Friday was semi-finals day at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open with the final now all set for Saturday. Unfortunately I have been busy the last two days so haven’t had time to put together a Set Points post. I have kept the new “Match Thoughts and Polls” page going which has worked well for me this week and I intend to continue for Rome instead of posting any preview posts on the main site. Friday’s post is a bumper edition catching up on ten stories from the past two days.
My tennis experiences – Finally some singles!
Thursday was my club’s big night of the year as we tried to attract some new members with free pizza. I was really happy to finally get some singles and actually play well! I won, 6-2 and ended it playing probably the best i’ve ever done in singles. After five straight breaks of serve, I finally held a mammoth game to lead 4-2. I felt like I was playing the right way. I was trying to be more aggressive and managed to finish about five points up at the net (a rare occurrence!). I’ve got a family holiday coming up soon and our place has a tennis court! I’m so excited about getting some singles in with the bro 😄.
Kvitova vs. Kasatkina
The only full match I was able to watch over Wednesday and Thursday was Thursday’s late night quarter-final between Petra and Dasha. I had been waiting for this match-up to happen so was thrilled to finally see it 😍. It was a shame that Dasha couldn’t make it more competitive in the second set. Petra was sweeping up on short balls and bludgeoning the return. There were some fun points at the end of the first set.
Pliskova’s first tour win over Halep
During Thursday’s day session, Karolina Pliskova scored her first tour level win over Simona Halep, snapping the world number one’s 15 match winning streak in Madrid. Pliskova won, 6-4 6-3 in what she described as one of her best ever matches on clay.
Bertens d. Garcia (Madrid, SF)
In the first of Friday’s semi-finals, Kiki Bertens stormed into her biggest final with a surprisingly routine 6-2 6-2 win over Caroline Garcia. Bertens is building another stunning clay court season after her title earlier this year in Charleston.
Kvitova d. Pliskova (Madrid, SF)
In a battle of the nine match winning streaks, Petra Kvitova came out on top in the all-Czech second semi-final, 7-6(4) 6-3. Pliskova’s serve, surprisingly, let her down towards the end of the first set including two double faults to give away the tiebreak. And these were shockingly tentative second serves. Kvitova returned great and hit some absolute beauts throughout this match. Pliskova was a tad flat which surprised me as I thought she was going to win this one.
Saturday’s Madrid final – Kvitova vs. Bertens
In their only previous match, Kvitova dropped just one game (!) against Bertens at Wimbledon in 2015. Bertens is proving to be an absolute beast on clay so I don’t expect that match-up to have any significance for this final.
My concerns for each player – Kvitova has played a lot of tennis and has sported strapping on her leg for the last two matches, while Bertens is playing her biggest final. Kvitova’s got the experience, not only in Madrid but in big finals, and has a 22-7 W-L record in finals at the tour level. Bertens always worries with me with her nerves as she is very much a confidence player. She’s been mostly steamrolling her way through this draw. The final is always a big step-up in terms of an occasion compared to the semi-final. I would say that i’m 55-45 in favour of Petra.
Rome main draw
The slate of first round matches for Rome has moved me. The top three are so much more exciting than any of the first round match-ups in Madrid.
Victoria Azarenka vs. Naomi Osaka
Maria Sharapova vs. Ash Barty
Petra Kvitova vs. Johanna Konta
Bring it on!
Serena out of Rome
It was announced earlier this week that Serena Williams has pulled out of Rome. On a plus note, Angelique Kerber is practising at the tournament and is in the main draw in another glitzy opener against Ekaterina Makarova. The pair have history…
Birmingham entry list
The full entry list for Birmingham was announced on Wednesday. To be honest, I thought it was a tad underwhelming with only three of the world’s top ten currently confirmed.
Halep for Eastbourne
I remember asking Simona in press last year about her first time in Eastbourne and she seemed to have genuinely enjoyed it, noting being by the sea and the respectful crowds. I’m very happy to see she is playing Eastbourne again and she joins Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta and Naomi Osaka in committing to the tournament. The full entry list will be released next Tuesday/Wednesday.