Friday’s Set Points, French Open 2017 Day 6: Battling wins for Kuznetsova & Mladenovic

Set PointsApologies for the lack of post on Thursday but it was my tennis club night and we had some stunning weather. I played a few doubles sets and ended with a couple of short singles sets. One of the sets was against someone who was much, much better than me. I was actually quite pleased that I managed to raise my game and play well. My highlights were a forehand winner down-the-line, a wrong-footing winner and a slice drop shot return and lob winner. I was screaming in my head at the last winner – I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST DID THAT, IT WAS PERFECT!

From leading 3-2 40-0*, my opponent then proceeded to hit winner after winner after winner and so on. I was mesmerised. My brother later told me he had played this guy in a doubles set and he was sensational. I imagine he was probably going easy on me but I was pleased for at least giving it some welly and not retreating into my shell which I often do.

Back to the real tennis and catching up on Thursday’s action, my first reaction… OH NO PAVS! I was convinced that Pavlyuchenkova had the form and the draw to go deep in this draw, but it wasn’t to be as Veronica Cepede Royg not only knocked out my favourite player but my predicted finalist. Not feeling the love, Veronica! In all seriousness, credit to her for reaching the third round of a Slam for the first time in her career.

Third round action kicked off on Friday with Jelena Ostapenko the first player to reach the second week – reaching this stage of a Slam for the first time in her career, Ostapenko flew through the opening set against Lesia Tsurenko and then twice came from a break down in the second set to win, 6-1 6-4. Ostapenko’s draw looked pretty neat and credit to her for taking advantage of the opportunity.

Sam Stosur is one to watch in the top half – the Aussie is looking great and beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-2 6-2 to reach the last 16 of the French Open for the sixth time in her career.

Garbiñe Muguruza continued her impressive start to the defence of her Roland Garros title with a 7-5 6-2 victory over Yulia Putintseva. Muguruza looked to have her hands full with this draw but she has reached the second week with three quality wins. Muguruza will be aiming to make it a fourth consecutive quarter-final in Paris on Sunday.

Muguruza’s fourth round opponent will be Kristina Mladenovic after the Frenchwoman toughed out another extra-time finish win, recovering a 2-5 third set deficit to beat Shelby Rogers, 7-5 4-6 8-6. I watched the first set during my lunch break and there was an epic three set vibe about this one with very little between the pair early on with neither player able to dominate for a sustained period of play. In the end, a couple of big strokes from Mladenovic were enough to get the vital break to win the first set.

While i’m not at all keen on Mladenovic’s opinions off the court, her tennis has me hooked. I remember watching Mladenovic last year and thinking that she was one of the shakiest at serving out sets and matches. Her confidence has risen dramatically this year (a bit too much in some cases!) and while the back may still be a concern, her fighting spirit has been tremendous during this clay court season.

Muguruza-Mladenovic will be a blockbuster R4 match and probably the most anticipated women’s match of this tournament so far.

I feel like I have aged at a rather alarming rate this week just from watching Svetlana Kuznetsova play tennis. For the second straight match, the Russian player was pushed to a third set and I was convinced she had blown her chances. In a brutal encounter lasting three hours and nine minutes, Kuznetsova outlasted a valiant effort from Zhang Shuai, 7-6(5) 4-6 7-5. After wasting a 5-2 third set lead and two match points, Kuznetsova played some smart tactics at the very end with heavy topspin and loopy balls forcing Zhang back.

And what a nice embrace at the net, lovely to see!

Despite scrapping magnificently well this week, I have been disappointed by Kuznetsova’s actual level during this tournament. However, the wins keep coming and in a weird sense, I feel better for Sveta for her scrapping through matches as opposed to playing lights-out tennis and being even more hyped up.

Venus Williams and Timea Bacsinszky will meet in a repeat fourth round Roland Garros clash after both players enjoyed comprehensive straight set wins for the loss of just four games – Venus beat Elise Mertens, 6-3 6-1 and Timea defeated Ons Jabeur, 6-2 6-2.

And the final third round match was paused due to rain with CiCi Bellis about to level up at one set all with Caroline Wozniacki. Bellis took control with some superb tennis in the second set against an increasingly frustrated, Wozniacki. The Dane lost her focus as she pleaded for the match to be halted due to the darkness. In the end the rain came…

So the fourth round matches from the top half will be…

Sam Stosur vs. Jelena Ostapenko

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Caroline Wozniacki/CiCi Bellis

Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Kristina Mladenovic

Venus Williams vs. Timea Bacsinszky

I’m really, really, really excited about this quartet of matches. Sunday is going to be awesome!

The third round matches from the bottom half will be played on Saturday with my match of the day second up on Suzanne Lenglen court with Simona Halep vs. Daria Kasatkina, aka the battle of the dodgy ankles! I’m really pleased both seem to be doing OK. I’d guess Halep will be too strong but i’ll be rooting for Kasatkina who is aiming to reach the second week of a Slam for the first time in her career.

