The number six seed in Doha, Jelena Ostapenko is the highest seed to fall so far through three days of main draw action at the Qatar Total Open. All the other top ten seeds are into the last 16 with much of the draw intact. This is still quite a revelation as the WTA goes and many of the top names are playing quality tennis. There were a couple more upsets of the 11-15 seeds but nothing hugely noteworthy so i’m going with a sweeping preview for Thursday’s third round matches.
Match of the Day
Angelique Kerber (8) vs. Johanna Konta (10) (5th on CC)
I’m thrilled with the schedule as my match of the day is last up so I should get to see it live! The last time that Kerber and Konta played on tour was a dramatic quarter-final in Eastbourne where both players were out on court for the second time that day. Konta suffered a nasty slip and fall when serving out the match, yet managed to come back and close out the match in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.
I am loving the 2018 Kerber and her renewed vigour and aggression. She dropped serve just once in a 6-4 6-1 second round win over Sam Stosur on Wednesday. Aside from a surprising second round loss to the world ranked 113 Bernarda Pera at the Australian Open (who Konta beat in the first round of Doha on Tuesday), the Brit has made a pretty decent start to the year.
Instinct on this one is that an in-form Kerber takes this in straights. Interested to see what level Konta brings to this match.
One to watch on the outside courts
Elina Svitolina (3) vs. Petra Kvitova (16) (3rd on Court 1)
A bit of a shocker that this match didn’t make Centre Court but it might make it easier for me to watch live so I won’t complain! Svitolina won their first match all the way back in 2014 but it has since been one way traffic with Svitolina on the end of some Peak Petra beat downs. Their last match was at the end of 2016 in Zhuhai. Svitolina has improved immensely since then.
Kvitova was up and down but overall very impressive in terms of bouncing back to snap a three match losing streak to Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4. I definitely underestimated Radwanska in that match-up. Svitolina wasn’t really troubled by Marketa Vondrousova in a straight sets win, 6-2 6-4. This is probably my only 50-50 match of the day. Kvitova’s had a pretty bruising schedule although if she plays peak then that won’t matter. I’m going to go for Svitolina though despite the lopsided head-to-head.
I’m not actually feeling any upsets from this set of eight matches! I think Garbiñe Muguruza will be too strong and consistent for Sorana Cirstea, Karolina Pliskova trounced CiCi Bellis earlier in the year in Brisbane and while i’d expect it to be closer this time, i’d still go straight sets. Simona Halep looked pretty damn awesome against Ekaterina Makarova on Wednesday and takes on Anastasija Sevastova next who she has won her last four matches against and all in straight sets.
Caroline Garcia and Julia Goerges both face unseeded opposition in Anna Blinkova and Mihaela Buzarnescu respectively. Based on the way they have been playing and more importantly, delivering on a consistent basis, i’d pick the seeds there.
The world number one, Caroline Wozniacki plays Monica Niculescu on Thursday who she has a 8-0 head-to-head record. Wozniacki hadn’t dropped more than four games in a set during their first seven encounters, but went the distance and then some in their most recent match in Madrid last year. An absolute humdinger, lasting three hours and 27 minutes with Wozniacki eventually prevailing, 7-5 6-7(3) 6-4.