Third round action in Madrid opened on Manolo Santana Court with home favourite, Lara Arruabarrena going up against Anastasija Sevastova. It was a surprise to see this match get top court billing and I can only assume that Carla Suárez Navarro had not wanted to play on the top court?
Sevastova needed three attempts to serve out the first set but was otherwise too strong for Arruabarrena, winning through to the quarter-finals of Madrid, 7-5 6-2 and in her first ever appearance at this tournament. Sevastova is quietly enjoying a decent year having previously reached the quarter-finals of Charleston and Stuttgart, and the semi-finals of Dubai.
In a mostly clutch display and coming from a break down in both sets, Svetlana Kuznetsova saw off the rapidly improving, Wang Qiang, 6-4 7-5.
For the first time in 2017, Kiki Bertens has won three matches at the same tournament – with a third top 50 win this week, Bertens beat Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-1 7-5. As she defends semi-final points at Roland Garros, Bertens seems to be rounding into form at the right time and sounded very positive in press after yesterday’s win over Timea Bacsinszky.
In the longest match of the day, CoCo Vandeweghe recovered from 2-4 down in the third set to advance past home favourite, Carla Suárez Navarro, 5-7 6-4 7-5. A good win for CoCo…
In a repeat of the Madrid semi-final from last year, Simona Halep beat Sam Stosur, 6-4 4-6 6-4. While another three setter for Halep, it was a very positive performance from the Romanian player as she finished with 24 winners to just 12 (!) unforced errors. Halep closed out the match with authority and is looking good in her title defence.
Sorana Cirstea has made it back-to-back quarter-final appearances in Madrid with a 7-5 3-6 6-1 victory over Misaki Doi. Cirstea played an excellent third set and secured her third straight win against Doi in their head-to-head.
Kristina Mladenovic continues to be one of the stars of 2017 as she dropped just three (!) games in a supremely comfortable win over fellow compatriot, Oceane Dodin, 6-2 6-1.
Mladenovic won shot of the month for April and i’ll be surprised if she doesn’t win again in May for today’s hotshot… absolutely stunning!
In the final match of the day, Eugenie Bouchard was cruising at 6-3 *5-0 when Angelique Kerber was forced to retire with a lower back/leg injury. After a break-happy first set, Bouchard successfully served out the first set and was looking good in the second. An impressive response from the Canadian player after her mammoth win over Maria Sharapova on Monday.
Fingers crossed for Angie that the injury isn’t serious. To be honest, i’d expect Rome to be a heavy doubt now. Perhaps even RG?
Two of Thursday’s quarter-finals, Kuznetsova vs. Bouchard and Mladenovic vs. Cirstea, are previewed on the blog at the link below.
Polls for the other two matches, Halep vs. Vandeweghe and Sevastova vs. Bertens, can be found below.
In other news, it would appear that Caroline Wozniacki is out of Rome.
The full entry list has been announced for the Aegon Classic in Birmingham and it’s a cracker… I am very jealous haha! This is easily the best line-up that Birmingham has attracted and its position in the middle week of the grass court warm-ups is key. It kind of works well because Eastbourne has already sold out the majority of its tickets, while hopefully this stellar line-up will fill up empty seats in Birmingham.
My aim is to try and get to Birmingham during the first weekend as qualifying is bound to feature some quality players. I’ve planned to do this the past two years but haven’t bothered in the end because of the weather forecast!
It has also been suggested that Maria Sharapova will be offered a wild card for Birmingham – this has yet to be confirmed by the tournament.
And finally, Sloane Stephens has a wild card for New Haven, the week before the US Open. Promising news for Sloane!