Friday’s schedule was brutal in a good way. There were just so many exciting matches and I was triple streaming for the first few hours! It was a day of upsets as nine of the 16 seeds in action went out. While a handful of surprising results, there were so many inspired performances from the unseeded players. The depth on the WTA tour right now is fantastic and there are so many bright talents beginning to shine. Read on for ten stories from day 3 of WTA main draw action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open.
Take a bow, Sachia Vickery
Sachia Vickery scored the biggest win of her career with an inspired performance against the world number three, Garbiñe Muguruza. Vickery, who broke into the world’s top 100 for the first time in her career at the start of the week, fought back from 2-6 0-3* 0-40* down (!) to win 2-6 7-5 6-1 in two hours and 11 minutes.
On paper it looks like a bad loss for Muguruza. The Spaniard actually played at a high level for the first two sets. It was Vickery’s defence and gritty determination that ultimately created the change in momentum. This happened in a prolonged game with Muguruza serving at *3-0 where she missed out on six game points. While wasteful with her opportunities, Vickery played some astonishing tennis including coming out on top of the best rally of the match (see linked below).
Growing in confidence, Vickery unleashed a handful of down-the-line winners to grab the second set. I suppose the biggest concern for Muguruza is how this match mirrored her most recent loss to Daria Kasatkina as she went down quickly 6-1 in the decider, just like in Dubai. All the credit to Vickery – this will go down as one of the best comebacks and biggest shocks of the year.
Plucky Petra passes Poots
I love alliteration and love me some pojd Petra! In a gruelling three hour and 17 minute marathon, Petra Kvitova beat Yulia Putintseva, 6-7(4) 7-6(3) 6-4. Kvitova’s level was very inconsistent and she hit a whopping 18 double faults. Her fight remained present at all times as she recovered from 2-4 down in the third set. I was impressed how Putintseva managed to hang around in this match. The stats were hilarious. Well done, Petra. Just amazing.
Sabalenka continues to impress
From 4-4 *15-40 in the first set, Aryna Sabalenka locked in with a typically aggressive display to defeat the returning, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-4 6-3. Sabalenka produced two lethal backhands to save break points and then played a pretty solid level up to match point. I really enjoy watching Sabalenka and consistently seek her name out on the schedule. I do hide behind a pillow when she hits overheads 🙈. This was always going to be a tough opener for Kuznetsova. Welcome back, Sveta!
Vondrousova’s best win
Marketa Vondrousova scored the best win of her career, beating the number 11 seed, Johanna Konta, 7-6(5) 6-4. The first set was an absolute rollercoaster. Vondrousova failed to hold on to an early *3-0 double break lead, then saved four set points (3 at *4-5 and 1 at *5-6), before winning the ensuing tiebreak with a delicious crosscourt forehand winner (linked below). That forehand is mega.
Konta is competing well in many matches this year. The game isn’t all there at the moment and she’s just coming up short and not taking her opportunities. With title points to defend in Miami, this is a pretty tough time for Jo. Meanwhile we get Sabalenka vs. Vondrousova in the third round 😍.
Anisimova’s best win
The kids are coming… I got a tip on Twitter to watch the second set of Anismova-Pavlyuchenkova. Wow. I was impressed with Anisimova’s 6-2 6-2 win over Pauline Parmentier in the first round but this was something else. Saving break point at 4-4 in the first set with a crashing forehand winner, Anisimova won eight of the last nine games to overwhelm the number 23 seed, Pavlyuchenkova, 6-4 6-1.
I just cannot believe Anisimova is only 16 years old and able to play with this level of composure. She has so many weapons in her game and hit some staggering winners. Not only has she got the power but the touch is there too. The angled crosscourt backhand winner linked below was my favourite.
Osaka beats Radwanska
What a week for Naomi Osaka. Following up her straight sets win over Maria Sharapova, Osaka rather comfortably defeated the number 31 seed, Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-3 6-2. I was impressed with Osaka’s point construction. She was very patient in the rallies, waiting for the right ball to go for the winner. Radwanska was just OK and is still missing that spark. Osaka was in control of pretty much everything in this match.
Serena Williams’s first WTA match in 2018
I watched back the first set of Serena Williams’s first round win over Zarina Diyas just before Friday’s matches got underway. The footwork was so much better than I was expecting and the serve is still there. Immense respect that Serena, even with all her champion qualities, could deliver such tennis so soon after giving birth and with all the complications.
Loved this shot of Serena.
Victoria Azarenka’s comeback
Azarenka’s comeback in Indian Wells is going swimmingly well and she joined forces with Aryna Sabalenka to win their first round doubles match on Friday against Sloane Stephens and Eugenie Bouchard. I never normally watch doubles at the start of a tournament but I did tune in at the end of the first set! Azarenka said that she intends to play Miami but does not know about her schedule going forward.
A sweeping preview of Saturday’s second round matches is now up on the blog including Stephens-Azarenka, Kasatkina-Siniakova and Goerges-Vikhlyantseva.