Are you ready? Two weeks of tennis mayhem began at 11:30am on Monday morning as the 2017 Wimbledon Championships officially got underway. This post, part one of Monday’s Set Points, covers the 16 matches from the third quarter of the draw, which is headlined by Elina Svitolina and Dominika Cibulkova.
First up on Court 12 was Madison Keys who was playing her first match since Roland Garros. It was revealed at the weekend via WTA Insider that Madison Keys had minor wrist surgery after Paris. Well worth a read (see tweet below).
From a break down in the first set and dropping just three points behind her serve in the second set, Keys beat Nao Hibino, 6-4 6-2. At the end of a topsy-turvy first set, Hibino threw in a poor service game at *4-4 with a double fault and a forehand into the net on break point. Keys will want to up the first serve percentage, which was at 42%, but considering it was her first match on grass this year this was a very encouraging start for Madison!
Keys will play Camila Giorgi in the second round (helmets at the ready) after the Italian player won a lengthy encounter with Alizé Cornet, 5-7 6-4 6-4. Giorgi quickly went down 0-5 (!) in the first set with Cornet stirring it up effectively with a mix of angles and slices, and forcing a stream of errors off Giorgi’s racquet. Five games for Cornet was eventually matched with five games by Giorgi. The Frenchwoman won the last two games to win the opening set.
Giorgi came back to win the second and third sets, breaking in the latter at 1-1 and then riding it home for the win. The end of the second set was fun with Cornet producing a sensational drop shot-lob combo, which was swiftly followed by a wonderful Giorgi drop volley to set up break point at 4-4. Cornet had her fair share of slips in this match (see tweet below). Giorgi through in the end in two hours and 57 minutes.
Venus Williams edged a tenacious, Elise Mertens in two tight sets, 7-6(7) 6-4 in the first match on No.1 Court without the roof. I was worried for Mertens after she quickly went down 0-3 to a razor-sharp, Williams. Slowly but surely, Mertens settled into the match with some tenacious tennis and lots of positive body language. Loved the match point with a scream from Venus to put away the smash.
Highlights from Venus’s press conference can be found at the link below. A really tough time for Venus right now.
The number four seed, Elina Svitolina survived a tricky opener against Ashleigh Barty, 7-5 7-6(7) – it almost felt like an upset! Barty had led 5-3 in the first set, but with increasing aggression and resilience, Svitolina fought back. The Ukrainian player needed six match points at the end and was understandably thrilled to pass this first obstacle having been troubled by an achilles injury in her Wimbledon preparations. Just before a brief rain delay, Svitolina had called for the trainer although it seemed to be just to sort out the taping.
I love Barty’s game on grass – she constructed the points well and her forehand was dynamite at times, but all too often she couldn’t find that final touch to put the point to bed. Barty only won 17 of 35 points at the net. A big pat on the back to Svitolina for getting through this one for just her 3rd win at Wimbledon.
In one of the wildest matches of the day, Carina Witthoeft came from 0-5 down and saved a match point (!) to beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-3 5-7 8-6. It was the second straight match where Lucic-Baroni has missed a match point after being up in the third set against Monica Niculescu in Eastbourne. It was an absolute rollercoaster as Witthoeft had been up a break in the second set.
The most entertaining match of the day was without doubt, Dominika Cibulkova vs. Andrea Petkovic on Court 12. The match went into extra-time in a wild third set where there were 13 breaks in 16 games. It came down to who could actually hold their serve because both were returning so well.
Three times Cibulkova was unable to serve out the match – she missed three match points at *5-4, one at *6-5 and one at *8-7. Fourth time around and on her sixth match point, Cibulkova beat Petkovic, 6-3 3-6 9-7 in two hours and 45 minutes. A series of decent serves at the end from Cibulkova forced Petkovic into the net on return. The German player had a nasty fall near the end but got up and seemed OK. I’m gutted for Petkovic because she’s had some tough losses this year but equally, this was huge for Cibulkova having not won since the first round of Roland Garros. Petkovic always keeps things classy.
In one of the most anticipated matches of the day, Ana Konjuh beat former finalist, Sabine Lisicki, 6-1 6-4, out on Court 14. Konjuh mounted a nine game winning streak before encountering some resistance from Lisicki in the second set. Serving to stay in the matches, I felt that Konjuh’s match toughness prevailed in the end with Lisicki producing some erratic play at the end. A tough one for Sabine but fingers crossed the shoulder is OK. Konjuh is one to watch this week…
Barbora Strycova will play Naomi Osakain the second round after both players won their first rounders in straights.
Strycova beat Veronica Cepede Royg, 6-3 6-3. The Czech player broke serve at 2-1 in the second set in a six deuce game and then dropped only three more points on her serve, producing more decisiveness at the net than her opponent. The second set was fun!
Osaka beat Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-3 7-6(3). In a marathon seven deuce game with Osaka serving at *6-5 in the second set, the Japanese player missed three match points and had even celebrated the win at one point. Both players seemed to voice their frustration at the umpire. Credit to Osaka for refocusing in the tiebreak and not letting the match slip away.
In other first round matches from the third quarter of the draw…
Jennifer Brady won her first ever match at Wimbledon, defeating Danka Kovinic, 6-3 6-1.
Irina-Camelia Begu didn’t drop her serve once in a 6-2 6-4 victory over Naomi Broady.
Francoise Abanda backed up her second round showing at the French Open last month by winning her first rounder at Wimbledon, beating Kurumi Nara, 6-2 6-4.
Wang Qiang didn’t play any warm-up tournaments on grass but won her first round match against Chang Kai-Chen, 6-3 6-4.
Jelena Ostapenko won her 14th three set match since the start of Charleston in April, overcoming Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-0 1-6 6-3.
Aryna Sabalenka won her first ever Slam main draw match, defeating Irina Khromacheva, 6-3 6-4.
Francesca Schiavone beat Mandy Minella, 6-1 6-1 – it was later revealed on Twitter that Minella is four months pregnant!