Bye bye Doha, hello Dubai! Main draw action action at the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Championships began on Monday with five first round matches. I managed to catch up on a few of the matches around a very long day at work. It’s only Monday and i’m ready for the weekend 😭😂. WTA TV continues to bring joy to my life. Here are my highlights of the day in Monday’s Set Points…
Dubai main draw set, Kvitova pulls out
Unsurprisingly Petra Kvitova has pulled out of Dubai – good decision! Wang Qiang has taken her place in the draw as a lucky loser. The qualifiers have been set with Sam Stosur, Sam Errani, Sofya Zhuk and Lesia Tsurenko all reaching the main draw. In the final round of qualifying, Errani saved a match point to beat Aryna Sabalenka, 6-2 1-6 7-6(4).
In my draw challenge i’ve gone for Kristina Mladenovic, Angelique Kerber, Johanna Konta and Caroline Garcia to reach the semi-finals with Kerber winning the title. You’ll notice it’s not a great start!
Wrapping up Doha
In case you missed the final from Doha, check out the highlights from Sunday’s superb finale below. The WTA highlight packages have generally been decent this year. You can also hear from Petra in the WTA Insider Champions Corner podcast – she is a delight.
Kasatkina battles past Radwanska
Kasatkina extended her head-to-head record against Agnieszka Radwanska to 2-0 with a 7-5 6-4 victory in the first round of Dubai. To me it seems obvious Dasha is lacking belief in herself as she struggled to serve both sets out and didn’t look safe with a lead in the second set. Radwanska, who seemed to be stretching her back out in the second set, let Kasatkina off the hook. At the end of the second set Radwanska was trying to be aggressive but overforcing the issue and made too many errors. Not a good day for Aga.
Kasatkina’s serve was extremely shaky at the end with two double faults trying to serve out the match (one was a shocker!). On a positive note, I liked Kasatkina’s aggression behind her forehand and it was a weapon for large chunks of the match. All in all, a good win for Kasatkina, and especially to get it done in straight sets.
Fun stat – Kasatkina now has a 6-6 head-to-head record against the quartet of Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep.
One tight, one easy – Konta beats Pavs
Johanna Konta scored her first win in Dubai with a 7-6(2) 6-2 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. An ultra-aggressive, Pavs was the better player for much of the opener, yet seemed to lose focus with several missed opportunities on return. Konta’s second serve held up remarkably well, particularly in a pivotal ninth game of the first set where the Brit saved three break points in an eight-deuce, 14 minute game.
The first set was decided in the tiebreak where Pavs had an absolute shocker. The Russian player served three double faults (i’m not sure I have ever seen that before) and missed a couple of returns inexplicably long. Konta never looked comfortable taking the ball out of the air but otherwise played well in a very tidy and mentally secure performance. After saving break points in the long service game at 4-4 in the first serve, Konta dropped just three more points, winning 24 of her last 27 points on serve!
One interesting moment – on a changeover chat with her coach, Michael Joyce at 6-5 in the first set, you could hear Jo say to him “I don’t understand anything that you are saying from the side… so don’t!” 😂
Vesnina, Osaka and Makarova all through to R2 in Dubai
Aside from Pavlyuchenkova’s loss, it was a good day for Russia as the doubles duo of Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova joined Kasatkina in advancing to the last 16 in Dubai. Makarova saved two match points (!) to beat Anastasija Sevastova, 3-6 7-6(9) 6-3. I was surprised by the result as when I had tuned in during the second set Sevastova had been running rings around Makarova with her ability to redirect pace. Osaka scored the first “upset” of the tournament with a 6-2 6-2 win over Kristina Mladenovic. The final point linked below – again they miss the handshake. Shoddy camera work.
Muguruza confirmed for Birmingham
Stay tuned for plenty of updates on player lists for the grass court season. Today’s news was that Garbiñe Muguruza has joined Kvitova and Konta in confirming for the Birmingham Classic. I don’t expect to see Muguruza back in Eastbourne after what happened last year…
Wimby tickets woohooo!
We got back home from work and I picked up the lone letter on the floor – I immediately knew from the font that it was Wimbledon tickets! It is a pair of tickets for the first Wednesday on No.1 Court and is the first time anyone in my family has been successful for the past few years. It definitely seems to have got harder to get tickets as we often used to get at least one set a year from four applications. My bro has already put out an advertisement to his friends on Facebook about who wants to join him. My brother-in-law responded #notjames 😂😂😂