Saturday’s Set Points, US Open 2016 Day 6: Peak Cibulkova d. Kerber, Vondrousova’s best Slam result

The first week at the 2018 US Open is in the books with the completion of third round matches from the bottom half of the women’s draw. I remember this Saturday vividly from last year and it was another memorable day of tennis. I lasted for the first set of the Ostapenko-Sharapova before calling it night. This was my favourite post to write so far this week! Read on for 10 stories in Saturday’s Set Points post.

Vondrousova snaps Bertens’s winning streak

Marketa Vondrousova is into the last 16 of a Slam for the first time in her career after snapping Kiki Bertens’s eight match winning streak with a 7-6(4) 2-6 7-6(1) third round victory.

Vondrousova came from 3-5 down in the first set as she dialed in on her groundstrokes, growing in confidence on the cross-court backhand. Bertens played a tentative game serving for the set at *5-4 and didn’t help herself with two double faults to open the ensuing tiebreak as Vondrousova nailed a few passing shot winners.

Vondrousova was up a set and a break, leading 7-6 2-0. Out of nowhere, her level and energy dropped into the abyss as Bertens reaffirmed control, winning 24 of the last 27 points (!) to seal the second set. Vondrousova found her energy again in the decider and came from 2-4 down to eventually prevail against an increasingly error-strewn, Bertens.

Vondrousova showed plenty of promise up to Stuttgart where she retired with a leg injury in her second round match against Elina Svitolina. After that, she pretty much went off the radar until July where she reached the semi-finals in Gstaad. I really like Vondrousova’s game. The lefty forehand is gorgeous and has so much shape to it. It’s also rare to see a young player persist with the drop shot AND have so much success with it. This was a factor in why she won the first and third sets.

This was a tough loss for Bertens. She seemed to tighten up leading 5-4 in the decider and really lost her way in the third set tiebreak, not helped out by two net cords going in Vondrousova’s favour at the start. Bertens is all class as she went around the net to go and hug Vondrousova. To be honest, i didn’t fancy Bertens pre-tournament as I was concerned about whether she would feel pressure/expectation after her cracking Cincy run. It would seem from her press conference that she was feeling fatigued, both physically and mentally. I had Kiki to R3 in my draw but as always, I was way off with choosing the player to take her place in the draw 😂.

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Keys into the last 16 of the US Open for the 4th straight year

Madison Keys had to work hard to get past Aleksandra Krunic, coming from a set down to win, 4-6 6-1 6-2. Krunic had beaten Keys at the US Open back in 2014.

Krunic came into the US Open on the back of a dreary five match losing streak that had seen her win just four games in her three prior matches. The Serb righted the ship with victories over Timea Bacsinszky and Kirsten Flipkens in the first two rounds, and started superbly on Ashe by winning the first set, dropping just seven points on serve. Krunic can be such a tricky player with her deft touch and excellent movement. Keys’s stats were actually positive in the first set.

Keys became increasingly aggressive in the second and third sets, much like her match against Pera, and her power became too much for Krunic to handle. There were still some questionable errors from Keys as the pair exchanged five straight breaks at the start of the third set. Serving at *3-2, Keys saved two break points to hold and then rolled through the last two games. The Keys serve has been impressive this week. Notably in this match, the use of the kick serve was a very effective tactic against Krunic.

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Keys in press

Keys spoke quite a bit about the potential match-up against Kerber which is no longer on the table. I’m sticking with Keys as my finalist from the bottom half of the draw.

Suarez Navarro’s streak at the US Open continues

Finishing with a brilliant backhand winner, Carla Suárez Navarro scored a great win over the number six seed, Caroline Garcia, 5-7 6-4 7-6(4). Rather amazingly, there were 21 straight holds (!) in this match from 1-0 in the 2nd set to the 3rd set tiebreak. Garcia saved a pair of break points with a clutch hold at 5-5 in the third set but just couldn’t make any meaningful inroads on the Spaniard’s serve. Granted Suárez Navarro served well but Garcia’s returns has been an issue before and let her down in this match despite plenty of positive play.

