Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Rome: Ostapenko and Sharapova win to set up first career meeting

Another busy day in Rome saw 16 become 8 with the quarter-finals of the 2018 Internazionali d’Italia all set. Thursday was bookended with three setters including another late night match on Court Centrale with Wozniacki-Sevastova going the distance. Friday’s line-up of quarter-final looks pretty stunning! Read on for nine stories from Thursday’s action in Rome.

Ostapenko d. Konta (Rome, R3)

Jelena Ostapenko advanced to the quarter-finals of Rome with a first win over Johanna Konta in a 2-6 6-3 6-4 come-from-behind victory. Ostapenko was very composed and restrained in the third set as she used depth and angles rather than full-out power, managing to hold onto her lone break of serve that she earnt at the start of the decider. There were no visible outbursts of emotion or negativity in what was a very solid performance.

It was Konta who had several disagreements with the umpire over calling her coach down and then a time violation. Konta missed a return on her only break point in the decider and then missed a volley at deuce having taken on board her coach’s advice to step in to take the second serve return. That was definitely a big missed opportunity. All in all, an encouraging week for Konta with back-to-back wins on the clay for the first time in two years (Rome, 2016).

Sharapova d. Gavrilova (Rome, R3)

Maria Sharapova made it back-to-back quarter-finals in Madrid and Rome and guaranteed a seeding at the French Open. Sharapova defeated Daria Gavrilova, 6-3 6-4. This was tough on Dasha after she finished at 2am with her incredible win over Garbiñe Muguruza. The Aussie gave it some welly but Sharapova was just too powerful and cute too with some fab drop shots. I didn’t like to see Gavrilova chucking her racquet all over the place including on match point. I hope she won’t do that again.

Garcia d. Stephens (Rome, R3)

Caroline Garcia overcame a late wobble and came good in the second set tiebreak where she saved a set point to beat Sloane Stephens, 6-1 7-6(7). Garcia was super sharp for a set and a half against a mostly lacklustre, Stephens who was flat in her footwork. Stephens reeled off nine straight points to claim a first break of the Garcia serve when the Frenchwoman stumbled serving for the match. The second set tiebreak was touch and go. Garcia’s serve held strong, as did the return as she nailed a return winner on match point.

Pre-Stuttgart, Garcia had a 10-8 W-L record. Post-Stuttgart, Garcia is at 9-2. The Frenchwoman has looked superb during the clay court season and a trio of tough three set wins in Stuttgart has seemingly played her way into form.

Wozniacki d. Sevastova (Rome, R3)

Caroline Wozniacki needed three sets to see off Anastasija Sevastova in the last match of the day, 6-2 5-7 6-3. Sevastova wasn’t at the races early doors but played much, much better in the second set including a peak game to break at 5-5. The drop shots were at times, spectacular. It was Sevastova’s first ever set against Wozniacki but she couldn’t double that as Wozniacki started to read the drop shots better and was generally more solid in the decider with Sevastova throwing in one tame service game. A sound win for Woz who hit 31 winners. In terms of going for her shots and being more aggressive, the Dane has come a long way. Sevastova can be absolutely delightful to watch at times, but also infuriating!

While I was working…

Anett Kontaveit secured another win over Venus Williams, this time in straight sets, 6-2 7-6(3).

Angelique Kerber dropped just two games in a 6-1 6-1 rout of Maria Sakkari in just 55 minutes.

Elina Svitolina rallied from a bagel opening set to beat Daria Kasatkina, 0-6 6-3 6-2. I was truly baffled watching the live scoreboard!

Aga out of RG

Agnieszka Radwanska is reportedly out of the French Open with a back injury. Sad news but not a shocker as Aga has clearly shifted her focus away from the clay in recent years. I hope she will be OK for the grass. To be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was her last year on tour.

Madrid press conferences

Really enjoyed this collation of moments from the press room last week in Madrid.

Louis Armstrong Stadium

The new second stadium at the US Open is looking fantastic! Check out @AMarshallSport on Twitter for more updates.

