After a challenging 18 months for Lucie Safarova, the tide seems to be turning in singles. In Saturday’s first match of the day on court 2, Safarova beat Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-1 6-3 to book her place in the last 16 of the Miami Open.
It’s taken Lucie a long time to get over the health issues that first affected her in September of 2015 starting with the bacterial infection. By building wins on the International stage, Safarova is slowly rebuilding her confidence and the form is coming back. I’m so happy for Lucie – she really deserves this after all she’s been through and the hard work she has obviously put in.
And joining Safarova in the last 16 is her doubles partner, Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The American has won three WTA main draw matches in a row for the first time since Beijing 2015 as she produced a stunning display of volleying to win 12 of the last 15 games in a 4-6 6-0 6-3 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova; there was one incredible volley at the start of the third set (see video below). Not only did she rush Pavlyuchenkova with her net rushes and serve & volley, but she lived with Pavs from the baseline to secure a third top 40 win of the week.
Forcing errors from Zhang Shuai with increasing variation on her strokes and more intent, Garbiñe Muguruza came from a set down to win for the second straight match, 4-6 6-2 6-2. Muguruza overturned a recent loss to Zhang Shuai in Doha with her seventh three set win of 2017 – this is already one more than she managed during the entire 2016 season.
In a sensational display, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni enjoyed a second straight sets victory over Agnieszka Radwanska in 2017, 6-0 6-3 in just 65 minutes. Lucic-Baroni handed out the first set bagel in just 19 minutes, playing one of the cleanest sets of tennis i’ve seen in a very long time. The second set much was much closer but Radwanska’s failure to hold one of her seven service games up against some lethal returning from Lucic-Baroni was the difference.
After playing for more than three hours on Friday against Johanna Larsson, Barbora Strycova had a much more straightforward match on Saturday as she advanced to the fourth round with a 6-2 6-4 win over Jana Cepelova. Things got interesting at the end as the Czech player lost three straight games from 5-1 and needed NINE match points to get across the finish line.
Bara was on the WTA Insider podcast again which i’ll be listening to later!
Nine is the magic number… that’s also how many set points it took Karolina Pliskova to win a fabulous first set against Yulia Putintseva. One of the best sets of the year and so much fun! Some of Putintseva’s set point saves were awesome (see videos below).
After the rain delay, Pliskova came through to win, 7-5 6-3. I’m really impressed how Pliskova managed to prevail in straights as Putintseva threw the kitchen sink of variety and defence at her. For the full match highlights, check out the video below.
Dominika Cibulkova was sharp during a 6-2 6-3 win over Kirsten Flipkens and gets Safarova in the fourth round.
And wrapping up Saturday’s schedule of WTA matches, Caroline Wozniacki improved her head-to-head against Sorana Cirstea to 5-3, winning 6-4 6-2 in Miami’s lateee night match after the rain.
None of the third round matches really grabbed me but i’ll have some previews up for fourth round action on Miami’s version of Magic Monday. Still, plenty to look forward to on Sunday’s schedule – note if you are in the UK, the tennis will now start at 4pm!