Most of my viewing from the Volvo Car Open on Thursday was the Dasha squared match which started at the perfect time for me after playing tennis. In another three setter, Daria Kasatkina beat Daria Gavrilova, 6-3 4-6 6-0 to reach back-to-back quarter-finals in Charleston and win three matches in a row for the first time in 2017.
The match was played in gusty conditions and it was Kasatkina who dealt with it all much better in the first set, playing more consistently and winning the big points. Gavrilova was broken in her first three service games of the match. Kasatkina had the early break in the second set but the momentum soon switched as Gavrilova began to dictate the points with Kasatkina becoming noticeably more passive. Kasatkina’s coach, Vladimir Platenik, was urging her to be more aggressive, move her legs and follow their gameplan, going into the Gavrilova backhand.
Kasatkina mounted a mini-comeback from 2-5 to 4-5 in the second set; however, in a titanic seven deuce game, Gavrilova deservedly gained the set on her fifth set point. Things swung again in the decider as Kasatkina played a fine set, hitting aggressively on a much more consistent basis. Gavrilova’s level dropped away and while she had numerous break points in the final game of the match, Kasatkina held on for the bagel.
Kasatkina is magic to watch at times but she’s still finding her way on the tour and the confidence to be aggressive in her strokes on a consistent basis. I thought Daria’s coach was much more forceful in telling her that she was playing too defensively and it’s always the same thing when he comes on. Later on in the set, she played a perfect point, finishing up at the net. Her coach was shaking his head, almost a “where has that been for the last half an hour!”.
Up and down but a good win for Kasatkina with another positive third set. Clay has come at the right time and I hope that actually, having not played many matches through February and March may actually go in her favour for the rest of the clay court season.
And OMG THEY PLANNED THE HANDSHAKE, love these two so much haha! Already a dead cert to be in the handshakes and hugs post for 2017.
I stayed up for the first set of Lucie… sadly, for Lucie fans and I (!), it was Laura Siegemund who continued her superb week with a rather comfortable win, 6-2 6-3. Siegemund’s drop shots and variety were always going to be a challenge, even more so with the wind. I had a feeling Lucie could be a dark horse for the title but not to be! I think it’s important to have perspective and remember where Lucie was this time last year and even at the end of 2016. Two more wins this week in singles is a solid result. Lucie and Beth are still in the doubles and will play their quarter-final on Friday.
Caroline Wozniacki won two matches on Thursday, beating Annika Beck, 7-5 6-1 and Anastasia Rodionova, 6-3 6-3. The Dane is the highest seed remaining in Charleston.
In other matches…
Irina-Camelia Begu is reawakening for the clay court season – The Romanian player had already won back-to-back matches this week in Charleston for the first time in over six months and now she’s made that three with an excellent victory over the number six seed, Sam Stosur, 7-5 6-3.
Anastasija Sevastova saved two set points in the first set before edging past Ons Jabeur, 7-5 7-6(8) to reach her second quarter-final of the year.
Mirjana Lucic- Baroni has only lost one completed match to lower ranked opposition in 2017 and she enjoyed another superb victory, beating Kiki Bertens, 7-6(5) 6-4.
Jelena Ostapenko advanced via a retirement from Fanny Stollar, leading 6-1 1-0.
Shelby Rogers posted yet more impressive stats, hitting 32 winners to 14 unforced errors with a third consecutive straight sets win over Naomi Osaka in their head-to-head, 6-4 6-2. The handshake was an awkward one… Naomi wasn’t expecting the hug!
Thursday is my tennis club night and i’m enjoying getting back into playing tennis weekly again. The conditions were perfect tonight – sunny, but not too distracting, a very light breeze and not too hot/cold. My backhand, my weakness, was a bit better than last week and I was hitting cross-court more naturally. I played mostly doubles and five games of a singles set which was brutal. My stamina is not there yet but I was scrappy as always!
High point of the night – In a doubles match, chasing down a drop volley and managing to dink it back over the net for a winner. Speed is one of my strengths!
Low point of the day – Trying to hit a volley, missing it almost completely and ending up in a heap on the floor 🤣🤣🤣
The Volvo Car Open released a series of short videos on their YouTube page with Lucie Safarova & Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Andrea Petkovic & Jelena Jankovic, and Madison Keys & Shelby Rogers and they are hysterical as ever! Petko and JJ do the player PSAs every year but i’m still laughing.
RING RING! 😂😂😂
JJ about Petko “You can eat but you cannot cook” 🤣
A classic JJ comment – “I’m kind of like a zebra at the moment”
Lucie “I messed up!”
Friday is quarter-finals day and I think all four really could go either way. A pair of polls for the two later matches.