Friday’s Set Points, WTA Cincinnati: A busy day, Pliskova & Stephens win twice to reach SFs

Set PointsFriday 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.

Summer nights

A post shared by Sloane Stephens (@sloanestephens) on

 

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!

There is something I wanted to share with you all. I started playing tennis when I was seven years old, and I knew at nine that I wanted to be a professional tennis player. Not knowing at all how much work and dedication that would entail, I wanted it and gave it my all to reach that goal. My dream was always to play professional tennis at places like the US Open with the best in the world. I have been lucky enough to live my dream for the last nine years since I turned pro in 2008. Unfortunately, since the end of 2012, I have been struck with numerous health issues and injuries. I would work so hard to come back after being out, and then something else would happen. It has definitely taken a toll on me mentally and physically over the last five years or so. Competing with the best in the world requires your absolute best and without being 100% mentally and physically it is very difficult. After much thought, I have decided to make the difficult decision to retire from professional tennis. Tennis has given me so much and I will always be grateful. It wasn't exactly the entire career I had dreamed of, but in life things don't always go as planned. The people as in my friends and family, coaches, fitness trainers, physios, sponsors, and my agent who I have worked with over the years, I will always be thankful and appreciate you so much. I will definitely miss competing but I will not forget the many wonderful moments my tennis career has given me. I am very proud of how I always competed with lots of heart throughout my whole career. Lots of amazing memories to take away from it that I will never forget like being on the USA Fed Cup team, making final eight at the US Open, winning a grand slam in mixed doubles, and winning a WTA tournament on grass. I fell in love with the game of tennis when I was seven years old and it will always have a special place in my heart. I am sad to leave the sport I know and love, but I am very optimistic about what the future holds for me. Lastly, I want to say thank you to my fans that have followed me throughout my career and have stuck by me through it all. I am so appreciative for the support over the years. BELIEVE

A post shared by Melanie Oudin (@melanieoudin) on

 

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!

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Photos in this post by Omar Boraby

3 thoughts on “Friday’s Set Points, WTA Cincinnati: A busy day, Pliskova & Stephens win twice to reach SFs

  1. 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?

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  2. 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.

    Like

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