Another day of tennis at the Western and Southern Open is in the books with the second round still not complete. It was a rainy day in Mason, Ohio and the forecast does not look good for the next few days. I’m delighted to be working again with Omar Boraby so you will see some fresh Cincy photos through this article and on the site this week. Thanks, Omar! You can check out his website here and his Twitter account here. Read on for 11 stories in Wednesday’s Set Points post from Cincy.
Sabalenka saves 2 match points to beat Pliskova again
For the second week in a row, Aryna Sabalenka saved match points to score a top ten win. Last week it was Caroline Wozniacki in Montreal and on Wednesday it was Karolina Pliskova as she saved two match points to edge a tremendous third set and win, 2-6 6-3 7-5.
Sabalenka had played a pretty ropey service game at *4-5 in the decider to find herself at *15-40. She got her game together when it mattered with first serves in and penetrating groundstrokes. Bravery on the brink from the Belarusian. Sabalenka won the last three games and came from *0-30 down to serve out the match. It was a set dominated by serve with both winning at least 70% of points behind it. It was Sabalenka though who dominated many of the rallies with aggressive hitting and looking to finish up at the net.
Sabalenka is fast becoming one of my favourite players to watch on the WTA tour. I really like her intensity and commitment, and she’s more than just a ballbasher with some tidy skills at the net. A nice touch at the end from Aryna to give her towels to two kids in the front row 🤗.
Mertens outlasts Peterson
In another solid match, Elise Mertens outlasted Rebecca Peterson, 3-6 6-2 7-6(1). This was a very close encounter and Peterson was mostly outhitting Mertens with her forehand towards the end of the match. Mertens, who was sporting strapping on her forearm, had to do a lot of running and defending. Mertens missed two match points at 5-4 in the second set but stayed in the present and rolled through the tiebreak. Mertens has demonstrated on numerous occasions this year that she is a great competitor. The Belgian player is now up to 39 wins for the season and gets a shot at Sloane Stephens in the 3rd round.
Tsurenko knocks out the defending champ
Lesia Tsurenko won the last five games and held her nerve to serve out the upset win over the defending champ in Cincy, Garbiñe Muguruza, 2-6 6-4 6-4. Via Tennis Abstract, this was Tsurenko’s first top ten win since beating Lucie Safarova at the US Open nearly three years ago.
In her first match since Wimbledon, Muguruza looked to be on her way to the win up 4-1 in the third set. The Spaniard started to miss more on her forehand and then the backhand too as she rather fell away in a sea of errors. Credit to Tsurenko who played very well at the end.
It was nice to see the forced errors stat used at the end of set 1, which i’ve never seen before on the WTA TV graphics. On a negative note, it was a shame to see such a poor attendance for the match. Really poor and barely anyone there. The stadium court has been empty for many of the day matches so far this week.
Muguruza in press
Muguruza sounded positive in press and felt no pain in the forearm.
Tsurenko just managed to get in her win over Muguruza before the heavens opened. Wow that is some rain!
Watching back Petra-Serena
As the rain poured in Cincy, I finally found a window to watch Petra vs. Serena. I’m not a massive fan of watching back matches when you already know the score. It never has the same buzz compared to watching live. Still, I wanted to see this one and WTA TV only keeps the matches for three days.
This was yet another example of Kvitova getting up for a big match. She’s got a dominant record against top ten players in the last year and while Serena is obviously not top ten right now, she knew she had to bring it and did. Kvitova was sparkling in the first set. Williams toughed out two games early on in the second set to get the upper hand and threw in some killer blows on return in a superb turnaround. Kvitova did a brilliant job at halting Williams’s momentum to come back and win the decider.
The Venus-Petra H2H has consistently delivered classics but the Serena-Petra H2H not so much. This was one of their best matches and plenty of positives to take away for Serena. On a random side note, it did frustrate me to see BBC Sport go with the headline “Serena Williams loses to Petra Kvitova”. No, it was actually Petra Kvitova beats Serena Williams. I hate the negative outlook in headlines like that and i’ve stopped doing that here as I think the focus should always be on the winner.
Great piece by Matt Zemek linked below on the match.
While I was sleeping…
Angelique Kerber came from a set down to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 4-6 7-5 6-4. A notable win for Angie who gets Madison Keys in the 3rd round.
Kiki Bertens advanced to the third round after winning the first set, 6-4 against Caroline Wozniacki who then retired. I was worried about Caroline’s upper leg, but she was sporting heavy strapping on her shoulder and then retired with a knee injury!
Simona Halep leads Ajla Tomljanovic, 4-6 6-3 4-3. Once again, If Simona wins the match, she will have to do double duty again on Thursday.
Cincy stadium upgrade
If you’re intrigued by the new stand at Cincy, check out the informative post linked below by Tennis Inside Out.
Timea on her travels
Great to see Timea Bacsinszky on her way to the US!
Hopman Cup announcements
Fantastic news to hear Team Greece will be at the Hopman Cup! Spain have also been confirmed. Great line-up and wish I was going back.
Six of the third round matches have been confirmed with a trio of polls linked below for my faves. A bit worried for the tournament if the forecasts turn out to be correct. As I keep going on, these tournaments have no contingency with players already having to double up on Thursday.