It was a good match and I do feel for Garcia because she’s played well since Wimbledon without it really translating in her results. For Suárez Navarro, it’s the third year in a row that she has reached the last 16 at the US Open. Her run in New Haven may have been a bit fluky in the sense that three of her opponents retired or withdraw but she has had to work extremely hard to make it this far in New York with all three of her matches going the distance

11 games on the trot for Tsurenko

From 1-4 down and facing break points, Lesia Tsurenko won 11 straight games to beat Katerina Siniakova, 6-4 6-0. It was a sad display from Siniakova who completely lost her way in a sea of errors against a rock-solid Tsurenko. Tsurenko has now reached the last 16 at two of the four Slams in 2018.

Cibulkova’s first top ten win since Singapore

The last time that Dominika Cibulkova beat a top ten player was back in 2016 at the WTA Finals in Singapore against Angelique Kerber. Increasingly dictating the rallies and absolutely lethal off the forehand wing, Cibulkova beat Kerber again to book her place in back-to-back Slam fourth rounds with a 3-6 6-3 6-3 triumph.

It was a notable win for Cibulkova as Kerber had won seven of their last eight meetings and their two matches in 2018 for the loss of a combined ten games. Kerber played a superb opening set where her intensity was on point and she was consistently hit to a decent depth. I will never tire of Kerber’s extended grunt on her down-the-line winners and there were plenty in the first set 😍.

From the second set onwards, Cibulkova increasingly took control of the match as Kerber did seem to back off a tad. This was PEAK Cibulkova. This was also a GREAT match. The Slovak player was clearly confident after her three hour plus win over Hsieh which she said in her press conference was one of the most memorable victories of her career.

Osaka dishes out a double bagel to Sasnovich

Wow. Naomi Osaka continues to saunter through this draw as she dished out the double bagel to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in a 6-0 6-0 victory in just 49 minutes. Osaka was *0-40 down in her first service game! Osaka was on fire and Sasnovich failed to get her game going. A very surprising result considering how consistent Sasnovich has been this year and after defeating Daria Kasatkina in straight sets in the second round. Osaka is into the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career. Her post-match interview (linked below) was hilarious as always.

Sharapova storms past Ostapenko

Maria Sharapova surprisingly eased past Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3 6-2 in the first night match on Ashe. The nine deuce game to open proceedings didn’t actually set the tone as Sharapova went onto win the next five games and eventually the set. Sharapova was just better in all departments, especially on serve. Once the rally got going, it was Ostapenko who was making the error. There were A LOT of errors.

Back-to-back last 16 showing for Sharapova at the US Open.

While I was sleeping…

Aryna Sabalenka enjoyed her fifth top 10 win of the summer alone, beating Petra Kvitova, 7-5 6-1. Sabalenka’s run since Eastbourne has been extraordinary and she’s into the last 16 of a Slam for the first time in her career. Sabalenka vs. Osaka in the fourth round! 😍😍😍.

Sunday’s schedule

It will be a late start for the women on Sunday with S.Williams vs. Kanepi and Pliskova vs. Barty both up second on the schedules for Ashe and Armstrong respectively.

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15 thoughts on “Saturday’s Set Points, US Open 2016 Day 6: Peak Cibulkova d. Kerber, Vondrousova’s best Slam result

  1. Vondroušová used the drop shot very well against Bertens, great tactic considering Bertens isn’t the fastest on tour as well as using it in New York heat. After the completion of round three I think it might look something like this.
    Barty d Stephens
    Keys d Osaka

    Keys d Barty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pretty bold prediction, interesting. Definitely one the smartest plays of Marketa was the drop shots. I was surprised by Bertens choice to play doubles with Johanna Larsson as well at the start of the tournament. She did have a great summer, but she looked a bit tired to me at the end. The Czechs keep minting out these young fascinating players, wery well played.


      • Yeah it’s tough, Kiki and Johanna said to each other that they are to focus on singles but still plays doubles just not as much. I don’t think Day 4 helped when both played singles first up (Larsson losing to a Kerber in a long match and Bertens winning easily) and then have to play doubles in the heat later, taking a lot of energy out of both. Think they are still playing after last years Singapore knowing that they can play well just not getting the results. They used to practice and play so much but after Kiki’s singles success, they haven’t played as much and only practice the day the have doubles, so it seems they do it for fun .


