The first four quarter-finalists of the 2018 US Open were confirmed on Sunday as we moved into the second week of the tournament. The quarter-finals have a familiar feel to them as three of the four from the top half made the quarter-finals in New York last year. Read on for seven stories in Sunday’s Set Points post from the US Open.
Story of the break point conversions – Pliskova back in the QFs
Karolina Pliskova is back into the quarter-finals of the US Open for the third consecutive year after beating Ash Barty, 6-4 6-4. The story of the match was break point conversions – Pliskova was two out of two, while Barty went zero out of eight. Pliskova played a solid match as she dominated at the net and attacked Barty’s second serves. It was encouraging to see Pliskova coming forward and she was mostly successful when she did as Barty seemed completely lost as to what to do. Barty had break points in three separate games. Pliskova defended some of them well but it felt like Barty could have done a lot more on return.
Serena serves her way past Kanepi
Serena Williams dropped her first set of the tournament, eventually coming though in three sets in a huge hitting match against Kaia Kanepi, 6-0 4-6 6-3. Williams was invincible in the first set, hitting 14 winners to two unforced errors. Kanepi looked nervous and was spraying balls. A break in the first game of the second set allowed Kanepi to get a foothold in the match and she improved significantly there on. The Estonian player was much more effective behind the first serve and scored some sensational winners when dragged out wide on her forehand side.
Kanepi failed to serve out the second set at *5-2. Williams played an unbelievable return game! Kanepi didn’t even have a chance to get tight because Williams had already blasted the winner past her. Second time round, Kanepi served it out very convincingly with plenty of first serves in play. Williams held her first service game of the third set at deuce, roaring in a borderline hindrance celebration. That proved to be the clincher as Kanepi tightened up in her next service game. Williams defended her break for the remainder of the match in what was a superb serving display.
It was probably favourable for Williams to be tested. Williams was forced by Kanepi to find another level and she did just that, coming through with flying colours. Not only was the power hitting electric, I loved the angles on show from both players. Williams’s ability to hit angles on her groundstokes is underrated in my opinion.
A Sevastova masterclass
Anastasija Sevastova produced a stunning display, recovering from a second set blow-out to beat Elina Svitolina, 6-3 1-6 6-0 and reach her third consecutive US Open quarter-final. The first set featured some fab rallies with Sevastova dominating proceedings. Sevastova was moving Svitolina from side-to-side with such ease and dazzling with the drop shot. Svitolina managed to get up to one and win the point in style, but it was generally a very effective tactic because the drop shots were so precise.
Svitolina forced a decider. Sevastova danced through the decider. Sevastova in this form is an absolute delight to watch. All in all, it’s been a disappointing year at the Slams for Svitolina with just the one Slam quarter-final. I didn’t think she played badly in that first set. She was simply outclassed by Sevastova.
While I was sleeping…
Sloane Stephens continued to impress in a 6-3 6-3 win over Elise Mertens. What a shot by Sloane linked below!
As alluded to above, three of the four quarter-finalists have backed up results from 2017 and in the case of Pliskova and Sevastova, 2016 too!
Another update on Amazon Prime is that many matches are now available on their catch-up service. You can also download matches and watch them offline which is pretty neat!
I have written a pair of previews to cover Monday’s last 16 matches. Both previews are up on the main page of the blog. Most excited for Osaka vs. Sabalenka! 😍
I had a go at a few bakes from the first week of GBBO 2018. I made some signature citrusy shortbread and wagon wheels. The latter went really well until construction. They taste good though!