Apologies 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.