  2. That Garcia v Navarro match was so frustrating! Caroline was standing like a meter behind the baseline for 72mph second serves. And missing… Its like she’s gone from one extreme to another! She only made ONE return in that tiebreak!


  3. The top 5 seeds gone. Only 3 of the top 13 seeds still alive, and it’s only round 4!!!

    Sabalenka def Kvitova &-5, 6-1
    Sab out Petra’d Petra.( grammer?)
    Both player are big hitters but Sab’s power and control won the day. Not peak Petra, with 10 DFs and 35 UFEs, while Sab had only 3 DFs and 15 UFEs. Kvitova lost her serve 6 times and had only 1 ace. I thought Petra’s experience would give her the win.
    Sab’s next match is with big hitter Osaka. Pick Osaka.

    Ka Pliskova def Kenin 6-4,7-6
    A very close match.
    It was Kenin’s wide variety of shots including moon balls vs Pa Plis’s serve, and Ka Plis’s serve won the day as it usually does. Plis had 11 aces and 3 DFs, to Kenin’s 1 ace and 7 DFs, for a serve advantage of 14 points. Kenin was up a break in each set, but couldn’t hold on. I am still impressed with Kenin’s game and think she will be top 30.

    Barty def Muchova 6-3,6-4
    Muchova was an unforced error machine with 19 UFEs in each set. Barty simply pushed the ball back and watched Muckova hit error after error, as she was going for winners. I thought Muchova should have gotten involved in some long rallies to get her timing on, but she just continued to miss on her power shots. Muchova has talent but should take a page out of Sabalenka’s book and come up with a plan B.

    My picks for the 1/8 round
    S Williams
    Ka Plis

    Final S williams vs Osaka


      • I think Osaka will edge Sabalenka, so the Sab/Keys match won’t happen. Sabalenka has had a great, very impressive, run for several weeks, but she can turn cold in an instant. I see a cold front moving in.


    • Even in a hypothetical match up with Keys, Sabalenka can beat her. One aspect of her game that has brought this turn around is her mental growth and awareness. I like Keys, but those mental walkabouts, Sabalenka will eat it up, putting even more silly pressure on Madison. It will have to be an inspired display of power and huge crowd support for Keys.


  4. I watched my first match of this year’s U S Open with Sharapova defeating Ostapenko which was not as competitive or as good as I was hoping it would be. Interesting to find out that Maria has never lost a night match at a U S Open. Maria looked fitter and slimmer than I have seen her for quite a while. I think that she will defeat Suarez Navarro to get to the quarter finals and I’d be happy to see her win this Grand Slam but she is probably not good enough nowadays to do it. It was a poor show from Ostapenko who made lots of errors and did not serve well. I like her now that she seems to have matured but she can be frustrating sometimes due to her lack of consistency. Looking forward to the Osaka/Sabalenka match tomorrow and hope that Osaka can win.


  5. Some great play from Vondrousova here;

    And she’s still only 19! Makes you wonder how much better she can still get.

    Great win from Naomi Osaka in her match, but Sasnovich ending on a double fault was horrible (the same thing happened when Aga Radwanska beat Domi Cibulkova in the final at Sydney in 2013, another double bagel). You have to feel for players when that happens.


    • I think Sasnovich’s inability to take her chances in the first few games was what unlocked Osaka’s confidence and put her in the zone. The double bagel scoreline does indeed flatter Osaka and well deserved. But, Sasnovich was trying all sorts of variety to bring herself back into the match. Playing within herself, taking balls early with confidence, Naomi is very tough to hang with.
      I’m hoping this confidence comes to bear for both Osaka and Sabalenka when they meet up. It should fine margins in this one. Return of serves will be crucial and weak second serves will be punished. The crowd might fall behind Osaka as well.


  6. Iga Swiatek def Zavatska ITF 60K Budapest
    Iga S winner of the Wimbledon juniors beat fellow teenager Zavatska.
    Iga moved up 69 ranking points to #229.


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