After the hectic weekend where 32 first round matches were played, Monday had a much calmer vibe with just seven matches on the schedule. The results though were anything but with six of the seven matches going to three sets… second round action on the Manolo Santana opened with a rather sizeable upset on paper although more understandable based on their suitability to clay – Anastasija Sevastova defeated the number two seed, Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 6-3 in just 78 minutes.
The key stat was that Pliskova went zero out of six on break point opportunities throughout the match, while Sevastova converted three of seven. I watched the end of the second set and was surprised how comfortable Sevastova seemed with Pliskova unable to place her Latvian opponent under pressure on a consistent basis, both on return and in rallies. Sevastova served out the match to 15 with a measured and convincing final game.
The number one seed, Angelique Kerber was on the brink of defeat against Katerina Siniakova but survived to book her place in the third round, 6-2 1-6 7-5. Siniakova, who was in tears at the end, failed to serve out the match at *5-4 as Kerber won the last four games of the match.
The double duo of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kristina Mladenovic both survived tense three setters to reach the last 16. In fact, Kuznetsova saved a match point against Alison Riske in a tremendous second set tiebreak. The American had a chance to serve for the match leading 6-2 *5-4 but what had been an unusually erratic, Kuznetsova up till then, came back to force a tiebreak.
Set points and match points were exchanged with both producing some peak tennis with their back against the wall – Kuznetsova came up with a superb inside-out forehand winner down match point before forcing the decider. Kuznetsova secured an impressive come-from-behind victory, 2-6 7-6(9) 6-2.
Mladenovic needed a third set tiebreak to see off a game effort from Lauren Davis, 6-3 1-6 7-6(1). Mladenovic was unable to serve out the match at *5-3 and then missed a match point in the next game with Davis drilling a winner down the line. I was impressed with how many points at the end where Davis was aggressive and managed to dictate. The American did really well to get into the deciding set tiebreak but just seemed to run out of stream as Mladenovic rolled from there on, sealing the win with a cute volley. Mladenovic has won five of her last six three set matches on tour.
It was a good day for Spain with Lara Arruabarrena and Carla Suárez Navarro both beating higher ranked players to reach the last 16. Arruabarrena came back from a set down to defeat Barbora Strycova, 3-6 6-3 6-3 for her second top 20 win of the year.
Suárez Navarro scored the biggest win of her year so far, beating Caroline Wozniacki in three sets and finishing with a fabulous backhand winner. Carla won, 6-4 2-6 6-2.
I was a bit gutted to miss Carla-Caroline because it sounded really good. However, I got a bit wrapped up in the final women’s match on Manolo Santana court where Eugenie Bouchard defeated Maria Sharapova in an absolute thriller. It’s so rare that a hyped up match delivered and I was more expecting drama and not the quality of tennis to flourish! In terms of entertainment and intensity, it was one of my favourite matches of the year and warranted a separate post.
Bouchard played a stunning match – she came out with some more interesting comments in press. I’m fascinated to see whether she can back up the Sharapova win against Kerber in the next round. I’m not so sure…
There are nine second round matches on the schedule including my match of the day, CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Laura Siegemund… could be fun one 😂😂😂