Sunday’s Set Points, French Open 2018 Day 8: Keys & Stephens complete sweep of Slam QFs

I’m back from Portugal and settling back into normality. I’m back to work tomorrow (mega sob) so I won’t be able to watch much tennis from now on. I’ve got Eastbourne and Wimby coming up soon so that’s going to keep me going. Middle Sunday is normally my favourite day of Roland Garros. There’s no sugar coating today’s action – it was a bit of a shocker! Even the best match of the day was an anticlimax with it not reaching a conclusion today. Still, I had some thoughts as ever! Read on for six stories in Sunday’s Set Points post.

Keys d. Buzarnescu (RG, R4)

Madison Keys completed her clean sweep of Slam quarter-finals with a mostly routine 6-1 6-4 victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu. Like her previous match against Naomi Osaka, there was a little wobble at the end as she missed two match points serving at *5-2 with missed groundstrokes. Second time around, Keys made no mistake with a gorgeous cross-court backhand winner to set up her third match point which she converted with an ace out wide.

Keys played such a well controlled match. The serve was key to her success as she won 82% of first serve points. Keys is in a favourable section of the draw and I don’t see why she cannot succeed on clay as the surface allows her more time to set up her groundstrokes. The wobbles at the ends of the last two matches have been a tad concerning. However, the way she has managed to reset, on both occasions, has been impressive.

Putintseva d. Strycova (RG, R4)

After Keys-Buzarnescu, there was a large void in the schedule without any women’s tennis. I actually sat and watched some ATP with the final two sets of Zverev-Khachanov. This Slam seems to be a gamechanger for Zverev who won his third consecutive five setter to advance to a first Slam quarter-final.

Barbora Strycova and Yulia Putintseva followed on Suzanne Lenglen Court where Putintseva prevailed, 6-4 6-3. There was the odd moment of hilarity but generally, it didn’t live up to expectation. I think the highlight was in the third game where Strycova nearly took Putintseva’s head off at the net 😂.

Putintseva has been so solid during this tournament, both physically and mentally, and produced some wonderful drop shots in this match. The Kazakh player is into her second quarter-final of the year and second quarter-final at Roland Garros.

Stephens d. Kontaveit (RG, R4)

Sloane Stephens sauntered into her first quarter-final at Roland Garros with a 6-2 6-0 thrashing of Anett Kontaveit. Like Keys, Stephens has completed the boxset of Slam quarter-finals!

Sadly the actual match was a horrible watch. I can only guess that Kontaveit had some physical issues today as she was a shadow of the player that has lit up during this clay court season. The Estonian player was flat and often distant. She went for some crazy shots and lacked any kind of patience in the rallies. Stephens was very steady and didn’t have to do a lot in the second set. The win over Giorgi in the previous round could prove to be huge for her.

I hope Anett is OK! 🤗

Kasatkina leads Wozniacki, 7-6(5) 3-3 (RG, R4)

I had high hopes for the final match of the day between Daria Kasatkina and Caroline Wozniacki. Due to the five setter between Zverev and Khachanov, the match was moved to Chatrier where a set and a half was played before darkness halted play. It’s rather baffling to me that this is the situation when Court 1 and Court 18 were both empty and the match could have been moved much earlier.

While an odd start, this was easily the best match of the day… not difficult based on the three duds before it! The pair exchanged early breaks with Kasatkina starting with three double faults (never seen that before?!). Kasatkina had some taping on her elbow so I wonder if it was more getting used to this than nerves. Kasatkina though was moving and hitting well to start with as Wozniacki produced some puzzling errors. I love how Kasatkina is able to mix up the pace with the slice and this forced Wozniacki to have to generate pace.

Kasatkina rarely seems to stick to a gameplan (😂) and became a little one-dimensional with less variations in pace as an aggressive Wozniacki took charge with four straight games to go from 1-3 to 5-3. Kasatkina went big and bold on the forehand to break back and level up at 5-5. Kasatkina should have broken at 5-5, but missed out on three break point opportunities with Wozniacki stepping it up.

The ensuing first set tiebreak was much like the set. Constant changes in momentum with plenty of intrigue. There were some quality rallies too. After going a mini break down, Kasatkina was a touch bolder towards the end of the tiebreak. Kasatkina’s wobbly serve reared its head again at 5-5. The second serve was there for the taking, but Wozniacki went long. Another forehand error on set point saw Kasatkina sneak the rollercoaster opener.

The second set went with serve to 3-3. It was surprising to me that both players wanted off. Kasatkina was already a set up and she could see Wozniacki wanted to get off court. For that reason alone, I would have thought Kasatkina would want to at least try and win it in 2! Kasatkina’s tactics were somewhat befuddling in that second set. I hope she can do it on Monday when the match will resume…

A belated recap – Kerber d. Bertens (R3)

I got back home for the last set of Kerber-Bertens on Saturday which was enjoyable. Kerber scored a fantastic win in two tiebreak sets, 7-6(4) 7-6(4) in one hour and 52 minutes. I really thought Kiki had done enough to win the second set as she came from a break down and strung together multiple games with some fabulous points as Kerber retreated behind the baseline. Bertens played an absolute shocker trying to serve out the second set. She seemed to go for the lines but missed big. This seemed to reinvigorate Kerber who was absolutely stunning in defence and once again, just a bit better in the tiebreak with her passes on point.

Monday’s OOP

The top half of the women’s draw is looking rather mega. Despite the H2H, Serena vs. Maria is the stand-out match-up and remains a huge event.

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Screencap photo by Omar Boraby Photography

5 thoughts on “Sunday’s Set Points, French Open 2018 Day 8: Keys & Stephens complete sweep of Slam QFs

  1. Woke up a little grumpy this morning, a warm cup of tea is helping with that. Anyway, I feel Halep in 2, Serena , Kerber in 3, Garbine 2 or 3. My heart wants Maria and Garcia to come through.
    Poots is a hoot! True Survivor.

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    • I’m very grumpy this morning, back to work urgh. I’m in agreement with your predictions, let’s play! I’m surprised to see Garcia leading Kerber in the poll. I’m selfishly hoping for a bit of rain so I might get to see some of Maria vs. Serena after work!

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  2. There’s some good match ups today and I’m hoping Sharapova could finally get a win over Serena haha! It feels so weird of them playing this early in a draw despite Serena just returning. We’re so used to them playing in finals or semi finals.
    I feel like Kerber could sneak this win if Garcia feels the pressure of the crowd.

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