Maria Sharapova and Ekaterina Makarova opened Tuesday’s proceedings on the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing. Sharapova maintained her 100% record against Makarova, recording an eighth consecutive victory, 6-4 4-6 6-1. Sharapova served up six double faults in the opening set, yet was lethal on return, breaking Makarova’s serve four times. Makarova rallied in the second set, winning just her second set against Sharapova in their eight matches.
After a lengthy break in between the second and third sets, Sharapova returned to produce a clinical display in the third. The serve was working well (68% first serves in), the return was still brutal and she was the more aggressive of the pair, dictating the majority of rallies with some clean ballstriking. In terms of stats, both came out positive on the winners to unforced errors.
In a US Open rematch, Sharapova will play Simona Halep in a blockbuster third round match set for Wednesday (3rd match after 12:30pm local time). Halep advanced via retirement against Magdalena Rybarikova while leading, 6-1 2-1.
Sharapova heads into this match-up, like the last one, with a 7-0 head-to-head lead. It’s hard to ignore and the same applies from what I wrote in my preview for their US Open clash – this will take a huge mental effort from Halep. After what happened in New Yorkn, key for Halep will be a high percentage of first serves in.
I’d still go for Sharapova to win this one after two gritty wins in Beijing. Halep looked good at the end of her match vs. Riske and at the start vs. Rybarikova, but i’m not quite sure if the rhythm and confidence is there right now to break her duck against Sharapova.
Both players spoke about the match in press via WTA Insider. Positive words at least from Simona.
Daria Kasatkina reached the third round of Beijing with a 6-4 7-5 win over Lara Arruabarrena. Kasatkina was mostly passive, yet solid, more so than Arruabarrena who tried to be decisive and aggressive, but made a lot of unforced errors in the process. Kasatkina threw in a poor game serving for the match at *5-4 and then saved a break point to get the job done at *6-5.
After splitting with Vladimir Platenik, Kasatkina already has a new coach.
Kasatkina will next play Agnieszka Radwanska after the Polish player overcame Zhang Shuai in two tight sets, 7-5 7-5.
I’m super excited about a first Aga-Dasha match-up! I quite like Dasha’s chances with her variety of shots although she will have to be more aggressive than she was against Arruabarrena and won’t be able to rely on errors.
Loving this line-up of third round matches in Beijing as an all unseeded affair between Barbora Strycova and Daria Gavrilova is set for Thursday. Their last match went the distance with Strycova winning, 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3.
On Tuesday, Strycova won her fourth consecutive match against Goerges, fighting back from a break down in the first set with a streak of nine straight games. Gavrilova advanced via retirement (more end of season vibes) after CoCo Vandeweghe retired hurt. Gavrilova was leading, 6-3 2-0.
Petra Kvitova maintained her 100% record over Varvara Lepchenko with an eighth consecutive win, 6-4 6-4 in 77 minutes.
Karolina Pliskova saved all nine break points faced against Andrea Petkovic, coming through also for a 6-4 6-4 win. It sounds as if Petkovic had an injury concern in the second set – fingers crossed all is OK! Interesting news in press from Pliskova…
Elena Vesnina and Sorana Cirstea scored straight set wins to reach the last 16 of Beijing – both will play their third round matches on Thursday.
Here is a snippet from Garbiñe Muguruza’s press conference on Monday – you can hear in her voice that she’s not 100%!
Sharapova’s entire English speaking press conference after her win over Makarova is linked below.
There’s still a handful of second round matches to be played with polls for two below. I’m super intrigued by Elina Svitolina vs. Ash Barty take two after Svitolina won in two tight sets at Wimbledon earlier this year. Barty’s had a fair few days off from singles so may be good to go. I’d still go with Svitolina for the win, despite her lack of matches, for her sure ability to track down so many balls. My morning watch tomorrow will be Jelena Ostapenko’s first match of the week against Sam Stosur at 12:30pm local time (05:30am UK time).
And finally, i’m excited to see the Hopman Cup line-up tomorrow! Kerber-Zverev and Gavrilova-Kokkinakis have already been rumoured. My hope is for a Czech Republic team with either Lucie or Petra 😊.