Wednesday’s Set Points, WTA Miami: Stephens-Azarenka & Ostapenko-Collins in the semi-finals

This post wraps up the four quarter-finals from the 2018 Miami Open across Tuesday and Wednesday. I was playing tennis Tuesday night so didn’t have time to write a post. There’s a bit about my tennis for anyone interested at the end of the post, as well as mini-previews for Thursday’s semi-final line-up featuring Sloane Stephens, Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Ostapenko and Danielle Collins.

Stephens’s first Premier Mandatory semi-final

Sloane Stephens was first into the Miami Open semi-finals with a 6-1 6-2 win over Angelique Kerber. I watched Sloane’s press conference which was shown live on their Facebook page. The American can be a little dismissive in press, but I liked her comment about having to fight hard in her third round match against Monica Niculescu where “she’s slicing and dicing you to Beijing” πŸ˜‚.

Azarenka’s impressive week continues

Victoria Azarenka defeated Karolina Pliskova in straight sets on Tuesday night, 7-5 6-3. I watched back the first set during my lunch break. Azarenka was so good at knowing when to come forward and she moved seamlessly from the baseline to the net. She also did a good job at moving the ball from corner-to-corner and getting Pliskova on the run. Azarenka played two poor games to get broken serving for the first set at *5-2 and *5-4. Pliskova had game points to lead but couldn’t convert and then got broken on a hugeee double fault. Azarenka tightened up her game as Pliskova produced a succession of errors.

I never expected Azarenka to push on so quickly and her run in Miami has been superb. For Pliskova, it was her fourth consecutive loss in a quarter-final match. The serve hasn’t been as much of a weapon this year and despite some solid results, it feels like she has plateaued a tad.

Ostapenko’s best result of 2018

Jelena Ostapenko beat Elina Svitolina, 7-6(3) 7-6(5) in Wednesday’s day quarter-final. Svitolina was mostly passive during this match. I would guess this was due to her ailments as she took some medication midway through the first set and said to her coach, Andrew Bettles, that she had stomach pain. Svitolina was a little more aggressive in the second set but still spent way too much of the match behind the baseline and being dictated by Ostapenko.

Ostapenko had moments of absolute peak hitting. Still, she wavered at times and needed two tiebreaks to seal the deal. Her coach, David Taylor, pleaded with her to “play the right way” by committing to her aggressive gameplan. She listened at the end, playing a great tiebreak to close out a big win.

Collins’s run keeps on going

Wow. Didn’t see that one coming! Danielle Collins kept her dreamy March run going with a first top ten win over Venus Williams, 6-2 6-3.

SF previews for Thursday

Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka will reprise their second round meeting from Indian Wells two weeks ago. Stephens played a fine match to win in straights, 6-1 7-5. I’d go for a three setter this week as Azarenka has improved significantly match-by-match. Although i’m rooting for Azarenka to reach the final, my instinct is with Stephens who has found a good balance between defence and attack this week. I think Sloane will be tough to break down.

In the second semi-final in Miami, Jelena Ostapenko will take on Danielle Collins. The pair have surprisingly never played before. Ostapenko will be the favourite based on experience but I would not be surprised to see Collins win this one. Ostapenko’s form has been much improved in this tournament, yet you can never be quite sure what level she will deliver on the day though.

SF polls

Who you got in the semi-finals?

Yay to playing tennis!

Now the clocks have gone forward my weekly tennis club sessions are back. It was such a thrill to get back on the court and we unexpectedly had the floodlights on which was my first experience under the lights. Overall, I was quite happy with my game. I’m really working on developing my backhand slice – I don’t think I missed one all night but most were sitting up short and mid-court so I need to work on that! My forehand is my weapon, yet I can get very passive so that’s another aim to improve this year.

I ended the session with a singles set with one of my work pals and it was one of the most enjoyable sets i’ve ever been a part of. I won, 6-4 on my fifth match point. We had sooo many long rallies where we were both covering a lot of ground. On one of the match points I was at the net hitting overheads constantly over and over again (i’m terrible at overheads πŸ˜‚) before he lobbed me. I collapsed weeping. It was so much fun and I can’t wait to get back on the court next week. I felt weak and unfit so I need to build up my stamina again!

Nottingham entry list

Ash Barty has joined Johanna Konta and Donna Vekic in confirming for the Nottingham Open in the first week of the 2018 grass court season.

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8 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Set Points, WTA Miami: Stephens-Azarenka & Ostapenko-Collins in the semi-finals

  1. Is Danielle Collins this years Jo Konta? I think so! Saying she’s had a great month is redundant because she’s had a superb year really, with a 19-3 win rate, including qualifying matches, 15-2 in main draw matches.
    Really can’t see how that semi final will go! I think Collins has a game that will make it difficult for Ostapenko to be aggressive against, but will nerves factor?

    Either one of the four left could win! I have a feeling Azarenka will do it though.

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    • What’s Collins game like? Haven’t watched her play yet. I wouldn’t be too surprised if she goes on and wins against Ostapenko. Jelena was good though and Elina seemed a little bit sick? She mentioned something to her coach about stomach pain.

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      • Collins plays a bit like Konta, she’s got a sublime backhand! She moves pretty well and is hard to get off balance, and she can switch between defence and attack organically.

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  2. Did not see anything from Collins this year so I guess Ostapenko simply because she starts to play well im 2018.

    Hope to see Stephens being a bit more agressive. She likes to sit back but she has a natural attacking game which she will need against Azarenka.

    Seems a bit odd to me that bookies have Azarenka as the favorite. Just like in Indian Wells, where Stephens won and Azarenka just played her second match since returning…

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    • Down 0:2 in the 2nd, it was all Stephens.
      She started to play agressive after realising that pushing won’t win her the match.

      I’m sure Azarenka will be back soon enough but I don’t know why Azarenka was considered as favorite considering that it is her 2nd tournament back and that she lost against this opponent just 2 weeks ago.

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  3. Had the winner coming from the top half at the start of the tournament. So it is a toss up between Victoria and Sloane. Fairly similar styles, fairly similar results through this tournament so I guess the hungrier woman will prevail.

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  4. I saw a interview story where Collins said that she played Ostapenko before, but it was in juniors at the Eddie Herr Orange Bowl tournament in 2011. Collins won on clay, but she would have been about 3 or 4 years older than Penko. The age difference would have been huge in juniors, so the match has no real significance.

    The bookies had V Williams about a 3:1 favorite over Collins. The pace of Collins shots on both wings was too much for the 38 y/o Williams to cover.

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    • In the Eddie Herr 2011 tournament Collins was 18 and Ostapenko was only 14.
      Bouchard was the top seed, but Putintseva was the trophy girl.
      (What ever happened to those junior players?)

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