Tuesday is always the busiest day in Birmingham with the majority of first round matches on the schedule. It was also eventful over in ATP world where Andy Murray made his comeback to the tour against Nick Kyrgios in Queens. I did watch quite a bit of that match which was bizarre on many levels! Anyway back to WTA and today’s Set Points looks back at the matches that I got to watch on Tuesday, mostly snippets.
Goerges d. Sakkari (Birmingham, R1)
Julia Goerges needed just the one break in each set to beat Maria Sakkari, 6-4 6-4. Goerges was mostly untouchable on serve as Sakkari struggled to get meaningful returns back into court. Goerges dropped five points behind serve in the first set and saved the lone break point she faced in the second set.
It was a typical Goerges performance – ultra aggressive for the most part with varying degrees of success! The one point that stood out was at *5-4 *0-0 where Sakkari hit a cracking cross-court shot that wrong-footed Goerges. Somehow, the German player managed to get the ball back in court, eventually winning the point.
Svitolina d. Vekic (Birmingham, R1)
The number two seed, Elina Svitolina needed three sets to see off the former Birmingham finalist, Donna Vekic, 6-1 3-6 6-1. I watched bits of the first set and Svitolina looked mightily impressive. I flicked over to Goerges-Sakkari with Svitolina seemingly in cruise control, leading 6-1 3-1. Five games later and Vekic had forced a decider! Svitolina settled down again to complete the breadstick sandwich.
Kvitova d. Konta (Birmingham, R1)
I got home from work for the last two games of Tuesday’s match of the day between Petra Kvitova and Johanna Konta. It was the defending champ who prevailed, 6-3 6-4. It was a disappointing end to the match for Konta who committed back-to-back double faults on serve at *4-4. A good opening win for Kvitova who gets Daria Gavrilova in the second round. Tricky i’d say.
Kasatkina d. Kr. Pliskova (Birmingham, R1)
The first point I saw from this match was Kris. Plis. hitting an overhead into the ground 😬. Kr. Pliskova served for the match at 6-3 5-4 and was two points away from the win. Kasatkina eventually came back to triumph in three sets to post her first singles win on grass in 2018, 3-6 7-5 6-4.
Kasatkina finished the match in style with a string of glorious winners. I’d really like to see her use the slice more because it can be so effective on grass. Kasatkina is still very inexperienced on the grass with this being just her seventh (!) singles match at the tour level on the green stuff. I think she can do well on grass with the right tactics and mindset.
Muguruza d. Pavlyuchenkova (Birmingham, R1)
Garbiñe Muguruza eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1 6-2 in a very impressive opener. The Spaniard has been mostly unconvincing on the tour this year and I was on the fence whether she’d be up for this clash. She definitely was and the intensity was superb. Muguruza dropped just two points behind her first serve. Muguruza was very endearing in her post-match interview – I like it when she’s all smiley and at ease!
Barty d. Dodin (Birmingham, R1)
I only caught a few points of the final match on Court 1 where the Nottingham champ, Ash Barty extended her win streak to six on grass with a 6-4 6-3 win over Oceane Dodin. The Aussie continues to look very comfortable in grass and was dominant on serve once again, saving the two break points that she faced.
Tennis in Mallorca
The final match of the day at the International event in Mallorca was an intriguing one between Angelique Kerber and Alison Riske. The pair last played in Eastbourne, a match that I got to watch live. The pair were tied at 1-1 in a deciding set when bad light halted play.
Kerber was mostly clutch on the big points in the first set but I felt she was quite passive. Riske transforms on the grass and was really trying to be aggressive and charge the net, much like their last match in Eastbourne. Kerber stepped it up at the start of the third set to break early (a couple of stunning points!) but couldn’t consolidate from game points. The pair will return on Wednesday to finish…
Big match coming up on Thursday – Lucie Safarova vs. Victoria Azarenka! 😬
Wednesday’s schedule in Birmingham
The first set of second round matches will be played in Birmingham. In truth, this schedule doesn’t really excite me. A special mention for the last match of the day between Mihaela Buzarnescu and Petra Martic. The last time the pair played was last year in the second round of qualifying for Wimbledon. Roll forward one year and the pair are both top 50 and really thriving on the tour. Two fantastic stories!