Monday’s Set Points, WTA Cincinnati: Azarenka beats Suárez Navarro, Kuzmova’s joint best win

Bye bye Montreal, hello Cincinnati! The tour has moved on quickly to another Premier 5 stop on the calendar.  Cincy has grown in stature year-by-year and I feel like most of my followers on Twitter are there! I’m really looking forward to this week of tennis and will have some photos to share with you all in the week from Omar Boraby. Read on for 11 stories from day 1 of main draw action in Cincy.

Azarenka opens with a hard fought win

If the first match on Center Court is anything to go by then we are in for an exciting week in Cincy. Victoria Azarenka came from a set down and held off a late charge from Carla Suárez Navarro to win, 6-7(5) 6-2 6-4 in two hours and 30 minutes. Azarenka saved two break points at *4-4 in the third set. Azarenka looked to have turned the match around in the second set as she reeled off seven straight games to lead 3-0 in the decider. Suárez Navarro had the trainer on for a hip injury at the end of the second set. The Spaniard found her high level again from the first set to get back on level terms before Azarenka won the last two games of the match.

While frustrated at the end, I thought it was a decent display from Azarenka. The Belarusian served well with 73% of first serves in and 10 aces (!) and looked to come in when she had the opportunity. I always think Azarenka is at her most dangerous when she’s coming forward. This was a good match and the stats back it up with Azarenka finishing with 55 winners. The stats were positive for the next match too so i’m starting to have my doubts about their accuracy! Next up for Azarenka is the number six seed, Caroline Garcia in what will be a first career match-up between the pair.

Random point from Cincy Center court – the camera seems much higher this year? I’m guessing it is to do with the new stand. Not a fan.

Kuzmova’s joint best win on tour

Readers of the blog will know i’m a fan of Viktoria Kuzmova’s game so I watched the third set of her match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Firing 18 aces and saving all four break points faced in the decider, Kuzmova won, 6-0 4-6 6-1. There’s still a lot of inconsistencies but that is to be expected with Kuzmova’s age. There’s a lot to like about Kuzmova’s game and she has a fearlessness which I admire. Kuzmova has won three ITF titles this year and is 9-11 on the main tour. This was her joint best win on tour. I don’t think she’s far off a big win soon…

A win is a win for Keys

It wasn’t pretty. Sometimes that can be even more of a statement to be able to win when not playing at your best. In her first match since Wimbledon, Madison Keys fought back from a set and a break down to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-4. Keys struggled to find the court in the first set and a half against an aggressive, BMS. Playing with a bit more margin and hanging around long enough for BMS to fade, Keys forced a third set.

Keys needed seven match points to get the win but ultimately improved with each set and served extremely well in the decider. Keys dropped just three points on her first serve in the decider and gets another chance to improve in the second round where she will play Anastasija Sevastova or Camila Giorgi.

In a post-match interview with Tennis Channel, Keys explained that she had a troublesome cyst that affected her wrist and forced her out of San Jose and Montreal. She implied all was good now.

Goerges retires, Mladenovic through to R2

I planned to move onto Goerges-Mladenovic after Keys-Mattek-Sands but joined the match with Goerges walking off court. Mladenovic was leading 6-4 3-2 when Goerges was forced to retire with a leg injury. Hope it’s nothing serious 🤞.

While I was sleeping…

Serena Williams started her Cincy campaign with a dominant 6-1 6-2 win over Daria Gavrilova. PETRA UP NEXT ON TUESDAY NIGHT!

Aryna Sabalenka came from a set and a break down to beat Johanna Konta, 4-6 6-3 6-4. Another superb win for Aryna.

Alizé Cornet knocked out the number 11 seed, Jelena Ostapenko, 1-6 7-5 6-0. Ostapenko is winless since Wimbledon, while Cornet adds another good win to her summer.

Karolina Pliskova

This sounds positive. Liked the Pliskova-Stubbs partnership a lot in Singapore last year.

Pliskova meets a young fan

This is hilarious 😂

Sunday’s Montreal final

ICYMI: I wrote about the brilliant match between Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens with 10 stories from the Montreal final.

The Body Serve podcast

Really enjoyed the latest edition of the Body Serve podcast which featured an interview with Naomi Osaka’s coach, Sascha Bajin.

Tennis Twitter in Cincy

There’s so much great contest from Cincy on Twitter this week. The following accounts are some of my personal favourites. They are all awesome so go give them a follow! 🤗

@player3jrk

@NoleLisickiFam

@StephintheUS

@LaWanda50

@CCSMOOTH13

@MaxjGao

@tjc05

@TennisInsideOut

@TheBodyServe

Tuesday’s Schedule

Another packed day in Cincy is on the cards and a trio of polls for second rounders is up. I’m so excited by the prospect of Petra vs. Serena, not that i’ll get to watch it live!

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