 

Also, a poll for Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Alize Cornet, first up on Philippe Chatrier on Saturday – I watched the third set of Radwanska’s win over Van Uytvanck which was pretty steady from Aga who hit just one unforced error and produced good serving stats, dropping just four points behind her serve in the decider.

 

And finally, a poll for the fourth quarter with the two highest seeds, Pliskova and Radwanska, not at their best on clay but perhaps fancying their chances of getting out to reach the semi-finals. A good chance too for Caroline Garcia although it could be a lot of pressure on her shoulders. It is nice to see her smiling after a tough year.

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14 thoughts on “Friday’s Set Points, French Open 2017 Day 6: Battling wins for Kuznetsova & Mladenovic

  1. ‘While i’m not at all keen on Mladenovic’s opinions off the court, her tennis has me hooked. […] Her confidence has risen dramatically this year (a bit too much in some cases!)’

    I fully agree with this and this is the reason why I’m hoping that Muguruza will smash her.
    I wonder who she thinks she is to attack other players off court.
    For those who wants to know more about her ego:
    http://tennis.life/2017/05/14/mladenovic-outspoken-rising-out-there/

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  2. James, do you think that wozniacki will prevail against bellies after today’s display? Cici played great tennis throughout the second set, but the delay should do wozniacki good right?

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    • Woz looked good in the 1st set, she seemed to lose her focus with the conditions so I imagine the break will work in her favour. I’d fancy Woz in 3 but Bellis was, as you say, playing great tennis in that 2nd set!

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  3. I don’t have an issue with her being outspoken about another player but she’s often not cognizant of their of feelings too. It’s nothing new so I’m guessing it’s part of her character, I do understand why it rubs some people the wrong way, it comes off as harsh. I just like her when she plays good tennis.

    Anyway, Muguruza is going to have to steel herself to that partisan crowd. Mlads is truly riding the sweet coattails of that home support and playing some clutch tennis when her back is on the ropes. It will be a mental battle. Power hit for power hit Garbine has this covered. Kiki will have to unsettle her possibly by coming forward(doubles net skills) and mixing it up hard. I don’t think she can attempt another comeback in the 3rd with Muguruza like previous others. Garbine will end it. The issue here is the crowd support for Mladenovic, I hope they don’t turn on her and make the court feel small for Garbine. Yes, that so called égalité and all.

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  4. I’ve stopped watching Svetlana’s 3rd set matches for now. It disrupts my zen, can’t have that, else I don’t enjoy subsequent matches.

    Pliskova is about the only certainty of making the semis but even that percentage is not that high. The french women, they could spring a real surprise.

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  5. My biggest issue with Mladenovic is that she’s become the unlikable bully that she labelled Sharapova as
    I just can’t bring myself to root for her anymore. She’s become somebody I’d like to see lose.

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  6. Huge win for Caroline Garcia today against one hell of a tricky opponent! Really impressed by how relaxed and calm she managed to play. The return has really improved now that she’s stepping back on that first serve; her groundstrokes are becoming much more consistent now that she’s not going for broke.
    If she beats Cornet, she’ll enter the top 20.

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    • Agree that the return has been much better this tournament. Bundles of pressure at the end and she held it together! Cornet R4 will be fascinating. It should be on Chatrier which has not been a happy hunting ground for Caroline!

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      • No but I also feel like this year she’s really handled the crowd support well. Winning in doubles last year has undoubtedly eased the pressure for her.
        I do also think Cornet will be the crowd favourite.

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      • Yep handled it well indeed. I’m fascinated to see who wins and also, after all the LOL drama on Twitter. I’d like to see Garcia come through personally but more inclined to say Cornet is the favourite… just.

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      • Aga wasn’t at her best today (notably, she failed to win even a single service game) but that’s not to take anything away from Alize who’s clearly put her health troubles from last year behind her and played an excellent match.

        I really like Alize’s tennis. I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea because drama seems to follow her around wherever she plays and she has been accused of faking injuries in the past (for which I believe she should be considered innocent until proven guiltyy), but she’s a lot like Aga in that she plays lots of drop shots and tries to outwit and outthink her opponent on the court. It’s certainly never dull when she’s playing.

        Caroline (Garcia) on the other hand is such a sweet natured person it’s pretty much impossible to want to see her lose. Whoever wins there’ll be a French player in the quarter-finals, which AFAIK hasn’t happened for a while.

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      • Yep I agree and think Alize deserves a lot of credit for that performance. I find we as a tennis community tend to focus on the negative! A bad day for Aga but a good day for Alize.

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    • Alize’s game is good, at least, it is good enough to beat Serena back to back. She’s wily, and knows how to use her drama to survive tense moments and break the momentum of opponents. There is always that chance she’ll lull you into wanting to beat Cornet the person and not Cornet the tennis player. Then it’s pretty much game over. I don’t like tennis drama queens, but she is a hoot sometimes when she’s switched on.

      Mlads, Garcia, they are buoyed by the home cheer, for Alize, it’s like her drug. A shot in the arm. I think she’ll come up on top with Garcia.

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