This post features snap previews for two second round matches at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston on Wednesday featuring Monica Puig vs. Daria Kasatkina and Anastasija Sevastova vs. Andrea Petkovic. For a recap of Monday’s action including first round wins for Puig and Petkovic, check out Monday’s Set Points recap post HERE.
1. Monica Puig vs. Daria Kasatkina (WTA Charleston, R2)
Love, love, LOVE this match-up! For the first time on clay, Monica Puig and Daria Kasatkina will play each other in a budding rivalry between two styles at opposite ends of the spectrum. Puig opened up main draw proceedings on the Volvo Car Stadium against Katerina Siniakova, advancing via a retirement from the Czech player while leading, 4-6 6-2 4-1. Siniakova had produced a decent level in the first set, playing the big points better and passing Puig at the net with ease. Siniakova produced some top-notch drop shots as the match wore on but the back injury became more of an issue as her patience waned and the tears flowed 😢.
Last year, Daria Kasatkina dropped just nine games through three wins on the green clay of Charleston. Channelling some of that form on Tuesday, Kasatkina snapped a four match losing streak with a resounding 6-1 6-2 victory over Danka Kovinic in just 59 minutes. Both players were struggling heading into this match as Kovinic had lost her last seven matches on tour; a return to clay has turned Kasatkina’s fortunes around, for now at least!
Head-to-head record: Puig and Kasatkina are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head with both previous encounters going three sets. Their most recent encounter in Doha, a fascinating match that was interrupted multiple times by the rain, saw Puig produce one of her best displays of the year to win, 4-6 7-5 6-4.
Interesting stat: While Kasatkina has two wins over Angelique Kerber in 2017, her record stands at 7-8 for the season. Kasatkina has already been on the receiving end of four bagel sets this year.
Final thoughts: Puig had to play a super match to beat Kasatkina in Doha, managing to outlast the Russian player and recover a number of deficits during the match including winning the last four games of the match. Kasatkina has looked a little lost against big hitters this year but the return to clay, a surface she is most comfortable on, may have come at the right time. On this occasion, i’d fancy Kasatkina to use the surface and her variety of groundstrokes to disrupt Puig’s rhythm.
2. Andrea Petkovic vs. Anastasija Sevastova (WTA Charleston, R2)
Languishing at number 75 in the rankings, Andrea Petkovic enjoyed one of her best wins of the year with a first round victory over Lara Arruabarrena, 7-5 6-2 on Monday. The German player made an aggressive, but erratic start to the match, missing too many shots as Arruabarrena went up a break three times. The Spaniard produced some lovely tennis in some of the longer rallies but never looked secure on serve with Petkovic chalking up break points in all of her service games in the first set.
Arruabarrena was two points from winning the first set but a lack of ruthlessness and an improving, Petkovic saw the tables reversed as the German player came through in rather convincing fashion, winning nine of the last 11 games. Petkovic will next play Anastasija Sevastova, who had a bye in the first round. The Latvian player had a superb run in Dubai where she reached the semi-finals but has since lost her last three matches with defeats to Lauren Davis (5-7 3-6) and Sorana Cirstea (6-7(4) 6-3 3-6) in Indian Wells and Miami respectively.
Head-to-head record: This will be the first time that Petkovic and Sevastova have played each other on the WTA tour.
Interesting stat: The pair have contrasting records in Charleston; while Sevastova has lost her last three matches at this tournament, Petkovic won the tournament in 2014 and also reached the semi-finals in 2015.
Final thoughts: This is a similar match-up for Petkovic to her first round against Arruabarrena in that Sevastova has great feel and is very competent on the clay. Petkovic’s consistency between and in matches has been an issue for the past couple of years. I actually like Petkovic’s chances to build on an encouraging opening round win, considering Sevastova hasn’t played in Charleston yet, and in surroundings that have provided the German player great success over the years.