Friday’s OOP

Looking forward to all four quarter-finals with match thoughts up on the separate page. Polls linked below…

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9 thoughts on “Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Rome: Ostapenko and Sharapova win to set up first career meeting

  1. I was looking at the results from the $100K ITF in Trnava, Slovakia and the name Chwalinska caught my eye. She stormed through the qualies beating the # 1 seed and won her first round in the main draw.
    I saw some video on YouTube from 2014 and the little girl has talent, but……..unfortunately the 16 y/o Chwalinska stands a towering…..4’9, and there is no way a 4’9 girl can be successful in the WTA.
    In juniors everybody told Lauren Davis, just wait til you get your growth spurt……12 years later the 5’2 Davis is still waiting for her growth spurt.

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    • A match between Lauren and Domi Cibulkova (5′ 3″) would be worth seeing. I think 4′ 9″ would be very short fo the demands of the game, but I’d like to see how Chwalinska manages to cope with that.

      “To be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was her (Aga’s) last year on tour.”

      Oh no! I think Aga still wants that elusive slam title and if she retires it will be because she’s finally given up hope of ever getting one. She said a couple of years ago that she thought she had a window of two years in which to achieve it, so maybe she will decide that time has finally run out on her.

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      • It seemed to me that Radwanska’s energy level never fully recovered from her illness at the beginning of last year, when she lost so much weight.
        The Rad had a great career being basically a top 10 player for ten years stating when she was 19 y/o. IMO Aga won matches more with her mind than power or athleticism. I got a laugh at the 2016 YouTube video of Ostapenko’s OCC with her mother, when Penko complained that The Rad was a nothing and there were amateur players in Latvia that were better than Aga. Penko was down a set and a break to The Rad at the time. ( If Aga is such a nothing player, why are you down a set and a break?) Penko could probably beat the lesser Rad today.

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      • The Ostapenko outburst is on YouTube, it really is hilarious! She basically accuses Aga of playing so badly that she’s bringing Jelenas level of play down. And at this point Ostapenko was pretty much a nobody…

        As for Radwanska, I think she’s a few years past her prime now. Her stubbornness to train in the gym like everyone else has robbed her of not only being the best version of herself, but also of maximising her longevity as a top player.
        You look at the women who can still play their best in the thirties (Serena, Svetlana, Kerber, Sharapova) and you can clearly see how strength training has benefited them.

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      • There are examples the other way though Andrew – Jelena Jankovic and Domi Cibulkova both did extensive strength training too (Domi in particular’s practically a poster girl for it), and neither of them is anywhere near their best now.

        I’ve always thought Aga’s main weakness is that she doesn’t recover well from a hard three set match. If she plays and wins one, she nearly always flops in the next match especially if it’s the next day. I still recall her playing a blinder against Roberta Vinci in Doha a couple of years ago, and winning just two games in her next one (against Carla, who went on to win the title).

        I agree too Ziggy – if Ost could beat an in-form Simona at Roland Garros last year, she could certainly beat Aga in her current form.

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  2. Tough loss for Kasatkina, she played a brilliant first set. Svitolina had two poor misses at the net in her first service game, losing a point too hold for 1-1, then slipped in the third game. She was obviously a little rattled and tried to play herself back into the set, but Daria just wasn’t missing anything and hit some fabulous winners.
    Svitolina bouncing back in the second felt inevitable, she stepped into court, redirecting the ball effortlessly down the lines from corner to corner and Kasatkina got really worked up. The Russian levelled things after going down a break in sets 2 & 3, and on both occasions Svitolina calmly followed being broken by breaking back emphatically and then holding.

    All in all it was a great win for Elina. My biggest surprise was the level of crowd support she had, especially with it being the firat match of the day. Her fan following is definitely increasing quickly!

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    • Thanks for the info on the match. She definitely seems to have grown in popularity. There was always a lot of negativity on Twitter about her game. She seems to give a lot of her time to fans too.

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  3. Really rooting for Garcia to best Halep today. She’s playing some unbelievable tennis at the moment! But every now and then she seems to start hitting the ball a little short, opening up an opportunity for her opponent. It’s really small criticism though, because she’s held serve 19 times out of 20 this week which is Federer level tennis!

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