsova has even more finesse and shot making ability. She just doesn’t always choose the right shot at the right time. But Sveta can do everything that Aga can do whereas Radwanska can’t do everything that Kuznetsova can.

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  1. Good to see Aga playing some decent tennis again. Her opponent did not play that good after the first set but Aga returned well and made some decent shots and looked more like the Aga of last year. Hope she can continue this improvement against better players.

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