Wednesday was a successful day for Ashleigh Barty as she advanced to the quarter-finals of the singles and doubles tournaments in Wuhan. Firstly, Barty opened proceedings on Centre Court, beating the number nine seed, Agnieszka Radwanska, 4-6 6-0 6-4. Barty lost the first set from 3-1 and break points up, rather drowning in a sea of wild errors against a very efficient, Radwanska.
After a lengthy chat with her coach, Barty came out with renewed focus to comfortably take the second set without dropping a game. The third set was much closer with Barty securing the important break at 2-2 and holding onto it for her fifth top 20 win in just the last three months.
There was one point in the third set that really caught my eye – serving at *4-3, Barty won a 27-shot rally that showcased everything with forehands, backhand slices, decent movement and finished off with a tactically astute drop shot. A thought through my mind – Barty’s got it all. The Aussie player needed four match points to seal the win in a lengthy final game, always remaining positive as she looked to earn the win as opposed to waiting for Radwanska to miss.
Barty’s rise up the rankings has been staggering – she started the year at world number 271 and now, nine months later, is knocking on the door of the world’s top 30. Barty is looking good to be seeded for the Australian Open and is also in contention for Zhuhai. I just love her game and all the options she has. The serve, considering her height, is a huge weapon. Her composure and ability to stay calm in the pressure moments has not gone unnoticed.
Barty paired up with Casey Dellacqua to win their second round doubles match over Tokyo doubles champions, Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 7-6(4) 3-6 10-5. Barty and Dellacqua, aka ABCD, have already qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore.
ICYMI: I thought the post written below by Casey was brilliant.
Karolina Pliskova dropped just three games in a 6-2 6-1, 48-minute rout of Wang Qiang. Karolina said in press that it was one of her best matches of the entire season.
Maria Sakkari keeps on breaking new ground and is now into a first Premier quarter-final after a 7-6(5) 7-5 victory over the number 16 seed, Elena Vesnina, winning through in two hours and two minutes. Sakkari recovered from a break down in both sets, rallied from 3-5 down in the first set tiebreak and saved a set point in the second set. Sakkari has now secured four top 100 wins in a row and her last two wins over Wozniacki and Vesnina are the top two wins of her career by ranking!
A six game streak in the middle of the match helped Ekaterina Makarova record a second straight sets win over Daria Kasatkina in their head-to-head, 6-4 6-4. Kasatkina had led 4-1* 40-40 before Makarova rebounded with typically aggressive play, particularly on return. Kasatkina became rather passive and subdued, and her coach, Vladimir Platenik, wanted to see more movement with the feet. A shame for Dasha as these are the kinds of matches where she needs to be more positive. Makarova has now won 14 of her last 17 matches on tour.
Jelena Ostapenko extended her winning streak to seven matches and maintained her superb run in three set matches, beating Monica Puig, 6-2 3-6 6-3. The Latvian player lost her way on serve at the end with a rush of double faults but just about did enough to serve it out at the second time of asking.
The closing scenes made me laugh in the video linked below by the WTA’s Twitter account – Ostapenko’s shake of the head, a nice handshake with Puig, followed by a look of disdain towards the umpire 😂.
Next up for Ostapenko is an all Slam quarter-final against Garbiñe Muguruza – the Spaniard needed three sets to get past Magda Linette, 6-2 1-6 6-4. Credit to Linette who held her own against Muguruza, who was once again sporting strapping on her leg. I liked that the Spaniard kept battling and competed hard. A part of me thought Muguruza may withdraw considering she has been quite cautious this year and retired hurt during five matches in 2017.
Caroline Garcia worked hard to close out the number seven seed, Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets, 6-3 7-5. I was surprised to read that this was in fact Garcia’s first top ten win of 2017 and her first on the WTA tour in over two years (d. Kvitova in Cincy 2015). I really like the way that Garcia is playing this week and the courts suit her game well.
And finally, the third round match between Alizé Cornet and Varvara Lepchenko was moved to Centre Court to finish due to the rain. Cornet won, 3-6 6-4 6-2 in two hours and 31 minutes.
So the quarter-finals are set – we’ve seen plenty of upsets but i’d say three of the quarters don’t look out of place for a Premier tournament. From here, Pliskova is the favourite for me with Garcia as the dark horse. Polls for all four quarter-finals are linked below.
Another week on the ITF tour and a first round win for Belinda Bencic in the $25K Clermont-Ferrand tournament. Also, great to see Anna-Lena Friedsam back who won her first round match against Kimberley Zimmermann, 6-1 6-3.
Timea had the operation on her hand yesterday. So nice to see her smiling and fingers crossed for a speedy recovery! 😊
And finally, this is so accurate. How is it only Wednesday?