What a day. The upsets kept rolling and most notably, the quality of matches was superb. I’m back on Wimbleholiday until Tuesday so am looking forward to my last few days of chilled out bliss watching the tennis and a bit of hard work on the blog! The first quartet of fourth round matches has been set and this Set Points post covers all of the matches as we head into the middle weekend. Read on for nine stories in Friday’s Set Points.
Makarova vs. Safarova (Wimbledon, R3)
Peak Makarova made another appearance on Friday as she was the first player to reach the last 16 with a 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over Lucie Safarova. Makarova won eight of the last nine games and has won three matches in a row for the first time since last September when she made the quarter-finals of Wuhan.
I don’t think Safarova did a lot wrong for this match to swing. She missed two break point opportunities at 2-2 in the second set where she could have done more on return. Her first serve disappeared when serving to stay in the second set at *4-5. All the credit to Makarova who found two big forehands and finished with a drop shot winner (see video below). Makarova was dreadful with the drop shots on Wednesday against Wozniacki. Two days later and she produced multiple drop shot winners, many at crucial stages of the match. The Russian player hit two more to secure the first break of the decider. It was just too good from Makarova who was hitting into the corners and making very few unforced errors.
It was yet another example to not read too much into pre-Slam form. Makarova hadn’t won on the grass this year and had generally been pretty dire in singles in 2018. Now she’s into the fourth round of Wimbledon. To be frank, I was quite confident Lucie would win this match. I’m sad for her because it was a great opportunity in the draw. Still, a good tournament in singles and I feel like she has more to give and achieve at this level.
Keys vs. Rodina (Wimbledon, R3)
Reaching the last 16 of a Slam for the first time in her career, the world number 120, Evgeniya Rodina upset Madison Keys, 7-5 5-7 6-4 in an absolute rollercoaster match. Keys looked to have turned the tide having saved four break points at 5-7 0-4 down to then go onto win the second set. However, the American couldn’t shake off the inconsistencies as a steady, Rodina managed to (shocked tbh) serve out the match. Rodina was struggling with an injury in the decider. I’m really disappointed for Keys and for the draw as I was very much hoping for Serena vs. Madison in the fourth round.
Keys talked in press about not dealing with the nerves well (Via WTA Insider on Twitter) and actually thinking about potentially playing Serena. This was interesting as I got the feeling from her press conference after the second round that she wasn’t aware they could play each other until a journalist told her.
Siniakova vs. Giorgi (Wimbledon, R3)
In another dramatic three setter, Camila Giorgi beat Katerina Siniakova, 3-6 7-6(6) 6-2 in two hours and 38 minutes. Siniakova has been in the wars this week. After saving a match point in her most recent extra-time triumph over Ons Jabeur, this time she was experiencing it from the other side as she missed a match point. Siniakova also required the trainer after a nasty slip in the second set.
It was a gripping match towards the end of the second set as Giorgi’s free-flowing and aggressive tennis went up against some stellar defence from Siniakova. The pair played out one of the rallies of the tournament with Giorgi at set point, up 6-5 in the second set tiebreak. At the end of a lung-busting 25 shot rally, Giorgi hit into the net and then bounced her racquet in frustration, something you rarely see with Giorgi. In rather nonchalant fashion, Giorgi rebounded to win the next two points and kept up the high level of hitting to win in three.
This is the first time that Giorgi has reached the last 16 of a Slam since the 2013 US Open! On Monday, she’ll be going for her first ever Slam quarter-final.
Vekic vs. Wickmayer (Wimbledon, R3)
The only match that I didn’t get to watch anything of on Friday was the second match on Court No.3 where Donna Vekic beat Yanina Wickmayer, 7-6(2) 6-1. Vekic is into the second week of a Slam for the first time in her career. A great win for Donna and glad to see it happen on grass. I didn’t think her form heading in was anything special but she had a chance with the draw taking on an under-prepared, Sloane Stephens in the first round. She seized on her opportunity and now, much more impressively, has backed it up with two more straight set wins.
Goerges vs. Strycova (Wimbledon, R3)
I thought the first three matches were eventful. Then this match and the one on No.1 Court took it to another level. I watched all of Goerges-Strycova so wrote about it in a separate post.
V.Williams vs. Bertens (Wimbledon, R3)
Kiki Bertens scored the biggest win of her career on grass, beating Venus Williams, 6-2 6-7(5) 8-6 in a two hour and 40 minute thriller on No.1 Court. This was a fab match with some nuggets of absolutely brilliant tennis. Bertens led by a set and a break and served for the match at 6-2 *5-4. Williams had come from a set down to win both her previous matches at Wimbledon this year AND had saved match points to beat Bertens earlier this year in Miami.
Bertens did buckle when serving for the set as she rushed some of her strokes and started to miss. I do credit Venus quite a bit for the turnaround as she upped her level, hitting deep down the centre and just playing smart. Williams went up an early break in the decider. Bertens pegged her back and stayed in front on serve from them on in surprisingly routine fashion. The match came to a crescendo with Williams serving to stay in the tournament at *7-8. Williams produced two sensational match point saves. Bertens didn’t buckle this time round as she brought up another opportunity which this time she converted.
Big respect to both players. Venus for her match toughness and raw determination to keep this match alive and Kiki for regrouping in the third set, not giving in and believing in herself on the grass. Great, great match.
S.Williams vs. Mladenovic (Wimbledon, R3)
In the second edition of Williams vs. Kiki, Serena Williams came through her toughest test of the week with a 7-5 7-6(2) victory over Kristina Mladenovic. The Venus-Kiki and Julia-Bara matches were so intense and gripping that I only ended up watching the ends of both sets. Mladenovic served for the first set at *5-4. A slip on the grass at *30-30 seemed to knock her rhythm as Serena convincingly came back to win four games in a row and grab the opener.
The draw is opening up for Serena and she won’t have to play a seed before the semi-finals. I’m not sure if this is actually a good thing as I tend to think she gets up for the big matches. I wonder if she will know the draw and all the upsets, and whether this creates a bit more pressure and expectation.
You are definitely a different league than anyone else! Congrats on a big match today @serenawilliams ! Always an honor to share the court with you! Only great feelings about playing on this stage again, I will keep working hard to create new opportunities & to come back stronger. @wimbledon Centre Court you are special ❤️ #heretocreate #wimbledon 📸 @cocodubreuil
Ka. Pliskova vs. Buzarnescu (Wimbledon, R3)
Karolina Pliskova avoided the cull of seeds as she came from 3-6 1-4 down and within two points of defeat to beat Mihaela Buzarnescu, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-1. This was the match I was most looking forward to all day and it was actually the poorest quality of all the ones I saw! I thought Pliskova was dreadful for a set and a half, and Buzarnescu was just steady. Pliskova looked so flat (the crowd atmosphere likely didn’t help) and was missing so many returns.
The Czech player did what she does best and got stuck in to win the second set tiebreak and force a decider. Buzarnescu rather folded in the third set up against a much more consistent Pliskova who sails her first fourth round at Wimbledon. Another impressive result although I can’t say I was sold on the actual performance from Pliskova. The draw looks great on paper for the Czech player going forward and she’s the most experienced Slam player left in her quarter.
Super excited about Barty-Kasatkina and Kerber-Osaka, and even more so that they won’t clash! Polls for my top three on Saturday.