Second round concluded on a busy Wednesday at the 2017 Rogers Cup in Toronto. The first match of the day on Grandstand saw the biggest upset by ranking so far as CiCi Bellis continued her superb year with a second top ten win of her career over the number eight seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-4 7-5.
Bellis won five straight games to close out the match, recovering a 2-5 deficit in the second set and saving a set point serving at *4-5 with a cracking backhand winner down-the-line. In the pressure moments at the end of the second set, Bellis was the braver of the pair and a passive, Kuznetsova rather lost her way at the end. This was the first time since Eastbourne last year that Kuznetsova has lost her opening match at a tournament.
I’m more and more impressed with every match I get to watch Bellis play. She handles herself impeccably in the pressure moments and I think it is the mark of a talented player, particularly so early in her career.
Bellis will play Caroline Garcia in the third round after the Frenchwoman had a much more straightforward match compared to Tuesday – Garcia beat Varvara Lepchenko, 6-1 6-4, and didn’t face any break points during the 69 minute contest.
The first two matches on Centre Court were both decided in straight sets as the Wimbledon champion, Garbiñe Muguruza and the new world number one, Karolina Pliskova both won. Muguruza needed two shots at closing out the first set against Kirsten Flipkens before a routine second set in a 7-5 6-2 victory. Pliskova continued her utter dominance over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with a 6-3 6-3 win. Pavs is still yet to win more than four games in ten sets against Pliskova.
Lucie Safarova recorded her third straight win in 2017 over the number 11 seed, Dominika Cibulkova, 6-2 6-4. Lucie played a great first set, serving six aces and dropping just two points behind her serve. The Czech player was unable to convert on a 0-40 opening in Cibulkova’s first service game but did so at 2-2 and then ran away with the match for a time. Lucie hit the shot of the match at the start of the second set, a drop shot winner to end a stunning point (see below).
Lucie was up a double break in the second set but was soon pegged back – it was a case of Domi playing much better and Lucie losing focus and missing returns. Lucie seemed to flick the switch with Domi serving at *4-4 *30-0 as she break once more with some penetrating groundstrokes and then held her nerve to serve out the match to 30. This is Lucie’s first tournament since Wimbledon and she’s looking in really decent form, carrying on from what was overall, a great grass court season. Keep going, Lucie!
In a hard fought encounter, Ashleigh Barty knocked out the number 16 seed, Elena Vesnina, 6-3 5-7 6-4. Vesnina produced a costly double fault serving at *4-4 *30-30 in the third set and then Barty managed to draw the Russian player out wide before putting a smash away to break. The Aussie served out the match to love. Barty is enjoying a brilliant season (29-10 W-L record) and it shouldn’t be long until she won’t need to qualify for these types of events. Next up is a Birmingham rematch against Muguruza.
Agnieszka Radwanska backed up an encouraging win over CoCo Vandeweghe with a dominant, 6-0 6-1 win over Timea Babos. Really encouraging to see from Aga who gets BFF, Caroline Wozniacki in the 3rd round. A positive sign that she’s over the viruses that plagued her during the grass court season and her foot is better.
After coming through qualifying, Naomi Osaka has won four matches in a row at a tournament for the first time in 2017. The Japanese player upset the number 15 seed, Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3 6-4.
The third match in the day session on the Centre Court was a cracker as Venus Williams held off a stunning effort from Bastad champion, Katerina Siniakova to win, 7-5 7-5. The Czech player produced some sensational tennis to stave off eight break points in the second set. Finally, Williams’s pressure told as made the breakthrough and served out the match. There were some stunning points!
Ekaterina Makarova extended her winning streak to seven, saving two match points to defeat Johanna Konta, 5-7 7-6(4) 6-3 in two hours and 25 minutes. Konta was clutch in the first set, recovering from an understandably slow start in her first match since Wimbledon, saving a break point at *2-4 and then breaking Makarova for the set, aided by the Russian player bookending her service game with double faults. Konta was unable to take advantage of a 7-5 5-2 lead and in a high quality match, Makarova battled back.
While I was sleeping…
Sloane Stephens beat Petra Kvitova, 7-6(4) 3-6 6-2 to reach the third round – a great effort from Sloane in just her third tournament back!
A side note – great to see a new edition of the Petra Kvitova magazine thanks to the wonderful PetraKvitovaHeadband Twitter account – a must for all Petra fans!
In the night session on Centre Court, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep both advanced to the third round with straight set wins.
This made me laugh! 😂
A stunning slate of third round matches is on the schedule for Thursday.
(1) Karolina Pliskova vs. Naomi Osaka
(10) Agnieszka Radwanska vs. (6) Caroline Wozniacki
(3) Angelique Kerber vs. Sloane Stephens
Lucie Safarova vs. Ekaterina Makarova
(5) Elina Svitolina vs. (9) Venus Williams
Ashleigh Barty vs. (4) Garbiñe Muguruza
CiCi Bellis vs. Caroline Garcia
Barbora Strycova vs. (2) Simona Halep
What’s your pick of the matches?
A full match preview is up on the blog for an intriguing all-seeded third rounder between Elina Svitolina and Venus Williams.
And finally, a duo of polls is up for Caro vs. Aga and Garbiñe vs. Ash.
Please note that there will be no post on Thursday as i’m going to the World Athletic Championships in London!