Friday at the Western & Southern Open was a manic day with a trio of third round matches still to be played after Thursday’s deluge of rain. Still, it was the first of the quarter-finals between Garbiñe Muguruza and Svetlana Kuznetsova that was up first on Center Court at 11am local time.
In a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon quarter-final, Muguruza needed three sets to beat Kuznetsova, 6-2 5-7 7-5 in two hours and 45 minutes – the last 30 minutes of this match featured some sensational, high-quality tennis. I felt compelled to write a review of the match, which you can read below. The post includes some fantastic photos from Omar Boraby.
The three remaining third round matches all began at 1pm local time – carnage! The first winner was Julia Goerges who produced a terrific attacking display to beat the Toronto champion, Elina Svitolina, 6-3 7-5. It was a tough ask for Svitolina to back up that tremendous title run but take nothing away from Goerges who played a blinding match and maintained a high level throughout.
Karolina Pliskova beat Camila Giorgi, 6-3 4-6 6-0 – I did find it amusing that the live scoreboard had the match time as 18 hours and 14 minutes! I watched some of the second set where I thought Giorgi was continuing on from her win over Gavrilova with some quality tennis. Pliskova’s serve was keeping her alive. Giorgi managed to get an elusive break to force a decider.
The umpire, Marija Cicak warned Giorgi that she was taking too long between points on serve to which she was pretty dismissive. I moved onto other matches after the second set but it seems things escalated after this. There was no handshake between Giorgi and Cicak.
Quietly sneaking into another Premier 5 quarter-final, Sloane Stephens came from a set down to beat Ekaterina Makarova, 2-6 6-3 6-4. Sloane needed four match points, but her serve held up well in the third set.
Pliskova got a longer break than Friday’s schedule had originally implied but it didn’t seem to matter as the Czech player doubled up to beat Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2 6-4 and reach the semi-finals of Cincy. It was a superb performance from Pliskova who was in her groove and seemed to take advantage of the faster court conditions compared to Toronto. The depth on Pliskova’s returns were superb and she was dominant on serve – the Czech player was not broken once and won 25 out of 26 points behind her first serve.
Pliskova’s press conference is linked below from the WTA’s Facebook page.
This is some stat for Karolina.
Sloane Stephens made it back-to-back Premier 5 semi-finals with a 6-1 7-6(3) victory over Julia Goerges.
Sloane’s wins these past two weeks have been totally legit and she is arguably playing the best tennis of her career.
Toronto – Wins over Yulia Putintseva, Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber and Lucie Safarova
Cincy – Wins over Lucie Safarova, Petra Kvitova, Ekaterina Makarova and Julia Goerges
Loved this quote from Sloane about not feeling the pressure.
Simona Halep beat Johanna Konta for the first time on hard courts, winning 6-4 7-6(1) in the late night match on Center Court. Konta recovered from 2-5 down in the second set and saved five match points to force a second set tiebreak where Halep rolled through, seven points to one.
This was an incredible point.
It has been confirmed that Lucie is the new world number one in doubles – I just had to write something about it!
The race for the world number one spot is still in play with the semi-finals up on Saturday.
At 12pm local time, Karolina Pliskova will play Garbiñe Muguruza. This has historically been a good match-up for Pliskova who has won their last six matches including a comfortable 6-1 6-3 win at the same stage of Cincy last year. Their last encounter at Indian Wells was a superb contest with Pliskova edging it in the key moments, winning 7-6(2) 7-6(5).
Muguruza’s confidence must be pretty high right now after two tough three set wins over Keys and Kuznetsova. Whether she has enough in the tank to overturn her losing streak to Pliskova is another matter. Pliskova played two matches on Friday but looked in sensational form in her second match of the day against Wozniacki. I’d go for Pliskova in this one – as she stated in her press conference, the faster conditions should suit her, and her serve was almost untouchable on Friday.
At 4pm local time, Simona Halep will play Sloane Stephens. The pair met just two weeks ago in the first round of Washington where Halep prevailed in a scrappy match, 7-6(3) 6-0. Both have improved since then, especially Stephens who is on a magnificent run of form right now. I’m not entirely convinced by Halep yet on hard courts, but she did brilliantly to up her level between R3 and QFs to bag a big win over Konta after what happened at Wimby. Sloane keeps clawing out these wins, yet this will be a tough one as she’ll have to show a lot of patience to get past Halep.
Tennis never stops… the main draw is already out for New Haven! Stand-outs for me are Kasatkina-Strycova and Cornet-Putintseva.
Sad news #1 – Sam Stosur is out of the US Open. I still can’t help but think what could have been at the French Open if it hadn’t been for the hand injury. Hopefully we will see Sam again this season.
Sad news #2 – Melanie Oudin has announced her retirement from tennis. All the best, Melanie!
Gearing up for the final Slam, here is how the Louis Armstrong court is looking for the 2017 US Open. I’m currently reminiscing about this time last year…
And finally, check out an album of photos by Omar from Friday on the MTB Facebook page – so many good ones from a busy day!
3 thoughts on “Friday’s Set Points, WTA Cincinnati: A busy day, Pliskova & Stephens win twice to reach SFs”
I’m a little concerned about Sloane playing New Haven. I’m sure she signed up in order to get match tough and get points before the Open but, now that she has gone so deep into her last three tournaments, I think she should drop out of New Haven and rest for the Open. Hopefully, after seeing Zverev hit a wall in Cincinnati, Sloane’s coach will be cautious. She does have a wild card or enough points to get into the Open now, doesn’t she?
Stephens up to #83 in the live rankings before Saturdays matches.
With Pliskova losing in the CinCin SF today and Halep possibly winning her SF, Halep will be only 5 points behind Plis in the WTA rankings 6390 to 6385.