My lunch break coincided with the start of the second set tiebreak between Petra Kvitova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, which was good timing! The American won the first set on a tiebreak having saved two break points at *2-4 *15-40. Kvitova had the ascendancy in the second set tiebreak but with a missed opportunity for a passing shot winner, Mattek-Sands reeled off the last three points of the match. Kvitova double faulted on match point and surprisingly, chucked her racquet. The pair shared a lovely embrace at the net. Beth put her racquet down and had arms wide open!
Here is Beth’s interview with Tennis Channel after the match.
A few quotes from Petra in press… she talked about the racquet throw at the end!
I didn’t feel any sadness at Kvitova losing because it really is just a joy to have her back on the court again. The Czech player exceeded my expectations and will now get ready for the grass. It sounds as if Kvitova is yet to make a decision about which grass court warm-up tournaments she will play yet. I’m really hopeful she will opt for Eastbourne as it is a tournament she always plays and seems to enjoy. Birmingham could have another star addition too!
While I was a bit gutted that most of the matches I wanted to watch were early, I did get to watch the entire first set of the match of the day on Philippe Chatrier between Garbiñe Muguruza and Anett Kontaveit. The Estonian player made a sensational start to the match, hitting 10 winners in the first five games. Kontaveit kept reiterating in a recent WTA Insider podcast about the importance of confidence and it was clear from her start that she was feeling it in abundance!
Nerves did play a part when she came to serve for the first set at *5-3 with her footwork not as sharp as before and Muguruza stepped it up too with more variation and loopier balls to level at 5-5. The pair opened the next game with a pair of hot shots – firstly, Kontaveit with what seemed like a panic drop shot that totally paid off and then Muguruza with some great touch up at the net. After a high quality 12 games, the set was decided on a nervy tiebreak. Kontaveit missed a golden opportunity on set point at 6-3 but was able to put that behind her to win the opener.
Muguruza didn’t play a bad set at all and Kontaveit refocused well after failing to serve out the set. It was back to work for me after the first set but by all accounts, the match got better and better, and it was Muguruza who rallied to win, 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2.
I think this clay court season has demonstrated that Kontaveit is the real deal and i’m very excited to see what she can do on grass. For Muguruza, this was a huge win and even more so, since she turned it around without any on-court coaching. Even though she didn’t win the first set, I liked how she was playing as she looked to come forward, which is always when I think she is at her strongest. Sure, she misses some shots up at the net but I still think it’s a positive move. Roland Garros is clearly a special place for the Spaniard with her results over the last three years and with this win in the bag, I think she’s a contender. Next up is Yulia Putintseva who can certainly be a handful on clay!
My evening viewing began with the first set of Dominika Cibulkova’s match against Ons Jabeur. It blossomed into a historic result as Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Slam with a superb 6-4 6-3 win. I don’t think it was a surprise to see Cibulkova go out so early since has built little momentum on the clay. Still, based on their relative experience at the Slams, it was a monumental win for Jabeur. The world number 114 played a great match, buoyed by winning 92% of first serve points and hitting 30 winners, including an array of drop shots that frequently flummoxed Cibulkova.
Jabeur will play Timea Bacsinszky in the third round after the Swiss player scored another comfortable win over Madison Brengle, 6-0 6-2. I was high on Timea’s chances of reaching the quarter-final but Jabeur will present a complex challenge in the third round… could be a fun one!
In an eventful match on Court 1, Svetlana Kuznetsova had a big escape as she overcame a fine effort from Oceane Dodin to scrape through, 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3. The first set was a rather painful watch with Dodin outhitting Kuznetsova for the most part but too many wild errors and seven double faults, including one down set point, costing her the set. Matt’s summary (see tweet below) sums up the madness!
The final two sets were much better in quality from both players, especially Dodin who built the much points better and with purpose – there was some peak hitting from the Frenchwoman! Kuznetsova’s 4-1 lead in the third set quickly became 4-3. Dodin though was broken on another double fault in the next game and LO AND BEHOLD, Kuznetsova served out the match! In fact, the Russian pulled some aces out of the bag… colour me surprised!
Not a pretty display from Kuznetsova against a very awkward opponent but a win is a win. As long as Sveta stays in the tournament she’s dangerous and having survived a match like this, I think it will help to build her confidence.
In other matches…
From 0-2 down in the first set, Lesia Tsurenko won 12 of the last 14 games to beat Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2 6-2. Makarova has followed up her three top ten wins during the clay court season with a straight sets loss in the next round.
Jelena Ostapenko has made back-to-back third rounds at the Slams this year – the Latvian player enjoyed a 6-3 6-2 win over Monica Puig.
For the ninth successive year, Sam Stosur has reached the third round of the French Open. From a break down in the second set and saving a set point in the tiebreak, Stosur beat Kirsten Flipkens, 6-2 7-6(6).
Caroline Wozniacki scored a double bagel win over Francoise Abanda, 6-0 6-0 in just 52 minutes. And suddenly the draw may have opened up for the Dane…
In a sizeable upset, CiCi Bellis knocked out last year’s French Open semi-finalist and two-time Nurnberg champion, Kiki Bertens in straight sets, 6-3 7-6(5). I’m surprised to see Bertens out so early but not so much about Bellis having a run as she has already enjoyed some excellent wins on the clay this year. Bertens won their most recent encounter in Rome handily, 6-4 6-0.
Zhang Shuai won back-to-back matches for the first time since Doha, beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich for the second Slam in a row. This time round, the Chinese player needed three sets, 6-2 4-6 6-3.
Enjoying another good run at the French Open, Shelby Rogers came from a break down in both sets to beat Cagla Buyukakcay, 7-6(6) 6-4.
Kristina Mladenovic had a drama-free second round win over Sara Errani, extending her head-to-head record over the Italian to 4-1 with a 6-2 6-3 triumph on Suzanne Lenglen Court.
Venus Williams recovered from an early break down to win 11 of the last 12 games to beat Kurumi Nara, 6-3 6-1. Nara won their last match at Indian Wells in 2016.
Elise Mertens reached the third round of a Slam for the first time in her career, coming from two breaks down in the second set to beat Richel Hogenkamp in straights, 6-3 6-4.
Enjoyed this interview with Victoria Azarenka who will make her comeback on the grass in Mallorca.
And finally, a pair of snap previews are up for two matches on Thursday’s schedule – Daria Kasatkina vs. Marketa Vondrousova and Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Alison Van Uytvanck.